Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Glamour

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning...

Oh, What a Beautiful Day!

Yes, there I am, in all my Morning Glory! Life on our farm is not always beautiful. Although the crocuses are pretty.

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's A Boy! And A Boy!

Arya, Mary's 2 year-old Saanen doe, gave birth to twins this afternoon. As usual for our goats, she needed no midwifery. We missed the birth--always a bummer--and found the kids when we went outside to feed this afternoon.

This little darling, the younger of the two, wanted his first meal before his legs were fully functional!

Yep, quite the sucking reflex on the little dude.

Mary had to be fair and pick up big brother, too.

She would have preferred girls. After all, in the dairy world, girls are the bomb. Have you ever heard of a HIMD? No. It's a HERD, right? But they ARE awfully cute.

The older one is named Coyote; the younger, Wolf.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

WAAY back last December, we bought a horse for Mary. Because of some silliness by family members who will remain nameless, the horse is in Wyoming, waiting to be traded with a cow that is in our pasture. Mary has been so patient, (NOT!) waiting for the golden day when she could put hands on her horsey. This weekend is set for the trade.

I was all set to blog a blow-by-blow, mile-by-mile account of the transfer. Ranchwife and her family would be meeting me and mine in Iowa, at the home of Chocolot. We would share some good fun and time with each other, then bring our respective animals back to their new homes.

But, as the saying says, "Men plan, God laughs." And he is sure rolling on the floor right now. He sent 24" of snow to Wyoming earlier this week, and another 6" today. I hear Sioux City, close to Chocolot's, is also being hit with much of the dandruff of global warming.

So, Ranchwife called after lunch and said, "I don't see how this is going to happen." I agreed, although she said she'd hold off on deciding until tomorrow morning, in deference to my little girl's sore little heart. But I don't see how it's going to happen.

Mary has taken to her bed in despair. I am trying to figure out what to do with 2 batches of cinnamon rolls and one of chocolate chip cookies. OBVIOUSLY, I could EAT them. DUH. But that would not be wise. So, into the freezer they will go, in hopes of thawing next weekend.

-sigh- Figures.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Steps

You would think that, at my advanced age, I would be done with baby steps. But I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, we're all still babies.

John and I have been reevaluating finances lately, something we do every 5 years or so. Given the current economy, and our recent experiences, we are staying much more on top of this than we ever have. One thing we have to really watch ourselves on is shopping. Neither of us has an expansive wardrobe, nor do we have expensive hobbies or toys. (Not yet, anyway; my horse comes next month!) But, when out and about, we can see lots of little things that "would make our lives easier," add up to beaucoup bucks over time, and often just sit there, being stared at, because the work to implement them is just...too...daunting.

Case in point; my grow lights. Last spring I put together a grow light stand for starting my garden plants. Those of you from warmer climes will have no idea about such things, but here in the frozen tundra, some of us start our garden plants from seed. We like to be able to anticipate fruits, veggies or flowers from these plants, and need to extend our growing season by starting them inside. Lighting inside can be tricky, as windows get either inadequate or inconsistent light. So I made a light stand, a la college days, with cinder blocks and shelving. John installed grow lights in the undersides of the shelves, and I topped it off with a grow light Grandma had brought along. It worked great, and the plants grew fine and healthy... Until they got some kind of white flies on them, and I sprayed them with soapy water. Burned those puppies right up. But that's another story.

Last fall, I brought in many of my deck and porch plants, and put them under the grow lights for the winter. I didn't have enough space, so I decided to build another stand. I built the stand and bought the lights. They sat...through the winter...until about two weeks ago, when John finally listened to my pleadings and put them in. So that money was tied up for most of a season before being put to use. Bad idea.

Another case in point; our pond aerator. John picked up a unit to circulate the water in our pond. That keeps the algae down and helps keep the fish healthier. It's been out there for almost 2 years, tied up by the male struggle between needing to call an electrician and wanting to do the electrical work ipse.(-giggle- I think I just put the Latin for "himself" in Italics. Get it? Of course you do; you're not an idiot.) Another instance of good money being tied up for far too long before being used.

Wait...do you see a pattern here? Maybe it's not me. Hmmm....

Anyway, the plan is, shockingly, to complete one project before buying the supplies for another. Radical, I know. Today I took a baby step. I had a potted plant that needed repotting. I needed a new pot. I went to Wally World, bought the pots, (the original was actually two plants in one pot) came home, and repotted them. Right away. Within 15 minutes of being home.

I feel so grown up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Apologies to the Good Dr.

posted from the stable where Mary rides

Can I blog from my iPhone?
Can I blog when I'm not home?
Can I blog when I'm alone?
Can I blog when I roam?

Yes! I can blog from my iPhone!
And I can blog when I'm not home!
I can blog when I'm alone!
And I sure can blog when I roam!

Thank you, thank you, Apple man!

Fresh Air

Thanks, Cheryl, for pointing out this guy. I'll be following his "show," and probably liking it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Fair is This?

Last week I had the flu. I didn't want to eat anything, couldn't eat anything, and didn't eat much. Just enough chicken noodle soup to keep body and soul together. And ice cream, yesterday, when we were "celebrating" being over the flu. And today, when Mary and I were out shopping. The rest, for the past week, was chicken noodle soup. And some veggies. And some crackers.

I gained weight. Just .2 pound, but I gained? Isn't the reward for suffering through the flu losing some weight?

I've been pretty quiet about Weight Watchers since fall. After tooting my own horn obnoxiously, I gained back 5 pounds. It was Grandma's funeral, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then traveling to see Matthew... I figured I got off easy, only gaining 5 pounds. I've since lost it, plus a little. But I'm at a 8-0 barrier again. Whenever my weight is in the 8's to 0's, like 128-130, or 118-120 (in my dreams!) I really have to work hard to break through there and move further down. So I'm stuck at 18 pounds left to lose, and there's only one answer.

I'm going to have to watch my diet and exercise smarter, if not harder. Probably both. Which makes it two answers. I'm recommitting myself to do this. You wouldn't think people would obsess about such things, would you? Just stop eating and work out, or, give it up and eat what they want to eat, the heck with what the doctor says. But we do obsess about this. And there are little milestones along the way to help us out. Like today, I put on a belt I haven't worn since before Mary was born. That's 14+ years ago! Granted, it was on the very last hole, but, hey, it was on! And I coulda used the 2nd hole, but the last was really more comfortable.

Enough navel gazing. I'll have to get over myself if I want to do this, and I do. So now I'm on to other things.

Wonder if the Charles Shaw Shiraz is any good?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"When we care for rather than kill the elderly, ill, or handicapped, we are the hands of God. That's what Lutherans for Life is all about -- helping Christians connect, through either our words or actions, biblical truth to the life issues. When that happens, lives are changed."

Diane E. Schroeder, president of Lutherans for Life

Lutherans for Life

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another One Hits the Road

One last calzone at Joe's.

The all-important step of packing the leftover calzone for the trip.

One last picture with Mom and Dad.

Matthew goes back to being a soldier. Mom goes home to cry.

Saturday Farm Report

Still recovering here, our main farm work will be observing it through the kitchen window.

The main observance is that there is still much water to be drained from the yard. Bolda's Barnyard, a neighboring landscaper, was here the other day to offer guidance. His plan was to install a culvert, but he had a concern. Seems it might not be entirely legal to drain our pastures into our pond. Now, they drain there naturally. But, with a culvert, it might look like we directed it there. That might not be a problem now, but in the future, should we decide to sell, we might have to tear it all out. So calls need to be made to the county departments that deal with such things. Aggravating, since, as I said, that's the natural flow of the water, anyway.

And today Matthew will head back to Ft. Hood. He's been on leave for a month, spending some time here and some in California with his girlfriend. He leaves in the early afternoon and we will miss him.

Then we'll be the parents of an only child. It seems odd, having had as many as 10 people at our dinner table only 6 months ago, to be having only 3 in the coming months. But, such is life.

Well, best get on with it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Flu

Much like a bad batch of Amish Friendship Bread, the flu has been passed through our house. Mary had it first, and then Ethan, who was kind enough to pass it to John and me before he left.

John's had it worse than me. He reminds me of Ethan, who was counting cadences during his delirium. John's just been having weird dreams about ducks or cats or something. I have been blessed enough to miss out on the fever, although the other symptoms made their appearances, one by one, thankyouverymuch.

We seem to have turned a corner this morning. Tea and Jello aren't just soothing, but actually taste good.

But two movies not to watch when you're having the flu; The Duchess. I just wanted to cry and cry for this poor woman, who wasn't really very poor, I suppose, just, by all accounts, miserable. I guess I get emotional when I'm feeling rotten. And The Good Shepherd; I should have asked about the format. It's hard to follow a wandering flashback movie when one of you is having fever-induced flashbacks in the first place!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Basic Training, Part 3

We had barely finished processing yesterday's somber news (as if it can be fully processed) and it was time. Time to take son #3 out to dinner and drop him at a hotel. Today he heads off to the adventure that is Basic training.

In the car, he called friends.

In the lobby, he said goodbye to Dad.

He also said goodbye to Mom and little sister, who shall be hidden from recruiters, thank you very much! Pay no attention to the young lady behind the barn, Sar'n So-and-So. We have already given.

He got through MEPS without anyone realizing he was in the final throes of intestinal flu. (Which, by the way has hit mom and dad today.) He called a few minutes ago from Milwaukee, where he is waiting for a plane to O'Hare, then a bus to Ft. Knox. You read that right. Some of you knew he was going to Ft. Benning, GA. Well, the Army, being the Army, changed it's mind. They're sending him to Ft. Knox,, KY. Jay went there for Basic. We didn't find the people in town to be too...accepting of soldiers. Let's hope it's gotten better in 7 years.

Godspeed, Ethan.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For the Fallen

Three members of Jay's unit, the 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, were killed this weekend. In honor of them, their families, and their fellow soldiers at home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Surprise, Surprise

Remember our new kitty? When Dr. Morrissey finally got a look-see, he declared its gender to be male. I was skeptical. It didn't look male to me.

I was right. He, I mean, she, went into heat this weekend. So now she is inside. And that means when she looks out the window like this;

she's not saying, "Birds. Lemme at 'em." NO. She's saying, "There are boys out there. Lemme at 'em."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sabbath Breaking

When other kids sit in Sunday School and don't even play for fear of offending the Lord, Mary unloads hay.

When other people contemplate their existence and rest in the Word, John hauls hay.

When other people set aside work to spend time with the Lord, I stack hay.

"Henry, we did go to church and I went to Sunday School before starting all this fun. We're taking care of the animals God gave us. He'll be OK with this, right?"

[BTW, what do we really think of Sunday? Some of you know. Those who don't...look here (Article 28:53-64) and read this (We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.) We do, and we don't, and we do. But we were almost out of hay, and Farmer Todd could deliver it on Sunday. So there.]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"When we teach our children to trust the Lord of life even when they make bad decisions, we are the hands of God."

A "Life Quote" from Lutherans for Life

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Report

Today was spent off the farm. John went into work, and Mary and I headed to a 4H Horse Judging Competition. She had no idea what to expect; I had asked someone, who told us, "They'll ride horses in the arena, and tell you what the judge will be looking for at the show." When we checked in, I had to tell them to show her what to do with some cards they gave her; she had no clue. One lady clucked her tongue, and said, "This is a hard clinic for your first try."

She had to judge 6 classes of horses, and the competition was to see whose judging came closest to the professional judge's. The judge did explain what she was looking for in each class, and how to do it properly.

Mary must have listened well. There were clubs from 5 counties there, and Mary came in first for her age group in our county; third for her age group from all the counties. There was a medal, and a ribbon, and she's thrilled.

Mom stood in the dusty arena and got cold feet. Cold, old feet cramp up; did you know that? We ate almonds and fruit cups all day, drank coffee, and saw sweet, lovable young riders as well as spoiled, snotty ones. It was quite the education.

And it's just beginning!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Riddle Me This, Batman

By all that is holy, please, someone, have an answer for this question. If the answer is smart-a&%y and rude, keep it to yourself.

WHY must the perimenopausal mom understand, love and nuture the pubescent teen, and WHY won't the pubescent teen extend the same courtesy to the preimenopausal mom?

I'm not asking for myself, mind you. It's for, um, yeah, a friend. A very close friend.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When Will I Learn Not To Whine?

God has wonderful ways of teaching us. When we complain about mud, and muck, and struggle with animals, he sends weather systems that drop the temperature twenty degrees and freeze the water and mud. Makes it easier to walk now, but it's COLD. And WINDY. I have windburn again.

My fault. I whined.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I have friends who blog. When they do, they carefully consider each and every word they put on their page, editing and tweaking until they say just what they want, just how they want to say it. If you know anything about grammar, you know I'm not that kind of blogger; just check out that last sentence! No, I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger. I say what I want, do a little proofreading (for typos, mostly) and hit "Post." But that's no surprise to you.

In other areas of my life, however, I do try to do some planning. Our farm, for example, needs some major things done this year. I mentioned some of them last week or so. We were blessed with an unusually large tax refund this year, due to nervous pre-planning based on our change in income over the past two years. We just over-withheld from ourselves.

But I don't want to just rush to Farm and Fleet, buying things without a plan. That's a sure and proven (by us) way to waste at least 40% of our available dollars. So I've been reading and thinking and measuring and organizing my thoughts and our farm, all on paper right now. Today I measured this area;

You saw this area a few days ago, when I posted about all that had to be done around here. It is the "alley" between our compost piles on the left and Alphonse on the right; it ends at our pasture gate. Bess is there to say, "Hi." Alphonse is a silly name we gave to a 10'x20' tent we use to store hay in. Anyway, this area is vile right now. It is soggy and muddy; I was ankle deep in mud this morning when I took hay to the cows. Not just mud; sucking mud. That isn't a vulgarism used to describe it; that's an adjective that describes how it behaves. I've almost lost boots 2-3 times daily in the past week. We have just received so much rain, and it tends to run right through that gate area. On the other side of the gate, the cows are standing in mud that reaches a little more than 3' over the tops of their hooves. Now, April came from a farm that was much worse. But I don't like this on my farm. So I am looking for solutions. That area is about 40'x60'. I plan to move the compost piles over to the left, and Alphonse over to the other side of our barn, which is just past it to the right in the picture. When that's done, I am thinking about having a truckload of gravel dropped. So I was measuring to have an idea of how much I would need so I could figure the cost. I'm also thinking of putting something over the gravel; pea gravel, or barn lime, that the animals could walk on. Then I could fence that small area, and, on days when they can't be out in the pasture for whatever reason, they might have a dry place in the sun (the sun will shine on there someday.) They already have a place to stand in the shade. (If you have your own place, maybe you could suggest a surface for me.)

I probably shouldn't have let you know that I sometimes plan things. You might expect better posts. Well, don't have high expectations. That way you're never disappointed.

(Speaking of planning and expectations, I expect that next week I'll be announcing our updated and revamped farm website. John has been spending lots of time designing our website; I should say, redesigning. It's been there for a while, but it's gotten so old and stale, mostly because it didn't do all we wanted it to in the first place. So stay tuned for that.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pro Life Corner

"When we reach out with hands of compassion to the pregnant teen and her baby with love and support, we are the hands of God."

Diane E. Schroeder, president of Lutherans For Life

PS March 31 is Red Envelope Day. Please visit this site to learn about sending a red envelope to the White House. Each envelope will represent a child whose life was taken by abortion.
Please contact me with your e-mail address if you would like me to send you some pre-addressed, pre-written red envelopes. All I would ask is that you put your return address and a stamp on each of them, and drop them in the mail by March 31.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Looong Week!

It seems like Sunday was just yesterday.

I've been in and out of this house all week. Yesterday was a shopping/lunch trip with my mom, sister, and Mary. I visited a Trader Joe's for the first time ever, and Three Buck Chuck is in the wine rack. We lunched at the Olive Garden, irritating our waitress no end by ordering the unending soup and salad. (Sorry. That's just the kinda girls we are.) I ran into a lady who had a purse made from ACU fabric; she was an officer in this organization, which will be getting some of my time in the future. We had fun bouncing back and forth to each others' table; "I like your purse, where did you get it?" "Here's our flyer; don't miss Rockin' For The Troops this summer!" "Hey, have you heard of PB2?"

Tuesday was a mission of mercy that may have been better described as a chance to lunch with a friend. We helped another friend by cleaning her house. Why is cleaning another person's house so much fun and cleaning my own such drudgery? Maybe because I see mine get dirty right away; hers will always be the pristine place we left at the end of the day.

So today was sleeping in late, eddicatin' young'uns and catching up on my own laundry. Much water was hauled for critters. Oh, and last night the vet was here to check on a pregnant goat who appeared to be going into labor a month early.

Like I said, a loooong week!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pro Life Corner

"This is a wake-up call that really does catch people's moral imagination...The whole notion of manufacturing human or semi-human life for experimentation and destruction goes to the core of human dignity."

Nigel Cameron, president of The Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future