Thursday, April 30, 2009

To My Solidly Christian Friends

Is this God's plan? Is there some future reason for this excess of water?

Or is this the effect of sin?

I am genuinely despairing. I am sorry, Susan. I didn't get your concerns over snow this past winter. I get it now. It's been 2 summers since I had a productive garden; I don't see it happening this year, either. The cows and horses are destroying the pasture; 1,000 pounds each, times 3, walking on saturated soil. Footprints everywhere; divots would be an improvement over what we have now. I can't even get out to feed them this morning; what grass we have will be gone tomorrow. Don't get me started on foot rot.

Well, at least my house is getting cleaned. I think I'm more organized now than ever, except the day before we moved in!

Bess just walked by. Each footprint made water splash up. She was in up to her ankles. -sigh- And our forecast calls for 5 days of rain in the next 10, all of them cloudy. -sigh- -sigh-

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How Stupid Was It?

Really. Stupid.


I've been out cleaning trenches.

When the water piled up out there, we dug trenches between the larger puddles (small ponds?) that eventually led to the pond. They require daily re-trenching to keep them open. I'm about ready to give up; I never seem to get ahead. If would stop raining at night, that would help. But I am tired of worrying about it. I think I'll just bag the thought of a garden again this year, give up on the trenching, and stay inside, sucking my thumb.

Or worrying about something else. Today was the day I moved the animals from one pasture to the next. The horses are being problematic. They've sniffed the hay I put out, but won't touch it. They went right to the green grass. Last week I didn't worry so much. But last night, my uncle, a farrier, mentioned the f word. Founder. Yeah, now I'm worrying. I may go out and catch them up in a bit. Make them eat hay.

Not that I blame them. Really. Two of the goats decided to make the hay pile their bed. I wouldn't want to eat a goat's bed, either.

That's one of the things I'd like to get a picture of and post here. Durn camera-gone-AWOL. Not that you care to see such a thing!

(Clarification; my uncle would call himself a horseshoer. And he probably doesn't belong to the AFA. He'd be what you'd call old school. But he knows what he's doing.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Really Struggling

It's getting tougher and tougher to blog. Firstly, my camera has gone AWOL. I see so many things daily that I would like to share with you, and I have no way to do so!

I learned of a new blog this weekend. Thanks, EC, for letting us know. And she's having a really good discussion about moms and identities. But I find that my viewpoint is so counter-cultural that I doubt it can be understood without seeing me as some repressed, Victorian-style female.

And then our fearless leader pulls stunts like this one, or this one, (thanks to RUT, BPRS and TAH for letting me know) and I'd love to wax philosophical about them.

But my Boots are on the Ground. And I just don't think I have the chops. But I'll work on it...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

I talked a while back about the water on Pine Ridge Farm. We've been having trouble these past two years with standing water. Remember when I blogged about it? This morning when we woke up, John was nice enough to head out and feed the bottle babies. When he came in, he said, "We have more water on the ground now than we ever have."

After church, he and Mary headed out to see what they could do. They started, sensibly enough, at the pond. It was pretty obvious that the pond level was rising, and that it wasn't going down. Our pond, while man-made, is spring-fed, and, at the end opposite the spring, it has an outlet. The outlet feeds into the culvert over which our driveway runs. Not today, though. No water was moving. They followed the pipe out to the road, found the end, and began digging. It turns out that someone had covered the outlet with a grating. That grating was clogged with debris. By this time, Jay had stopped by and helped John clean out the debris. About 2pm, they came in for coffee. They explained that the pressure from the water draining from the pond was forcing that water through the now-free-running outlet at such speed that a small geyser had formed at the end of the driveway.

By 6pm, the level of the pond had gone down 3". John estimates that 28,000 gallons of water had flowed through that outlet in the 4 hours between measurements.

The estimate for the drain work we wanted done to solve this was "around $1800." Given that the outlet still would have been clogged, would the drain work have helped? I'm skeptical. So John saved us the money and the water is leaving. We have hope of a dry property in the near future!

Just hope, though. It's supposed to rain from tonight until Thursday....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

Today Boots on the Ground is a little under the weather; nothing serious, just not up to par. So I'm not sure I'll be doing much on the farm. John already fed the critters for me, before heading off to work. Yes, he works on Saturdays; such is the face of our current economy. Mary should be up and about, feeding her bottle babies. "Should be" doesn't mean "is;" we're dealing with a 14 year-old here. So I'll make this short and head up to check on that soon.

I've been wandering around this website this morning. Mouse over Soldier Life, then follow the drop-down to Becoming a Soldier and then to Basic Combat Training, to see what Ethan is up to these days. The videos load a little slowly, but they're a good overview. He's in White Phase right now.

Jay and Kris should be over later, to help out with some fencing and building that we have to get to. Mary and I will be playing with the horses later. We had a "fun" experience last night. In short, I learned not to tie both horses to the trailer at the same time. We wanted to groom them, and we don't have a hitching rail yet. We've been tying them to the trailer in the driveway for a while, and it has worked. However, John has been less than pleased by the...leavings left in the driveway. It's hard to get manure out of gravel. So this time I decided to tie them to the back, which means the horses were in the grass. "Leavings" in the grass don't bother John. Wakiya was bothered by a half sheet of plywood which was lying there (don't ask.) Before I could move it, she began...reacting violently. Hope "caught the spirit," as they say, and, before I could do more than get out of the way, they had pulled the trailer off the driveway and about ten feet into the yard.

I won't be tying them to the trailer again. And I am concerned about getting them into the trailer again. Wish I had listened at the 4H natural horsemanship clinic the other night when they discussed trailering issues. But we hadn't had this point.

Ah, well. Never a dull moment, as they say. You know you're in for it when the TV weather man says, "Unique weather tomorrow." We've already had rain pouring through a sky full of sunshine.

Until Monday!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Still mired in bottle feeding little goats, sloshing though mud to feed hay to various equines, bovines and caprines, not to mention chickens and our new swine, I've had little time to sit and dump my brain into my blog. On the other hand, you may appreciate that.

And, no, I don't want to know if you do.

Let's journey to the magic land of YouTube, from which I will share a scene which refreshes my soul, brings a tear to my eye, and puts right all that is wrong with the world.

Did that make you wonder? Ha! Try living in my brain sometime.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Cow..Excuse Me, Her Majesty

Our Dexter cow is actual royalty. Her name is Good Queen Bess. Ethan named her after Elizabeth I, and she has all the attitude to match. One recent day I approached Her Majesty and asked if we might film a day in her life. She graciously acquiesced.

I rise early. Being greeted by my minions, I gently remind them of my need for sustenance.

I am fed.

Afterward, I retire for a short, revitalizing nap.

I meet with my council of advisers. Great matters of state occupy much of my time. My realm has needs, and I am not unaware of my responsibilities.

Afterward, I again retire for a short, revitalizing nap.

In the evenings, my courtiers and I are again in need of sustenance. We are fed. In the foreground, you can see a scullery maid as she hastens to meet our needs.

I am blessed with a magnificent staff. Often we dance into the night. I am an excellent dancer.

I sleep, to awaken again on the morrow. I dream of England.

Pro-Life Corner

One of the most comforting aspects of Christ's work for us is that He has gone through pain, dying and death in advance of us. He didn't eliminate it from the human experience. He transformed it into our homecoming. The transition now holds no terror, no sting. Our last moment on earth is instantly transformed into our first moment with Jesus.

Pastor Mark Jeske

Friday, April 17, 2009

Can someone please explain something to me? Please read the link first.

OK, you back? Here's my problem.

Massachusetts allows abortion on demand. A Google search found several options for abortion clinics in the state. And yet, she's accused of killing her unborn child? How can that be, when she can go down to the local clinic and pay someone to do it?

I asked the same question years ago, when a local midwife was accused of killing an unborn child. See, home midwifery is illegal in Illinois. She was at a home birth, and, sadly, the child died. The parents did not charge her. They said they supported her and that she had done all she could; they continued to do so throughout her trial. The State of Illinois charged her. I asked this question of my OB/GYN, and his response was, "I don't know what to tell you." Although he was pro-medical birth and "didn't like" home midwifery, he was supportive of the idea that parents have the responsibility of making such decisions and that life begins at conception.

I asked it again a few years later, when a local teen was charged with killing an unborn child. He had been driving irresponsibly (way too fast) and caused an accident which, although the mother lived, killed an unborn child. But how can that be a crime in Illinois when, like Massachusetts, she could have gone down to the local clinic and paid someone to do it?

Have I lived too long? Am I clueless? Tell me where I've misunderstood something.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tax Day, Revisited

Hmm...The President's tax return got a once-over yesterday. $2,656,902 in 2008, mostly from selling his memoirs. The report I saw last night said $176,000 in charitable giving. That's just under 7%. I'm going to make an assumption here, based on what's been reported about the President's Chicago church, that he's heard much preaching on the giving of the tithe. That's 10%.

7% is quite a jump from the early years of this century, when they were less than 1%. Good work, Obamas.

Now, I'm not one to talk. Our giving is below the tithe, as well. But neither am rummaging through other peoples' pockets to find money to give. And, as he continues to do so, our net income is going to go down measurably. While his will, too, I imagine we'll feel the bite much more deeply. Our family will miss that money much more than his will. We'll do it, because we have to, and we'll make do with it, because we'll have to.

I'd just like to see them put their money where their mouth is.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Watch For Black Helicopters

Oh, my. Today is April 15. And we all know what THAT means.

Our taxes were filed months ago, and our refund is in the bank. We try not to have one, but, this year we miscalculated. Uncle Sam used our money for a while, and was nice enough to give it back. Coulda used the interest....

But Ethan's needs to be filed. I am taking care of that today. Except...he forgot to sign it. Someone else, who shall remain nameless, is going to do that for him. Hence the above warning.

For your listening entertainment, and the salving of the wounds associated with today, enjoy the following. Simplistic, yes. Not completely true, probably. But cuddle up with your blanky and take the blue pill for a little break.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday, Tuesday

Because of the economy, John had a furlough day yesterday. That's a day off without pay for those who haven't had the joy yet; he'll be having 5 of those this year. At least he's still employed!

Because it came after a weekend, it felt like a Sunday. So today, by default, is this week's Monday. Got that?

And it's behaving just like one. I can't light a fire under myself for anything. I have a friend's girls here today. I think they're rummaging through my frig...and I'm still blogging! Even the goats won't wake up! We're phasing out the 3am feeding, but I still get up at 5am to feed them. The little stinkers wouldn't eat! Wouldn't even wake up. That's gratitude for ya; see if I get up tomorrow, guys!

It's grey and dreary and we're almost out of milk. Yep, it's a Monday! I don't care what your calendar says!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Kid

At 7am, we start the day with a warm, yummy bottle.

After breakfast, we go out to the barn to spend the day with Mom.

At noontime, we have a warm lunch bottle.

Some afternoons, we have friends over to play.

We hear that some kids get to play inside all day. But we really like being with Mom.

After our supper bottle, about 5pm, we go back inside for the night.

At 10pm, we have our bedtime bottle and go to sleep again.

About 3am, we wake up for a nighttime bottle. John says we have to stop this one soon. He says we can stay with Mom all night when we do that! We'll try, but right now we get hungry in the night.

We would like to stay up, but Mary and Melody tell us to go back to sleep. They even turn off the lights! But we're not scared of the dark. We are brave.

At 7am, we start all over again!

We love being kids.

Georgie Corgi

We had visitors yesterday; some homeschooling friends came to hang out, and brought a new family along. They also brought their new corgi puppy, George. Four Socks was not impressed.

Neither were the little goats.

We liked him, though. He got to spend the night with us when their Dad had to be taken to the ER with dehydration. He was a sweetheart, sleeping when he should, playing when he should, and going outside when he had to.

Good boy, George.

(For the sake of my husband, I should explain that I don't normally let the goats through my kitchen. This was just for the purposes of photography...and warm feet on a chilly spring morning!)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Miracles, Major and Minor

We've been a little busy this week, getting used to a new schedule. I managed to acquire a horse for me, so Mary isn't out riding alone. Between the two of them, there's a little more to be done and a little more to worry about. Mine is Hope, a retired track horse/brood mare. She and Wakiya have become very friendly, so things are good there.

Mary joked that she should have named her horse Change, so we could have Hope and Change.

Last weekend provoked some observations, some of which might be considered miraculous.

7 children from 3 families, ranging from 5 to 14 years in age; nothing more serious than a bumped head. No fighting, no whining, no pouting.

Husbands who made and delivered coffee, wives who made and delivered food. No fighting, no whining, no pouting.

Even when the weather was nasty and two husbands, wanting to go home, deferred to their wives and didn't road-warrior it out of there.

2 daughters who organized and prepared dinner (think lunch, some of you) while the moms were out taking April to her new home. It was delicious.

A 14 year-old offering to tuck in and pray with the rest of the kids one night, while moms and dads visited.

The quiet hum of The Lord's Prayer coming up the stairs from the bedroom moments later.

The cow didn't calf. -whew-

Kids negotiating over who would be the lucky one (and they meant it) to get up at 3am to help feed baby goats.

Three families contained by the weather in a Midwestern ranch house for three days.

Friendships intact at the end of the weekend.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Boots on Illinois Ground

-whew- It was a whirlwind weekend. We took April to her new home, where she is now named Mabel Two-Teated Meadow Muncher. I kid you not. We traveled through three states (IA, NE and SD) on Saturday to deliver her, handing her over to Blane and the incredibly cute Blayley, Blane's daughter (who used to have three cats, but one died. In case you wondered.)

We were well-cared for by Chocolot and her wonderful husband. So well-cared for that I didn't mind missing Weight Watchers' tonight! I doubt my weigh-in would have been encouraging. There was enough beer, wine and Godiva liqueur to account for a pound on their own! The food and accomodations were lovely, and the company was the best. Ranchwife and The Rancher delivered Mary's horse to her! See them get acquainted. (That's Ranchwife getting her started.)

Mary is, to say the least, thrilled. She has named her equine Wakiya, which, in Lakota, means "Thunder." See, Cowgirl #1, the oldest daughter of Ranchwife and The Rancher, bought Wakiya's filly when Mary bought Wakiya. Cowgirl decided that she wanted to name her horse Lightning, and suggested to Mary that Lightning's mother should be named Thunder; until then, Wakiya had no real name. She was called The Roan Mare; I suggested shortening that to Trim, but Mary went with Thunder. She just didn't like Thunder, however, so looked around for a word from another language meaning thunder; Lakota won.

Oh, Cowgirl ended up naming her horse Pathfinder. But that's another story.

Our new little goats had to come with, as their mom was sick and wasn't supposed to nurse them. So Mary and assorted Chocolot and Ranchwife children were getting up at 3am to feed kids. On the way home, we stopped a few times to feed them and water Wakiya. This photo is of their reaction when we were watering the horse at one stop. Sort of, "Hey. You forgot about us. Don't forget about us."

And Wakiya? Was she thankful for her water? Well, watch and see.

Maybe I'm being too hard on her. After all, April was in there earlier in the weekend. Maybe it just smelled too "cowy," and Wakiya was washing the floor.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

The abolitionists in the nineteenth century kept the main thing the main thing. The twenty-first-century pro-lifers are keeping the main thing the main thing. The Bible specifically condemns the pagan practice of sacrificing children, and I'm happy to be criticized for taking on the issue of abortion as a grave moral crisis.

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hitting The Road

It was a rodeo. John was dragged. Dr. Morrissey deserves whatever he's going to charge us. April eventually got into the trailer. It looks like this now.

And that's all we care about.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another Near Tragedy

Yesterday I was out taking pictures for a new project. My father-in-law will be here next week, helping Mary and I build animal shelters. While out there, I thought I'd check in on the mom and babies. Good thing I did. One was lying in the straw, in a position I recognized from another time, when we found a dead goat in a stall. He was still breathing, but was obviously not happy.

One call to Dr. Maureen later, and we learned we had a goat with mastitis. Her kids now need to be bottlefed. We were up every couple of hours, feeding babies and worrying. The sicker kid had to be tubed, fed through a tube into its stomach, for the first feeding. The next two were accomplished with a syringe. He was looking so perky by the third that I told him, "Drink out of the bottle, or don't drink." He drank.

This morning we had two happy kids and a very worried mama goat. The kids spent the day with Mama, and are back in the house for the night. Tomorrow they will join us on our Great Adventure to deliver April to her new home and pick up Mary's horse! You have no idea how happy I am that she will finally have a horse. The weeping, wailing and whining around here have been almost too much to bear. But soon, peace will return. Although then there'll be a horse to take care of.....

Some cute pictures of kids and kids feeding kids. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Near Tragedy

I have my laptop set on a standing desk in my dining room. From there I can see the world while I travel the world, so to speak. (My other computer is in the Cocoon; our office down in the basement. No windows.)

My standing desk was built by my husband. It is a two-shelf painted bookcase with a stained wood top. Very pretty, functional and...very pretty and functional. I keep my cookbooks on it. And road atlases. And other critical things that don't have a better home. The top was biscuited and glued. (Not sure how else to describe the oval slivers of wood that fit into slots on the shelf and top, holding it all together.) At some point, Mary broke the glue seal. Lately, when I lean on my desk, it will sometimes flip it's lid. (BWAHAHAHA!)

Yesterday I decided to finally glue the top back on. I carefully set my laptop on the half-wall against which the desk is set. I pulled up on the top...and knocked my laptop onto the floor.

This laptop was a big deal. I wanted one for a while, and really felt funny when I finally got one. I mean, who needs two computers? Well, I guess I thought I did. It's very handy to have one in the dining room that I can pull up recipes on and check the weather forecast while my morning coffee brews. When we watch a family movie, and have a question about an actor or historical event, we can look it up while still on the sofa. And Mary can check her e-mail without having to DRAG herself ALL THE WAY DOWNSTAIRS. (The inhumanity) But I feel decadent having one. And now it's...damaged. The corner hit the floor pretty hard, knocking out the disc drive and bending the thin metal plate on the wrist-side of the keyboard. The disc drive was fixed, really easily, but this metal piece... When I left click, I can't gently tap like I used to. I have to LEFT click, if you get my meaning; the bend causes the mouse to be lower than it should. Dirt and crud are going to get under that metal plate more easily now, and there goes my computer.

I should have known better than to let John spoil me in this way.

And the new wood floor the computer fell onto? Don't ask about the gouge. Just don't.