Monday, November 10, 2014

Busy, busy week and weekend, so no blogging has happened for a long, long time.

We've loaded pigs and taken them to the butcher. We then picked up their little white packages, and they are now "enjoying" freezer camp. There will a post about this in the not-so-distant-future.

We have a new grandchild! John Morgan Peterman V was born on November 7, and he's a cutie! I'll be headed to Michigan to visit him/them for about a week. There will be a post about this in the not-so-distant-future.

A good time was had with friends. Sadly, no pictures, so, no post. Just know there was wine and food involved.

A coyote grabbed up one of our chickens this morning. I heard the cackling, and he was gone before any of us could grab the gun. Mary and John headed out to the woods to look for him, but, no joy. It was a young hen, too.

Leaves have been raked and burned continually. I am hoping to finish that project today.

So I'd best get moving.

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's A Miracle!

We're having a loaves and fishes experience here. Or Ezekiel has stopped by.

We buy our laying chickens' feed from a local feed store. I took in a recipe for chicken feed, and he grinds it for me to order, when I need it. I have to buy 500 pounds at a time. So I plan carefully, watch my supply, and go visit Eddie at the feed store, as needed.

About three weeks ago, I noticed we were getting low. I called Eddie and ordered chicken feed. At the same time, we were low on pig feed. He also mixes this for me, so I ordered 500 pounds of that, too.

A couple of days later, before I could pick up the feed, I opened a can in my chicken house and found it full. This puzzled me, as I hadn't seen it full before. "Oh, well," I thought. "Middle-aged brain, I must have made a mistake." Because our feed cans were full, I called Eddie and told him I would pick up my chicken feed later, but that I still needed the pig feed.

A week after we picked up the pig feed, I went out to feed the chickens and found a bare minimum of feed in the can. That made sense; it had been about two weeks since I saw that full can. I distinctly remember carrying that can into the chicken house so that I could dump every last smackeral into the chicken feeder.

Yesterday, I picked up that 500 pounds of feed. I brought it home, and commenced my weight-lifting routine. One 50-pound bag to the chicken shed, dump it into a can, rinse and repeat. But, this time, I opened the empty can...and it was half full. What? That can, I am sure, was empty last week. I remember carrying it into the chicken house, right?

You don't suppose there's Someone Really Important visiting somewhere around here...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Farm Report

Some years ago, we decided to add some chicken housing. We built 4 huts from plywood and a pressed asphalt roofing called Ondura, and have used those to brood chicks and raise meat birds. The huts have survived much like you'd expect something built pretty cheaply and simply, but they're still functional. The roofs, however, had developed many leaks and were not serving their purpose anymore.
We decided to replace the Ondura with steel roofing. It turned out to be lighter in weight, which was a plus, since those roofs are hinged at the higher end, and we lift them to feed and water the birds. Does wonders for the muscles, but can be difficult, sometimes. The lighter-weight roofing material was also nicer looking, and should be longer-lasting.
But...You KNEW there had to be a "but," right?
The chickens, when things are working correctly, breathe. They breathe hot little puffs of moisture-laden breath into the hut. The metal roofs gets warm. The cool night air, especially in fall, condenses. The condensation
drips into the chickens' litter. The condensation, along with other liquids the chickens produce, made their fluffy, pine-shaving litter into a nasty-smelling, soupy mess. We went looking for some kind of insulation for the roof, and we found these.
4'x8' sheets of foil-backed foam board insulation. (I get no compensation from the manufacturer, even though I kindly included their logo and name in this photo. That's how I roll.) We had some other foam board, which was given to us, that would have been a smart way to go. Cheaper, or free, is smarter, right? But that foil backing, serving as a vapor barrier, clinched it for us. The project began.
There was measuring. There was marking. There was cutting. There was gluing. I condensed that process into this short little paragraph, because I realize this is getting, well, dull.
In the end, we had messy gloves
But the insulation was installed. (Here's a picture of one half of a roof done, so you can see, well, how it was done.)
And one finished roof.
So now, the chickens have soft, fluffy, better-smelling litter again.
Well, they DID. They yucked it up again, after only a couple of days. but, that's OK. They're leaving tomorrow, talking a trailer ride to Freezer Camp. Yes, I called it that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blog Down, Blog Down!

Its sad when I go to visit a blog and find it hasn't been updated in a while. But I've been there. I know how life works, sometimes, and I expect bloggers to take a break.

Today, however, I went to check in on a distant friend, and found her blog is GONE. She has taken it down. Silly me, I should have recorded some contact information, but I did not. So it appears I will lose touch with this one. And that makes me sad.

Unless, New Girl, you read this and let me know where you are! I know Vivi is keeping you busy, so just shout is fine. No need for a long, rambling anything.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Saturday Farm Report, a Day Late and Without Very Many Pictures

I was busy enough on Saturday, that the Farm Report is late.

We have 13 turkeys left of the 20 I bought in the spring. They want to be fewer; they keep escaping their pens. Mostly they roost on top of their huts, but, often, they go walkabout. Henry the corgi found one about two weeks ago, and ate half of it before I could intervene. Poor thing survived, although I had Mary put it out of its misery. They was no way survival would be long term. The little jerk. (Henry, not the turkey. Although he did ask for it.)
Turkeys and chickens go to the butcher on October 19. I have about 45 of the 50 chickens I started with. They're basically too lazy to go walkabout. In fact, they sit as close to the food trough as they can, not even bothering to peck/eat the pen they're allowed. Take that, pastured poultry people!

Renovations to the chicken huts are proceeding. New roofs were installed in the past two weeks. They've been a little disappointing. Metal, they seemed sturdier than the pressed felt/asphalt roofing that had, admittedly, lasted 5 years. They ARE sturdier, and lighter, BUT they chill. This means that the birds' heat and the cold night air conspire to condense on the inside of the hut, causing dripping. The bedding was saturated two days after the first installation. We're going to try some foam insulation today, hoping that will help. Fingers crossed. I am thinking that a roof vent would be a better idea, but we'll do the insulation first.

The steer remains mellow. That is a good thing. He also seems to be gaining again. He had lost some ground in September, when the grass finally gave way in the main pasture. Now that he's on his own, he gets to eat it ALL without sharing with Wakiya, and it shows. Beer, some grain, and a little alfalfa in the hay can't hurt, either.

Pigs are HUGE. They look nothing like the little weaners we brought here in May. In fact, they were so small, then, that I planned to take them to butcher in mid-November, rather than October, which is our usual month. Well, sure enough, I had to call and change that appointment. They'll be going for their trailer ride on October 26. We are going to have freezers FULL of pork!

Dogs are happy. Cats are content. Our ancient cat, Dinah, is being spoiled. Her teeth are finally giving out. Well, after all, she is pushing 18. Funny, considering that, when we got here, we were told that she would only last 2-3 years as an outside cat, and that we were setting her up for poor health/early death. But here I am, buying soft cat food for an ancient cat who has few teeth. Well, she's been a good protector of our grain supply these many years. Time to pay her back, I say!

Next up; a rehab of the chicken coop, some digging in and for the garden, and removal of a few trees. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On Medical Advice

We are finishing a young steer. His previous owners named him Prince Charming, and he does have a high opinion of himself. He recently became such a bother to Mary's horse, Wakiya, that we separated them. This happened about 3 weeks ago, and is akin to weaning him again. He has been walking the fence line, where he can see her across the property, but not get to her, bawling and carrying on as if...well, I don't know what would be traumatic enough. Suffice it to say, it started as humorous, but became something else.

I worry. I worry about some things that are important, and some that are not. In this case, I was worried that Charming's inability to separate from Wakiya would translate into stress that would cause adrenaline to taint his meat. His date with destiny, aka, truck ride to freezer camp, aka, butchering date, is in mid-December. If he continued this until then, would he be tough and tasteless? (Betcha didn't know that could happen!) I talked to a few folks; friends, the butcher, and, then, the vet.

Our vet is terrific about being available for questions. We can call whenever we need information, and he is always cheerful and helpful about giving it. He has even started taking text questions. Sometimes we receive answers via text; this time, however, it was important enough to call me back.

"No," he said, "The meat won't be affected. But three weeks of this is excessive." And he suggested a medicine.

Yes, you do see there what you think you see there. NO, the medicine is not for us humans. The directions are, "Put some in his his feed. It'll mellow him out and quiet him down." (I feed grass and hay when we have a steer, until the last 2-3 months, when I add enough grain to make my grass-feeding-friends think I'm silly, and just enough that my grain-feeding-friends think its not enough to do anything. Yeah, I've only ever really grown one steer, but he tasted wonderful, and I hope this feeding plan will work again.)

So, into the bucket of grain...

Yep, that's my claw-like hand there. I wasn't sure of the amount necessary at that point, (the message with quantity came after the photo was taken) so I actually put 2 cans into the grain.

I took the bucket out to Charming. He was bellowing and calling for his feed, which was all of 15 minutes late at this point. (One thing I've noticed about ruminants is that, if their feed is even 10 minutes late, they believe they will never see feed again, and act accordingly.) I put the bucket on the ground, and he attacked it.

Until he tasted the beer.

He spat the feed back into the bucket. Yes, you read that correctly. An animal who, only minutes before, had come to the realization that he would NEVER EAT AGAIN, and spat the proferred food into the bucket.

--sigh-- Did we have a Baptist steer?

As you can see, he tucked into his hay pile, leaving the bucket untouched. I walked away, hoping that he would go back to the bucket. Did he?

About 20 minutes later, Farmer John arrived home from work. I asked him if he had seen the steer. "Yes," he said, "It's odd, though. He's lying down, eating his hay. I've never seen that before." I explained what had happened that afternoon, and we both got a good belly laugh over the story.

Yep, he's definitely mellower. And quieter. So we'll be following Dr. Bill's instructions; 1-2 cans per day, in his feed. If the Japanese can do, why not us Midwesterners?

Friday, October 3, 2014


Hold your applause. I am blogging today; that does not mean this will be a regular occurrence. I do try...

We have a sergeant in the family again. Oldest son was one, before he left the Guard. Now, youngest has been promoted, all the way on the other side of the world. He was told not to expect this, so he was surprised and is, rightfully, full of himself right now. We're pretty proud of him, too. To literally soldier on when you've been told your efforts will lead nowhere sounds just like every description of the NCO I have ever heard. So he earned this, but he also deserved it.

Congratulations to your command, Ethan! They got it right!

Friday, June 13, 2014


4,489 killed. 32,021 wounded; I'm going out on a limb to say that might not include PTSD.

For people who drop their weapons and run away in their underwear.

I am not a good follower of politics. I am more an observer, and someone who cares for those who fight the fight and clean up the messes that the politicians leave. I am ashamed. I should be more active, I should be more informed. Maybe one more voice would have kept my sons from mourning friends who died, or were injured, apparently, for nothing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Classic Military Mom Bad

This week, several military families will receive bad news.

Although I had no reason to believe that our son would be involved, of course, my brain immediately went into protective-mommy-mode. (And it pains him to read the word "mommy," I know, but it is what it is.)In that mode, my worrier goes into overdrive, and I do silly things. Like text and ask for immediate response. Which came. The conversation continued, ending with an apology...from me. I know better. But its just a scary thing.

At least my first in-country freak out is over. Moving on now.

On the other hand, think of it. 70 years ago, moms had sent their boys off to war, and heard nothing, for months on end. I suppose that was a comfort; if a notification team didn't show up, or an MIA or injury telegram, things were fine. No news is good news, as they say. Today, we are spoiled. I can text, email, call, at any time. In fact, he kept me up in the wee hours of this morning, responding to another text I had sent late yesterday. So he can respond at will as well. Hence the tag on this post; What a Fascinating Modern World We Live In.

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day, 2014, Looks Back on D-Day, 1944

A friend posted this image to Facebook today, the 70th anniversary of the heroic Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy, France.

Eisenhower sent those troops into Normandy, knowing that casualties could be incredibly high. This article explains the reasons, and, if you must know, made me cry. Lots of deaths, many injuries, stupid decisions and wise ones, brought about "...the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world."

I have a quote from Thomas Jefferson hanging above my desk, words he wrote in a letter to John Adams. "Yes, we did produce a near perfect republic, but will they keep it or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom?" I think of the sacrifice and courage of those men on those beaches, many of whom were not yet 20 years old!

I also think of the words of Captain Miller; you know, Tom Hanks' character, in Saving Private Ryan, to Private Ryan, just before he (Miller) dies; "Earn this."

How are we, as descendants of those who fought on those beaches, keeping alive their commitment to freedom? Have we earned their sacrifice? Do I look around myself, see freedoms fought and died for being lost, and step up to keep them alive? Or do I sit in my living room and moan about their loss? This image, these thoughts, make me think of the words of another American;

...that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Boots Actually on the Ground

Well, as much as it pains me to say, our son is finally serving in that place where no one wants to go, but many volunteer. Here's a message I received today from his commander. As much as it tears at a mommy's heart to know where her kid is and know that its not here at home, it is nice to know that they're positive about the experience!

Families & Friends,
I wanted to make a quick post to let you know that we have arrived safely at our destination! The Soldiers and I have moved into our AMAZING living conditions and are setting up our little homes away from home. Our living conditions are very nice. Without giving up too much physical security and force protection measures… You should rest your heads easy knowing that your Soldiers are wrapped securely in some pretty thick concrete and rebar. Just as importantly, we have Air Conditioning, Heat and RUNNING WATER BATHROOMS!!! Those whom this is not their first rodeo will attest that not having to walk through dust/mud and blazing heat after showering is one of our biggest morale boosters. The other is the multitude of communication conduits to home. I am impressed with the lack of delay in voice conversations, speed of the internet connections ( my COMMO NCO thinks it’s too slow because he is a techy dude) and abundance of MWR, USO and religious facilities for Soldiers to unwind, communicate and grow.
It will not be all fun and games though. There will be long days, short nights and a whole lot of sweat. Your Soldiers are already working. In fact, we hit the ground running and are once again proving the Wisconsin work ethic to be superior to most. This will be a dynamic deployment. I keep telling the leaders Semper Gumby! (Always Flexible). I am very proud of everyone’s effort and dedication to the mission. The mission to reduce, return and remove is near and dear to our hearts as we posture this theater to dramatically reduce as the Commander in Chief directed. We are working on shutting off the lights. 1SG reports that morale is very high and Soldiers are eager to dive into construction projects. The Soldiers are moving and grooving like a well-oiled machine and are Fiercely Loyal!

Prayers for all would be greatly appreciated. (By the way, that picture right there was taken by the governor, with his phone, Tweeted when he came to send off his soldiers. Fun fact!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hugs (and food) for Soldiers

As mentioned last month, our youngest is training for a deployment. This past weekend, members of the FRG (Family Readiness Group) trekked to the training site to serve them lunch. Sadly, John and I came late to the game, all the volunteer spaces were filled, and we were not able to attend. I talked to the leader of the FRG, and asked her to give him a hug for me. She did, and even had another volunteer take a picture.

Thank you Janelle!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday Farm Report

Today's report reports that we are off the farm!

Regular readers may remember that this blog began as a way to chronicle/discuss/share news about our middle son's deployment to Iraq in 2008. I continued it afterward, mostly because it was fun.

Well, with some trepidation, I report that its back to its original purpose. Soon our youngest son will be taking an all-expenses paid vacation to southwest Asia, courtesy of Commander-in-Chief Obama and the United States Army. We are headed into our fourth deployment, and I hope you'll follow along, in this space.

This weekend we are at a pre-deployment briefing weekend. The Guard has ensconced us in a cute hotel, and, in the morning, we'll start a round of incredibly fascinating (I'm sure!) and informative meetings about what to expect during the next year-ish. We'll drink coffee and ask questions and, in the end, head home, ready for the next phase.

We can't share any details beyond these. We'll let you know what we know when we know it, you know?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wonder of Wonders!

Two posts in three days! Wonder of wonders! Which reminds me of this...

We have an interesting school body; only about 80 kids. This week we're celebrating National Lutheran Schools Week. Which, as you can see, was last week. But last week we had two snow days, which were actually extreme cold days. So we're celebrating this week. The kids set a list of "dress up days," which seems kind of odd for high school students, but we have fun doing it. Today was Hipster Day. Which is counter, really, because, if you say, "I'm dressed 'Hipster,'" you are, by default, NOT. Again, we have fun doing it. Here I am with a colleague, being tragically hip. Emphasis on Tragically.
You can tell we're hipsters best in this shot, because we are NOT looking at the camera and definitely NOT smiling. We. Just. Don't. Care.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saturday Farm Report

Hey! Its been a while! I would blame that on life; my job has been keeping me busy, and its hard to blog through exhaustion. Also, my camera gave up the ghost, and its hard to blog without the pictures. It just is. So now that I have another, I am back in the least today! Lets be glad for that, hope for the best, and see what happens in the future.

Today we're being hit with snow. There are those who are all moan and groan about that; I say its January in northern Illinois. You were expecting maybe heatstroke? Seriously, we have been having a winter, lets make that a WINTER, as has most of the country. Fortunately, we have a savior, in the form of a neighbor who has a Bobcat and loves to run it. He's over here at the drop of a flake. In fact, he just pulled in.

Its great having a neighbor like that!

What I like best about winter is HAVING to hunker down and stay inside sometimes. We've had 4 snow days so far, called because of extreme cold and wind chills. I spent a couple of those reading; I've finished Jo Baker's Longbourne, (I expected to love it, and I did) Leon Leyson's The Boy on the Wooden Box, (I expected to cry, and I did) Maeve Binchy's Tara Road (I expected it to have a post-modern, ambiguous-leaning-sad ending, and it did NOT) and Joyce Maynard's Labor Day (ditto Tara Road, add that I cried when I finished it.) I also worked out some fun lessons for my students, and am surprising them by changing up some teaching methods for the new year. And I spent a great deal of time cleaning and purging, donating an entire pickup load of stuff to local thrift stores. They got unused clothes, games, decor, c&^p, you know. The store room looks fabulous. Add to that the redecorating of the three bedrooms here, and this house is beginning to look like someone likes it, and in fact, might even love it someday!

All righty then, like when beginning an exercise routine, one mustn't push one's blogging muscles too far on the first try back. I hope to be back soon...If not, you'll know I'm thinking of you!