Sunday, April 13, 2014

April Showers...

Some old peacock feathers from my Dad's birds.

Nothing major going on here at this hillbilly farm...just enjoying seeing the green popping out all over!! Today is a rainy day here with several of those April showers they talk about that are suppose to bring May flowers!

We haven't done anything news worthy around here...or maybe it's just that I've lost my blogging edge, I don't know. Course, I also haven't taken to many photos either which sometimes helps me actually blog about something, even if it's boring. In fact, these peacock feathers are the only thing I've snapped a photo of in the last week or more. *sigh* Yep...really need to get motivated a little better than I have been, cause I always got such enjoyment out of taking photos. Oh well...guess if I'm happy it doesn't matter so much what I do to get that way, just that I am huh. :-))

The willow trees are finally starting to get leaves here, which always seem to be about the first, so the rest of the trees should be following in their footsteps soon hopefully. It's actually been almost hot the last few days, although is suppose to cool back off for this next week.

The biggest thing that's happened around here is we finally got our new water heater installed. (I know...big deal huh! *giggle*)

I could tell it was dying last summer, least that's what I figured was going on with it. So...it wasn't a huge surprise when the wood furnace went out one night this winter and we didn't have any hot water the next morning. I knew exactly what had happened, and thankfully had a little money saved towards getting a new one. Sadly, with the extra pipes hooking it up to the wood furnace, so the furnace could heat our water when it was on, we had to pay someone else to come install it. Yikes...that wasn't cheep...but they hooked it up so that next time hopefully it won't be quite as hard to get it switched. Whoever installed the furnace and water heater in this house sure had it set up strangely...making it harder for just anyone to work on it.

Least we finally got it installed yesterday, so now we don't HAVE to keep the wood furnace running. Depending on the direction of the wind, we were having trouble having the windows of the house opened, cause I didn't want the smoke of the furnace coming inside (since smoke bothers my nose to much) and with spring here it's NICE having the windows open.

Other than that...it's pretty much been the same old thing around here, Galen keeps busy outside or with the neighbors, and I keep busy with whatever I am doing inside...butter, ghee, cheese, cooking, cleaning or if I'd ever get around to it (which I haven't much), playing in my soap room.  As usual, there's so much to do...and so little time.  Time flies by, the week is over before I know it, and another started.  Who knew I'd ever get to where I didn't think about blogging for over a week...*sigh*  Guess thats probably a good thing, since I don't seem to have any interesting stories to tell lately.  LOL

Hope everyone is enjoying spring...or fall for those friends of mine who live "down under" as they say here.  I myself am really enjoying the change in color...the brown's turning to greens are so soothing on my eyes!  :-))

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Cream Line

Usually we only have a couple inches of cream on a gallon of milk which is still good to my way of thinking...but this one really out did it's self!!  Loving how much cream we are getting lately, I'm trying to get our ghee supply stocked up, then I'll start working on extra butter in the freezer for the down time we'll have before the next round of calves start coming...not to mention stocking up on frozen sour cream and cream cheese.

I've been pretty happy with the cream line we've been having on each gallon of milk lately. We have one of the calves wearing a weaning ring right now, so only one cow is giving us ALL her cream...but the cream line has still gotten bigger since she stopped holding it back for her calf.

Usually it's only a couple inches, which is still good for us anyway, but this one gallon this morning had to show off...so I thought I'd show it off to you! *giggle*

Needless to say...I'm making butter pretty much every day these days!  Yippee!!

Just wait till we have ALL the calves weaned...we'll really have milk and cream coming out our ears then!!

Sure loving the bounty, God has given to us so far in the milk and cream department this year!!!  ;-))

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Neighbor's Gift

I've wanted a Martin house for years, and finally now that we live by the BEST neighbors I've got one!!!  One of our Amish neighbor's made me one for an early birthday gift, cause my wonderful hubby told him I wanted one!

For years I've wanted one of those Martin houses that I saw a lot of, as we drove by Amish houses...yes you see them elsewhere, but it seems almost all the Amish have at least one. I've always thought of them as bird apartments...but they always looked so cool I wanted one (or dare I say some?!  TEE HEE) of my own.

This winter, DH told me that one of our neighbor's was making one for himself...and hubby also let slip that the neighbor was making one for me too!! Ahhh...can we say NICE!! Both hubby for letting the neighbor know I'd love one, and the neighbor for building it for me!!

I've wanted a Martin house for years, and finally now that we live by the BEST neighbors I've got one!!!  One of our Amish neighbor's made me one for an early birthday gift, cause my wonderful hubby told him I wanted one!  This is just before they were put together on the post.

I never knew that some of the houses came in four pieces...that were then put on the post, but attached so they can be lowered to be cleaned. I'm not sure how that all works, cause I didn't actually go out and watch them put it up...that's just what hubby told me. I did manage to snap a photo of the pieces on the ground, while the guys were busy elsewhere...but had to go back inside and finish what I was doing, so didn't watch when they came back to put them up.

I guess it's possible (according to what our neighbor said) that they won't get birds in them this year...but hopefully next year they will be found and used!

Anyway, hubby said our neighbor made it for my birthday...and yes this is EARLY, but Martin's have been sighted, so they wanted to get it up.  

We sure have been blessed with wonderful neighbors in this move!!  The BEST ones we've ever had...and we actually have had a few good ones before.  Just not as MANY of them!  :-))

Maybe it's the quality of neighbors that I'm so enjoying.  We've not had to many neighbors who we KNEW we could count on if we NEEDED  help.  We had one (maybe two at the end) neighbors in Nebraska I'd have felt somewhat comfortable calling on, had I needed anything when hubby was gone, and even then I think I'd have been more comfortable calling hubbies best friend for help and he lived a few miles away at the time.  But here, there is a whole community of people I'd go to for help, not to mention my own family...so we truly have been blessed in this move, even if we do still miss having hubbies best friend closer.

So anyway...sorry, I kinda went off on a tangent a bit there...back to the bird apartment; now I have to work on getting a comfy bench for the back yard, so I can enjoy the warm sunshine from time to time, and watch the birds flying in and out of their new home!!   *sigh*  Yep...there is ALWAYS something I "need".  *giggle*  Maybe I'll just put one of our lounge chairs back here...even though it would be more of a pain to move it, when mowing.  We will see what happens, as spring and summer progress.  :-))

Ohhh....I almost forgot, in all the excitement we've had here the past day or two...I'm pretty sure I heard the frogs a night or two ago. (If you don't know...I LOVE the sound of the frogs in the spring.) They are harder to hear here cause the creek is further from the house.  We may still have cool nights...and even some cooler days, but least spring is finally showing it's face here and there!  Yippee!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making homemade vanilla extract

A year or two before we moved to Missouri, I made my first homemade Vanilla Extract out of Vanilla Beans and Vodka. I read about doing it here...although there are LOTS Of places to tell you how online.

After giving my Mom some, and using lots over the last few years, I finally started my 2nd batch a month or so ago.  It has to sit and "brew" a while, so I wanted to get some started, even though I still have a quart jar of my first extract left. (The jar on the right is the old...the new is in the half gallon jar on the left.)

It's sitting in my dark pantry, working and I'm sure it will be ready by the time I need it, once I've finished the last of that first batch.

I'm not real fond of a strong vanilla taste, but do use vanilla in a lot of my baking...It's good in small quantities...although DH would LOVE to have more of it in some things, cause he likes the vanilla flavor.  LOL

The beans may not be real cheap to buy....but neither is the "real" vanilla extract, and I never wanted to get the imitation stuff.  Least it lasts a LONG time...and I do like the satisfaction of making my own.

Try some...you just might find out you prefer it over what you buy too!!  :-))

In other news...I'm feeling so much better this week, than I did last!  So glad to be pretty much over the cold, with just an occasional runny or stuffy nose to remind me of it.  Least I'm able to work in the kitchen again, without having to stop every little bit!  We will see if I can get my gumption together enough to make my brother those cinnamon rolls he requested.

Oh yeah...and those nice warm temps we had last week...not so warm now.  We had snow flurries again today, thankfully it didn't really amount to much.  Just irritating, when it's SUPPOSE to be spring!  LOL  Least it's not May, I'd be really upset to get snow in May two years in a row!  ;-))

Now...get off your computer and try making your own vanilla extract, if you haven't already!  I've gotta get off here, it's past my bedtime!  LOL

Friday, March 21, 2014

Just when I thought I was going to make it...

The purse that Kathy made for Deb several years ago is still in pretty good shape except for one of the zippers won’t work so Kathy made her another one.

...through the winter season without getting sick, a bad cold hit me. Ugg...I so HATE being sick! LOL

And when it's a head cold that takes me down, even if I don't feel horrible, I have a problem, cause I'm a snot factory (Sorry, I know...TMI!!) and I have to blow my nose ever other second almost, or I'm dripping everywhere.

 The first day I didn't feel so bad, except for the drippy nose and a bit of sinus pressure...but the 2nd and 3rd days weren't so fun, not only did I have breathing difficulty and the snot factory problem, but my face and head hurt and I don't deal with pain well. Poor hubby hates it when I get sick, cause in this relationship, I'm the one who is the big baby when sick, not him. *giggle*

Needless to say this week hasn't been MY week...while I may not be the healthiest person on the planet, and fight being tired a lot, at least I'm able to do SOMETHING around the house, like cooking and cleaning here and there, but this week not much has gotten done. I did finally make butter and load the dishwasher today...and will make an easy supper...but so much else needs done it's sad. LOL

 Least I am finally on the mend, and maybe will be able to start sleeping a little better again. I've also been (mostly) able to breath and been able to part with my box of Puffs tissue's for short periods of time...so I'm happy about THAT!!

I will just try to be thankful that even though I didn't fight off all the germs that came my way this winter, I only went under the once...cause last winter I was sick at LEAST three times, which was unusual for me, and I hope it stays unusual. I prefer to be able to say I didn't get sick at all over the winter...but once is better than three times! LOL

The purse that Kathy made for Deb several years ago is still in pretty good shape except for one of the zippers won’t work so Kathy made her another one.

Anyway, I stole these two photos from my Dad's smugmug, since I haven't used my camera in the past few days...and didn't want to take the time to now, since he had perfectly good photos I could use on HIS site. *giggle* This is my new purse. I LOVE a big purse, cause then I have room to stick my big camera down in it, if I don't want to carry my camera bag...and hate buying purses anymore, cause I'm kinda picky.

Ok, I'm REALLY picky! Hush, those of you who know me! *giggle*

Anyway, I really like a denim purse, especially blue denim...so since the last purse my Mom made me was dying...the purse was actually ok, but the zipper was dying on it (and actually totally died just before Mom got this one done)...I bought some denim for a new one.  I loved my last one so much, with all the pockets on the front, that Mom made this one pretty much like it, only added some extra fancy embroidery designs to it.

Dad had to help me get the zipper pulls on it, cause my fingers weren't working that day...they don't usually work with small things like that...but it's all snazzy now, with pretty zipper pulls and embroidery all over it!

I'm loving it!!!  It's a pain to make I guess...least up by the handles, but I'm thrilled that Mom managed to get it figured out and I have a pretty new purse to haul around all the junk I like to haul around when I go somewhere.  It's so much nicer than the cheap junk I would buy in the store's I usually shop at, and lasts so much better too!

Thanks so much Mom (and Dad)!!  I LOVE it!

Now I better get off here.  Suppertime is coming up soon, and I need to make sure I have everything upstairs that I need to make it.  Hopefully I'll finish my "recovery" this weekend, so I can actually do some work next week!  LOL  My brother wanted some of my cinnamon rolls this week, but with not feeling well I had to put him off...maybe I can manage them next week, between some other baking I need to do.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!  :-))

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shasta's first baby!

Cute little Shasta's face, looking at her new little baby boy.

Shasta finally had her baby last week...three days earlier than our neighbor said she would...but hey, that's not to bad in the guessing department! I have to say I'm impressed, and I think he may actually know what he is talking about when it comes to when cows are due to calve! LOL

Course, who knows maybe it was a fluke...but I'll give him the win none the less. In fact, I made him a berry cobbler as a reward, because he had gotten in on one I made a while back for us and kept talking about how good it was...so I had to get some extra berries the last time we went shopping, so I could make him one. He has helped us out with milking a few times when DH had to leave early that day...so between that and guessing pretty right on when Shasta would calve, he deserved his own berry cobbler...although he had to share with his family and another Amish neighbor got some of it too I hear. LOL

Shasta's first baby...it's a boy!

Anyway, Shasta had a little boy for her first time as a mother. I was kinda hoping for a girl, but we can't go wrong with boys either, since we like to eat them. Seeing this one, I'm kinda glad he's a boy...cause his father must have been Trinity, with how dark he is...and he wasn't the best bull...so it's good it's a boy we can turn into a steer and eat, not a girl we would have wanted to sell for a milk cow.

Three generations...Daisy my birthday cow (purple halter)...with her daughter Shasta, and Shasta's new baby boy!

All the "girls" seemed to be giving Shasta pointers when she had her baby, cause they were all gathered around her DH said. In fact, one day the weather turned cold again, before Shasta had her calf, and everyone was laying around Shasta, like they were keeping her warm, with Pearl standing over everyone. It's so sweet, seeing how all the cows take care of each other and each others babies...even if some of them don't want to share their milk with the others, they don't mind keeping each others babies in line and safe, not to mention each other if the need arises.

The temps have been up and down...we've had some really nice days, then a day or two of cold...then really nice temps again. Yesterday was pretty nice, till evening, when it started cooling off. This morning there was another couple inches of snow on the ground again. It's suppose to get warmer in the next day or two again though, so thankfully the snow shouldn't last long. It's kinda funny how it seems that every other Sunday is really cold and maybe even snowy...which seems to turn out to be "church" day for our Amish neighbors, so they have to get out in the buggies and travel to which ever person's house church is that week. I think they are wishing it would fall on their off weekend...not church weekend! LOL

Anyway, I just wanted to share the photos I had hubby get for me of the new calf.  I would have taken them, but didn't want to put my boots on and get out in the mud...so he did it for me with my camera.  That should be the last calves this year for us.  We haven't got our bull back from the neighbor's yet, and probably won't till summer cause then we can maybe have the next round of calves in the spring, instead of in the middle of winter.  LOL  I think a couple other neighbor's want to borrow him...which should work out just fine, since we'd like to breed ours in the middle of summer not to much earlier.

Getting the timing down better for having calves is important...especially since I don't want to have to beg cream from the neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner again this year!  *giggle*

Least we should have PLENTY of meat for our freezer (and my parents freezer) in a couple years after having 4 boys this round (even if one will be our breeding bull for a few years)!  Who knows, if we don't want to take our extra ones through another winter, we could even sell one of the steers when they get a little older...but will keep him for OUR freezer, unless we just can't afford to feed him...least that's my thoughts for now.  LOL  God has sure blessed us this year with our farm babies!!!

Ok, I better get off here.  Have a good rest of the weekend...and stay warm if it still seems to be winter where you are!



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sad Times

Peaceful country home

Years ago, when I married my hubby, I had high hopes that I was gaining another large family with his many siblings, nieces, nephews and all the cousins in the extended family. DH was the baby of 5...and his Dad had a BUNCH of brothers and Sisters who had a bunch of kids...so the family is really quite large, even larger than my own which I thought was pretty good sized if you count all the extended family.

Being the shy type (I know, you wouldn't know it from my blog...but really I am! LOL) I'm not good with talking to people, but a few of DH's family were pretty good at talking to me so it didn't matter to much.  Course there were also some who weren't real good at that, and there were even some who decided they didn't like me to well because I wouldn't come up and start talking...or even say Hi to them, unless THEY started talking first.  *sigh*  I've never had a problem saying Hi, to anyone who said it to me...but don't always think about saying it first, which may be a little rude...but seriously, why is it such a big deal for ME to say it FIRST?  *roll eyes*

Anyway, I quickly figured out that I didn't marry into a "hallmark" family...you know one of those cool ones that were close, and while they may not always agree, would always be there for each other no mater what, and circle the wagon's should the need arise.

For the longest time I held on to the idea that we could still be family....even if not real close, but that finally pretty much got blown out of the water a few years ago when DH's diabetes got out of control, because of to much stress caused by family, and the Dr told us we had to get rid of the stress if we wanted to get his numbers back to doing better.

However, through all the trial's and tribulations....first with me joining the family and trying to get used to new people as a VERY shy young woman, through the final blow up with DH's sister (that also encompassed one or two of his brothers in the end), there was one Sister-in-law (Kathie...married to the one brother who still talks to us from time to time) who stuck with us...and welcomed me into the family not minding that I didn't talk much because she was really good at talking herself and could do it enough for both of us.

I may not have always agreed with her and what kind of wife and mother she was, or even fully trusted her in some respects...but she was always nice to me and didn't make me feel bad if I didn't talk all that much.  In fact, she made me feel comfortable enough, that I COULD talk to her lots better than with most of the rest of DH's family.  We had times we didn't talk much...especially the past few years (because of a few things that happened) but I've still always considered her one of my favorite sister-in-laws...cause at least SHE would talk to me, when we were together.

She was the only one who would let her kids come visit us for a week or two at a time in the summer when they were teens...there was at least one summer, that we had a couple of them several weeks.   It was wonderful to have the kids visit, since we weren't blessed with any of our own and I was so thankful she was willing to share them with us.

She enjoyed some of the same things I did, including flowers (especially Iris) and I'd spend some time at their house while DH was working out of town, when we first moved to Nebraska...because I couldn't go with him then.  She helped us out when we moved to our first farm...and again in the move here to Missouri...although I think she was a bit off at that time, I just didn't realize why.

I didn't realize it, but one thing she  had in common with me was her aversion to going to the doc.  LOL I don't go as far as some people I know...I do realize that doctor's have a place...but I'm not one to go for every little thing, I just didn't know she was that way too.

I hadn't seen her for some time...she lived in Nebraska, and since we moved we didn't go back to visit...we have to much to do here for that, not to mention not much extra money. I talked to her Daughter Abbie some...and Abbie would visit, cause she lives in Kansas City...just a couple hours away.  Abbie told me she thought her Mom had had a stroke last fall, because she was having trouble talking...but couldn't get her to go to a doctor because her Mom wouldn't admit there was anything wrong.

To make a LONG story a little shorter, Kathie moved in with her daughter a couple weeks ago, and her daughter finally insisted she go to the doctor...actually the emergency room, because she was getting weaker and weaker.  Since she was now living with her, she could more easily see the rapid decline.

After many many tests, and a stroke and cancer being ruled out, the doctor finally decided she has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).  And...she is pretty far advanced in it I would say...not just getting started with it.  She has lost something close to 80 lbs in the last 6-8 months and isn't able to walk much now, without some sort of help.  She is having breathing difficulties, and chokes so it's hard to eat a lot.  Needless to say, she isn't doing to well...and we aren't sure how much longer she will be able to fight the disease, although at this point she is still in denial that she even HAS it, which knowing her she may never get out of the denial stage.  LOL

My heart goes out to her daughter...I know at MY age, I'm not ready to lose MY Mom, and Abbie is so much younger than I am (still in her 20's) so it has to be hard for her.  While I haven't been as close to Kathie in the past few years, (we had our issue's...even though we got along for the most part) but it's so sad she has to go through this...and sad to think that the one sister-in-law who would talk to me on DH's side will no longer be there at family functions (if we EVER get invited to any again LOL) to hang out with.

I will remember the good times...the laughs we had and fun conversations we enjoyed together.  The help she gave us, and comfort she offered in the troubled times.  I will remember it ALL...but will try to concentrate on the fun times, because there were plenty of them and even with some of the issue's we've had...I still am more comfortable being with her than most of my other sister-in-laws.  (I'm fine with my brothers wife...but that's a totally different situation, cause it's MY family dynamics...not DH's.)

I have been blessed by many things in my life, and will continue to count knowing her as one of my blessings, for the memories she gave us with her kids, not to mention the fun times her and I had.  Thank you Kathie, for your love and support over the years, and letting me be a hands on Auntie to your kids.


P.S.  In better news... I will share photos of Shasta's baby calf that was finally born this morning when I can get them off my camera!  May be a few days...depending on if I'm home tomorrow...or gone like may be the case.

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