Calling It Quits

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     Alrighty….this is it. I’ve decided to end the story writing and move on to other things. I’m going to reach for other dreams and goals. I’ll send off with a few more dairy farm pictures. 032      This is our favorite barn cat. He’s always hogging the heater and parks himself right smack in the way. This is where we warm our cold “paws” when the weather gets to be wicked cold.033      Now that Michael is off to college during the week Marshall has had to step it up and help carry the heavy load. Sure is nice to have plenty of help. 144      Yours truly…..still milking those bossy bovines….morning and evening. It’s dirty work and the cold and mud makes everything miserable. I cannot wait until spring and warmer weather.010     Speaking of spring….check out my peonies. I have a few that are popping out of the ground. Now that is a beautiful sight to see!!058              And you know the rules for January…….dip strawberries in chocolate to keep your sanity. Yep….the madness has begun. One of my favorite treats. 019          We’ve been grazing the cows on wheat when the weather permits. The pasture is across the road. We string up a flimsy wire fence to give them a few guidelines and off they go. They usually head straight for the green grass unless you’re a naughty girl. Then you have to push the limits and see what you can get away with. 055       And then we have the “double trouble” duo. Matching sweaters?!?! Now I’ve seen it all! Haha That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing this month. Milking cows, feeding calves, scraping cow poop, plodding through all the deep mud, and keeping the little “Dixie chic” warm.

      Thank you so much for coming along with me and reading all my stories about farm life. It’s been a learning experience and fun to share our little corner of the world with you. I’m hoping for a great year of gardening and life on the farm. Life is good! Love to all………………………..Carol

 

A Dairy Farm Christmas

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       We survived the holidays and we’re trying to get back into the groove of things. I cooked and baked like a domestic goddess the whole month of December. Basically I’m burned out. I’d like to tell the family to just please eat cereal for the whole month of January. Can you imagine?! Here are a few highlights of our downhome Christmas……………..174      One of those really cold and foggy mornings. So, does that mean 30 days later we are going to have inclement weather?!?! Help me if we do! This is our little farm house decked out for the holidays. 157

        I did my annual Santa hat photo shoot with the calves. It takes forever to get a decent picture. All they do is shake their head and the hat falls into the poop. They think it’s total nonsense and I think it’s totally cute. 031.jpg      My family came to visit and that made it special. We always feel left out because we can’t travel for the holidays. So, they come to us and we always have a great time. My brother comes from the big city so this is a big thing to get him out into the dirty barn. He borrowed some boots and a coat and helped Candace and Marshall feed calves. Yee haw! 028.jpg     My parents were also here. I wish they would come more often. My Mom loves to clean and you know my farm house is always dirty! What a lovely couple! 188.jpg     I made peanut butter balls. These were Marshall’s favorite. I baked more cookies than I did candy. My mouth is watering just looking at these……..003.jpg     Christmas eve was the best. I fixed mulled cider and we had a shrimp boil. We were sipping and feasting all night.021.jpg     I line the table with a plastic tablecloth and then lay down newspaper and just dump the whole mess right in the middle of the table. We eat with our hands or if you must….I’ll let you have a fork…..and of course lots of melted butter.148 ……..and then we all fell into a heavy food coma. We slept for hours and hours. Haha Only the “chic” is allowed to do that.033.jpg      Aside from all the food and fun, we continued to milk the bossy bovines morning and evening. They never take a holiday.  We are survivors. I’m still trying to get all decorations back into storage. I’m ready for spring………………………Carol

 

 

Star of Wonder

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     Well, the house is quiet again. Our family and friends have all gone home and now it’s back to the real world. It’s time to share all the holiday favorites that happened on the farm. You’ll never guess what we accomplished this year as far as decorations go……..090.jpg       This star is at the top of the silo……70 feet high. I’ve been dreaming of this for years. Michael built the star with scrap wood. Candace wrapped it with lights and here we are…..ready for the “lifting ceremony”. Can we do it?!?!092.jpg       Michael hooked a pulley at the top of the ladder and threaded a long rope through it and pulled it back down to the bottom.093.jpg      We took the rope and tied it to the star while Michael started pulling from the top. He tied the rope to his leg while slowly climbing down. Marshall and Candace held on to the star and started the slow climb up.100.jpg      When Michael and Candace met in the middle they switched gears. Candace tied the rope to her leg and Michael grabbed the star and followed it the rest of the way while Candace climbed down. 105.jpg       Slowly but surely the star reached the top. At this point Candace thought her leg was going to fall off and Marshall and I were trying to figure out how to tie the rope at the bottom.111.jpg     Candace was crying HELP! My leg! My leg! Tie the rope! Quick! My leg is going to fall off! Hurry! 113.jpg     Marshall wasn’t too alarmed. He had to get a good chuckle in first before he helped rescue “big sis”.124.jpg       Once we had the star at the top then it was time to stabilize it. Michael and Candace took zip-ties and tied everything down tight. Meanwhile at the bottom…….we have Marshall taking it easy. 128.jpg      This whole process took about 45 minutes. Michael was so glad to get back on solid ground he kissed the grass. He said he did ask himself while hanging on the top….is this star worth dying for? 145.jpg         We couldn’t wait until after chores that night to have our lighting ceremony. Marshall had a big empty 55 gallon drum he was beating on for the “drumroll”…. Michael was screaming out “Joy To The World” while holding the electrical cord ready to plug in…. Candace and I were recording and chanting. Yep, we get excited around here! 176.jpg     Christmas may be over but we aren’t going to take it down just yet. It took too much time and effort to get this monster to the top. It’s staying up for the month of January. 132.jpg        Michael and Candace stood and admired their hard work for awhile. I certainly don’t want to climb that silo. Yikes! So that’s the “star of the show” around here. Isn’t it awesome………………………..Carol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Bottom

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      This is it my dear friends. When you think you’ve hit rock bottom and you can’t go any lower……trust me…you can. There’s another level underneath rock bottom. I know…..I’ve been there…..and it ain’t pretty. 165.jpg     The pictures I’m posting with this story are of peace and tranquility…..because this story has nothing to do with peace. So here goes….I was outside doing chores. I got a phone call. I forgot all about my hair appointment. I was seriously late. What’s a girl to do?! 047.jpg      I looked around and all the vehicles were gone….except for the “old” farm truck. The one that’s ready for the crusher. Every farm has one. Well, I thought….I’m a big girl I can do this. It’s a standard 5 speed and I’ve driven it for years all over the place. All is well…….until I’m coming home…….237.jpg       I’m sitting in the busiest intersection of town…in the turning lane and I’m the first one in line. There’s traffic everywhere…my light turns green. I go to take off and that sorry beast stalls out. I panic and try to start it, but it just whines…and whines…again and again. By now, I’m in freak out mode. In my total hysteria I must have pumped the gas too many times because I could smell that the engine had flooded. Meanwhile I could hear horns blaring behind me over and over and over……..  125.jpg        All kinds of thoughts were racing through my mind. Like….they’re going to have to push me through the intersection just to get me out of the way!!! What do I do?!?! Help!!! I couldn’t look around. I knew the whole intersection was watching to see what the crazy girl in the old “crusher truck” was going to do next. In my desperate state of mind I suddenly cried out JESUS! And started praying……Lo and behold that old beast suddenly popped off! I was saved…..but wait. Just then I looked up and MY LIGHT HAD JUST TURNED RED AGAIN!! My heart sank down to my toes. The whole intersection was at a complete standstill. I knew I couldn’t sit through another cycle of lights, and so I stomped on the gas and I shot through that intersection like a red rocket. As I roared out of town I thought to myself…..there ain’t nobody gonna catch me!!!132.jpg       Once outside of town I tried to calm my brain….I didn’t know if I should laugh, cry, or scream. When I came to the first stop sign I was feeling a deep anger boiling up inside of me. I hated that old truck with a purple passion. So, I burned some rubber and did my best to lay that transmission on the road. I wanted that truck dead!!! 113.jpg       I was never so glad to see home. I was so traumatized that I couldn’t get out of the truck. I sat there for at least 30 minutes with the events playing over and over in my head. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out!!! My worst nightmare had come true!! It took me 4 days before I could leave the farm.  So, the moral of this story is…….there is power in the name of JESUS and at least I had nice hair!!! Welcome to my perfect world……………………..Carol

 

Happy Thanksgiving

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       It’s Thanksgiving week…..time to put all the fall decorations away and begin the madness of Christmas. Actually, my fall décor is long gone and I’ve been full steam ahead on Christmas. So here is what fall on the farm looked like……..003.jpg      I had this set up by the barn. These chairs are very important. When the going gets tough….the tough sit down for a break. I have a pot of lavender planted and I will snip pieces of that and put it in my hair while working. Smells fabulous. The only problem is that if a visitor stops by and I totally forget I have this “stuff” in my hair. Awkward!! 010.jpg      This is my shade garden on the West side of the house. It’s peaceful and serene here and I can “hide” from all the craziness. I had to go somewhere with all those pumpkins I harvested, and so I dumped a bunch around this table.040.jpg     My flowerbed out by the road was in desperate need of attention. I cleaned it up and planted pansies and put my biggest orange pumpkins here. Since then….the deer have eaten a 1/3 of the pansies. Not a good situation.108.jpg      This guy sat here for weeks…..and he never once stopped smiling. It got to be rather annoying. Doesn’t everyone have a bad day once in awhile?!  I need to know his secret……016.jpg      What a warm welcome to the farm……a scary looking skull. It fit right in with all the fall decorations.109.jpg     This was one of my favorite pictures. All the colors were so vibrant and it looked so festive. A sweet retreat from all the muck and mire we deal with every day. Since then….all the pumpkins have been dumped on the compost pile out in the pasture. We had some wicked cold weather and they all turned to mush. 022      Here we have part of the gang. That pup is Queen of the farm. Happy Thanksgiving from me to you…………………………..Carol

Girl Fun

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       I spend 95% of my life surrounded by cows, calves, and cowboys. Therefore…..anytime I go out for a little “girl fun”,(extremely rare) I always have to remind myself of a few simple rules……

1. Smile and be kind to everyone

2. Keep your elbows off the table

3. Chew with your mouth closed

4. For cryin’ out loud….use your inside voice

      These are easy rules for normal people, but……not for a Milkmaid. So, let me tell you about my girl night out………( I followed the rules…I think)004.jpg       It’s wreath-making time. I was asked to do a show and tell about how to make fresh green wreaths. First things first…..cruise the back roads with my junk-yard truck looking for fresh greens to trim. We have lots of cedar bushes growing along the road ditches. Needless to say….I trimmed until I couldn’t trim anymore. 001.jpg      Red berries…..very important, but harder to find. When I finally spotted this bush, I slammed on the brakes and yelled….BERRIES! I found a gold mine! 006.jpg       I also used other greens from my own yard and I collected some pinecones for more options. A girl always needs options….right?! I made a few wreaths to show them what they can do. 008.jpg      Before we got to the wreath making we also had a cookie exchange. They were all wrapped up in fancy packages. It looked quite festive.010.jpg      Of course, we had to feed our faces. The food is always fabulous! How about that hot dip and chips?!009.jpg     More food…more desserts…yes please!007.jpg     And then it was finally time to get to work. I had piled all the ingredients along the center of the tables. Easy for everyone to reach and grab what they needed. 012.jpg      I grabbed the hot-shot and herded everyone into place. Hahaha Just kidding. We lined up on both sides of the tables and went to work. I did a little demonstration and then they all designed their own. 017.jpg     Look at all the beauty. I was amazed how fast it went. I loved it…..so much fun. And they all went home with a beautiful wreath. What do you think…..do we have talented ladies or what?! 020.jpg      Another group of fine artists. Fantastic work. Does that look like a fun “hen party” yet?! 033.jpg    I taught myself how to make these wreaths last year. Now I’m hooked. I like to hang them inside the house not just outside. Makes for great holiday flair.034.jpg     Here’s one I made with the pinecones. With summer gardening over with….I can still work with “greens”, but just in a different way. 032.jpg     This is the original wreath. All the colors, but the possibilities are endless. I love to forage for the ingredients….I love to work with the greens and create something beautiful….and they smell fabulous! So, does anyone need a wreath for their front door…back door…fireplace? I am at your service….and I can show you how to do it yourself too. I am ready to decorate everything for Christmas………………………..Carol

 

 

Survival of the Fittest

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      Good Riddance October! This month has been absolutely crazy! It gave us 20 inches of rain….I participated in a 3 family garage sale….and we are in the middle of calving season….sometimes 4 to 5 calves a day. When it rains…it pours! I’m not always sure where I’m at or what I’m doing……survival mode has kicked in. 125.jpg      Here we go……starting another season of baby calves. I’m still recovering from last year. How can this be happening so soon again?! It’s a muddy mess! I just want it to dry out and give us a break…..no rain until spring kind of break. 122.jpg       We’re setting out hutches every week to try and keep up with the count. And of course along with that comes all that bedding down to do. Piles like this are scattered along the row and we have to distribute it into all the hutches for the new calves. You do remember how to use a pitchfork….right?! We’re talking some serious cardio here. It keeps you warm on those freezing cold days. I’m trying to think of one good thing about winter………………???124.jpg     This is me on the farm with 20 inches of rain. I’m so tired of trudging through mud. It’s maddening! I was feeding calves…stepped backwards…tripped over a concrete cinder block…and fell flat into the mud! Splat! And I had just washed all my chore clothes the night before. Needless to say…I picked up that concrete cinder block and heaved it through the air along with a mighty war cry!! It’s amazing what you can do when the adrenaline starts pumping!! Haha I may have a few anger issues…maybe?! 115.jpg      Little tiger here wants to say Hello. I think they’re so cute when just newborn….but they require so much time and energy. It’s like starting a family all over again. Lord have mercy! Help me! They keep me super busy!127.jpg       And that’s not all. I was caught in a weak moment and bought the little “chic” a vest to wear when it gets freezing cold. I used to think that “pet clothes” were insane……now I’m joining the ranks. I give up! My survival tip is this…..I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me…..I say this a thousand times a day….sometimes more. It’s amazing what I can get done in a day………………Carol

 

 

Crazy Cow

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     Alright, I’ve done it now. I’ve totally gone mad…..also known as “Mad Cow” in my world. I know exactly what your response will be…..Girl, you have totally lost your mind! Yes, I know! That happened years ago. Ok, here goes……….038       I went and ordered myself a whole bunch of peonies. 45 to be exact. Lord have mercy! What in the world was I thinking?! What will I do with so many?! I’m almost embarrassed….almost. And then I think about the finished product and my heart sings! And I skip and hop and I can’t wipe the smile off of my face.054      I spent hours researching, reading, asking questions, and reading some more. That’s why I look so tired in this picture. Haha I kept asking myself….should I do this? Am I crazy? Yes, I am! Finally I thought….screw it! I’m goin’ for it! There’s no turning back now. They are in the ground….Amen!055.jpg       This was my garden plot after the pumpkins. It needed some serious TLC. So, I recruited some help…..060.jpg      First we needed to build it up because it was low and didn’t drain well. We hauled in dirt and compost and tried to work it all in with the tiller. Earl spent several days working on this project and I was amazed he didn’t blow a gasket. If you live with a farmer you know what I’m talking about. I overheard him tell one of the boys he hopes he never has to work that plot again….hahaha. 065.jpg      Here we are trying to square it off. That in itself will drive a person insane. We did our best and called it a day. Then it started raining. 9 inches to be exact. I was having a meltdown! How will I ever get these bulbs planted?! 068.jpg      In the meantime….I color coded my little markers. Red…pink…coral…and white…my favorite! These are electric fence posts that we aren’t using and they worked perfect.         119.jpg      I spent 4 1/2 hours digging and planting bulbs one afternoon. I was exhausted by the time I finished. The ground was very wet and that made for lots of hard shoveling. I was seriously questioning my sanity by the time I got them all in the ground. And then I had room for 3 more and I went and ordered them yet too! My brain is fried! I tried to keep the end result in mind…..in 3 years I should be able to cash in on my investment and finally have the most beautiful bouquets ever…………Carol

 

Grateful Harvest

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     The seasons are changing and I’m scared. I’m not mentally prepared for cold weather. I have a love/hate relationship with “Old Man Winter”….mostly hate! But first, I’m trying to enjoy pumpkin season. I did have a fairly decent harvest from the patch. Not too shabby I must say……..063.jpg      I planted the entire garden into pumpkins. It was too wet to plant anything else. By the time things dried out it was too late for vegetables. I had a ton of pumpkin seeds and so I decided to go hog-wild and plant the whole batch. Go big or go home!018     I’ve been walking the patch daily to pick anything that’s ready. I love all the crazy colors. There was no rhyme or reason to how I planted. I just created a chaotic pumpkin patch.   027.jpg      I piled them on the trailer and sprayed them clean with the water hose. We had just had another 3 inches of rain and it was either watch them rot or cut them off while still a bit green. When it rains it pours!051       Another reason I’m having to cut them green is because I have a huge project waiting for that half of my garden and I’m getting frantic to get things started. It needs to be done this month.

So, I set the pumpkins in the sun to see if they’ll finish ripening. I’m taking notes of the whole mess because next year I plan to put out a bigger and better patch. I have the secret spot all picked out and I’ve decided to call it “Area 51”. Haha 053.jpg      I still have about 15-20 of these trying to ripen. I call them my “Cinderella” pumpkins. I can’t wait! I’m leaving these on the vine. They’re on the other side of the patch and aren’t included in my new project. So….they can rest in peace. I won’t try to hurry them. 042      The best….my mammoth white pumpkins! I had no idea I was getting anything like this. What a lovely surprise. Of course the boys think white pumpkins are ridiculous. Why white? Pumpkins are orange! Only orange….nothing else! I let it go in one ear and out the other. I love all the weird and crazy colors….shapes and sizes……………….Carol

 

Energy Bites

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     Here’s a quick little energy tip to help you through the day. If you don’t have the drive to go milk all those cows or feed those calves. Try popping one of these in your mouth. Doesn’t everybody have cows to milk….in some form or other? Just try them……………..003.jpg      I don’t always put M&M’s in mine, but they have some pretty cool colors right now for Halloween. It’s all about the presentation, right? Makes them taste better.

      1 cup quick oats

      1/2 cup peanut butter

     1/4 cup honey

     chocolate chips to taste

     M&M’s

     Mix together and shape into a ball. I like to use my pampered chef small cookie scoop. Then I refrigerate them and store in a container. Every time you walk (or run) past the fridge grab one for the road. They are delicious! If you’re hardcore…..throw in an iced coffee or Dr. Pepper / Pepsi. You will be unstoppable! There ain’t nuthin’ you can’t do. Now a quick side note. The recipe calls for whey, flax seed, wheat bran…..you know that fiber stuff? I’m not there yet….I’m only 49. So, it may be something you’re interested in adding. Just saying……………………Carol