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

 

Another Year Older

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      Today I’m going to tell you how I celebrate my birthday living on a dairy farm. First off…..having a birthday at my age is bittersweet. Bitter…because I do not want to be another year older…sweet….because it gives me an excuse to be lazy and not feel guilty. 012.jpg      On your birthday…you bound out of bed…grab a coffee to go…and race to the barn because you can’t wait to milk those bossy bovines! NOT! On second thought…you throw the alarm against the wall and go back to sleep! Wake up an hour later and quickly grab your “black” coffee before trudging out the door. I’m only smiling because it’s my birthday! 010.jpg    I looked everywhere for #49 but could not find her. I finally decided she’s dead (not a good sign) and instead I settled on #39. That’s going to be my age from now on. I’m not mentally prepared for the 50’s and that’s that! 009.jpg     I’m so sorry to my Facebook friends that you have to see this picture again. Candace and I got off the farm for a few hours and had a little girl fun. I bought myself a cake and have been enjoying every bite. 016.jpg        We had to be back for evening chores because the farmer was busy doing field work and the boys were off at school. So celebration time will continue until we all get our fill. I just want to get this week over with and “mooooove” on. Another year older…………………Carol

 

Long Days and Late Nights

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     I have done a pathetic job of keeping you informed of all the dairy farm activities. I have a good excuse though, and I’ll let you decide if it’s lame or worthy of your time. Here’s my story………..036.jpg      Our middle child (Michael) left for college. This is move-in day. He is the work horse behind our operation. So now, we have to step up our game. ….and I thought I was already high-steppin’. Luckily, he comes home on weekends and he helps us get caught up. 003.jpg      We’ve also been doing a lot of “cattle work”. We had quite a few cows that were missing ear tags, and so we spent one day putting in brand new earrings…..as I like to call them. Fancy cows! We also did a preg-check. That’s when the vet comes out and we check all the cows to see who’s pregnant or open. That was a long day. Help me!070.jpg      Hay…..so much hay. We finally conquered the beast….but not without long days and late nights. Here we are just finishing up on the biggest field. Woo-hoo! Oh wait….we still need to haul it all home. Ugh!046.jpg       This was my view for days. Mowing hay….round and round. I sat in the tractor with my ear buds in and my big water jug. I shift into survival mode on days like this. 058.jpg      Very poor quality picture….but another view from another day. I can mow hay…rake hay…bale hay…haul hay! I admit that I suck at baling. The monitor is always screaming at me and telling me things I don’t understand. So, the big boys usually do that and I’ll stick with what I’m good at.074.jpg      Late night hauling. We had over 300 bales to haul in. The farm girls did the driving back and forth while Earl loaded the wagons for us. It was 1:30 before we wrapped up that project. Needless to say….I was pooped! 071.jpg      We’ve also been bombarded with kittens. Two litters have showed up at the barn. Look at those cat eyes. They’re saying….just shoot me now! haha We help her out and feed them warm cows milk.

023.jpg         And there you have it. When I’m not doing the dirty work I’m busy in the yard and flower gardens. I’ve got some monster pumpkins growing out there. Can’t wait to show you………………………….Carol

Stay Cool

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     We are officially in the “dog days” of summer. It’s August and the days are sultry and hot with the heat index well into the triple digits. That means the cows are very hot and they need a little more TLC. Here’s what we do for them………………..085.jpg     We have misters running throughout the lot area where the cows are waiting to be milked. They run off of well water and it is nice and cold. They love it!084.jpg             Doesn’t that look cool?! When the cows first come up to the barn in the afternoon, they are very hot. Cows don’t sweat….they pant! So, within 10 minutes of standing underneath the water, they’ll be chewing their cud. That means they’re feeling comfortable and content. 083.jpg      They hang out with their friends and do a little herd gossip while they cool off. Sometimes they talk trash about the “milkmaid”….other times they’re mad at Bubba (the bull)….then other times they have a battle between breeds. Jersey versus Holstein! Seriously, they are so much like humans. I can read them like a book………082.jpg     If you look closely the misters are connected to the PVC pipe above. I am the master of replacing misters. I go through packages of these little dudes every summer. The well water has sediment and they need to be replaced periodically. I stand on my tall step ladder and hope I don’t lose my balance. It is totally safe…..I know what I’m doing. I think?! 080.jpg        And then we have ice cream. Real ice cream. Made with cows milk. Do I need to say anything else? I believe this particular flavor was “coffee, almond and fudge. Now, go buy a gallon and chill out…..it’s hot! Your favorite Milkmaid………………Carol

 

Sunflowers and Sunshine

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       Every year I plant sunflowers in my garden. I ordered my seeds in the early spring and I was so excited…..all the cool colors. I could see it already. My garden was going to be the coolest ever! Only one problem……lots. of. rain.     012.jpg             I had just planted all my “cool” sunflowers when a few days later we get a 3 inch rain. I was beside myself. I just knew that they had all drowned and it was going to be a total loss. Lo and behold……some of them survived. I’ve been harvesting sunflowers and putting together bouquets for my kitchen.   028.jpg      This seems to be everyone’s favorite color so far…….the original. Michael wanted to know why I even bother with anything else. 030.jpg      I love this one. Most of these survived the rain, because I have the most of this color. I think I’ll order these again. 040.jpg      These little yellow ones are pretty tough too. They’re smaller, but have a ton of blooms. They make a bright and cheery bouquet. 043.jpg      This is what my garden looks like this year. It was basically under water the first part of the summer. I put the sunflowers on the east side in “high” ground. When it did finally dry off it was too late for the normal garden stuff, so I went with pumpkins. I had a ton of random seeds. All shapes, colors, and sizes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping I’ll have a massive pumpkin crop. This picture is a few weeks old and the plants have now almost totally covered the whole garden.035.jpg       So, which color is your favorite? Do you need a sunflower bouquet to brighten your day? I’m dreaming of a field full of sunflowers…….with all the cows in the background. Beautiful! Your favorite Milkmaid………………Carol