I love fall! Welcome black cats, scarecrows, and pumpkins. So, amidst all the chaos of stacking the barns full of hay I had a few free hours one afternoon. What should I do? My front porch was in desperate need of some TLC. So many cobwebs and big fat spiders. All due to summer long neglect. I got out the ladder and a bucket of soapy water and went to work. I scrubbed from top to bottom. My Mom would’ve been so proud of me. She loves to clean. Too bad she doesn’t live close by. It was time to get all fall decorations out. I always like to have my front porch decorated for each season and holiday. The only problem is….everyone comes to the back door. I don’t even have “trick or treaters” that stop by. We live too far out in the country. But I still like to be prepared…just in case. And you can forget about the carrot and celery sticks. That’s not happening at this farmhouse. I’ll pass out the real deal! I’m in love with fall plants. Mums, pansies, and all colors of pumpkins. By summers end some of my plants are looking like death so these make everything look cheerful again. The little black kitten is my photo bomber. So now that everything is nice and clean….the farmer can safely open the front door and shine his spotlight all around when the dogs start barking. My “farmer” is scared to death of spiders and will scream like a girl if one gets too close. It just so happens that I have a few rubber spiders that make for great entertainment. I need to put them to good use this week…………………….Carol
Ok…let’s get this show on the road. We’ve got 2 truck drivers…a tractor in the field loading the wagons…and a tractor at home putting it into the barn. Hop in and come along. I’ll show you how it’s done. It’s actually not too bad…if you can stay awake. Grab some caffeine…turn your music up loud…and speed down the road. It’s late…you’re the only one out and about. We did get half of it hauled off before dark. Then we had to stop and do the evening chores. Several hours later you’re finally ready to go at it again. Michael is the “loader man”. He’s a machine! He’s got it down to a science. We like to have them all bunched into piles of seven. That saves so much time when we pull into the field. Marshall did the bunching. That’s a perfect job for him, and he’s very good at it. And finally….this is me. The truck driver has to pay attention and pull up at just the right angle…and make sure you have a full load before you take off. Otherwise the tractor driver will shoot daggers your way and be flailing arms like a wild man. Not that it has ever happened…maybe. I’m the one that gets all the crazy hand signals…screaming and hollering…and evil looks. I’m left handed…everyone else is right handed. They think I do everything backwards. I’ve learned exactly what to do and what not to do. Dixie Chic rode up front with me while the big dogs rode on the back. She’s got the best seat in the house. This is Earl’s job. Stacking hay in the barn. He’s a pro at it. I’ve done it before, but it takes me forever and it gets very frustrating. Marshall and I were bringing them home as fast as we could and he had them put up by the time we came back with more. On Thursday morning the hay barn was empty….by Friday morning it was full of hay. What an awesome feeling. It smells so sweet when I walk out to the barn. We finally finished and walked into the house around 12:30 Thursday night/Friday morning. A nice hot shower and a soft comfy bed….never felt so good. And then on Friday when it was raining….I had myself a nice long nap. It was so rewarding. Now we can finally slam the door on the hay barns. If we had doors…………………Carol
Another crazy week on the farm. So much happening. Our 25th anniversary…my birthday…and all kinds of hay to get in the barn before the rain. Guess what we did to celebrate? Work, work, and more work! Farm work and cattle have no respect for holidays/celebrations. So, I’ll give you a quick rundown of my special day……………… Marshall was alarmed when he realized I was turning 48. He told me….”Mom, you are almost..?” and then he stopped. He couldn’t say 50. So, I have officially declared war on “old age”. The gray hairs…under eye bags…arm flab…and the most dreaded of all…the chicken neck. This is not my finest moment here, but wanted to give you the “real”. I was feeling a lot of sleep deprivation at this point. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening…….. I was running from the milk barn to the hay field all day. At some point I looked up and saw my personal message that Michael wrote on my chalk board. What a lovely surprise. That was better than an actual gift. It’s still there. I’m not going to erase it for another week. On my special day….we mowed more hay…raked…and baled. Oh yes, and we hauled late into the night. I also went to the dealership and had a hydraulic hose fixed and got some “lug” bolts for the tractor. When I go to the parts counter I give them the farmers instructions and sometimes a few of my own. For example…the big round thing that fits on the little thingy. You know….the whatchamacallit?! Then I try to get a free cap because I know how much money we spend at that counter, and they just laugh at me. Nothing is free anymore. I did not have time to smell the flowers on my birthday, but I have big plans to celebrate next week. What matters is that we got the hay in the barn before the rain hit. I ate a bowl of cereal at 11:30 that night and hit the hay. It was an exhausting day. Then up and at ’em the next morning. To be continued……………….Carol
We just survived an intense week of “hay work” and gearing up for another one. When Earl says we’ve got a wide open week……that means we will eat, sleep and breathe hay. We were hoping to finish everything last week, but soon realized that it wasn’t going to happen. The hay crop is exceptional and it’s taking a little longer than expected. This is through the tractor window….nice and dusty. Not to mention the itch. It gets into your clothes and slowly drives you insane. So, when I pull into a field to get started…..I want the “baler man” right behind me for the first 3-4 rounds. I like going around the whole perimeter of the field about 4 times to pick up all the corners and clean up the end rows. Then it’s full speed ahead. Back and forth back and forth. Nice, clean rows that won’t leave slobbers or skips. (hay that the baler can’t pick up) The boys always help with everything, but now that school started it’s back to the farmer and I. It gets pretty “hair-raising” at times. Friday was a tough day. The morning chores need to be taken care of before you head for the hay field. Then it’s all day baling hay. Sometimes I get ahead far enough that I can take a short break under the shade trees. I get stiff and sore from sitting in the tractor all day. It feels good to get out and stretch. Farm girls always head for the back corner with lots of tree cover. Read between the lines. This particular field was heavy. (means lots of hay) So, I could only take a half swipe with the rake. A full swipe made the windrows too fluffy and the baler couldn’t pick it all up. The field is huge and it seemed like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I had my music turned up loud….drank lots of cold water….and wished my boys were home. It gets pretty tight, but we’ve never hit each other as we pass. Sometimes we’ll give each other hand signals…the look…or no look at all. Depends on how long we’ve been working. If we’re still feeling fresh and feisty or dead tired. I confess my mess…..I had 2 iced coffees on Friday. How else was I going to get it all done. The boys have to march at the football games and don’t come home until midnight. I ate my supper at 10:30 that night. Thank God….the boys were home on Saturday! We finished that field, but are now moving to the next one. Ahhh…..yes. The hauling home. We’ll probably have to burn some midnight oil. Any volunteers to be a midnight rider?! Your pay will be a hamburger and milkshake. That’s it. I’m a “milkmaid”….I don’t pass out cash……………………..Carol
How in the world did we end up with 5 dogs?! Holy Cow! We were a one dog farm for years and then suddenly everything changed. What happened? I’ll blame the kids. Maybe more Candace than anyone else. She’s the “dog lover”. And now she’s out travelling the world and I have to take care of them. Shh…..don’t tell, but I’ve become quite attached. This is our “farm girl” at heart. She’s just not at the farm right now. She thought the “one” dog needed more friends. One thing led to another and now look what happened. Let me clarify something. If I lived in town and my dogs had to be tied up or penned up all the time…….I would not have any. I would feel so sorry for them. Dogs love to roam and run wild and free. We’ve got plenty of room for roaming. So, I’m ok with the craziness. Farm dogs love to help haul hay. It’s their favorite job. They will ride on the back of the truck all day. Back and forth, back and forth. The only time they get off is to go jump in the pond and cool off. Musket (the big black one) only has three legs. He had an accident with a truck and the family vote was to save his life. He is “king”! These are the “pups”. Only they’re not pups anymore. Clyde and Brawny. Brothers and best friends. They keep my front yard littered with dead carcasses. Farms have lots and lots of varmints. And just this week Michael was missing a chore boot early one morning. Who would do a thing like that?! Then we have the youngest of the “pack”. Little Dixie Chic. She always rides up front with me in the AC. Not spoiled at all. She sleeps all day. Every once in awhile she’ll fall off the seat and then she’ll have to turn around 5 times to get comfortable again. It’s a “dog eat dog” world I live in. Most importantly….they keep the cats in line. Don’t ever allow the cats to think that they rule…………………..Carol
As much as I love summertime, there are a few things that really get on my nerves. For example…..flies! We fight the flies all summer long. In the barn, in the house, on the cows and the calves. They create chaos all over the farm. What good are flies, anyway? So, here’s the deal. Those flies were torturing the cows. Biting and buzzing 24/7. The cows were miserable…..swishing nasty tails across my mouth and eyes…..stomping feet…..kicking milkers…..banging heads……you get the idea. So, one morning Farmer Brown decided enough is enough. Let’s get this problem taken care of once and for all. Well, for the rest of the season, that is. It’s called “wormer”. We buy it by the gallons. Another thing we’ve discovered over the years……get it done in the barn during chores. Kill 2 birds with one stone. Milk them and worm them at the same time. I’m warning you, this is very professional. As soon as they finish milking and are ready to exit the barn, we attack with the wormer. Earl’s on the ladder and as they walk past to leave….he squirts the wormer on their backs. The “gun” comes with the order and we set it according to weight. It’s the fastest and easiest way. Some of them act a little skittish when they see Earl up high on the ladder. Wouldn’t you? But, with a little “pep talk” from their favorite “milkmaid” they’re on their way. It’s always such a relief to check off such a huge project. This will last the rest of the summer. Actually, we should have done it much sooner, but that’s how things roll around here. When the cows came up for the afternoon milking, they were so calm and at peace. In fact, they were slow and lethargic. Look, not a single fly on their backs. It was crazy! I couldn’t believe it. The wormer is absorbed through their hide and keeps the nasty flies away. I took this picture in the morning when the sun was just starting to come up. It put out a glow across the backs of the cows. It was a humid morning and we had the misters running. I quickly ran for my phone and took a few pictures before the moment was gone. That’s what you call “Happy Cows”. And they live right here in Oklahoma……………………Carol
Ok, I’m going to do one more story on “garden” before I go back to “cow talk”. Sunflowers….I love them. All colors, shapes and sizes. Sunflowers and dairy farms go together like peas and carrots. I like to plant a couple of rows every summer. It’s very important to start with good quality seeds. And I failed this year. I messed around and didn’t get my order in to my favorite catalog. Therefore, I had to go buy them at the garden center. Big mistake! They had the hardest time sprouting…..and some of them never did come up. I was banging my head against the wall! How could I have been so dense?! But look…..a few “cheap seeds” survived. Whew! Close call! I couldn’t remember what kind I bought, so I had to wait until they started blooming to know what I was getting. Turns out I had some really nice colors. They come in some really cool colors now a days, but I had the basic yellow, orange, and red. The stems were loaded with buds and I hated to cut any off, but I sure wanted to make a bouquet. Now don’t you think that the cows would look lovely with a few sunflowers stuck between their ears? Especially our Brown Swiss! I could duct tape it on and see what happens….haha. Something to think about. I made a few bouquets for my kitchen. It always cheers things up to have fresh flowers. Especially if it’s been a hard day. Yes, give me more sunflowers. I had enough to make several arrangements. I left one on the patio to enjoy. My “happy place” just got happier. Sad to say….they’re done blooming for the summer. They’re all hanging their heads and looking sad and forlorn. The birds are probably having a feast eating the seeds. Of course when I was busy arranging, the cat had to insert herself right in the middle of the action. I had several comments on the “header” of my posts. Those sunflowers came out of my garden. I always try to place a picture that comes from somewhere on the farm. Just wanting to keep it real. So, coming up next we’ll be back to the bovines………………….Carol
Today is another “farm girl” recipe day. This is my all time favorite salad for summer. Most of the ingredients come fresh from the garden and the flavor is fabulous. I can easily eat the entire recipe myself. Earl will eat this but the boys won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. It has way too many colors…….. Fresh basil……the secret ingredient. This stuff is wonderful. I’ll even stick a stem of it in my hair before I head to the barn for chores. Crazy, I know……but it works wonders. When the stress level gets to be extreme I just reach up and pinch the leaves and the smell is “heaven”. You can imagine what the leaves look like by the time milking time is finished. So, do you have this in your garden? If not……sneak into your neighbors garden after dark and “borrow” some. Confess your mess later. Grocery store basil sucks. Chop up some fresh cucumber. I eat cucumbers all summer long. Store bought doesn’t have near the flavor, but they work in the wintertime when I’m desperate. Chunk cheese. Here I used Colby-Jack….but any yellow cheese will do. Yellow, because you want color……and Colby is my favorite. You could also use smoked cheddar. That sounds kinda daring. Of course…..tomatoes. All those little cherry tomatoes that you don’t know what to do with. I only have red ones this year, but I’ll add yellow if I have them. More color?! Here’s the recipe……….
16 ounces penne pasta Cooked and drained. Let cool.
Cherry tomatoes sliced in half (I eyeball these and add whatever I feel the need for)
Yellow chunk cheese cubed (here again I dump in to my hearts desire because I’m a cheese lover….maybe 3 cups or so)
Fresh basil chopped to pieces (I love this, so I put in lots….maybe 2 cups chopped)
These ingredients are very versatile, so add and detract whatever fits your taste buds. Don’t forget the dressing……this is very important.
1 cup mayo (my extended family members are die-hard miracle whip fans. I almost got excommunicated when they discovered I did the “switch” to mayo)
1/2 cup whole milk (notice I said “whole”)
5 tablespoons white vinegar
4-5 teaspoons adobo sauce (canned chipotle peppers)
3/4 teaspoon salt
sprinkling of black pepper
Stir all dressing ingredients together and pour over the pasta. I always eat a bowl full right away, but after you let it chill and pop the lid off you’ll gasp in horror. Where did the dressing go?! Do not panic…..just splash in a bit of “cream” and give it a stir. Perfection! And there you have it….the best in the West!! Leave a spoon in the bowl and help yourself every time you walk past the fridge. Addictive……………………….Carol
Happy Friday! I’m still ticked off at the calves for trying to cut my leg off. So I’m going to talk about food and put “cattle” on the back burner. How about those poppers? The only reason I plant jalapeno plants in my garden is so that I can make poppers. Can you take the heat? They are fantastic……. First on the list is to take out most of the seeds. Leave just a few to give your mouth a good burn. And ALWAYS wear latex gloves! I use my milking gloves. They work great. If you live next door to a milkmaid she may let you borrow a few. Otherwise, you are on your own. Next comes the filling. Cream cheese and chunk cheese (don’t get me started on shredded), and a few diced onion to give it pizazz. I’m assuming that everyone always keeps chunk cheese and cream cheese in the fridge at all times. Never run out! Those are the rules! Aren’t these cute?! Fill all your little pepper boats with cheese. I know these are very time consuming, but they are worth it in the end. I think. Just don’t ask Marshall. He had a major meltdown after trying one a few weeks ago. He will like them some day……I hope. Next comes the beautiful bacon. I cut mine into thirds. I need to keep enough back for breakfast. Almost to the finish line. May I remind you that this will be worth it in the end. Do not share with your neighbors and friends. Make them prep their own. Too much time invested……enjoy them yourself. Alrighty…..now for the barbeque sauce. I always use Head Country. The best in the West! I buy it by the gallon. My “carnivore boys” love barbeque on everything. Here is the recipe……….
8 ounce package cream cheese
1 cup grated Colby cheese ( I prefer Colby cheese over cheddar….and I never, ever buy shredded. That is taboo! )
2 Tablespoon finely diced onion
1 lb. bacon cut into thirds ( I never count the bacon slices. Just slice and dice until your poppers are wrapped. )
Bake at 350 for about an hour or until the peppers are soft and the bacon is done. Grilled is delicious too, but I hardly ever have time for that.
I will sit down and eat 12 of these dudes back to back no problem! Milkmaids have big appetites…………………………..Carol