I wish I had more time and energy. I’m so behind in my “story telling”. There’s so much to say, but so little time. And when I do have time…I’m too tired. It’s a vicious cycle I’m living in. Things are looking up though…it’s football season…..and pumpkin season. This is our first “pumpkin” of the calving season. A cute little stinker-pie. We had 4 angus bulls with the herd since spring. So, you know what that means. Lots of black calves this year. I’m kinda excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. I know what awaits me for the next 6 months. Help! Here’s Momma. She’s proud as a peacock. She’s a first time heifer which means this was her first calf ever. She did a fantastic job as first timer. Young heifers don’t always cooperate. They’re young and dumb. Cows and humans are so much alike. I remember being young and dumb. I’m not young anymore, but still dumb at times. Black angus calves are so much easier to take care of than any other breeds. Holstein calves tend to be frail and weak. Little Jersey calves are stubborn and tiny. Black calves are stout and strong. That’s just my personal opinion after feeding calves for 25 years. Feeding calves is an “art”.
It was quite a rodeo getting “momma” into the barn. First time heifers have never been milked before and they have no idea what to do. It takes lots of patience (which I don’t have) and time. It’s maddening. Some don’t have a forward…just reverse. Some are wild and mean and others are stubborn as a mule. Once they realize they get to eat though, you can’t get them to leave. They eventually figure it out and behave like the rest of the herd. So, we’re getting geared up for lots more little pumpkins to come……………………….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
Today I want to share with you my love for pumpkin cookies. I’ve been thinking of these “melt in your mouth” cookies for weeks on end. So, yesterday was my baking day. I finished my morning chores and fired up the ole’ mixer and whipped up a double batch in no time. They are heavenly! I got the recipe from my Mom years ago and it is now a tradition for the holidays. I can never stop with just one cookie. I turn into a cookie monster when these dudes are laying around. They are delicious! All you need yet is a tall glass of milk or a pot of coffee. Whichever “floats your boat”. I haven’t heard that quote in awhile. Alright…..here we go……
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
Cream together first three ingredients. Then add…..
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix all together and bake on greased baking sheet at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Now for the icing……
3 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
Cook first three ingredients together for 2 minutes. Then remove from heat and add……
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
The powdered sugar can be a bit “dicey”, but just add until it’s of spreading consistency. You want it smooth and a little on the thin side. It’ll harden on the cookies and look nice and fancy. Whatever “fancy” is?! Now, you must work fast, because the icing gets thick and contrary when it cools and then it won’t spread nice at all. At that point you’ll either get mad and throw the whole pan in the trash or you can heat it back up and get it nice and smooth once again. Trust me…..I’ve been there. It took me several tries to get the hang of it. These are a favorite around our house, so I never mess around with a single batch. It’s always a double batch. I put some in the freezer and they make a great snack while doing chores. Oh yeah….it’s a happy day. We have lots of pumpkin cookies in the freezer. Our only Brown Swiss is feeling fat and sassy. Or maybe I’m the one that’s feeling fat and sassy…………………Carol
Ok, I’m back. The milkmaid/farm girl had to take a few days off to reconnect with my hometown. Back where it all started. Back where I picked up my farm girl habits. It’s in my blood and there’s no getting rid of it. It was great to see it all in action again…..the “great harvest”. All the sights and sounds brought back so many memories. Let’s take a quick look at what farming is like today…………….. Here we are…..farm girls at heart. Candace had friends to meet up with and so I decided it was now or never. Let’s head back home. Ohio is where I come from. No, I don’t cheer for the “Buckeyes”. Shhh…..do not tell my brothers. They will disown me. This is what it’s all about. Farmers are a whole different breed of people. We carry around a heavy burden all. the. time. We help feed the world you know. How stressful is that?! Besides that….Mother Nature is in charge, someone else decides what our product is worth, everything we do hinges on world markets, and sacrifice…..so much sacrifice. But oh…..what a beautiful life. Just look at that beautiful corn. I grew up doing all this. The smell took me back about 25 years. I hadn’t experienced this for quite some time. This is where I learned how to drive tractor. How to haul corn to the elevator. How to live like a farmer. The only thing I didn’t learn how to do was milk a cow. I was in the dark on that one. Deception runs deep! Haha My Dad is still going strong….see him raise that arm?! All farmers have hand signals. I’ve learned a lot about that over the years. My brother is slowly taking over the operation. He was born a farmer….and he’s doing a fine job today. Any time I head home……I always have to take a tour of all the barns. I can’t help myself. That’s what farm girls do. I like all the old time tractors. Still running after all these years. Sweet! I see a lot of old, but also a lot of new tractors that I wish we had back in my day. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to run this tractor?! This wasn’t around when I was a teenager. Of course, my sisters and I would’ve fought like cats and dogs to be able to run this outfit. So, for the sake of peace…….my Dad waited until we were out of the house. I think. Maybe. I rode in the combine for about an hour. I’m sure I drove the “farmer” crazy that was running it, but I was in “hog heaven”, so that was the least of my concerns. I think I could run that machine. Haha This is what they do…….drive along side the combine and unload and all the while still cutting corn. There’s no time to stop. Remember Mother Nature is in charge? Work while the weather cooperates. Day and night. Farm wives pack lunches or deliver. Whatever the farmer wants. The future generation of the farm. Let me just say this……girls are some of the best “farmers” around. They can do just about anything. Why else am I milking cows?! We must persevere. It builds character. I thought I had enough character about 10 years ago….and I’m still building. They have beautiful sunrises in Ohio too. Yes, you heard me……sunrise. I was up with the sun. My internal alarm clock just won’t shut-up. It’s maddening! It’s sweet though, because I can sit in Mom’s kitchen and sip coffee and not run out to the barn to milk a single cow. Yee-haw! I look at the temperature, stare out the window and watch it snow with a smile on my face. It’s the little things that make life beautiful……………………Carol
P. S. It did snow while I was there. No joke!
I think it’s high time I introduce you to my world of “fitness”. We don’t have time for the “gym world”……besides, what would I wear?! I don’t have all the cool and cute gym clothes. All I have is old and ragged chore clothes that have “forever stains” on them. Besides that, I don’t have to worry about anyone watching me out of the corner of their eye. It’s just me and the bossy bovines. So, roll up your sleeves……I’m going to give you a little workout. First of all…..do you remember what a pitchfork is? It’s important to have 3 to 4 of them laying around the farm. They sure come in handy when it’s time to bed down calf hutches. This big pile of straw needs to be distributed down that row of hutches. Nobody gets to eat until this is finished. I wanted to run and hide when I saw this big pile. Help! The dogs are absolutely no help at all! Just me and the Boss Man. Too bad it’s a school day. Earl took the loader tractor and tried to pull the bale apart and put it on smaller piles. That makes it a little easier to “fork” and “throw”. Still……it’s a shoulder and arm workout that will make you ache by the time you’re done. I feel about bedding down calf hutches the way the boys feel about Cross Country running. Here we have Earl demonstrating how it’s supposed to be done. Take a huge bite with your pitchfork and throw it inside the hutch. Over and over and over. No stopping for a drink either. Well, just a little one. Maybe this is where I get my “big bite” eating habits?! Then the cows have to walk over and investigate. In their minds, they have to check and make sure we’re doing a good enough job. It’s for their babies, you know. If they’re not satisfied, they proceed to drop a “full load” on the fresh straw to show their displeasure. That’s about the time I go “nuts” and lose my temper. This is what it looks like when everything is finished. Nice and fluffy and ready for the next wave of brand, new calves. Great job! Wait! Don’t leave just yet, I have another job that needs to be done. Go ahead and unload this pile of firewood. I picked this up to clear the way for more hutches. So, now I’m going to use it for my “ring of fire”. This is good exercise, I’m sure. I’m not interested in exercise right now….I’m hungry as a bear! Well, it’s finally time to eat breakfast. Or is it lunch? We’ll call it brunch. This should help me gain back all the calories I just “burned” off. Maybe a nap would help put it back on too…………………..Carol
First of all…..this is another post that is not meant for the “faint of heart”. I’m going to throw my “girl manners” out the window and talk “straight talk” for a bit. I’ll call it “farm lingo”, so you know what I’m talking about. If you can’t take the heat, turn away. If you’re a brave soul….come along for the ride. I want to show you what’s going on in my world besides cows and calves. Oh my goodness! What have we here? Yep! It’s a basket full of little puppies. And they’re all ours…..for now. I just about had heart failure. What in the world am I going to do with more dogs?! Something has got to give…..and I have the perfect solution. It’s my farm platform…..”off with the nuts”! All the drama started right here. This is Sausage……also known as “Saw Mutt”. I have no idea where the kids come up with these crazy nicknames. Remember back some time ago when it was a “humping frenzy” around here with four male dogs? Yes, I was in a frenzy myself, and so the dogs took a nice little trip to the veterinary clinic. All of them except for Sausage. We felt sorry for him because he was such a little runt. So, he was allowed to keep his “nuts”. Huge mistake! Some pathetic loser dropped off a female dog that they didn’t want anymore. I sure wish I could get my hands on them. This poor dog was so skinny and skittish that we couldn’t even get close to her. She still looks pathetic. I guess Saw Mutt thought she was very beautiful because here we are, five puppies later. We’ve been able to pet her and get close enough to feed her, since she’s had her puppies. When cows are skinny and frail like this, it’s impossible to get them bred. I guess that doesn’t apply to dogs?! We’ve never had puppies before. It’s always been cows and cats that procreate around here. This is all new to us. Candace is so excited. My heart sank when I first heard the news, but now I’m getting used to the idea. They are kinda cute. I warned Candace that we cannot keep them. She’s going to have to find homes for all of them and the Mother. Yessiree! Sausage is a proud Papa! His “nuts” are dragging the ground, but not for long. I am going to be a responsible adult and take the Saw Mutt for a little “road trip” to the veterinary clinic. No more “hanky panky” for him. He isn’t meant to be a family man. All of our dogs are just plain ‘ole hounds. That’s the only way. Meanwhile, one of our many black cats decided to also give birth. I was walking out to the barn on a rainy, chilly morning and discovered this “thing” giving birth right there on the concrete. For heavens sake cat, can’t you find a better place?! So, being the responsible adult that I am, I found a box for her to lay in. She popped out 7 little “maggots”. Here again, what in the world am I going to do with more cats?! Free kittens anyone? So, there you have it. The facts of life! Things are getting pretty “spooky” around here. It IS getting close to Halloween. My, my, my…..baby calves, kittens and puppies. Sure hope the chickens don’t surprise me with baby chicks. The only thing left to do is to pick up my “girl manners” again, dust myself off, and go out and make my Mother proud. Is that the responsible thing to do…………….Carol
Where are my boys? Why are they not out in the barn helping me with all those chores? Why are they coming home at midnight? Aaaahhhh…..yes. It’s called “marching band”, and “cross country”. They’re busy marching to the “beat” and running to the “drum”. Last weekend was “Band Day”. I left the farm for a few hours to go check it out and take a few pictures of my “soldiers” marching. Wow! Just look at those fancy hats. That’s the main attraction. Oh, and the instruments are pretty awesome too. This is Marshall’s first year to “march”, and of course he’s loving every minute. I always have to think of those toy nutcrackers when I see them in their uniforms. It seems a little chaotic when they’re all trying to get dressed and ready to march. How do they survive? The sun is beating down and those uniforms are extremely hot. Maybe that’s why they don’t have “old people” like me in a marching band?! Oh to be young again! Well, looks like these three stooges found all their attire. The one on the right isn’t quite there yet, but almost. Just one more “tug” and you’ve got it. The little squirt in the middle looks very ornery. Then we have the farm dude. Would you trust these three to babysit your kids? Or dogs? Maybe the cats. 1, 2, 3, go……or something like that. Our band marched but didn’t actually compete because they were hosting the event. So, the pressure wasn’t quite as intense. Michael and Marshall are out there in the middle if you can find them. How can they march and play at the same time? Imagine for a second that I’m in the color guard. I’m pretty sure that I would trip over my own feet and fall flat on my face. Next, I would probably “bonk” my neighbor on the head with my flag and knock him down too. It would be like a domino effect. The moral of the story……I need to stay in the stands and take pictures. No marching allowed for “milkmaids” unless it’s to the barn. Marshall informed me that they’re supposed to keep their hat low so that they have to keep their chin up. I need to take notes on these things and see if maybe I can get some faster “marching” at home when it’s chore time. I told you those uniforms are hot. Whew! When they finally get to take them off……..their shirts are soaked and their hair looks like they just took a shower. The directors pass out water bottles and make them drink. If they don’t….they get the “evil eye”. Marshall told me that……and how does he know?! Well, there you have it. I had to brag just a wee little bit. Not too much. We wouldn’t want anyone getting a big head. When I grow up…….I’m gonna march too. I need to decide what instrument I want to play……………………Carol
I think it’s safe to say that fall is officially here. We’re into October….I’m seeing lots of pumpkins, mums, and pansies. I’ve been trying to get the farm decorated for the season. Whether it be Halloween or Thanksgiving…..I try to cover them both. Come along, and I’ll show you what “farm folk” like to do to make their place look festive for Fall. I love Scarecrows! I usually buy at least one new one each year. I keep them rotated from new to old. When you own as many dogs as we do……you’re sure to lose one as a “chew toy”. This guy is brand new…..knock on wood…..the dogs haven’t destroyed him yet. I’m a sucker for pansies. If I can keep them watered….they’ll survive the winter. I’ve even seen them bloom under the ice. Then we have the pumpkins. I bought these beauties because I don’t know how to grow nice, big pumpkins. Have you noticed how the nicest ones are always on the bottom of the pile? I always dig, grunt, and stand on my head to get the best one. Sure hope no one is watching. This flowerbed was bare and I thought it needed a little pizazz. What better way then to plant pansies? Now to keep the dogs from trampling them. I love my stacked farm animals. They add “character”. Do flowerbeds have character? Let’s not forget the bed out by the road. Those corn shocks are “homegrown”, and the scarecrow survived the dogs last year so……here he is again. His job is to welcome everyone to the farm. Which consists of the milkman, feed man, inspector, and the dumpster dudes. The black cat is a “photo bomber”. Ok, this poor guy has been through the “mill”. I don’t know how old he is, but he’s losing his pants. I tried to duct tape him together, and it worked for awhile…..but then he went back to falling apart. I decided…..whatever! As long as he’s happy, I’m happy. Mums! What’s not to like about them?! Most of the time they’ll come back year after year. Bright, beautiful colors….and they bloom for weeks. So there you have it…..fall on the farm. The “teenagers” want to wish you a “happy Fall”. They’re sorry for being naughty at times, but they were just “sowing their wild oats”. Don’t kid yourself, they’re still “trouble makers”…….the watering hole is made for “cow gossip”. I wish I knew what they were saying…………………Carol
Wow! Things are happening fast around here. We’ve got baby calves “popping” out everywhere. Sometimes 3-4 a day. Whoa Nellie……slow down bovines. I told Earl……I’m not sure I’m ready for this. His response was……Ready or not, here they come. So, here’s to another calving season. Tag along and I’ll show you what we’re doing these days……………… Here we have Mama visiting her little one. She had a set of twins…both heifers. That means they’re girls. She’s a busy Mother……constantly licking and talking to them. That’s how they show their love to their calves. Just so you know, their tongues feel like sandpaper. Been there, felt that. Every morning Boss Man heads to the back pasture to check on the “Mothers in waiting”. He counts the new ones and makes sure they’re vaccinated as soon as possible. Then we start picking them up and putting them away into their own little private condos……that’s what I like to call their hutches. They like to play “peek-a-boo”. We “prop up” the back side of the hutches with a cinder block to create air flow. It still gets pretty warm during the day so we’ll have to do this until cold weather is here to stay. Brrrr……I’m not ready for that either. Thank goodness Candace is home right now. We call her the assistant manager. She’s the one that helps Earl keep all the records organized, identify all the cows, and bring in newborns. She can get away with things that nobody else can. Is it called “Daddy’s girl”? So, if I want something done…..it’s always a good idea to go through her first. Haha Pretty sneaky! We’re getting a lot of red and whites this year. Baby calves are a lot like human babies…..they sleep all the time. Then when they’re not sleeping, they’re screaming at us to feed them. So basically, I’m raising my family all over again. Help……I’m too old for this! The boys help out whenever they can. School work, cross country meets, and marching band keeps them running around in circles. Some days they don’t even know where they’re going. They just get on the bus and ride. I’m trying to keep uniforms cleaned and ready to go. Some days I fail at that too….pop them in the dryer to freshen them up. Shhh…..don’t tell anyone. Well, there you have it…..life on the dairy farm. I’m burning the candle at both ends. Are those smiles fake or what?!………………….Carol