No Fly Zone

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       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.       002.jpg      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.       003.jpg      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.     005       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.     007.jpg      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.   045.jpg       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

Sunflowers and Sunshine

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      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.       012      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.    125.jpg            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.     015.jpg      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.    042.jpg       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.     050.jpg     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.   023.jpg    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.     046.jpg      Of course when I was busy arranging, the cat had to insert herself right in the middle of the action.     127       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

 

Summertime Pasta

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       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……..     012.jpg       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.    014.jpg     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.      011.jpg      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.     013.jpg     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!    015.jpg      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

Beat the Heat

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     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…….       045.jpg      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.      046.jpg     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!    047.jpg      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.      048.jpg       Next comes the beautiful bacon. I cut mine into thirds.  I need to keep enough back for breakfast.     049.jpg      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.     050.jpg        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……….

20-25 jalapenos

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.     030

    I will sit down and eat 12 of these dudes back to back no problem! Milkmaids have big appetites…………………………..Carol

 

Den of Lions

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      Seems like every week has it’s own drama. This week was no different. This time it was directed at the milkmaid. My whole week has been “messed up”. I feel totally out “of sync”. Here’s what happened……      037.jpg           Take a good look at these calves. They are the “tweens” of the dairy farm. Don’t let that “look” fool you. That calf is daring you to come inside their pen and try to feed them. That’s exactly what I did. (notice my gangly arms taking the photo)  They caught me by the trough and proceeded to torture me. They pushed my knee up against the side of the trough and hyperextended, twisted and turned…..trying to break every muscle. I thought my leg was going to fall off. I could hear the muscles “crunching”.        039.jpg                 I have no idea what I said…if anything at all. I do know that if I uttered any sound it was probably not very nice. If I called them names….it was every name in the book. It was a very stressful moment! I managed to haul my butt out of there and immediately sat down to assess the damage. My leg was not falling off! So I made it back to the house and rubbed this salve on my bruised leg…..and wrapped it with bandage. Ok, now stop laughing about my salve and let me explain. This is used on a cows udder when she has edema. (swelling of the udder) And because I have mad-cow I use this stuff to soothe sore muscles and now my extremely painful knee. Milkmaids do not go to the doctor unless they are dying or need a tetanus shot.     032             This is what my leg looks like when I’m milking. No, I did not get to sit in the house…put my feet up…and sip ice tea. I needed to keep moving so the dumb thing wouldn’t lock up on me. Then I’d really be up a creek without a paddle. I wrapped saran wrap around the bandage and then duct tape to hold it in place. I could walk, but couldn’t bend it. So, my nickname is “log leg”. Very attractive….don’t ya think?!     019.jpg             Every day gets better. I can now slowly bend it part way. I can’t dance just yet, but give it time. No sudden turns and definitely no running. That would send me straight into orbit. Holy Moly! I’m still feeding calves, but with help. I haven’t stepped foot inside that den of lions….and have no plans to. Ever! Amen! I’m no spring chicken anymore…………..Carol

Party Animals

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      I’m sure you have all heard the term….”party till the cows come home”. Well, I’m here to tell you that the cows ain’t comin’ home…..they ARE the party animals! Yep, they have parties all the time. Do you really think they’re sleeping at night? I don’t think so. They’re busy planning their next attack on the “milkmaid”. It’s true! Nasty tails….fierce back legs….flying cow poop….stomping on the milkers…….I’ve seen it all.    106.jpg         Take a good look at this calf. What color is this? Where did this “red” come from? Another phrase you’ve all heard…..”the grass is greener on the other side of the fence”.  I’m pretty sure that’s what the neighbor bull was thinking at the time.       113.jpg      So, apparently the cows had a rockin’ party about 9 months ago. I had forgotten all about this incident until we had 2 red calves born in the last few weeks. Ahhhh….yes! I remember now. Cute little stinker!     005.jpg            I’m sure the cows thought they were getting away with all their “hanky panky”. Not this time. A prime example of “Be sure your sin will find you out”. Haha   112.jpg              Cows, bulls, heifers…..not a one has any respect for barbed wire or panel fencing when there’s a party to go to. They’ll flatten anything. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. I wonder though……how many more “red” calves are we going to have before this whole thing blows over?…………………..Carol

 

My Blessed Friday

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      I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for several reasons. First…I don’t want to be a “whiner butt”. Second…I’m not asking for any sympathy. Third…everyone else has a “thorn in the flesh” too. But I have to do it and get it over with. So, here goes nuthin’……….      052.jpg     Well, for starters the dairy industry for farmers in the U.S.A. is painting a very bleak picture. Farm magazines are saying…sell out as fast as possible. Milk prices are plummeting low and deep. Co-ops are under-cutting each other. The pricing system is outdated. Milk companies have the right to “leave us high and dry” with no place to market our milk. All this and more was working on my brain as I headed out to run errands. Needless to say….I was feeling the anguish deep down in my soul. Maybe it was divine….but I felt the need to stop by my favorite antique store and see if I could cheer myself up.     039.jpg            Wow! Look what I found! So many treasures and they were having summer sales. Dirt cheap! I couldn’t believe it. Should I laugh or cry?! I felt the dark cloud lifting and just a small ray of sunshine “peeking” through.       040.jpg        By the time I got home I was feeling pretty special. Special….because the Lord saw my “silent tears” which I wouldn’t allow to run down my face. Special….because I was reassured that I wasn’t forgotten after all. Special….because I now had enough energy again to keep forging ahead and hang on amid all the chaos and uncertainty.      051.jpg      As soon as I got home I raced into the house and hollered for everyone to come look at the treasures I had found. Of course, I immediately started placing everything here and there and everywhere. What fun!     064.jpg            So now that I exposed myself and our bleak future in the dairy industry I’m going to go drink an iced coffee and do a little gardening. Chore time is right around the corner. The moral of the story is this…..I felt like my prayers were bouncing off the walls and hitting me in the face. Nothing is fair…but I’m not allowed to give up. (even though I feel like it) I was encouraged with just a few simple “junk finds”. Thank you Jesus………………..Carol

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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      I haven’t talked food in awhile. It’s zucchini time. Fresh from the garden. Did you know that zucchini is delicious in cake form? Chocolate cake at that. I make this cake every summer. I finally let the “cat out of the bag” and told the boys what the secret ingredient was………zucchini. They took it quite well. Surprise! Surprise! They don’t normally eat “green” food. They’re still very much carnivores.      058.jpg       This is the finished product. It is delicious! It’s actually better the next day……gives it time for the moisture to soak in.      052.jpg       Here’s the shredded zucchini. I always peel mine first. Simply because the less green the boys see the better.      053.jpg      Ready for the oven. I never measure the chocolate chips. I sprinkle according to how my day has been going.        054.jpg      Hot out of the oven. It’s difficult to allow for cooling time. I want to dive right in. And by the way……we put a fork in the pan and everyone stops and takes a bite as they walk by. Does anyone else do that? 058          Now back to the finished product. Give it time to cool and then sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Fit for a king or queen or a milkmaid! Here’s the recipe……

1/2 cup butter, softened (real not fake)

1/2 cup oil

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 cup flour

4 tablespoon cocoa (a little rounded won’t hurt)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves (weird but important)

2 cup zucchini, shredded finely

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I sprinkle a least a cup)

      Cream butter, oil, and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Beat well. Stir together dry ingredients and add to first mixture. Stir zucchini in by hand. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

     There’s more than one way to eat your veggies……………………Carol

A Clean Sweep

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      For the first line of business……my parents visited last week. Therefore, I took a few days off. Well, not totally off. The cows still needed to be milked and calves fed, but other than that I didn’t do much. When company comes I get to head to town and get off the farm and do fun stuff. You know……more than just gas and groceries.       027.jpg       When the “milkmaid” gets company…..this is where I like to take them. The PW Mercantile. It’s a fun little road trip. Then we always have to hurry home to those bossy bovines. I decided that next time I’m leaving the farm dudes at home. They’ve seen it once now…no need for them to see it again. That way I won’t have to rush home. Haha….great plan. Don’t ya think?       002.jpg      As far as the farm work goes….this was a job that we procrastinated on. Cleaning and stacking all those calf hutches. So finally one day the “farmers” decided to get the job done. See that pink broom? That would be my kitchen broom. Why is it that they always take Mom’s good “tools” for their dirty farm work?! I kissed that broom good-bye. I don’t want it back! Think calf poop, cobwebs, big nasty spiders, and more dirt than you can shake a fist at.     004.jpg         Marshall needed a broom too. So, I improvised. An old rag and duct tape…..ta da…..good as new! They swept each hutch clean. Inside and out. What a dirty mess. Lots of creepy, crawly spiders. Yuk!       003.jpg      So, while the boys did the “clean sweep”, the main man came along and picked them up with the tractor. Before we know it, it’ll be time to get them all lined up again. Ahhh….I’m not ready for that just yet. That means cold weather. Yuk!       009.jpg      Earl stacks them onto the flat bed trailer and hauls them off to the “dump site”. That looks so nice to have all that mess cleaned up and put away. I ride this area every day and all those memories “flood my soul”. Hungry calves screaming my name, freezing cold temperatures, fingers so cold I had to dip them into the warm milk to keep from crying. And then trying not to cry when I get to the barn and the “thaw” begins. Yes, I’m enjoying the summer heat. I’ll take it any day.      008.jpg       The work here is almost done. Just scraping away all the bedding. And more bedding. As I ride along here I always remind the boys how this whole tree line was lined with calves. We just shake our heads in unbelief…..wondering how we did it. In all that wicked, cold weather? Those are the days when we slip into “survival mode” and don’t come up for air until spring time.          043.jpg             Here you go….the final resting place. We have learned not to stack them more than 4 or 5 high because it’s a total nightmare to get them apart. So, this fall when the weather turns cool and all the little “jerks” are popping out everywhere, we’ll come back to these. And start the loooong line up again. Until then…..I’m enjoying having just a handful of calves to feed……………………..Carol

My Happy Place

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     These days I keep hearing people talk about their “happy place”…..what?! It’s the popular thing to say….right?! Usually by the time I figure things out, they aren’t popular anymore. So, I may be out of style or totally behind the times. Either way, I’m taking you to my “happy place”.    045.jpg        This is my patio. The place where I go to relax. Where I like to putter around and rearrange. This year I added some water tanks. I like to catch all the rain water and use it to water my plants. Only problem…..it doesn’t rain much in July and August. So I sneak the water hose over when Earl isn’t watching and keep them filled. We have to pay for all of our water, so that’s a sore spot with the farmer.          047.jpg      I crowded as many plants as possible around the tubs. I had to cover up the ugliness somehow. They have been used in the calf pens. Do you know what happens in calf pens? Lots of mud, cow poop, and dirty filth. I tried to clean them, but some of that doesn’t ever come off. I’m happy with them. I think I’ll keep them.        043.jpg        I like to add little knick knacks to my pots. Gives them character. I pick things up at garage sales or antique stores…..a favorite pastime. If only I had more time to pass.    039.jpg      I always, always plant dragon wing begonias in my hanging baskets. They grow so nice and they’re super easy. Basically keep them watered and you’ll be fine. A definite favorite of mine.     050.jpg       I put groupings of chairs here and there. I like to sit at a different spot. Gotta shake things up every now and then. Pretty much the only traveling I get to do……around my patio.    051.jpg       Which setting is my favorite? I can’t decide. That cat though, is always hanging out on the patio. Her name is Minnie. And she’s pregnant. Lord have mercy….all the cats are having babies. I declare….there is no such thing as a sterile barn cat.      019.jpg       This is a new arrangement. I used the ladder to paint with but decided it needs to retire. Holding plants is a much better idea. It was kinda wobbly anyway. I love my orange chair! It’s not super comfy, but it looks cool.     020.jpg        And what is a garden without all the watering cans?! I love collecting the vintage ones. All shapes and sizes. I need more.         053.jpg        My little mini fridge. I keep this thing stocked full of cold drinks. All varieties. Whatever the mood is. You never know what you might need when living on a dairy farm. Things change hourly. Especially when the cows get out and decide to go marching through the sweet corn patch just a few days before it’s ready. (that has happened) That’s the day when you throw your hands up and go straight for that bottle of Jack Daniels. You know….the one you hid in the cupboard high above the refrigerator……behind all your pretty dishes. There’s more than one way to skin a cat!        068.jpg         This may very well be my favorite time of day. I love to turn all my garden lights on and sit and ponder. You know….deep thinking. For example….am I really out of dark chocolate? Am I the only one that knows how to restock the fridge? Do I smell cow poop? Surely not. And where is my housekeeper? My windows are dirty. I better scram………………….Carol