An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

T-Bone, Sirloin, Roast, Ground Round

One of the best parts about raising your own critters are the freezers full of fresh, home grown meat. It's why we do what we do~ brave the elements 365 days a year, commit our every waking thought, muscle, and dollar into building up this old farmstead and arrange vacations around the neighbors schedule so he can worry about the critters for a weekend. But the payoff is worth it, especially given the fact that I wouldn't be happy without more than a dozen projects going on and critters to care for. We have been raising our own beef for over 12 years now. In the beginning we were given a free little jersey bull calf to raise which led to a legacy of jersey Hanks. Hank became a 4 letter curse word after about the third year when Hank III decided it was lots of fun to play catch every other day with me and 3 little children chasing him. There was never a better tasting steak than that year, and I don't think we have raised a jersey calf since.

Then we got the brilliant idea that the farm might actually make some money by raising calves. Being we had become experts at raising these finicky little buggers why not fill up the barn with them? So off to the sales barn we went and filled up the truck several times that summer. By the end of the summer we had a nice bovine graveyard going on and were planning an archaeological dig for the following spring for home school. We were introduced to shipping fever, pneumonia, scours and numerous other farm and auction related illnesses times 12. We were discouraged but not defeated. This crazy calf obsession eventually lead us to purchasing 2 beef cows and this old run down farm and 40 acres to keep them on. Beef cows~ now that was the answer to all our problems. But what we learned the hard way was that momma beef cow ate her weight in hay and grass which also ate up any profit we would hope to gain since we could not produce our own grain or hay yet. Throw in a bad birthing experience, a premature calf, a couple of cows that wouldn't conceive, big bulls, and it was back to the bottle babies for us.
Of course our standard 3 calves weren't enough now that we had 40 acres to make use of. Why not raise 12? So 12 it was. Of course every other year before that one had been a great year to sell calves, but now that we had 12 the market took a nose dive and we ended up nearly giving them all away last year. So this spring I limited myself to our standard 3 calves again. Three because one calf just does not do well on it's own and with 3 we can cover our expenses to raise them all, our meat becomes virtually free other than our time and labor, and we make a couple of other families happy as well.
In our neck of the woods you need to schedule a butcher date at least a year in advance. Somehow last year this minor detail got overlooked and we have been on a waiting list for our big boys to get shipped this fall. Well, praise the Lord, the locker plant called over the weekend and they could pick them up on Monday morning! Now usually I am happy to help move critters and get them loaded if need be. I am pretty good at standing around with a stick and giving orders, but this year I was stuck in bed with the flu so Rob handled it very well all by himself again. My favorite cow loading story is from last year when Rob went out to make sure the steers were situated before the truck came at 6:30 A.M.. It was raining cats and dogs and being he really didn't want to be out there loading cattle in the rain he prayed that God would stop the rain long enough so that they could load the steers. As soon as the truck pulled into the driveway the rain stopped, the steers loaded easily, the truck pulled away and the rain started again. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.... He prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain {James 5:16-17}

Along with the big steers (which for the record were huge this year given the extra time and weighed in at an average of 600# of fresh beef, which means they were about 1,200# steers) we also have 2 farm fresh hogs in the freezer to get us through until next falls butcher dates. They keep trying to talk me into butchering the baby billy goats but I just can't find the heart to do that yet. I have gotten over the fact that we are eating Michael the Cow and can just enjoy a steak dinner. Now, onto next years farm plans..... see, I am the ultimate optimistic and really believe that next year it will be worth it to raise 12 calves. Or maybe just 8. But then we would have to keep more goats so that we will have more milk to raise more calves to bale more hay to feed them all and then raise more corn and build more fences and another barn....... Three calves might not be so bad after all. Chickens, now that's the way we should go~ maybe 50, maybe 100?? Why not a couple hundred?? What can go wrong with chickens??

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just a Little Update

Thanks for all the sweet comments on the new puppy ladies! You really are one of the greatest parts of my day I hope you all know! I enjoy your friendship and comments and am tickled that people actually read all of my ramblings:)) Just a little update on what's been going on around here. Between the farm, work, the husband, the kiddos, the new dog and life in general, besides a growing conviction that I don't want my children to remember their childhood with their mom always sitting in front of a little plastic box of blinking lights all day long, I haven't indulged myself in too much computer time lately. The new pup is doing great! What a little (fat) sweetie! She is thriving (praise the Lord!) with all the good goats milk and loving care. Grace wakes up everyday and asks "Is the puppy dead?"~ yes she has seen the tragedies of farm life one too many times. I think I am believing a little bit that she will be just fine and grow up to be a great big dog.
We celebrated Blaze Orange Holiday here over the weekend. The biggest holiday of the year up in these neck of the woods where nobody ever has a conflicting schedule to get together with the relatives. We have hosted lunch for my soap-opera side of the family for the last three years and usually have a house full of my big half brothers and a smattering of cousins, nieces, nephews and extras. I love it! Hosting is one of my favorite things to do anyway, so a great big group of hungry guys (and one lone gal) in my kitchen couldn't make me happier. Grandma Lee came over this year too to help me get set up. She and the kids decorated blaze orange deer sugar cookies to go on the dessert table, along with the pumpkin bars and brownies. We had a much smaller group this year, and didn't even get one blaze orange picture. We'll just have to enjoy the ones from last year.
Only 3 deer were tagged but lots of memories were made. There are usually some young hunters with that get first chance at tagging their deer. Uncle Steve and Uncle Dave watch out for those young ones pretty good. Oh, and somewhere along the line (about 2 weeks ago) Trent got his first doe with a bow. Yay Trent! This kid was born to hunt and has taken it very seriously. He was so excited (and Dad was just a smidgen proud.)
Alexis helped me host another soap class with 3 more ladies here at the farm. We had another group scheduled for the weekend (deer hunter widows), but had to cancel due to the icy roads. Hopefully we can have a girls soap day in January after the holiday festivities have settled down. Some of my new soaps are ready to come off the drying rack so I set up a little photo shoot and am still (pulling my hair out) trying to figure out how to set up the sales page. Marketing is not my area of expertise, or comfort. I can stand in front of a group and mix explosive chemicals and talk about saponification and trace and seizing, but when it comes time to handing over the money I freeze up. I have been accused of being too generous before and my CEO tells me I have to quit giving everything away if I want to be in the soap business. Do I want to be in the soap business? Oh yes, those goats keep eating, that's why I want to be in the soap business. One of the ladies who came over for a lesson a couple of weeks ago called with some soap questions as she was embarking on making 4 batches of soap all by herself. Her excitement was contagious! That's why I want to be in the soap business.
Thanksgiving festivities are in the works. Alexis will be going with the youth group to pack shoe boxes for Operation Christmas child this week, we're hoping to have some young friends spend the night, the lame, the blind and the crippled (anybody we know of with nowhere else to go on Thursday) are coming over for brunch and a lazy day of eating and celebrating, looking forward to visiting with some old friends and meeting some new friends, a birthday to celebrate, and if I ever make up my mind maybe a little Black Friday shopping. I don't know. Getting up at 3:30 a.m. to part with a lot of money doesn't exactly thrill me, but the kids are begging. Our immediate families are all so large now that we haven't attempted to try to get everybody together for Thanksgiving in years but rather celebrate Christmas and Easter with our couple dozen children, grandchildren, and adult siblings.

The tea's all gone, so I'm off to find some young child to torture with a spelling lesson. Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Remember my mentioning that "one day" I would like to get a Great Pyrenees guard dog to put in with our goats? Well it appears that God and others heard because this week we have become the proud new owners of a teeny-tiny little bundle of puppy sweetness when our good friends were blessed with 20 puppies from their 2 momma dogs. One of the dogs was a first time mom and was having trouble taking care of all those babies. In a heroic attempt to save this little one's life we accepted the offer to try to raise her.
She was born on Monday afternoon, so she is all of 5 days old, which of course means that she needs to be bottle fed several times a day. And night. We have been feeding her from our stash of frozen goats milk and it appears to be settling nice in her tummy. Luckily I have Grace who loves little critters almost more than I do. She has taken over the day shift and I have acquired the night shift. Along with an extra few lessons in patience and joy and nurturing.
I am too much of a farm girl to give her a name just yet. After she survives a week or more I will get serious to decide on a name. For now she is getting plumper by the day and we are ever cautiously falling in love a little bit more each day. The kids want to name her Bitsy, or Bitsy Stripes (??) but knowing how big she will get it just doesn't seem to fit. The only name that keeps coming to mind seems to be...... Trouble:)) In the sweetest context of course!

Winter Riding

We were able to enjoy some winter riding this past week. With all of the construction projects going on around here I haven't spent time riding this fall, then rode three days this week alone. My legs can tell.
Of course when we were ready to go the horses were way out back so we just carried the bridles out and tacked up in the pasture.
We headed through the pasture and out the back gate.
Our destination was the corral to pick up the saddle that was left out there the other day.
The other day when "That Guy" came over to ride and the saddle was left out at the corral. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that it was purple:))
It made a good excuse anyway for us girls to go riding and pick it up.
At about this point we realized that the cat had followed us all the way out back.
If somebody hadn't broke yet another button (the zoom button) on my little Walmart special camera you could actually see the cat under Sassy. It just may be time for me to finally decide to spend some money on a camera.
Rather than make the cat walk all the way back home Grace asked Alexis to put her up with her to have a ride. We weren't so sure just how far she would make it.
That silly cat didn't mind a bit even through the trotting or cantering and rode all the way back home with us.
Then we put the horses away and told them they are the best horses in the whole wide world, because, well to us, they are.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God is So Good

God is so good! God is so good! He's so good to me! Don't you love it when God meets you in the simple places. Like on the recliner in the early hours of the morning when all the kids and even the dogs are actually still asleep and you can enjoy your coffee and the peace and quiet. Especially the times when we have our own agenda of what God is obviously going to do in our preplanned meeting time with Him and then He sidetracks you to a place in His Word that penetrates your heart to the core and brings tears and repentance and renews yet again your faith and love and awe for this eternal maker.
Headed to Romans this morning I found myself in Malachi instead. Over the past year I have been spending alot of time in the Old Testament for some reason and have enjoyed it immensely. Chapter 4 spoke so clearly to so many things that God has been whispering in my ear and I have been very good at ignoring. Today He brought me to my spiritual knees again in the areas of tithing. "Trust me in this" says the Lord. It appears to be so much easier to hold on tight to the lesser pay that has been coming in here over the past year and worldly it makes no sense to be letting it go. The deeper issue tho is my heart. Why don't I trust God with His own money? What is my biggest fear? That He won't be faithful to His very own word? Oh Lord, teach me to let go.
"You have said 'It is futile to serve God. What will we gain by carrying out His requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty?'" Is that not what I was just whining about the other Monday morning my friend? How sweet of God to settle this so quickly in my heart. How many times do I count all the little things that nobody even seems to notice as not having any value? The encouragement, the prayers, the steadfastness, the stubborn standing on the word of God, the continuous attitude checks, the continuous training in our home, the diligence of not letting the "world" influence, the continuous battle within myself against flesh and spirit. God reminded me that He notices. He called me His treasured possession. Treasured. Just let that sink in. God's Treasured Possession. He says it makes a difference to Him and that one day He will come and make a distinction between those who are His and those who are not.
"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings." As I was consumed with what God was telling me this morning this verse made me stop and brought me as close to tears as I ever get. A few years back a lady from our church lost her son in a horrible car accident between two friends playing chicken. For the past 5 years we have watched and prayed as she triumphantly dealt with the tragedy, struggled to trust God in it, continued her witness to her unsaved family, loved and cared for her grandsons that were spared, and longed for her son. Last week she herself was killed in a tragic car accident, leaving behind those family members not trusting in God. Kathy revered Gods name. He himself has brought righteousness with healing in its wings. She now stands before her God. Scripture goes on to say "And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall." Rejoice Kathy and dance like David before your King. He promised He would wipe away all our tears and He has now wiped away yours. As for you, dear friends, how's your heart? Are you right before your creator? Do you know the saving grace of the savior that went to the cross to spare you from God's wrath for your sins? His name is Jesus. And he says you are His treasured possession as well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Chicken Coop

The chickens have settled in nicely to their new home. It sure is nice to have them contained again inside of a fence rather than free ranging and perching in the barn every night. The irony of it all is that now that we have spent the last couple of months building a fancy-spancy chicken coop I am seriously thinking that I will just get rid of the whole kit-and-kaboodle of them (duck included). The 3 eggs they have layed this month makes me seriously question if I want to keep feeding them all winter or if I am just better off starting again with a new, younger flock in the spring. Cole acquired 10 silkie chicks for his birthday back in September (which are still in my basement) and putting them in the coop for the winter with a heat lamp would be a great solution for everybody involved. I did finally get the curtains hung up.
And the boys helped me build a door. Granted it still has a piece of twine string to tie it shut, but at least it's up.
Coop Sweet Coop.

One of the Good Ol' Boys

Last spring my Mom handed me a book that she was reading for her book club that she knew I would enjoy. It was called Coop, by Michael Perry. He's an author from the other side of Hwy 8 from our own home state of Wisconsin. From the first pages I could tell this was going to be a new favorite author of mine. For better or worse, living in WI my whole life I can relate to most of his childhood memories. Whoever has led any kind of large critter on a lead line out the back of a station wagon full of whooping kids will enjoy his stories. The spectrum of emotions he unexpectedly brings out in his simple stories is what makes the book hard to put down. Our local newspaper advertised that he would be making a book signing appearance in a nearby town so Mom and I rearranged our schedules and had a girls night out. And it was so worth it! We laughed and laughed and laughed! There was a great response in the community and it was standing room only when we arrived. He also wrote Truck (which I picked up at the library this past week) and Population 485. I'm looking forward to some quiet nights snuggled in with a good book.

I Told 'Em

I have been telling everybody around here for weeks that it was going to snow. It really will I promised them. As the days kept getting colder and shorter and I made them all work harder and faster on project after project for these critters around here I kept telling them just how glad we would all be that we weren't having to work in that cold and snow. I think there were a couple of them that started to doubt me. And, I have to admit, I was ready for the snow to come too so I would have a good excuse to stay inside and drink coffee all day and work on some quilting. Lo-and-behold the snow did finally come! Outside our door is a beautiful winter wonderland!

And what better way to usher in winter than with a rip-roaring snow ball fight.

And building a couple of snow forts.

But for some reason the coffee and the quilting haven't happened yet because all those outside projects are still not done and I am out there working on them in the cold and snow. I am officially ready for hibernation if anybody else wants to take over the project list for a while.

Sailor's Delight

The sunsets the past couple of weeks have been absolutely beautiful! I remember when I was a little girl my Dad used to say a rhyme about the red sunsets that predicted the nice weather to follow. I vaguely remember something along the lines of "Red sky at night means a sailor's delight." Anybody else know how that goes?

It Happens Every Day

Aaaahhhh! I love sitting on the little covered porch on the chicken coop in the mornings...... enjoying my coffee and the peace and quiet...... pondering thoughts of God and life and animals...... and then here it comes...... The sun peaks up over the horizon shining it's rays across the farm and floods the yard in it's glorious light. It happens every day. And then here come the dogs. And the kids. And then somebody bursts my little bubble and tells me to get back up on that ladder and help hold the steel. I'm coming!! I'm coming!!