Friday, February 26, 2010

Just wanted to share

I found this site last year while researching how to make yogurt.  She has a lot of great recipes and this is a fun challenge she undertook.

A Year of Slow Cooking

Spring on the Farm

It's probably just an early warming trend that will all too soon disappear, but yesterday was a BEAUTIFUL day!  My son was at preschool, my husband at work and I had a few spare moments to just enjoy the wonderful sunshine.  I sat down on the hill in the backyard looking into the sun.  One hen was on her nest, the other 2 were scratching around for food.  The herd (mama and baby cow, 2 dairy goats and a whether) were ALL lying down enjoying the sun too (OK, I don't really know what they think and feel, but how could it be anything else?) and not up wondering why I wasn't bringing them food.  It was a very contented 15 minutes.  I even laid down and let the sun's warmth seep into my bones.

I think the chickens are glad to have more daylight, they seem a bit more active.  It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I've enjoyed the sun again today.  If I could just see my laptop screen while outside, I'd sit out there to get some paperwork done!

Jasper likes to run around the corral about an hour before sunset.  He has a route he runs, kicking up his heals and trying his best to moo.  It sounds like a deep goat bleat still.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Yeah, you read that right.  Purrsy is a girl!  I'm trying to remember what made me think she was a boy when this little bundle of purrs showed up at our house, but I'm almost sure we could see little testicles.  Just before bedtime last night he was acting strange-something was bothering him.  He would purr thru a stunted meow over and over again and then flop on the ground.  Thinking this cat is a boy I wondered if he might have some blockage in the urinary tract from eating mostly dry cat food.  He never winced from pain when petting him or touching his entire body though.  We gave him a can of moist food and a little milk, neither of which he really wanted, and tried to comfort him.  Shortly after that he decided to go outside and we thought it was over.  Nope.  He came in later in the night still "upset" and me not able to calm him.  Finally around 5AM Tony said we needed to take him to the vet.  I told him there was a 24 hour vet on Main St, should we take him now?  So Tony took him, only to return about 30 minutes later with the news that Purrsy is a girl and is in heat!  I thought the symptoms looked like heat, but quickly dismissed it because we thought she was a boy.  How will we ever be successful farmers if we can't tell the sex of a kitten?!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I used to be a bit squeamish about them.  When I read a book that said farm fresh eggs from free range chickens would be healthier for me, I loved the idea, but wasn't sure I could adjust.  It was worth a try though, so we bought some baby chicks and waited.  I didn't want to wait five months or more though, so I found someone willing to sell some laying hens.  The yold was like the book said-a rich, orange color.  Uh oh-could I get past this visual abnormality?  Oh wait, this is what they're SUPPOSED to be like, the abnormality is what I've been buying at the grocery store! 

We fried some up-I couldn't tell much of a difference at first.  Now I really can.  My son was finicky about eggs and now he'll eat all the eggs before he even touches the bacon.  Sometimes he even asks for eggs but no bacon.  So for the last 8 or 9 months we've had eggs from our own chickens.  Lovely!

A month ago one of them drowned.  We figured we should clean it up and cook it, and in the process of removing the innards, we found this:

I guess if I had thought about it, this is exactly what I should have expected to see, but I've never thought about it.  I'm curious how long it takes the egg on the far right to become the egg on the far left?

I think the hen that drowned had laid this a week or so prior:

Hard to tell without another egg by it for reference, but this egg was HUGE!  See how the tip looks like the egg shell cooled too quickly?  I don't think that's how it happened, but it's sure odd looking.  It wouldn't fit into a jumbo egg carton.

Then there's Helen.  At least I think it's Helen.  I named all the birds when we got them, except the last 4, and we've lost so many that I'm not sure if the last remaining Rhode Island Red is Helen or Flo.  Either way, she's a very steady layer.  An egg a day, with about 2 days per month with no egg.  I've only recently been recording it, so not sure how often she misses.  She missed yesterday and this morning when I opened the hen house, she'd been squawking and rushed around the corner to the place she likes to lay eggs.  I've seen her make a mad dash for the nest before, so I didn't think much of it until I went to gather eggs this afternoon.  Her egg was huge-no wonder she was in such a hurry!

The left one is today's and the right is from earlier in the week.  It's nearly twice the size!  I know it's hers because the other hens don't lay in this nest.  It's also bigger around.  Think it hurt on the way out?  I'll have to wait to see if this is an abnormality or if the raw cow's milk they've been getting is making them healthier.


Last night was Jasper's first night in the pen and we had been warned that mama and baby might bellow all night long until they get used to the separation.  I heard mama a few times, but not all night long.  I did hear her at 630 when Tony got up though, so I got up too.  We went out to see how this new plan was going to work and though there are a few bugs to work out still, it was an amazing difference!  We moved Jasper to his side of the milk stand and tied Elsie up insde.  I got ready to start and Tony lifted the panel keeping Jasper out.  We assumed being on the left side that he'd nurse the left teats, but he wanted the right ones.  Tony had to hold him back while I milked the right side, and he kept trying to take over, but I got half a gallon of milk in what seemed a very short time!  I was able to put the bucket on the ground and use two hands and she never kicked my side.  She did swat at him a couple of times, the first time depositing unsanitary grass into the bucket, so the chickens are happy today too.  However, she never kicked at me or on my side.  I stopped at half a gallon, am sure I could have gotten another quart or more.  I think I felt her let down her hind milk, but not sure what that feels like.  We also learned that what we thought was a sufficient "butting" of the udder to encourage more milk flow was woefully inadequate!  When Jasper does it, Elsie's whole middle jumps-no wonder they say that a calf can damage the teats at 3 months of age.  He startled me every time he did it.

I'll still need Tony's help tomorrow, and if Jasper won't settle for the left side, I'm wondering if we should let him have the right and I'll milk the left?  I know it needs to be consistent, just not sure if we can go ahead and switch sides since it's early in her milking career.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How Do They Know?

How do kids know that it's the weekend, or after hours and choose those times to get sick or hurt?  Or how do they know that one day mommy can sleep in, so that's the day they wake up early, but yesterday you had to wake them at 820 to get to preschool at 830? 

The summer of 2008, our son showed signs of his first illness around 9 on Friday just before Memorial Day.  We toughed out the night with his coughing and crying and decided the next day to take him to ER.  Although I think we waited until Sunday because once he got up Saturday he seemed fine.  Turned out to be croup.  Independence Day was on Friday that year and he got sick again.  I don't remember with what, but we didn't have to take him to ER.  That same summer, I told my mom that if he showed signs of sickness for Labor Day I was sending him to her!

The whole thing about days that I can sleep in happens so often it's eerie.  And yes, he will sleep til 9 or later some mornings, but not when I can too!

This weekend was one of those times where you wonder if a trip to the ER is needed, but don't want to risk more trouble by waiting.  He'd been coughing since Tuesday night, and the typical fixes weren't helping.  Thursday morning I went to the pharmacy to ask what I should give him and she suggested I see the doctor, based on what I told her.  We got in that morning and she felt it was RSV and gave him albuterol.  That made him so hyper that he couldn't hold still if his life depended on it.  I gave him one more treatment, but it didn't seem to be helping, so I didn't see the point.

Friday evening Tony was cooking steaks and they were playing outside.  Our son has a Flinstones type car and he got inside while Tony got on top and they rode down the hill.  They crashed.  Son cried.  Mom fumed.  He didn't seem to really be hurt, just scared, though there was just enough blood in his nose to see it, but not drip out.  Saturday comes and I've totally forgotten about the crash.  He's still coughing and wet so we got children's Sudafed.  The kind you have to show your drivers license to buy.  What's in this stuff?  (Yeah, I know, but c'mon!)  I gave him a dose at 330 and he was zonked by 4.  It probably helped that the library messed up and gave us the 3.5 hour Charlton Heston version of Ben Hur, instead of the shorter, animated version he wanted, but he was asleep and mom had some quiet time!  Around 7 he was awake and complaining that his ear hurt.  He'd been asleep on it for hours, of course it hurt.  My ear hurts after a one hour nap on the same couch.  I made him wait about 30 minutes and since it still hurt I gave him children's ibuprofin.  That seemed to help and he was asleep again after watching Tarzan.  He also didn't seem to be coughing any more.  I was excited that I'd get to sleep all night since he wasn't coughing anymore.  Wrong.

He came to our room at 230 wanting to sleep with is.  I took him back to the couch (it's easier to keep him propped up there and breathe better) and stayed with him til he fell asleep again.  At 530 he came back complaining about his ear again.  We gave him more medicine and let him sleep with us.  It was during those last couple of hours in bed that it ocurred to me that his ear might hurt because of the crash and that maybe there was an internal injury.  Now I was concerned.  People die from these things.  Adding to my fear was Thursday's doctor visit that said his ears were clear.  Could something really have developed in just a couple of days?  If it's an internal injury, we shouldn't wait for the doctors office to open.  But did I want to go to the ER for an ear ache?  We live in a small town and the Urgent Care place is closed on the weekend-does that make sense to anyone else?

Realizing that my son's life is more important than my feeling silly for taking him to ER for an earache, we cancelled church plans and took him in.  Turns out it really is just an ear infection.  I was glad to see that his oxygen level was 98%, where the highest it got at the Dr's office was 95%, even after a treatment.  He also had no fever, which means I might be able to let him go to preschool this week.  I need to wait until tomorrow and make sure he still doesn't have one after 24 hours without fever reducing drugs.  I hope he can go because he's itching to go somewhere.  While complaining of his ear hurting last night he kept asking where we were going.  He didn't like my "nowhere" answer and suggested we to to the "lellow park".  One park in town has yellow equipment and one has red.  That's how he tells them apart.  What made him think we'd go to the park at night in the winter?  Or am I just not adventerous enough?

For a final kicker, Tony and I wanted to nap this afternoon so I gave him another dose of Sudafed.  Yes, he was still congested.  No, we didn't do it just to get him to sleep, just timed it to coincide with a nap for us.  Did he sleep?  Not a wink!  Couldn't even sit still to watch Incredibles.  Figures!  Little stinkers, how do they know?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm so happy!

I was heartbroken at the thought that my "favorites" file wasn't importing!  I have so many that I probably wouldn't be able to recreate it and who knows what cool things I would have lost.  I kept getting an error message that said the file was invalid.  But why?  I just saved it yesterday!  I finally realized the formatting of the hard drive left me with IE7 and I had been using IE8.  Didn't know 8 was so new that the version with my laptop was older (this is a fairly new laptop).  So I upgraded to 8 and everything worked just fine!  Woo-hoo!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm Back!

At least I hope I am!  I'm writing this from my laptop, something I haven't been able to do for a couple of weeks now.  I think the hard drive is repaired, but the real test will come after the 1.34 GIGAbyte SP2 update is finished downloading and has been installed.  I got close once before and everything locked up.  I think this time it's going to work because I couldn't even do this before.

Tony complains about how slow his computer is and I've tried some diagnostics and fixes to see if I can speed it up, but after using it for a while I think the problem is the video card.  I'm thinking it just doesn't have the power to keep up.  Late Valentine's present to replace it for him?

I sure hope this fix works because I'm getting behind on things I need to do-like tax prep to get it all to the accountant.  I was going to sit here and install the programs I need, but decided it'd be better to wait for the service pack to finish.  SInce the downloader says that will be over 7 hours from now I think I'll just go to bed and see how things have progressed tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kelly vs Elsie part 2

It's been over two weeks since I shared that Elsie and I were doing battle.  We tried some new approaches, including Tony taking the brunt of her discontent.  He's tough and the seemingly little swipes that hurt me don't generally affect him.  Don't get me wrong, he got clobbered a few times too, it just doesn't affect him the way it does me!  So, he ties her up, cleans her and starts milking.  I've had more experience milking so I usually take over at that point and can get her milked out a bit faster than he can.  However, he has to take time off work to do this, so I decided today that I'd try it all on my own again.

We were doing fairly well, with just a few attempted swipes by her, but then she got tired of cooperating.  I wasn't in a hurry, so I thought I'd try an idea I had for restraining her leg.  It didn't really work, and might have made her mad, because when I went back to milking (having basically decided that I just needed to get her emptied, w/o regard to collection) she kicked the top of my left hand.  Twice.  I must have had it hanging loosely from my left knee and felt that I was out of her way, but I was wrong.  With just two connections, she managed to break blood vessels in 6 different spots!  It's not very swollen, and will hopefully not swell, but it kinda hurts to bend the hand back towards my forearm.  I didn't stop working her though.  I grabbed her by the horns (easy to do when she's securely tied up!) and told her I AM IN CHARGE HERE!  I finished milking her, cleaned and balmed her, but only got a pint of usable milk.

Anyone know where I can get a good used freezer? 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Little of This, A Little of That

The hard drive on my laptop is misbehaving.  I wonder if it's been hanging around with my son!  OK, seriously I think I will have to replace it again.  I'm using Tony's computer now.  Besides being computer-less we've been gone and busy, so there hasn't been much online time.

We castrated Jasper today-banded his testacles.  We would be my husband and SD's boyfriend.  We just met him today too.  We enjoyed their company and had a good visit.  They both tried milking Annie the goat and were able to get a little milk from her.

I think my son has seasonal allergies.  He's kinda wet and coughing-similar to what I experience.  I thought it might be something more because his cheeks and ears were red and hot.  A couple of hours later though I took his temp and he's fine.  He'll get to go to preschool tomorrow after all.

I had to clean out the fridge today to reclaim my quart jars.  It was a process!  I had a gallon of Elsie milk that's a few weeks old that I fed to the chickens and cats.  I combined the individual day's qt jars into gallon jars and have nearly a gallon of cow milk and over a gallon of goat milk.  I even used 2 qts of cow milk to make yogurt and have that much left.  We made ice cream over the weeked with cream from Elsie-it's good!

Elsie is getting a little easier to milk, but still tries to swipe my hand away.  Once we get Jasper's pen done I think things will be easier.

I suppose if I keep going it won't be just a little of this or that any more, so I must quit - or change the title!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Crazy Farm Animals

Ever wonder what they do at night? Do they sleep? Stare at the stars? Freak out over glowing eyes in the dark? Do you ever go out to spy on them?

We had a late afternoon wedding to attend today, so the evening feeding was late. It was already dark and I took some carrots for treats while Tony dispensed the hay. The upper level of our property has a sodium vapor light that shines part way into the pen, but most of it is dark, so we see shadows amongst the strips of light.

Molly the goat is usually the first to come to the fence when treats are dispensed but she wasn't moving. Upon staring her direction long enough for my eyes to adjust I noticed that Jasper, the 3 week old calf, has mounted her! I burst out laughing! Maybe Alpine's will go into heat in seasons beyond fall?

Not what I expected to see, but it was good for a laugh!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Please Read

This is a story that needs more press. Monsanto (and the other giants) has got to be stopped! Like one of the commentors said-patenting life??

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It Smells Like Idaho in My Backyard

But I live in AZ. It's my cow, I'm sure of it. All the stuff she's depositing in the pasture is making it smell like my grandma's house. OK, not inside her house...

My mom was born and raised in Idaho and most all of the family still lives there. We visit every couple of years and while I was milking Elsie today I noticed that the scent outside reminded me of those visits. They used to have a cow. I remember my grandpa trying to show me how to milk her, but I couldn't do it. I can now!

We had a FABULOUS sunny day today and it has really helped my mood! I even told Tony that it's been a very long time since I felt peace or joy and today I think I felt both. I'd like to think that's God's way of encouraging us to go ahead and build out house because it will be greater potential for this type of day when Tony has a shop at home. He basically took the afternoon off to help me milk the silly cow and build a second stall. The first will become Jasper's pen and the one next to it will be where we milk Elsie. Jasper will be able to nurse the left side while I milk out the right side.

I also had an idea for being able to use both hands and keep the milk bucket from getting knocked over. I think I'll get a large galvanized tub that's high enough on the sides to keep her hooves out and set the bucket inside to milk.

I got 3 qts from Elsie and 3 qts from the goats. She better pick up production!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm Published! (?)

I spend a lot of (OK too much) time online but sometimes it's in search of answers or helpful information for my life. I read an article about only having to milk my cow once a day and I responded. She replied and we've been communicating since. She mentioned me in her blog. She's had some helpful information about dairy cows and I appreciate her help! I also think it's cool that she linked my blog in one of her stories! :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More About Adrenal Fatigue

The thing that stands out the most is the viscous cycle. The scientific details escape me at the moment but it goes something like this. The body experiences some type of trauma, the trauma puts stress on the body requiring extra nutrients and rest to properly recover. Generally though, when something like this has happened, there aren't extras. So the adrenal glands work overtime, adding another stressor on the body. This overtime work AND the repair work related to the trauma cause the adrenals to produce more cortisol. It's cortisol that causes the body to store fat around the waist. The extra fat is another stressor. And so the cycle goes. Factor into the equation that all these things also reduce our ability/desire to cook healthy meals. So now the glands aren't getting what they need to keep up this type of work, but that just makes them work harder, round and round we go!

You might be asking what kind of trauma it takes to set this off. I'm sure it varies from person to person, but it could be years of working 12 hour days 6 days a week, grabbing fast food on the way home, watching the news and falling asleep just to start all over again the next day. It could be an emotional event like a divorce or death in the family. It could be an actual physical injury. For some it could be all of the above rolled into one cataclysmic event. Maybe on a frantic weekend outing with the family the overstressed person falls asleep driving home, causing a car wreck where one or more family members are killed, while the driver and the rest are seriously injured. THAT would be a MAJOR life event to be sure, and AF would settle in and could cause recovery to be very slow.

For me, I can think of lots of seemingly minor events that have added up to a severe case of AF. My first husband worked nights for a grocery store. The stress of shift work isn't restricted to the person working the odd hours! Being awakened in the wee morning hours, not having my husband around in the evening because he needed a nap before work, sleeping alone, etc were minor stressors whose influence just built over the years. A few years into that marriage we moved (stress) to help run a family business (stress). That business was a restaurant (lots of stress!) and had I not heard people tell me how good I looked a few months after we closed that restaurant, I wouldn't have thought it had taken such a toll. During those years of running the restaurant, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (hello?!) and my dad had a roll over car wreck (duh!) and my husband began to talk of divorce (do I need to keep pointing the stressors out?) We tried for many years to work on the marriage (I think I was really the only one trying) and we always had financial trouble (something I've never been able to figure out-a family of two making $60K+ in the late 90's, with no car payments, should have been fine, right?) Then there was the divorce. Oh, I forgot to say that we tried unsuccessfully, to conceive for 10 years. Infertility is a factor in AF. The stress causes the hormones to be out of balance. After the divorce I moved 3 times in about 2 years, and struggled with a failed relationship and finding meaningful work.

Are ya still with me? Then I met Tony, we got married and I moved again. Then we started foster care and had a child in our home w/o warning or time for preparation. A strong willed, defiant child. Did that just spell S T R E S S? Yes, we love him very much, but I gotta tell ya there are days....

From late 2001 thru 2005 I participated in three, "3 Day Walks". It's a 60 mile walk that takes 3 days to complete, camping in a huge mobile city for two nights during the event. The walk itself is actually kind of easy. It's the 10 months of training that are exhasting. Getting up at 4AM on a Saturday to start walking in Phoenix before it gets hot-and putting in roughly 10 miles. Prior to reading this book I would have thought all that exercise was helpful. Wrong. Exercise IS helpful, but not extreme workouts like this. Four years of knocking myself out on top of all the other things I've mentioned! No single event seems like enough to cause problems, but each actually is, and combined, well you get the picture. So now that I've spelled it out, I don't feel so bad that my half hearted attempts at correcting it have not solved the problem in 8 or so months. It took 21 years to get a diagnosis, I shouldn't feel too badly that I haven't instantly healed. You might be wondering why this was never diagnosed or why I don't take some kind of prescription to help. A single reason answers both questions. There's not an expensive pill to "cure" this, so doctors (under pressure from various places) don't accept this syndrome as a true medical condition. Regardless of the documentation, if it's not severe enough for Addison's disease it's typically not considered worthy of diagnosis. Which is too bad, because the cure of better eating habits and reasonable exercise will cure so many other things, right?

This is already long, so I'll save my particular symptoms and the various ways I'm trying to heal for another post. Thanks for reading this far!

Purrsy's Injury

My poor kitty is limping! I noticed it yesterday afternoon-he's not using his back right leg. The bone doesn't feel broken and there's no break in the skin. Nothing look unusual, so what's wrong? After several hours I finally figured it out. A couple of days ago I rolled my desk chair back to stand up and he squealed and ran off. Since he ran off I figured I must have just got his tail. I certainly didn't roll over anything big enough to notice, so why is he limping? I'm wondering if I got some skin around the top of the wheel and in the caster and just bruised him well...
He still goes out thru the cat door to do his duty, and can jump off the bed, so he's not hurt too badly. He always comes when Rags (one of our older cats) meows, and today was no different, so I think he's gonna be alright!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Friend, Part 5 of 6

I recently read a statement that went something like this, “A friend is the best thing you can have and the best thing you can be.” I think that sums it up, but what does that look like? I’m sure it’s as varied as the number of friendships that exits, but aren’t there some basic characteristics in each? Like trust, giving and receiving, concern, caring, kindness. It probably helps to have things in common, but I doubt that’s required.

Friendship is something that seems elusive to me. Yes, I have friends. I also have acquaintances. What I don’t have is a lifelong friend from childhood. I don’t even know where most of the people I was friends with as a kid are anymore. I’m thinking the friendships weren’t all that deep if we were all willing to go our separate ways and lose touch. So what does it mean to be a friend? I’ve been at a point in my life lately where I really question this. A friend is something I desperately need, yet I lack the time to see one develop.

I’ve heard it said that as far as priorities go, it should look like this: God first, spouse second, children third, and everyone and everything after that. Maybe the reason I don’t have the friendships I desire is because I don’t have the other priorities straight. Hmmm, something to consider.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great News!

We got word yesterday that the judge severed parental rights for our foster son, so he is now available to be adopted!! This is our first time through the process so I'm not entirely sure how it works from here, but I'll know more Thursday afternoon. I think bio parents get a "goodbye" visit with him and then there are no more visits. There's a severance hearing and then an adoption hearing and all of this should be finalized by the end of summer. I hope the part about only 1 more visit is true-I've felt all along that the extremes in his behavior will dissipate when he has a sense of permanency and I want to give him that as soon as we can do it with assurance.

On an unrelated note, but still good news, it doesn't appear that Elsie's mastitis was very bad. It seems to have cleared up on its own. So glad that I don't have to insert a plastic syringe up the infected teat!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Another Short Post

If you're like me and drowning in piles of paper-mostly from the mailbox, you might be interested in this. I joined in November-love the idea, but more people will have to become users to send the message that paper isn't needed.

Elsie has mastitis. Poor cow. Updates to be posted tomorrow night.


Finally! We found a method of restraining Elsie that actually works! Or that we were actually able to do properly, whichever the case may be. We tied a rope around her middle near her hips, just in front of her udder and secired it. This kept her from kicking me, but she would still move forward and back at times. After a while she would just stand there-wasn't even eating anymore. I'm so glad I was able to milk her out completely, as I think she needed it. I wonder if I'll be able to tie the rope around her middle by myself?

I have some research to do, and no time to do it.