Old Glory

Here is a post I started a week ago and have struggled to get it finished without interruption or lack of time.  Hopefully today is the day to finally publish it!  Here  goes.

I will try to recap the family time we had over the 4th of July, in a way that will be informative but not overly detailed.  The whole family was able to be home for the 4th and spend over a week together.  With 26 of us, there is always noise (except when we are sleeping and that can be noisy), always little bodies running and jumping, and enough activity to be declared a “zoo”!  It’s all about making memories though which there should be plenty of, therefore it’s all good.  I had been thinking before everyone arrived that it would be nice if the guys could watch the kids one morning so I could take the Four Sisters out to a new garden/cafe’ shop for a nice cup of coffee and a quiet visit.  That never happened.  The girls did managed to make it to the beach two or three times.  It’s a lot of work packing up 13 to 16 kids to do so.  It was very hot the whole time they were here so the remedy was to let the kids play in the unheated hot tub which they loved.   It will need to be drained and cleaned again now but that’s ok.  Yes, sixteen grandkids, ten adults, one puppy, all under one roof for a week.  Well, puppy runs around outside and is the quietest one!  Daughter #1 had to get home after a week but the rest were here for the remaining four days.  We used two spare rooms and two campers for sleeping except for one of the families that live close by.  I have learned that there is no need to make a plan as to when meals will be eaten.  Breakfast began as soon as the first couple of kids were up and never really ended.  Sometimes it was only 11:20 and they were asking for lunch!  There was a constant flow of paper plates, disposable cups, dirty dishes in the sink, burnable papers going out, recyclables, and garbage to be taken out.  I don’t have a dishwasher so I had planned from the beginning to use disposable plates.  And guess what, there were plenty of dishes still.  Unfortunately,  plates and cups are not the difficult things to wash!

Hubby had asked for all the grandkids to be in our small town parade and everyone was able to make it so we were a colorful crowd.  Three trucks, trailers, blue company shirts, flags, candy and all the glitz and glamour.  The grandkids thought it was great.  We adults were just glad it is not a long parade as it was very hot.  Afterward we gathered together for a family photo.  We were amazed that  we got through the photos without any kids crying!!  That’s quite an accomplishment!

With the weather consistently being in the 80’s and 90’s with no rain, the grass has gotten quite brown.  We desperately need rain.

I will write more soon I hope.  As I put the house back in order, wash bedding, towels, put extra chairs away, etc., I am coming up with a post that will be fun to write.  I’m not sure how long it will take to remove all the footprints, handprints, and little face prints off the walls and windows but as we say, “it’s all good.”

Thanks for dropping in.

Desarae

 

 

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July Beauty

Seems like forever since I last wrote.  It has been a busy week since the house filled up with bodies last Monday.  All four sisters and their families have come to Four Sisters Farm and have filled the air with much busy activity, fun, and laughs.  I’ve been making notes of different things that mark our time together; for example, yesterday I went into the bathroom and there on the bathmat was a perfect little black footprint.  At least it was headed “into” the tub!

I will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later, and share some of our farm fresh family happenings.  Hope you had a nice week and have a nice one to come.  I’m anxious to write but it is too difficult to find a quiet place at the right time to be able to think and write!

Back again,

Desarae

 

Summer Time

If summer were like this for four or five months, this woman would not complain.  It has been in the low 40’s at night; infact, I wondered why it was so warm in the house this morning when I got up.  The furnace had come on!  We fixed that right away!  The days have been perfect in my book.  Not too hot, not too cold.

I have enjoyed weeding because even though the sun is hot, there is usually a slight breeze or enough work to be done in the shade that it is comfortable.  I had this nice little surprise the other day as I weeded around some Box Elder bushes.  I almost missed this little home, tucked down in the middle of one.  It was so perfect.  I never did see the homeowner around.  I will check on it in a day or two to see if anyone is going in or out.  I do hope the little ones hatch ok but if not, I will be collecting this nest to enjoy for a long time before something robs the eggs.  It is so low to the ground I will be amazed if a skunk or something doesn’t get it.  The birds seem extra plentiful and extra happy this year.  I love waking and working to their songs.

I have begun the countdown to the day when all of our Four Sisters and families will be here together.  It will be a week to ten days of food, fun, games, roasting s’mores, (marshmallows and chocolate on graham crackers), holding babies, kissing cheeks, solving problems between cousins, comforting hurt feelings, capturing moments on our cameras, drinking two sips of hot coffee because the rest of the cup gets cold taking care of all of the other things going on, and talking for hours.  There will be 26 of us all together.  I figure we will use a minimum of 500 plates, at least two or three rolls of toilet paper per day, change 200 diapers over the course of our time together, and consume somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 lbs of meat, give or take.  Wow, maybe I don’t want to think about all of this right now!  Maybe I should keep track and give a report after the fact:). We will have fun, work hard, and make memories. I’m sure I will have things to write about as it all unfolds.

Back soon,

Desarae

Milking

I don’t know if I’ve ever described in detail our milking routine.  If anyone is going to milk their own cow and enjoy fresh unprocessed whole milk, you may enjoy hearing what we have found to be the cleanest and quickest way to milk.  Yes, I am spoiled and have a little room (parlor) that we had made from part of the barn which saves us from having to be out in the snow, rain, or flies when it’s time to milk.  For that I am very grateful.  But, if I didn’t, I would come up with an area that would be protected, we’d be able to lock Jersey girl’s head in to a manger, and provide a space for clean milking.  At my age, milking two and a half to three gallons by hand is not my cup of tea so yes, I milk with a small machine.  It’s gentle, fast, and affordable; around $300 if purchased new.  We milk every morning at 7:00 o’clock.  Cows are routine oriented.  Most of the time, our girl is ready and waiting for us when we get to the barn.  Sometimes, depending on the time of year, she will be out in the pasture and for some reason has to be rounded up and “encouraged” to get to the barn.  While Hubby takes care of the water tank, puts a little hay out for her even though she is on pasture, and mucks the area around the barn, I put a couple of clean washcloths in the little bucket of hot, slightly soapy water I have brought out.  I put a scoop of Non-GMO Chop in the manger.  Depending on the time of year, I sometimes give her a little Kelp or a treat of powdered Molasses with it.  I put my 1/2 gallon glass jars with plastic lids in an old refrigerator drawer to keep them all together and off of the cement floor.  (Glass and cement make for a disaster).  We put a little piece of clear tape, (with the end turned under for easy removal) on top of the jar and put the day’s date on it.  Once I have everything ready we bring her in.  I wash her up with one or two washcloths then express four or five squirts of milk.  I hook her up and wha la!  When one bottle is full, it gets emptied through a very fine nylon, reusable coffee filter into the jars.  From there, drips can be wiped off and it is immediately put into the refrigerator in the parlor.  When she is milked out, I milk her by hand to strip her out completely, then apply a homemade antibacterial salve which seals the ends of the teats and helps to keep the skin from drying out.  If flies and mosquitos are bad we spray her down and she’s done.   After sweeping the floor and wiping down any surface areas that we use with a homemade cleaner, we are done.  The only clean up then is the bottles that hook up to the pump’s tubing which is taken back to the house, cleaned and brought out each morning.  The whole process is done in a half hour or less.  This time of year is a milker’s dream.  She is clean, the mornings are cool so the flies aren’t bad, and there is little maintenance to keep the parlor clean.  I did scrub the floor yesterday so this morning she stopped at the door and hesitated to come in because “something was different” and her nose told her she had better check it out!

If I am going to make yogurt or cheese, fresh warm milk can be brought in and put in a crockpot or large pot and started immediately.  Since it comes out of the cow at 91 degrees, it saves much time in warming it to the desired temperature for yogurt  or cheesemaking.  I have discovered that if I make yogurt with the full cream content, the cream rises to the top of the crockpot when finished and can be pealed off the top of the yogurt, saved in a small container, and is then some of the best cream cheese I’ve tasted.  It could probably pass as clotted cream depending on the consistency.  Mmm Mmm good.

Back soon,

Desarae

Simple Pleasures

This has once again, been one of the most beautiful days.  Both yesterday and today were absolutely perfect.  Temperatures were in the 70’s, the sun was bright but a nice breeze accompanied it making it perfect for working outside.  When I was weeding in a flower bed, I noticed a large shadow go over me.  When that happens, it’s usually a very large bird.  Indeed it was.  It was a Bald Eagle.  I watched it for several minutes and then noticed there was a second one that appeared to have just robbed a Crow’s nest.  There was quite a ruckus from the Crows for some time.  The Eagle seemed to hang around long enough that I began to wonder if he could see my chickens and be making a plan!  They’re a magnificent bird.  They command such respect.  I was thrilled to be able to take several pictures as it soared overhead.  While watching, I could see that way up high and far above the two that were closer, there were two or three more.  They never flapped their wings.  They just circled as if to float on the wind.

Today is the first day of summer.  This evening as I sit in my front porch writing, I can hear several different birds.  My favorite is the Cardinal.  Seems the Orioles are quite vocal as well.  I love listening to them.  It’s a definite pleasure of summer.  It’s a simple pleasure.  The night air is cool; perfect for sleeping.

It is also the longest day of the year!  It is almost 10:00p.m. and the sky still looks blue.  If only the whole summer could be like this!

Until later,

Desarae

Like Mommy, Like Daughter

When daughter #2 was three years old, she was bitten right between the eyes by a mosquito.  The next morning both eyes were swelled shut.  This is her daughter and as near as I can tell, she seems to be following in her mother’s footsteps.  She got bit on the side of her eye and this is what it was like in the morning.  Her comment was, “Mom, dis eye not wakin up.”  What a kid.  It seems we are forever getting a laugh out of one of the grandkids as they speak with such innocent simplicity.  I love it.

There were seven grandkids here today for a while, all from the ages of seven down to ten months old.  I love to see that they are excited to be here.  Even my Jersey girl got excited and was kicking up as the kids ran up and down the fence line.  She must have enjoyed them because she seemed to join in the fun.  It was a perfect day for the kids to be out.  It was not humid, the sun was beautiful in the dark blue sky, and the temperatures stayed in the 70’s.  Perfect.

Here’s hopin your eyes are “wakin up” in the morning!

Desarae

The View From the Tractor

Actually it was a nice view, just a little long.  I had determined to get the pasture mowed before the weeds went to seed.  It takes me a minimum of five hours to mow it.  I enjoy mowing although there were other things I would rather have been doing.  Oh well, it’s done.  We mow, hoping to encourage the grass to grow while hindering the weeds from reseeding themselves.  We may also need to put more potash on in the fall which helps amend the soil.   The picture makes it look lush and green.  It is ok this time of year but once the weeds grow too big, there is not as much good thick grass, especially if we haven’t had much rain.  We actually are getting more rain than what was forecasted so we are glad.

On another topic, I recently spoke with our AI breeder for our Jersey girl.  We talked about several things, including the bout we had with Mastitis last January.  As we were talking, he made mention that sand is the best bedding for a cow because anything else is grounds for breeding the bacteria that can cause Mastitis.  We had been putting a little bit of straw down but since talking with him, we have only used sand.  I cannot believe the difference in how clean her udder is in the morning when we go out to milk.  I assumed that is would be sandy when she came in the parlor but it is not!  It has been so much cleaner that I am able to use only one washcloth instead of two or three.  I am most excited to think that maybe we won’t have to deal with Mastitis again.  Well, who knows; at least I can hope not.

Another wonderful place to use sand is in the chicken coop.  I don’t exaggerate when I say we have a coop that does not smell.  Sand is the ticket.  We have been using it for the last three or four years and it is amazing.  I’m also using shredded paper in the nesting boxes and that seems to work well too.  I can compost it as needed.  I have tried other things such as hay, saw dust, and straw but the shredded paper is free and it seems to be easy to deal with.  So far the chickens don’t seem to peck at it or eat it either.

I have a few remedies to talk about next time.  I shall return!

Desarae

 

 

Double Duty!

This year, Father’s Day is also my hubby’s birthday!  Happy Father’s Day out there and Happy Birthday to my hubby of almost 40 years!  Wow, how did that happen so quickly?  And who would have thought the 60’s were young!

I have to say, I am reminded today of how fortunate I am to have grown up with a father who showed his children love.  Not only did he provide for his family but he also protected us, showed us how to work, set examples for us, had fun with us, and many other things too numerous to mention.  Loving us didn’t mean we got what we wanted.  It didn’t mean we weren’t corrected, told “no” (imagine that!) or disciplined if needed.  We were taught to learn from mistakes rather than lied to, as if we hadn’t made a mistake.  We weren’t made to feel like a failure; we weren’t made to feel  dumb, stupid, hopeless, or any other damaging emotions.  Life was not perfect.  In fact, during the years that my mom struggled with depression, I recall thinking even as a young girl, how faithful Dad was to her even though she wasn’t always herself.  Though she wasn’t always likeable, I never doubted Dad’s love for her.   I have no doubt that Dad’s love and faithfulness to her was part of the reason she was able to recover over the following years.  Even as a child I knew that loving someone was different than liking someone.  Today, we throw around the word love as though it is this fantasy type of feeling that we are supposed to have for another person.  While that is part of a loving relationship, it certainly is not what makes for a lasting relationship.  Love is a verb.  It is an action verb.  It is not “just” a special way of feeling.  In my experience, loving someone is what you do and how you treat another person even when they are not deserving of it.  It is treating them with respect when they have done something disrespectful.  It is forgiving them even when they don’t ask for forgiveness, knowing I’m not perfect either.  It is assuming the best about another individual rather than assuming the worst.  It is treating others the way I would want to be treated in any given situation.  Having a loving father as a child enabled me to grasp the love of a Heavenly Father.  For that, I am so very grateful.  I am able to understand that God doesn’t give me everything I want for reasons he knows best.  I understand he forgives me even when I don’t even remember to ask for it.  I understand that he would step in and pay the price for my wrong doing when I deserved to be punished and the best part is, He did just that.  I understand that for those who were not shown a father’s love, this is very hard to grasp.  It is extremely hard to imagine or grasp anything we have not experienced.  It is hard to imagine precious a child is until you’ve had one.  It is difficult to imagine what ice cream tastes like until you’ve tasted it.  It is impossible to know the pain of losing a loved one until you’ve lost one.  Because we don’t understand or comprehend something, doesn’t nullify it; doesn’t make it untrue.  If a child doesn’t believe I love them or  would do anything for them, even if it meant giving up my life for them, that doesn’t determine the truth.  We can deny truth, we can attempt to prove it false but truth remains unchanged.  That’s what truth is.  The greatest sadness in all of this is, spending our lives not being willing to believe truth, The Truth.  Today I can be thankful for the man who helped me understand love.  That man happens to be my earthly father.  Happy Father’s Day Dad!  I’m very grateful for you and your love.

Here’s hoping your day is special,

Desarae

 

Parsnips or Peonies

The parsnips were too woody.  I was disappointed but not surprised as they had been in the ground too long.  Even the smaller ones were not edible though which must have been because they were crowded or something.  I am excited to grow them again though.  They are  a vegetable that we had not had until a few years ago and were very pleasantly surprised at the sweet and unique flavor.

The parsnips were disappointing but the peonies are not.  They are a beautiful flower.  Fortunately they are not as quickly eaten by the Rose Chafers like the white ones are.  I was able to grab these yesterday on the way in the driveway as I came home from town.  There is something about fresh flowers.  They are a reminder to take time to “smell the roses”.  Life is often non-stop busy.  For me, flowers remind me to stop and think about what is important.  There is a poem I love that says in its last line, “so good night cob webs; dust go to sleep.  I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”  What a gentle reminder; we will never have this day again, so whatever we can do to slow down and enjoy today, will be a benefit.   We are only given today to manage and to make the most of but sometimes making the most of a day is simply taking time to do something as simple as loving on the kids.  Have you ever noticed, it’s usually things that aren’t very important that somehow manage to complicate our lives.

One last thing before I close;  I managed to get a very tiny sliver in the very end of my second toe.  It is beyond me how something so small can be so irritating and uncomfortable.  Daughter #3 told me about a friend of hers who had a sliver bad enough that she thought she was going to have to go to the doctor to have it removed.  She heard about putting honey on it over night and decided to try it.  She put honey on a bandaid, put the bandaid over the sliver and left it all night.  The next morning she woke up and the sliver had come out!  So, there’s no harm in trying!  I did the same thing and today, I have not been able to even feel where it was!  The sliver came out.  Why it works, I do not know but I don’t really care.  What a neat way to solve the problem of slivers in children!  Next time you have one that is too uncomfortable to dig out, try it.  It’s amazing.

I shall close.  Hope your weekend is very relaxing and stress free.

Bye for now,

Desarae

 

The days are beautiful and the nights are very cool.  I spent some time outside yesterday, trying a couple of different non-toxic sprays for the infestation we seem to have.  This is one insect that I absolutely despise.  It’s the Rose Chafer.  They love our soil which is sandy.  They thrive in the heat and there is nothing I can find that hinders them from destroying everything that is important to me in the yard.  They destroy the grapes, they destroy the peonies, the iris, the roses and even the apple trees.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say there are thousands; even hundreds of thousands.  Today I attempted to spray them with a few different things that have been suggested to me.  I used a Neem Oil spray, a Cedar Oil spray, and an organic spray I purchased on line.  Nothing stops them but the hope is that their cycle will be interrupted and that they will not be able to reproduce.  As you can imagine, I’m feeling rather desperate to find a remedy.  I really don’t want to use pesticides or insecticides if at all possible.  When I look for info on line, there seems to be nothing but chemicals that is suggested for irradicating them.  At this point I would be happy even if I could find something that would just cause them to be deterred.  I did find a product on line that I am ordering.  If it works I will certainly let it be known because I will be one happy camper!

While I was in the garden, where I am “not” growing a garden this year, I found Parsnips that came up voluntarily from two years ago when I planted some.  These things are mammoth!  I will cook one tonight if it isn’t too overgrown and mushy on the inside.  I am looking forward to it.  We really like them and if they are good,  I will make sure to plant more and get them going on a regular basis.  I could probably even plant some yet this summer because they would be better harvested next spring or early summer.  I will try to let you know how they turn out!

Happy Wednesday!

Desarae