Seems life here is always a roller-coaster ride. Sometimes I enjoy the the ride and others I just want a break. The past two weeks have been just that. Some days of complete joy and others absolutely gut-wrenching... the stuff that tempts one to give up.
Last week started with a wonderful surprise visit from my Mom for my birthday. I was turning 44 and quite frankly was hoping the day would skip everyone's attention. For some reason 44 sounded so much older than 43. Secretly I felt like I was still young enough for another baby at 43 if we decided to try. If time would allow, finances would ease up or things here on the farm would suddenly reach a level where if I wanted to take a back seat and focus on a new baby it could happen. For all those that know us intimately and know how risky my pregnancies are.... YES I KNOW. (Ciara...don't bark at me.. I am just talking about those secret desires.) I KNOW that we should not have any more babies. I am just rambling here about having reached an age where it suddenly occurred to me that even if I decided to try again... its too late. I dont know about most of you but I am pretty good at walking around in a state of semi-denial. I'm not really overweight... all the bills will get paid this month..... we can always have another baby. Sometimes life slaps you in the face. Suddenly I cannot deny the fact that there will be no more babies. My children are my everything. My absolute favorite time of the day is snuggling with them in the morning. Each one of the four here at home still seeks snuggle time. I love watching them grown and change but as the mother of one adult child I also know how limited these days are. I have the perspective I missed with Ashley of knowing first hand just how short this time is and how fast it flies. Time keeps on ticking no matter how busy we are or what else is going on... every missed opportunity is gone and gone forever... every snuggle missed is one less snuggle we get to enjoy.
Enough moping about my age. I had a magical birthday. Mom surprised me the night before by suddenly appearing in my driveway. Becca showed up here early early in the morning on my birthday and did the kids chores and we got to go see a great movie in town....for cheap! LOVE the kids summer series! Headed out with Mom for some brief thrift store shopping and returned home to a surprise party thrown by the kids and a meal prepared by Becca. Talk about feeling the love! To top it all off, Andy skipped evening milking and Mom watched the kids so Andy and I went out on a real date. Couldn't ask for anything more. A real "up" for the week!
It was awesome having Mom here. I enjoy her so much! We had fun at the cheese plant where she helped me "cut the cheese" one week for market and then last Friday helped me with cheese curds for market. It was awesome sharing that time with her. She took the kids swimming Saturday evening, she and I enjoyed many chats and evenings sitting outside relaxing. Mom spent two days working with the kids giving the house a much needed deep clean. I can't tell you what a difference it makes in the peace level in our home when its organized and clean. More "ups" on our roller coaster ride.
The big "Down" right now is the heat. It's taking its toll here. Pasture drying up, cows not milking much... they spend their days hanging out in the shade instead of eating. Can't blame them. Wednesday was our hottest day. It reached 106 by 10am and the humidity was so high. We moved our breeding stock pigs into the pasture across the street Tuesday night thinking the tall tall grass would offer them extra shade and the little stream would give them wallow in which to cool themselves. What we didn't think about was how stagnant the air might be with the humidity so high and no breeze. We lost most of our pigs. It was a horrific day.... Andy checked them at 8:30 am and all was well.. no one was panting... plenty of water.. all good. He started milking. Stopped at 10:30 to check them again and it was too late... some had already perished and the last few were dangerously over heated. He ran back to get water to dump on them to try and cool them quickly but by the time he got back even more were lost. We were only able to save one pig. A devastating day for us.. emotionally and financially. We love our pigs... its our responsibility to keep them healthy and happy... and we really screwed up here. All the "what if's" and "why's" . We really thought this was the best place for them... the safest place with the heat. But we got it wrong. We do have one pig that broke out of that pasture to the corn field next door. She is still running around.. we have seen her, we have tried to get her back but for now at least... she is still loose. I am hoping we get her back... but the reality of getting back a 400lb sow that is healthy, used to excercise, and enjoying her freedom... is daunting.
I toyed with the idea of not sharing this sad story with all of you.... but we have always believed in transparency and that means not only sharing our joys and heartbreaks but also our mistakes. This is one of those times.
Another sad story I have been neglecting to share is the loss of our beloved Kiss. She fell asleep under Andy's truck and Andy did not know she was there. She had never slept under a car before.... not sure why she didnt move.. the engine was running for a while before he was ready to drive off. But, she did not and we lost her. Broke our hearts, I think most of all Hannah and Andy suffered.
Earlier this month the kids and I got a mini break and went to Elgin for a dear friend's wedding. It was just two days but we really enjoyed it. We stayed at an old farm house in the Sandhills turned into a getaway. Such a beautiful setting! Here is a picture I snapped of my friend Jenny with Alex. It was taken in her pasture while we were gathering wild flowers for the wedding. This picture looks almost magical to me... I had to share it.
Thanks for letting me ramble and share our lives. Its therapeutic for me to write a bit here and there.
As usual.. life here keeps rolling along. The past few weeks have been very eventful.. and busy. Andy lost his job which while scary is just a blessing in disguise. Things here were getting unmanageable for me alone with the kids all day. Milk orders were getting confused, I was exhausted.. and the house just beyond help. Since Andy has been home we have put the garden in, did some gardening around the house, worked on fences, fixed up the store, CLEANED HOUSE, baked bread, made cheese, and the list goes on and on! Things around here are looking quite spruced up! Mom was here for a visit last week, she was TREMENDOUSLY helpful! Thanks Mom!
Hopefully we will get all the backlogged stuff completed soon and begin to enjoy each other a bit more. It would be wonderful to have time as a family to do the normal stuff families do. The budget is going to be a stretch at best.... Andy's income was a huge help around here... but that too I am sure will work itself out in the end. We have meat in the freezer, I still have some veggies in the freezer from last year and the garden will be producing before too much longer.. in fact the lettuce looks pretty darned close! Thank goodness I have bought in bulk for years; things like oats, rice, corn, and wheat we have plenty on hand to last a while.
Our first cheese is ageing. I worked last week and got our cheese labels done.. they should arrive next week. Its looking like I will be at Village Point Farmers Market in Omaha on Saturdays starting in July. We will have pasteurized cheese to sell there.. we will be doing a fresh Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Fresh Cheddar Bites and Pepper Cheddar Bites for sale. Deciding to produce cheese that would require us to pasteurize our milk was a tough choice but it allows us to be at the market in July, bringing in much needed revenue, and I can talk to people about the value of pasture based farming. Its a good opener. By late summer we will have a supply of raw cheeses to offer and things will be different. Our raw cheeses will be English Cheddar and Aged Monterey Jack. We may also venture into Colby... I want to keep it simple and wanted to provide cheeses that families can use in their everyday meals.
Did you see our new webpage header photo? This is Mouse.. one of the original four cows purchased here in Nebraska. The shot was taken by our friend Dianne Merrill. She is just starting out a photography business... and she sure does great work!
The calves are doing a great job of keeping the lawn mowed! Its fun having them right here next to the house.. .they are so darn cute! We had another little guy born yesterday... Daisy.. she has had three bull calves in a row... whats up with that?
Last week's cold snap really stalled the growth of our grass... its getting tight out in the pasture. Hopefully things will stay warm now and that grass can grow grow grow! All this rain has to help.. right????
Our pigs are back out to pasture! They are digging up our winter area... one bit at a time. As you can see in this photo taken by Mom they enjoy their work!
We have piglets due in July.... looking forward to that!
While Mom was here we took the kids bowling. Found a great website... www.kidsbowlfree.com. You can totally sign your kids up for two free games every weekday all summer long! Totally awesome! You can even purchase an adult family pass for up to four adults to play along with the kids all summer for $24 total. Awesome deal. We enjoyed our game... Micheal was so very cute...( his ball rolled so slow he would just crouch and wait) and Alex has quite the style! Its was great fun to get away for a few hours and just goof off.
Well I reckon I should head off to bed. It's been a long day. I revamped the webpage, added galleries with slide shows.... still much to do... will keep working tomorrow. I hit the sheets exhausted.. but as always -- thankful.
Boy, am I ready for March! This past month has felt like a rollercoaster ride. We have had some exciting moments and some tragic ones as well.
We have some new piggies! We have added some Hereford pigs to our family. Hereford pigs are a heritage breed that believe it or not originated right here in Nebraska. They are known for their gentle disposition and are excellent grazers. IF you are curious you can check out more on the breed by clicking HERE.
They are really fun little pigs... curious and very friendly. They love a good nose scratch so feel free to greet them when you are here... (mind the white fence - it bites).
These guys will be here close to the house for a few more weeks... we will be moving them out to pasture once we have grass. So, say hi while you can!
stole this off her facebook account! :-)
Ashley is home! She decided that she wants to attend college here at home rather than in Georgia so she came home this month. It was a difficult decision for her but she seems very settled and centered and at peace with her decision. Ashe is back at Lincoln High and will graduate from there this May. She only needed 17 credits to graduate so she only has to attend a half day at school.
I cannot begin to tell you all how absolutely wonderful it is to have her home. She is such an incredible, bright, alive, young woman... her spirit and exuberance fills our home! We are all so thrilled to have her back!
We added four new cows to our herd this month. Welcome Milly, Molly, Mandy, and Candy. Four beautiful jersey girls!
They are doing great.. they have adapted to our laid back milking style and are getting along with the other ladies just fine. We couldn't be happier with them.
We had a tragic accident this month. Weirdly enough it was actually the night that Milly, Molly, Mandy, and Candy arrived. The power lines on the road came apart at the insulator and fell on our fences. This caused quite the fireworks show which scared the cows and calves here next to the house. They ran. One hit the fence and was electrocuted and three others ran into her and were lost as well. The whole experience was horrific... we waited an hour for the power company to come shut down the lines and make our farm safe again... very nerve wracking. All in all... we are lucky... we could have lost many more cows than four, as bad as loosing four is.
We are blessed beyond words that this accident happened at night, that Andy did not touch the fences when he went out to check on everyone, and that our children slept through the whole event. We were able to tell them what happened in as gentle a manner as possible, they were spared from witnessing any of it.
The next week was one of waiting. Waiting on OPPD, waiting on the insurance folks, waiting to bury our four lost cows. The children mourned and the other cows mourned.. it was heartbreaking to watch. The children laid roses on the cows and we covered them with a tarp and waited. One of the adult cows lost her calf eight weeks early and we waiting and watched to see how many more would suffer the same fate. Electricity is such a funny thing.... one moment it's a necessity and the next it is devastatingly dangerous.
Miraculously we had a beautiful calf born last week! Her Mom is Tippy and one of our best cows. They were in the area with the accident so we did not expect the calf to survive. We named the little girl Tiffany and I have some incredible shots of her birth. Tiffany's birth leaves us with hope that maybe we have turned the corner and the rest of our cows will be well. btw... she is named after a friend of ours.. Tiffany Baker. This may seem a strange way to pay tribute to someone but she just reminded me to Tiffany... long, leggy and gorgeous!
All is well with Tiffany.. she is a gorgeous calf.. very tall and leggy and full of beans!
She is in the barn keeping warm right now but will join the other calves soon.
All of these new additions means one thing - MORE MILK! Our milk shortage is now a thing of the past! The past two weeks have been a blur of farm tours as we have opened up our waiting list and have been able to accept new customers. It also means the return of one of everyone's favorite things - CREAM!
Our cream separator has been chugging away and so has my food processor with butter! LOVE butter! LOVE CREAM!
We are bottling over 36 gallons of milk a day right now. Our family has been enjoying treats such as homemade raw cream top yogurt again! Last week I made flavors such as honey, maple syrup, and succanat vanilla which were all huge hits. I also tried molasses yogurt....( that one needs work).
Our new baby arrived today! His name is Shep. He is a Great Pyrenees puppy. He is such a big boy.. only eight weeks old but HUGE!
Shep will be a working dog... his job will be to guard the sheep. In a few weeks he will go to live with them and learn their ways. They will be his pack... not us. This is kind of sad since he is such a love... but our sheep need him.
Even though there is snow on the ground and it's 23 degrees outside.... spring is on it's way! The eggs are a sure sign! Look at what Hannah gathered tonight!
It's almost here... it's almost here! Before we know it we will have cows out on pasture, sheep shearing, and flowers everywhere... and milk will go back down in price! I could not be more excited!
Ya'll stay warm out tonight... its a cold one! I am off to make more yogurt.
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..