Sunday, January 31, 2010

Charity Knitting, January 2010

Here are the offerings for January. From the left are: two hooded scarves, two baby hats, one cabled scarf, and one pair of mittens (I love the pattern, Jane! I plan to try Sandy's next!). This is well on the way to my goal this year: 54 pieces for the Santa Train! Hooray!
I am so proud of you all who are knitting, crocheting, quilting or crafting with me for charity this year. Each of us is changing the world, a bit at the time! Thanks so much!

First Day Musings

Slow down.

I recently read a lovely little book entitled "In Praise of Slowness" and learned that there is a whole underground movement toward slowing down -- food, work, life in general. This, coupled with the conversation I heard on Homeword this week about why we are so stressed as a nation, seems to suggest that we are standing at a crossroads. Do we hurry through that crossroads or do we slow down, look both ways, and then decide which way to go?

Dr. Paul Borthwick postulates that we are stressed because we have so many choices. He gives the example that in 1974 we had only two kinds of Lays Potato Chips -- plain and BBQ. Now, however, we have more than 60! Yeppers, 60! The theme of his book Simplify is that we need to reduce our choices and make the conscious decision to use and want less. This, he states, will lead to our having less stress and, thus, being more content.

It seems a predominate theme these days -- simplify life -- slow down -- enjoy more. But, I have to ponder, what are we doing that undermines this? For me it is taking on more than I 1) want to; 2) need to; and 3) have time to do. I have come to realize that this is selfish, to a degree, to think I have to be involved in everything going on around me at work, home, friends, or whatever. Actually, as I am learning, it is okay to say "no" and to let some things pass. It gives others a chance to step up and be successful. In short, life is not all about me.

One of the things we are learning in the Financial Peace University program is how all our choices have consequences. These can be financial, of course, but they are also emotional and psychological as well. Slowing down and considering how we are spending our money will help us acheive those short and long-term goals. We are taking the time to pack lunch every day, to eat at home every night, and to spend a little more time to find things we may have here that we need for a project rather than rushing out and buying duplicates. And, we are using up things we have intentionally or accidentally stockpiled.

Our grandparents knew the value of taking time, slowing down, and enjoying. Look at the photos of them. See the food on the table? The fishing poles? The picnic baskets? The handmade quilts? The group enjoying sweet ice tea as they sit under a tree visiting? The prodigious garden? They valued the process as much as the product. In short, they slowed down and took the time to do things step-by-step rather than wanting instant gratification.

My challenge this coming year is to selectively live my life so that I can become more in the moment, in short, slowing down. One of my most favorite poems is Tennyson's "Ulysses." He wrote: "I cannot rest from travel: I will drink / Life to the lees" (6-7). For me, this means to find joy in every day; to enjoy the process as well as the product; to treasure the moments as well as the hours. In short, slow down.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


When I was a wee thing, every time it snowed Mother or Grandmother would make snow cream. There were serious rules to making snow cream. Now everybody knows you never eat the first snow; it cleans the atmosphere. And, you can't eat snow when it first falls because it finishes the cleansing process. At least that is what Grandmother said and I believe her. Since we had such a lovely snow today, last measure was about 12", after feeding the critters, we decided we had earned a delicious treat.

Taking my largest Revere Ware pot and a small pot for scooping, I waded out into a portion of the yard that was untouched by bird, dog or cat, scraped off the top layer of snow in a 3' x3' square and scooped out the center layers of the clean snow. So the middle layer of a 12-hour snow was ideal for our cream.

Grabbing Grandmother's brown lipped bowl, I measured 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 c. heavy cream, and 1/2 c milk along with 1 teaspoonful of vanilla. I stirred until it was well mixed, took my snow from the refrigerator and started to slowly add it whilst stirring the mixture until smooth. The smell of vanilla made it challenging to stir the cream until it was done. Just one fingertip full was all I wanted, but I held out until the cream was done. When I was satisfied with the consistency, I heaped some into the brown soup bowls from Grandmother and sprinkled the whole top with Andes pieces.

Oh my goodness! Can you say: tastes like another?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Welcome to the funny farm...

Oh, what fun and games tonight at Lazy Bee Farm!

I had to run errands today which ran much longer than planned. What is it about "significant snow" that translates into "go to the grocery story and fight over the last loaf of bread and gallon of milk"? And I wasn't even AT the grocery store. It was just the traffic! Anyhow, when I got home, it was just at feeding time and everyone was fussing.

I hurriedly changed to my barn clothes, made up my udder wash, loaded up the bag washin' cloths, and tossed some old bread into the chicken's bucket. Then, I grabbed the cats' food and flew to the porch to feed Lydia, Waldo, and Tiggie as well as the King and Queen, Moose and Anabelle (the dog, not the goat; confusing, I know). Lydia leapt to the table where the cats eat and was devouring his (yes, he is a he) food. Then, I noticed that he was missing a lot of furr on his back and had what seemed be bite marks. Upon closer inspection, he appeared to have been a few rounds with something with very sharp teeth.

After a telephone consultation with the vet, it was decided to bring Lydia in for a rabies booster, just in case. This meant delaying everything -- hay, feed, and milking -- for at least two hours, the time it takes to just drive to the vet's office and back. After waiting an hour to see the vet, Lydia was diagnosed with a skin disorder, given two shots, my grocery money was seriously dented, and we were on the way home.

In the meantime....

Don had gotten home and was feeding and filling the hay racks. Nothing had gone right. I had left water running at the barn last night and the ground was slick with very saturated mud; the does were cross and banging the fence; Mary, one of the pygmies, had managed to get caught between the fence and mend in the fence; Louie, March, and Mo (buck and wethers) had gotten in the cows' feed and were being bad boys, in general; the chickens were fighting; the ducks were fussing; and, with the weather change, Don's shoulder was talking up a storm to him.

It was not pretty.

So, in an effort to calm things down, I took the extra feed bucket from the bucks, put it over the fence, and went to feed the does, all the while trying to cool Don down a bit. Then, it got worse.

The bucks pushed open the gate and took off with Hollie, the cow, after them. Don managed to catch the goats, but Hollie was relishing her freedom. She kicked up her heels; she ran; she slid; she yodeled. Copper, her son, was bellowing from inside the fence, but she just didn't care. We tried to lead her in with feed. Nopers. We tried to put her lead on. Nopers. We tried her treats. Nopers.

Then the dogs decided they could help by chasing her down the road.

And it began to snow. Hard.

Thirty minutes later, Hollie was finally in the fence, the goats were fed, the dogs were allowed out of prison (read: kitchen), Copper was nuzzling his mother, and Hollie was smiling (I know she was) over her escape.

And I will never leave home again at feeding time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whaddya think?

I am in love with "The Cutest Blog on the Block" right now.

Do you like this? Shall I keep it?


Everyone was a little shy this morning so this is the best I could do alone. Mia tenderly bleats to her little ones whilst trying to nudge them to suckle. Maisey is the white doe; Munk is the chipmunkish buck.

All are eating and enjoying our sunshine today. Snow tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Maisey and Munk

Mia Pygmy
proudly announces the arrival
of Maisey and Munk
born January 27, 2010
at 3:45 p.m.
at Lazy Bee Farm

(pictures to follow)

Mother and kids are doing well. After enjoying a meal of goat sweet feed and a bucket of warm water with cider vinegar, Mia invited guests to leave so that she might rest.


Monday, January 25, 2010

She's in Labor!

Mia is soon to be a Mum! More later!

(I am trying to remember my Lamaze breathing!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First Day Musings

"Hope and keep busy." This is the advice Marmee gave Jo as she was struggling to find her path in life. It is a truth that we do desparately need these days.

I've written about this before, but today, in this world of dark sadness and such a strong sense of defeat, it seems that we need a reminder to do just this.

Hope. The Bible says: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 Notice that it says "joyful." I think of an expectant couple. They have hope they will have a healthy, happy child. They are joyful in that hope. They carefully select every item for their new child's nursery. Weeks are spent researching names and debating how it sounds. Dreams of what their child will look like, act like, become, fill the parents' nights and days. Hope. To me, it is like faith: the substance of things hoped (expected, anticipated, wished, longed) for.

Keep busy. This verse is so inspiring: "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." Proverbs 14:22-23. If we are worried or frustrated, the best thing we can do is get our hands busy. Think of it. If we are only talking, talking, talking about our problems or worries we are standing still. We are keeping them alive by continuing to relive them, confirming their power in our life. If we, on the other hand, put our hands to work, we are no longer immobile. Rather, we are finding something productive to do. We are filling our hands with now and not then. I have a friend who tells the story of how her family did her wrong every single time we talk. I can recite her story with her; it never varies. My friend is angry, frustrated, and hurt. I understand that. Who wouldn't be? But, by holding onto the past, she is only filling her hands with things that are dead, done, over. If she could just let go, she could fill her hands with the now and let go of and heal from the hurt. I'd love to tell her this, but she doesn't stop talking long enough for me to do so!

These are dark days, my friends. There is so much pain, hurt, loss, and unhappiness everywhere we turn. But, instead of staying tuned to CNN or Fox News, turn off the TV. Pick up a good book, your knitting needles, sewing needle, vacuum cleaner, or an empty box to fill with things you do not need or wonder why you bought them. Quit letting the world fill your mind and heart with worry. You make a difference in your corner of the world. As Winston Churchill said, "Never give up!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"I Just Don't Have Time!"

It seems I am on a time theme this week and, so, I must be!

Don and I are attending the Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace University" program at a local church. It has been so interesting and we have been thrilled to learn that we do a lot of things "right." And, it has inspired us to do "better." The nicest folks are at the meetings which makes it so fun. And, it is somehow heartening to know that we are all working to improve not only our lives, but also those of our children by teaching them how to live a debt-free life.

Sunday night we were discussing budgeting and the topic of groceries came up.

"How," posed on participant, "do you ever begin to develop a budget for food? I can't do it! There is just no way to manage it!"

One member responded, "I use coupons."

And, several of us joined in giving testimony to the power of couponing and using e-coupons as well.

"I just don't have time!" the questioner shouted. "I can't go buy a newspaper and then find time to cut out coupons. Besides, most of the coupons are for things I just don't use!"

Another member started to explain how to get coupons online, but the questioner didn't want to hear it.

"I don't have time!" she responded emphatically. "I just don't have time!"

Now, let me explain here that she fosters three children and doesn't work a "public" job as the rest of us in the group do. All three children go to school or day care and she is home alone all day.

I tried to tell her how I do it; I make a menu, check the cupboards, and make my list. And, when the budget is getting low, we quit shopping for anything except necessities. She cut me off and very loudly said, "I don't have time! I am too busy!"

At that moment it hit me: choices. Our successes or failures stem from the choices we make every minute of every day. I choose to spend two hours a week working on budgeting, groceries, menus, and so forth. And, I usually save between $30-$40 per grocery trip. The way I look at it, I just earned $15-$20 per hour. I'll take it!

How do you manage your grocery budget? Do you have tricks to help you stretch those smaller dollars?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tick, tock

We are still waiting for Mia to kid. She seems ready: full bag, bleating, talking to her sides. No kids.

We are waiting for John's departure. The closer it gets, the more "Mommy" I become. In short, I worry. And, I know that life will never be the same regardless. I dread the distance in space, but not the adventure my son will embark on soon. He is ready.

We are waiting for the ground to dry. We have made the commitment to grow our farm significantly this year. We need to turn the gardens to get ready for early planting. Shelly and I did our seed selection on Saturday over breakfast at a local restaurant. She is a great partner and will be a pleasure to begin this transition. Our husbands are supportive, but I suspect they secretly hope they won't be doing any weeding.

We are waiting for riding season. We didn't get to ride the motorcycle last year because of Don's injury in June. We missed it and are ready to hop on and feel the wind again. I like piling on the Queen's seat, waving to cars, and secretly knitting on socks as we glide along. Don doesn't know I do this, but he will now!

We are waiting for May and the end of another semester. Just think. It started last week and we are ready to be done! I think our students are in that same place already!

As Steve Miller sang, "Time keeps on slipping into the future." In the meantime, we hurry up and wait.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tag! You're It!

Copper keeps an eye out for John.

Here at Lazy Bee Farm we have many kinds of entertainment. But, one of my favorite things to watch is my son and and the calf play tag.

John helps me feed the critters, some days, and he and the calf Copper have developed quite a game of tag. It goes like this:

John goes through the fence gate and calls Copper from the upper pasture.

Copper runs to meet him, but stops short of coming all the way to him.

John squats and slips toward Copper.

Copper takes a half step back, tosses his head, lows, and shakes his head at John.

John steps closer and grabs Copper's horns. Tag!

Copper wrestles with John, finally escapes, and trots away from him. Tag!

John gives chase with Copper stopping to make sure John is chasing him.

They run all the way to the top of the pasture.

John catches Copper. Tag!

Then, John runs back to the hay rack while Copper chases him. Tag!

By this time I am nearly on the ground because I am laughing so hard! However, the goats find this demeaning for the calf; I find it better than TV.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Did You Hear That?

It was the sound of the week going by. Whoosh!

I cannot stop weeping. The news from Haiti is so painful, so sad.

Will you consider supporting Doctors Without Borders, please?

Their clinics are gone; folks are missing; doctors are taking care of people without even gauze. Please remember the rescue workers and victims in your prayers.

I knit when I am upset. Or make potato salad. And pray.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let There Be Silence

Never did I think that 33-degrees would feel warm, but coming on nearly three weeks of temperatures around 18-degrees during the day with a wind chill of -2 or less, it did! To celebrate, after I fed the critters, I took some time to feed the wild birds and to just watch the sky.

Living so far from anyone, we have a very delicious opportunity to enjoy complete silence -- at least as silent as one gets in the country.

While I crunched along on the icy snow, Waldo, our orange cat, made sure to keep me in sight and to help me with the feeders. As I took the feeders out of trees or off shepherd's crooks, Waldo would scoot up the nearest tree, posing as if he were a cat bird, which, in fact, he was. He'd perch on the most unlikely limbs, bobbing up and down, hanging by his nails and enjoying the reprieve from the bitter cold.

Moose and Anabelle were preoccupied with the Franken-deer they have dragged into the yard, but they paused to chase Lydia, our black and white cat, and to snoop under the feeders to see if there was anything there for puppies. Then, they would return to their cairn, as dogs do.

Feeders filled, I settled on the front steps to watch the sky a little longer. Snow, sigh, is forecasted yet again tonight. I had forgotten, in all the brittle cold, how the sky takes on a nearly silver-grey colour with charcoal clouds resembling sheep and how it all begins to ebb and flow. The sky becomes nearly fluid as the clouds seem to jocky for position, making sure to fill each inch of the sky. Specks of blue slipped in and out of the coming snow fall; the moon began to rise behind the ridge across from the house, but was shielded from view by the flock of clouds.

All was silent except for the infrequent crowing of Petie, our rooster, or the does' bells as they silently settled into their stalls. The guinea, who sleeps with the goats, announced their arrival with her usual "pot-rack, pot-rack, pot-rack!" Hollie lowed, as mother's do, urging Copper to come settle down for the night. A few birds flitted to and from the feeders for one last snack and then, hush, all we could hear was the creek as it giggled and warpled through the ice toward the river.

The dogs and cats clamor to me, stumbling over my feet and settling in my lap and on either side of me. We sat in silence, watching the deer in the few bare, brown spots on the hillside. How long we sat, I do not know. A calm filled me and I was grateful for home, for silence, for time. Slowly, I realized my hands were growing numb from the finger tips up; the dogs were restless, ready for dinner. The cats were eager to begin their night stalk of the mice and rats in the barns. Regretfully, my reverie over, I stand, turn on the porch and enter the back door.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Paper Please

This morning we watched a segment on how books are moving to an electronic format. This is also a trend in academia because it does significantly reduce the cost of textbooks (they are ridiculously priced!). Personally, I could never use an electronic or e-book. Here are the top three reasons why I think e-books will never replace paper books.

3.) How can you make notes in an e-book? Nearly everyone I know who reads for pleasure marks up their books. We make notes, underline, put question marks, exclamation marks, or argue with authors on books' pages. How ever would we do this in electronic format? MS Word comments feature? Doubtful. I just can't see this working out.

2.) How could you share a book? Sure, we can share files, but we are faced with a double issue here. If Amazon can erase a book from Kindle without your knowing it, who's to say your reading cannot be manipulated in other ways, including not being able to file share with another reader? Can't you see it now? George Orwell, what did you know that we didn't? Ray Bradbury, at what temperature do electronic files burn if books burn at Fahrenheit 451? Our library records are already tracked. What would happen if our book files could be, too?

1.) Could you cuddle up with a laptop by the fire and get that same warm, fuzzy feeling? I don't think so. There are all those angles, cords, and that whole mouse or scroll thing that would wreck the experience. And drink a cuppa whilst reading? I don't know about you, but I have killed more than one laptop with tea.

There is this recurring mental picture I've had since this morning. It is from the first Star Trek movie in which James T. Kirk discusses his latest acquisition -- a paper volume of a well-loved book. Spock is amused by the antiquity, but Kirk lovingly strokes it and says something about the humanness of it -- which, of course, Spock doesn't get.

Guttenberg only printed a handful of Bibles in his lifetime. I've touched one in the British Museum. I wept. Nothing, nothing, is as lovely as a well loved volume, marked, crinkled, faded, and well-fingered by tender hands. How can an e-text compare with that?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bear Update and Other Dribs and Drabs

There have been no more bear sightings in the Lazy Bee Farm neighborhood. Thankfully, Wanda and her sister will not have to arm themselves and traffic may resume unimpeded.

Snow is receding. We hit a high today of 23-degrees. Optimism reigns.

Five bucks have gone to another pasture! Yippee! A very nice man from Radford bought five and took them to a wonderful farm with 25-acres. The fella seemed very kind and liked goats. I hope the boys will be happy. Feeding is certainly easier!

Puzzle wars erupted at Mother and Daddy's today. Mother, my sissie and I work puzzles in the winter only. Today we had a contest to see who could get the most pieces in. I think it was a tie. I suspect my sister took the last piece and hid it so that she might have the honor of putting the last piece in.

The most perfect form for sugar cookies is a snowflake sprinkled with sugar. Yummers.

How'd your day been?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter Gratitude

A few days ago I whined about the weather and I am sorry. I do indeed love winter; I love snow; I love wool. What I don't love is the wind. But that is a small thing, isn't it? Really. It is a very small thing in the sum and substance of life. And, thankfully, Diane reminded me to find joy anyhow. She is right.

So, you will find added to my sidebar a little gadget to for me to post my "Winter Gratitude." While I admit, today it was a little challenging, it was 13-degrees with a wind chill of -2-degrees when I went to feed and Don is gone today so I was on my own, I am grateful.

I have a warm home.

I have winter clothes.

I have wool. Lots of wool.

I have a wonderful "Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House" mug filled with Red Rose Tea.

I have blog friends who listen, encourage, care, and, when necessary, nudge me to look at the brighter side of life. I am grateful....even if the wind is blowing!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let's Go On A Bear Hunt!!!

The bullet on the left is a .22 caliber;
the one on the right is a 30/30 which is for bear hunting.

Early this morning John and I rushed out to pick up a few things for the farm, just in case our weather person actually got the forecast correct this time.

As we crested the hill behind the farm, we could see our nearest neighbor's car sitting in the road as she and her sister stood next to it. Wanda is nearly 75; her sister is 80. They were decked out in boots, jackets, head scarfs, and two sweaters each. We slowed down, pulled up next to them, and down came my window.
"Wanda? Everything okay?" I asked.

Wanda turned around very quickly and shouted, "NO! It is not! Honey, you wouldn't believe what we are doing!"

Her sister held up a .22 caliber rifle. "We're looking for a bear! We seen his footprints in Wanda's yard. James' dog is gone and we are looking for the bear!"

I let the car roll forward a little as her animation while holding a loaded gun was a little unnerving.

"Are you sure it was a bear? I thought they hibernated," I replied.

"No, honey, they don't. Not here, no ways. They stay out all winter and I know it got James' dog, the little black one, well, it ain't so little, but you know the one," Wanda turned to survey the
pasture again. "I just knowed he's out here. I seen them footprints and we followed him here."

The car began to bounce; I looked at John and he was struggling to keep his composure. He nodded toward Wanda's hand. She was holding a .32 caliber pistol.
"Well, you all be careful; I'm heading to the store, need anything?"

"Just to kill that bear," Wanda's sister replied.
As we drove out of sight, Wanda and her sister turned to slip under the fence and into the woods.
"Mum, if they shoot that bear with those guns, it's just going to make it really mad."
"I know."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Even I Am Tired of IT



Measurable amounts.

Up to three inches on top of the ice and snow we already have on the ground from THREE WEEKS AGO.

This makes our third week that temperatures haven't gotten above freezing. While I adore winter -- heck, I have three totes of handknits that I can't wait to wear each year --- it has grown tedious.

It can quit now.

The chickens can't get out of their house; Miss Turkey is tired of snow; the ducks have worn a path around the duck house. The goats, well, even they are cross.

I keep trying to remind myself:

For lo, the winter is past; the rains are over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth.

Hold that thought, won't you? I have to grab another pair of socks. Brrr....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to the Grindstone!

One of the most joyous bits of teaching is the holiday break between fall and spring semester. It is such a wonderful time; I knit, sleep, read, complete tasks and get life back in order after a very hectic 16 weeks. Things pile up --- emails, letters, laundry, and all kinds of projects. But, one of the things I love, too, is going back to campus.

There is an energy that fills the air as we approach the new semester. Everything seems possible. Every student has an A. Every paper is graded. Every meeting is held. Everything is perfect. For one day. And then, all things fall apart! But, for that first few days, everything is as I would hope for every single day. Perfect.

But, in reality, would that be so wonderful? The pressure of keeping everything up-to-date would be overwhelming. The time it takes to grade every single paper in one week, to answer every email, to meet every student, and complete every project is simply not available if I am doing what I think is really more important -- listening and talking to students.

The world is very fragile. As someone said to me not long ago, it is held together with baling wire and prayers. And no where is this more evident than in a community college. Students come to us so damaged, many times by 'educators.' These are the people who tell a student, "Give up on that dream; I just don't think you can hack it. You have too many developmental classes to take. You don't demonstrate what I think a .... needs." The damage takes so many forms. But, regardless of what the form, ultimately it is the student who pays the price for other's unkindness.

This past week, I received an email from a young woman I worked with on her reading and writing so that she could pass both the exit examination for her university and her Praxis test (it is required for licensure and measures knowledge in one's major). She tried the exit exam and the Praxis three times before coming to me after a friend who had me in class recommended it. We talked and I could see that she lacked confidence. Her husband as well as other teachers had told her that she couldn't cut it. She bought it. We talked more, prayed together, and then set out a course of action.

I gave her "homework" and she would come see me and we'd review her work. She took the first part of the Praxis. She passed. We worked more. She took the second part and passed with flying colours. Then, she had to take the Math. She failed it two more times. We talked, agreed to be prayer partners and ask for guidance. Last week, she passed it and will graduate and start teaching in a public school in a very poor region of Southwest Virginia in the fall.

She will know what it feels like to "not get it." She will have compassion, devotion, commitment, and kindness. She will touch lives for generations. And, I know for sure, she will never give up on a student. This is why I get up every morning and do what I do. I am blessed, don't you agree? And Tammy, I am very proud of you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

What a Day!

The wind chill is five-degrees; the wind is blowing; my shoulder and jaw still ache. (I think I pulled a muscle -- it started as a 'migraine' on Saturday and has just kept going...) And Don had to report to work this morning; being faculty, I don't report, officially, until tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. However, I still had a ton of things to get ready for classes next week. And, on top of it all, the CSA was scheduled to meet tonight in Boone... along with five-inches, possibly, of snow. So, I knew I had to feed early and get the milking done so I could get to Boone on time.

As I started out at 1:30, I felt rather like the little brother in "The Christmas Story" and could hardly put my arms down -- winter undies, sweat pants, henley, insulated bibs, sweatshirt, quilted coat, scarf, winter leather and fleece gloves, hat, scarf, wool socks, and insulated boots. I was ready for anything. Thank goodness I didn't have to make a pit stop once I was dressed. It would have been a tragedy. Anyhow....

Everyone needed water; thankfully, it hadn't frozen, much, in the night, and a pitcher of warm water released it pretty quickly so I didn't have to haul water. In fact, everything was going so well, I was going to be done no later than 2:30. Was. Then it was time to feed the goats. I carried the two bales of hay and the 50 pound bag of feed to their lot, slipped in, deposited hay in all the racks and carried the feed to the milking parlor. Then I realized I had one too many goats in the doe yard. Charlie. Who is a BUCK. Who wants a date. WHO won't be caught for any amount of feed. And he is chasing Mia, who is obviously in labor.

She bawls, "No, No, No!" as Charlie chases her across the loafing yard talking his best "boyfriend langauge" to her. She wants no part of him. And she is all he can think of. Fortunately, this works to my advantage and I slip up behind him, grab his horns, and try to drag him out of the fence. He is not budging. Very long story short, I finally get him into the milking parlor and out the back door. I head back out to fix the fence that he has climbed over to discover he is back in talking smack to Mia again. Another chase. This time, all the bucks are lined up at the fence shouting encouragement. All I want to do is shake my fist at them and say a few choice words to Charlie.

I am hot. Sweaty. Out of breath. For crying out loud, he is 1 year old; I am 54. And I have on far too many clothes for this kind of chase. Finally, I catch him, toss him out, and turn around to fix the fence only to find he is BACK over it again and chasing an exhausted Mia. My hat hit the ground followed by gloves and jacket as I give chase, trying to decide if the ground is too frozen to bury a bad little goat. At last he is cornered, tossed out and the fence is repaired.

I stagger to the milking parlor, collapse on the floor, trying to catch my breath. Outside I can hear Charlie calling Mia and she is still responding, "No, no, no!"

If only she had said that five months ago. I wouldn't be out of breath and Charlie wouldn't be an issue. Do you think I could get them to take a purity pledge?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First Day Musings

We are watching "CBS Sunday Morning", a tradition of more than 20 years for me. I love watching the different stories and learning about people who are truly no more remarkable than me -- except they are on the news!

This morning a feature focused on extraordinary people making a difference in their communities. As I watched, I realized, these folks are no different from you or me. Don't we all want to make a positive change in our world? Our community? Our lives?

Think about it for a minute. So many of us want to contribute to make our world a better place. We do it through One Small Change or charity knitting or encouraging words or simply loving another when they might not be so loveable. Take a look around you. Look at yourself. Aren't you doing something that might seem remarkable?

So, this morning, as I sit here sipping my Raspberry Zinger tea in front of the fire, I am thinking how fortunate I am to be surrounded by so many remarkable people --- people who don't know they are -- and being grateful.

Have I told you how amazing I think you are?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ice Milk

Clara loves having her muzzle scratched after milking.
She always gets either an apple or an animal cracker when she is done.
She is particularly fond of eating the cow animal crackers.

Today we reached a high of 18-degrees with a wind chill of -5-degrees. Yeppers, it is nearly a spring day! Not.

This is a very challenging time on the farm because we have to make sure every critter has access to dry bedding (fun when there is 18-inches of snow with another 2-inches of ice and frozen rain on top), water, and feed. Don has hauled more than his share of hay as the hay stall is now empty and we are moving it bale-by-bale to the barn until we can get the next load of hay moved from below the mountain. We don't want to move hay twice in this weather, so taking it bale-by-bale isn't as hard as moving 100 bales in the wind, snow, rain, and ice.

And, to keep things even more challenging, let's not forget the pygmy tramps who got out in July and August and were bred. We are checking several times a day to make sure we don't have frozen babies. They both have a history of kidding in the coldest possible weather. During the last kidding Mary had a problem and we lost one kid and nearly lost the second. The upshot was a wild ride in ice and snow in the Suburu Forester "ambulance" -- Don driving while I held the doe in the cargo area, trying to keep her calm and alive. While the does have access to their stalls, which are hay-filled, the wind chill is dangerous for babies.

However, the best (can you sense the sarcasm?) part of winter farm life has to be milking. One doe is dry; however, the other two does are not. I am still getting nearly a gallon a day from them. I have tried to dry them up , but they are not co-operative. To accomplish this, one must reduce the amount of grain in proportion to the amount of milk left in the does' bags. We have tried twice to get the gals to start the drying up process, but they are prolific milkers. Thus, I am milking and watching the steam rise as I do so. Instead of taking my milking pail packed in ice these days, I am simply burying it in the snow outside the milking parlor. And, to keep the gals happy, I am mixing udder wash every day with the hottest water possible, carrying it to the barn, and getting them scrubbed and milked before the wash freezes.

Oh, yes, make no mistake. Winter farming is not for the faint of heart. But, you know, I would rather be doing this than living in town any day!

Friday, January 1, 2010

One Small Change

Tonya at Plain and Joyful Living had a link to Hip Mountain Mama's challenge to make one small change each month that would make a positive change in our world. The challenge lasts until Earth Day 2010.

We've pondered and pondered what change we can make. We recycle, use cloth napkins, ride share, use energy efficient lights, reduced our heat to 66-degrees, compost, vermiculture, use solar fence chargers, and pay cash. What, we wondered, could we do that would made a change? Then, we decided.

Dry our clothes on drying racks or clothes line.

We do this a lot in the summer, but in the winter, we aren't as faithful. However, our electric bill has just been adjusted to reflect changes in the cost of electricity. While we participate in the budget plan, purchase wind power as much as we can, and allow the electric company to control our hot water heater, we still had a $30 increase. I have been very upset over this and have struggled to find ways to save. Drying clothes on the racks and line will do this for us.

An additional benefit will be the increased air moisture. Our house is very dry in the winter and adding the moisture will certainly benefit our sinuses and skin!

Let's see how it goes, shall we? What will you do?

Happy New Year!

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we take the New Year to look back, let's not forget that looking forward matters more. Empty your hands of the past so that you may grasp the future. Look ahead, not behind, so that you may more surely place your feet in this new decade. Forgive and forget, so that your heart will be open to new loves, new passions, new dreams. And, most of all, remember to stay in the moment. Life is an adventure, not a problem to be solved.

May you have a very blessed and happy new year!