Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Another Great Day

I am almost sorry to see 2006 go considering the good fortune of the last two days, but then again, the rolling over of the year really isn't much of anything anyway. The peppermint cheesecake was outstanding. We have us a winner with this one. The backhoe? Well, the guy that had his name on the list ahead of me didn't have a trailer and I just drive it home, so I am in the process of digging a long deep trench for the water line. And now for the biggie - - after three tries (Joy, then Sam and now Gloria) we finally have a kid that will take the Billy Bob Teeth Pacifier. See proof below.

Proud Pappa Roger

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Great Day

Some days are just way better than others. Today was way better than others. The local hardware store rents out equipment and I have been needing the backhoe, but it has been broken. Today they got a new backhoe. It is all shiney and the paint is still on it. Some other guy has it first, but I am supposed to be on the list to get it next. Very good news for the house project.

I bought a working portaband today. This is a hand held bandsaw and these babies will cut through metal like its butter. They are more than $250 new for a good one and about $100 for a crappy one. I got a good used one from the pawn shop for $50. Also got a good used grinder for $15. about half price.

Then, when I got home, the mail had come. In the mail was a small box. In the small box was a pair of cookie paddles. So, what's the big deal about cookie paddles? They are essential to making my cheesecake and the other pair we had for the mixer broke about two weeks ago. I had planned on making cheesecakes for a couple of neighbors and without the paddles I was not able to do so. Tonight I experimented with a peppermint recipe idea and it is in the oven now. The batter is great, tastes like peppermint candy canes, tomorrow I will know how it tastes as a cake.

Strange the things that make us happy.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

A letter from quarantine

This time last year I had the flu. It was a three week ordeal with fever, swollen tonsils, leg pain, lots of sleep and some weight loss. I am doing fine right now, but every kid has been down at some point over the past two weeks. Melissa had a small touch of it. I have a small irritation in the back of my throat, but other than that I am fine. Melissa did some flu research today on-line and it seems that there are some flu strains from last year that are back for an encore this year. For us it seems that if you got it bad last year you get an easy go of it this year. If you had it easy last year you are in for a whipping this year. Stephen and Grace went though the season last year pretty much untouched. Their temperatures were in the 104 degree range last night. About an hour ago Grace was at 104.9. Her temp is back down, but it is rather scary to watch the thermometer go up, up, up while it sits in kids mouth. Gracie got up in the middle of the night last night and when we gave her the thermometer she tried to stick it in her braids. It took me a while to figure out that she was delirious and not just being silly.

No real holiday cheer right now with the exception of a gift from a neighbor. I am not sure how he knew we were all ill, but our neighbor, Benny, brought by a spiral sliced ham by this afternoon. Without that we would have been up a creek for dinner tonight as hustling around the kids is a bit consuming. Way more for Melissa than for me, but I do occasionally have to lift a finger around here when more than half of the kids are sick. For some reason I was reminded last night that less than half of our family is still a pretty good sized family by today’s standards. This change in our culture was clear last week at a party when we got into a conversation with a guy that was the youngest of 16. They were all spaced like ours are – a kid every two years or so. To catch up to his parents we would have to have seven more kids. Melissa would be pregnant at 52. I don’t really want seven more kids, but I am not going to get an operation and I really don’t want to be involved in a grotesque farming accident.

Merry Christmas


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cold and Flu Season again

Last year, Dec 20, Claire got it first. Someone was sick every day for about 2 mos. Roger couldn't walk for 3 weeks. Everyone seemed to pass it back and forth. It was awful. It finally ended with Listerine gargling and antibiotics.

This year, Dec 11, Claire got it first. Everyone had a slight cold except Gloria and Sam and we thought we got off easy. Wrong. Gloria and Sam were hit earlier this week--Gloria on Sat night and Sam on Sunday night. And "hit" is a good word. Faith was playing with Sam and said he just kind of threw back his head all of a sudden and then wanted to go to bed. They've both had fevers in the 102-103 degree range, cry a lot, and have ear aches. Gloria's eardrum ruptured on Tuesday and I know from experience that the pain she just experienced is one of the worst ever. She's been really cranky, but I think she's taking it pretty well.

And still I tried to be optimistic thinking this was the end of it this year. But no. Today Stephen came home early from his afternoon shift at Best Fried Chicken (which really is the best) thinking he just needed sleep. He's feverish now though and had to call in for his evening shift. Claire's ears hurt and Joy said she can't hear out of one ear (is she just copying Sam though?) and Mitchell has a sore throat. I got out the Listerine and dixie cups and we had a gargle party in the kitchen. It's a new Hanukkah tradition for us.

So if you feel led to do so, we'd sure appreciate prayers for health for the sickos here, and endurance for me especially to make it through this time.

On the bright side, I'm planning to make homemade, homegrown chicken soup for dinner tomorrow with a braided garlic bread to go with it. That should help everyone feel better and sounds soooo yummy!


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cow House

Melissa wants to me to write about the birth of the calf and the house project. So, here is my calf story: The calf was coming out, then Bella seemed to just give up and I got worried that cows being cows (not too bright, made of leather and meat) that the strain on her and the calf could result in the loss of one or both of them. Since I am not a vet or even all that interested in science, but I do get impatient, I decided that I was right and pulled the calf out of Bella. She was wet and slick and cold. Stephen and I got Bella righted and she took care of the calf clean-up. We got two gallons of milk off Bella this morning!

The house is moving along very slowly. This is mostly a function of our project being a cash enterprise. We have some things in the works that will free up some cash and we ought to get going better then. I did buy three doors for the house yesterday. There was this old door in the house when we moved in that I really liked. We found three doors just like it at a flea market/antique place here in town and bought them for $25 each. If you happen to run across doors like these in the next four to six months, please let us know.

The water pipe to the house is run, but the backhoe we usually rent is broken, so the pipe sits on the ground instead of under it. I have no idea when the backhoe will be repaired. Without the water line there is no cement mixing, without cement there is no foundation. This means today will be a day of clearing mesquite and odd jobs around the farm. We have some chicks to take care of, a chalkboard to mount (also found at the flea market) and a second night of Hanukkah to celebrate. Shalom.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Taffy the Calfy

Taffy two days old

Here's the picture I promised of the new calf. We've named her even though everyone says not to. The thing is, we don't know yet if we'll eat her or milk her. And meanwhile, she's going to hang around our farm for the next two years. Our herd is only 3 cows and the other two girls have names, why not her? And if we don't name her, she'll be "Isabella's calf" for the next two years which is a name without being a name. Confused? That's okay. All that really matters is that we did name her and her name is Taffy.

Roger was teasing me about wanting to name her and suggested Calfy Walfy. Then later Stephen suggested the same name. So I said, okay, it can rhyme. How about Taffy? And as soon as I said it I knew it was perfect. Especially the way she seemed to stre-e-e-etch as Roger pulled her from Isabella. And hopefully she'll have a sweet nature with delicious milk in the future. If not, at least she'll be good eatin in some way, right? Just so we don't have to do the processing.

I'll tell you a bit about our calving experience since Roger is so busy these days. Although he has a different perspective. I mostly watched as I was holding Gloria throughout the whole thing.

I went outside to see what Stephen was doing with a rooster he was carrying. He took it to the killing cones, plunked it in, then disappeared. Meanwhile, Clark was running toward me. Turns out Clark had reached Stephen first and told him Bella was in labor, so Stephen decided to kill the rooster he was mad at after checking on Bella. Two hours later, his anger dissipated and the calf here, I sent him to release the chicken. I don't know if it was still there, but I know we never ended up with fresh chicken to eat. But what Clark told me was that Isabella was about to have her calf because she was laying down and her udder looked huge. I rolled my eyes thinking it was another false alarm. But I grabbed my cell phone in case I needed to call Roger and headed out to the pasture. Isabella was lying down in the dry creek bed. She looked very relaxed, but her back end looked open. I called Roger to let him know as much. So he's telling me he has a meeting and can't come home while she starts to push. I saw something black looking and thought it might be a hoof so he said he was on his way. It turned out to be her bag of waters, but what did I know? It was clear soon though as it swelled up like a big water balloon with her next push. Then another push or two and it popped. At that point she surprised us all by getting up and walking over to drink the fluid. That thoroughly disgusted us all and I'm not sure my girls have gotten over that yet.

Soon enough the hooves were out. She seemed to stall then. Roger tried to pull and she let out the loudest most pained sounding noise I've ever heard. I asked him to let her do it herself. Call me weird but I thought there was a connection of some sort between Isabella and I. She stayed calm through contractions, but would lock eyes with me. I just sat and prayed for her while feeling her pain. At some point, Roger moved and sat in between us. She seemed to lose concentration at that point and never really regained her strength. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not. I should have asked him to move, but figured I was just being weird. Anyway, she ended up laying down and just kind of breathing through contractions with little pushes. Then she started to just breathe through them. The whole head was out and the calf kept looking around and shaking its head. Maybe this is normal, but I was worried that Bella was just worn out. I was about to ask Roger to just pull it out now, when he got up and did so. That's when I thought it looked like pulling taffy. Bella never did want to get up. After a while, Roger and Stephen rolled her back up because she was rolled almost onto her back. As soon as they did, she got up and went to her calf and started the endless job of licking her. I'm so glad humans don't do that. But I think that maybe her almost upside down position made it harder for her to push. She'd kind of rolled slightly down a hill.

All is well now. We're letting the calf nurse for the first week and we'll see how it goes after that. We have a bottle ready so Taffy can have milk after the colustrum is past. But we certainly want milk, too! Meanwhile, it's store-bought pasteurized, homogenized milk for another week. On the bright side, there's an Allsups nearby and for every 12 gallons you buy, you get one free. That gives us a free gallon per week! But we can't wait to get REAL milk soon!!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's a heifer!

Isabella just had her calf today! It's a girl. She looks just like her dad. I'd never seen anything actually be born in real life before so it was really cool for me. Yes, I've had nine babies, but I never saw any of them come out. I could relate to a lot of those cow sounds today. I guess it's hard work no matter what type of mammal you are. I will let Roger share his experience later, but I wanted to post some pictures. I'll try to get a pic of her cute and dry tomorrow. But my baby was tired and thought she'd been patient enough after staring at a cow's hind end for 2 hours. So we came in with the camera.


feet and tongue

calf head

Isabella pushing

Roger comforting

Roger pulling

it's out

wet calf

cow and calf

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Poked and prodded

Last spring, about six days after I shaved my head, I cut off the tip of my finger pounding fence posts. I started growing my hair back in late September as winter was coming along. Last Friday I got sort of bored and decided I wanted to shave my head again, so I did. This afternoon I was cutting a piece of hose and as I made the first cut the utility knife came flying out of the hose and stuck in my leg. I finished cutting the hose as my boot filled up with blood. I now have a five foot section of hose and a ¾” long cut in my leg that is about ½” deep. It bled something awful, but after a few minutes of direct pressure I got the bleeding stopped enough to go into the house and get some bandaging done. The suture bandages would not attach, but the leg had stopped bleeding, so I was willing to just sit and wait on a scab.

Melissa was not willing to follow this course of action. Perhaps ‘course of inaction’ would be a more appropriate description. We went on a date to the doctor’s office. After waiting around with a bunch of sick people we were called and the doctor tended to me. Remember how I gotten the bleeding to stop? At the doctor’s office it began to trickle, not much, just a bit of blood. I had gotten it to stop again by the time the nurse cleaned off the area around the wound.

The doctor decided to assess the extent of the damage by shoving a Q-tip into the puncture wound. It was a startling act from my perspective, but it did not hurt. They put a band-aid on sent me on my way.

Did I mention that BEFORE I went to the doctor’s office I had stopped the bleeding? That was about four hours ago now and my leg is still bleeding. Four hours ago I had a dry wound. I now have an oozing wound. At one point – when I got up to go get the cow out of the stanchion – it over-flowed the band-aid and messed up another sock.

So, now I wait for it to dry up again. Once it does it will look like it did four or hours ago. It is a neat looking wound. If it weren’t mine I might be tempted to stick a Q-tip in to see how far it goes.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Another milestone for Gloria

I hope you aren't getting tired of this little beauty. I've always tried not to bore everyone with all the new things my babies do, but I'm tired of keeping it all to myself. God has blessed me with nine incredible children and I'm going to start bragging about them now. And if you think this is bad, just wait until I get to be a grandma!!

Gloria will be six months old on Sunday. In a way I can't believe it's been that long. But in other ways, I can't believe she's only been in my life for such a short time. She started crawling two weeks ago. She says dada frequently now. For several months Stephen and I have been certain that she is saying I love you. She occasionally says bubba. Still no mama, but she sure gets a mischievous look on her face when I ask her to say mama and she smiles and says "DADA" really loud. I think the girl already has a sense of humor (obviously she gets that from her dad). Today I asked her if she was hungry and she said, "hundee." Now, I am not sure she really understands, but she has incredibly good mimicking abilities. As a matter of fact, she'd been trying to figure out crawling, but just couldn't get it. Then a couple weeks ago, Grace was crawling around on the floor. Gloria watched her very intently, then started wiggling and squirming and making a lot of noise like she was mad. It seemed like she was trying to get down on the floor. So I put her down. Of course, I hadn't connected all this with Grace crawling until Gloria started crawling just like Grace just had! It was like she saw it and it clicked that THAT was what she needed to do with her arms.

You know, all babies learn stuff. It's just been so extra fun to watch Gloria learn it because you can SEE her learning. I can tell when that lightbulb goes on and she "gets it." I'm so glad we homeschool and I'll be able to watch that for years to come.

Anyway, here's a picture of glorious Gloria standing up. She got into a crawling position, grabbed the bars of the crib and pulled herself up. She's done this before, but this was the first time she stayed up long enough to get the camera, turn it on, and actually take the picture before she fell. And this wasn't even the first shot.

Okay, I'm done bragging for now.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkey, pie and exploding eggs

Our plans changed this week. We were going to Granbury for the feast with Melissa’s folks and family and my dad was going to be there. Instead we are eating here as my father-in-law, Fred Widmann, is in the middle of chemo and it is kicking his tail. Last time we never heard of it being this bad. This time it seems the chemo is more obnoxious. If you have a moment, say a prayer for Fred. Please, don’t give him your thoughts, do something real and say a prayer.

Anyway, my dad is coming out tomorrow morning and will spend the night with us. Clark is very excited. A couple of weeks ago Clark and I took a trip to Dallas and spent the night with dad at his retirement village/senior living center/cruise ship on land for a home. Clark loved the wine and cheese reception as he was the featured entertainer. When we went to breakfast Saturday morning there were some women residents who could not wait to drop gifts on him, he got an Oscar-Meyer Weinermobile whistle and a light up rubber frog. Ten more minutes in the breakfast room and I am betting he’d have gotten cash.

So now we return the favor. We have a line-up of great activities for dad. We have an old wire spool in a hole and we’re going to burn that along with some trash. We have two dozen spoiled eggs and we’re going to tape firecrackers to these and see what happens. We also have a bunch of food. I think there are four pies and a cake for dad’s birthday. We would’ve had more, but we ate the pumpkin cheesecake this evening.

We tried to get going on potty training Sam this morning, but it was a washout. He wasn’t really interested and we were too busy with smoking a turkey, baking and other junk to really give it a good go. We will reschedule. I just heard Sam shout out to Stephen he wanted his picture taken going potty. He is sort of ready, just not all the way ready.

I gotta go and check on the turkey.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fencing and Bees

Today we did some fencing. Almost. Except that the Africanized bees decided to get in the way. As I sat at my computer, Dad walked in and announced that we would be working on the fence along the road. So Stephen and I followed him blindly, like the good little sons that we are.

On the way out to the place we would begin at, Dad mentioned the bees. I had forgotten them until that point, but he assured us that there were no bees still in their old hive. He claimed that he’d banged on it with a stick a few times, but there were no witnesses. It’s fully possible that no stick banged on that vent at all. Regardless, we believed him that there were no bees remaining—for the time being, anyway.

So there we were, standing around the vent thing with a loop of goat-fence leaning on it. Dad reached out and lifted it up from the top. I’m not sure if he actually saw the hive or not, that will require further research. Stephen and I, however, had a perfect view of it. The hive itself stayed on the ground, because it was not actually attached to the vent.

“Wow, that’s big,” Stephen said.

Something didn’t look quite right about it to me. All the little tannish black sort of things on it were moving, for example. And then it started buzzing. Do beehives do that normally? I wasn’t really sure, because I’ve never even mentioned a bee in my book. But Stephen decided that it wasn’t right, and he spoke up again.

“Holy crap! there are still bees in there!”

Following that vehemently uttered phrase, nothing much happened but running. I thanked God two or three times that I had gloves on, because crushing bees would be considerably harder with bare hands. We were smacking bees for quite some time, but only one sting occurred. Dad got stung on the top of his head, but other than that there are no known injuries. I think God was punishing him for not being more careful around bees.

Stephen’s glasses were knocked off in the scramble. Ha ha! This time it was someone else who lost their glasses! See, there is a reason I stay at my desk all day. If I didn’t, more pain might come to me. So there I sit all day long, while Stephen and Dad can face the evil Killer Bees.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Joy's 4th birthday

I used to do birthday parties for my kids every birthday every year. We haven't done much with parties over the last couple years and now I remember why. The kids get presents and don't want to share and NO ONE is happy by the end of the day. But I'd forgotten all that. Joy had never had a party and I enjoy planning them. The party went well, we just had a lot of fighting afterward.

Our kids do not eat anything with artificial colors in it. (It causes hyperactivity and aggressiveness in the younger kids and depression and other mood disorders in older children and adults. Don't believe me? Try removing all artificial colors from your diet for two weeks, then re-introduce them and see how you feel.) This can be quite a cake decorating challenge. In addition, I am very sensitive to caffeine which means no chocolate ever. So far the kids seem to share my sensitivity although we haven't tested them intentionally. (Are you kidding? Intentionally give children something that gives them MORE energy?!) So we don't get color from chocolate either.So in case there are others like me who want to have colorful cakes, but skip the nasty chemicals, I thought I'd share how this one worked out. Plus I'm proud of it.

Joy was having a bug theme for her party and wanted a butterfly cake. It came out really cute. I cut a sort of cigar shape from the middle of a round cake for the body, then moved each of the side pieces to the opposite side to make the wings. I made a batch of butter cream frosting and frosted the whole cake white. Then I used the butter cream recipe, but substituted frozen grape juice concentrate for the milk for a pretty purple color. I then went for pink by making more frosting with cranberry juice concentrate. It was beautiful, but not much different than the purple. For the antennae we cut strips of pink construction paper and curled the ends.
Joy and cake

cake close up

It tasted great too! Just a hint of fruitiness in a creamy frosting. Mmmm good.

Joy told me today that her party was too short. I think that means she had a great time.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Stickin' It To The Man

I went to the metroplex this past weekend to spend some time with my Dad. He is doing fine, thank you for asking. Friday night he needed to go to Sam’s to pick up a chair and we went down one of the high priced streets in North Dallas. This is a street that was built to be a collector (a traffic planning term for “a busy street”). It has been a collector and residential street for at least the last 50 years. About 10 years ago the City of Dallas installed speed bumps on Park. Since my days as a City Manager speed bumps have always bothered me. Streets are not made to be playgrounds for kids; they are made for cars to drive on. If your kid plays in the street YOU need to get them out of the street. The City is not your stinking babysitter and it is not going to do the parenting for you. So, if you buy a house on a busy street, expect traffic and keep your kids out of the street.

Anyway, we went to Sam’s and traveled on a road with speed bumps. As I may have already revealed to you, I despise speed bumps. I honked as I drove over each speed bump. By the time we were over the fifth or sixth speed bump my Dad, Clark and I were howling with glee as each inconvenient little bump brought the sound of a blaring horn to an otherwise quiet neighborhood. We went back the same way we came, honking all the way. My Dad spent 38 years in city government and I spent 19 years. Honking while you go over a speed bump isn’t a big deal. It was just a release for the two of us, a little act of subversion and silliness.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Love, Peace and SOUL!

Dawn asked in yesterday’s comments section about the 867-5309 title for the September 22 post. The number is a part of a song from the early 80’s by a band that I did not name in the post but saw in concert when I was a senior in high school. The song? 867-5309/Jenny. The band? Why, it was Tommy Tutone, of course. If you are interested in catching a bit of the greatness of TT, he has a web page – In the music section you will find 867-5309 on the second album “Tommy Tutone 2”. Numbering albums was big then as we were still in the age of Chicago.

As part of our extra special service here at “You’re Doing What?” we offer up the lyrics for 867-5309 so that it can REALLY get stuck in your head –

Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?
You give me something I can hold on to.
I know you think I'm like the others before
Who saw your name and number on the wall

Jenny, I got your number,
I need to make you mine.
Jenny, don't change your number,
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)

Jenny, Jenny, you're the girl for me.
You don't know me but you make me so happy.
I tried to call you before but I lost my nerve.
I tried my imagination, but I was disturbed.

Jenny, I got your number,
I need to make you mine.
Jenny, don't change your number,
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)

I got it, I got it!
I got your number on the wall!
I got it, I got it!
For a good time, for a good time call....

Jenny, don't change your number.
I need to make you mine.
Jenny. I'll call your number,
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)

Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to? (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
For the price of a dime I can always turn to you.
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
5-3-0-9 (//fade out//)

If you go to the web page, check out Angel Say No and Cheap Date off the first album, “Tommy Tutone”. In my opinion, they were better than 867-5309. You see, I was a Tommy Tutone fan before their big hit. I also lay claim to having the first Cars album a full year before they got air time in the Dallas area. The same is true for Rickie Lee Jones – I got the first three albums – “Rickie Lee Jones”, “Pirates” and “Girl at Her Volcano”. The third album was crap and I never bought another album from her. Her big first hit was Chuck E’s in Love, butCoolsville and Weasel and the White Boy’s Cool were the songs to listen to off her first album.

And for those that remember it, the title for today’s post was Don Cornelius’ sign off from SoulTrain.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Abraham Update

Faith kissing Abraham
My mom came to visit today. Being a horse lover, she wanted to see Abraham. She brought him some sugar cubes to try to "buy" his love. It didn't work. He wanted nothing to do with it. Faith stuck it in his mouth and he spit it out! But after a few tries he finally ate it. Poor thing. He's been trying to eat right and be healthy, but we forced it on him.

Scout, on the other hand, tasted the sugar and wouldn't leave my mother alone. She has a new best friend.

Scout wanting more sugar

I don't get out to see the horse very often, but since Faith brought him to the front yard I went out to see him. Wow! He is looking so much better.

Getting better!

After forcefeeding him a sugar cube, Faith started braiding his mane. After several braids were done, I watched his eyes start to close. I guess he enjoyed getting his mane braided because he was falling asleep!


Other news: Gloria got her first two teeth. Mitchell has a contract with a literary agent (pray they find a publisher soon--he's already finished another book!) We're all healthy in spite of a rough allergy season.

We'll try to post more regularly, but we just seem to be busy. I sure loved that extra hour last week!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Go Cardinals! (Nothing to do with the post, just wanted to get a shout out for the Cards)

Melissa went to Granbury for a cheap vacation. She and her mom are doing fabric shopping and things like that. I am so very glad to have not gone on that trip. The kids and I went on a trip of our own to the Library. There is a renovation/expansion underway at the Library and I have made some meetings on it. We have a great collection of historic Texas documents and I am thinking that the Library could use those to bring folks to Coleman. A neighboring town, Cross Plains, does that with some Conan the Barbarian manuscripts – I forgot the name of the writer, but he lived in Cross Plains for a while, so they got his stuff. Talk about a niche, they put on a literary seminar every year on Conan the Barbarian. Go for it.

Anyway, I raided the freezer for the last of the steaks and back strap and we had a nice dinner this evening. We ate until we could not eat anymore and then we got in the truck and drove like crazy all over the property. We can’t afford Six Flags tickets for 11, nor do any of us have the patience to wait in line all day for a stinking three minute ride, so loading everyone up in bed of the truck gives the kids a 10 to 15 minute ride and I get to see how the cow is doing. She still has some milk in her, so the calf stays put.

It is 10 p.m. and I just realized that I forgot to do the Bible reading part of school this morning with the kids. Hmmm, do I wake them up? No, because none of them are asleep. Being one of five girls means everynight is a slumber party. The boys are not as annoying as the girls on this one but it isn't because they are asleep, its because they talk lower and their room is further away.

When Melissa is gone there is no one to police the police, so I have eaten a gob of piñata candy today. More like a gob right after dinner. The DOTS are gone and the Tootsie-Rolls are fewer than before. I am trying to eat better, just not all that hard. Speaking of eating right, I learned today that powdered sugar is also known as confectioners’ sugar. Did you already know that? Good for you. Can you tell me when you learned they were same? I can, it was October 20, 2006 and I now have a permament record of this discovery.


Monday, October 16, 2006

I found an old girlfriend today

Faith could not find her horse earlier today and I had not seen the cow since late Saturday, so this evening she and I went to find our respective favorite large mammals. Bella has been drying out in anticipation of her delivery Clark and Claire, because they cannot resist the chance to get out on the property, went along for the walk. We never did find the horse, but this is not a big deal to me as the horse is a drain on our resources and the cow is a money saver for us. I would rather find Bella than Abraham any day.

We checked the creek bed, the home of the finest grasses on the farm, but she was not there. We checked the house site and the pipeline site, again to no avail. We checked the tank and there weren’t even tracks to report. After about an hour of walking (and playing hide and seek) we found her in the midst of some mesquite trees. As I walked up to her she just stared at me with her big, brown cow eyes. Her udders are beginning to empty, which is a good thing as we want to get the calf out of the chicken field as soon as possible, but if Bella has milk in her the calf will steal from her and keep her lactating. A bad thing and we try to avoid bad things.

So I checked out her udder and in the process got a great big whiff of cow. You’re probably thinking that this will be leading up to some cow poop comment. It isn’t. The smell is like living leather with sweat mixed in. Bella has her own distinct smell, like each of out kids has a smell that they have had since they were given their first bath after being born. It isn’t baby oil or powder, it is a smell, an essence, that is the person (or cow), that overpowers whatever else you smell. With Bella this smell is also a part of the taste of her milk.

Anyway, I got a great big whiff of Bella and realized, as dumb as this sounds, that I have missed milking her and smelling her every morning and evening. It is a part of the routine and the rhythm of life here on the farm and even though it has just been about a week and a half that we’ve drying her out it has thrown off some of the simple joys of living out here. Bella must have enjoyed smelling me as well because she followed me all the way back to the house. Funny, but three weeks ago getting her to come in for a milking meant pulling her in and then pulling her back out after it was over. Maybe she missed me also. Don’t tell Melissa, but the cow seems to love me.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

White Water and Wasps

Well, we have run out of Isabella's delicious milk. She is at the end of her pregnancy and we have to let her dry out before the calf is born. That's anywhere between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day depending on I don't know what. But that means we're back to drinking pasteurized, homogenized milk. After all the research I just did on raw milk and its benefits I hated the idea of it, but really thought I'd like the taste just fine. I guess after drinking nothing but the best for nearly a year, I was thoroughly spoiled. The milk from the store leaves a strange aftertaste that I don't remember ever tasting before--except after flossing my teeth. There's just something really wrong-tasting about it. Not bad, but just not right. Some of the kids call it white water.

Have you heard Walmart is carrying "organic" milk now? In their own Great Value brand? I was reading about it the other day and it made me really sad to think they are lying to so many people who just want to be healthy. Okay, they aren't exactly lying, but they aren't telling the whole truth. It may fit the organic label, but it isn't natural! Apparently the cows are milked 3 times a day (2 is much more customary. 3 would be hard on the cow, but I guess they don't really care) and fed organic grain. That would be like a human eating nothing but organic lettuce and thinking they are doing well following an organic diet. Yes, it's organic, but it's not all you need. Cows need grass. Without good fresh grass, they aren't getting all the vitamins they need. Most people understand that a nursing mother needs to eat right in order for the baby to get good healthy milk. Well, the same is true for a cow. She needs a good, healthy diet in order to make good, healthy milk. But you can't do that on such a large scale, sell it for low prices, and still make a profit. So they pile too many cows together and only put them in the pasture when they are not milking--a couple months per year. It reminds me of how back in the 1800's they found a lot of people were dying from the milk. The cows were being fed poor quality food and made poor quality milk. The cows became sick and their immune system was shot. No immunoglobins passed into the milk so the milk was lacking in vitamins and immunoglobins. People got sick and died from the milk. So the people learned to pasteurize it to kill the germs. That was probably a good thing, but a better answer might have been to take better care of the cows. Well, I can't change the world, but I sure am glad we moved here so we can have a cow and get good quality milk most of the time.

Clark's swollen eye

Changing the subject now. We have a lot of wasps or yellow jackets or something. They have wasp-like bodies and they sting. Yesterday, Clark went outside and set his hand on a nest without looking. Of course, the wasps didn't like that. We pray every night for safety from spiders, snakes and scorpions and we've begun to add more and more things to our list--wild dogs, ticks, ants, and wasps. Well, it must be helping. The wasps were mad and were flying all over the place. Clark only got one sting and it was near his eye, not in it. He swears it hardly hurts at all. I gave him some Benadryl (although it took 2 stores to find the dye-free kind) and I don't see much change at all. He's a tough kid though and doesn't seem phased by it. We had to go to the store and he was prepared with an answer if anyone asked what happened to his eye (I was born this way. I'm a goblin.), but no one asked. Several offered advice. I guess lots of people out here have seen it before. Everyone seemed to just know what happened.

Naptime/Quiet time seems to be officially over now. I guess I better go try to settle the fight roaring out there. The thing about being fruitful and multiplying is that the fighting increases exponentially. Thankfully so do the blessings.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Gloria at 4 mos

This was just such a cute picture I had to share it.


Not much of anything, a little of everything, lots of rambling

It's almost the end of a two week school break. I love those breaks. I can get things done that I otherwise don't have time to do. So looking back over the last two weeks, what have I accomplished?

We started some pinatas. That's all, just started. Maybe we'll get them done when we start school again. I can call it art. We need pinatas for Children's church. The kids have a verse to memorize each week. Whoever knows their verse gets a swing at the pinata.

I've finished Faith's website, but already blogged about that. That was an accomplishment though.

I sold some stuff on Ebay. Not very successfully I might add. I spent most of one day taking pictures and describing the stuff. Then I spent most of the day the auctions ended answering questions and closing out the auctions. I got everything shipped except for the one item that isn't yet paid for. Between ebay fees, paypal fees and small closing bids, I made about $15 for 2 days work. How do people make a living doing this?!? On some of the auctions I actually lost money because the closing bid was lower than the ebay and paypal fees. I guess I'm not very good at this ebay selling.

I spent an afternoon baking bread so the kids could take it to shut-ins as an outreach activity at church. But then I took too long getting it done and it wasn't ready in time. On the bright side, we have plenty of bread to eat now.

I've made several slings this week and they actually look really good. They are denim and I'm using the heavy duty thread that's kind of a brown color that jeans are often made with. Then the selvage edges are frayed looking and I've left them on pockets and one of the edges. Very cool looking. I need to take pics for Sew Many Children, but haven't gotten that accomplished yet.

I spent some time preparing for a talk about healthy living. I think that went well. The ladies I spoke to actually listened and seemed interested. Either they were really polite or they really enjoyed it. I am still amazed that after all these years of my family rolling their eyes at me when I talk about eating right, someone actually WANTED me to talk about it. And even more amazing is that I never really felt nervous.

I've read a gazillion books to Sam and Gloria. Sam LOVES that I've had more time to read to him. Gloria thinks the corners of the books taste good. Joy listens a lot, too. Clark brings me books that are hard for me to read. They have lots of words on the pages and I tend to fall asleep if I sit still too long without turning pages. Is that Attention Deficit Disorder or Sleep Deprivation? Or maybe a bit of both.

I've spent oodles of time nursing a baby. Growth spurt? I don't know. But she's nursing frequently and it's okay. When she's not nursing she really is getting to be sooo much fun! Whenever she sees me she squeals with delight and wiggles like she's doing a happy dance. I just love being a mom! Then Sam will come up and just out of the blue say, "I wub you Mom." He's my buddy these days and I really should take advantage of that and potty train him. But it's just not happenin'. I've started a few times, but after changing his underwear and wiping up the floor a bunch I just quit. Someday soon I'll get tired of diapers enough that I'll be motivated enough. My experience is that the child never gets potty trained until *I* am fed up enough with the diapers.

Oh,yeah, I also started to sort through clothes to see what is needed for winter and what doesn't fit anymore. That job gets bigger every year. The kids get bigger, we have more of them. . . So now I have piles of future hand-me-downs to get out to the barn. We have a few things that we'd like to get rid of--older kids never wore them and younger kids say no way, but forget ebay!!

I still have quite a list of things to get done and tomorrow and the weekend are the end of our break. I guess that's life though. So much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Little Clay People

Our daughter, Faith, has artistic talent. The girl can create something out of anything. Well, I guess most kids can, but we usually call it a mess! But Faith is one of those people who makes something beautiful out of just about anything.

A while back she started making little clay people to play with. Well, now she is baking them and selling them.

So my post today is just a shameless plug for her new website where you can order little clay people. They would make great gifts and Christmas is just around the corner. . .

Go to and order soon before she gets so busy she realizes she needs to raise her prices!


All the news that's fit for the birdcage

I don’t know why this came to mind, but it did. From time to time the kids get this idea in their head that they need to do a newspaper about our family. There is always a weather forecast which they do as well as any other weather forecaster can muster. They usually have a short story about one of the animals and a cartoon. There is never any good hard-hitting journalism, just a bunch of fluff. If I wrote the family paper I would have plenty of stories and interviews and features, like...

Stephen talks about washing chicken grease off dishes, shares his tricks! (lifestyle section)

Mitchell comes out of room! (front page)

Faith rides horse! (front page picture)

Why did Grace drive the van? When will Grace admit she drove the van? (investigative column)

Claire invents tape clothing line to an awe filled Milan (Fashion Coleman! section)

Clark, fixated on saying “wearing coats”, gets beaten by older brother (crime page)

Joy pokes cow (sports page)

Sam shuts his own finger in toilet seat accident, treated and released (local news)

Mom talks, does anyone listen? (advice column)

Dad still in bad mood over still lost keys (pretty much in every issue and ignored - like Jumble)

Getting out of bed after bedtime is bad (editorial page)

Every issue would also include a weekly dinner menu in a weather forecast format so that if there is a 40% chance of meatloaf on Tuesday and we have spaghetti instead we still have an out. I am concerned about being able to get ad revenue for a paper with a circulation of 11.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Can We Fix It? Yes, We Can!

We have a Bob the Builder fan here. Sam is always singing those words--followed by "Um, I think so." That's me -- the "Um, I think so" part. Even with sewing I prefer to start from scratch rather than fix things. I don't know much about tools either so when things break I'm kinda lost.

But I've discovered duct tape and was feeling, well, odd about how I'm turning to that sticky stuff more and more often. Just this morning I was fixing something with it and wasn't sure if that means I've completely turned redneck or what. Yet I'm proud of myself that things are getting "fixed" rather than thrown out.

Then Claire came in to tell me she'd made Sam a new shoe. She'd measured his foot and wrapped sticks with black duct tape, then added a strap across the top like a sandal. It didn't fit him and she could see what she'd done wrong. Then I put them on Gloria. They kind of fit, but fell right off. Again, she noticed a problem in her design. Next thing I know, here come Claire and Joy with Joy's new pair of sandals. Made of sticks and duct tape. I guess we'll have to find out more about the scholarship contest where you make your prom dress with duct tape.
Joy wearing duct tape sandals

Claire and her creations
Here are pictures of Joy with her shoes on and Claire holding all the shoes she's made. The one in her left hand was her first attempt and the pair in her right hand is the pair Joy is wearing in the other picture. Not bad for an 8 yr old, huh?

Oh, and just for the record. A few entries ago, Roger blogged about some strange words used in our house. While it is true that Roger and the kids say "buk buk tooey" today (and very loudly I might add) the actual word Stephen used when trying to say Timbuktu was "Bukuptoo." Roger tells me he's right and I'm wrong because his way is in the blog. But I KNOW I'm right, of course, so I had to get it in the blog to make it official. I may forget a lot of stuff, but I can still hear that sweet little voice from 14 yrs ago saying "bukuptoo!" It was so cute! Some things a mother never forgets. ;-)


Friday, September 22, 2006


Faith rode her horse for the first time this evening. Abe had the saddle on and a bridle and reins and a bunch of spectators. After Faith rode, Grace, Claire, Clark, Joy and Sam all got a shot at horseback riding. The ride was just around the stanchion, but everyone got to be a cowboy for a couple of minutes. Sam rode with Faith. Joy cried because she was scared. Claire and Grace did fine.

I am pretty much brain dead this evening as I have spent the better part of the day trying to learn Microsoft Access. I don’t have a book, yet, and it is not a simple program. I think I hate it. Anyway, I am trying to get some databases set up as they can be easier to USE than a spreadsheet. They are just harder to WRITE. I used to be able to program and wrote some stuff when I was in Denton. Perhaps the same will happen once I get a few more hours working with Access. I hope, because right now my eyes are kind of spinning as I write this. Also, while I really enjoy using a laptop, when it is actually on top of your lap it makes you sweat. It got up to 98 this afternoon and I did not need the added heat of the laptop, but I got it anyway. Wah, wah, wah. There are probably eight or nine children in China that would love to have a laptop.

Stephen and Mitchell went to a MercyMe and Audio Adrenaline concert last night in Abilene. Stephen was my milking partner this morning and he wasn’t worth a dang. I can’t say I was worth much either as I stayed up well into the early morning hours trying to learn a stinking stupid database program that is smarter than me. Anyway, they were both full of stories about the concert and the drive and the meal and every other observation from the night. I went to concerts when I was in high school. My kids are much better than I was. I did not remember much, if anything, about the concerts I went to. I saw the Stones, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Sam and Dave, Z Z Top, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Cars, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett, Fleetwood Mac and some others. Not once during any of those concerts did they stop to witness to the kids in the audience. There were no alter calls. Some folks would tell you that the world is going to pot and today’s youth are the worst group ever. I like the ones I know and am proud for their future.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

And in the blue corner, weighing in at 72 pounds...

Last Sunday night I walked out of church to find that my 10 year old daughter, Grace, had pinned a 10 year old boy to the ground. She was sitting on his chest and he was solidly trapped. He also had a bloody nose. I was proud of her, but also not too sure about how justified she was in dropping this kid to the turf. I called her off and as the story emerged it came out that the boy was picking on her younger sister, Claire, and younger brother Clark and she knew they needed her help.

We play a game here called Tickle Monster where I sit on the floor, grab a kid running by and tickle him/her until they pass out or their brothers/sisters rescue them. No one has ever passed out, not even close. The point of the game is to get them to stand up for each other. Grace, I now know for sure, got the point of the game. The others, from what I can tell, also got it. Another thing that I have taught my kids, good or bad, is to follow through when they punch someone. They were giving me five the other morning and they were barely touching me. They were setting their swing up to end right at my hand. This got us to talking about defending one’s self and I showed all the girls how to aim their punch to end about a foot behind the object they were hitting. Grace was especially attentive and one of the best learners. Claire was just as interested and continues to try to get another chance at a punching lesson.

Last night we were at a dinner at church and as we were leaving Grace and Claire were telling me how they had been in a fight with four boys and won. I told them, firmly and with great conviction, that this was a trend that had to end. I also asked them how it happened. Well, the boys decided, as nine to 11 year old boys will do, to chase the girls after the dinner was over. The only girls their size were Grace and Claire. Much to their surprise they learned that the Nelson girls do not run. The boys came running up to Grace and Claire and rather than run off like girls usually do, they stood their ground and walloped the boys, pulling their hair and tackling three out of the four.

So, should they be taught to run and squeal the way little girls do in these situations or trained up to be bounty hunters? I am thinking that the true answer falls somewhere in the middle, but I am also thinking that no one would really expect a couple of pretty girls to be bounty hunters, which would make them very successful.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Watchout, I'm weaving

In the movie “A Christmas Story” there is this part where the father is battling the furnace and the narrator says something about how his father could weave profanities together like a tapestry. This really is a talent and in my past life I have been known to weave. Okay, in my current life I have also kept some semblance of my past self and still let loose with angry tirades from time to time. The bad thing is that bad habits are just that – habits – and they can take hold of the wheel at times when we least expect it. Tonight, as Wednesday night church was ending the preacher was making a little joke about how quiet it was and asked if I wanted to sing to which I replied “No, mumble mumble mumble.” That is how I remember it. I swear to you that is how I remember it. Pretty much every other member of my family, the preacher, the youth minister and his wife all remember it a bit different. Allegedly, I said “Hell no, mumble mumble mumble.” On the bright side, I won’t have to figure out how to fit serving as a deacon into my schedule.

On the very bright side, Stephen still has his job after a week and is enjoying it. He is also learning to drive. This is something that I have yet to witness as I am not deemed worthy of serving as his driving instructor. I think this is silly as I already know all the words. Even though I am not his instructor, I am still able to provide him with vital and important learning experiences. Last Friday night I picked him up from work and as we drove home I decided to drive by the stadium to see if we could get a look at the scoreboard. It also occurred to me that the game might be on the radio. So, as we drove through town I was searching the dial for the game and driving along. The turn off came as a bit of surprise, but I was able to make it. The police officer behind me thought it was a bit of a problem, though as I had been - allegedly - weaving without signalling. After confessing to being a total moron he let me off the hook for not signaling with just a warning. He did write me up for not having proof of insurance. I did have proof, it was just for the first half of the year. So, Stephen now knows to admit quickly and nicely that you are an absolute moron when pulled over, to signal, to worry about the radio at the stop lights and not in between and to always carry your insurance card with you. Make that your current insurance card.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Prime of Life (43 is a prime number, right?)

I’ve never been a big fan of my birthdays, even when I was younger I just did not care all that much. Not sure why, just know it’s the case. Today was my 43rd birthday. Last Saturday we were at my in-laws and my mother-in-law (hey, Carole, how you doing?) had read the blog about the dogs attacking Bella and she bought me a thermos. That blog was titled something like ‘for my birthday I’d like a thermos’ because I never really got to drink the coffee I made that morning. Anyway, she remembered that and got me a way cool thermos. (Now that I am 43 the things that are cool are very different from when I was younger.)

Today my family gave me my gift, a thermal, 23 ounce coffee cup. It even has a no spill lid. Now, when I go out to chase murderous pit bulls across the county I can take a sip of java and shoot at the dogs without spilling! Again, way cool.

My kids have been telling me the last few minutes here how glad they are that I was born. Grace put together that without me she wouldn’t exist, but the rest, I think, are just glad about my birth because they got to have dump cake this evening. Melissa told me she was glad I was born and I am thinking that with her it does go back to the dump cake.

Today was a good day all the way around. Not only did I get new thermal beverage holders, but my oldest son has secured a J-O-B at Best Fried Chicken. He will start tomorrow evening. This just proves he will do anything he can to get out of milking the cow.

Someone, and I have my suspicions who, called the radio station in town and my birthday was broadcast all over town. I have been working with some folks on a slogan for Coleman that does not involve hunting or fishing and perhaps it should be “Coleman – where everybody knows your birthday!” Then again, maybe not.


Friday, September 01, 2006

I ate roseypuckets on my way to Bukbuktooey with Bouvey Couvey

One of the things we collect, aside from children (and we almost have a complete set), is weird little mispronounced words. In the Dr. Seuss classic “Hop on Pop” there is an exchange where it is noted that Dad can read big words like Constantinople and Timbuktu. Stephen loved that part of the book and would say it along with us, except for Timbuktu, which came out as Bukbuktooey. A couple of months ago the kids created a new game – Nelsonball – as a school assignment. It is actually pretty fun. It is a cross between basketball, soccer and rugby. Two teams play and while the personnel would change from game to game, the team names remained the same – one was Bukbuktooey and the other was BouveyCouveywalk, which is a way of walking that is quite silly. It is named after a fictional French exchange student I knew named Bouvye Couvey, who walked funny. Whenever we saw him coming we would imitate him with a BouveyCouveywalk. There was a point to the story the first time I told it to the girls but it is lost in the haze of other Dadisms and the point will not be coming back for many more years.

One of our favorite meals is zsuzsa. Its just what we call a couple of cans of vegeall (a great name all on its own), a pound of ground beef or venison, some bullion cubes, tomotoes and noodles. Faith named this dish. She earned this honor by being one of the two cooks that first invented it. The other cook was Melissa and she magnanimously gave Faith the naming opportunity. Zsuzsa is in the Nelson Family Cook Book, it is on the last page as the cookbook is arranged alphabetically and we don’t eat zucchini. Zsuzsa is also available to the general public now as it is a recipe Melissa submitted to the MOMY’s (Mothers of Many Young Siblings) list for their cook book. If you would like to buy a copy, please go here before September 11.

Another favorite of ours is roseypuckets. When Faith was a very young little girl she loved peanuts. In particular she loved a whole, shelled peanut. It could not be split and it still had to have the little bitty piece that sits between the two halves and seems to keep them together. If the peanut met those criteria, it was a roseypucket.

Tonight we add another word to the list that Joy has brought to us. It is chinchinlada. While it will make a great team name for Nelsonball, it is also possible it will be a food name as it is her way of saying chicken enchilada.

If you wanted something thought provoking or deep you should have gone to another blog.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's raining!

After lots of prayer and waiting and watching it rain all around us, we are getting rain! It started yesterday afternoon. Here's a picture of Samuel wondering why water is falling from the sky. I guess when you're two, no rain for 3 months or so is a long time. Long enough to forget what it is!

bewildered Sam

The kids played in the rain and got thoroughly soaked. Most of the pictures came out blurry since our children never stay still when they are playing. But here's Clark standing still and letting the rain drench him.

wet Clark

This one is blurry, but it shows the joy of riding a bike in the rain (and Grace hamming it up for the camera).

Grace on bike

And now it's time to sleep while the rain falls outside my window. Ahhh, the simple joys of life.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Series of (Un)Fortunate Events

This morning we were going about our usual day. We had breakfast and got the cow milked and all the milking equipment washed, etc. Everyone seemed particularly grouchy and so things were running slowly with me settling fights and such.

I finally got to go get dressed when I heard Grace yell, "Yuck! He's leaking all over our floor!" She was referring to Sam's diaper.

So I quickly assigned "after breakfast chores" giving one of the kids the breakfast dishes so I could go change Sam and clean the carpet. Faith had to do laundry and got the pleasure of having Joy as her helper. I went to change Sam. He had a yucky diaper with a hole in the back of it! How did that happen?

I then went to clean up the mess and found LOTS of spots all over the floor. But they were all dry. That couldn't be it. So I asked where the leakage was at. Grace showed me a spot where he'd been sitting. It turned out he hadn't leaked on the floor, but the floor was so dirty she couldn't tell. Since I had the "spray stuff" and rag with me, I cleaned the spot she showed me, even though it was clearly an old dirt spot. Then I went to throw the rag in the basket in the laundry room. That's when I found her.

Joy was stuck between the wall and the washing machine. She could barely breathe she was stuck so tight. She couldn't even yell for help! As I walked in, I heard her trying to call me, but it was very soft as she had so little air. Apparently she had climbed on top of the washer, then slid down on the side. There wasn't enough room for her in that space, but gravity pulled her down and she was stuck. I pulled her out, then praised God for all that had led me to the room at that moment.

It was frustrating that Sam had a leaky diaper. It was frustrating that I had to clean a mess. It frustrated me when I found there wasn't really a new mess, just a filthy carpet that desperately needs cleaning. But if those things hadn't happened the way they had, with the right timing, who knows what would have happened to Joy!! Sometimes the things that seem bad actually work together for good. It's why I love Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

She was extra grumpy today, but I was thankful to have her around!


Monday, August 21, 2006

Stephen played with the camera tonight

Joy and Sam in the chick brooder

Joy and Sam

Isabella one week after the dog attack. She's looking much better!
Isabella with stitches

Abraham is doing well, though still skinny!

Sarah's nose
Sarah's nose

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lost Tooth

Clark, 6, lost his first tooth yesterday. And he really lost it. He was eating tortilla chips when he realized it was no longer in his mouth. I'm thankful he's potty trained and I won't have to see it again. He got his two quarters anyway.

And here's a pic that's not so cute. Isabella before her stitches.

Monday, August 14, 2006

For my birthday, maybe a thermos I can take with me

Part of farm life, at least for us, is that some of us get up real early. I get up from 5:00 to 5:30 every morning. This morning I got up at the latter end of the time, but got up all the same, turned on the coffee pot and went to brush my teeth. As I got ready to scrub my teeth I heard a big disturbance outside. There were dogs barking and what sounded like another dog defending himself. I ran to the door and there was no dog on the porch. I took this as a bad sign. I put on a pair of pants, my boots, grabbed the .22 and a box of shells.

As I rounded the corner of the house the dog came to greet me, but the sounds were louder and more frantic and I realized that the calf was being attacked by a dog or two and battling back against them. It was still dark, but as I got out there I got about a dozen rounds loaded and set and kept moving toward the sounds. There was the calf, watching. What she was watching was the milk cow fighting off two dogs. Turns out she was fighting off two pit bulls. I watched her ‘bulldoze’ one dog to my left and as she pulled back the second dog latched on to her nose. I drew down on the first dog and shot it.

The second dog, being a pit bull, would not let loose of the cow’s nose. She was shaking her head from side to side trying to throw the dog, but it would not let go. It was dark and while I was about 15 yards away from the action I was still concerned about firing a round into the cow as she heaved back and forth. So, I fired to the outside of the arc. Eventually, she managed to throw the dog off and I got a shot into it's hind quarters. Unfortunately, it was my last round and the dog got away.

The cow had to have 18 stitches this morning. She is on an antibiotic because of the wounds, but rabies are not an issue as these dogs were apparently owned animals that were up to date on their shots. The antibiotics mean that we have to milk her for the next week and throw out the milk, but at least we’ll still have her. At one point Stephen and I were out in the fields trying to track a dog in the dark. We knew there was an injury, just not how much.

The first dog was shot through the chest and we saw it at the vet’s when we took the cow in to get repaired. The second dog came to our house. Honest to God, we get back to the house and it is still too early to get to the vet for the cow so I am finally going to get a cup of coffee and our dog starts barking. There, in our front yard, is a limping brown pit bull. By the time I got out front with the .22 it was down the road and Stephen had the 12 gauge and was chasing after it. At one point we had it in our sites, literally, but underfired and this wounded, bleeding pit bull, ran across a neighbor’s field at a 30+ mph pace. If nothing else, it was an incredible show of athleticism. Stephen and I traced the blood trail and it is our thought that he probably bled out as there was a lot of blood on the road and only more would be coming out after his run across the field. As far as I know, the second dog has not shown up at the vet’s.

As Stephen and I discussed, this is not something we would have gotten to do in the city. At one point we were walking down the road, he had a shotgun and I had a rifle, and our neighbors just smiled and waved as they drove by. Gunfire rings out throughout the morning and no one calls the cops. I shot a couple of dogs and the humane society is not knocking on my door. If we had done this in Grapevine there would have been news choppers, SWAT Teams and a one liner link on the Drudge Report. No happening that way out here. I am sorry to have shot those dogs, but will continue to shoot dogs that come out to my place to attack my animals. The cow will be alright and we’ll manage with regular store milk over the next week. Tomorrow, though, I just want to drink my coffee.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Gotta Cut Loose

I went to a conference this past week on energy. Out here in West Texas energy has long been THE industry. From oil to wind we are the place. The talk at the meeting was all about the diminishing supply of oil and gas because the rest of the world is beginning to catch up with us.

The big picture is that we are going to be huring for the next 30 years. In that time oil will be all over the map in terms of prices and we will be living in a time of great discoveries and hopes for future energy supplies. We will also be living in a time of indecision as businesses try to determine which energy source to bet the farm on. Similar to the choice 100 years ago between alternating current and direct current. Wind is big right now, nuclear is coming along again and coal could be in the picture. For this of us in the rural parts of America things like bio-fuels provide us with the potential to revive small towns and rejuvinate a great way of life.

The small picture is that we are giving things like solar power, passive solar heating, convection cooling, wood stoves and wood furnaces a good hard look as we go down yet another rabbit hole trying to figure out the house. For example, we are going to explore the idea of using the earth's mass to cool our house by burying a 4" pipeline that will run for 100' or at a depth of 6' into the house. The air will come out of the pipe at about 60 degrees. Plenty good to cool the house in the summer. At least in theory. So we will see about putting theory to work.

Gotta go watch a movie now. Melissa checked Footloose out at the library and we are going to watch it with the oldest three kids so they can see big hair and parachute pants.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Abraham is dying! Oh, wait, he's just very, very ill! Oh, wait, he's fine and look what he had to eat today.

Abraham, the horse, was sick this morning. He would not eat and seemed constipated. We called our horse friend and after much looking it turned out he had colic - annoying if it’s a human baby, potentially fatal if it’s an old horse. We got the vet lined up, the trailer was ready and he started eating. We listened to his stomach and talked to the vet and all is well. Standing in a field with my ear up to a horse’s stomach listening for gurgling is not something that came to mind when we decided to move out here. However, the relief and pleasure associated with hearing the gurgling was on our minds some 14 months ago – the simple pleasure that comes from working with animals.

It is sort of like first time parents that take unusual joy in each new discovery of a poopy diaper. Green and runny is not the first thing we like to think about with kids, but it is a reality. Taking care of animals to the point of sifting through their manure to understand what is wrong with them is kind of the same thing.

One set of animals we aren’t worried about these days are the chickens. We slaughtered a couple this past week for a customer/friend. I gotta tell you, these were the healthiest birds I’ve ever killed. No fat, just meat. The internal organs were firm and textbook coloring. We have a textbook on this stuff, this is how I know. These were also the first chickens that we have processed since we went free range with them. We had been pasture feeding and while the chickens got exercise, it was not to the same level these guys get. They are, literally, crossing the road all day long. In the mornings when I go to town they are as far as 300 yards from home. We try to get them to come in at night by bribing them with feed, but there is a group (it is a shrinking group) that refuses to come into the shelter at night. Other than that little bit and whatever the cow or horse leave behind, they are on their own for food. The feed bill is less this way, but the predation loss is greater. The horse stepped on a great big ole hen last week. It would have dressed out to about five pounds.

I’m thinking I’ll sue Faith for damages.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

General Farm Ramblings

Faith learned today that even though you have walked and walked and walked around the property, you don’t necessarily always find the animal you are looking for. Poor girl walked around for the better part of 45 minutes looking for Abraham and as she was coming in I was headed out to help her and saw him, through the trees, and shouted for her to follow. She followed, trusting that it was not a joke, and finally saw him when she got to within about 15 feet of him.

I have the same trouble trying to find the cow sometimes and this morning was one of those times. Bella comes to the gate every morning to be let in and milked, but this morning I had to sleep in and she came to the gate and left. After walking around looking for her, Stephen got in the truck and drove me out to help with getting her. As we drove out to the tank, the truck starts to veer into and field and as I am shouting to Stephen I see why he is veering, there is Bella standing in the middle of the path. She was a pain in the butt the whole time we milked.

The drought continues and we have almost no green grass anywhere. Out by the stock tank and in the channel leading up to it is still good, but while helping Faith bring the horse back I got a good look at it and even this grass is beginning to fade out. There is a slight chance for rain in tonight’s forecast. We need to get Miracle Maker Faith to pray for rain.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Abraham Blog

Today is the second best day of Faith’s life - ever. She not only has a horse, but out neighbor, Terrie, took Faith along with her when she went to do her job, which is taking care of horses. A little while ago Faith informed me, in very precise language, that she was “Going out to take care of MY horse, now.” She spends a morning working with our neighbor and it appears is now ready to train thoroughbreds for the Derby. She is being very patient at this point and seems to realize that it will be several weeks before she can ride him as he is very week.

Abraham is the name of Faith’s horse. Houston was his name when we got him, but she decided to follow a Nelson family naming protocol for freely received farm animals. Back in November we were given, on the promise of payment when she sold, a black baldie heifer. We named that cow Sarah as Sarah was the mother of God’s chosen people. The first of many. That same idea is behind the Abraham name. His descendants were to be more numerous than the stars. We’d love to have a couple more horses, so we are aiming high.
This is Abraham. He is still in pretty sad shape even though we have been feeding him for a whole day now. He should be all healed by tomorrow. No, I am not that dumb. Our neighbor, Terrie, and Faith gave him a shower this morning. Used some medicated shampoo to take care of the ‘rain rot’ along his spine. His food is a mixed up watered down blend of Senior Horse feed and alfalfa pellets. It smells pretty good but looks like a badly neglected pond.

This is a picture of Abraham neighing at Melissa while she took the picture.

Abraham and Sarah
Here is Abraham with Sarah nuzzling up to him.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Faith Nelson, Horse Owner

If you track back on our little blog to May 23rd there is the story of three horses that showed up one morning as we ate breakfast. The blog begins with how Faith’s prayers were answered, but that was all tongue in cheek as the horses were our neighbor’s and we could not keep them. Melissa told the horses’ owner, Terrie, how Faith had been praying for a horse and we had teased her that she needed to be more specific about praying for a horse she could keep. Terrie took this as a personal challenge and put the word out to her contacts that she was looking for a horse for a little girl and the price had to be right – right at $0 to be precise. On Wednesday she rang the doorbell and asked to speak to me. Turns out that one of her contacts had come across a 22 year old gelding that its owner was willing to give away. That horse, Houston, is now in our stanchion.

Terrie said that Houston was a little poor looking and when she got there she let me know that he was a lot poorer than she had expected. We know squat about horses and he looked bad to us. At the same time, he will be a great classroom for all of us as we figure out how to deal with horses. We now know squat plus one about cattle and squat plus a half about sheep, so we just have a new mammal to learn about. Thankfully he is a ruminant, just like the cows and the sheep, so we already know a bit about his digestive system.

Houston is a good sized horse, I do not know about ‘hands’ as a measurement, but I can tell you that he is about 5’4” at the shoulders. Very, very skinny though and in need of some cleaning up. Tomorrow he’ll get a bath and a brushing and we will get some fattening up food in him. In the mean time, we have a new set of friends in Terrie and George and will be providing them with milk from now until the end of time.

We will have a picture or two of Houston tomorrow and I would bet that Melissa will have an insightful, thoughtful post about all this. If you are counting on me for deep, you have made a terrible mistake.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bad week, but not in a good way

This last week was the toughest for us since we moved a year ago, but very little of what was tough about the week had anything to do with farming. A week ago Thursday hospice was called in for my mother as she was finally reaching the end of her Alzheimer’s journey. I went to Dallas Friday and came back late Saturday night. We did Children’s church Sunday morning and got ready for vacation bible school to start on Monday.

Monday came and VBS went pretty well. Mom passed away Monday afternoon, about the same time that I was in a meeting about an economic development venture. Then, Monday evening, I found out one more plum tree was dead in the orchard and later in the evening one of our lambs died from what appeared to be bloat. We were off to a roaring start. All week we worked until late into the night (or early in the morning) on VBS stuff, in addition to Mom’s death stuff, farm stuff and job stuff. On Friday we hustled butt home from VBS, cleaned up and sprinted to Dallas for visitation and then the funeral the nest morning. The service was performed by an old family friend that is, perhaps, one of the best preachers and ministers I have ever been fortunate enough to know. It went very well.

Then it was back to town so that we could do our VBS wrap-up for church and serve spaghetti as a part of a Juniors’ Camp fund raiser. I took a long nap this afternoon and Melissa went shopping with some friends. It sure is nice to be out here in the country where life runs at a slower pace. I am learning that the reason things take longer to happen out in the rural areas is because there aren’t as many people to make them happen quickly. Everybody is every bit as busy as city folks, we just have to do it all our selves. This is fine as the trade off is that I do not have to deal with long commutes to work, neighbors right on the other side of the fence and smog.

I will get more stuff in this week than last, not hard to beat out last week’s posts, all none of them. Or, I could my favorite new word, in a sentence no less. “I posted to the blog exactly nonce last week.” Nonce is actually a word that means “for the present time” but I am using in it an manner found in no other place than my own dictionary here at home where we feel free to add new listings all the time. Nonce [nunss] – a singular event that has happened no times. “It only happened nonce.” Use it for yourself and set a new trend.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Melissa played with the camera today

sunsetA sunset. And if you look closely toward the right side, you can see Sarah, our calf, grazing.

GraceThis is Grace, our 10 yr old daughter.

Samuel, our 2 yr old son, lounging in one of our luxurious pools.
And Joy, 3 1/2 yrs, cools off in the other pool.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

%#&@*~@^# HOUSE

Stinking piece of crap house planning. We were looking at round, but it got way too much troublesome so we went to steel roof over a stone/cordwood house. Ordered the roof, rented a backhoe and dug footings and did some leveling and then the roof fell in. Turns out they blew the estimate and when they recalculated what we were to pay it was $1000 more than we were planning to pay. Now we are back to square one, sort of. Still going to use the rocks. Still going to build a house. Still going to pour concrete. Just not sure what the thing will look like or anything.

On the bright side, I have not hurt myself in over a month.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Insect Observations

I've had a lot of opportunity to observe insects lately and thought I'd share a few things I've observed.

Ants like warmth. They seem to cluster around the stove/oven after it's been on. I kept thinking they'd go away while I was cooking because it would get hot, but they seem to increase their numbers instead.

We'd noticed the kids get grouchy when the house reaches 86, but they're fine when it's 85. So we set the a/c to 85. Well, it never kicks on until it hits 87. Finally the other day I turned it down to 83 and it kicks on at 85. The ants don't seem to like it cool. They've been gone for several days. But we just got home from church and there were a lot of ants in the kitchen. It got hot while we were gone. So I guess we like it under 85, but the ants like it over 85.

Ants don't like any brand of poisoned bait.

Wasps like milk and honey scented soap. I've had a bathing buddy for the last week. I don't know if it's the same one, but there's been a wasp (or some wasp-like creature. maybe a mud dauber or yellow jacket. It has a wasp shaped body and it's black and yellow. . .) in the bathroom with me every morning when I take my bath. I just ignore it and it ignores me. But today I used a different soap than I've been using. I grabbed the milk and honey scented bottle today. I poured some in my hand and right then this wasp comes buzzing down at me. It kept coming at me for the rest of my bath. As soon as I was dressed, I went to get Stephen to kill it. So I guess tomorrow I'll get to find out if there's a new one in there.

Ants can be useful. Have you ever woken up at night and seen a bug in the bathroom? I'll kill it and sometimes leave it till morning because I don't want to get all grossed out in the middle of the night. Then in the morning it's gone. I thought someone else was cleaning them up or there were Dead Bug Fairies that did it for me. Well, a couple weeks ago I caught the Dead Bug Fairies in the act. They were ants! They were coming and taking away the dead bug bit by bit. We're hoping that's where the dead spider from last night disappeared to. Either that or it was just playing dead. Creepy thought, huh?

Wolf spiders can get as big as my hand. Enough said about that. I'd rather not think about it.

Have you heard you're never more than a few feet away from a spider? I believe it now.

Also it seems the ants carried away the broken glasses. Maybe it looked like a pair of magnifying glasses and they thought my kids were going to use them to burn ants. So they carried them off and hid them away. Or maybe they looked like dead bugs and the ants were trying to be useful to thank us for all the food we "provided" for them. All we really know is the glasses are gone and many ants hang out where we saw them last.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Relax and enjoy, it's the 4th of July

Good morning! We are headed out to my in-laws today. The weather here is very nice, unseasonably mild would be a good description and my look at the Granbury forecast tells me it is even milder there. So, the swimming we had planned to do is looking iffy. This may turn out to be the 4th of July when we didn't do anything. We were going to go to the big fireworks display that a gentleman in the county puts on for the community each year, but the kids aced themselves out of that. You know how you tell your kids if they don't behave you're going to pull the car over and then they'll be sorry? Usually they respond to this. Not Saturday. It was one of those days where everyone went bad and they called our bluff. We don't bluff. I love fireworks and the kids knew that, but we had to stick to it with them. No fireworks, probably no swimming. Bummer.

On a positive note, the plans for the house are firmed up and we are at work. There is a picture of the site from last week when it was cleared of trees. Over the weekend I rented a backhoe and it is stripped clean with the trench for the foundation's footings dug. We will try to get a picture up later as we are going to work hard to document this process all the way through as we plan to live in this house the next 50 or so years.

The roof is a metal building roof and has been ordered. The walls will be a mixture of rock from our property and what ever other property we can get them from and cordwood. The cordwood idea just wouldn't go away and I kept thinking it would be a big pain in the rear until we finally peeled off some bark and it was pretty easy. So we are using that upstairs. The cost of the exterior of the house will be the mortar and that's it.

We had developed round house plans as this is the most efficient way to build a space, but it is also a bear when you get to things like joist layout and building curved interior walls and doing a roof that is shaped those umbrellas you get in drinks at Trader Vic's. The house will be a combination house and barn. When I was in Switzerland I got to have lunch at a dairy farm and they lived in a house/barn. I always thought that was a great deal and now we will do that for ourselves.

Insert your own "raised in a barn" joke here.


Friday, June 30, 2006

Checking in

We are getting bad about updating I guess. It's been a week since our last post. So here are a few updates.

Gloria is 5 weeks old today. She's still adorable. She is beginning to coo and loves to look at her siblings when they come over to kiss her or talk to her. She also loves to watch the mobile in her crib when the bears spin around and the music plays. Occasionally she takes good naps during the day and I can get something done besides nursing a baby. She's over 10 lbs now so I guess I'm doing a good job nursing her.

Still no glasses. I've torn the house apart. We've been through every room thoroughly and even have moved furniture and such. Nothing. I've prayed and received no answer. It's rather discouraging. The 4th is coming up soon and I'm still hopeful that we'll find them.

And we have ants. They are taking over the house. I don't think we're blameless because sometimes a mess gets missed when we clean. We don't see it but the ants do. This is getting really bad though. They are getting into sealed containers. They've gotten into rubbermaid containers that were sealed tightly. They've gotten into sealed plastic wrappers that food comes in. I've tried natural repellants, baits, and ant spray that was supposed to keep them away for up to 12 weeks. I don't think it even worked for 12 minutes. It makes me very anxious for the new house to get built.

And on that note, Roger, Stephen and Mitchell went out and cleared some ground for the new house today. Roger has put tons of time into studying and planning and now finally some muscle gets to go into the house. It's very exciting for us! Here's a picture of the future house. It's not much yet. ;-) This is from the north looking at what will be the back of the house/barn.

We also have a new puppy. Stephen, Gloria, and I were at the local grocery store when Gloria was about a week old. So this isn't super new news. We came home with a puppy. There was a lady out there desperate to give away an Australian cowdog puppy. So we helped her out. Here's a picture of Clark with Lucy.

That's our news this week.