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