Monday 06/22/09 Busy day! I had so many conference calls that I rarely left the desk today. We picked up Hattie and Princess this evening. It is good to have everyone home! Charlye is excited about her trip to MA tomorrow. Josh is looking forward to a trip to the beach later in the week. Dave spent much of the day watering and catching up on farm chores. The cows (Vera and Blackjack) got into the watermelon patch while we were gone. We had not latched the gate and they managed to get in there, they succeeded in stomping, pooping on and chewing up a great number of the melon vines. All we can do now is wait and see and water.
Tuesday 06/23/09 Char’s flight left at 7 am; I miss her already! She will get to visit with her Aunt Sam and Uncle Teo for several days before the Science and Engineering Program starts. I worked from home and Dave did as much as he could outside, with frequent breaks inside to avoid overheating. We are very far behind on rain for the year. The garden is overgrown with weeds; I have resigned myself to just pick what we can and deal with the weeds later. We milked this morning, 2 gallons—Hattie is holding up because of the change in routine. There was no report of her getting bred or of the bull even being interested. She may be already bred or she may be cystic. Dave smoked steaks for dinner, they were wonderful! We also had fresh sweet corn from the garden and tomatoes.
Wednesday 06/24/09 Hattie gave 2 gallons this morning. We drew and sent off blood on both cows. I am not very patient when waiting for results to come in! Josh left tonight for his trip to Galveston. He has been cautioned to avoid getting sunburned.
Thursday 06/25/09 No milking today. I had to hit the road early to travel. It rained while I was away, looks like <.10 inch, but there were small puddles on the pavement! Every little bit helps. I gave Max a bath this evening. He is clean, but his coat is a mess because I obviously do not know how to get it smooth like the groomer does! He and I both enjoyed getting wet in the hose. I have been fantasizing about getting a pool or swim spa to be able to immerse in. The heat is unbearable. The house was very quiet this evening! I got caught up on reading and homework.
Friday 06/26/09 Hattie gave 2 gallons this morning. It did not seem like she was holding up, I think the heat may be an issue. Char reports it is 75 degrees and no humidity in MA. Josh returned this evening, no sunburn! I made hamburger “helper” for dinner: homegrown hamburger, tomato sauce, pasta noodles and spices in a skillet. Meatloaf sounded good, but I could not bring myself to turn on the oven.
Saturday 06/27/09 Slept in, glorious; no milking today. Dave and I harvest what we could out of the garden this morning—quite a bit of corn, some cucumbers, tomatoes, one jalapeno, one eggplant and some carrots. All the beans were over ripe, so the cows got them. We also fed them the broccoli plants, kale, carrot tops, corn stalks and sunflowers. We harvested all the onions too, a pathetic amount. The onion and potato beds are covered up now to cook and hopefully avoid getting any more weeds in them. The hops are hanging in there and slowly growing up their supports. I am considering pulling the bush beans and planting pumpkins in their place; maybe early tomorrow morning.
I cleaned all the viggies and husked the corn (19 ears) this afternoon. There are more tomatoes than I can eat in 2 days. I need to send some to Charlye, or start canning.
Josh and I went to see the movie Transformers this evening at a dine-in theater. It was a pretty good show and a pretty good meal.
Sunday 06/28/09 Hattie gave 2 gallons. I worked in the garden off and on all day; periodically getting overheated. I weeded several beds, and covered one up completely. It was the weediest one and I sacrificed the peanuts in it to be able to not have to worry about it. It felt good to cover it up. I weeded the strawberry bed and one of the corn beds. I harvested the last of the ears from that bed (there is another bed of corn that is not quite ready yet). I left 2 rows of corn stalks to provide a little shade for the butternut and yellow squash I planted. Everything is beginning to look parched, especially the pastures. Dave brought home red roses for our anniversary today; what a sweetie! We had leftovers for dinner.
It is great to be here! We were looking forward to cool weather when we got here; it was 92 when the plane landed—argh! Sitting on the back porch we have seen so many different birds than what we have at home: yellow finches, indigo buntings, barn swallows, etc. We heard and saw a Meadowlark; I did not even know what it was singing so beautifully! I will try and get pics, but they move fast! There is also a new litter of barn kittens—wild, but fun to watch scamper and play. This part of Iowa has had rain every day 1-2” for several weeks. Everything is green and lush. The field corn is gorgeous looking. Jim and Kathleen’s garden is enviable—so many big onions and potatoes. Dave cut asparagus spears, a lovely treat. Kathleen fixed rhubarb pie, another geographical favorite! The next county over has 100s of wind driven generators--the great big ones like we have seen in West Texas. They are mesmerizing to watch. Dave’s high school reunion (30 years) festivities were a lot of fun. A gathering on Friday night, a dinner and street dance on Saturday night. The band from Dave’s class played at the street dance, the same set they played in 1979. It was great fun. Heather and James brought Rylee (4yo grand dtr) to see the carnival and visit with us. She is energetic and a great load of fun!! Sunday morning the church service was nice, and Dave’s brother Doug came to visit for lunch. Sunday afternoon, time to head home. It has been a fun visit!
Monday 06/15/09 Hattie gave 2.5 gallons. After milking and feeding everyone we took Rosie the beef master to the butcher. She loaded and unloaded much better than we expected. I have estimated her weight at 1400 lbs. That would mean about 700 lbs of meat—thank goodness we are splitting her with another family! We should have crammed, packed freezers in a couple of weeks. I drove to Jasper to meet with a Medical Director and ED staff, all went well. It has been hot as blazes lately; the car thermometer said it was 105 outside this afternoon. Good golly. No rain in sight yet either.
Tuesday 06/16/09 Hattie gave 2.5 gallons, blessed cow. We let all the cows out back in the big pasture after Rosie left yesterday. Hattie, Vera and Princess seemed to enjoy it; Blackie seemed to enjoy the company of new friends! The sheep and chickens are doing well. The ducks are so confused; all 3 of them are sitting on nests, and have been for months. I think all they are incubating is rotten eggs. I have wondered about getting some little ducklings to put under them. That works for hens—substitute eggs for live chicks.
The garden is producing pretty well. I have to say it is the most weed-ridden garden we have ever had. I have become at one with weeds—and am peace with picking the produce out of all the weeds. I will get them in the fall. The melon patch is going great guns! Some of the vines have sneaked out of the pen; others are climbing straight up the sides of the pen. There are a lot of flowers; I hope there are a lot of fruits!
Wednesday 06/17/09 Busy day; milking this morning; Houston office today; and took Hattie to spend the next few days with friends. It was so hot loading her, she was stressed out. The halter ring broke so she was not tied for the ride—when we unloaded her she had a contusion under one eye and on her hip. Our poor girl. No rain for several weeks and no forecast of any for several more. Drought-land is no fun for livestock or gardens.
Thursday 06/18/09 Dave and I flew to Des Moines this afternoon and drove to the farm. I'll start a new post for the Iowa trip.
Monday 06/08/09 Two gallons of the good stuff, thank you Hattie. We gathered 10 more cucumbers and skads more tomatoes. I cut some zinnias for the house. I worked from home today and took the kids for their annual MD visit this afternoon. Their pediatrician is the same they have had since birth. Josh asked “when will I have to find another doctor”, I replied probably when he joins the Army or goes to college. Josh is 5’11”, Char is 5’8”—Wowie!! They got their meningitis vaccines today, and a clean bill of health. Dr. Bootin is tops in our book! We had boring leftovers for dinner because they are taking over the fridge. I made more kombucha tea and raw yogurt today.
Tuesday 06/09/09 No milking today. I traveled to Beaumont for meetings and greetings. It was a productive day. Dave did farm chores and tried to stay out of the heat at midday. The new sheep shearing clippers arrived. Tomorrow is the day for us to get up close and personal with Rambo the ram.
Wednesday 06/10/09 Hattie gave 3 gallons this morning. Dave and I made our first attempt at shearing; we can only improve in speed and quality! Rambo did fairly well, once he resigned himself to the fate of having to be handled by us. We picked cucumbers, many more tomatoes (including one big slicer), a few quarts of beans, and at least a cup of each kind of berries. Forgot to mention we pulled the potatoes up last night; what a miserable harvest. Many of them were dying above ground and only had the seed potato underground. I will try summer squash in their now empty bed. The plants we had died just after flowering. I think a squash borer got them. Shrimp etouffee and fresh veggies for dinner.
Thursday 06/11/09 We skipped milking and picking veggies today. I worked from the Houston office today, and took in a bunch of veggies to share. No much to report from the farm front today!
Friday 06/12/09 We milked 2 gallons from Hattie this morning. I intentionally left some for Princess. Next week Hattie and Princess are going to visit a friend’s Dexter bull. Fingers crossed in anticipation! Many more cucumbers today; so many in fact we were reminded of the old joke where neighbors and friends run when they see you coming so they don’t have to take any more gifts of produce! In our experience, that usually happens with okra and zucchini, and so it has not happened to us yet. J The kids and I went downtown this evening; Josh and I saw Star Trek (5 stars), while Charlye went to a prom. Late to get home, but everyone had fun.
Saturday 06/13/09 No milking this morning, and no picking either (thankfully we are still at every other day status). Our beloved Hope went to see Dr. Umlang for her trip to the Rainbow Bridge. Her 10th birthday would have been next week.
I Remember Doodle I remember the day we chose you from all your frolicking littermates. You were the one that came to us and seemed the only one to be paying attention. I remember the messes you made with chewing and digging. I lamented over dead flowers, and now lament over you. I remember your fondness for hunting, with a jump to join anyone with a gun. Oh the chance to retrieve a dove, pheasant or duck! The joy you showed when you returned with the prize. The angst when it was only target practice. I remember your love of water; a puppy pool, a pond, a creek on the farm, any water except a bath held joy for you. I remember your last swim a week ago, you could barely get to the pond, but enjoyed every minute once there. I remember your love of kittens, even nursing one so that it would live. I remember you playing with the kids, all of you so little and rambunctious. You played with them and let them dress you up, always the good natured and willing participant. You always had a wag and a smile (with a crinkle ear) for us, but especially the kids. I remember you killing your first snake after hearing me shriek. You were my hero not for the first time that day. I remember the look in your eyes the day we all knew you would not survive the cancer. I remember how you looked out the car window on the way this morning; I imagine you wondered if we were driving to Iowa to hunt. I remember and cry at the peace your body seemed to display when finally you were out of pain. Forgive us for holding onto you when you were in pain, forgive us for being too selfish to let go. Thank you Doodle for all you brought to our family and all you taught us about life and love. I will remember you all my days and I will look for you at the Rainbow Bridge when I get there.
Sunday 06/14/09 Catch up day—laundry, school work, chores. Hattie gave 3 gallons, after gathering some veggies and watering I did my best to stay indoors. We had homemade BLTs with home raised bacon—yummy!
Monday 06/01/09 Hattie gave 2 gallons this morning; I did not separate last night. I watered a scant amount in the garden and melon patch. The forecast keeps calling for rain. The sheep seem to be settling in well, and getting used to our routines. They watch us everywhere we go around the farm. They do not seem overly skittish, just watchful. I made homemade lasagna for dinner and later Charlye and I baked cookies. I must be crazy for having the oven on so much when it is so hot out!
Tuesday 06/02/09 Hattie gave 3 gallons this morning. I traveled to one of our facilities today; luckily it is in a town that has a farm stand! I brought home peaches and a melon. We had homegrown farm fresh bacon and eggs for dinner, a big hit! I fed the sheep some roses and comfrey this morning because Rambo the ram had loose bms. They ate a fair amount of the rose petals and hips. It is supposed to help, by this afternoon he was showing improvement. I also gave them a little alfalfa dust, ruminant yeast and DE. The ewes were being bit by horseflies tonight at dusk. Have I mentioned how much I hate horseflies? Flying and biting devils.
Wednesday 06/03/09 Hattie gave 2 gallons this morning; we did not separate the calf last night. I picked up the kids from school today; they only had a half day and tomorrow will be their last day this school year. Time flies! I picked 8 small cucumbers and one huge over ripe one (cows enjoyed it). The green beans, tomatoes and strawberries are doing well. I have harvested a little bit of broccoli also. The leaves that have been riddled by bugs I give to the cows. The blackberries are getting really close to first picking, maybe tomorrow. I am looking forward to some mixed in yogurt. I made Sicilian seasoned bass for dinner. Our neighbor gave us the bass and I used a recipe from the Splendid Table. The seasonings used were fresh basil, fresh mint, red onion, green bell pepper, oil/vinegar, salt and pepper. It tasted good! We had corn on the cob, sliced cucumber and broken up beans on the side. Locavore triumph! It rained this afternoon, finally! We received ¼”. Dave found another snake—trying to eat duck eggs. He dispatched it with the machete.
Thursday 06/04/09 Milking yield was only one gallon this morning. I traveled to the Houston office today. It was good to see everyone! I picked a dozen blackberries and about 20 cherry tomatoes this evening. Dave worked on building a sheep stand for grooming and vetting. It looks great! I’ll post a pic when it is complete. The potatoes look to be about ready for harvesting. The crop has been a disappointment, the plants look pathetic. Once harvested, I will heavily compost that bed before replanting in it.
Friday 06/05/09 3 gallons this morning! I had a long, busy (and productive) day at the computer. I pushed away from it at about 4:30 to wander through the garden and see the animals. That cured my headache! Dave and I put the little ewe “U2” on the sheep stand to see where to mount the treat feeder. His plan for the locking mechanism works great. U2 did not seem to mind too much. Tomorrow I need to trim hooves. We went out for Tex-Mex dinner.
Saturday 06/06/09 Hattie gave us three gallons of milk this morning. The cream line on the milk from yesterday looks pretty impressive, about 3 inches. The hens are sporadic in their egg laying, anywhere from 1-6 eggs a day. I picked 8 cucumbers, 20+ cherry tomatoes, 3 roma tomatoes, big bundle of beans and a cup each of strawberries and blackberries. Yippee! This afternoon Dave helped me round up and catch the sheep one at a time to give them their shots, trim hooves, drench them and halter a few (only have 3 halters). They were not, as a group, overly fond of all the attention. I managed to be in the wrong place when I released the first ewe from the stand; she went our frontwards and broke the feeder/treat pan holder. Dave is making repairs. The butcher is not able to take our cow this Monday, so we will have to wait another week, argh. We watched an old Harrison Ford movie tonight (Firewall), it was pretty good. I started listening to Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. I don’t think I have read it before, and am enjoying it so far.
Sunday 06/07/09 Milking=3 gallons. Grocery shopping=brain cramp. Recycling newspapers and clothing=A Good Thing. Low key day at home=priceless!