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August 30, 2009

Additional pics from Iowa

Courtesy of my wonderful niece Lizzy! Isn't she talented and beautiful? :)

Week of 8/24/09

School started without a hitch, both kids are in ROTC and love it. Josh is on the Spirit Flag team this year and Char is going to try out for rifle team.
My classes started also, I am befuddled trying to get back into the routine and juggling multiple classes at once. I am sure it will come back to me!
All of us were tired this week: getting up extra early and getting back into the swing of the early alarm clock.
Dave got many of the fallen trees/limbs cut up and stacked to burn, and he fixed the barn roof between storms. We have had almost daily showers; some of them quite violent, though short lived. I would estimate our weekly rainfall at 2” or a little more. More than we had in June and July combined! The pastures are green again, such a relief. The cows have been shut out of the back pasture due to the airport working on the fence line. They sent word that they would be replacing it. Their work so far has been sporadic, along our common fence they have only cleared their side, no fence is down yet so we have started letting the cows back out. They made a beeline for it this morning, heads and muzzles dropped to the ground the minute they got out there.
The sheep are doing well; all the ewes look to be bred. They are due to lamb the first half of November. I am looking forward to the sight of springing lambs around the pasture!
I am ignoring the overgrown garden and putting off working on it until the temperature outside is decent. Late Sept and October I hope to be spending a lot of time in the garden. My favorite fall crop is carrots. I will also plant brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower.

My first attempt at vlogging (video blogging)!
(dedicated to Jessika and Tammy!)

August 24, 2009

Its a tradition!

The first day of school!

The "kids" are entering 10th (Josh) and 11th grade (Charlye) today!

Have a great first day my loves!

August 23, 2009

week of 8/17/09

Honey mead: 2, 3, 4 lbs of honey in each!

Vera 0809

Storm damage 0809

Storm damage 0809

The return flight home Monday night was long; and it was great to see the kids and animals! We spent an hour in the hot tub later that evening—joyous!
This is the last week before school starts. We have school supplies, school clothes, haircuts, backpacks, lunch supplies—all ready! The kids are ecstatic about seeing friends and being back on campus next week. They went with me to the college bookstore to get my books, what an embarrassment. I had forgotten my schedule so I wandered aimlessly trying to find the right books. Finally I looked up my schedule on the computer and found a very nice assistant who had me loaded up and check out in 10 minutes! I think the kids were in the student lounge acting like they did not know me.
We started the heat synchronization protocol (on Hattie) before we went to Iowa. The first step is a week long, so on Tuesday this week we continued and on Friday morning we AI’d her with Holstein semen. Here is a link to the bull’s data:
We have our fingers and hooves crossed that it took! We should know in 22-40 days—she will come into heat or we will send off blood. Vera looks to be a month away from calving; she is in great condition and slowly building an udder.
A big storm blew through on Friday night, limbs and leaves are all over the yard and a few trees are down, there is also part of the roof missing off the back barn. We also had some hail, about dime size. Thankfully there is no garden to worry over right now. The rain amount was 1.75”—yippee!!
The A/C quit again, exactly one month since it was last repaired. We had to replace the fan motor, thankfully they were able to come out the same day (Saturday evening after 7pm!) and get the job done. The heat lately is absurd. The weather forecasts are a lie; they project a high of 98-99 and our thermometers say it is 102-107. We are longing for fall and cool weather!
I tried to make butter when the A/C was out; it was not very successful due to the room temperature. I have more cream to separate so will try again Sunday.

I had 1+ gallon of honey from last year that needed to clarify (heat to 120’F to take care of crystals), so I started it and then started reading up on how to make honey mead. I found a beginners 1 gallon recipe that looked doable (and we had all the supplies/ingredients). So, I made 3 gallons of mead! One has 2 pounds of honey, the next has 3 and the last has 4 pounds of honey (the last will be much sweeter so that one I put cinnamon sticks in).
It sits for a few weeks then gets racked (strained into another container) to ferment as long as we can leave it alone. I am excited to see how it turns out! For anyone else wanting to try this making mead, here is the link:
I made yogurt and enchiladas today also. I love kitchen days!

August 18, 2009

Week of 8/09/09

I milked Hattie Sunday-Thursday this week. Thursday we left for Iowa.
The weather in Iowa seems to go hot when we arrive; the temperature was 91 when we touched down! It is great to see Dave’s parents and everything at the farm. Jim’s tomatoes and melons are producing heavily.
Friday we spent the day at the Iowa State Fair, what a blast! First thing in the morning was a stop by the dairy cattle show. The show was for Guernsey, Jersey and Brown Swiss, running concurrently. The show started with 3-6 month old heifers and progressed up to cows in milk. It was fun to watch! We met a couple in the stands from Springfield Iowa; they have 9 cows and start next week with their cheese making business.
Heather, James and Rylee joined us at the fair; a great time was had by all.
We took Rylee back to State Center with us to spend the night; she is such a cute little sprite! Four year olds have nearly unlimited energy!
Saturday we spent at the farm playing ping-pong, croquet, and playing imaginative games with Rylee, Dave and Rylee also drove the big John Deere. Saturday evening the well ran dry, probably because there were 15 of us. We did not go to church Sunday because we figured we would be the Pew-Ewww pew (at least 13 of us had not had showers). Instead we had a leisurely day at the farm. In the evening we went out for dinner at Hickory Park in Ames, all 17 of us! Dinner out with all the family is what Jim and Kathleen wanted for their 50th. All the kids got together and gave them a new lap top and air card. They are even on Facebook now! Sunday evening Uncle Ron and Aunt Jean came by in a 58 Ford; the same car that Ron drove Kathleen and Jim to their wedding in! It was a great surprise! What a beautiful car!
Kathleen took out her wedding album and showed all the pictures as well as her scrapbook with early photos, cards and mementos. We had a great visit.
Monday most of the family went to a local theme park and Dave and I flew home, uneventful except for going home via Colorado Springs to avoid a storm. It was good to get home, though we miss the family too! Our niece Lizzy was a joy to get to know, as well as spending time in imagination land with Rylee!

August 9, 2009

Rain came today!

We have been seriously rain deprived; today we got a reprieve! Yippee!!
I even took pics so you all will know just how geeky and drought-brained I am! :)

It was beautiful for all the senses!

Week of 8/02/09

This week went by extremely fast!
I milked several times, though not every day. Hattie needs to be dried off, after the calf leaves and she is rebred. Vera is looking exceptional, if a little on the pudgy side. I am still anticipating a late Sept to mid-Oct calf.
We have not had much rain this week, somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 drops. Those drops came after a beautiful double rainbow! I managed to get a pic of part of it on my way home from work, what a cheery sight it was.
We let the hens into their run to take down the weeds; they are working on the melons. They seem happy, as happy as hens can be anyway.
The homemade lasagna and the tomato bisques were both big hits, as well as the chili last night. I am planning a quiche and enchiladas in the near future. I made two more cheeses, one with jalapenos; yogurt is in the works and butter too.
The summer semester is over, thankfully and I have 10 days off before the fall semester starts. I had an advising session this week, disappointing because the person doing the advising was ill informed and condescending.
I may look into a different program/college due to his lack of knowledge and overall poor attitude.
Dave and I are looking forward to the Iowa trip next week. He has researched when the Jersey and Guernsey shows are at the State Fair so I can ogle beautiful cows. We also hope to see the sheep, pigs, 4-H exhibits, and the vegetable/food entries. There are also the traditions of seeing the butter cow; riding the sky-way and eating something off a stick!
I finished listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society yesterday. What a delight it was! Now I am inclined to make a trip to the Channel Islands, specifically Guernsey and Alderney sometime in my life.
Oh goodness, it is clouding over, we may yet get rain! I am off to finish separating cream and get the yogurt incubating, have a great week all!

August 1, 2009

Week of 7/26/2009

Char and a friend at Smith SSEP.

I did not keep up with writing daily, so this week it is a compilation.
I milked 3 times this week, Hattie continues to give and give. I will be synchronizing her heat cycle soon, and attempting AI again. Vera is progressing nicely; I suspect she will calve in September. We plan to dry off Hattie in August after her foster calf goes back to the owner.

I did not harvest much from the garden this week until today (Saturday). The harvest was 4 giant watermelons, and 6-7 small ones we culled because they were pulling down the chicken netting. The cows enjoyed the culls. The only other thing harvested this week was a handful of cherry tomatoes and a cantaloupe (yummy). I am looking forward to fall and cleaning out all the beds. I don't have an improved plan for how to manage it all (next spring), but will work on that aspect between now and then. I plan to put in a small fall garden with lettuce, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and carrots; maybe all in one bed.

For the foodies out there we had several grilled and smoked meals with homegrown meats: ham, ribs, hamburger and pork chops. I made lentil soup one night which turned out great. I plan to make homemade lasagna one night next week as well as tomato bisque. I need to make pesto with the great bounty of basil in the garden. Bread baking will resume in the fall. I currently have a cheddar cheese in the press and 5 pounds of sliced tomatoes in the dehydrator.
On Friday we got 1.5 inches of rain; it was a beautiful, perfect rainy day, almost all day!

Charlye returned home from MA! I picked her up Tuesday night, she was a sight for sore eyes! She reports that the classes she took (Neurology and Genetics) at the Smith Science and Engineering Program (SSEP), were fantastic. Josh had several great workouts at MMA this week, and is really enjoying it, especially the kick boxing. Both of the kids are looking forward to school starting in 3 weeks. Their summer relaxation has become summer boredom and they are ready to go back. I guess we will battle the hordes buying school supplies and new clothes!

The spa we ordered several months ago arrived this week. I have to say a glass of wine and an hour of water massage on my back and neck make me very relaxed! It is the most rejuvenating therapy I have ever experienced.
I hope you all had a great week! As Garrison Keillor says "Be well, do good work and keep in touch!"