Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saying Goodbye to 2008

I can't believe that the new year is almost here. Already!!

This past year has gone by so fast, I can still rememeber things from last winter like it was yesterday. We've accomplished quite a bit in the past year, more than I thought we could ever do at the time! We completed our first year as cheesemakers. A huge challenge to say the least! We're hanging on to business, even during a sluggish economy.

Emily turned 3 this year, which has been exciting and exasperating!!! We skipped the so called "terrible 2's". I thought I was getting by pretty good. Yeah...right!!! She just saved up until she turned 3! The things she has learned over this past year have amazed me. She can write her name, most of her letters and numbers, and can spell out about 5 words and recognize a lot of sight words. I KNOW I didn't do that at 3! But...sometimes she's just a little too smart for her own good! Like the time she had a little fuzz ball in her tights at church...she was practically undressing herself during the meet and greet part of services! Oh My!! And then one Sunday she stood up and declared she had a "wedgie". Loud too! This child does not know the meaning of "whisper". Love her to pieces though... couldn't live without those crazy, embarassing moments. Although, I would like to maybe minimize how often they occur..

Our farm has seen it's challenges this year. The grain price soared through the roof, while our milk price stayed ho-hum. Hard to pay for the feed if we don't make anything from the milk. We have had several people call about buying a "family cow", but just don't have enough cows milking right now to part with any. Hoping that next year we'll have a group of about 10 to sell. We may still have some young heifers to sell this spring, depending on how many heifers are born this March and April. Hoping it's not an all bull year, again.

I just finally caught up our herd book. Each month we take samples from each cows milk, and also measure how many pounds she milks (8.6 lbs= 1 gallon). Generally our cows hold pretty steady around 40 lbs. a day during the warm months when they are on grass. We have a few that milk more, and some that milk less (usually our first calf heifers). We run tests on the samples of milk to measure how much fat% and protein% and SNF% (solid non-fat). After those are done, I enter them in a book where we keep detailed records of each cow, including her calving records. I kind of enjoy doing that, but have found that it is hard to keep up with it each month at times! Especially when we were making cheese 2 times a week. Now that it's winter, I can catch up on the book stuff, including our favorite (Just Kidding!) doing the taxes. Ugh! I usually don't mind doing them, in fact I used to get excited to do them, but this year is our first year of including the cheese business and I don't look forward to that challenge.

Getting the stuff organized will be half the battle!! You should see our office! LOL Looks like a bomb went off in here. That may have to be my New Year's resolution... organize!

Now, I'm off to get something done today. I actually don't have to go anywhere, except the cheese house later to wax some cheese, and wipe down the shelves in the walk-in cooler.

Hoping that this coming year is a good year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nice, Peaceful Christmas

Christmas has come and gone for this year. It seems sad in a lot of ways.
I didn't get as much done as I had wanted, but it still was good.
I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and went outside to our van to carry the presents in, which was a challenge since our back sidewalk turned to ice overnight! Almost knocked our tree over trying to get into our living room door too. Had to wake Emily up around 6:30. She was afraid to open her presents! haha!! After she got started she didn't want to stop!
Before we opened presents I made some sausage gravy and homemade biscuits for our breakfast, and put a pot of coffee on. The house smelled so yummy!
Emily played with her new stuff all day, we played some games with her and rested!
Then it was time to do the evening milking. That part of farm life doesn't take the day off for any holidays! We like to play Christmas music in the barn. Makes the barn feel pretty cozy.

It was kind of nice to have a quiet Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I am tired! I had hoped to have more done for Christmas by now, but I'm afraid I didn't accomplish as much as I had planned.
I still have a couple of days, I suppose!
It's just been so busy around here. Last Thursday and Friday I worked on cutting up and packaging cheese, and putting gift baskets together to sell as well. Saturday I was pulling out of here by 6:30 a.m. The market was a busy one! And I sold the 3 gift baskets that I took in the first 1/2 hour. I wasn't sure how they would do, so that is all I made up. Next year I plan on doing a little more with that. I did some Christmas shopping while I was there, and picked up some delicious chili seasoning to make some homemade chili this week! YUM! I buy this from these folks every week when they are there. It's the BEST!!! For those interested their website is: www.unclebunks.com They do mail order.
I got home around 2-ish. Al was sitting back watching some of the first college bowl games with our neighbor/hired help. Emily was doing all she could to make sure they didn't get to see the ball game!
Yesterday afternoon I worked on getting some packages ready to UPS for some Christmas orders. Had them all set so I wouldn't have to worry about doing too much this morning except get to the hardware store to ship them out. But..... had a call this morning for a large order and I thought I could have it all ready to go before noon, but it was one of those things where I bit off more than I could chew. Plus I ran low on packaging and the vacuum sealer stopped working. Thank goodness it's working now, but it sure didn't help my day any! I did have to call the customer, and we set it up that I'll drop her order off tomorrow morning. And, I spent this afternoon trying to locate the bags that I needed to get her order done. Our little town doesn't handle that sort of thing. I finally got online and ordered a large order of the bags so I won't run out anytime soon after next week.
Hoping that tomorrow morning goes A LOT smoother than today... Monday, ugh!
Now, I just need to catch up the laundry and clean up the kitchen so that tomorrow I can hopefully get around to making some buckeyes and hard candy... we'll see...
But, first, I'm heading to the barn to hay the cows and make sure the chickens are all tucked in for the night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas is getting close. Are you ready yet?
I'm almost there. Still have to wrap presents, but have to find a day to do that without a nosy child and husband tagging along. I have the gifts stashed at our cheese house in the back supply room. That is the only way I can keep these two from finding them. It was so easy when Emily was a baby, she didn't know and didn't really care either! As long as her bottle was warm and her diaper was dry, she was content. Now, she is pretty thrilled to see each and every toy commercial on tv.

We have snow on the ground and it looks pretty! I'm happy about the snow today, just as long as the roads are clear this coming Saturday. I have to make it to the farm market. It's the last one before Christmas, and these folks take their cheese pretty seriously! And they already asked me last Saturday if I was going to make it this week. I told them that as long as a blizzard didn't hit, I'd be there... hope I don't end up eating those words! I'm planning on cutting up some extra cheese and make up some gift baskets. Would love to get a slicer so I can sell sliced cheese for sandwiches. That's on my to do list for when I have money! LOL Someday.... I do think it would be something folks would like.

Yesterday was warm and raining, which is why I did all my errand running then. I had 3 orders to UPS out, and one to deliver in person. Love doing that! I fixed her order up real nice in a gift basket, she was thrilled. I ended up getting some yummy chex mix to snack on as a treat from her. Since I don't go to St. Clairsville that often, I figured I was already there making the delivery, I might as well do a little Christmas shopping. Emily stayed home with daddy, so I had the day to myself! That is rare! So, I put it to good use..

Since yesterday was such a good, productive day, of course today has to be the opposite! I accomplished very little today. I did do some laundry, whoopee!! Had some trouble getting my sugar leveled out. Went very low today, and felt miserable after that. So... I rested after I got a bite to eat. Feel somewhat human now, and I'm all geared up to accomplish something, and it's time to go to the barn and do evening chores. What I wouldn't give to get some candy made tonight! There's always tomorrow.

Had a couple more cheese orders called in today. I'm so excited about that! One lady is a return customer from last Christmas. She likes to send her sister cheese as a gift, and she usually orders a little for herself.

That's about it for us around here...just the same old same old.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can you just smell Christmas baking!?

I've been baking! I just love to cook and bake! Now that I can't enjoy as much of the goodies as I would like, I'm going to bake for others. I like to put trays together for those who do things for us all year. Our milk hauler, supply delivery guy, mail carrier, and feed truck drivers just to name a few who will get some goodies. A few may get a bit of our cheese tucked in too.

Here are some of the yummy recipes for the goodies I've been baking!

1 1/3 c. flaked coconut
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. sweetened condensed milk
Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Drop from teaspoonfuls one inch apart onto well greased baking sheet. (I personally use parchment paper). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove at once from baking sheet.
You may also dip half of the cookies in melted chocolate! YUM!
Apple Cinnamon Bars
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 c. flour
3 eggs
1 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. apples, cored, peeled and diced
Garnish: powdered sugar
Combine ingredients together in order listed; pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes; cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar; cut into squares. Makes about 2 dozen.
Chocolate Peppermint Drops
1 c. margarine, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. flour
3/4 c. baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. candy canes, crushed
Combine margarine, sugars, extracts and eggs in a large mixing bowl; mix well.
Add remaining ingredients except candy canes; blend well. Chill for 15 minutes, or until dough is easy to handle. Roll well rounded teaspoons of dough into balls; place on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 11-13 minutes, or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Remove from oven; with the back of a spoon, immediately and gently make a well in the center of cookies. Spoon about 1/2 tsp. crushed candy canes into well. Let stand for 2-3 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's that time of year...

Christmas time seems to bring out so many feelings in me. Of course I feel all cozy and excited. But sometimes sad. Christmas eve will be 12 years since my Grandma passed away. She meant so much to me. Still does. I often wonder what she would think of my life right now. And wish she could see Emily. She'd probably wonder if I have lost my mind with making cheese!

I remember how angry I felt that night she passed away. The ride home from the hospital was so hard, seeing all the Christmas lights and decorations the people had left on later than usual because of it being Christmas eve. It didn't seem fair that everyone was so happy and excited, and I had just lost my best friend. Now, 12 years later, I am looking at it differently. Amazed that it worked out so perfectly, since Christmas eve was her favorite, and how nice she was able to spend that Christmas morning with Jesus.

I've been doing some baking, finding it hard to keep all of us out of the cookies that I put in the freezer for later. I made some yummy Chocolate Peppermint cookies last week, and will have to make another batch since we only have about 4 cookies left! Same with the Macaroons (sp??). I don't particularly like coconut, but love those things!!! I'll post recipes later.

We set up our Christmas tree on Sunday night. It looks so pretty. And so very different than how we decorated it several years ago. We used to use all white lights, red bows, red ribbon laced through the branches and only glass balls and special ornaments. Now, we use colored lights, gold and silver garland, and anything that looks remotely like an ornament is put on the tree. Including ponytail holders, headbands, toys, and even a spoon.... Of course between the cat, dog and child, I'm not sure which of the three will bring the tree down before Christmas morning...right now my bet is on Miss Emily, but the cat is coming in a close second after her little stunt this afternoon than included knocking an ornament off and playing with it. The poor tree skirt just doesn't look quite right either. The cat (Miss Kitty) has claimed under the tree as her bed. She won't move from that spot unless she gets hungry, or needs to go outside to do her business.

I did manage to get some lights and decorations set up outside. Looks nice, even though a few nasty words may have crossed my mind (and mouth). I'm not the most patient person when it comes to untangling lights. But, Emily thinks it's a Christmas wonderland, so it was well worth it. Thankfully I finished up just as the rain started.

Cheese sales have been very good this month, thanks to the holidays. Several individual orders going out for gifts. That makes us feel pretty good. We'll start making cheese again around mid-March.

I have barely started Christmas shopping yet. We do have a couple of things for Emily, but that's pretty much it. Money is so tight this year that I'm not sure really how we will be able to do much at all. We're going to concentrate mostly on what we do have. We have a closet full of games, movies and some popcorn. To me, that sounds like more fun than getting all stressed out over what to get or how much we can't spend on each other.

It is past midnight, and I should have been in bed a couple of hours ago (at least!!). A certain little girl isn't sleepy tonight. This seems to be the thing lately. She never has been a good sleeper...I sure hope that someday she learns how to rest all night. I guess I never did like to settle down at night either. I always got in gear to do stuff in the evening.

Related Posts with Thumbnails