Sunday, June 28, 2009

Welcome to our Family, Pinky

Emily and I have been enjoying our evening "adventures". I did take my camera the other day, and snapped some pictures of her playing in our creek that runs through our pasture. Lots of snails, crawdads and tadpoles to be found! Haven't seen any snakes yet, so I'm thankful for that!

On Friday we took a ride to our vet's office to pick up some boxes and ice packs that they save for us, and ended up bringing a cat home as well! Miss Emily has named her Pink Flower (????), so we are calling her Pinky for short. Our vet's wife found her awhile ago in their field, pretty sickly with kittens. They found homes for the kittens, and had Pinky fixed and helped her get healthy, but needed to find her a home. So, she now lives with us. Our house is becoming quite full! Emily is thrilled to have another furry friend living with us. Pinky seems to have adjusted just fine, she already has the attitude that she owns the house. Thankfully, she and Annie, the dog get along just fine, but Miss Kitty isn't so sure about sharing her humans with someone else! Hoping they make up soon.

Emily and Pinky hit it off the first day!

I missed the farm markets this past weekend, and really hated to! But, our vacuum sealer quit sealing, so I think that the sealing element went out, ordered it, and I'm hoping to have it in this week, and hoping that is what the problem is. So,until that is fixed, I can't cut and pack any cheese. June has not been our month for working with the cheese! Tomorrow I will be waxing 2 batches of the Gouda, and hoping by next week be making cheese!
Tonight we'll be taking the milk weights and in the morning we'll be pulling milk samples, and I plan on running the lactometers right after morning milking so they don't get to warm and spoil, like last month....yuck!
We're up to milking 56 cows, soon to be more than that when we have some more freshen. Thankfully not too much trouble with milk fever this year, but we're not calving the majority during these hot, humid months. That seems to make a difference. We're going to get the water line run to our water tanks on the paddocks that we just made hay on, and begin rotating the milk cows on those paddocks for fresh grass. Give the paddocks that they've been on a rest. Hoping to start mowing the pastures to get rid of the ironweed and thisles.
I am now working on the kitchen, as usual, and going to get something put together for our dinner tomorrow.
Wishing that I could drop some pounds a little quicker, but I keep telling myself that I've changed my eating habits and doing the walking for just over a week, so that is just too soon to really see a difference, but still working on it, and feel a lot more energy!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Well, they say that change is good, and I am really making some changes. And, I actually feel good and am enjoying some energy!!
First, I have changed the way I eat, which is something I have been struggling with for some time. The past week I have started portion control and reading those labels on all food! Amazing what I have been eating! No wonder I felt like crud! Yesterday, our lunch was Italian Salad mix, topped with Balsmic Viniagrette (sp???), grilled seasoned chicken breast, with a touch of cheese and a little bit of hard boiled egg, with some lowfat cottage cheese and watermelon. A nice, healthy cool lunch. Perfect! And that is kind of what I'm going with for meal planning now. And I'm eating a lot less! I'm finding that most of my eating was out of boredom, or stress. So, now I take a walk when I feel like munching, or I find something that needs to be done and do it instead of procrastinate.
I have also recently read that, being overweight, even a bit, is just has harmful to your health as smoking, or taking in second hand smoke. Hmm.... so I can't really criticize the smokers out there, huh?? Not until I drop about 50 lbs. or so.
Second, I'm moving on in life from things that stress me out that is not necessary. Sticking around awesome friends that I have around here where I live, and love the community feeling with them. Getting more into doing the farm markets, and finding that I have some really wonderful and dear friends that I get to hang out with each week! That is totally cool!
I'm putting a lot into the farm and getting back into doing some of the feeding of the babies, and love how relaxing it is to bottle feed those baby calves. Emily is thrilled she is able to feed the babies when the bottle is half full (or half empty, depending on which way you look at it! ;) ).
Emily and I have been taking walks each day, to a different part of the farm each time, or up our road a ways. Finding treasure each trip out. Right now we have water snails, tadpoles and some other critters living in my kitchen in all my plastic containers that I bought for food. But, she is learning so much by getting out there and doing. So, I figure this is just like having a field trip everyday. She loves it too, except for the little honeybee that accidently snuck into her book while we were walking today. It stung her "little piggytoe" as she said. Ever carry a 40 lb. child, a pair of muddy barn boots and a cup full of tadpoles and water? In 90 degree heat with high humidity? I felt like passing out!!! Worked some weight off on that walk home I'll tell ya!
Will be skipping the Cambridge farm market tomorrow, not that I want to, but we're a little low on a couple of cheeses, at least for another few weeks, so I'm trying to make it last a little longer. I do have to go up tonight and cut up 5 wheels for tomorrow evening, to fill an order. I'll at least cut part of it tonight, and the rest in the morning, when it's cool.
Our coating finally came in!!! Yay!! Time for more cheesemaking, soon, when we get the hay work on schedule, or if we get some rainy days. I'm anxious to get back at it. Feel the need to get that cooler filled up! We have just over 200 wheels of cheese, but really need to have about 250 more before the end of October.
Now I'm off to cut up some cheese and relax to some music while I'm doing it! :) And maybe turn Emily loose to find some bugs.....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hot, Humid Days

It's been hot, muggy and just plain sticky out this past week. And that means some fun in a pool, even if it is just a little wading pool. We thought about getting a larger pool, one that Al and I could also enjoy, but Emily made it very clear at the store that "too much water freaks me out!!!" So, we settled for the small one that was just perfect for Emily.

And yes, I ended up in the pool too, with my clothes on since
I haven't owned a bathing suit in YEARS!
The daisies are blooming, so I know that it is officially SUMMER!!! I love summer. I've mentioned that before, I know! Emily and I went on an adventure walk, partly for fun, and partly because I am trying to walk at least 30-1 hour each day, and walking up and down hill is a workout. She ended up finding a couple of water snails at one of our creeks and have them in the kitchen in a cup with her toy frog keeping the poor things company.

I took my camera with me the other day just for fun to see what I could come up with as good picture material. Lighting wasn't the best, since a storm was coming, but I did get some pictures of our cows. They usually "pose" much better than this. Will try again soon. Wanted to get a good picture of the baby calf out in the field with mama, but neither would cooperate.

Our cows up on the hill above our cheese house.

Our herd bull, and yes, he's a bit on the mean side.

Al bringing grain up to our upper barn with the tractor.
You can see the mean looking strom clouds just to the east of us.

Say "cheese" Al!!! Ok, that was a really BAD joke!!

Al started mowing one of our pasture fields, just around the pond to make some hay off of. We're still on the 1st cutting, but it looks like it will be making some really nice hay, and it looks as though we'll be getting quite a few bales of hay more than last year, and we still have 2nd cutting to do.
Emily and I went to church this morning, and it was a really nice Father's Day service. Emily went to junior church and she loves it!
We went to a birthday party after church for family. It was a nice get together. And I am so proud of myself, they had chocolate cake AND cherry cheesecake, and I stayed strong, and didn't have any. That was a HUGE test for me. It is so very hard to go to get togethers, and manage diabetes. I'm working hard to get back on track. I've got a ton of cookbooks and I've found some really good websites.
Now, it's time to get tucked in. More hay making tomorrow, and I have one more batch of Hill Folk Jersey cheese to wax. Then on Tuesday I'll be able to get the red wax melted down for some Gouda to be waxed. I sure do hope our supplies come in this week, but we're going to hold off on cheese making until 1st cutting of hay is finished, then we can really get some cheese made, probably 2 batches a week instead of 1. Hay is coming first right now!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can you tell I just love summer? I love taking pictures of the flowers, Emily, Annie (our dog), the cows and clouds. Pretty much anything that will hold still long enough.
I also love the storms that roll through when the days get really hot and humid. We had some good ones go through last night. Lots of lightning. I watched it from our bedroom window for awhile. Until it started raining in the window. We went to our insurance agency yesterday to pay our bill, and while Al went inside, Emily and I sat in the truck and waited, and there perched a Mockingbird on the fence close to us. I just love hearing them! Wish we had one around here, but I rarely see them. I did hear a Whipoorwill (sp??) the other night as I was taking the cows to their paddock. First time in a few years I have heard one of those.
Cheesemaking is still on hold. Bummer!!! But, I talked to them on Monday, and they said the coating would be shipped out this Friday (tomorrow), so we're looking at getting it around Tuesday or so. We're aiming to make a batch next Friday. Probably a batch of Hill Folk, we are needed to get more of it on the shelves. Speaking of which, that reminds me that I need to do some waxing tomorrow. I did 2 batches so far this week. And it is looking so nice compared to last year. I did, however, drop a whole wheel into the waxer, accidently. When the packing/waxing room gets humid, those wheels get slippery. So hard to hold. I ended up splashing a good bit of red wax all down the front of me, thankfully we wear aprons, but it still burnt my arm a bit. I found that the wax is heated to over 200 degrees, I didn't know that until about a week ago, and I got curious and put a thermometer in it. wonder it stings a bit when is splashes up. So, it took some doing to fish that wheel of cheese out of the vat, and by the time I did, it ended up cooking it so much that it was squishy. Not good.... Gotta work up those hand and finger muscles to be able to hang on to that cheese! Milk prices are not moving much. We're actually getting paid less this year for our milk with more cows milking (almost 60 right now), than last year when were milking about 40-45 cows. We've heard that if we hang in there until next year, prices are supposed to improve. I hope, just don't know how many of us dairy folks will still be in business! Hard to pay for the cows groceries when we don't get paid ourselves!
I managed to get to some yard sales last week! yay!!! Didn't find too much that was overly exciting. Some clothes for Emily, thank goodness too! She's growing! We went to Ollie's today (it's a discount store, kinda like Odd Lots). They have literally thousands of books, including my favorites, the cookbooks! Of course I picked up 3. I found an Old Fashioned Cookie cookbook by Debbie Mumm (priced at $3!) and a couple of diabetic cookbooks, which I am really going to have to buckle down on that diet. Found some schooling books for Emily. I just love that store! If I had a lot of money to just spend, that would probably be where I would go! haha!
I have a few goals for this week, thought if I jot them down on here, I may actually see them here they are, in no particular order...
1) Get in gear with watching what I eat and walk!!!! (Also need to get more consistent in getting my A.M. glucose readings!)
2) Organize Emily's toy population, brought on by really cheap, nice toys at yard sales and Goodwill, I hold those places personally responsible for making their prices hard to pass up and making my living room look like a Toys R Us exploded! Ok, just kidding, I have the freedom to say NO to more toys.... and should have the good sense to do so...
3) Wax the last batches of cheese, at least the last ones until we get making again. Also have to change the brine tanks before next make.... :P
4) Get stuff sorted. Four boxes: Goodwill, Keep, Yard Sale, TRASH!!
Ok, that's about all I can handle right now. I have to watch if I overwhelm myself, then I just don't accomplish anything.
Now, off to start one of those....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Civil War Encampment

It's that time of year again, the sound of cannons and guns booming. Women in long dresses and bonnets, and flags flying, both Rebel and Union flags.
Our little town of Woodsfield, OH has a Civil War Encampment each year about this time. It is really something to see, and hear. There is an actual blacksmith working, they sell uniforms, and for women, the dresses from that time period. Something fun, and local to do. The pictures I'm putting up are from last year, since I forgot my camera this year. ( A "duh" moment!)

"Abe Lincoln" with Al & Emily

No cheese making for at least another week. I am so disappointed! But, we ordered supplies, and it takes awhile for the check to reach them for a lot of different reasons, and the coating we need is now on back order. That will give us time to get some hay done while the weather is nice. Hoping to have all of 1st cutting done well before we make cheese again.
Just because we are not making cheese, however does not mean that we won't have work that needs to be done with our cheese. I have about 6 batches of cheese (about 70 wheels) that I will be waxing. I also have to get busy and wipe down all of the wooden shelves with some salt and vinegar, clean up the plastic mats that we lay the wheels of cheese on and pack up some cheese for the farm markets. I have an order to get ready for tomorrow. I have found that it takes just about 45 minutes to cut, package and label 1 wheel of cheese. I try to do 4-5 wheels for the farm markets.
I did buy up some strawberries last week, YUM! I cut them up and froze them. I'm hoping that I can make up some Strawberry Bread this week, since we won't be doing cheese. We love to make that bread, and the loaves freeze up some nice, and can keep and when you thaw them out, you can't even tell they were frozen.
Now, I'm off to do that neverending chore of laundry... At least with nice weather, I can take advantage of my clothesline.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Love the Summer Days

Now that June is here (which is my favorite month), it means some nice, sunny, warm days. I'm loving this!
I went to the Cambridge market on Friday at the courthouse. Very busy day! But it was so cool. I even had to take a jacket. I met Michelle (from GLU message boad) and that was exciting! She is so sweet! I'm glad she made it over to the market.

Michelle and Me

Had a baby heifer born yesterday. It is so cute up running beside it's mama. We'll bring mama in this evening and start milking her. Her milk will be dumped for 96 hours due to the dry treatment she is given before she is dried off. We dry our cows off about 60 days before their due date. Her baby will be moved to the calf barn with other babies and will be put on milk replacer. They seem to do so well on that. We had been giving them whole milk from the cows, but the fat % is so high right now that it was giving the poor babies the squirts. Pretty common this time of year. I'll get some pictures of baby and mama this afternoon while they are still out together.
Emily located a killdeer nest about a month ago or so, I noticed today that the eggs are gone, so I imagine the babies hatched out. Mama killdeer would screech at us if we even got near her. Then of course do the "injured bird act".
Mama killdeer, acting like she is hurt and screeching.

Her little nest. Those eggs really blend in with the rocks!

Al has started mowing hay as of last week. Baled it up today, got about 40 bales and it's only a section of our first hayfield. We have the rest of our front hayfield, center and back fields to do. We're looking at about 500 bales of first cutting. That will be one of our best hay make.
One thing we watch for while cutting hay, especially right now is baby deer. The mama's tell those little fawns to lay down and not to move, and they won't move either. They listen so well! Al saw one hop up and start to run toward the mower. He shut it down and picked it up and set it in the woods so mama could find it, but as soon as he started the tractor back up, it jumped up again and went toward the mower. He ended up bringing the baby in so that Emily could see it. Then we drove back in the truck and put it in the woods, and off it ran. As we drove away, we saw a doe running up toward where the baby was. It was my first time seeing a baby deer up close. So cute.
Of course I want to include a picture of our dear little dog, Annie and one of our chickens. I can't believe Annie will be 9 years old this summer. It seems like yesterday she was a raggedy little stray that was hiding at our barn.
A couple of roosters and our hens.
Poor things are molting right now,
so they are missing some feathers!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Taking Time to Enjoy Simple Things...

We are taking a week off from making cheese. So, I'm taking time to do a few simple things and enjoy small moments. Plus, I have some really good batteries and a new memory card for my camera, which holds over 700 pictures, look out!
Our Peonies are in bloom, and Emily found them. She picked one, and I think her holding it looked really nice in the pictures.
Sunday we decided to take some "family time." We stopped at McDonald's for lunch (Emily's choice.) Then went to a local park, Piatt Park. There is a playground and some really nice walking paths in the woods that lead to a waterfall. I can say, I am no longer in shape to be walking up and down that steep of paths! Emily thought it was great, and I do believe she used the work "slowpokes" occasionally when talking to us. Hmm....

Some of our spring flowers are in full bloom and we've had some really good thunderstorms that have caused some really pretty clouds.
It's been a nice, slower week for us. Next week we'll be back at cheesemaking, two batches in fact. Although, I still have 2 farm markets this week, and several batches of cheese to wax, but it's a little bit slower for us!

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