Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Positive New Year Ahead!

A new year is almost here, yet again.  And I always ask the same question,"Where did the year go?"
I think most of our year is spent with a lot of work, never ending work.  I've accepted the fact that we may never catch up with our chores, but what would that mean if we did?  I guess for life to go on, it just means that the work we are meant to do continues. 
This past year was difficult in many ways, mostly the slow economy and the milk price bottomed out.  It went Kaput!  Watching what we spend, shopping at second hand shops and just making due with what we already have has been something that's kept us going.
The new year coming looks to improve.  Milk price is said to be in the increase, along with cattle prices.  We'll have some of our equipment paid off this coming year, which gives us some more income to be tossed someone else's way. 
Emily will be starting Kindergarten in the fall, and she's excited. 
If my drs. appointment on January 6th confirms my hunch, we'll be welcoming another little one to our family.  I'm thinking late August to early September.  Course, I'm already feeling sick and so very tired, but so excited! And very thankful that we did not get rid of anything from when Emily was a baby.  We're all set.
Cheese orders are coming in very consistently.  In fact I have 8 wheels heading out either tomorrow or on Monday, depending on the road conditions.  Looking forward to getting back to making cheese this March.  But, until then, I have some work that needs to be done in the cheese house.  Going to start that stuff today.
I've got 2 batches of cheese that is due to be waxed right now, clean up the mats that we lay wheels of cheese on in the cooler (it helps keep the air circulating underneath each wheel, helps for development), want to wash down the floor in the cooler and wipe off shelves (they will be wiped down with salt and vinegar, takes care and prevents any mold growth), need to also bleach down all packing room tables and store any Christmas gift basket items.  It will feel good to tuck in for a couple of months.  Thinking of adding a new cheese to our lineup, but also want to concentrate on the cheeses that we know our customers know and love, and just keep improving them!  Quality is always better than quantity.  It would be easy to slap out 8-15 types of cheese, but what if they don't taste consistent each time they are made?  Nope, that's not the right way to be an artisan cheese maker, and we are focusing and getting it good. 
Al will be heading out to haul the manure for today to the field, run the gutter (we have a chain gutter system that when turned on it carries the manure from behind the cows and takes it out to the manure spreader, a lot easier than pitching it by hand! We're spoiled by that handy gadget!), but it still can take about 15-30 minutes to run it out.  This time of year we watch it carefully, since it can freeze in cold weather.  Almost milking time for evening as well.  If I get the waxing done in good time, I'll be heading down to the barn and help out there. 
Even during the holidays, our work is never finished up.  Would love to have some overtime pay for the hours we put in! haha! 
Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas is Almost Over...

Christmas night always makes me feel a little....sad, I guess.  All the crazy errands, baking, sending packages out, wrapping, shopping, listening to those Christmas songs, and then in one day, it's over.  We had a very nice day.  It rained, so no white Christmas, but it was ok, we had a white, snowy week. 
This past week was so busy, had an order for 5 gift baskets that I put together and shipped out on Monday.  Made a delivery on Wednesday so the folks wouldn't have to come down our icy road.  Al's mom and dad made it in on Tuesday, and that was a wonderful visit!  I ran some last minute errands yesterday morning, and then just tucked in today. 
We opened presents this morning, had a wonderful breakfast of bacon and eggs, a simple breakfast, but on Christmas morning, it was special!  Of course, even though it's Christmas, those cows want to be milked! ;) So, off to the barn we went, Emily carried her new toy dozer to play with in the sawdust.  I grained the girls while Al got the milkers turned on.  It wasn't long before Emily was missing her new toys at the house, so we went up to the house for about an hour.  Then went back down and I threw the hay into the girls.  Finished up milking, and made sure the Christmas music was playing for them. 
I was so tired when we got to the house, so I laid down and took a nap.  It felt so good! 
Fixed a yummy glazed ham, potatoes au gratin, lemon-pepper green beans, sweet potato casserole and warmed up some store bought rolls.  YUM!!  That reminds me, we have some leftovers that will be calling my name soon...
Planning on dropping off a couple more goodies tonight after Al is finished with the milking and I finish cleaning our hamsters cage.  She'll like the new bedding for Christmas. 
I did cut up some cheese for tomorrow.  I still hate that I missed last week, and I'm sure I will hear about that! 
Hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  Keep in mind the reason we celebrate! 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

First Snow!!

Our first good snow of the year!  Makes it look like Christmas!  It started last night as rain, then ice, and finally snow.  Right now we have a good 6 inches on the ground.  I missed the farm market today, and I really didn't want to miss, but roads were not the best, and didn't want to take a chance.  Good day to cozy up in the house, except, Miss Emily is excited to be outside!  We went out for a bit earlier, and will be getting the sled out in a few minutes.  Hoping to make some cookies after that. 

Snow this morning on our pines.

The view of our neighbors hill from our place.

What our road looked like about 2 inches of snow ago.
Only 4x4 pick ups have been through, and they did
their fair share of sliding.

Emily all set to go play!

Making some snow angels.  I really don't
think I could do this anymore!!

Emily found some icicles and
brought them in the milk house to show us.

Helped hay and bed the cows. 
They are so happy they don't have to slop around
in the snow.  Barn is about 60-65 degrees.  Feels
cozy!!! Also, turned on some Christmas tunes for
the girls! 

Emily loving on her barn cats, Lola and Gomer.

We did a little bit more decorating.  Found some old ornaments that belonged to my Grandma, I don't hang them on the tree for their own safety! So, I tucked them in a nice pie plate and tucked an old snowman in the middle.  It sits on my island in the kitchen.  Looks cheerful!

Also have been doing some cookie and candy making.  Found a good recipes for Cherry Crisps and Peppermint Bark.  I will post recipes tomorrow for these. I want to make some Peanut Butter Blossoms today, before the Hershey Kisses are all gone, and need to get those peppermint chip cookies made.  Will be leaving some goodies this coming week for our mail carrier, milk hauler and his wife, and our feed guy, and anyone else who pops in!  This is the fun part!

I snapped this picture of Emily, right after the tree was decorated.  She is really having fun! Loving every minute of the Christmas season.  I'm so glad!  Making sure that we do something fun each day, bake cookies, decorate, read a Christmas book or watch a Christmas video.  So far her favorite movie is A Charlie Brown Christmas, it's mine too.  She loves it when I keep the holiday songs playing in the kitchen, non-stop, except for when the radio station plays the hockey game, then we stick our CD's in. 

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season!  Be safe when out and about with the snow and ice.

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." W.T. Ellis

Monday, December 14, 2009

Enjoying the Day

After a busy weekend, I'm taking some time today to just enjoy playing catch up around the house. 
The event "Good for You, Good For Barnesville" went very well!  I made up about 7 gift baskets, and sold all but one, plus almost all of the cheese that I packed in individual packs.  Very good feedback from the customers! Yesterday we braved the crowds at St. Clairsville.  It was crazy busy, and we didn't even go into the actual mall, just stopped at a few places and had to pick up our other computer from Staples. 

So, after all the running this weekend, today I decided to focus on getting the house in order, including some laundry, dishes, organizing in my spare room and few other odd and end stuff.  It actually feels good to have that day that I don't have to hurry, hurry.  I will have to go to the cheese house this afternoon and gather my gift basket stuff up so that it's not all over the front room.  I also have about 40 lbs. of cheese to cut up for the week, and for the 6 orders that will be shipped out tomorrow.  We've had a few calls from folks wanting to stop in this week and visit and buy some cheese.  I did promise Miss Emily that we would make some cookies too.  She gets the job of rolling the cookie balls in colored sugars.  She should have fun with that! 

I just popped lunch/dinner in the oven, and it looks like it will be a yummy one!  I finally got around to picking some apple cider up on Saturday from Rockwell Orchards, so I wanted to get this made before we used all the cider up. 

Cider Pork Chops

1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 (1 inch thick) bone-in pork chops
3 Tbsp. butter, divided (I actually use cooking spray instead)
4 Granny Smith apples, sliced (I had Golden Delicious on hand)
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup apple cider

Combine first 3 ingredients in zip loc bag; add chops.
Seal and shake to coat.
Remove chops and set aside.
Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in large skillet.
Add chops, cook 5 minutes each side, or until browned.
Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with remaining butter.
Place apples in bottom of dish; top with raisins, if desired.
Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Arrange pork chops over brown sugar and drizzle with apple cider.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until pork chops are done.

I'm taking a small break while I wait for the pork chops to bake.  I poured myself a cup of coffee, a large cup, and have some Christmas tunes playing from our local radio station that plays all Christmas until New Year's.  Also have my potpourri burner going with Sparkling Vanilla tart from Yankee Candle. Mmm....the house smells so nice and cozy! 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Tree Is UP!

Our tree is UP!
Now, with 2 cats, a dog and a 4 year old little girl,
we hope it stays up until Christmas!
Of course, the ornaments are put on the tree,
but, Emily feels the need to move them around,
she likes to find the "perfect" spot everyday
until Christmas.

Our family picture! We actually have one this year
with all three of us.  It's amazing what you can
do when the camera has a delay for the flash!

Our tree, I need to work on the lighting a bit
with the camera, but this is as good as I could get.

Little Miss Emily, wrapped up in the "garlic".
Um...that's what she called garland. ;-)

It's feeling like Christmas here!
We had the Christmas tunes playing last night,
turned the lights off, except for the tree,
and the evening was beautiful!
I went crazy with the lights on the tree this year,
I used both multi-colored lights and white.
I'll remember that for next year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm slowly decorating our house for Christmas.  Seems like I can't get into the mood to do it. I have done our kitchen and our window sills.  Still need to venture outside, after I find the outdoor decorations in the garage.  Going out there is like the Bermuda Triangle!

I stopped at the Goodwill in Marietta, which is my favorite store! Thankfully, I found a couple of things for Emily for Christmas.  The hard part, she was with me.  So.....she is now convinced that the toy vanity is for someone else.  But, it was such a good deal, 99cents and it's in great shape.  Also found the Cat In The Hat game.  Money is scarce for Christmas this year, but I feel that is going to be a blessing!  We're going to focus on the simple things, and not over do the gift part.  It's easy to get caught up in the "greed" of the holiday.  I noticed that Emily was starting to want everything she saw on tv and in the stores.  This Christmas will be a bit of a lesson for us all.  Getting back to the real reason our family celebrates Christmas. 

I found myself worrying the other day as I was driving.  I felt terrible thinking that we would be able to do very little this year, but I realized the worrying was not going to make it any better, or easier.  I've quit worrying now about it (at least not as much) and am putting it into God's hands.  There are a lot worse things going on in this world than lack of toys!  And by the looks of our house right now, my daughter has never lacked! :-) So, now I'm thankful for finding gently used toys that is within our means to buy.  

I'm just about finished with the Christmas shopping, just need to wrap it all up.  Again, I'm keeping it simple this year.  I found some cute soup mugs, and thought that putting them with some soup mixes would be a nice gift idea. 

We had snow yesterday!  As Emily and I were driving to the farm market, we drove in some really heavy snow!! It was so pretty, and really made it seem like Christmas time.  Loved it!  And it was enough to put a skiff on the ground.  It's been very cold here in the Ohio Valley, we had 15 this morning.  Our cows are still staying outside, but with plenty of good hay and shelter.  Our problem, we are milking 60 cows, and our barn holds 50.  We can easily double some of the younger heifers up in the stalls during milking time, but can't do that during the winter.  So, we dried 5 cows off yesterday, and need to figure out which 5 should be dried off tomorrow.  We have one cow due in January, she'll be the first of the calving season.  February- April we'll be busy with babies!  So, as soon as we dry the cows off, and separate them from the milk herd, we'll be keeping the girls in the nice, cozy barn.  We have a lot of sawdust stored for bedding and the hay has been brought in from the fields.  So, we're ready to tuck in for the winter. 

Now, I need to go and get our tree set up, so that when milking is done for the evening, we can put on some Christmas music and decorate! 

Hope everyone is having fun during this Holiday Season!!! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We Have A Winner!

December 1st, and we have a winner for our Gift Basket Giveaway! 
We gathered all the goodies together for the basket, and had Emily stand next to it all and draw out a name.
And the winner is.......

Jenny Matlock of Arizona!!!!!!


We'll be shipping her goodies out to her on Monday, December 7.  What a fabulous Christmas gift!! 

You can follow Jenny's blog by the link on my blog! It's a great blog to visit!
And I do believe that she had the most chances in this drawing, she ordered 8 lbs. of cheese total!
We hope that you enjoyed your cheese order, and this basket! 
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