January 2017

I apologize for the long read. I journal first, and blog second, which requires that I go back through the journals for appropriate blog material. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t make it to the blogging part. When that happens, I simply copy and paste a whole month (or more), appropriately edited, and move on. I’m trying desperately to get everything up on the blog. This post is dated Jan. 2017….the actual date is Thanksgiving Day, 2022 😳. Sorry. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Jan 1

So we separated Nick from Bessie last night. Milked her front quarters and got a little over half a gallon. Bessie was upset, but Nick was even more upset over being separated. While I took the milk in the house, Dad reunited them and tried to coax Nick onto a back teat, which further upset the calf enough that he kicked Dad in the shin twice. He was sucking nicely when I came back but kept going back to the front teats. We tried to put a rope on him with no success. Finally I started helping him by milking the back teats too. Between the two of us I think we cleaned her out. He did not like the back teats at all. They are shorter and harder to get to. Plus the taste was probably not that great with the mastitis. Like having to choose between broccoli and ice cream. We had a good laugh at his expression when Dad held him close to the back ones. He was not having any of it. He’d had his gut full of broccoli thank you very much.

Dad intends to get a calf at the sale tomorrow to put on Bessie and mused that two calves might be better to help keep her cleaned out. 

St. Nick, the calf.

After reading more Heifer Diary JoAnn Grohman about her cow and the milking adventure. She also authored the book Keeping a Family Cow). I think he’s right. Production will increase, and I should get enough for drinking too. A half gallon a day is plenty for us, with some left over to make things. 3.5 gallons a week, 1.5 to drink and two to make cheese and yogurt, plus whatever cream I get for coffee and butter.

I think I need a 2-quart pail for the goats and a 13 quart for Bessie in the event that production really increases. The pail I have now is either 4 or 5 quart, not sure. It’s almost full when I get over a half gallon. I guess I need to measure first. A 1-quart would do for the goats. The one I have now is too tall for them. I’m expecting kids as early as late January or February.

Bessie has a cut on one of her front teats and I keep forgetting to treat it. I even had vitamin e oil in pocket this morning and still forgot. I think that teat and the back one on the same side are both tender for different reasons. 

Tommy suggested a milking shed, which would be awesome. Currently we are using a chute and I have to reach in under the bars. Very uncomfortable. Hard to reach the far side. We raised the bars once but I don’t think far enough. I can put my arms through the bars and reach very well, but that is asking for a broken arm if the cow shifts just right.Yesterday we went under the barn because of rain. But I think Dad and Tommy worry about me getting stepped on. It was way more comfortable for me without a barrier between me and the cow, but uncomfortable for Dad. Not sure exactly why. I will ask.

I think when he saw that the calf got plenty of milk, Dad was more at ease over separating them. He even said he or Shannon would milk in the am since I can’t because of a Chiro appt. We shall see. At any rate, he will probably come home with at least one calf tmrw.

When I went to pick Devyn up from Dad’s we discussed the cow and the milking situation. Dad had an idea that I couldn’t decipher and apparently Tommy couldn’t either. I really liked Tommy’s idea of converting one of Dad’s old chicken keeps under the barn. They had already spent the day making a corral that extended from under two of those keeps into the pasture a bit in anticipation of the new calves. You can enter the milk stall from under the barn or from the pasture/corral. He has plans to make a floor, stanchion and shelf. The floor will lift her up a bit, while I’ll still be low on the ground. He said he could make it for less than $100. 

So excited. 

Both Dad and Tommy seem on board with me taking a half gallon or more a day and using the leftover to make yogurt, cheese and butter to share back with them.

Jan 2

Mom and I went to Alex first thing after dropping boys at school so Shannon milked. Dad changed his mind last night and put both calves in with Bess, which was probably good, considering that Shannon is not really into milking. I don’t think the older calf is sucking, as she goes straight to her mother when Dad releases them. Shannon told me later via text: It went alright she didn’t have any in the front and was very tender the back I got bout 1.5 quarts outta 1 the other had none.

He didn’t milk her out and the calves probably didn’t suck the back. Dad also wasn’t able to make it to the sale bc he had a flat on the trailer before he even made it ten miles. Probably a good thing as the weather was very bad with tornadoes touching down everywhere. Mom and I hung out in Sam’s to avoid it. We got all of our shopping done.

The milk from Sunday has no cream on it at all. She held it back for the calf. We shall see what she does this morning. Devyn and I both think the milk is good. I did pasteurize it. Devyn said he preferred it over the store bought I have left. It pained me to buy butter and cheese at Sam’s. $10 for 4 lbs of butter and $6 for 2 lbs cheese.

I went to TS to get some linamint for her udder and ran into Johnny Merriman who had been keeping two Jerseys on land next door to Dad. I had told his wife via Facebook that he should contact me if he ever wanted to sell one. He told me that both were expecting their calves in March and that the cows belonged to his son in law who had wanted to milk them. But Johnny didn’t know how they were going to manage milking two. Maybe, he said, I could milk one. He would ask. He also told me that he bought them as calves from a dairy in Texas for $500 each. He couldn’t remember the name but he would find it and give it to Pam who could FB me. I will follow up with her very soon as that idea appeals to both me and Kenny. We talked a bit about the price of grass fed beef. He said that he would go to grocers in Houston while he was receiving chemo and check the prices. My own research indicates about $10/lb. I have to rein my entrepreneurial spirit in when I think of raising two or three calves on a Jersey and grass. I could sell halves and qtrs I think with no problem at all. A 1200 lb steer dresses out at about 490 lbs. at a mere $5 a lb that is almost $2500. 

Johnny tickled the boys with a story about beef selling for $30/lb bc the farmer played the cows classical music, gave them massages and fed them a beer a day before slaughter. He said it was some sort of Japanese beef. He was dead serious.

Jan 3

Milking went very well this morning. At least 3/4 of a gallon. Already pasteurized and gave about a half pint to Julie Bell for tasting. 

Got lots of laundry done while waiting on milk to pasteurize and sterilized buckets in dishwasher. Will put a chicken on to roast later to enjoy with turnip greens and maybe new potatoes, all from the grocery store.

Got Nick to clean out the back two. It was much easier this time. I also treated with peppermint oil linamint and vitamin E. hope to continue this for the rest of the week then will taste test back quarters. They did not seem to have any lumps. But one was still very hard and would not let down. 

Internet came back about 6 pm. Guys were in the yard working on it. I discovered through reading my Dairy Food Cookbook that I’m likely overheating the milk while pasteurizing which causes the milk and cream to stay mixed more. I read about a technique for keeping the temp stable and will try it tmrw. Also read about making yogurt which I think will be the first by product with any excess as I have all the necessary equipment and it is something we all (dad, Tommy and I) eat.

Daddy told me today while I was milking that Bess gave Shannon a really hard time yesterday. He was jumpy and she kept switching him with her tail which caused him to jump back. Dad said she swatted him like he was a fly on her last nerve. He showed me what Shannon milked and it was actually less than a quart. 

I have been neglecting the goats, but let them out for about an hour today and fed them some alfalfa pellets. The rye grass looks really good, but goats much prefer leaves. They were upset sounding with me before I let them out. Their bleats bordered on hysteria. They have taken to wandering up the side yard toward the highway and out of reach of the dogs, which makes me uncomfortable with letting them loose without close supervision. I don’t want them to develop that habit.

Jan 4

Milking went off without a hitch this morning. From the time I drive up till I leave is usually an hour. I pee, wash my hands, get my wash water and jars ready then head outside. Dad gets feed and holds Bess’s head while I milk. She peed once and let out a white thick blood streaked mucous today. She also coughed up some mucus. Dad said she needs worming but he only has the kind of wormer which requires you to discard the milk for 30 days. I did some research and found a top dressing wormer that doesn’t require discarding milk at all. Will go by tractor supply and see if I can get some. May try red and white first…I trust their judgement. 

Got 3/4 gallon almost exactly. Had less spillage today, but still not perfect and sometimes I miss the pail. 

Nick really did a good job of cleaning her out when I finished milking the front. He is really rough with her, butting her so hard she lifts her legs to get away from him, but maybe that will help the mastitis. He did not need to be moved around much at all. He would suck gulp at the back, then move to the front for a sweet chaser sip and then back to gulping the rear teats. 

I will check the taste from those quarters in a few days. I have put linamint on the last two mornings. 

I pasteurized at 150 degrees this morning. The double boiler held that temp very well for about 15 or 20 minutes after I turned off the burner. I see a very thin line of cream on yesterday’s milk and today’s has about the same amount. 

I drank some of Sunday’s milk with my lunch. It is very good. 

Let the goats out while I pasteurized, then got worried and went and checked on them while the milk cooled. They had wandered to a spot they’d never been to before but came quickly when I shook the feed can. They had about an hour and a half of grazing. They like a good three hours every day, but it is really cold. I will have one of the boys hay them this evening.

I have such a load of paperwork. Isaiah’s passport, bmdmi apps, mail, retirement forms. It seems endless. I got as much done on passport as possible…I have to get yet another form. That is enough for today. Will finish tmrw. 

Jan 5

Much discussion between me and dad on worming Bessie. He is so grossed out by the milk to begin with he couldn’t fathom also drinking it after deworming. His generation was well and truly propagandised about the dangers of raw milk. While the Safe-Guard label said it was fine, we were a little puzzled by the language, which warned that meat consumption should be put off by about two weeks but that there was “no milk withdrawal.” I told dad I’d do a little more research, which I did. First I stopped in at the feed store, and the owner, a man who has been dealing with farmer’s for many years and whom I have talked to before with various questions, told me that it was fine. In fact, he said, he’d asked a Safe-guard salesman the same question about a decade ago and the salesman ate a whole tube of it in its paste form while they were standing there. “And he’s still coming around,” said the feed store owner. Dad got a kick out of that story.

I also called Dr Brandon, who looked it up and said milk consumption was fine immediately. 

And then I found a third source online that further verified. 

So we wormed her this morning with pellets in place of her normal feed. She was a little grumpy, immediately pooping and peeing when she got in place. She was also very touchy, and it’s no wonder bc Nick really worked her over yesterday after milking. Her teat with the cut was a little worse and way more touchy. She kicked at me a couple of times so that I became very aware of how I was touching her. I think that is Nick’s favorite one. I saw her kick him off a few times after milking when he got too rough. 

I tasted from her right (from Bessie’s rear) rear udder and it was clear of mastitis so I milked it into the pail. Even so, with adding that quarter, production was less than yesterday’s by about a cup and a half. I guess it takes a day or two for it to go up? Plus Dad said she is not liking her hay from Jon, preferring instead hay from Joey. The worms might also be playing a part. 

The boys have finished off the store bought milk and the first 3/4 gallon I got from Bessie. I have about 2 1/4 gallon in the fridge. I promised to bring Shannon some this afternoon. 

I am not getting any cream. I pasteurized yesterday at 150 degrees, but still no cream. I am not pasteurizing today to see what happens. Milk from last week, with colostrum in it and the mastitis has 1-2 inches of cream. One has about 4 inches. I only get a very thin line. 

I’m going to wait 36 hours before pasteurizing today’s batch and then separate and pasteurized milk and cream separately. Unless of course she’s just holding back. I will know more by 9 pm Friday night, 36 hours from milking. I should probably mark today’s milk. 

I am still leary of drinking her milk raw (I, too, have fallen victim to the propaganda). But my objections feel more substantial. I don’t like dad’s pasture set up nor the feeding situation. That powder he is feeding them looks awful. It is on the ground so the cows poop all around it and then walk on it. The hay is better contained. Bess’s poop contains undigested wheat seeds. A lot of them.

I treated Bessie’s cut with vitamin E and neosporin and also rubbed her udder with linamint. Will go back over this evening and put more on her after dad separates them. 

Update: at 2 pm there was an inch of cream so I made myself some coffee and skimmed a couple of tbs off. So…no more pasteurizing until the cream rises. Maybe I will give it up altogether. Or maybe I will test it out first before I let the kids drink it. Those articles about e. Coli pretty well terrified me. But I did notice a tendency in myself to become lax with cleanliness when I began to give over to pasteurization. Maybe I should wait to go raw until I have my own cow and am able to better control the environment.

This coffee is excellent though. 

I find that I really enjoy spending that time with Dad every morning. We usually find something to laugh about. He shamed Shanna’s dog for chasing chickens. The dog’s name is Charlie and has just moved in with his mistress, who is Shannon’s gf. Charlie slunk back up to us from the bottom of the field after Dad yelled at him and looked very contrite and a little embarrassed. In a few minutes Shane’s dog Jersey, named for her beautiful coloring, came slinking up too. Dad said she was guilty looking because she was using Charlie’s ignorance of what was allowed as an excuse to “help” Charlie chase chickens too. I remarked about how Jersey’s eyes and mannerisms reminded me of Shane himself. Daddy laughed and said “Tommy hates that dog.” I guess Jersey, like his master, tests Tommy’s patience.

I let the goats out yesterday afternoon when I got home from picking the boys up from school, or rather I had Isaiah let them out and hay them. When it came time to go to choir practice I left without another thought. I remembered as we were starting a new song and began texting BIL and next door neighbor Amy madly in the hopes that she could run over and check to see that they were safe. They will usually put themselves up when it gets dark but I like to know they are safe and all accounted for, with their pen closed and electrified in case coyotes come calling.

When I let them out, I usually put a timer on so I’m reminded to bring them back in. They were out this afternoon before I go get the boys. It is rainy and nasty but they are still wanting to be out. I guess they are hungry. I have been watching to make sure they don’t come into the yard. Bud and Sheba do a good job of keeping them back as long as the goats don’t get too far up the side yard and as long as the dogs know they have permission to run them back. Bud and Sheba are not presumptuous with the goats and wait for me to tell them to run them back.

Dang goats. I left them out til I was ready to go get the boys but then I couldn’t find them! I walked all over searching all their favorite spots. No goats. Then I went to the road. Thankfully no goats there either. Then, as I was walking back up the the side yard along the wood line they came moseying down the trail from Amy’s house. I was about five minutes late getting the boys. I guess I will need to retrain the goats for awhile. It’s just so cold and rainy!

Helped dad put Bess up. Her teat was really sore. She kicked every time I touched it. I had to move to the far side to protect myself. I slathered it with neosporin and vitamin e, which I also put on the other three teats. Dad said the calf sucked all day. Nick chose not to go in the pen, so we just penned Bess up. Nick seemed fine with that and had a head butting contest with the other calf. Daddy mused that if he saw her sucking on her mom then he might try it to in the absence of Bess. That would be okay with us. He never did while we watched, but he didn’t look twice at Bess as he follows the other cows to the haystack. 

I think I will use Kenny’s truck to take over a bale of hay for Bess to eat on during the night tomorrow. 

Kenny has tomorrow off which is a good thing. He has an awful sprained ankle (twisted it at Dev’s basketball practice) and he is worn out from working two weeks straight without a day off. 

Jan 6

Very cold. Ice on everything this morning with sleet and rain coming down, but still I was anxious to see what was new with Bess, and the news was not all that great. She was down another cup or so, barely over a half gallon on all three good quarters. We had thought to milk her out and then bottle feed Nick, but he would not have any of it. So we put them together. Later I texted Dad after doing some reading and told him to separate them again after he’d nursed so her teats would get a break. I think we also need to address her nutrition. She is probably not getting the right amount or formula of grain. I did take over a bale of hay this morning and she acted like she was starving and probably was after not eating all night. 

I will call Jon today to see if he has any more square bales and may also go to the feed store for more grain. 

No luck on the hay but Jon said he would nudge the fellow to make a decision. Dad said we could also double the feed and he would check its formula. 

Taking the Christmas tree down while I have the boys trapped in the house. Kenny is also trapped. His foot looks awful. 

Tree down…and just in time! It’s snowing and the boys rushed out to play in it. Dad and I will have coffee in quiet warmth. Basketball games start in earnest tomorrow. AnnaClaire at 9 in Hicks and the boys at 2 and 3 in Hornbeck. Milking will come an hour earlier for Bess. Dad tells me he’s put her in her pen with another bucket of feed and Tommy will be picking up some that is higher in protein at Tractor Supply. Dad said Tommy loves going to Tractor Supply because there is a girl who works there he likes. 

All games cancelled tomorrow because of weather…practices also cancelled! Who hoo! Looking forward to all that free time! Finally got all that paperwork sorted out for retirement and threw out a lot of paper work clutter. Got the bills situated. Now waiting on K to confirm if he can go to Honduras. If he can’t then neither can Isaiah, so I will wait on his passport until I know for sure. Got lots of stuff to mail, also still need to take care of my concealed carry.

Isaiah is struggling mightily with memorizing facts for science and history. He threw away his notes and is having to study from the book, which is overwhelming. He has a 9 weeks test in both subjects this coming Thursday. 

Devyn, on the other hand, seems to be breezing along, with only a hitch here and there. My biggest problem with him is getting him to do his chores, especially cleaning his room. We got into a loud fight this evening about his room and his need to keep every memento he’s ever looked at.

Dev is also enamored with the milk and cream. 

Jan 7

Bess kicked the bucket over this morning. Started out fine but when I moved to her good rear teat she started kicking. Then she got a good one in and stepped in the bucket, spilling all the milk…less than a quart at that point but the pail was contaminated so I gave up. I milked her a few more minutes so she wouldn’t think her kicking had run me off. Then we put the calf on her for about 30 minutes. After that we separated them and I checked to make sure all four qtrs were empty before putting medicine on her and turning her loose and keeping Nick in the pen. Tomorrow she gets a break from me.

Tommy worked late so was not able to get the feed. He said he would go later today and also get lumber for the milking stall. Dad suggested that we bring the cow over here so I’m not doing all that driving. But we are not prepared and won’t have a way of getting prepared until K gets his bonus mid February. Then we’ll be tied up with basketball and his annual outage until April. But after that the calf will be ready to be weaned.

Dad also wants to get rid of his 400lb sow and one or two steers. He was thinking of running them through the sale but I told him he may as well butcher them. Kenny and I would help with the expense if we could get some meat. I am going to have to buy meat anyway, may as well do it all up front at a cheaper price if we have the money for it. He said he would split the meat with me if I paid for the processing, which I think is .79/lb. That is a deal. Well..if she is 400 lbs and dresses out at 75% then that is about $2.20/lb. saving about ..40 per lb.

K is still going to put his hog trap out, which is probably a good idea. He wants to teach the boys to scrape a hog plus we will need the meat eventually anyway. 

Getting mentally prepared for the duathlon tomorrow. 1.5 mile run, 16 miles on bike and then another 1.5 mile run. The cold will be the biggest challenge, I think. Julie bought me some toe covers though and I have some hand warmers to stuff in our gloves and socks for the bike ride. That should help a lot.

Took the goats out when I got home from milking (which is how I tested the hand warmers as it is 27 degrees.

Bella is looking decidedly fluffy and her udder looks like it is filling out. Everyone has their winter coats. Bella and the younger girls all look sleek and shiny. Celine and Star look rough and dull and have for some time. I guess they need worming, though I have never wormed them. I was hoping that outside forage would have helped. I need to make sure they have more.

Kenny and I were thinking of going to the auction tonight to look around. And I need to go get Julie’s bike.

Jan 8

Went to auction last night and discovered it would probly be fun if it were not freezing. It is an outdoor event. The guys went with me to the duathlon. Really enjoyed having them with me and cheering me on. I finished 76 of 84…if I were 30 lbs lighter I think i would be middle of the pack. I finished 11 of 16 in my age group.

Me and Julie Fitzgerald at the duathlon.

We left at 5:30 am for the drive to Shreveport. It was 21 degrees when we started the race. 1.5 mile run. 16 mile bike and another 1.5 run. I finished in 2 hrs and 27 seconds, just what I thought I would do. 

Obviously no milking this am. 

Jan 9

The break seems to have done Bess some good. Back up to almost 3/4 gallon. She did not kick until I got toward the end on her front two teats and moved to a rear teat…almost like she was saying ok that’s enuf for you the rest is for the calf. Dad kept them separated yesterday except half hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. 

All qtrs tasted fine. Hooray! Now just to get her to let down and produce. I know she’s holding back cream.

I got her some new feed today to supplement…range blocks that are 20 percent protein. That was the only food they had for cows that high in protein. All I find online says that’s what you feed them, so we will try it. Also I think I can take a jar out to pour milk into to save what I can in case she kicks and I will also alternate teats more often. 

If she is good, I will give her extra cubes when we are done. 

Tried making strawberry pop tarts with flour tortillas. So so. Boys and I sucked ’em down nevertheless. Ran out of tortillas. Got lots of filling left…may make a cake…

Devyn (after school today): my friends said I was super tough for standing around outside with nothing to do for two hours in 21 degree weather while you did your bike race. 

Me:

Devyn: Don’t worry. I threw you in there. I said “Mom’s pretty tough too. She was the one doing the race.”

Jan 1

Milk production is way up! I had to stop at just under a gallon bc my bucket was getting too full to handle. I could have poured it over into a jar but then I would not have had enough jars. I only have half gallon and I’d only brought two with me. So we let the calf finish off, which he did a good job of. I think Dad would rather I only take a gallon or so and leave the rest for the calf anyway. Dad gave her alfalfa pellets last night and we gave her more this morning.

She tried to wave her left back foot around a few times but I was able to stop her by shoving my head against her hip bones and saying “no” very sharply. At any rate she didn’t kick the bucket. In addition I rotated teats quite frequently instead of milking out and moving on. All in all quite pleased. I am using a gallon of last week’s milk to make yogurt. Maybe this will speed Tommy along on the milking stall. I really need a way to keep her still and a place to put all my stuff within easy reach (buckets, rags, meds) without it getting poop all over it or other animals getting into it.

The boys are slurping down the milk. Yield since Jan 1 not counting spilled milk is about 6 gallons. I have a gallon on for yogurt and gallon in the fridge. I gave a half gallon to Shannon and about a pint to Julie Bell so her family could taste it. 

Been a busy day. Got back from milking and got kitchen put back to rights. I’ve been too exhausted since the race to worry with how the boys are doing things and Kenny is a bit haphazard. Then got a start on laundry, went for a walk then visited with Brea and baby Audree who is so stinkin cute with her serious expression and her beebee in her mouth. They stopped by before picking Claire up from head start at 1.

Made a big salad with avocado and left over chicken and taco meat, took yogurt to its second step and now am out with the goats. Kenny is working on finishing my pot rack. I took down a big ivy (left over from our at-home wedding and the only plant in the house) out of the window over the kitchen sink and was shocked at how much light it had been blocking. I think I will keep stuff on that window sill to a minimum from now on. Maybe I will split the ivy, put one in my bathroom and one in the living room.

Goats disappear if I don’t keep a close eye on them. I got distracted helping Kenny and off they went. I walked around the southern half of the property shaking my feed can and discovered that Patrick has made some handy 4-wheeler trails. I made the 1/4 mile loop and the goats were back at the pen bleating as if I were the one who had disappeared. 

Jan 11

A gallon this morning, but I spilled some so ended up with almost a gallon. I gave a half to Julie and Jack, who had his gall bladder removed this morning. Though he can’t have dairy for a week, he is looking forward to it, he said. 

Also made yogurt…it is draining now. The crock pot method is ridiculously slow. Will do it on the stove top from now on. It is a bit liquidy so far…we shall see. It tastes fine…not bitter or tart at all. I blended strawberries and sugar with some Greek yogurt I had on hand yesterday, making 3 cups. Very tasty. I’ve already eaten two of them this morning. Got the idea from the strawberry cream cheese filling I used for tarts…the filling was awesome. I may blend some cream cheese and strawberries with this yogurt. My yogurt is full fat…that may be a problem…

Bess did great only picking up her foot a few times. We gave her pellets after. Her teat is still not healed and now she has a small boil on her udder between her back teats. Dad thinks we should worm her again. Guess it won’t hurt. I still think she’s not getting enough to eat. We will see how long the pellets last. 

All four qrtrs milked fine and the calf emptied her out. Not getting much from her rear left. 

The charolet calves are so curious I have to shoo them away from us while I’m milking. The little bull stuck his nose up Bess’s behind a time or two. That will be a real problem if we don’t get that stall soon. 

Tommy got the lumber and Dad and I pulled out rotten boards and smoothed the floor in the stall in prep. If Tommy tells him how to get started tonight maybe Dad and I can get some of it done tomorrow. 

I am not motivated to exercise at all. I am supposed to lift weights and walk. I would rather garden. It is a beautiful day. I have the windows open…a nice breeze, sunny, lower 70’s. I have chicken marinating for tonight and granola in the oven. Smells awesome. 

Got all my milk rags hanging on the line. 

I made ice cream…it was very icy so I guess I am skimming off enough cream that it is not whole milk. Recipe said if I used whole milk it would be creamy. 

Jan 12

Spilled more milk this am but it was because Bess stumbled. Turns out she had something wrong with her foot. When she would wave that foot in the air I stuck my head in her hip and said no trying to keep her from stepping forward into the milk pail. Twice it caused her to stumble. When we were done and she was walking away she stumbled again and limped off. The abscess is smaller and the head is gone, but I can still feel the knot. The cut is still there on the front teat. Not scabby…pink and healthy but not healed either. Still treating with peppermint, vitamin e and the antibiotic spray. 

I blended some of the yogurt with strawberries and a little sugar. Very tasty. Soothing and satisfying. It is not nearly as bitter as store bought yogurt. I left some to continue draining hoping it will get thicker. I also investigated making mozzarella but did not attempt. That will be my next project. 

We had issues about breakfast this morning. Boys LOVE cereal, but I don’t love the sugar. I thought we’d arrived at a happy medium until I caught isaiah adding sugar to his. Turned into a big fight with Devyn. So, will have them make a list of favorite breakfast foods and then I will make a menu off of something we all agree on. 

Isaiah studied so hard for his tests but still made less than stellar grades because I believe he was overloaded with too many tests in one day and confused by trick questions. I am considering how to address the issue. Kenny was upset and Isaiah was in tears. He is struggling with believing he is not capable now.

First I reassured Isaiah that we know he is doing his best and that punishment will not likely happen as long as he is. These experiences will certainly make him a better student, there is no doubt. But how long until he masters it? Taking too long will push him in the other direction. He needs to experience serious success if we want to avoid discouragement. 

Jan 13 

Milking got off to a rocky start, with kids, dogs and every blooming cow on the place swarming around us. Got the boys to run the cows and dogs off. Had trouble getting Daddy to understand the best stance for the cow but finally it all settled down with her waving her foot only a few times. Did have a near miss with the milk pail– I made a good save but knocked over the wash water and that bucket ended up with a dent in it. It may have also spilled all over Daddy but we were shouting at one another about where the cow needed to be so neither of us took much notice. He is hard of hearing.  I got 3 qrts and 5 and 3/4 cups, almost a gallon. Spilled very little. 

Finished the yogurt, some regular some Greek. The regular I flavored with puréed strawberries. I love it, but it does have an unfamiliar after flavor. Devyn said it tasted like ladybugs smell. 🤷🏻‍♀️ He does not like it. Isaiah did not notice. I may be able to get rid of it with a tad more sugar. The Greek I flavored with vanilla. Oh.my.goodness. I licked the blender clean and considered giving Tommy only the strawberry. I have 2 pints vanilla and 5.5 cups strawberry, though quite a bit of it has been eaten. I took two cups to mom and Dad this am. Mom added more Splenda to hers. Dad had to overcome his aversion to “straight from the cow.” But both pronounced it good and ate all of theirs. Will take some of the strawberry and all the vanilla as well as a half gallon of milk to Tommy this evening.

Changed the chiro appt to Wednesday and we have ballgames this weekend. The weather is awesome. Three days of perfect temps and no rain. 

I trimmed, top-dressed and then relocated my ivy to the bathroom from its previous home above the kitchen sink where it blocked a considerable amount of light. I stuck the trimmings in a glass jar. Maybe they will root and I can pot them. Give them as gifts to newlyweds. 

I planted basil and cilantro in little pots for the window sill. Will move a table to my window in my office where I plan to plant some spinach and lettuce, strictly for indoor. So when I need a salad…there it is.

I need more containers. I have some baskets. Maybe I can line them with plastic bags to use as pretty containers. 

Bess now has two shabby teats, front left and back right, both of which are giving the most milk. Short of filing the calves teeth we are at a loss. Someone on an Internet forum said to let the calf run with the cow during the day and he would not be as prone to be so rough, giving the teats opportunity to heal. This will also hopefully distract the calf as he’ll be with the other cows and also help him develop his rumen. So we let him out today. Will put Bess up tonight. 

Dad got an excellent start on the milking stall. I think he is very tired of holding the cow for me. He was supposed to pick up the rest of the materials today. He also had Devyn and Isaiah with him as they don’t have school on Fridays. The floor is raised on 12×6’s and then planked. He will have cattle panels on each side to keep her in place, with a section cut out on her left side for me to reach her udder. We will have to build a dirt ramp for her. This setup will hopefully enable me to sit in a chair. Right now I’m almost sitting on the ground on what amounts to a portion of a pallet. I can not get up suddenly if I need to and am sort of at the mercy of Bess, with my feet directly in front of hers balancing the milk pail. This will give me something level to put the bucket on and I’ll be able to get my feet underneath my body and out of harm’s way. With ties installed, Daddy won’t have to stand there the whole time, which I know probably hurts his feet as he has plantar fasciitis. Maybe some raw milk would help with that. 

I am getting very little cream and have collected a little more than half a pint, all told. I really want to try using one of those jugs that has a spigot. From what I’ve read setting the milk in shallow pans for the cream to rise also yields more. Makes sense…more surface area. I don’t really know how I would do that without making an awful mess. 

It is time to think about reenrollment at FTCA. In my mind there are several factors to consider. 

1. Both our boys thrive on sports. Ftca does not offer consistent baseball nor is the quality of training and competition in baseball or basketball on a par with area public schools. If we want to move schools because of sports it needs to be done before high school.

2. The 4-day week combined with the intense pace of academic demands that Isaiah is experiencing because of a change in policy is having a demoralizing effect on him. While I’m confident that he will eventually overcome and master the challenges, I’m unsure of the long term impact that will have on his perception of school and his ability to achieve.

3. It is $250 more expensive to send our kids to FTCA than it is to send all four of us on a week-long mission trip to Honduras.

4. Anacoco offers both the level of sports we seek and a slower academic pace even if it’s just by gaining an extra day. Both boys have old friends from Faith at Anacoco in their grades.

5. I prayed a long time ago that we wouldn’t make our decision to leave Faith based on finances, but it is still an issue. Is a week-long mission trip a sufficient replacement for using that money?

Jan 15
Sorry about yesterday. We started basketball games. 9.am in Rosepine to watch Claire, then we picked up some Drano at Lowes bc the dishwasher was backed up, then Isaiah played at noon, followed by Chloe at 1 and Devyn at 2. Then we stayed for the 13-14 yo game bc Ben needed someone to keep his book.

I think we all won our games. Dev’s was a blow out 86-10. The poor FP team was little bitty and ill prepared next to our guys. Devyn scored 15 points, 10 in the first qtr. everyone but Kayden scored, but he is not super excited to be out there.

Kenny challenged them to score 100, but then threw a monkey wrench at them by taking the scorers out.

Bess had three teats messed up yesterday morning. Back right even bled a little as I milked. Got almost a full gallon, but I hardly milked from the healthy teat at all, hoping the calf would leave the others alone.

I offered to quit milking so that Bess could get ahead a little. I’m sure the calf would take what I’m getting and maybe it wouldn’t be so hard on her. Dad said he thought he would just take Nick to the sale, along with the Billy goats and a pig. Maybe if he got an orphan heifer calf she wouldn’t be so rough. Even if he didn’t, she’s not producing enough milk that we couldn’t easily transition her to OAD over a couple of weeks, I think.

Jan 16
Boys are going with dad to the sale today. Poor Dev. He and Isaiah were playing on the seesaw at the Optimist Club during Laynie’s bday party and Isaiah hopped off his end, causing Dev’s end to smack him in the mouth. I think his teeth must have cut through his lip as he had a gash inside and out. He was in a lot of pain…and he was furious with his brother thinking he’d done it on purpose. Isaiah did let go but he didn’t realize the consequences of it until it was too late.

I think Devyn is over being mad but we may need to watch them over the next few days in case he decides to retaliate.

K and I talked to the boys and asked them to pray about what school to go to. We will talk to them again soon to get their input and then make a decision. We are both leaning toward Anacoco.

With Shane expecting a baby this summer and us wanting to take a trip there, Kenny doesn’t think he can also go to Honduras, which means that Isaiah can’t either. We have not told him yet.

The milking stall is awesome. I am going to give it a good cleaning when I drop the boys off at Dad’s to go to the sale. We are not going to milk today. Instead we will give Nick all the milk he can drink this morning as he will have a rough day and then let Bess be ready for whatever orphan Dad brings back this evening.

Julie B and I made signs for the upcoming 5k on Saturday. Nicole has decided she wants to go to Honduras which I think is great. God is really working on her. I am waiting on an opportunity to talk to her about her salvation. Today I will go on KVVP about the race. Nic can’t make it as she has to catch up on school work she said.

Jan 17
Dad sold St. Nick, his very large sow and the two Billy goats and bought two calves and a cow. One of the calves was an orphan heifer but in relatively good health. The other calf belonged to the cow and both were very poor. For some reason I can’t decipher, Dad separated cow and calf and the calf died this morning. He said he found it laid out on the milk stall. It was pouring rain and the calf was sopping wet. He wrapped it up and put it in a box hoping it would get warm and revive. We really should have fed her better when he got home with them, but I was babysitting so Matt and Brit could go to the wake and did not have car seats. By the time we got to the calf this morning it was too late. I tried feeding it first milk then colostrum we had stored up, but I had to use a syringe. Too little too late.

The other calf nursed Bess quite sufficiently and even took a bottle. Now there is hope that we can get her teats healed. If I milk her out and we bottle feed the calf, she won’t have to worry with nursing. If we get a bucket with a nipple it will also be not very labor intensive. And/or they can rig up a holder for the bottle.

Babysat Matt’s girls again this afternoon so he and Brit could go to his great grandmothers funeral. I forgot to order flowers. A couple of hours before the funeral Matt and Brea’s grandfather also passed away.

I bought a glass gallon jug with a spigot on the bottom. I’m hoping this will aid in separating cream as I can first drain the milk and then drain the cream.

Later in the week I want to make yogurt and mozzarella. I have just a little over two gallons, half of which I’m waiting on the cream to rise. Our milk ingestion has increased dramatically. So I want to wait until I have a good amount stored up. I’m giving Julie B a gallon a week and the Hales a half gallon.

Jan 18
I guess it’s all about sustainability…what can you put up with in the worst of times? Right now my life feels cluttered up with unsustainable practices: ftca, chiropractor, dad’s cow. Why must I complicate things so? All three require inordinate amounts of driving and at least two are quite expensive.

Quitting work is way more complicated than just saying I quit. The new order reveals, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, vestiges of the old order that no longer fit or work. And it’s the slow reveal that brings with it the biggest problems to solve.

The process of simplification is also complicated.

I have to pick and choose what I make…I can’t make all our food from scratch. It’s just not practical.

Dad sold the Billy goats, netting $100, which he gave to the boys. He said nannies were bringing up to $120 if they were pregnant.

I have six nannies, two of which I paid $250 apiece for bc they are milk goats. Three are also preggers, possibly 4. The same three produced a total of 3 kids that lived last year, two are my un pregnant nannies.

2017
Star: twins this spring
Celine: twins in spring
Bella: singlet
Rain singlet maybe
Black doe

I could have as many as 14 by the end of spring. If that is the case, who will I sell? Bella and Rain along with their kids? Maybe even the black doeling.

That would leave 3 does ready to breed in the fall plus Celine and Star’s offspring, a possibility of 7. Then I will keep the nannies until I have 4-5 and plan on selling offspring each summer.

Or I could take Bella, rain and the black doeling in the next few weeks. That would give me 3 does with the possibility of 4 kids and dramatically reduce the worm load in the spring. I could make as much as $260 possibly.

I am very discouraged these last few days. Everything seems so complicated. It’s been pouring rain for two days. Worried about everyone’s health. House is a mess, housework is overwhelming. I feel exhausted.

Jan 19
Milked twice yesterday and bottle fed the calf. Not sure how long I can keep that up. I’m exhausted and my right hand keeps falling asleep. Specifically my middle fingers. Of course it was also falling a flood.

I think the boys have just about decided on Hornbeck. Surprisingly to me Devyn is adamantly against going to Anacoco. He cares more about knowing a lot of people over the athletic program.

Now the question is when. I have to go to the school and get some questions answered first. Will do that on Tuesday.

Will we be able to attend even though we live in Sabine?

Will Dev qualify for sports?

Will Isaiah be able to try out for 5th/6th without moving?

What about handwriting?

I overslept this morning. Thankfully Isaiah did not. He woke up at 6:20, just like normal. My right hand was completely numb. It took all morning before I really felt like blood was flowing again. Gave almost all of the milk to the calf this morning . She kept kicking and got stuff in the bucket. I had intended to give the calf the first two quarts, but she only gave about 3/4 anyway. Bucket was already contaminated so I gave it all to the calf. But the calf only drank two bottles. I think it takes her a few minutes to realize she’s full.
I think production was down a bit this morning. By at least a pint or two. Teats are looking better. Did not have scabs falling everywhere, but there were a couple. Also did not have to work back right to make it flow as I’ve had to in the past. Usually it would be entirely scabbed over. That’s another reason I gave it to the calf.

Had a scare yesterday. Was perusing family cow books at the library and happened to read more on brucellosis. Apparently it can be quite devastating to humans who contract it from animals. However further investigation reveals that it is almost unheard of in Louisiana and all cattle are required to be tested at livestock auctions. I also meant to check her for a tattoo. If she does not have one, will get her vaccinated.

Isaiah is getting excited about switching schools. Devyn is getting more so. I hope they see it as a new adventure and not as if they are being deprived.

We worked on the milking stall a little today. Bess moves as far as she can away from me and I have to strain to reach her, with no support for my arms or back because the board we put there, ironically to support my arms, is blocking me from getting closer and using my knees. But even before, the floor we have her on is raised so that I don’t have to sit on the ground, and the floor prevents me from using my knees.

Hopefully our installation of 2×6’s and plywood on her right will keep her closer to me.

Dad and I both think she is doing it on purpose. Heifer.

Dad and I joked yesterday about how some things, like raising cows, seem so easy on the surface until you get into it. He said today he always knew that milking a cow was too dang hard. I disagree. It’s getting all the kinks worked out that is the hard part. I told him I’d read four books about it. If anything, at least soon I could write a book about what the others don’t tell you.

I think we have stressed Bess out and now she has fever blisters. What I first thought was a boil has multiplied…she had developed several more since this morning. Her teats are staying scabbed up, which I guess is good. I am giving all the milk to the calf. I will take pics in the morning.

TAD is exhausting. I don’t know how people do it without killing someone. This afternoon while milking I thought we had it made as far as avoiding a crowd with every dog and man showing up to spectate as has been the case when everyone is home. But then Shannon began shooting his gun. Despite that noise she did ok…she continues to swat at me. Actually she almost put her foot in the pail several times, even before the gun. This time her far foot got in on the action. I had dad busy feeding the calf but toward the end he held her tail for me.

I remind myself of that guy in the Dunkin’ Donuts commercial from when I was a kid. Day after day and with an increasingly exhausted look on his face at 3 am he said “time to make the donuts.” For me it is “time to milk the cow.”

Jan 20 Inauguration Day. My hands hurt so badly this morning…and the numbness was twice as bad it seemed. I took four turmeric capsules. And called dad to have him remove the board that I’d had him put in for support. With the board lowered significantly I was able to tilt my chair and get my legs in with the cow and thereby use my knees as support. Close quarters but so much more comfortable. We got about 7 pints same as yesterday evening. This morning the calf took only one bottle, which is curious. I told dad that if it weren’t for the calf we might consider drying her off. I think all the sores on her udder and teats are a form of bovine herpes brought on by stress, which she certainly had plenty of. Dad, who has a shut down to arrive suddenly in the near future agreed readily and went a step further saying he would take her and the calf back to the sale on Monday. I hate it for Bess. Even more stress for her. But at least she’s not pregnant. Maybe she will find a good home. I have learned a lot in the last month. First, buy from someone reputable. It’s worth it to pay more so you know what you’re getting and have a better chance at good health. Second, timing on calving is important. You want some grass so you’re not struggling in the rain and bad weather. Third a good stall is very important…not too big and not too small, not too high and not too low with a way to manage manure and a way to groom.

Nutrition is super important. Very good hay.

Out with the goats now. Sun is out, perfect temp. Birds chirping. I keep dozing off. So peaceful and I needed to relax.

Jan 22
Did not milk Friday evening or Sat morn bc of race which was highly successful with 130 participants. Julie and Nic promised to donate proceeds to Honduras Mission.

Dad said Bess did not let down for Shannon so they just put the calf on her.

Dad and I did the same thing. Calf only sucks front teats so I finish milking out the back teats. She gives a little over a qrt in her right back, and only about a cup in left back. Those teats are highly scabbed as well. I took pics and posted them to KFC board and someone came back and said it looks like staph A. All the symptoms line up, including white vaginal discharge. Tommy wants to get it verified and see about treatment before putting her through the sale barn again. Dad and I also both hate to pass her off to suckers like us. Is her meat edible?

I would alm

Jan 23
Not sure what I was going to say nor what interrupted me last night. Did not milk last night or this morning. Went to Alex this am for chiro. In such pain from milking. He worked me over pretty good. Hip is still painful too. Mom, Sarah and her boyfriend Pat went with.

I also bought some trees..oaks and mayhaw and some onions and garlic to set out. Walmart had blueberry and grapes for less than $6 each. Will try for those next week.

I need to read up on my trees before planting them.

Tomorrow I have to go to Sabine school board to get permission for boys to attend school in Vernon Parish. I also need to do a few more errands in Many…my concealed carry paperwork, Kenny’s summons to jury duty and a clear understanding of our land border near the water fall.

We went to a book store today. Was hoping to find some farming books but did not. Did see writers digest mag. Put the website in my home screen for reading later. Also initiated Ill at vp library on farming books.

I milked hind qtr out some. Calf ended up sucking all four. One qtr bled…looked very painful. Tommy said he talked to a cow man at work who said betadine should clear it up. Maybe so.

Jan 24
Just spoke with the child welfare agent at Sabine school board who told me that the vp at Hornbeck was misinformed and that it was against the law for the school board to write a letter saying my kids could attend school in another parish if they live in Sabine. However vp has a copy of just such a letter in their enrollment packet. When I pressed her on the matter she requested my name, number and address and said she would research it and get back to me.

Jan 25
Think I got all the concealed carry stuff situated. Now just have to go through it all one more time before sending off again.

Visited with principal at Hornbeck. He confirmed that we would need a release from Sabine Parish for our kids to go to Hornbeck. However, I went ahead and got packets. The only proof required is a current electric bill. My electric bill says Hornbeck. So we will see if that will fly. Next bill comes out Feb 16. I am trying not to worry about it, especially since I already talked to him and since so many people know where we live.

Child welfare woman called back and informed me that I live 8 miles from Hornbeck, which is absolutely not true. She has not met my kids, has not interviewed me about my concerns for my kids. She would not know my kids if they were sitting in front of her.

I’m praying hard about it. Is it a better choice? I’m asking for insurmountable obstacles in our way if it’s not. And help not to worry.

Jan 26
Kenny talked to Sabine child welfare woman today and suggested our kids would not have appropriate after school care in Florien in the event that one of us could not make it home in time, whereas at Hornbeck we have a plethora of people who can step in at a moments notice if need be. The idea of endangering our kids seemed to get her attention better. She assured him she would measure distance again immediately, despite her insistence that distance from schools doesn’t matter.

We shall see.

One of the smaller goats, Celine’s daughter has blood on and around her tail this afternoon. She looked thinner but was also quite bouncy and energetic. I think she may have miscarried. If she, being the youngest, was pregnant, then all of them, even the little black one got pregnant.

Read an essay by Joel Salatin today. That led me to his farm’s website where I learned a little of what he does raising beef, pigs and poultry. Lots of rotating livestock and pasture. Can’t wait til his books come in.

Think I will look up broilers now.

Jan 27
Kenny said Sabine child welfare woman told him that Hornbeck High would give us a call. So maybe the obstacles are removed? We shall see.

No evidence of a baby goat anywhere. She may have only been a couple of months so whatever she passed would not necessarily be recognizable. And she may have eaten it. Celine and Star were having what looked like contractions yesterday but so far no kids.

I really don’t want to work full time. I’d really like just enough work to give me predictable structure and to prevent me feeling sorry for myself. Plus we could use the extra money. Again, we shall see.

***
Got five trees planted: two mayhaw and three oak varieties. Also planted two kinds of lettuce and spinach in a planter with the intention of harvesting sprouts and then leaves in a continual basis. May get another planter if this works out…

I planted three whole seed packets, two of lettuce and one of spinach.

Jan 28
I may have talked Kenny into building me a chicken tractor for his garden rows. He is planning a very large garden with wide rows so he can get the tiller down through them. A chicken tractor might help with that.

Buff orpingtons are good meat/egg birds but they need about 4 sq feet per bird. If rows are 2 feet apart and tractor is 8 feet long, that is room enough for four birds.

What if we made the coop mobile and put a run down each row that could be attached to the coop. After birds go into coop at night or before letting them out in the morning, we could move the coop to the next row. If rows are 12 x 2 that is enough room for six birds. Or 12 birds if the coop hooked up to two runs at a time.

The coop itself would have the grain, water, roosts and nest boxes. Bottom would be wire as well to keep out predators. Also a door. And two hatches that would make two rows accessible at a time. Wheels and handles would make it mobile.

During winter we could let them wander the whole garden or move the coop somewhere else entirely, like the potato garden or the pasture.

I would mark two or three hens to be my brooders and then butcher the rest and their offspring. Maturity is at about 18 weeks. If I get some here in Feb 28, they’ll start laying around July 4. Then it will likely be the next spring before any go broody. We can slaughter as soon as new chicks are hatched. Then maybe we can set up slaughter every 18 weeks after that?

How many chicks do we need to last us 18 weeks? At least 18…

When about three hens go broody I could give each 10 eggs. If 8 from each hatched that’s still 24.

It takes 21 days to hatch. If I have really broody hens, I could stagger it. Can I set it up to slaughter every month or so?

Orrrrr I could get two or three game hens from dad and won’t have to wait for broodiness after the initial 18 weeks. I could have hatchlings in as little as 4 weeks after the initial crew starts laying. I could keep the broody hens up close to the house and away from the rooster and let them raise the bo offspring.

Ideally I could be slaughtering every 21-22 weeks once I set eggs. I would only need to slaughter. I could raise as many as 30 in that time…we can certainly eat roast chicken twice a week with chicken salad thrown in too.

If I had 4 broody hens, I could raise 40 every 22 weeks. How much work is butchering 40 chickens? It’s basically about every six months.

So…I should hatch chicks no earlier than the middle of March and no later than the first of October according to dad and if I want the hens to do all the work. So if they hatch mid March they will be ready to slaughter mid September. Hatching first of Oct they would be ready first of March.

That puts me setting eggs the last week of Feb and first week of Sept.

So hatching and slaughtering occur every six months at the same time. If we slaughter about 30 chickens every six months that is plenty for the year.

Dad says he sets eggs every Sunday and they hatch three weeks later on Saturday. He puts 10-12 under each hen then takes them away for another hen to raise and puts more under her. He said a hen will set 2-3 months. He said he also loses about 2/3 of the hatchlings. Upwards of 500 is what he hatches per year and he thinks he’s lucky if 100 survive.

I don’t know that I could hatch out that many.

Or even if I would want to have some hatching that often. To harvest 1/3 I would need 90 chick every six months. That would take 8 broody hens. I would need to raise a batch of game hens too.

I might be able to start with a couple of dad’s game hens. I wonder if they would take chicks from a hatchery? Then I could breed them to the BO’s and perhaps get a number of broody hens.

All told I should probably start small and work my way up. With a goal to slaughter say 5 the first time.

Jan. 29 Sunday
Boys stayed with mom and dad last night for the first time in weeks. K and I watched tv. I went to bed early.

I am feeling sorry for myself lately: lonely, bored and feeling unadmired and under appreciated. These are the hazards of not working. Of course all these feelings are compounded by haywire hormones and having been cooped up for a week due to rain.

K is moving the big pile of trees he was not able to burn. He wants to put in a big garden there, complete with fence. I’m hoping to put chicken tractors on there for his garden rows and a mobile coop. He does not need or want my help so I am hanging out with the goats. He told me to “supervise” which is utterly ridiculous. At first I sent Isaiah off with the goats and offered to drive the tractor. Nothing doing. I couldn’t do the rigging as I didn’t have gloves and didn’t know how to. Kenny was doing a lot of hopping on and off the tractor while Devyn and I stood and watched. Finally he called Devyn over to teach him to rig. I just gave up and switched places with Isaiah who was much more content to climb around on the wood pile with his brother. It is a crisp sunny day.

There is a ton of metal scattered all over our 18 acres. Seems to be a hazard for cows.

I ended up watching K and the boys work from my spot in the hammock. I felt a little useless.

Boys had basketball games yesterday. Both did well. Isaiah’s team lost and Devyn’s team won. They are really hard to beat.

Jan 30
I am feeling much better later in the day. Mom and I ate Japanese…her first time. She was a good sport.

Still no word on school.

***
Kenny called Sabine and left a message. As the day ends I am feeling way better…more motivated. I will run tmrw.

Trying to make Apple bread for breakfast tmrw. Payday is tmrw. Got two writing jobs this week.

Apple bread turned out bland, but butter cinnamon and honey over the top fixes it. I took it out of the oven too soon too, so it looks awful. We were out of sugar…plus I think it was a “healthy” recipe to begin with. I substituted honey, but probably not enough too late to take away another liquid, which is why it took so long to get done and is even now a little soggy.

Jan 31
Kenny got his bonus check. Whew! What a relief! This will pay for all of the land improvements, get a cow, pay off the credit card and put some money in the bank.

I also have 3-4 writing assignments this week.

Still no word from school.

I tried worming the goats…the adults were no problem but the younger girls were not interested. I may have done more harm than good for them since they got only a tiny dose each.

Got a good walk/run in for a total of about 4 miles and am feeling much better. The sunshine and spring like weather helps tremendously too.

The goats are famished. I’m almost out of hay and was out of feed except for a couple of scoops. The older girls were downright violent jostling for position when they thought I was going to feed them. Even the wormer excited them to such a degree that Bella gored my leg a bit pushing a youngster out of her way to get closer to me. I have taken them out on the trails to snack on bushes. Hopefully I can get a round bale from Joey this week. That will last me the rest of winter.

I could see Bella’s kid moving around and pushed what felt like a head out of her ribs. The kid rolled around inside her. I’m expecting her or Celine to birth any day now. Celine is flagging her tail, both have tight udders and swollen lady bits. Star won’t be far behind. Not sure about Rain and the little black doe.

Maybe we can use this bonus to put a down payment on a rental property??

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Catch up

In going through the previous posts I saw that there was a year long gap. So I thought I’d fill you in on what happened during that time.

  1. All of our goats but Bella died (summer 2015).

Bella: the only survivor from our first attempt at goats

2. We acquired a billy goat named Phil (July 2015) and two more nannies, twin Sanaans named Star and Celine (March 2016).

Star and Celine with their babies.

3. Bella had a baby unexpectedly during the biggest flood of the year in March 2016. We named her Rain.

Rain

4. Star and Celine gave birth, each to twins (Spring 2016). I tried my hand at milking.

5. I resigned from (June 2016) a full time position as director of public relations for a nearby municipality, which meant that I would become a full time stay at home mom and animal raiser.

6. In the fall of 2016, my dad bought a pregnant Brown Swiss at a livestock sale. We named her Bess, and I began to look forward to milking her when she calved.

7. Bess calved on Dec. 25, 2016, a bull my Dad named St. Nick.

8. I began documenting things in earnest (but not blogging) in January of 2017.

  • Now you are all caught up on the missing year. I’ll start posting from my journal soon to fill in the other gaps from Jan 2017 til now.
  • Thanks for reading!

Overwhelmed

I’m trying to get ready for Honduras, but really just thinking about it.

I have moved all of my stuff from my office in Leesville to my office at home, and it’s packed full. I can’t even get in there and move around. I really need to try out my new printer for photos for the trip to Honduras; I just can’t motivate myself to get in there and get things cleaned up so I can do it.

This week my other CSA started so I’m getting lots of vegetables from the farmers market. I got some beautiful carrots some beautiful new potatoes, some raddiccio and some beets. I spent most of the day in the kitchen cooking, trying to come up with ways to use all the stuff before it went bad. I dried parsley and rosemary in the oven.

I roasted the radicchio which turned out pretty good. I was doubtful because it is so bitter. I also boiled the dandelion greens like three times before the bitterness came out of them.

The boys have a terrible rash that I’m very worried about. We’re going to a dermatologist the Friday before we leave for Honduras on Saturday. I really hope that this is not torture for Devyn while we’re in Honduras.

 I am overwhelmed with my responsibilities at work, at home, my stupid sinus infection, and other things I obligated myself to. I just want to escape these things. 

No udder truths today except to say that K finished the goat pen. Will wait til second week of June after Honduras and kids camp to get goats. Not sure where to find a milk goat. 

On the Road to Real Food

It has been a very busy last few days. Devyn broke his finger at Isaiah’s game, acting as bat boy. Landyn, one of the kids on Zaya’s team was on deck when Dev walked by with a bat. Landyn swung his bat and sandwiched Dev’s hand between the bat he was holding and Landyn’s bat. It fractured his right index finger. 

I’ve switched us to whole milk…partly because of Dev’s finger and mostly because of the book I’ve been reading by the same woman who wrote Keeping a Family Cow, the Heifer Diary and Real Food, which is about good nutrition.  She goes into more detail about the nutritious properties of whole milk as opposed to 2 percent and skim and especially raw milk over processed. 

I think that tomorrow on our way to Shreveport we’ll stop by Flowing Hills Creamery in Belmont. They have pasteurized, but not homogenized milk there. Might get some. Will have to take a cooler. May even stop on our way home if they’re open on Saturday. 

We started clearing land and fixing the road, making good use of the tractor. It will take Kenny some time to get used to how it works. Right now the road is a bit of mess. As soon as he was done moving dirt around, it rained, making our mudpits even muddier. But K is optimistic still, so I will leave it to him. 

“Oh, I just have to smooth it over again when it dries out. It will get better,” he said. It is a big mess right now. I have decided to trust him.

We cleared a little land, but quickly realized it was too overgrown for even a tractor.

So, we will be getting goats and fencing as soon as possible. We also talked about getting a couple pigs at the end of summer to clear the garden for us. K is gungho about the little garden but thinks the big garden will afford the pigs too much exercise 🤨. I don’t know where he gets these ideas. Anyway, I think I’ve got some piggies located. A nearby Facebook friend is raising pigs and said she’d have some for $60 apiece at the end of summer. Piglets. Fun. 

We’ll probably get the goats as soon as I get paid. I should look on bookoo right now…no luck, except one Boer goat for $500 which is way too rich for our blood. 

I’m thinking about chickens again. K will freak. We had such a bad experience. Well–HE had such a bad experience. All the work fell on him. It wasn’t really fair of me to do that. For now, we can rely on Daddy for eggs. I will ease him into the chickens, once we have the goats, pigs, horses and cow. The horse and cow will require a bigger shelter than whatever shed we build for the goats. The pigs will go into our gardens; which already has shelter or we’ll make out of hay bales. 

Once we get the shelter for the horse and cows, THEN I’ll lobby for chickens on the grounds that it’s downright silly not to have them since we have everything else. We will see. And hopefully they’ll be a bit further from the house. 

Start my new job on Monday. Yesterday, I gave over many of my accounts to subcontractors and/or employees of my clients. I still have three accounts to wrap up. 

Today is my employee’s last day, maybe. If I have to, I can go into my office in the mornings through June 1. That’s really only about six weeks, because of the Honduras trip and summer camp. 

I am looking forward to leaving my job at work. I’m really tired of being obsessed with this little business. I want to focus on my kids, teaching them how to live, feeding them right, making memories with the grands and writing it all down. 

So after doing a bit of research, I’ve found not only the creamery (30 miles away in Sabine Parish) but also a CSA produce and pig farm here in Hornbeck and another in Simpson that also provides grass-fed beef. Need to check out those prices, but the CSA in Hornbeck is cheaper all around than Inglewood and extends into summer with tomatoes. 

Clearing the Way

I am ridiculously sleepy. I started getting up at 5 a.m., originally with the intent to exercise but have instead been reading. It feels hopeless, getting some exercise in. 

I’ve been reading Heifer Diary–about one woman’s daily life with a milk cow. Pretty interesting. Shes spends as much time on her chickens and pigs as she does her cow. The cow gave her trouble at first, but after the first few months has become quite tame and predictable. Almost boring. She seems to be entertaining herself with the chickens (and their predators), cats and pigs. Even a duck egg that fails to hatch. 

She lives in Maine and we’ve just made it through our first winter. It was miserable. All that snow and cold–and the daily chores. She never slept in, never didn’t do her chores. I guess, like the cow, she just got used to the habit of it. 

So anyway–I’m still thinking about the cow. 

moving tractor equipment with a comealong
Kenny uses a comealong and a tree branch to move some tractor equipment.
The “new” blade does a much better job!

Yesterday, we went to Larry’s (Kenny’s brother) to borrow some tractor implements and hit the jackpot: a plow, tiller, blade, bush hog and more. We drug the very large blade (that Kenny says his dad made) over to a tree, hooked it up to a come-along, hoisted it in the air and swung it over into the back of Kenny’s truck. He was able to move quite a bit of dirt in a lot less time with that blade, as opposed to the itty bitty one that had been on the lawn mower tractor. He’s still getting the hang of it, though. He spent a good 3-4 hours on the tractor working on the driveway. He’ll get it eventually. And then we’ll move on to clearing a back field and fencing.

This morning I fought the mommy guilt–both boys were complaining of itching (Devyn has an obvious rash of some sort and Isaiah’s ailment was mysteriously invisible). What do you do? I had them put hydrocortisone on themselves this morning. 

Isaiah was whining so badly I also felt guilty for not fixing his breakfast (I forgot to get milk yesterday too). He was at a loss as to how to make his oatmeal.

They are testing this week. I think Isaiah is a bit stressed out over it. It’s his first big test and he doesn’t know what to expect, really. Even though we’ve told him it won’t affect his grades, he’s never been very trusting.  

But we worked through the ills of the morning, only to discover in the van, three quarters of the way to school that he hadn’t done his spelling words. I told him to do them when he got to school, as we would be there pretty early. I also gave him what for for not taking care of it over the weekend (more mommy guilt–I had to remind myself that in the long run making them responsible for themselves is better than “loving” on them and doing it for them).

At the last minute, as he was getting out of the car, he came up with some reason that would make it impossible for him to do his spelling words when he got in the classroom. Sigh. 

Today I’m supposed to present marketing ideas for a client and will most likely share some information that he may not like, namely that I’m giving two weeks notice. 

I will be glad to embrace a new schedule with the the new job but am concerned about how it will work when we get animals. 

Bye bye Business

It is spring–and I am so tired of winter that I’m thinking of starting a little farm. Sounds crazy because my inclination is to stay cooped up in the house, reading and thinking. Brooding. But I really do need to get out more. 

I have always wanted horses. I love horses. We tried chickens once, but I let Kenny take it over, and he soon grew very tired of it. We gave up on the idea after Sheba the dog got loose and annihilated them all in less than three minutes. 

Anyway–we bought a tractor yesterday. I’m very proud of our little tractor. First thing, Kenny will fix our driveway.

Today he worked on putting the bar on the tractor that will allow him to attach implements. He attached a small box blade, but it didn’t quite do what we needed.

Next thing, once we secure a bush hog, we will start clearing pasture. Kenny is also talking about expanding his garden. Once pasture is cleared, we’ll fence. Next comes a barn. Then horses. Then, maybe…a milk cow. 

Like I have time to milk a cow. 

Kenny is talking about goats, but I’m not sure we can build a secure enough fence. We’ll see. It might be easier to start with milk goats than a milk cow. Kenny seems to think so, since they’re smaller. But I’ve read things that contradict that idea. Namely goats are less pliable and cooperative. We shall see.

It is a beautiful day and I hope to get through my chores (paper work!! 😒) quickly and get outside. 

I start my new job on April 13, and I am looking forward to it. I hate all the paperwork (invoices and billing) that goes along with having my own business. I also hate the stress of making sure I’ve got enough clients to pay the overhead. I will be relieved to shut that puppy down and not worry about it anymore.

Things seem to be working out for me to wind down by April 13. 

An Unholy Country

I obsess over money, over making enough, even when I don’t know what enough is. I obsess over being efficient. I obsess over people whom I’ve elevated to higher esteem in my thinking because they seem to have so much. And in that obsessing, I fantasize. 

I am fearful that these obsessions, which lead to speculations on my part, will stir up in me desires that I have no business fulfilling. And this is where I find myself often, on the cusp of unholy desires, on the line, looking into a country where desire becomes action and action leads to destruction.

I am tired of being driven to that line. My spirit knows that what I see on the other side is an illusion, a lie, like so many actors on a stage masking their misery. I know that to cross the line will be to swallow that same misery, because I cannot take with me the good things I’ve already been given, especially my marriage and family. No, I would have to abandon them on this side of the line and never look back.

I want to stay in this country. I want to find the beauty, the truth, the joy, the peace that exists where I am. I want to be so distracted by these gifts, that I cannot be moved toward temptation. 

Decisions

I’m sitting at my desk in my office, preparing to attend a meet and greet with local businesses and job seekers.  My husband and kids are at home, cooking supper, eating, doing homework, watching t.v., catching up on their day.

I did not have to be here tonight.  I chose to be here. I was looking forward to an evening conversing with other people. In addition, it’s an opportunity to meet some people who may be able to infuse my business with some skills, like writing, website management and sales. 

But right this second, I’m wondering if this is where I’m supposed to be. Is this small marketing firm I’ve opened yet another elaborate plan on my part to procrastinate what I’m really supposed to be doing? 

I could quit what I’m doing and take my children out of their private Christian school, enroll them in public school half a mile from my house, saving substantially on tuition and transportation.

But I would also lose substantial income, not to mention potential income. Marketing is wide open in this community full of businesses that need a fresh perspective on reaching their audiences. 

If I chucked it all, I would be out of the loop on social situations and would become more isolated. Is that, and money, the only reasons I have for not being with my family right now?