Monday, December 30, 2013

Jewel's Baby

It was really cold here this morning at 4 AM, 10°.  I think we  will be at normal temperatures for the rest of the week which is 40's and  20's.

I milked yesterday morning, both cows.  Getting  them both started up the ramp was the hardest part.  Once on the ramp they moved up into the barn easily.  We  had so much excitement getting them  up to the ramp that Jewel didn't give quite as much.  It is not good to excite a dairy cow before pay.

I did go out afterward and got a couple of pictures of the baby.  The color isn't as  good  with the Panasonic as it  is with the Canon.  The baby has slightly more red in her coat.  I think she will end up being black.

Our granddaughter and her  friend got in about 7 pm last night.  I had a pot of hamburger soup waiting.  I wasn't supposed to do dessert because her friend is dieting....but I had made  a new  recipe for a large sour cream coffee cake early in the  day.  So be it.   The dark  is a layer of streusel filling  around the middle of the cake. 

This was a recipe  from Martha called Sara's Classic Sour Cream Coffee Cake. 

This is errand day.  I need  to grocery shop (lots of fruit and veggies! no fat), pick up a library book  and get a license for the trailer.  DH and I may leave before the girls get up.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Red Calves on a Black Angus Farm - Jersey Milk

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  I still haven't  taken down the tree but will do it soon.  We had half the family here and I did the requested fried chicken dinner.  I made my SIL a traditional tres leches cake.  I couldn't believe it would be pour a quart of mixed condensed, evaporated, and cream (three milks) over the cake and let it soak in overnight.  It is topped with whipped cream.  I was very surprised at how good it was and not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be.  He was very surprised that I made it for him.  He is from Honduras.

I may have more guests by January l.................................

Today was a very nice sunny day, a change from what we have been having. 


I have now milked Jewel (Jersey heifer) twice.  She lets me milk her without even lifting a leg, but she is very leery of the barn.  It takes longer to get her in and out than it does to milk both cows.  When I got to the barn this morning DH already had her up the ramp but she wouldn't take that step up into the barn.  After about 20 minutes of that nonsense I decided push Willow up behind her thinking that would shove her on.  Didn't work.  Next I decided to back them both down and make Willow the lead cow since she comes into the barn readily and I thought if I followed (loudly) that Jewel would follow her up and she did!  So now we have a new routine.  I hope it works next time.  If she once gets over that fear of the step up, I won't have to use Willow.  We have three bypass stanchions in the milk parlor so I just let Willow in No.1 and Jewel moved down to No.2.

So, I milked both cows and kept the milk separate.  I am letting Jewel's sit overnight in a container I can skim easily.  Her milk is delicious but we don't want to drink all that rich, golden cream.

After DH came in from checking the cows he said he wanted to take the camera out later and take a picture for me to see the all red calf.  I couldn't figure how we could get a red calf from black  cows and bulls.  We knew the neighbor's bull hadn't visited.  He came back  with about 50 pictures....he gets carried away but I love seeing all of them.  While  we were looking at  them it came to me:  These were from Willow's (she is a red Milking Shorthorn with very little white)bull calf Ferdinand we saved back from over two years ago in August.  He is finally breeding the girls.  We are delighted.

and here he/she (don't know yet) is with Mama,

I  spotted two more reddish ones in the photos,

I kept blaming the neighbor's Hereford bull but couldn't figure why the  calves didn't have white faces which is the normal coloration with a Hereford.  I have been noticing reddish color for a year now....

The other nice surprise for me (I don't travel over the farm much) was the lush stockpiled grass on the old farm.  I bet the cows were pleased once that snow melted. 

I still haven't got another shot of Jewel's reddish brown baby but will get one maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ice Storm Arrived

But it could have been worse.  It drizzled all day two days ago but the temperature hovered around the freezing mark so we just got about 1/4 inch accumulation on things and the ground never froze.

This is the front yard.  The poor river birch is bent to the ground.

 This is the view out my kitchen window

Looking from the back patio toward the garden,

This is taken from the driveway looking northwest

The ground never froze so walking wasn't impacted.

I did get three bales of  straw  over the strawberry bed the evening before the ice storm came.  The berry plants look very good. 


This is the group of calves we will be selling in January.  They have finally settled down and quit bawling.

(This is Willow's rear in the photo on the right).

They were standing right there looking at me so I took their picture too.  These are Willow's babies,

We notice these two geese acting strangely the other day.  They seemed  to be nesting in the middle of the snow.  They stayed there all day.

From december blog


I caught these two right outside the milk parlor after  milking.  I think since we have had another litter ......

Thursday, December 19, 2013

At Last! Jewel Did Her Thing

This post will be dedicated to   Jewel, my Jersey heifer,  calving and on a very warm evening on clean pasture.

 DH came in about 4 pm and told me she had started so I went out to check.  She was in the pasture just  west of the house and very close in.  Everything looked correct; front feet out and pointed down.  I waited just a few minutes and then calledDH to bring the equipment.  I decided to help her get the baby out and safe before it got any darker.  Heifers are notoriously prone to 'giving up' when they get too tired and then you are in trouble.  Once  that head is in the birth canal, it needs to come out quickly.

We used the puller and OB chains (gift from my BIL and they work so much better than the straps) and the baby came easily.  It was a very nice sized calf and was a heifer.  I drug the baby around to Jewel's nose so she could begin cleaning it and they could bond. Once that happened, Jewel got up and the baby started trying to get up, I left  them alone.  Help at this point is futile.

I took  a few pictures.  I hope no one is squeamish but here they are:

and the baby trying to get up; they go end over end the first few attempts,

I was going to show her very nice udder, but from the back  end she was very messy so will spare you all that one!

I can now relax.  I will begin to milk her in a couple of days and see how that goes.......

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tuesday, December 10

It is still very cold here and we got another l inch of snow last night. We are north of I—44 and were in the lighter snowfall zone.

I should have milked but DH talked me into waiting until tomorrow when it will be slightly warmer.

He didn't have to talk too hard.....

I was not happy with my last recipe of oatmeal bread so tried a 7-grain recipe that I found online. I didn't do a King Arthur because their recipes always call for several of their products that I don't keep on hand. This bread is a winner; it is almost too soft and is hard to slice. Of course I made several changes to the recipe which might have given me the softness but that is never a bad thing for us. DH likes his bendable!

I also boiled down the turkey carcass with celery, a couple of carrots and a few black pepper corns and ended up with a quart of thick stock and about 2 cups of shredded turkey meat. I want to try (again) egg noodles. I have never been happy with mine.

Wednesday, December 11

Another cold morning, 10°. No melting yet but the roads seem to be clear and the school bus was running.

I milked this morning. I just took l gallon. I think her babies need a warm breakfast.

We were going to do errands but after DH did the feeding chores, he was tired so we put it off another day.

I finally made a successful batch of egg noodles. At least I was happy with them. I used the recipes in my Joy of Cooking book but used the food processor. I rolled them very, very thin and used my pizza cutting wheel. I cooked half in the turkey broth then lifted them and let them drain. The last half I cooked in the remaining broth with the cup of turkey bits and pieces. We had that for lunch. 
with the remaining half I made a small amount of fettuccine
Alfredo substituting whole milk in place of cream and it worked perfectly well. I thought it was very will be another meal. (Actually, it was my evening meal; DH had a bowl of cereal).

Tonight will be another near zero night. This is extreme cold and very early in the season.....not liking it at all!

Thursday December12

No milking this morning.  We decided to run errands  which we cut short because we were both ready to stop after Walmart!  We did return library books but skipped our local market that butter on sale.

Friday December 13

Another winter storm is on us.  This is freezing precipitation which can get critical in this part of the country.
The temperature is hovering just around freezing so nothing is accumulating so far.....but wait until the evening when the temps drop!  

I milked  this morning and DH called from the barn and told me to put Trax on my boots; it was treacherous on the barn lot which is concrete.  It was colder then and the light rain was  freezing.  

Jewel still hasn't calved; she has me wondering if I am a month off....time will tell.

I came in a made peanut butter cookies for DH and am pretty much done for the day.  

Note: New header picture I took when the snow first  fell; it looks the same today except the sky is a  dreary gray.  It isn't winter yet but it  sure looks and feels like it.  All area schools are canceled  in anticipation of freezing rain later today.

Friday, December 6, 2013

First Day of Winter Storm

DH and I were both up very early.  The cold has arrived and with it 3-4 inches of very fine snow.  It is made worse with the wind.  Tonight will be ever colder....down around zero.  I know this must set a record for this early in the year.  It is currently 17°, snowing with 8mph wind.

I didn't milk yesterday but did this morning.  Willow was down a half gallon which is expected with the cold and wind. 

DH took all the clean canning jars out to the barn yesterday after noon.  We unloaded some attached  shelving that had leftover  things  from the  dairy that we just pitched.  I have shelf space left.  I will need to attach a plastic curtain over them to keep feed from filtering down from the attic where we store the bulk cattle feed.  We need to do some more cleaning and elimination of old paint and dairy things from another set of shelves and  then I will have even more space.

I am still  working on re-organizing the kitchen.  DH said he has already gotten used to the new setup for coffee (he is the coffee chef in my kitchen).  I did get the food pantry cleaned and organized.  Next I will do the center section  where I keep cooking things like cake and pie pans and small appliances.


I took  time in between the cleaning to make a loaf of banana bread a small blackberry cobbler.   I have to eat to keep up my strength ........

I was not happy with my last bread.  I made two loaves of oatmeal using a Quaker Oatmeal recipe.....bad choice. I didn't even like it as French Toast this morning.  It wasn't  awful just not what I like, too heavy and dense and not sweet enough. It occurs to me I don't really need a recipe anymore....will give that a try next.

I need to put out birdseed today!  I see Cardinals and even a house wren flitting around the feeding area.  I know I still have seeds in the smokehouse.  They will need it tonight.

The Cat and the Mouse (and Thanksgiving and catchup .... again

The cold front arrived last night but so far is showing 28° on my thermometer. We are north of I-44 so could miss the entire precipitation thing....time will tell.

The Thanksgiving holiday is over and I have been in a resting up mode since the last left on Sunday.
All the family was here which was wonderful; it is rare that both can come at the same time. Our granddaughter stayed with us the whole week (her BF lives nearby.......) She may join us over winter break (for the same reason).

DH has been busy getting ready for the possible storm by putting out bales of hay and moving the cows to the field with the in ground waterer that doesn't freeze. He also put a bale of straw in the hen house and filled the nest boxes (I have still been inside in rest mode). I did make oatmeal bread yesterday. I was not happy with the recipe so will keep experimenting until I find one I do like...may go back to some original Hogsdon Mills ones that I began with.

I had a mini disaster in the kitchen yesterday. I was getting something off a pantry shelf when the overloaded shelf slipped off one of the little shelf brackets and dropped down on one side to the shelf below! Nothing broke but some oil spilled. DH came to my rescue and we unloaded everything from that shelving section.

I took advantage of this to get rid of some very old jars of pickles that had gone bad. Now I have the counter top covered with clean canning jars that need to be transported out to the Milk Parlor (I knew I should have bought another shelf!). I had three dishwasher loads of jars.

This clean-up led to redoing the entire wall of cabinets...I have more to do this morning. I also redid a section of the cabinets where we keep coffee, tea and cereals. Be interesting to see how we like this new arrangement.

Next is organizing the freezer portion of the new refrigerator which is already a mess. Having all the company didn't help. I found a bowl I use daily at the top of the my nice son-in-law did that. He was in the kitchen helping a lot. He and our daughter were both a tremendous help in after-dinner cleanup. The grands were attached to their phones................except the older one and she was studying almost the entire time here. I couldn't believe the amount of homework assigned over the break.

I made DH a half-gallon batch of yogurt. He has now become addicted to a dish a day with fruit, mostly blueberries. This is a man who a year ago wouldn't even taste it! I am guessing he saw or read something about the health benefits. I had been buying it for him when I finally decided I could save tons of money doing it myself. I have made yogurt before. I think my last batches haven't been as thick as I would like. I need to research that. He is happy with it though. I will also make my own fruit for it. I bought a jar of Duncan Hines blueberry topping and it is 80% thickened juice with just a bit of whole fruit. I can do better.

What did I learn from my cleaning pantry project? I will never can pickles again....just tomatoes and . maybe salsa and ketchup. DH has been telling me for a few years that I should stop. I will be working on my garden plans accordingly this winter. I am the only one to eat pickles; Vlasic can surely work for me.

I will be milking this morning. My steady girl, Willow (the milk cow) returned to a very vocal heat yesterday and we turned her to the field and saw her bred by one of the senior Angus bulls. The Jersey heifer, Jewel, still hasn't calved. I am sure she is waiting for the zero night due in a few days.

Random Cat Picture

 Prince come down with our granddaughter.  It was time for his surgery.  He paid his way while here!

Monday, November 25, 2013

It'a Raining and other Mundane Matters Written Nobember 21, 2013

It is a cold rain....pretty heavy and 49 °.

I slept until 4 AM.  My method of stopping coffee after breakfast seems to be helping.  I started back on glucosamine because my knees were telling me to.

Yesterday we began another project out side.  Since the bad ice storm and  tornadoes of a few years ago, we are very conscious of trees near power lines and the house.  We decided to have a dead Elm along the drive taken out and the lop-sided Ash tree on the east side of the drive.....then DH said to get the other Elm at the front of the drive while they were here. Elms are the blight of any homeowner...these were what we called Chinese Elms but I think are really Siberian  Elms.....whatever you call them (and I have called them worse!)  They draw elm beetles  and Japanese beetles and constantly drop small  twigs and limbs.

The utility company had recently limbed one of the old, hollow soft maples along the road in front of the house  and left it looking extremely lopsided and ugly even when in leaf....out  it came too.  They ground all the stumps and even got a couple of old stumps we had left from previous removals....So, 4 large trees, 6 stumps and  complete  cleanup, even down to raking and I get all the chips and sawdust I want, total charge $1800.  We thought that was very reasonable (of course, once again, there went my new sofa!)  I hope we have a large load of calves  to sell and I can still squeeze in some inside things.......time will tell.

I took pictures through the rain this morning.  The guys were going to come clean up today but the rain will stop that.

This is taken from the dining room porch and shows the elms and the ash tree removal

The old damaged maple  out front,

You can just see the edge of the chips out by the cellar in front of the sheds,

I think we will  run some errands  while it is raining.  Walmart left part of  my things bagged on the carousel and also made a double charge on an item.  The clerk made two other double charges on the ticket but caught those and  corrected them......we will be avoiding her in the future.  Makes me wonder how many errors we have had in the past; I don't pay close attention....I will in the future.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Missed Posting - Another Project finished

I missed mentioning this project and  found I had written about it on Open  Office and just forgot it.

So, here it is.  I can't believe I forgot about it since I have wanted it done for a long time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Up at 2 AM; the time change is killing me! Fell back asleep in my chair so made up for some sleep loss.


Milked half Willow; let black calf nurse first until he was full then turned her baby in too.

Neighbor came down (Dennis )DH got up several of the herd and I looked them over....possibility of butchering the scurred bull...4 yrs old in stead of selling him for cull.  I am nearly out of meat in the freezer.

We took a break and then cleaned off the foundation plantings and the vining euonymous that had climbed the brick chimney and through the decorative roofing and was nearing the real roof. We  have a trailer load to haul off.   Lots more chain saw cleanup needs doing. Several seedling maple and elm and Golden Rain trees need cutting.

I do the chain saw work and got tired so decided working with the saw wasn't a good idea. My dizziness makes it harder if I am on uneven ground and I was.

Yesterday he was finally able to haul off the mess.  

 The foundation is now bare but I want to kill out the vining vinca before attempting more plantings.

You can see some remnants of the vine clinging to the chimney.  We will have to wait until they shrivel completely before pulling them down.
remaining vine on chimney photo IMG_0333-Copy2_zps893039d8.jpg
The vine had a serious stump that was too close to the foundation to cut closer to the ground.  I will have to wait until it decays.
Stump after cutting down vine on chimney photo IMG_0334_zpscb0e1f98.jpg
foundation trimmed photo IMG_0331_zps1a8974c7.jpg

While getting the picture of my helper, I spotted the llama way down by the fence and using the zoom got a picture of her.  She has a horrible shaggy winter coat.

It is a good thing I took this picture of  my October Glory Red Maple because within a day of color, the leaves began falling and it is now bare!

 October Glory Red Maple turning very late 2013 photo IMG_0336_zps7083167a.jpg

Note:  I left this in its original journal entry prose.......very short and to the point.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Few Days Ago

Daylight savings time has ended . I  am not loving it! I hate feeling by 5 PM that it is bedtime  and that is how I feel.  You would think by now my body would adjust readily to these annoying time changes....

It has rained for the last two days;  not heavily but too wet to be outside.  I think another 1/2 inch.  I am glad I got my garlic and onions planted before this round hit.  I found enough turnips to cook for me today.  Several didn't make bulbs....I don't know what causes that.  I thinned them heavily.  I will leave all of them in the ground and see if they every make anything.

The maintenance for the all-farm generator got canceled because of the rain....they will try again Friday when it is supposed to be dry.  We have already had an hour outage since the battery went down on it.  What are the odds of that!!  It was no big thing, but I am nervous now.  I got very complacent about power outages since we have had it.

Today's plans are errands.  I need to return a library book and we need  to pick up coffee (this is our most critical commodity!).  I also need to go to my King Arthur flour source (a Kroger store, Dillon's) for bread flour and regular flour.  I am also low on sugar; I should have picked that up at Sam's.  I wish I could find a good local source for real lard, not the Armour product with additives and partially hydrogenated lard in it.  Walmart used to carry one but then switched to Armour! 

Note:  I missed posting this one so will just to keep my journal in order.

Random dog Picture

Sugar has been a bad girl lately; she has discovered the neighbors have dogs and she runs off to visit after going to the field with DH.  I am checking into buying the wireless fencing for around the house.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sam's Club Adventure - Our Changing Fall Colors

More rain yesterday, about 3/4 inch and a dreary, dark day.  When the sun did pop out it almost blinded us.

We decided it would be a good day to check out the much touted Sam's Club.  It is about a 40 minute drive for us.  We live north of Springfield; it is south of Springfield.

DH wanted to go ahead and get the $45 membership before we looked around so we did.  It took us over an hour and we still didn't cover everything.  I bought $139 worth of food items....we had a special $20 coupon  so  it made it a good bargain. My impression:  I was underwhelmed!  I  guess we will get our money's worth when we need laundry and paper supplies.  We will see.

I agree with my daughter:  At this stage of our life it isn't so much about saving money as the  whole shopping experience!  As experiences  go, this one didn't rate high.

We have taken two day-trips to see  fall color and realized  that we have some pretty spectacular sights right here at home.

Yesterday afternoon we made a run to the library to pick up a book they were holding for me, The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber and then "drove around the block" (actually two roads north and then circled back south to the house).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Another Week on the Farm

Fall has arrived here.

After the hard freeze and the following 2 inch rain, the leaves are coming down.........we  love looking out the window at  the 'raining' leaves....they will remain on the ground.............unless I get a chance to mow.  I do not rake leaves!!!!

The top of the white oak is just beginning; that is the rejuvenated Pin Oak behind it.  It has the best color I can remember.

This is the Pin Oak, west yard.

I was just coming from the Milk Parlor and loved the changing colors, the shrub to the right  is spirea prunifolia; you can see the top of the Pin Oak in the west yard.  This view is looking southwest.

Back to the front yard.  This is the Limelight hydrangea,

and the Oakleaf hydrangea,

I think this may be millet dropped  from the bird feeder.  I don't know why I am not seeing birds feeding on it....maybe they will come later,
From fall 2013

We had weekend company again.  Very enjoyable and easy to have.  I just did my standard crock-pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy.  I had a very late picking of haricort vert (which I will discuss later).  Dessert was chocolate cake which turned out nicely.  Bread was the French bread I had made earlier in the week.  I also made our son's favorite Scotch Shortbread Cookies.....and sent them home  with him (also all the left over cake).

Speaking of bread; I am getting more adventurous with bread making.  I am not following recipes closely some days.  This time made Oatmeal bread but substituted some white whole wheat flour for regular, no bread flour (I was out), potato water (left from Sunday dinner's mashed potato cooking) instead of milk....results were great.  DH loved it.  I want to broaden his tastes a little from plain white bread.  He just said this morning that it toasted really well.

I made rustic loaves just for fun,

I also made us a pineapple upside down cake.  I hadn't made one in years.  I like the size for the two of us.
I need to try some variations.

I didn't like the texture of the cake...sort of grainy.  Next time I will use another cake recipe.


I finally found a recent picture of my Jersey heifer, Jewel who I hope will be calving soon.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Weird Squash - Test Pie

We got a scattered heavy frost this morning and are supposed to get down to 28° soon.

After milking yesterday morning, DH and I loaded up the sweet potatoes and took them to the MIlk Parlor.  I sill have to clean and sort them and then will bring them to the house unless I can get the hallway in the barn up to desired temperature.  We use an oil filled heater out there.

We also brought the squash in and temporarily stored them in the west chicken house.  It is insulated with bales of straw in the ceiling but will still be too cold so I will move them to the barn also.

I was so curious about what kind of flesh I would get from the strange shaped ones.....they were supposed to be Butternut seeds and not saved seeds.  Some were quite normal but large and others almost round.

Here is the one I tested.

I used a ruler to give some idea of the size,

I wanted to try the Victorio strainer with it.  I have never used it on pumpkin.  If I am satisfied with the results, it saves two steps:  Scraping the flesh from the skins after cooking and pureeing the remains .

I cut the squash into smaller pieces, added some water, covered and baked at 400 until tender.  It didn't take very long,  under an hour.

Then I ran it through the strainer using the pumpkin cone.  It went very quickly.  The only negative and it may not be too bad is some very tiny pieces of skin also came through.  I am curious about that.

I removed the shield that drains the pulp into the bowl before I took the picture.

The real test is now in the oven.....I made a pie this morning using the recipe from Joy of  Cooking.  The pie made too much for my 9 inch dish.  I will bake the leftover in a custard cup.  Next time I would simply reduce the amount of cream by 1/2 cup or use another recipe......or try to find my 10-inch pie plate!

Lorraine, I also spread some mincemeat over a part to test.  I hope I marked the edge of the crust enough that I can tell because I want to test it first.

I got three one-pound packages with one cup left over from this squash......this means I have enough squash to make approximately 50 pies!  I need to give some away but I am probably the only person I know who would use this method to make a pie (or 50 pies).

Will report back  later.