Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow Day

This week we had a snow day. A REAL snow day, a day when the kids could actually dust off the sled we purchased 3 years ago and sled down the back hill.

Bless their hearts, we never have proper snow clothes or boots because, well...this is Georgia and snow rarely happens. The kids did their best to compile some layers of clothing and spent many hours outside, with hot chocolate breaks in between.

It was very cold out too so under the fluffy white snow was a nice layer of slick ice. Traffic was a mess and Chattanooga was a parking lot in many areas. We were all home, with the exception of Journee who had classes at Chattanooga State. She never made it home that day, but she did make it to her friends house and spent the night there. Her commute would have normally been 15 minutes but took 4 1/2 hours instead.

The cows had shelter to get under but they spent most of their time out in the snow. Crazy cows.

We were cold doing chores and keeping the water troughs clear of ice was a challenge. The good news is we are in Georgia and the temperature today will be in the 50's. It will actually climb to the 60's this weekend.
So we had two days of snow and ice and I happily welcome warmer weather, although there have been rumors of more snow late next week.

Now that the roads are all clear, we will head out after chores to fetch another bottle bull calf. This will give me 4 total bull calves to help me reach my goal of getting 10 this year. It can be a bit wild at feeding time with so many babies running around trying to lick and suckle everything in sight!

Have  a warm and wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Yesterday and today have turned into snow days. Yes, we have snow in the south, and although it makes for chaos on the roads, it is quite nice if you are home sipping hot tea.

I always bake something on cold days like these, and so I wanted to pass along one of my favorite recipes.

Banana Cookies with Lemon Icing

If you are like me the  you usually have bananas around the house and when they get too ripe you make banana bread. That is all fine and good but sometimes you need to break out of the banana bread routine and make something memorable.

When I was growing up my mom would occasionally whip these little creations up and I admit they were on the top of my *favorites* list.

They are not fancy or difficult to make, but the results are quite delicious. The lemon icing adds a nice little zing to the banana breading.
I will warn that the dough must chill in the fridge for at least an hour, so plan accordingly.

Now go bake something and enjoy your snow day!

Banana Cookies with Lemon Icing

1/2 C shortening or lard****
1 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 C mashed banana
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 C chopped nuts

Mix first 4 ingredients well in alarge bowl. In a medium bowl, sift remaining ingredients together and then add the to the wet mixture. Mix well. Chill in fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool and frost.

**** You can use butter instead of lard or shortening but the result will be different. Cookies with butter tend to flatten out more.****

Lemon-Butter Icing

1/3 C butter, softened
3 C powder sugar
2 Tb lemon juice

Mix all ingredients well. Add more or less sugar until desired consistency.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chores, Coffee, Bread, Winter

Oh what a beautiful day we had yesterday! I has some pictures on my phone but this morning my computer doesn't want to transfer photos. Hello Monday! Since we are experiencing yet another cold blast this week, I will post older pictures from days when the weather was warm and spring like.

I spent a good part of the morning yesterday cleaning out the garden beds and trimming the rosebushes. Yard work is a chore that I cannot bear to do unless the weather is mild. Zeb also helped me collect our cattle panels as we will soon need to construct a lambing/sheep area. Lambing season begins in February and we have quite a bit to do in preparation.
This morning my arms are pathetically sore as I have not done much labor this winter.

Today we are busy with school, and I am hoping to get a new sewing project finished. Sewing has been a difficult task lately, and I suspect it is the piles of cow feed and buckets situated behind my sewing table that are to blame. I really need a week to organize.
 In celebration of another cold week I have a crockpot steaming away with chili. Fresh bread has been baked and cookies are not far behind.

Every winter I get a craving for some fresh sour dough bread. Sour dough toast with a farm fresh fried egg is an amazing comfort food. If you want to make your own starter CLICK HERE.

It's a week long process but worth your time. I promise.

After I finish this post and my coffee we are headed to get some firewood. Usually we have plenty to get through our Southern winter but not this year. We will load up and be prepared to keep the stoves running all week, and then the mild temps will again return. So will the rain. Spring will be here soon, though. The rain will help make my corner of the world green and bright.

Have a great Monday! Stay warm!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Calf Wrestling

We have a nice two day stretch of nice weather before the freezing temps roll back in town.
There have been some calf chores that should have been done a couple of weeks ago, but we finally found the time to get them done.

First, the bull calves needed to be banded. Actually, the oldest bull calf has already been banded and we just needed to band the younger one. Banding them is an easy way for a family farmer to keep from raising a bull and to raise a steer instead.

This little tool is not expensive and I use it to band my young lambs as well. You put this band on it first.

Then you stretch it out and place the scrotum through it and release it slowly.

The important key is to make sure that BOTH balls are through. They can slide back if you are not cautious and not actually get into the band.

The procedure will feel a little tingly for the calf the first day. The band will cut off circulation to the scrotum and after about 2-3 weeks, the sac will fall off.
The next chore we had was to burn off the horn buds. Even if you raise a very docile cow, horns can be dangerous. It is best to "nip it in the bud" early. There are several ways to rid a cow of its horns but we have found dehorning paste works great on young calves.

It is best to apply this paste when you first feel the horn buds. First you need to trim the hair around the buds with some scissors. Apply the paste with a wooden tongue depressor or popsicle stick. The paste is very caustic so make sure it doesn't get on your skin or anywhere else on the calf.

It doesn't take very much and we like to lock the calves up by them selves overnight so they do not get the paste on another calf by rubbing heads. That is it!

All I had to do next was change clothes and start a load of laundry. It seems that when I wrestle a calf down I always roll down into a pile of cow muck! As a friend pointed out though, it's just grass, right?

Athena also got a nice work out since the sun was out and the temps were mild. Indiana walked her for a good while around the front pasture. We are looking forward to another nice day today.

Since the calves are growing and doing well, we will be getting another one tomorrow. A two week old bull calf. It should be fun!

Happy Monday Ya'll!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chore Chart Update

My little Rose has been begging to get her name on the "chart." She, of course, is referring to the chore chart. Although she does have certain chores to do each day, she really wants to be part of the big kid chores. I have been mean to get a new chart made since Christmas but today I actually sat down and crafted a new chart.

I simply cut the center out of a paper plate and drew lines to divide it into 4 sections. Instead of giving Rose her own section, I simply added her with Journee. The idea is that Journee can help show her how to complete chores plus she can simply assist Journee with certain chores she could not possibly do on her own, such as bathing the boys. Rose can gather towels and pajamas for Journee easily as well as carry dirty clothes to the laundry.
Each week the chores change by turning the center name section.

I cannot stress how important small tools like a chore chart help make a large household run smoothly. There are certain chores the kids like least, such as dragging the trash cans to the end of our drive. This chart makes sure that each child takes on that chore equally. The chart also allows everyone to master each chore.
We have had this type of chart for 2 years now and it works very well.

I usually hang the chart on my kitchen window, just above my sink, but I am going to hang it on my Picasso style cork board in the kitchen instead. I am a little worried the boys will play and pull on it, but we will give it a try and see what happens.

So now I have completed my chore of working up a new chore chart, and my Rose is one happy girl!

Happy weekend ya'll!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Bi-Polar Southern Winter

We made it through the cold, frigid, it's never been this cold here in my lifetime winter weather.

It was -5 degrees. It was so cold that the milk started turning to slush in my milk lines. THEN, five days later is was a sunny, pleasantly warm 60 degrees. Typical Southern winter.

It was such a nice TWO days of weather that the bees were out flying and the horse was brought to the house for a nice, long grooming.

We wore hats to keep the sun out of our eyes versus hats to keep our ears from freezing off.

That was yesterday. Today it is cool, cloudy and about to start pouring rain.

That's OK. We enjoyed the break from winter while it lasted and now we march on until spring arrives to stay.

The farm will be busy (as will I) this spring with new pigs, baby chicks, goslings and packaged honey bees. The girls will be starting seedlings for the garden as well as helping with lambing season, which begins in February. 

I also have in my possession a new book, Vintage Cakes. It just arrived but I am excited to pour through the pages and pick out a cake to bake. Quinn has already found what she wants me to bake for her birthday!
At least when the cold weather comes back this week I will have lots of yummy desserts to bake!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Projects in Progress

We survived the extreme cold and frigid winds! The biggest issue we had was the pulsator on the surge milker. It just didn't want to pulse well. The milk would also start to ice up in the milk line. I am glad I didn't have to milk an entire herd of cows.  Today it will be a balmy 48 and by Saturday it will be in the 60s. That is a southern winter for you!

Today I am busy getting everyone back into a school routine and cleaning up and organizing my projects. I am determined to finish up unfinished projects this year, and I have many.

Of course I have also started a small knitting project that has been quite enjoyable. I am knitting a sky scarf.

The Sky Scarf is one you knit a little each day. You look outside and knit two rows of a color that represents what color the sky happens to be that day. By the end of the year I will have a scarf about 5 feet long and a representation of the year in color.

Although I am a bit of a yarn snob and prefer expensive, high quality yarns, I am knitting with soft and inexpensive yarns for this project. Perhaps next year I will have some handspun yarn ready for a project such as this.

I am following the suggestions of others and keeping this project out in the open and easily accessible. I have placed the yarn in a basket to keep on my end table in the living room.

You can make your own scarf! Check out more info on Leaf Cutter Design.

There may or may not have been a dog photo bombing this morning! Hello Arwen!

Now, most of my projects in progress are quilts that need piecing or quilting. I have a red work that has 12 embroidered blocks that I pulled out last night and started back. I also have a double wedding ring I am piecing in modern Kaffe fabrics. These two will be at the top of my list to finish.

In the midst of this I have farm projects to prepare. The kids wanted to raise the vegetable seedlings this year and I think they will enjoy it! I ordered seeds last night and can't wait for spring to arrive!

What projects are you finishing up?

I hope everyone came through the cold snap! This weekend it will rain here so we will be back in typical wet winter mode.

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Polar Vortex


Tonight we will be getting some very cold weather. The weather man says it is a "polar vortex" and it is affecting many, many parts of the US.

It has been cold here already. Really cold for the South.

We are busting ice out of the water troughs and it is not melting. It just waits on the ground, and the boys bash it up with sticks and stones. Great fun. Cold fun.

We here in Georgia can expect to go about 60 hours without getting above freezing. It's a big deal ya'll. We have never worried too much about a lack of barn, etc because this is the South. We have mild winters....of course these next few days will be different.

Preparations have been under way the last two days.

The wind will be brutal and therefore we decided the best thing would be to build a wind block. We moved our huge canopy next to the calf stall and brought in a ton of hay to stack up.

It really is a cow dream come true. A house of hay!!!

This will give Lucy, Stella and Ivy a way to huddle close, eat lots of hay and stay out of the wind.  Lucy approves already!

The bottle calves will stay tucked into their stall with lots of hay bedding and a brood heat lamp, although they couldn't help but come out and munch on the house of hay!

This morning was an all hands on deck sort of morning. Devin even helped with the milking. She loves all of the grooming and brushing she gets from him.

 Lucy and Ivy had a great time licking and grooming each other.

So we will see what the night brings. We are hoping it's not too bad and that the milk pump doesn't freeze. I have a brood heat lamp to hang over the pump for warmth.
The horse has her blanket on and we put lots of hay out for the animals to eat.

Hmm.... Canada weather in Georgia. Whoever said there was global warming did not have a milk cow through the winter:-)

Everyone stay safe and warm!!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

I have been ever so absent from the blog world. Just totally absent.

After we finally got Lucy healed and recovered, my house fell victim to the nasty stomach bug that is making itself known everywhere. It didn't hit everyone but the ones who were ill were very ill.
I lost several pounds of weight from my already light frame, and therefore my energy levels were zapped.

My appetite finally recuperated after two weeks. Today I am ringing in my new year with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I am so very happy.

I cannot say that I am sad to see 2013 leave. Although there were many blessings throughout the year, it was also a year with some struggles and some tears. I am ready to say good-bye to 2013 and hello to a new year, a fresh start.

This morning we are enjoying one last day of relaxation and messes, and then tomorrow we will pack away Christmas decorations and clean the house up. I have many projects planned for the new year and I need an organized home in order to think and plan. Messes distract all of my attention.

                                    ****Some new year humor****

My goals for this new year include:

1. A farm newsletter. I will be sending out a letter complete with order forms for chicken, pork and possibly one or two other items. My calendar is covered with dates and events and so I want to make sure every one of my customers is in on the activities.

2. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I am clearing out the clutter, the extras, the mess. I am getting rid of all the things that take away my time and energy that do not give me any sense of love or satisfaction. It is a goal to get away from some of the consumerism that tends to take hold. I think I will start with all of my clothes.

3. Finish the projects. This specifically refers to my load of unfinished quilting projects. I did a pretty decent job in 2013 of finishing up projects but I need to be more intense. I am starting a monthly Block of the Month at my local quilt store, but it will likely be my only *new* project until I can finish my works in progress.

4. More posts on meal prep and meal ideas. When you have kids (especially lots of kids) food and meal prep consume a great deal of the day. I spend countless hours planning menus and food shopping. I have some areas down to a science and think perhaps I need to share some of what I have learned the last 18 years.

5. Less online time and more real book reading time. Seriously, I spend a great deal of time reading online while I have piles of books begging to be picked up and read. Speaking of books, I will also be going through and getting rid of books that I do not *love.*

That is all I have on my list now. I believe in keeping lists of goals short, to the point and attainable.
Starting tomorrow the list will be tackled and woman handled. I will keep you all posted on the progress.

I am going to close with a picture of Journee and her first deer. She went hunting over the weekend with her grandfather and now we have some deer roasts in the freezer. I was also lucky enough to get a dehydrator for Christmas so we will be making some deer jerky in another week or so. YUM!

Happy 2014!

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