Ugly!

I know it’s not nice, but Jenny Hen is down right ugly!  She’s the oldest gal at nearly 4.  She’s on tenure now and thinks it’s her job to sit on anything that doesn’t move.  She sat on a bunch of golf balls for nearly 3 weeks!

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She’s molting and is walking around nearly butt naked!  I realized the other day, that if I don’t start culling out my old ladies I’ll soon have a petting zoo and I don’t think Honey would be too big on that.  I ought to do Jenny Hen in now while she’s naked, then I won’t have as many feathers to pluck.

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A face only a mama could love.

The new pullets ought to start laying next month.  Fingers crossed.  Our egg ration has been 1-2 eggs a day for quite some time. I’ve been dreaming of deviled eggs, eggs a la golden rod, egg salad…..anything with golden eggs.

I was looking for Annie’s egg today.  She usually lays it in the new hen house.  As I rounded the corner, I was chitter chattering to myself about goodness knows what….and I didn’t expect to catch her sitting on the nest….well, I startled her to death, and she squawked.  She jumped up and nearly scarred me to death.  I screamed, she screamed and then I laughed.  She gave me a working over about it too.  I heard about that for at least a half an hour….I sure didn’t mean to disturb her.  Heavens knows we need that second egg.

I’ve only named the two Silver Laced Wyandottes.  I ordered 5 of everything, but lost nearly half…so I’m only left with two Wyandottes.  They are Wyonna and Naomi Judd.

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I’ve got 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Australorps, 2 Barred Rocks and 4 Rhode Island Reds.  Since they’ve hardly developed personalities yet, I haven’t given most of them names yet.

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It’s lookin very rednecky and I need to get it cleaned up a bit.  But heck they love climbing and roosting all of the stuff.  The Buffys are really cute.  My gates need some repairs before winter settles in.  If we get iced like last year, the gate might fall clean off it’s hinges….or rather electric ties.

Raising chicks has been so easy.  My friend Carol told me it was but I didn’t believe her…ok Carol, it is easy.  I’m ready for some meat birds next spring!  But I’m gonna have to get some help with the butchering…I really do hate that job of slitting their throats.  A turkey would be a great adventure too.  Heck I pay a small fortune for a pastured organic turkey.

Now if we could only get some of our own fresh milk and these girls would really be eating in style.  Clabber for everyone.  All in God’s good time.

Throwing Mud

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This is my very first attempt at ever trying to throw on the wheel. It was not centered. As I was bringing it up one side was thin and the other thick…so I pulled a spout on it! I wish I’d of thought to put a little handle on, but I’m so thrilled with my first piece on the wheel.

I sorta like this color Orcher. Non of us know how to say it, but it sounds like Okra. On the red clay it’s very earthy and I like earthy.

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This little cup turned out to actually be useful. It holds my tea strainer perfectly. It was suppose to be a mug, but it turned out way too small for me and the handle wasn’t right, so I cut it off. If I’m learning one thing from Pottery, it is patience. I hate to admit that I’m not a patient person. But pottery is not something to rush. It takes time and lots of patience to get each piece just right….and if you are me, then sometimes, it’s never JUST right, but good enough!

In some ways, I’m like the Amish. They don’t believe we can do anything perfectly….because only God is perfect, so they always leave an imperfection in their quilts. A visual reminder that only God is perfect. Mine are usually not an intended imperfection, but a reflection of who I am…..very imperfect.

I discovered today when some new pieces came out of the kiln, that the red clay shrinks considerably after the second firing! I mean considerably. So, in the future I need to make a mental note of that and expect my pre-glaze firing pieces to be bigger than I want. Hopefully I’ll be able to gauge it right since I love using the red clay. I’m attempting to replace all our store bought dishes with hand thrown/built pieces!  A lofty goal.

(I’ll be so glad to be rid of my Pfaltzgraff dishes I’ve had for almost 30 yrs!)

Pasture Walks

Thank you PhilipFr for the photo from Flickr.com

Thank you PhilipFr for the photo from Flickr.com

I went on my first Pasture Walk last evening sponsored by our local Soil Conservation Agency. I remember when Honey was a Wildlife Biologist he often had meetings with the Soil Conservation folks over beaver dams and wetland issues. Since they are a local government agency they offer advice & plans on land management.

The ad in our local paper didn’t say that this Pasture Walk was strictly for Horse folks, so I chanced it and went. We live in the rolling hills of Maryland’s horse country, so I wasn’t surprised that there were only horse lovers at this walk, other than me a cow lover! I felt a little discriminated against….“cows?!!”

Then I found out that it was called “HOW…Horse Outreach Workshop”. It would also work to call it “COW” with no explanation needed!

We got an elaborate tour of the barn and paddocks. A lengthly talk on how this particular homeowner (notice I didn’t say Farmer) managed his pastures. Then right before dark we finally got to go into the manicured pasture and see it as the darkness settled around us. I was appalled. He had about two acres fenced and only two pastures within the two acres. They were over grazed and under nourished.

This particular homeowner lives on a more prestigious side of the county and wants to maintain an “appearance”, so he picks up horse poop every single day!!!!!! And he was wondering why his pastures weren’t fertile!

The “Soil Expert” talked about using “Allied” herbicide and how to plant grass seed. What they failed to talk about was how allowing the grass to grow to a height of 6-8″ and then mowing would encourage the favorable grasses to do their own weed control. (I sure hope I’m getting this right….it’s all so new to me and I’m cramming as much into my menopausal brain as possible….not an easy task!) The length of the grass indicates how deep the root system is and the deeper the roots the greater nutrients in the grass (of course up to a certain height and depth). (did I get that right??) That is if you have any nutrients. If of course your pasture is purely weeds than you can bet your soil is mostly acidic and the nutrients are lacking….Hey I thought I wasn’t getting anything out of Acres USA…..but maybe I am gleaning just a glimmer of info. I can guarantee you that I’ve only begun to crack the surface and I’m afraid that my leaking brain won’t be able to grasp it all.

I’ve recently been learning about Brix. I’m going to explain this as simply as I can. First let me explain that I have minimal knowledge of Brix….so you can take this or leave it. But I find this topic fascinating. So I asked the “Soil Experts” to explain Brix and most of them who are recent college grad’s were clueless and couldn’t believe that this simple country bumpkin could know something they didn’t! The “older” “Soil Expert” looked at me funny and was really SHOCKED that I knew about Brix and said, “what is it you want to know?” gruffly….like maybe I asked about Area 51! I told him I’d like him to explain it a bit….so he said he would….”LATER”.

This is how it was explained…“Brix is something that we don’t concern ourselves with in this country. They use this system in England mostly. You use a device (refractometer-which he didn’t mention) to measure the sugar content of the grass.” Now, he said all this as if to say, “hey look we’re the experts and if we say you don’t need to know about this then you don’t…..we wouldn’t want you to know too much….BECAUSE then you wouldn’t need us!”

Ok, no one could of cared why I asked this question. They all had horses. They don’t care about the nutrients that their horses eat….I’m not sure why….but I care about what my cows eat cause they feed me! Some folks gave me the most in quizzical looks.

My friends over at Jehovah Jireh Farm, have been teaching me about Brix. And I’m not going to go into it now until I really get it under my belt….but it’s fascinating stuff! I began to search the Scriptures for what the Lord called “fatness” and that reference to “fatness” is thought to be Brix! It’s so cool and I can’t wait till I understand more so I can share it with you.

Anyway, I came home with a contact at the Soil Conservation Agency so I can at least be taught how to pick out “good” hay. Then I’ll even be able to go to the Auction for hay sometime. Although the “Soil Expert” said that due to our weather conditions this year the hay at Auction is mostly undesirable. So maybe I ought to stick to what my girls seem to like and are eating. I’ve been able to find some pretty good hay close by.

I guess I also learned that with enough money you can do just about anything! Even pick up horse poop EVERYDAY in your pasture!!!!

I didn’t need a Pasture Walk to teach me that!!!! Maybe I’ll do another….now I know not to mention I have “cows!”.

Good Medicine

It’s been a very rough week for me.  And I am reminded how much I need to laugh.

If you knew me, you’d know that I love to smile.  It’s a family trait that I passed to my children.  They both have beautiful big and gregarious smiles!

Laughter is good medicine! Prov 15:13

Thanks to Carf on Flickr.com for a great photo!

Thanks to Carf on Flickr.com for a great photo!

Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Ps 30:5

I am reminded repeatedly in Scripture that laughter and joy are good for me. That crying and grieving dry up the bones. Honey calls me, “My Joy”. I love that!

I usually am…that is joyful. I have so much to be thankful for and joy is an overflow of thankfulness.

Life certainly has it’s hard places and in them I must always remember that “The Joy of The Lord is My Strength”. Nehemiah 8:10

I cannot depend ever on what I can see around me. It will always fail me. Life is hard, but God is good.

ALL THE TIME!

Thanks to Ardumpln 1s Photostream on Flickr.com

Thanks to Ardumpln 1's Photostream on Flickr.com

“Laughter does not mean you are ignoring pain, living in denial, or just not aware of the troubles around you..For me, laughter is how we take a much-needed break from the heartache, such that when we turn to face it again, it has by some miracle grown smaller in size and intensity, if not disappeared altogether.” Liz Curtis Higgs (Only Angels Can Wing It)

When Honey and I are overcome with grief or just plain feeling sorry for ourselves, we like to keep it in perspective……we always count our blessings and that begins with Ben & Becca, a roof that doesn’t leak, lights that come on, food in our frig, eggs in our coop, cows in our pasture, shoes on our feet, a shower with water, a toilet that flushes, a house that’s paid for, clothes on our back, land that grows food, a car that runs no matter how old it is……………many more than I have room or time to think of……and most of all………. LOVE that is abundant.



Shark Update!

Sweet Girl arrived safely at The Cape after a very, very long 10 hr journey through horrible Labor Day traffic. She has called a couple times. One, for sunrise and sunset times. Two, to know if the sharks are inside or outside the sandbar. ???

I could find the sunrise & sunset time schedule, but no luck on the sharks. Not a problem. She mingled around and found some locals who could tell her where to go for the Great White Shark sightings. She found the beach with the seals, so she must be close….not that close! She is our Shark expert! She got some really great shots of the seals…I can’t wait to view this dream through her lens. I love her work!

My friend Gin who is off on a pack trip into the high mountains of Colorado had some great quotes on her blog this morning. This one I loved….

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Joy & Sorrow

Yesterday was filled with the joy of Sweet Girls birth 25 years ago and at the same time it was filled with sorrow.

Josie was acting a bit odd yesterday.  She refused her grain in the morning…very odd indeed.  She then started walking around with her tail up like she wanted to poo but couldn’t…also very odd.  Then it hit me…oh my she’s going to calve.  I ran out to examine her and she showed no signs of calving being anywhere near close.  Her ligaments had not separated and showed no signs of dilating.

I gave her a couple little apples off the tree and left her.  She went off to eat grass.  Becca and I were watching Blood Diamonds, a very sad and tragic movie depicting the rebel war raging in Sierra Leone, Africa, surrounding the mining of diamonds.  When we finished the movie I went to check on Josie.  She was very sweetly laying underneath of a tree chewing her cud.  It looked like any typical day around the farm.

As I approached her with her uneaten grain, to see if she was interested in it, I saw something fall out of her.  Then when I looked at her, what I saw was a cow that didn’t look pregnant AT ALL!  Her sides were flat.  We called that slab sided.  I slipped through the electric fence without getting zapped, and I approached the blob.  It was either an afterbirth or a water bag or a placenta.  I ran around in circles, crying and saying out loud….where is the calf?  I ran to the barn…and found no calf.  I ran all around the pasture which I’d just mowed so visibility was great, and still no calf.  I frantically called Honey at work crying and asking him to come home….unbeknownst to me he was already on his way.  (He’ll have quit a good message on Tuesday morning!)

I then called the Vet.  The vet had just pulled a calf and would be at our place in about 30-40 min’s.  We kept searching the area surrounding the field and the underbrush for a calf that might of wondered off…..but by the looks of Josie……there was no calf.  She showed absolutely no signs of birthing, other than the fact that she definitely didn’t look pregnant. She didn’t show any signs on her vulva that she just gave birth.

OK.  Then she didn’t give birth and was going to give birth on Becca’s birthday.  The calf must be in the birth canal thus the slab side and she needed to make progress.  But there was still NO udder development….none at all.  And no signs of her vulva swelling and dilating.

The Vet arrived and began to examine her.  She could not find any sign of pregnancy.  There was nothing inside of Josie.

NOTHING!

She examined the blob and didn’t think it looked like the placenta or afterbirth and sorta looked like the water bag.  She gave me some options.

One….get her someplace for a sonagram!  $$$$$

Two…induce her to see if she expels anything else.

Three….do nothing but watch and wait.

I chose two.  So she was induced just in case something was remaining in her.  If there was, there was a chance that it could kill her.

The Vet’s only guess…..and it is a guess because no one saw what happened and there is no calf or fetus or anything other than that blob.  Her only guess is that she aborted her fetus that for some reason hadn’t developed past a very early stage and that she ate whatever it was.

Numbness hit me….and confusion….I couldn’t wrap my mind around all of it.

She finally ate her grain last night.  She was up and eating grass this morning and seemed just fine.  She doesn’t have a fever.  She is walking around with her tail out, like she did yesterday….obvious signs of contractions from the injections.  I wish I could talk to her.  I wish she could tell me what happened.

But NOTHING.

NOTHING.

I’ve been hit with a ton of emotions.  Confusion.  Sadness.  Pain.  Confusion.  Sadness.  Pain.  Why did this happen?  Could I of done anything?  Is there something wrong with her?  Will she ever be able to carry a pregnancy?  Will she ever have an udder?  Why me?  What am I suppose to learn?  Do we get another cow that is lactating and bred?  Do we get rid of someone?  Who?  Josie or Joy?  Do we put them in the freezer?

I’m just kinda numb today.  Wishing things could of ended differently.  Ended with the birth of a healthy calf.  But as Job said, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

There are some things in this life that we will never understand and were never meant to.

I think it’s a day for good chocolate!

Summers End

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We had a wicked bad storm blow through on Friday evening. There were tornado warnings with rotational winds. The lightening strikes were violent.

The aftermath left my sunflowers a complete disaster. I’m grateful that that is the only thing to report damage to.

I worked for hours on Saturday to cut the sunflower stems off in what must of been 100% humidity. We must of gotten several inches of rain overnight and the plants were almost all uprooted. I’m glad I got to enjoy them while they were blooming beautifully all summer and the bees were none to concerned about the condition of the plants, they were still busy collecting nectar.

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I decided to put them out by the street. I read on a blog the other day that a young mom was driving home after a difficult day and saw a sign for FREE sunflowers. She was overwhelmed with gratitude. She needed that beautiful pick-me up from someone offering FREE sunflowers!

Even though we live in what would be considered a very upscale zip code (notice, I didn’t say neighborhood!), I still put my sunflowers out for FREE. This was my simple blessing this weekend and I hope someone had their spirits lifted by these lovely summer ladies!

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I didn’t let the seeds go to waste.  I laid them out to dry and I’ll collect them for my Jersey girls!

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