Monday, June 25, 2012

Bean Legs

I really didn’t plan on spending a good portion of the afternoon in the bean patch…I was thinking…NAP!  Nonetheless, the beans were in need of some attention. So, off I went.

I am fairly certain that no gardener would say that picking beans is his or her favorite job.  It is a back-breaking task that needs to be done in the heat of the day. The plants and the beans should be dry for the health of the plant and the storage of the beans.  The job always makes me think of Bartee, a friend from the Boss’ days with the power company.

Before our move to the Valley, we had a huge garden, a couple goats and some chickens. We often had friends to visit to get stuff from the garden. Bartee brought his little girl to pick beans one summer day.  His little girl ended up playing with our little girls, so Bartee was left to pick beans by himself.  There were LOTS of beans. When he finally finished, he loaded the beans into a big black trash bag and headed home where his wife was waiting to start the family project of freezing beans.

The next day he was heard to say, “oh, owwww….my legs hurt!  I got BEAN LEGS!”  …and the term was born and would live on in infamy.

We didn’t think to tell him that picking beans is one of the many tasks that have a part in the farmer/gardener fitness plan.  All the bending over to pick beans does a real number on your glutes and quads.  Sometimes even the backs of one’s calves ache from the constant stretching and strain. Lower back muscles get a workout as well.

The easiest way to pick green beans is to straddle the row.  With one foot on either side of the row of plants, you inch along, picking beans and dropping them in the bucket on the outside of the row.

It is best to leave the plants as undisturbed as possible so that they can continue to grow and produce for several weeks. Looking upside down at all the plants in order to get every bean certainly gives a different perspective on the world. Listening to music on my MP3 player, the time passes quickly while the beans steadily pile up in the bucket.  
...and I love me some green beans!  I know that some Market customers will be thrilled.

But, thirty pounds of beans later, you guessed it…I think I’ve got BEAN LEGS. As it is early in the season, my muscles are in need of some toning.

No time to consider those tight muscles…

            it’s broiler processing day!

 P.S. to Bartee:  thanks for the chuckle, Hoss!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Have Been Blessed

This was the view as I went out to “work” the other morning. 

                Don’t think anything compares with the sight of grazing animals at sunrise…

This made me think of “I have been blessed” sung by Martina McBride.

I get kissed by the sun
Each morning…

Sometimes I sit on my
Front porch…
Just soaking up the day
I think to myself, I think to myself
This world is a beautiful place

I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones
That love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed

I have been blessed
And I feel like I've found my way
I thank God for all I've been given
At the end of every day

                                     I HAVE been blessed!

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Always Somethin'!

“Once, just ONCE… I would like to go through a season without some major expense!” the Boss lamented.

Yeah, well…good luck with THAT one!

Last year we had the tractor repair (read this) and the reefer purchase (read this one) and the surrounding costs of delivery and set up... then read this!

Last month, the Troy-bilt roto-tiller broke down.  Just up and died. We have had this workhorse for well over 20 years and it has never failed us.  I suggested that perhaps it was some sort of payback thing as the Boss had been badmouthing someone’s BCS (the competing brand of tiller).  Joking aside, the tiller is an integral part of the workforce so prompt repair was crucial.
The only way to move the motionless tiller

The problem was identified and phone calls made. The repair shop said a week to ten days.  The Boss decided to do it himself.  A little internet shopping, a few days wait, and he was on the case. 

…except that the repair didn’t…repair the problem! It ran for a while...

Back to the drawing board, er…internet to re-evaluate the problem.  Order another part…wait a couple days…work on it again…nuthin’.

Then, it was time to face that question we had been trying to avoid.
Was it time to replace Troy?
What kind of investment were we talking about?
Good night!  That MUCH?

There was one more thing to try…a new engine.

The nice repair guy in town said he’d order it, no money down, no worries…it would be in tomorrow. (yeah, right…like I believed THAT one!)  Wonder of wonders, it came in…the Boss picked it up and paid for it, and wonder of wonders…was able to install it withOUT a special trip to Lowe’s or elsewhere.

YAY!  It starts and stays running.  But something sounds wrong.


This time it is the worm gear which looks like this….
see how smooth that "gold part" looks?

It should, in fact, look like THIS! No wonder it doesn't work.

Looks like another repair job.  The list of parts began to add up.  Another couple hundred….yikes! But, this should solve the problem.  It better! We are getting to the point where it might be cheaper to buy another machine.

Wait a minute!  The main part is backordered until sometime in mid to late August.  The only way to get one is to get a used one somewhere…and it looks like other folks are looking for used ones, too.  There are a few on Ebay, but time is of the essence.  Another two weeks without the tiller is just WAY too long. The "tiny tiller" that he uses for hoophouse work can be used in a pinch for small-ish jobs.  Unfortunately, it has its own set of "issues" that require repeated maintenance and repair.

Time to think the unthinkable.  Time to seriously consider replacement.  We must have a tiller to work and maintain the gardens. Troy-bilt was bought out by another company that is no longer producing quality workhorses. The cheap-o ones at the big box stores are just that.  SO…we are switching to the competitor’s brand. No kidding.

Next week we’re off to get the new tiller.  The Boss will be able to get back to work and then when the part for the other one becomes available, he can repair that one.  At that point he will be making a decision to sell the repaired old one or keep it for “emergency back-up”.  …and if history is any predictor…I’m going with that one.

It’s always somethin’!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Countin' Sheep

Insomnia should never again be a problem here on the hill.

Okay, one look at Jed and you will realize that he has no sleep issues. He has been known to cause more than a few! …and on a very personal note, yes, I admit it…I have fallen asleep during the news.  …and, YES, that would indeed be the 6 o’clock news! (there were mitigating circumstances, but nonetheless…)

However, if one needed to count sheep in order to fall asleep, things recently got a little more interesting around here.

A couple of Fridays ago, I was picking in the hoophouse when I heard a good deal of commotion at the top of the lane.  It was raining, and the hoophouse side was rolled down, so I couldn’t see what was going on without discontinuing my work and walking to the door of the hoophouse.

That didn’t do a whole lot of good.  I could see a pickup with a livestock trailer…the driver got out a couple of times, looked around, and re-positioned the truck each time.  Since I was “on the clock” and didn’t want to appear REALLY nosey, and it was raining, I went back to work.  The banging of the trailer doors and revving of the engine signaled that the project was completed.  I still couldn’t figure out what might be going on, so I texted the Boss. 

“WHAT’S going on?  Are neighbor’s horses being rustled?”

His answer?  “we have 25 new neighbors!”


I finished the job, and since it was time for lunch, went in the house to find out what he meant…what was going on…I figured it was animals of some type, but since I hadn’t seen anything in the trailer, and I couldn’t see Neighbor’s field…I was stumped.


Twenty-five ewes are making their home at our neighbor’s for the summer.  He generally runs calves, or a few cow-calf pairs (…one year he had a bull, too! Funny times, those…NOT) in order to keep the property in “land-use”.  This provides a tax break for those keeping their land in agricultural use. As cattle prices were a little higher than he wanted to invest, he “borrowed” some sheep from his brother. 

This is more than a little amusing to me as Neighbor hates sheep. I’m fairly certain he’s one of the locals that would refer to sheep as “range maggots” if pushed.  He and brother used to run sheep on this property back before we bought it. So, the neighborhood has returned to its ovine roots. Although Jed and Ellie Mae are fit to be tied about the new status of the hill.

It’s odd to see sheep over on the hill where we are used to seeing cows and horses.  It’s funny to hear them call to our sheep and lambs.  They run around and holler when I call our sheep at feeding time.  But, it’s downright hilarious to see one of them in our driveway, sheep and lambs on either side of the driveway, dogs bouncing around at the gate!

About two days after the new inhabitants arrived, I heard more commotion at the top of the driveway.  I was in the kitchen preparing supper when the dogs went off.  I looked out the door, half expecting the UPS man, or the neighbor’s Chihuahua (Jed’s nemisis).  There on the lane was a sheep!  She was running around, shrieking.  Our sheep and lambs were all on alert. The dogs were having fits. Neighbor’s sheep were on the other side of the lane, calling to their sister. She went galloping off down the lane.  Just another day on the hill…

I reported to the Boss, he just chuckled, (Neighbor has a terrible time with wandering animals) and we went back to our supper preparations. Meanwhile, we were rejoicing that the Boss had the foresight to put the gate in at the top of the drive.  Have you any idea what kind of damage we could incur from marauding ruminants?   Since he was grilling, he was standing on the front porch watching it rain (again!)as he cooked.  When he came inside, he was laughing again.  “You should have seen it!”  he said. “I think I’ve seen everything!”

Seems Neighbor was coming home from work, and encountered Ms. Sheep on the lane.  He proceeded to herd her up the lane with his vehicle…his vintage Camaro!  Gee, I miss all the good stuff!

A little while later, sheep owning brother showed up…tacked up some barbwire and went his way.  Escaping sheep issue solved! 


Apparently, Ms. Sheep must like free and easy living.  Two days later, she was out again.  This time she was munching the other neighbors grass. At some point, someone got her back in the field.  I know; I counted!

This afternoon, I walked down to get the mail.  I saw Neighbor’s sheep in the alley near the creek.  I tried real hard not to scare them, but they bulleted up the hill anyway.  In passing, I wondered just where that one sheep could have escaped.  I had no moment of enlightenment, so I got the mail and started home.

About that time a big red dually came up the hill.  I sorta, kinda recognized the driver.  I waved, he waved, the passenger waved.  I think the dog in the back waved.  Then, the truck stopped on the hill, it started backing up.  Hmm, okay, now this is weird…

Then, I saw them gesturing to one another.  Ms. Sheep bolted out of the underbrush.  

The two fellas jumped out of the truck…I volunteered to help (‘cause that’s just what ya do)…a quick discussion…open the gate…everyone wave their arms…Ms. Sheep jumps the cattle guard…dude closes the gate…done deal.

The driver and I started discussing where she got out.  I told him that I’ve been trying to figure it out, because that same black one was out before, he rolled his eyes and nodded.  I admit it, I tell him, I am stumped.  He told me that another neighbor called him about the escapee.  It was then it dawned on me that he was actually the grown-up version of some little kid I had met eons ago.  Yep, he’s sheep-brother’s son!  Man, do I feel old.

Now, there is an ongoing mystery in our little community on the hill.  How in the world is Ms. Sheep (and it is ALWAYS the same one) escaping?  …why aren’t the others escaping?

I told him I’d keep an eye on it.  I’ll let someone know if I figure it out in the relatively near future.

As for counting sheep to go to sleep….I really don’t think so…

                                         that escaping one may end up giving us all nightmares!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

One True Love

Ellie Mae....


                                           ....Enough said!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blasted Crows

I'm pretty sure this crow is laughing at me


 The sound of gunfire reverberated through the air, shattering the Sunday morning calm and sending Jed scuttling for safety.

Good Lord! WHAT was that?

The Boss chuckled.  “Sounds like Neighbor is huntin’ groundhogs again!”

With what?  A cannon?

He chuckled again.  “I dunno.  Hope he got it!”

We didn’t hear any more shots and forgot about the incident for a while.  Later, we saw Neighbor on the lane and in the course of the conversation, the Boss said “hey, didya get the groundhog this mornin’?”

“…wasn’t a groundhog!  It was a CROW!”

“that won’t be gettin’ in the garden!”  his girlfriend added with a grin.

The conversation turned from the crows to sheep to other things and then we all went our way. 

Crows are part of the landscape and for the most part cause few difficulties.  Ellie hates them with a passion (and now has Jed helping her chase them) because they eat the eggs she loves so much.  But, in the fifteen years we have been here, they haven’t ever done any noticeable damage.

…until now…

I have had a bad feeling about the crows since the Boss first seeded the corn at the beginning of the month.  I saw them hanging out down in the corn patch, sitting on the fence, or up in the trees along the fenceline. This was unusual and might mean that they were scoping out the situation.

Drat!  I was right!  They were “scoping out the situation”.  Once the corn sprouted and began to grow, the blasted crows came along, nipped off the corn seed and left the tiny seedling, rootless, to die in the dirt.  In some cases, they dug quite deep to get to the corn kernel.  Why?  After all this time, WHY did the crows suddenly start eating the corn? 
There are long bare stretches where the crows ate the seeds

Since the answer to that question is completely elusive, we decided that re-planting the corn and re-pelling the crows would be the best plan.
Corn seedling damaged by crows
Healthy corn seedling
the crows dug down to find the seed

This morning, I spent a fair amount of time re-seeding the places where the crows had uprooted the corn.  There were long stretches where they had methodically pulled EVERY seedling.  Then, there were stretches where the plants were still intact. Corn needs to be planted evenly throughout the field for good pollination…in order to have a good crop.

Once I finished the re-seeding, I devised a system that would THEORETICALLY keep the crows from the cornpatch.  I took two aluminum pans (left over from our baking days at the market…see, saving all the odd and random DOES come in handy!) and attached them to re-bar stakes with fence insulators.  This would allow the wind to cause the pans to move and make noise.  Waylon and the dogs were put off by the noise, so I hoped for the best.

I didn’t see any crows hanging around until late afternoon. 

Then, I saw EIGHT!  There they were, checking out the corn…and sitting on the fencepost…laughing at me.    …and yes, they were in the corn…again!  ARGH

At this point, I stapled a shirt to a hanger and put it in the middle of the patch, hoping that the flapping would put them off the corn invasion. That didn’t seem to deter them for long either.

The Boss will put up some string barrier in the morning, in hopes of deterring the crows. Maybe we should get one of those fake owls…or a water cannon…

However, if that doesn’t work…there will be a new meaning to “blasted crows”! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An Ox in the Ditch

Sundays in our part of the world are a little different than the rest of the week.  Many of us have deep church roots that taught us that Sunday was a day of rest and old habits die hard.

Generally, it’s very quiet early on a Sunday, no tractors or mowers or even big trucks running through town.  Even the animals seem quieter as the church bells toll.  During a walk down the road, gospel bluegrass and the scent of bacon and pancakes waft through the morning air.  Those cars going through town are filled with folks in their Sunday clothes who wave as they go off to church.

Throughout the Southern US, the reference to the “ox in the ditch” was a common one during Sunday services. The allusion is to a conversation in the Bible between Jesus and the Pharisees in which Jesus explains that sometimes work MUST be done….Sabbath or not. 

Religious and theological arguments aside, the Boss and I would rather NOT work on Sunday.  In part this is due to consideration for the few neighbors who may cling to their Bible-Belt upbringing, but for the most part it is for our own benefit.  Sometimes, we really need a break!  Sunday gives us a chance to relax, re-charge, and re-focus for the upcoming week.

There are times when the “ox in the ditch” affects us.  That morning check of the weather occasionally reveals that despite our plans and desires, there is much to be done prior to predicted storms. The weather is no respecter of persons…or our plans, so there are times when we have to do jobs when the weather dictates.  The garlic harvest became one of those jobs.

I have been writing about the beautiful garlic crop for some time now.  Every time we would go out the drive, the Boss would say, “gotta get the garlic out SOON!”  With the predicted rain, this statement became more urgent.

"exploded" garlic...
definitely NOT something to offer for sale!

The garlic was at the point where harvest was imperative. The scapes had been cut some time ago and the bulbs were at the peak of perfection (we hoped).  If left in the ground too long, the garlic bulbs will swell and “explode”.  This opens the entire plant to rot and mold and the crop can be lost. That would be tragic in oh, so many ways.

So, we headed out to harvest the garlic.  I would like to have thought that it was one of the Boss’ infamous half hour jobs, although I knew better. …and it was hot and humid in advance of the upcoming weather.  Looking up the rows, I was not too encouraged.  This was going to take a while.

The first bulb out of the ground made it evident that the extra effort was going to be worth it.  It was gorgeous!  …and the next one and the next one….oh wow!
Each garlic plant needed to be loosened with a digging fork, and pulled from the ground.   

 Then the excess dirt was removed by gently tapping the plant against our boots. 

The plants were left to dry slightly in the hot sun. 
Hauling the garlic to the barn
In the afternoon, we hauled the garlic to the barn and placed it on wire racks with fans underneath.  The fans run 24/7, circulating the air and drying the garlic leaves. This will allow the garlic to “cure” before they are trimmed up for sale.  By allowing the skin to “cure”, it will become dry and protective and the garlic will last longer.The garlic will head to the Market next week.

As we placed them on the racks, we did a quick inspection. Most of the bulbs were large and lovely.  There were very few small ones and even fewer bad ones.  This year’s garlic crop looks like the best ever!

A couple garlic bulbs joined a chicken on the grill for supper.  Not only were they gorgeous, they are delicious, too!

With that “ox in the ditch” out of the way, we got back to our usual Sunday routine.  Although another weather check meant Monday’s plans were going to change…

                                              …and possibly Tuesday’s…
                                                                                                ...and Wednesday's...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lookin' for Love

It only took an instant. The moment I gazed into those brown eyes…that was it…love at first sight…a love so deep and strong that it quite possibly changed the course of my life. I take that back, it DID change the course of my life!

Oh, wait…

                                     yeah, I know the Boss’ eyes are BLUE!

Let me explain. 
                      …and let me say right here…he is TOTALLY okay with this whole affair.

When I was a little girl, maybe five or six, I wandered into the dairy barn at the county fair.  There among all the dairy specimens was a small Jersey cow.  I don’t remember a thing about her except those eyes…those big, liquid, deep, dark chocolate eyes.  I was hooked.  I HAD to have a cow.  Time meant nothing.  Just sometime in my life I HAD to be the owner of a cow. I envisioned myself milking cows, herding cows, making butter, cheese and ice cream and whatever else one was supposed to do with cows.

Raised on a literary diet of “Little House” books, Mother Earth News and Countryside magazine, I thought this was a normal desire for a young girl.  I remember trying endlessly to convince my ever practical father of the necessity of a milk-cow. I tried to convince him that I could learn to milk the heifer he had gotten for a beef critter. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful.  The desire/obsession went on the back burner throughout school, college, and career.

Frosty - 1997
The Boss knew of my obsession.  As a matter of fact, he rather encouraged me.  By the time we moved to the Valley, he was in full agreement with my “cow thing”.  He had promised me a cow when we moved to the hill.  The Boss is a definitely man of his word, and he delivered the cow the first fall we were here.

I think I have chronicled my “mis-adventures” with Frosty to some extent.   She was beautiful, she gave lovely, creamy milk…but, she had ZERO personality.  Despite the fact that my ignorance nearly ended her life that first freshening, we went on to a semi-successful term with her. Breeding issues spelled the end of her career here on the hill. If a milk-cow won’t breed, eventually she won’t have any milk.

I really wanted a cow I could love who would love me back.  While that sounds really strange, you need to consider just how much time is spent with a milk-cow, especially a family milk-cow. When you milk a cow by hand, you spend a LOT of time hunkered down by the beast in all sorts of weather, milking…milking…milking twice a day.  It is a most intimate experience.  You have lots of time to think, squirt, pray, squirt, sing, squirt, swear, squirt, worry, squirt…the cycle begins again. There are THOUSANDS of squirts in a bucket of milk, and I have milked THOUSANDS of buckets.  So, I have done a LOT of thinking, praying, singing, swearing, worrying…

Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to feel those stirrings of love for Frosty, I never did.  For the record, I don’t think she ever cared for me, either.  But, we finally had abundant dairy products, the ability to try cheesemaking, and some of the most gorgeous and delicious butter ever eaten!

We ended up with a second cow.  She belonged to some friends who didn’t want to mess with the whole “intimate cow thing”, but really wanted milk.  If we would milk her, feed her, make sure she got bred; they would provide hay for all.  Seemed like a great deal! As I am sure you know…great deals usually come with a down-side.

Polly - just prior to calving
“Polly” was an old, spent dairy cow…afraid of everything…especially cowboy hats (boys, you should have been NICE!) but, she was a dear, giving lots and lots of milk…through LOTS and LOTS of effort.  She had little, teeny, tiny teats that required two fingered milking. (pointer finger and thumb…THOUSANDS of times) My fingers (and forearms) got really, really tired, but I prevailed.  The sad fact was…Polly wasn’t my cow true love, either.  She tried, she really tried, but she was old and tired and had been “abused”, so there wasn’t much left by the time she got here. After a couple of seasons, she expired, leaving us temporarily cow-less.

Enter Kuh! (Kuh is cow in German.  I read a story about a little girl with a milk cow when I was a little girl.  The story cow’s name was Kuh, and it seemed more appropriate than “Patsy”, which was Kuh's name when we got her.)

Kuh provided a slow but steady mount
for some little cow-girls

Kuh was an old, old (the vet couldn’t begin to guess her age) dairy cow who started her life in Wisconsin, and through some twist of fate ended up on an Amish organic vegetable farm in Pearisburg, VA.  We found out about her through a friend who was “finding himself” in the Amish community and needed a home for his cow when he found he was NOT in fact Amish. The Amish brothers helped us pack her in the back of our pick-up and up I-81 we went.  She stood up all the way home, chewing her cud and nodding in the breeze.  When she walked off the truck, she took immediate ownership of the barn and our hearts. 

Kuh, eating her beloved broccoli

Kuh was a character, to say the least. She would open the gate and let herself out…only to “tip-toe” back when she got caught.  She would rest her head on my shoulder with a contented air.  If you scratched her, she would either scratch you in return, or lick you all over.  She loved bread dough, and adored cinnamon rolls. In the springtime she would eat every onion in the paddock one at a time.  We learned that if there were onions, Kuh would find them.  We generally went without milk until onions were done, as it made the milk more than a little odoriferous.  But, broccoli was her favorite and was almost her undoing when she let herself out once and proceeded to eat about 100 plants in the night. 

Kuh and calf
She was a good old cow, despite more than one difficult birth, a still-birth and an annual bout with milk fever.  But, the recurring mastitis was a problem we just couldn’t beat. We tried everything, thought it was gone for good…only to have it come back with a vengeance. After about five years, it became obvious that Kuh’s time here on the farm was over. It is safe to say that we all loved Kuh and her eccentricities.  By this time, we had a new primary milk-cow…Gracie, and we couldn’t jeopardize her health with our emotional ties to Kuh.

I think we all shed a few tears the day that "Kuh-eee" left the farm.  It was almost like saying good-bye to an elderly aunt...or possibly a grandmother...

When it became apparent that we would need a new cow, the Boss made more than a few phonecalls. A dairyman in Crimora said we could come and look at a few cull cows.  When you want a “home-milk-cow”, you do not generally get the pick of the litter.  The old, spent, somewhat worn-out girls can get a little more time by going to a small home operation. This works to the benefit of both the home operation and the old cow.

We got a most unusual experience.  The dairyman took us along with him as he moved the cows between paddocks.  The wonder of walking with well over one HUNDRED dairy cows at they change fields defies description.  It felt like we were being swept along by some bovine tide. …if I had only taken pictures…

Gracie and Kuh
There was one cow in the herd that kept walking right along with me.  She reached out and mouthed my sweater.  She licked my hand.  I looked into her eyes…

The dairyman offered prices on a number of old girls.  We took an obligatory look.  The Boss had seen the exchange between the cow and me.  He asked the price.  I inwardly gasped.  I figured the search would continue.

The next day, the Boss made another phonecall.

About a week later, Gracie joined the farm.   Gracie was the most expensive gift the Boss has ever given me, and to this day I am grateful for the experiences that having Gracie afforded me, and I appreciate that the Boss made it all possible.

Gracie was an awesome cow.  She produced extremely well, had a most interesting “personality” and would do some things on command.  She adapted to the home operation with ease, taking over the barn from Kuh with little difficulty.  She was most definitely my cow, unlike Kuh who loved anyone who fed her.

Having Jersey cows means that you must learn to deal with MILK FEVER.  This ailment is a severe calcium deficiency that occurs shortly after the cow gives birth. It can kill the animal in a very short period of time, so time is of the essence.  Dairymen and women must learn to prevent the illness or treat it promptly.  By the time we got Gracie, we were on a first name basis with the vets and were doing all we could to learn to prevent the wretched ailment.

By regulating the cow’s nutrition just prior to calving, we were able to reduce and then prevent the awful ailment from occurring.  I finally felt like I had learned something when the vet told me, “Barbara, YOU know your cows!” We had to endure one bout of milk fever with Gracie, but after that, we learned to control it, earning the vet’s respect (finally). That was the best part of my dairying career.

Gracie and Penny heading to the barn
By the time that Gracie had her calf, Penny, times were “a-changin’ “on the farm.  After nearly ten years of having milk-cows, it was time to think about moving on to other things. Our daughters were grown, and doing other things, the cows took a LOT of time, the milk (and dairy products) took up a LOT of room, the Boss and I needed to re-focus.

We bred Penny, hoping for a heifer calf, in order to continue the line.  Although the calf was a heifer, it was born deformed and died shortly after its arrival. 

Penny was beautiful, and I had always wanted to raise out a heifer for our own milk-cow. So, we had finally met the goal, and we had overcome the milkfever issue. We could consider ourselves a success in the home dairying chapter of our lives.   But it was obvious that the cows were a luxury we really could no longer afford.  Bovine pets are completely impractical.  They need far too much space, feed, time and attention. Selling raw milk in our state is not allowed unless you “jump through the hoops”, and I have never had a desire to be a bootlegger.  There was just no way for the cows to pay for themselves.

I realized it was time to let go…time to move on…and sell that last cow.

In some ways, it was sad…letting go and moving on.  In many other ways, it was incredibly freeing…letting go and moving on. The Boss and I have been able to do far more withOUT the cows than we were ever able to do with them here.  Although, from time to time, we both miss those beautiful brown-eyed girls.

Polly, Frosty and Junior checking out the new addition
"T-Bone" (Angus bull in background)

My life was changed by gazing into those deep brown eyes all those years ago…and I don’t regret for one moment all that I have experienced due to my lifelong love of cows. The delicious dairy products and homegrown beef may have been only a secondary benefit. Having cows afforded me some amazing learning experiences I would not have gotten otherwise…lessons about life and death and faith and love. We have also gotten to meet and appreciate some very cool folks along the way.

All of that to say this…Cows are awesome!

While most folks will never get to have the “up close and personal” experience of a family milk cow, it is important for everyone to understand what goes into all those dairy products that so many of us enjoy. Dairy cows take a lot of work and commitment, and dairy families should be applauded for all their efforts.

It’s also important that we all take at least a minute during DAIRY month to appreciate all that those involved in the dairy business do for us on a daily basis.  

That’s why June was designated Dairy month…so eat some icecream, drink your milk and thank a farmer.  

B and A with Kuh and some beef critter
back "in the day"

 …and hug a cow 
                       if you get the chance!

Last year’s DAIRY MONTH entry can be found here: