16 October 2017

Get Milkin'

Going out to the barn to milk is one of the best ways to spend a morning.
Dolly and Parton (heehee yes, Jack purposefully named the calf Parton and the kids don't get the joke) have been with us for just over a month. Initially, they were one more fun pet to have on our farm. We'd been working on getting them used to us scratching their noses, wearing their halters, and working around them in the stalls while milking has been in the back of our minds. That is, afterall, why we bought a milk cow.
Jack's one happy camper with his brand new milk pail.
Dolly's previous owners were incredibly helpful and sold us a good deal of the equipment we needed--the vaccum pump, the milker, gallons of udder wash and teat dip--but we still had to wait for a few buckets and strainers to arrive. Then, it was time to try our hand at milking.
Jack's not quite sure we were doing it right.
The first several attempts at milking were clumsy and took both of us to get Dolly put in her stansion and get the milker on. She wasn't super happy with us, we had no idea what we were doing, and Parton was certainly voical about his frustration.
Each time we milked, it got easier and we became more proficient. We found what worked for Dolly and though neither of us are experts, we can at least get the milker on by ourselves. The rest is sitting on a bucket and waiting for the milk to flow.
I think this strainer is going to come in handy when we tap our maple trees this winter.
Once the milk is strained, it's a matter of pasteurizing it and quickly cooling it, to keep any weird "cow-y" taste from ruining the milk.
Or, you can just drink it raw, with a bit of ice, like Jack sometimes does.
Parton is happy to be back with his mama.
So far, we've made butter and mozzarella cheese from the milk, on top of literally drinking gallons, but I'm hoping to branch out into cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and of course, ice cream!

Better get milkin'!

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15 October 2017

Eat Up, Babies

Packing and moving is stressful, no doubt, but there is an upside to relocating--there's a chance to go through belongings and decide what to toss, recycle, or donate. While cleaning out our freezer, I discovered I had enough milk to donate to The Milk Bank, to those fragile babies who need milk supplementing. Since I've never had a problem with my milk supply, I've been able to also donate previously with Kate and Henry, too.

So, eat up, babies! There's plenty to go around.

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12 October 2017

Morning Glory

If we have to have weeds, I will take a morning glory over a lot of other plants.

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09 October 2017

Maze Runners

Jack and Henry working on the maze.
It's no secret that Jack is the fun parent. For example, when I get on the mower, I want mow quickly and efficiently and do my best to avoid running over little children as I raze down straight-ish lines. When Jack mows, he has the kids sit on his lap, they go speeding off, laughing and screaming, and if they get tired of mowing straight lines, they twist and turn until they've created a maze.
The finished product.
In the back pasture is a somewhat unutilized part of our property. Next spring we have plans to plant alfalfa to feed the bees, the cows, and sell the extra to buy the horses hay, but for now, we needed to mow down the foxtail in preparation for sowing alfalfa. Perfect place for a maze, right? Right.
Raven, my trusty maze buddy
While I didn't think the maze was overly complex, to the kids, who aren't quite as tall and don't have as long of legs nor as good as a vantage point, it was terribly frustrating the first time they tried it. They kept running into dead ends and literally were crying because they couldn't figure it out, convinced they'd have to stay there until they could find the end. Don't worry, we didn't make them. Then, while I was gone on Saturday, they spent the morning trying again until they solved it out. That left me as the only one who hadn't run through the foxtail maze.
Everyone watching from the hilltop.
In some sort of post-apocolyptic young adult novel acting out, Jack and the kids obliged me to run the maze by myself to see how fast I could do it. They sat comfortably atop the pond hill while I trotted through the grass with Raven in front and Zoey on my back.
Once I finished, Jack challenged everyone to do the maze as fast as they could and none of our children are ones to back down from a race. It was a close competition with Claire (naturally--she just has a knack for running) crossing the finish line first.
Henry and Zoey had it the best, leaching onto me and Jack for a free ride.
Guess tonight's activity makes us Maze Runners...?


Ah, the entertainment we can make with an open field and beautiful autumn weather!

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08 October 2017

Lucky Rooster

Big, beautiful Twinkle.
Twinkle is one lucky rooster.

A few years ago, we were given three Easter chicks, who all ended up being roosters. Twinkle, who should have been a hen, was the one fortunate rooster who didn't end up butchered. He's had a good life, watching over a small flock of hens and given free range to roam as he pleased. As far as roosters went, he was a pretty good one, though once in a while, he got the boot when he confused the kids or us as a threat and came flying with spurs pointed. As the years passed, he fathered dozens of chicks and Licorice did such a good job raising them that eventually, it became time for him to move along to prevent inbreeding and to introduce new bloodlines into the flock.
Meet Bob.
Earlier in the year, we hatched some adorable chicks out of blue eggs for my mom's birthday. I was hoping to get a few for ourselves but with moving, having more chickens wasn't prioritized on the top of the to do list. The chicks grew and not really a surprise, one of them ended up being a striking cockrel. As beautiful as he is, he's not allowed in town, where my mom's flock lives. So, I looked for someone to take Twinkle instead of having to butcher him--it seemed a shame to have to off him to make room for the new model of rooster but if we couldn't find anyone to take him, it would have become necessary. There is no kindness between grown roosters and it can cause havoc among a flock as they incessantly fight. Within hours of Bob, the new rooster, showing up, we found a home for Twinkle, who was consequently saved from the butcher's block.
Not exactly traveling in style but I think it's safe to say Twinkle is happy to still have his head.
Twinkle went to a family who is just getting started with chickens and Bob is now getting used to having a new set of girls to hang out with. Here's hoping to him being able to produce some chicks who'll lay blue eggs. Guess we'll find out in a year or so!
Welcome to the farm, Bob and au dieu, Twinkle!

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