To Give A Dame A Piece of Cake

Sometimes when life speeds up around you it’s hard to slow down and take time for yourself.

September has been a prime example of that for me. I look forward to the autumn. It signals a time of slowing down. A time when the kids are back in school and life seems to “settle.”

But this September, life didn’t settle like it usually does. It twisted and turned and at one point turned me upside down. That was the day when I drove across the state so I could sit in a hospital waiting room while my dad was having surgery.

It was the day I stepped into a recovery room and saw my dad, not as the invincible dad of my childhood, but a man who could be hurt.

To some of us, I guess you could say that farmers are super heroes, too.

It takes stamina and dedication to start your day at 4 am and sometimes not end your day until after everyone else has gone to bed.

A farmer always watches over his herd and his family. He provides food for on the table, tends to his sick cows, and mends broken fences.

There are no days off.

There are no vacations.

A farmer’s work is never done and for that I’m grateful. My dad has gone from that recovery room, to a hospital room, and returned back home in September. Slowly, he is gaining his strength back and healing. Soon I know he will be back to checking on things in the barn.

It doesn’t feel like it is happening soon enough. Perhaps that is because the fast pace of life is starting to take it’s lull. It just took a few extra weeks of being October for it to happen.

And even though schedules are slowing down, routines are falling back into place, and Dad is healing. I am happy to wait, and watch, and even wonder if the invincible don’t sometimes need extra time to recharge their super powers.

In my family, we like to celebrate things by eating cake.

When my oldest child was around four years old, she was a handful. We used to celebrate her being a good listener and having a good week by baking a cake every Sunday. She got to choose the cake flavor and icing. She would help bake it and decorate it, then we’d have it after supper that evening.

Other than birthdays, we don’t have cake very often.  Then I saw a new cake mix at the local grocery store – orange and chocolate velvet. Beside it was a maple and bacon icing.

When my kids saw the cake they wanted to know whose birthday we were celebrating. Then I explained: It’s no one’s birthday. Sometimes we just need to take a moment out of our hectic and the unexpected events in our lives and celebrate the small things.

So we did.

ddfallcake2

And so to you my friends, I say, “Let there be cake.”

It is so easy to become wrapped up in the drama of life that we miss the small things happening around us at the same time. Those small things are what turns the upside down days right side up again.

Cherish them. Celebrate them.

Bake a cake and invite friends and family over for a piece, because the little slice of life we are given deserves to be savored and shared.

Crowd Funding For Farmers

It’s time for this farm girl to get out of town.

I’ve been a backyard farmer for way to long now.

And I know I’m not the only one. There are many of you out there dreaming of both small and large farms of your own.

If only buying a farm were as easy as crowding funding is to filmmakers or authors for movies or books.

It’s so much cheaper to live in the city. It’s also so much nosier and so much more intrusive.

For the past seven years, this is has been my little backyard farm. The only thing I truly love about our house in town is our backyard.

backyard farmI wish it I could take anything about our home with us when we leave here, it would be this piece of our backyard. My dad and brother made the white gate into the garden, and I hate to leave it behind. I remind myself that it’s just a gate and the memory of making it is worth so much more.

As a senior in high school, I wrote up a business plan for our dairy farm. As a member of DECA – Distributive Education Clubs of America – my farm business plan landed me a trip to the national competitions that were held in Orlando, Florida that year. I know for a fact, no one else had a farm plan that year. I spent more of my time explaining the functions of farming then I had to explain and defend my business plan.

I guess it just goes to show that you really can make money in farming, or at least on paper.

Somewhere, I know I still have that business plan. OR at least I hope I do or that my brother kept his copy.

I always thought my brother and I would be running the farm together. How life has a way of veering us from the places we thought we would go, or not go. Yet, I have always carried the farm along in my heart.

Farming isn’t something you just do, it’s a way of life that gets into your blood and stays in your heart. Tweet This.

Our house went on the market at the beginning of this month. I don’t know where we are going. God love my husband, as I do, for going along on this journey. Our fifteen year anniversary is fast approaching, and when we got married he promised me I’d have horses again. I’m still waiting, dreaming, holding onto that promise.

I know there is no place for us on the family farm. Thanks to the new Amish neighbors there is no place for us to buy land or a home. Even if we could afford a farm.

Most large farms cost about $500,000 to $1million. That doesn’t include the equipment or the cows. Horse farms can range around $300,000 and up. Even if I worked full-time and with my husband working to raise our family, reality is we could never afford a farm. I would need to sell more books than I could count, and even though that can happen, (because I do believe in miracles) I also know my husband is allergic to animals. I also know that by the time I could afford a farm I would be too old to enjoy the labor and efforts to see it grow. By then my children would be on their own and have no ties to this kind of life.

Even with a business plan, a bank would never grant that kind of a loan while raising a family and living off a teacher’s and writer’s salary.

Reality bites.

Practacalty kicks in, so for now I’m praying for a 3-4 bedroom house, on an acre or two of land – just big enough for a horse, maybe a potbellied pig, and space to grow a garden that is outside of town where there are no cars flying past the house every minute, or people yelling across the street to one another or throwing trash in my front yard. Just peace and quiet and a little bit of a farm that I can call my own.

Perhaps one day there will be crowd funding for farmers. Instead of offering a signed copy of a book or naming a character it could be like naming the calves, or claiming a cow on the farm (like adopting them but the always stay on the farm.) Or perhaps getting names recorded down the side of the barn to show the support of a community helping one farmer’s dream turn to reality. Or the dream of a farmer’s daughter.

What do you think, will crowd funding farms work or ever exist?

Until then, there are other farmers in other countries trying to expand and feed their families on Kiva.org. This is a place where you can loan like $25 toward the money needed by the individuals there to give them the funds to take the next step in providing for their dreams and way of life.

This story, a woman named Gulshaiyr  caught my attention recently. She’s trying to raise money to buy a bull and cultivate her land so she may continue to provide for her family and see that her children are educated.

It makes my own longing for a farm small in comparison to her simple need of one bull to rise her up another step toward her goals for her family.

So for now, I will live my dreams of farming through those I can help.

A Life Worth Living For

Her name was Sloppy. She was the only cow in the barn that pressed her nose down on the ball of the water bowl then slurped the water with her tongue.

Not only did she make a mess splashing water everywhere, you could hear her drinking from the other end of the barn shed.

She hadn’t been ‘Sloppy’ in weeks. She was the dame who laid down and gave birth to that bull calf last week.

A Life Worth Living For

For the couple weeks and this past week, she drank from a bucket that was placed in front of her and filled until her thirst was sated. She’d lay, chewing her cud, and keeping her chin up.

I clung to the hope that, while she could not stand on her own, she still ate, drank, and made manure like all the other dames in the barn.

Hope is one of those things that no one should easily let go of, nor give up.

Every day, Sloppy was picked up and put on her four hooves to stand. Without assistance she was unable to hold herself up. Her one back leg was stiff and useless. I wonder how many massages it would have taken to regain use of it. However, the number doesn’t matter. I was only able to massage her hip and leg once, but I tried.

Trying never hurt anyone. But we knew before I tried that chances were slim. That’s why I asked her to let him live.  She could have choose to give up and her calf would most likely have died with her.

Her bag never filled with milk. She’d done what she could that morning to bring her calf into the world, and now he frolics amongst the other calves.

I wish I had a happy ending to Sloppy’s story, but she simply couldn’t hold on any longer.

Yesterday afternoon, Sloppy slipped peacefully into Heaven’s green pasture.

Yet, I can’t help wondering if I would have been able to stay there at the barn longer if she wouldn’t have improved more. I’m told the answer is no, but there’s always that what if that lingers inside you. Though living on a farm has taught me that farm animals can come and go, It has always brought me grief when one of the cows dies.  Usually not that often, but often enough that like a beloved pet, you mourn them.

Sloppy was more than a number on the farm, she was one of the dames, and she’ll be missed – slurping noises and all.

 

Cow vs Price of Milk

When milk prices drop shouldn’t the price of what’s producing it?

Simple economics tells us that when we have a surplus, prices can drop, and when we have a demand greater than the supply the product becomes more valuable and increases.

So what does that have to do with the prices of cows?

Let’s think of it like a shopper, shall we?

I go to the store. I buy milk. I buy cheese and grab that pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I may even grumble at paying $3.59 for my gallon of milk.

The factory should just produce more milk, right?

Go tell it to the cow!

It’s never a good idea to assume. So, we’ll say ‘most’ people know milk comes from cows.

Now, let’s think of it as a farmer (or the farmer’s wife, or daughter… you choose).

If the price of milk drops. It drops for the farmer. Hence, the pay check just got smaller.

So lower milk prices means the farmer needs to ship more milk in order to get a bigger pay check.

The farmer most likely has a family that needs fed, too.

It’s not like he can go out to the cows in the barn and say, “My dearest cows, I know your doing the best you can to help fill the tank, but could you eat a little more and produce more milk this week? Little Joe needs a new pair of glasses.”

While cows are known to respond to some commands, a pep talk isn’t one of them.

Which leaves the dairy farmer with a choice:

1. Buy more cows

2. Cut back on the feed bill (in the barn and in the house)

What do you think the farmer chooses?

What would you choose?

My guess is, the farmer buys more cows.

Seeing that the price of milk  has fallen for all the milk producers, and not just the farmer, there are going to be many farmers looking to add a few more cows to their herd.

There’s that economics thing again. Demand = higher price.

Cows are a lot like Apple products ( I mention this due to the new release of Apple’s smart watch). Remember when the iphone came out and everyone stood in line and Apple ran out? There isn’t always enough of a product to go around.

Cows are God’s creation. They cost about three to four times more than a smart watch or even an iphone for that matter.

This is good news for those selling cows, bad news for the dairy farmers, and has nothing to do with the price of milk in the store.

But it will.

Anyone want to forecast the economics on that in the future?

Washing Milk Claws

milk claws

Found these beauties in the top of the barn. Stored for a rainy day – or should they be needed. An auction find that got put aside in the box. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve been tucked away for a few years now. Yeah, that long.

They’ve obviously haven’t been very useful in the box.

There are three sets. Universal milk claws with shells and a few inflations. These are the older model, and I think the better ones. They have glass milk chambers marking them antique.

Today the milk chambers are plastic.

However, before anything, these pieces of milk equipment need a good washing.

So, I brought them home and headed for the sink.

washing milk clawsMy first thought was to go ahead and toss them in the dish washer. They’re stainless steel and glass, so they’d be dishwasher safe, right?

I’m one of those people who lean to the cautious side. So I hand washed them.

milker shellsI used a little Dawn dish liquid and hot water. Bye, bye grime.

Seeing that the current milking equipment in the parlor is functioning fine an these haven’t been needed.

I’ve placed the three sets up on ebay. I’ve already sold one set, but these two are left. You can click on these two links or please share them if you know a farmer who might be looking for a spare or to replace some milking equipment.

Dairy Milker Set #1

Dairy Milker Set #2

Now, to get back to cleaning. You never know when an inspection may occur. Or you never know when I might come across another treasure hidden in the barn. How about you, found something lately that you’d forgotten you had?

 

 

 

There is a new cow in the barn

She came to us with no ear tag. Just a sticker number on her back.

caramel cow

My son bestowed her with the name of ‘Caramel.’

There’s nothing wrong with naming a cow after your favorite ice cream topping, right?

We don’t know much about Caramel, only that someone put her in a trailer and shipped her to the auction. There she went through the ring and was sold to the highest bidder, which just happened to be us. She was then loaded onto my dad’s trailer and he brought her to the farm.

Talk about having a long day.

Imagine leaving home in the morning not knowing where you were going and by supper finding yourself in a new place. A new herd.

Distressing.

Reality.

There are some of us who are born and are buried in the same place. We spend our entire lives in one place. Dairy cows aren’t much different. Once in a while, however, some of us may leave home. We see the world and leave traces of our journey through the friends we meet and the people we impress.

Some of us return home.

Some of us join new herds and find new barns.

No matter what the circumstance, I believe people come into each others’ lives for a reason. Whether they stay for the long haul or a short while, the impact of knowing them is priceless.

Here on the farm, cows aren’t much different. Some come, some go, some travel and some never leave.

Welcome to the farm.

Can Your Kid Drive?

With the skid loader parked and our backs turned, little Ruby decided it was her turn to drive!

Even after all these weeks on the farm, even I haven’t got to drive the skid loader…yet.

 

kid drivergoat drive on farmgoat comicgoat joyride

Sorry, Ruby. Skid loaders are for the big kids and those of us who have feet and hands to operate the controls.

You just stick to the weed eating and we’ll stick to the barn cleaning.