Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Milk Shortage

We are a bit tight on milk for the next 2 weeks. This pic is of Happy. She is due August 15th. Then we will be absolutely FLOODED with milk. Teeny and Berretta are still producing well, but Gale's production has taken a major decline. She has been in milk for 1 1/2 yrs and is 4 months bred. Berretta is bred back too, and I noticed a slight drop as well. Just make sure to either email us and reserve your milk and cream or show up early because it goes fast. I won't be making a lot of fresh cheeses for the next 2 weeks so more milk is available for you all. Don't forget hard cheese starting August 1st, so next week's markets.
Update # 1- The Moth seige- Now some kind of furry white one has joined the scary blackish ones in the terror. Last night Dante did a moth check before going to bed, and caught a white one, and KISSED it in front of all the girls and I just to hear us scream! Evil!
Update #2 - JDRF Fundraising- We have raised about $350 so far! Thank you so much everyone who has donated, and to everyone in general who has passed on her video. If you can't donate that is fine, just keep Ayla in your thoughts and prayers and pass along her video if you can.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Attack of the Killer Moths

Such a ridiculous fear, isn't it? I can't help it, I have always been afraid of Moths. Something about those furry bodies and the frantic flight toward light just freaks me out! Luckily, I don't wish them any ill will, and am interested in the vast array of species when they are OUTSIDE.We had an amazing migration of Luna moths where for 2 weeks the outside of our log cabin was just covered with them, it was amazing! Then some cotton candy pink and cream colored little ones were around in numbers for a week. Some large woodsland variety actually scared my son so bad he hollered his first bad word EVER! Very unlike him. Now we have these giant brown black moths that get in the house and don't just flitter around a light, they fly around and land on us. Last night we ran in the door after milking screaming as one hitched a ride on my shoulder. Anyone have some wonderful interesting moth facts about how special and beneficial they are? Usually Dante just catches and releases them so don't worry we aren't slaughtering innocent insects up here. My Mom cannot believe that this farmer is afraid of moths, with all the livestock I work around its the moths that give me the shivers.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Yummy, look at that Ricotta and herbs on french bread. So simple and in season. This week I'm making a lot of ricotta, it's not just for stuffing shells. Ricotta is also delicious with berries and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. I like to take my huge 3 gallon jars, skim a good portion of the cream off, and then stir the remaining cream back into the milk and heat it up to 180 degrees then dash it with apple cider vinegar and voila! Delicious Ricotta.
Since I haven't updated in a while, yesterday made 5 weeks on my new " diet" and I have lost 21 pounds and started running. I feel renewed!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hope for Ayla

Dante and I are writing this on behalf of Ayla,
Ayla was diagnosed with type 1 ( juvenile ) diabetes on January 30th,2008 at the tender age of 19 months. She will be insulin dependent for the rest of her life. So far, in her 3 short years of life she has been subjected to 4,360 finger and toe pricks and been on the receiving end of 3,150 injections of insulin. We are looking into an insulin pump for her, which would mean less injections and better control, but I guess the “selfish” part of me just wanted to see my baby girl enjoy one more summer at the beach , without visible tubing. It’s easier to pretend everything is okay when she looks just like any other kid, isn’t it? We plan to start pump classes this Fall. Ayla is so full of Life, and such a character! I can’t tell you how many times I have cried alone at night, wondering why this would ever happen to such a great little soul.
We have spent the last year and a half just trying to cope and survive this. Ayla had 2 very serious hypoglycemic seizures that shook me to my very core. Both happened while everyone was asleep, and the last was almost a year ago, but only 6 days after the birth of our youngest daughter. That is when I stopped sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time. I remember holding her as she seized, Dante on the phone with a 911 operator, begging for her life and the seizure to stop. Thank God, it did. It has taken a toll. I feel ALL the kids have been robbed of a part of their childhoods. Seeing my other children crying hysterically as their little sister is rushed away, dying in an ambulance. A part of their innocence and belief that Mom and Dad can make everything better is gone. I started eating to try to dull the pain and fill my aching heart up somehow, and gained a lot of weight. Dante started smoking again. Ayla can’t have a simple overnight at Grandma’s house, because Grandma and Grandpa are afraid to take care of her without us.
We chose to lay it all out for you, and not sugar coat anything. We need you to understand why we need a cure for diabetes NOW. We can’t wait. Ayla can’t wait.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is the number 1 funder of juvenile diabetes research. One of their largest fund raising events is the “ Walk to cure Diabetes”. This year we have formed a team called Hope for Ayla. This years walk will be held on Saturday September 13th, 2009 in Portland ME.

If you are interested there are 3 ways you can help us to provide Hope for Ayla.
• You can join our team, Hope for Ayla, which consists of family and friends and collect pledges and walk with us.
• Send a donation and contact your friends and family to send a donation as well. Contact us and we will send you a pledge form. You can also forward this letter to as many people as you like.
• You can send a tax deductible donation in ANY amount made payable to JDRF. We will deliver any donations, in Ayla’s name, the morning of the walk. You can also donate online by going to We are team Hope for Ayla.
Thank You for helping us meet and hopefully exceed our family goal of raising $1000 for diabetes research. Hope to see you at the Walk!

Here's a link to Ayla's Diabetes Video:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hard Cheeses Coming Soon

Here's a little sneek peak into our cheese fridge. The top shelf has some Jack type cheeses I call " Milkmaid" and the bottom shelf has some Edam I named " Farmer's Wife". The first of these cheeses will be ready August 1st. As you can see, they all vary a little in size and shape, just like my life as a milkmaid and farmer's wife ( or THE Farmer depending on who you ask )varies from day to day. I need to have cheese fit in my life, and what I've discovered is that it can be more flexible than you think but I imagine these cheeses will vary in taste as well, depending on which cows milk I used, the season, and what little unexpected surprises popped up while the milk was ripening. It is all I can do to leave them alone, but law mandates all raw milk cheeses age at least 60 days. Stay tuned......

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Jersey/Angus Milk Cow

Everyone knows I am a big fan of Jersey cows, wouldn't have any other kind, but with that said I felt I needed to acknowledge our good girl Ellie May. A lot of homesteaders and people looking for family cows are usually interested in this cross. She is 3 years old, and out of my very first cow Gale. She is naturally polled, and produced about 3-4 gallons a day on her first lactation. She has a nice dairy udder from her mom, but holds condition extremely well. A nice producer on a grass based farm like ours where the cows forage actively. Ellie is bred and due to have a calf, the first out of our New Zealand bred bull in November. Now that would be a cow that could milk on grass. Lets hope for a heifer!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kids at the Summit of Cadillac Mountain

1st pic: Veda watching a kite flying
2nd pic: L to R Ayla, Zoie, Jude holding Ida May, and Veda
3rd pic: Veda and Jude
4th pic: Zoie and Ayla
Last Pic: Zoie and Jude

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Screaming Mimi

This has been a busy and hectic week that has just flown by. I am normally a night owl, between keeping tabs on Ayla, having an avid 11 month old nursling, and just my natural personality--- I am usually on some kind of second wind when the rest of the house sleeps. Every night this week I have laid down to nurse Ida, and just passed out.
Tonight I am finally, once again, the only one awake.
We've done a lot of traveling, especially Dante this week so sorely neglected many farm duties that were already behind due to rain. Dante has not had a chance to get back to the high tensile fence project. We have 20 acres to do, it is extremely slow going with no help. My dad really helped out driving those posts last weekend, I think he and Dante may have had some bonding time. Dad is also doing his own fence. We should have teamed up somehow to help each other out, but conflicting schedules never would have allowed it anyway. It is the busy season. I saw the blueberry harvesters at the garage getting prepped for blueberry season. I can't believe its almost that time. I mulched half of my new perennial flower bed today. I've been faithfully weeding it, but I know I'm gonna get behind so better mulch. The tomato plants growing next to our house look great, so does the kale.
We went to Acadia national park on Wednesday while Dante was at the Bar Harbor Farmer's Market. I took some pics of the kids at the summit of Cadillac Mountain. I'll post them tommorrow. That's the day Ida May got her new nickname " The Screaming Mimi". We say it affectionately, but she has decided in our family with 5 kids, numerous cats and livestock and lots of stuff always going on, the best way to get attention is to scream really loud. Especially in the car, and pretty much whenever I can't hold her. We were driving on the one way scenic loop and I had been really enjoying my coffee, and now needed to find a restroom. Veda and Ayla were yelling that they both had to pee and couldn't hold it, so I was thrilled when I saw a sign for the visitor center because I didn't think I could hold it much longer either. So I pull in with baby crying, girls screaming they can't hold it, and see a sign that says, " Visitor center up 52 steps"
The visitor center with the restrooms was 52 steps up a hillside. There was no way we were gonna make it. I yanked a pull up on the 3 year old, and peeled out. Luckily we found a bathroom right at the market. Whew!
Today Veda had a speech therapy appointment with a new therapist and they did a receptive language evaluation. Poor thing, she does not like direct questioning like that and it broke my heart. You could tell she is thinking hmmmmmmmmmmm, my words don't sound quite right I really don't want to answer this to someone I don't know and trust. I know she knew most of those answers and could understand what she was being asked but that test didn't reflect that at all. Zoie tried to help her by rephrasing the question to how we know she would be comfortable answering, but got scolded for it by the therapist. These are the hard parts of parenting. Teething, tantrums, baby's waking in the night. That's the easy part. I wish that was all I had to worry about.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brief Scare with Ayla

Sunday afternoon, while my Dad and Dante were pounding wooden fence posts with his tractor mounted post driver, ( Did I say that right?) Ayla started complaining of a bad headache and started looking REALLY bad. Despite her being only 3 years old ,and having type 1 diabetes, she is NOT a sickly kid at all, I actually can't ever remember her being sick aside form her diagnosis. Soon she moved onto puking and a fever set in. Mother's Intuition woke me at 4:00am yesterday morning and told me to check on Ayla. Fever of 104.9, bg 378 and large amount of ketones in her urine. She was breathing a little fast and it brought back all the horror of DKA.
Fever in a diabetic will often drive their blood glucose high with large amounts of ketones circulating in their bodies and puts them at risk for Diabetic Ketoacidosis aka DKA, which is very dangerous and can be fatal.
We kept in close contact over the phone with her diabetes doctor, and were prepared to go to the hospital even though we all dreaded it. Remember this is the hospital that sent us home with her in full DKA and told us to use a humidifier, missing all the warning signs even though I repeatedly told them she waas drinking obscene amounts of water and there wasn't a diaper on the market that could keep her dry. Anyway, we have a lot of trauma associated with that hospital. Sick day protocol for her is different than the other kids because the fever raises her blood sugar and ketones. I realize fever in itself is beneficial and don't sweat it too much with our other children. We had to give her Motrin to keep the fever down around 100, and even though she wouldn't eat she still needed insulin to combat the ketones. It was a major balancing act and I am pretty worn out, so is Ayla, but I'm happy to report she ate her breakfast heartily, and managed to make Veda cry by spitting milk out at her. Typical Ayla. She is also playing and looking forward to milking the cows with me. Whew, and Life goes on. Thank God---Everyday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Beef Kabob Samples at Market

Dante will be cooking beef kabob samples at the markets this weekend.

He has been busily working on fencing this week. Had to take a short break from constructing the first high tensile fence to set up the next paddock on the other side of the road. The cows cross a field that the bulls are penned up on one half with the heifers, and then also cross a small year round brook to get to the good grazing. We are making it a formal cattle crossing and also for the tractor , with cement boat ramps as soon as my Dad can get to it. He has all the equipment. If it doesn't get done in the next two weeks it will probably have to wait until after the blueberry harvest but before the Fall rains. Speaking of rain, it actually didn't yesterday! Hooray!

I have been offered a Quarter Horse with tack included. At first I was very excited to get a horse for me, but now I don't know. I'm afraid I don't have enough time right now, and also worried that the horse won't get along with the cows. It would be nice to have that time for me to do something just for myself. I haven't done anything just for the purpose of my sole enjoyment since having kids. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy being with my children 24/7 that's why we have 5 kids after all, BUT I've heard that having that time to myself, might actually be beneficial and I could be an even better Mother because of it. I've had horses before and actually before Dante and I formally met, he has this memory of driving down a winding country road and seeing this girl with long blond hair trotting her horse on the side of the road. That was me, 16 years old. While most of my friends had cars, I had a horse.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Abe Lincoln's Mother

I'm fascinated by Abraham Lincoln. From humble beginnings he was able to go on and achieve so much.Our nation's 16th president, and our 1st republican president. He was born in this one room log cabin,on their 348 acre " Sinking Spring farm" and I discovered they had a family cow and was about to get really excited until I read that tragically his mother Nancy, died after their cow ate poisonous mushrooms and she drank the milk.He was 9 years old and she was only 34. Good grief. I wonder what type of mushroom that was. It doesn't seem very likely that a cow would eat a mushroom unless by mistake or really hungry.
All three of our youngest daughters were born right here on the farm in our log cabin. We do have more than one room however.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Milkmaid with Cows and Sheep by Julien Dupre. Love that painting. We have our own local " Cow Artist". She roams the county searching out cows to paint. Sharon Yates knows every cow in Washington County and can often be seen staioned out in the middle of a field in a low folding chair, easel and canvas bag in hand. She doesn't do Bulls though, thank goodness. If you have a bull, or rouge goat or pesky pony-- she'll pass you by but not before letting you know how it inconveniences her and you really should get rid of those distractions so she can paint. Nevermind the fact that I need to have my cows bred, or I won't have cows anymore but that's of little importance to her. Hopefully this will be the year she finishes a painting and I get a copy.
Speaking of breeding, Sharon let me know someone was in heat. Thanks, Sharon. It is Berretta, and she is 2 months out from calving so she got to spend the night with Wolfie. What a beautiful calf that will be if she takes.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Cows are Out..... Again, sigh

This morning I looked out the window and saw Teeny grazing on Dante's lawn. It is something he really enjoys, mowing his lawn, and has pleaded with me to let him keep that part of his former civilized life. Life before he met this crazy farm chick.I really try hard to keep them off it, but when they are loose, they either get in the highway or on the lawn.
Zoie walked her back down the hill, and told her to be more patient next time.
Dante cleaned out the middle aisle of the barn, which is a dirt floor, and had accumulated some poop, from the cows while waiting to be milked, and then the rain had seeped in and it was a bit of a mess. I am very grateful.
While I milked and started a couple cheeses, some mozzarella and fromage blanc, and set 5 gallons of milk for cream to rise,--Dante headed out to our large field which is subdivided into 4 paddocks. This should have been hay, but it would be weeks until they can get on that field, and we need to move the milkers out on it. There is lush grass under the overgrown stuff and they need to start mowing it down, then we can follow with the bush hog, and get it back in shape. He needs to FIND the temp fence and get it to at least be visual, I think the milkers will stay in, there is so much food. We'd be fools to even consider putting the heifers and young bulls out there. As a matter of a fact the bullocks, age 15 months and 8 months are taking a
4-8 weeks sabbatical to my Dad's place I'll bring them back when I need Berretta, Teeny, and Happy bred back. Which reminds me, we got the blood test pregnancy results back on those 4 cows. Results: Gale is 2.5 months bred and Ellie is 5-6months bred. Yipee! Chia, who is 10 next month is still not bred. Because our bull is young, I'll give her a little more time, but it doesn't look good for her. Jules is a mystery, her blood numbers were close to the cutoff, and I wonder if maybe she was just early bred. She will be 3 next month and should be bred.

Personal Update:
Lost 6 more pounds this week for a total of 14lbs lost. This is encouraging, I am highly motivated and have my " game face " on. Let's hope I can lose all this baby weight for good!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday and Happy Fourth and Happy Cow

Happy Belated Birthday Dante! It was yesterday, July 3rd. We were woken up at about 4:30 a.m. with the start of a big thunderstorm. Ida May is teething, so I had already been up off and on all night and had seen the ligthening flashes way off in the distance since about 2a.m. I found it particularly fitting, that there would be a big thunderstorm on his birthday as Dante is a big weather buff, and our lay meteorologist. While we are hiding in hallways, he is usually standing out on the covered porch thoroughly electrified by all that natural energy. It was so intense that first we moved Zoie, Ayla, and Ida May who were all sleeping in our room out to the living room because of all the windows. Then about 10 minutes later, we had to get Jude and Veda from their rooms and camp out in the windowless hallway, with blankets and pillows. I was worried about the cows, I always do when it storms like that. Cinder, our dog, and Booka our wild cat, were having panic attacks on the front porch. We tried to usher Cinder in the front door to the basement but he wasn't having any of it. Eventually he made a fast break for the barn I presume.
We couldn't even pack for the market, but finally had to just take our chances and get it done. Zoie and Dante headed off as the storm was letting up, and I started making plans to go raise the cattle, make sure they all made it. About 4-5 years ago 12-15 cows were all killed during a lightening storm when they sought shelter under a large tree. It makes me nervous........
This morning, just as I was just assembling my milk machines, Jude told me Teeny was waiting at the barn. Standing in front of the milk parlor door. Apparently she let herself out of the pasture, and decided it was high time I milked her. She had also eaten some sheep hay, crapped all over the middle aisle, and bashed in the gate. This was interesting. I wasn't really impressed and hope there isn't a repeat performance tommorrow.
After milking, all the kids needed baths and I bravely washed all the little girls hair. This is not fun, they always flail around and sputter and act like I'm drowning them for goodness sake. They sure looked cute lined up in their sundresses, and Jude in his cargo pants. We had a ball at my parent's house, with water guns, and water balloons, and Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles more game than I, to get wet. I've just spent the last 23 out of 30 days getting drenched milking the cows. I certainly didn't want to get wet for fun! The kids were all charming, and we decided little Ayla needs to participate in some type of contact sport, maybe rugby.
As I left the cows tonight after milking, and they turned and walked away one by one and quietly resumed grazing, I could see Happy's baby just rolling around, poking little feet out. Zoie remarked it must have been the walk back down the hill. " All that jiggling around in there "

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hamburger and Beef Kabob Samples at Markets

We will be sampling our ground beef via hamburger, and our beef kabobs this Friday and Saturday at the Belfast and Camden Farmer's Markets. Perfect for your 4th of July BBQ!

For hamburgers, I like to take ground beef mix in some sea salt, blk pepper, dijon mustard, minced garlic cloves, and worcestershire sauce. Delicious!