Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Our brave little Trick or Treaters. I actually have lost a little zest for the occasion since Ayla was diagnosed type 1 diabetic. You can probably imagine the fun in taking a 3 year old diabetic around all that candy! I am determined to never limit her in anyway. Even though that requires extra effort and moving beyond my comfort zone, I want her to know she can do ANYTHING!

The old lady was my Mom, Jude is the Skeleton, Ayla the Pirate, Veda the Princess.

This is 3 year old Ayla, beneath a " 3 Stooges " mask. She was actually a little pirate, but had a good time with this mask while we got ready.

Here is the very Angelic baby, Ida May. Having a mini pre-trick-or-treat melt down. It became a much bigger one by the end!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Every Party has a Pooper......

.......And this week that pooper is me! I apologize but there will be no cheese this week. There will however still be plenty of milk, cream, and yogurt. I am feeling a little underappreciated, and am frankly a bit overwhelmed. Ayla started on her insulin pump on Tuesday and that has not been without much trial and tribulation, and a new pump getting sent overnight to us. I actually had a pretty bad case of mastitis myself, for the first time of nursing 5 different kids. Fever, chills, EXTREME tenderness. No wonder cows kick when they have mastitis.
The icing on the cake is that today I backed into some cement blocks and took the side mirror off the van and scratched up the passenger door. Can you say distracted driver? I was in a hurry to milk the cows, checking on the sheep, Ayla was having a low blood sugar episode, Ida May was teething and crying and honestly I completely forgot those blocks were there.
I only play a superhero on T.V. In reality, I'm but a mere human. I'm tired. Rundown. Just plain had too many things on my mind. I'm really sad about the van, telling Dante felt exactly like being a teenager with a new driver's license and having to work up the courage to tell Mom and Pop that you just ran over a mailbox and said mailbox is implanted in the windshield.
I should probably sell a heifer to pay for the damage and my new glasses at the same time, which I still haven't gotten because there are always things that need the money more. I think glasses just got bumped up the priority list. Sigh.
Told you it was a pity party.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zoie Pic

My Mom took this pic of Zoie yesterday. We took a nice walk/jog on this gorgeous trail, and Zoie got in a some much needed birding and tracking. The little girls picked and ate rose hips much of the way, Ayla's cheeks turning a tangerine orange.
I am soaking up any rays of sunshine I can get before winter. Lovely

It's Raining Kids and Cows out There!

Rainy days and nights. Gotta love it, or at least tolerate it. Ayla and Veda looked like little half drowned kittens at last nights milking. I left the milk cows up in the barn, even though the tie stall renovation still wasn't ready. I just fed them their hay in the center aisle.
Ayla's pump is on, we are pumping saline right now, while we learn about the pump. We go live with insulin on Wednesday. It is gonna be an amazing advance forward once we learn all the ins and outs.
Zoie and I were under seige one night last week while trying to milk. This is where my sissy, girly side comes out. Bet you thought I didn't have a girly side! It was so bad, we took a cheesy video to document but I can't get it to load. Basically, we were 2 hours late to milk because we had been in Bangor at Ayla's pump class THEN we got a flat tire on the Honda. I get why they call the spare tire a " donut ". Actually I swear it is the same tire that is on my trusty wheelbarrow. How is that REALLY gonna get us 2 hours east back home? We made it, and immediately grabbed all the milking paraphenalia and headed out to the barn. As I snapped the lights on a bat swooped toward some moths gathered near the lightbulbs. Cool, I thought. I've got no beef with bats, but you all know I have some issues regarding moths. As the milking progressed I quickly noticed that there was actually a bit more bat swooping a flittering than I was comfortable with. The final straw, I emerge from the parlor, leading Berretta, and there are 3 bats dive bombing moths and there in front of my face about 12 inches away, one pauses in the air, snatches a moths, drops it grabs it again and in the process buzzes my head. My hair was flapping in the wind from its frantic wings! That's enough.
I screamed and took cover in the van parked out front of the barn. Now what?
It reminded me of when I was a kid, and had to go shut the chickens but was afraid of the dark.
If you keep walking, and even though your heart is beating out of your chest, senses in overdrive Its doable as long as you don't RUN! As soon as I would give into my fears, of whatever I thought was out there, and started running, man, then I could hear things running behind snarling and slobbering, hunting me down. Of course there was nothing behind me, but my imagination would get the better of me.
I guess it's just payback for terrorizing Dante about bats all these years. A month ago, Zoie and I were returning the cows to pasture at dusk, and saw bats just pouring out of the building that Yoda pig is in. It was exactly like those Nat. Geographic documentaries where the bats just pour out of the caves at dusk to go hunt insects. Well, maybe we embellished those details a little and the bats caught wind of it..............

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cheese Pics

I cut into these 2 cheeses today, my Mom is coming up and I wanted to make a small cheese plate and give her some to take home to my Dad.
On the top we have a 4 month old Cheddar, and the bottom is a 2 month old Swiss type cheese. It really wasn't ready but I wanted to check on the eye formation and texture.
We are gonna plant bulbs with the kids. My first year fully embracing flowers, I cannot miss out on planting bulbs! Plus, I am NOT a cold weather friend, so knowing that I can look forward to those little flowers coming up, heralding Spring. I can't wait! We've got multiple colors and varieties of Tulips, Muscari, Daffodils, Iris, Crocus, Giant Blue Allium, Grecian Wind Flowers and some more out in the barn.
Speaking of the barn, remodeling has begun. The cows were not impressed when they showed up at the barn and saw an unfamiliar black Honda, and heard hammers pounding in THEIR barn. Of course they lifted tail, and decorated the driveway. Then stood rooted to the spot. Then preceded to run willynilly like they had NO IDEA where the gate to the paddock was. Of course its in the same spot its always been. Cows are like kids, they like to make you look bad in front of company because they know they CAN! I fumbled through the milking looking like I'd never done it before with all the cows going the wrong direction, Henrietta wouldn't come in for her milk, then Ayla practiced milking with the nipple bucket and squirted half on the ground. Our two little pullets, Blossom and Lena, flocked over and thought they had found paradise.
The pulsator on the Surge milker is really struggling I have to hold its hand and really encourage it, to get through a milking. I ordered a rebuild kit and all new rubber, so "Surge" should be pleased with his makeover too. Now where's my makeover?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cow News

On an exciting note, we got the results of the blood pregnancy tests we did on Teeny and Berretta and Berretta is bred, due in May, and Teeny is open. I knew Teeny was, I haven't put her with the bull because she is hard to catch in heat but last night I put her in with him, and will every night for the next 21 days. This time Berretta is bred to a nice NZ Jersey, can't wait for that calf.
We are doing some major remodeling in the barn. Changing over from a couple box stalls, to a row of wooden tie stalls for the cows this winter. One wall is already down, and if we can get our supplies in time, construction will start this Saturday. Not a moment too soon, Old Man Winter is at the back steps. I figure that if we get prepared for winter now, maybe winter will hold off for a month or so. There is still so much grass out there.......

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh, My Aching Back!

This is not good at all. Yesterday, while out milking, I decided to clean out some of the deep bedding pack from the sheep/calf pen. I had the right tool for the job, my multi-tined heavy duty manure fork. It makes quick work of the job. As I lifted one big forkful something kinda, " let go" in my lower back. Followed by an electric shock sensation. Oh, Boy. I've been down this road before. It was definitely painful at the time but I pushed on. Probably foolishly so. The icing on the cake was loading 25 T-posts into the van. They are kinda heavy when in bundles, and awkward to carry and load.
Then I carried 2 really full milk cans up the steps into the creamery. They each weighed about 50lbs.
You know how sometimes you don't really notice how bad you are hurt, or how sick you are until you slow down in the evening? Well, that's how it was. During the night rolling over became impossible. Dante left early this morning, so he didn't even know the extent to which I was hurt. He'll be gone all day picking up beef from the butcher.
Today, it is sharp pain and numbness shooting down my lower back and both legs. I've had this exact pain before. 2 years ago exactly. Dante and I were moving round bales without a tractor, stupid, definitely. The thing that worries me is that at that time, I went to our family doctor, he folded me up like a pretzel, pounced on me a couple times ( much to my kids delight ). But it took months, and many setbacks, to go away.
I rummaged around in the cupboard and found some tylenol3, hopefully that will help me get through milking. It's raining and muddy out. Perfect.
Anyone got some good advice for back pain?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Broken Glasses = More $$$

I don't think I can coax along my faithful glasses anymore. They've been good to me....suffered TONS of abuse as you can imagine with the farm and 5 kids. They no longer make these frames so the last time they broke my sister fixed them with some kind of shrink wrap. Yesterday, they snapped on the bridge of the nose. In a panic I did a hasty duct tape job. They barely stayed on my face long enough to get to the optometrist, where they were confirmed DOA.
The thing that really stinks is that we live so far from anywhere, which normally is a good thing except in circumstances like this. It has been 3 yrs since my last eye exam so I HAVE to have an exam, plus buy new glasses. It is not cheap, and I feel it's pretty urgent. I can't see to drive and get a headache if I'm not wearing them for very long. For a very temp fix we wrapped yarn around the bridge and then superglued that. Not too comfy or stylish.
I wondered why everyone was smiling and staring at me in Rite Aid yesterday. Funny thing is--I thought it must be because of the 44lbs I've lost. Finally, I thought, people are starting to notice I've lost weight. It wasn't until this morning that I realized it was the stinking glasses!
One last cute story:
Milking cows this morning, Ayla is splashing in a rather brown and dubious looking puddle. It was situated a bit downhill of the cow paddock. It no doubt had some nice cow poop in it. I said, " Ayla get out of the puddle, you don't have your boots on!"
She says, " But Henrietta's in it." Well, Henrietta is a COW!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ayla's Insulin Pump Arrives!

Here's Ayla, hamming it up for the camera wearing her pink Animas Ping pump. That's my hand holding the remote, looking for a mute or pause button. For the kid, not the pump that is! Wouldn't that be a neat feature! I have been busily reading and cramming as much info as I can to prepare for her pump. Now we have it, and now we have to wait for an appointment to go get trained. In the meantime I've read " Pumping Insulin" and just interlibrary loaned " Think Like Pancreas "
We clipped Ayla's pump on her pocket and clapped and cheered while she tore around the house at " super speed ". She looked like a very industrious little toddler with a pager or cell phone on. It was really cute! Then she walked back up to me and said, " I want this thing off of me." I was thinking in my head, uh-oh, once we put this thing on for real is she gonna leave it alone? I guess we'll see soon enough. In the meantime, I will be scouring the manual and watching the informational CD that came with the pump. If only she could be up and running by Halloween.
Last Halloween was the first since diagnosis, try taking a 2 year old type 1 diabetic, trick or treating and then trying to control what she ate but still let her be a kid. I was so worn out I came home and had a glass of wine!
Do you remember that song from the 90's I think it was, or maybe late 80's that went , " Pump, pump it up, pump it up , while your feet are thumping." Something like that. Now I can't get that out of my head! I stand by my warning to be careful what you're singing out in the barn. I have been busted so many times belting out really embarassing ballads, or singing my own renditions such as " I kissed a cow, and I liked it!" Only to turn around and see a tourist clapping, and then ask about buying sausage. Well, yesterday I got caught by the milk inspector in an early unannounced inspection, singing the " pump, pump it up...." song a little too enthusiastically while adding some choice dance moves for the cows added enjoyment. He got a good chuckle, and I passed my inspection.
At the bottom of my copy were the words.............
" Good Job!" and a hand drawn smiley face.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Cows Coming

The cows were on their way up for milking in this pic. Notice the large black bulk of our Berkshire Boar, Jean Louis in the background. I am gonna miss this routine once the cows move up permanently for the winter. Our trees are turning their gorgeous Fall colors now. If only I was prepared for winter! I've spent the last 2 days making Colby and Havarti cheese. I combined the recipes from 2 different cheesemaking books to come up with my method. I really like the way these cheeses come out. For Christmas I dream of a large Kadova cheese mold! No more messing around with bunching up cheesecloth. Now I should spend the next 2 days out in the barn, staring at it. Willing it to make haste and get ready for winter. Time to polish off the muckboots, I'll be shoveling poop again sooner than I am ready for. I am really nervous about hay. I've got to ask my Dad if he has enough for us too. We still have so much grazing left it is wondeful! I hope the weather holds out so we can take advatage of all the green.