27 September 2022

Fresh Milk

We ran out of milk over the weekend.

Driving clear into town for a jug of milk was more effort than I was willing to put in on an already busy weekend. After all, we have a milk cow sitting out here in the corrals. Why not make use of her?

Not that she isn’t already working hard raising a couple calves.

Women are well capable of multi tasking. So I separated the calves for the day. She enjoyed a break from the kids, hanging out and eating in peace and quite. They may have called for her a little as the day went on but she never even came back to the gate to check on them.

That evening I went out to milk her. She came running and didn’t lift her head from her grain even though she hadn’t been milked since spring.

My husband, dutiful but reluctant, came along and gagged in disgust after he mentioned how foamy the fresh milk was and I drug a finger through it, licking the foam off enthusiastically.

Back inside the kids were excited about fresh milk and worked together to make absolutely delicious caramel with the milk striaght from their cow.

The next morning I got the bowl of milk out and set it on the table for breakfast. Ladling it over the cereal was easier than finding a pitcher. Yummy. Milk fresh from the cow!

Eeewww!

How could I expect those same poor children to actually ingest milk that didn’t come from a grocery store out of a jug! A reminder that this was the same milk they made caramel from the night before didn’t help anything. That was ‘different’.

Being hungry enough to force down cereal covered in fresh milk didn’t mean they were hungry enough to enjoy it. There they sat all through the meal. Faces turned down in looks of total revulsion. The cereal was eaten if not cleaned up completely.

They walked out the door to school ordering me not to eat the rest of the caramel while they were gone. The double standards are amazing.

25 September 2022

Milo?

There’s a boy in The Goblin Child’s class named Milo.
As we drove along a field we discussed the millet that was growing there.
Oh, that’s what the kids in class call Milo. She said.
And that is a level of farm kid humor that I will always aspire to.
28 August 2022

First Flight

As they disappeared from view I did stop to think about how we had no idea who this man was they had left with.

Their cousin said she had been offered a ride in one of the planes. Did The Goblin Child want to go with? Of course she did. I didn’t know that the offer would actually come to fruition. It did, and when it did 8 was standing there to hear. She asked if she could please go in the airplane. Of course! But only if your brother can go too. It’s the usual requirement. It didn’t occur to me until she ran off to ask that maybe one more person couldn’t fit in these tiny planes, most of them with room for no more than two people.

Apparently there was room. All three children ran off.

We followed to see them climbing into the biggest plane there. It sat four.

The fly in breakfast is an annual affair. We always try to make it. It’s fun to watch the little planes come and go. One flown by a friend of ours was bright yellow, sporty and pretty, He flew it like a sports car, buzzing our house once years ago. Old and married now, maybe he’s calmed down a bit.

We watched our children load into the plane. Talked to friends as they taxied to the grass runway. The friends told flying stories, near misses. It didn’t make me feel better.

Then the plane was off and going. It rose into the sky, then disappeared into the distance.

We stood and talked and waited. We talked some more, checked the time and waited. They had been gone for quite a while. I saw them coming in for landing and got my phone out. Turned out to be just a bird. They had been gone a long time. With a stranger whose plane we had helped load them in.

It was almost enough to make me worry.

Almost.

Except we were at a fly in breakfast for a small town celebration in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Where we can still feel comfortable sending children off with a nice old man who is willing to offer his plane to introduce children to the joys of flying. Where we can trust our neighbors. Where everyone is welcome. I waited nervously because I’m a mother and my children were off in a pane. I was not worried because they were off with a stranger.

Finally the plane came back. It circled the airport, over the town, them came in to land.

Safely on the ground they climbed out of the plane. The smiles on their faces were huge. They had flown over our house, over the cousins house, over their school, over the lake. All of the sights they’re used to seeing from the ground. It all looked so different from the air. Their lives had been transformed. They’d seen everything from a whole new perspective. Did we know how small everything actually was?
After that the rest of the day paled in comparison.

13 August 2022

It’s Never Just Cattle

It was just a few calves. Surely we could do it ourselves.

The new bottle calves needed their vaccines. One had been sick since we got him. With care he was feeling better but now a second one was breathing hard. It’s hot and dry out.Nothing is enjoying this weather. Better to prevent any more sick as soon as possible to give the calves the best chance.

In the morning after feeding, while the skies were still over cast, the humidity stifling but the heat not awful yet, we ran the calves into the barn.

The children helped get them in with a combination of luring and pushing, mixed with lots of randomly wandering off in circles or the opposite direction away from calve and shed. In the end we corralled them. They went happily into the alley way and we got to work.

There were spider webs. They strongly dampened one child’s desire to help push calves up the alley into the chute. She said she’d help me up front instead. That was fine, she could give the nasal shot. The prospect of that nearly sent her back down the spider web infested alley. In the end she decided she could handle filling the vaccine guns.

My son didn’t mind spider webs. He was gungho to get those calves up the chute.

He pushed calves. We gave the shots. It was all going very well. He needed a little help once in awhile. The calves were very young and also very quiet. They often didn’t feel the need to move. No problem, I could help out a bit.

As we worked one calf over he wandered out to look at the calves in the pen we were letting them out to. Quickly he returned with wonderful news. I hadn’t made sure all the gates were shut before letting the calves out that way! Oh joy. Only two of the previously worked calves were where they were supposed to be. Luckily one more was only partially out. In the wrong pen, not clear out into the yard. He shut the gates. We continued with the remaining calves.

I pushed the last of the calves into the chute. They were the smallest and wanted to plant front feet which worked very well to hold the firmly in place. My daughter was persuaded toΒ  give the final nasal dose. We were done. Now time to worry about those wandering calves.

Just then my son popped his head in. He had gotten them! He informed us happily. I admit to having some doubt and went to count heads for myself. Sure enough. All the calves were there. He had gotten them in all by himself.

Calves got worked and will hopefully stay healthy. That is the least of the days accomplishments. The children got worked and learned some important life lessons. They accomplished a job, a real adult type of job. They each performed a task that they didn’t think they could do, preparing medication and getting calves in. They were out there doing it. Even if working with cattle isn’t something they decide to do for the rest of their lives, these accomplishments are a foundation upon which self sufficiency and confidence are built. Whatever the job that needs done, they are capable of doing it. If they just try.

 

11 August 2022

The Goblin Child’s Birthday

We didn’t plan anything big. The hope is still to get up to the black hills so she ca have the day she’s been wanting.

The day before her birthday we went down to Alliance. She got to choose a cake. And more exciting, to me at least, she got to choose a brand. She got her own calf last year, who is now out with the herd getting bred for next spring. She’s going to have her own herd pretty soon. She needs her own brand. She sat down at the computer before we left and looked through their page of available brands. We talked about what would blotch. How the rest of the family has a mill iron in their brand. And how it needs to be on the left side. Then I left her alone to write down the ones she liked.

At the brand office she came in and filled out the rest of the paper work. Now we wait to see which of her brand choices are approved!

On her birthday her cousin texted and asked if they could swing by and surprise her. We jumped at the chance. We had cake, I made some lunch. It turned into a wonderful little party.

After their half day of school the cousins brought the birthday girls dad home with them. He came in, a surprise for her in itself, got both kids and brought them outside to show them two big stink bugs πŸ˜‰

When they came out I was there filming. The cousins shot them with a confetti gun! Almost. It was still fun and a great surprise.

Then we all went in, ate tacos, and birthday cake. All the kids spent the afternoon playing minecraft together. It was perfect. She’s ten now and almost all grown up. It did go fast.

26 July 2022

County Fair ’22

We were zipping down the road in my old pickup truck. Peterson Farm Brothers blaring on the radio. Goats loaded up in the back. We sang happily along with the wind whipping through our hair from the rolled down windows. There were fancier rigs at fair, but none as fun as us.

The day before we brought in the static entries, pillows, plants, the things they’ve made at 4h camps all summer. As the kids finished their interviews my son was snatched up first. A gang of children wandered by and spotted him. They called his name from across a field and he was absorbed. He disappeared only to be spotted from a distance as they roamed about doing whatever it is kids do at fair. My daughter finally finished her interviews and went off to join them.

We stayed longer than we had needed to as they helped wash pigs, visited dogs, and probably caused trouble.

Today we were bringing the goats. They traveled happily in the box in the bed of my pickup. We had loaded them earlier and taken them for a ride, testing it out and getting them used to the idea. Hauling a whole trailer seems excessive for two tiny little goats.

Not as many friends were about today and the ones that were had been busy showing pigs since early morning. Mine were too nervous to play much anyway. They clung and fought. We settled the goats and looked at their projects from the day before. Finally it was time for lunch and the show to begin.

The showmanship class was good sized, for such a small fair. Five kids, five children too of course. My daughter and her friend had smaller dairy goats, I think that may have helped them look better handling them. They placed highest.

Then it was time for the littlest kids. They are in Clover Buds but got to show with the big kids. Participation awards but my son was wore out from the long day. He frowned and drug his goat through the class. It was a good learning experience, even if he managed not to enjoy it. Loosing, how you manage that with a participation award I’m not sure, but he was sure he had, loosing gracefully is a learned behavior that must be practiced.

They had a great time with friends, learned a lot. Like how to help your friends get ready to show, how to help them do their absolute best, even if they will be showing against you. It’s looking like we might be doing goats again, even after we swear it off every year.

 

17 July 2022

Almost Wheat Harvest ’22

It’s almost time to start wheat harvest.
A couple of neighbors are going already. The small fields here at home are ready, the bigger fields farther afield are still green.
The kids spent all morning yesterday washing the combine. Their job was to get the hopper on top washed clean of corn, and get some places around the bottom. My husband took one look at it yesterday afternoon and was horrified. He started scrubbing on it this morning and said they may have managed to somehow make it worse than it already was 🀣
Oh well. They had fun and worked really hard, if nor effectively.
He washed for awhile this morning then I took over. It’s strangely satisfying and I’d happily work at it all day.
We parked on a grassy spot that’s heavily grazed by the horses. It will get watered. Then we’ll run the chickens over it to clean up the corn that is washed out. The goats have been happily eating on the corn under it too. Nothing is wasted.
The combine is very old, by combine standards. The meticulous care my husband takes of all things that are his and his brilliant mechanical mind have kept it running. Many times it has broken down and needed rebuilt mid harvest. Many parts are worn thin, very literally, from the tons of corn and wheat that have run through it.
The insides are intricate and fascinating. I spend the time as I hose them off looking in awe at the complicated workings. I can’t imagine what the newer ones must be like.
Washing the undersides results in water mixed with chaff and dirt splashing back in my face. Girls out washing cars in short shorts are sexy. Old fat ladies out washing combines, even in short shorts, not so much. My husband looked at me in horror when he stopped by to check on my process. He did offer to hose me off, so there’s that. All that washing required a shower before I came in for lunch.

 

11 June 2022

Goats

The kids have some dairy goats for 4h.
Those things are so rotten and can get out of any fencing I’ve tried to make so far. For some reason the guys don’t appreciate their help, or their poop, while they’re trying to work. None of us want them in the yard or the garden..
Those things are so cute. Watching all the ‘kids’ playing together is so much fun. I didn’t get pictures of them all going down the slide together. It was too much fun watching. Makes me forget all the trouble and think that maybe we need more goats!
19 April 2022

Easter ’22

Another Easter come and gone.

The weather was alright. Cool but not cold, windy but not as bad as the wind has been recently. We got to spend it together, which is always nice.

The kids did the Easter egg hunt in town on Saturday. It was windy and really cold. They had fun though, for the whole five minutes it took them. Lots of kids, lots of candy. lots of eggs. I tried to get pictures but they disappeared into a sea of children so fast it was nearly impossible.

We declined to get up in time to make the six thirty sunrise service at church. Why do they make these things so early! Instead we stayed home and enjoyed breakfast.

After breakfast I hustled the kids out to get calves fed so I could start hiding eggs! Instead of hiding eggs around the yard we did a treasure hunt, with clues hidden all around. I sat down on Canva, the design program I use for work, and made up picture clues. Those got hidden in eggs wherever the clue led them. They had to get bikes and ride half way to the mailbox, go in and out of the house, get a 4wheeler and ride out to a certain pivot, figure out the directions to know which one. I think they had fun. I know we did following them around. Each clue egg had some candy eggs with it to reinforce their behavior, searching, and to encourage them to keep going!

In the middle of it all one clue was hidden in their bible. We had to fit some preaching into the middle of the whole pagan undertaking. It also gave them a chance to sit and rest from their running around so they could finish running.

15 April 2022

Doing It Myself, Or Not

Yes, it would be easier to do it myself Heaven knows it would be faster. The waiting is hard. Watching as expensive milk replacer gets sloshed around and spilled or nearly spilled has me gasping and holding my breath. I can’t stand to watch. Teeth clinched my husband and I both stand back and watch. Or better yet don’t watch, as the children prepare the milk to feed their bottle calves.

After helping and instructing on how and how much milk to mix, the preparation and most of the feeding is their responsibility. We watch them go slowly and struggle. If we didn’t it would never be replaced by smoothness and skill. Strength will be built in the difficulties, not in taking care of it for them.

We don’t over face them and are always there to help if really needed. They don’t usually want help. Pride in the ability to do the job and do it well is already setting in. That doesn’t mean they don’t need harried to get to get to work. They’re still children. Nothing wrong with that. They’ll grow up soon enough. I’ll enjoy their childishness while they’re children.

They aren’t strong enough to do everything themselves. They’re building strength though! It wont be long and those hard jobs will be easy for them.

Bottle calves are a perfect opportunity for training children!