Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why do we do this?

That is the burning question. It isn't easy. In fact it is HARD WORK! Up at 6:30, feed kids, feed animals, milk goats, off to work, slog through traffic there and back, feed kids again, do laundry, feed animals, milk goats, collect eggs, pasteurize milk, wash eggs, make bread, collapse in to bed at 10:30 which is way past bedtime.

So I it worth it? It certainly doesn't make life any easier and it definitely isn't saving us any money.  But the thought of giving it up is out of the question. Having fresh goat milk = fresh feta, yogurt, chevre. Fresh eggs = lots of yummy breakfasts and no last minute trips to the store because I forgot eggs for the cake I am baking. Dog = joy for the kids (when she's not chewing up her toys). Cats = something to cuddle with when P is working late (I can forget the occasional puke on the floor). Kids = life and energy and imagination and fun (when they aren't whining or fighting). 

We have to make sacrifices. No cable TV - mainly because we don't have time and don't want the expense, but also because it is too easy to get sucked in to hours on the couch being unproductive. Hardly any time for reading. No spontaneous trips. Have to arrange our evening outings around the milking schedule.

I think it is especially hard right now because we are still in the aftermath of moving. And since we are working opposing schedules we are on our own for organizing and repairing. It is always so much easier doing those things with help and at the very least, company.

In the end though, it is worth it. We get to be more self sufficient than most people. And we get the sense of accomplishment that goes along with making and raising our own food. Hopefully we are healthier by eating off our land as much as possible and avoiding processed foods. And the kids have amazing imaginations because they use their minds instead of sitting in front of the tv eating after school.

Though sometimes at the end of the day when I collapse in to bed sore and tired I question why. The answer always is the same - because it's the way I want to live my life. So I drift off to sleep planning out the new garden in my head....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cows, take 2

There is nothing quite as hilarious as waking up at 2:30am by the sound of a cow mooing right outside the bedroom window. Add the thundering and thudding of hooves and the snorting sounds and you have the perfect recipe for a fit of giggles. I looked out the window and the entire yard was dotted with cows. They were just hanging out - scratching on a tree, laying down chewing cud, mooing. All the usual cow things, but in our FRONT YARD! Another break in the fence, but this time in the other pasture. In the morning the kids were wowed that the cows were right there. And my 7 year old son took off immediately after breakfast with the dog and started herding them back to their field. Amazing to me that such a large beast can be herded by a 7 year old and a 7 month old puppy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


When buying a house there are always things that need to be fixed.

That's especially true when buying a house that has been foreclosed on. For instance, if you buy a house that was foreclosed, odds are that the power was turned off at some point. When winter comes there will be water in the pipes and that water will freeze causing many leaks.

That's exactly what happened in our mother-in-law. Every pipe had a leak or split. Some had pushed the pipes apart where they had been sweated together. Just in case you don't know, sweating is the term for putting pipes and pop fittings together when using solder. It is by far the cheapest way to go. If you haven't ever done it you should try. There are a ton of videos on YouTube that explain it very well.

Another obstacle is electrical. Things like to be used. My uncle was a mechanic and he always told me that an unused car breaks down faster than a car that is driven every day. The same applies to electrical. The fan that is in the main bathroom stops working randomly and then starts again later. I've seen this happen before when there is corrosion on the contacts. It wasn't used and that spot on the motor has a speck of rust. When the fan just happens to slow down and stop on that spot electricity cannot pass. Luckily a house has wind from doors closing and such to blow the fan a little and get it off of that spot. With time it may stop as the corrosion is worn down. Right now there are bigger problems.

The last unseen hurdle I'll go into today is the barn. The whole thing was not used for a long time and then the bank used drywall screws to close all the doors instead of buying padlocks. One door opens correctly. There are a lot of doors. Both animal exit doors needed the latches to be rehung. One needed to be rehung altogether. Most of the rest need a latch a hinge secured or something similar.

There is a lot to be done still. Next on my list is to find the water turn on for the mobile on the property, fix the fence around the west field, and clear away all the wood and other outside stuff that is piled everywhere there is room outside. Oh! I almost forgot that before all that I need to put in the new insulation, new drywall, and tape/putty the mother-in-law bathroom. If you need me you know where I'll be.

And if you're reading this
Please send help!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cow eyes and muskrat love

I was busily hanging a potted plant on the patio when I felt as if I was being watched. I turned around, and much to my surprise, there was a cow watching me over the fence. That, by itself, is nothing new. However the location was not the usual. The cow was in MY field. My first thought was "I know we've been talking about getting a calf to raise for meat, but did P go get us a full grown cow from somewhere?" Then I realized that was silly and there must be a hole in the fence, which would mean it was the neighbor's cow. There went my dream of barebqued steak dinners.

So I set out to find the hole in the fence. It was an 80 degree day (rare to be so warm this summer) and I had to don socks, boots and long pants to go bush-whacking. Off I go, the goats following me in curiosity. Or maybe they were scared of the cow and thought I would protect them. The cow really wanted nothing to do with me or the goats so it walked away from me, in what I hoped was the direction of the hole. Next thing I knew, the cow was on the other side of the fence with all her cow friends. I knew the hole had to be close by, and yes, there it was. Someone had cut the wire fence and the barbed wire a long time ago and the cow had just figured it out. Well, it would have to wait until P got home to help.

In the couple of hours between the discovery of the hole and P arriving home, the cow had brought 5 of her closest friends over and there were 6 cows in my field lounging around the chicken coop. The goats were not thrilled and neither were the chickens. My son asked me "why doesn't the rooster attack the cow?" Well the cow is an awful lot bigger than the rooster and he knows better than to mess with her. The cows went home, the fence got fixed and all was quiet....until I walked in the house.

The stench was horrible. Like a cross between fish fertilizer and dead carcass. I'd smelled that before. "Opal!" I called. Dog came running happily from the living room. Stench got stronger. "You smell like death! Get out of the house!" I kicked her out and went to tell P the dog had gotten into something again. He tells me to walk to the ditch and see if it smells like that. I do and run away as quickly as I can saying "That's the smell!" He informs me that is muskrat. Muskrat? We have those here? I've never even seen a muskrat. Now I understand the name. Apparently any place they hang out smells like death.  But how did the dog get into it since it was outside the fence? So we went inside and watched. Sure enough, she comes trotting out a few minutes later. Once we saw which direction she came from it was easy to find the hole. A huge gaping one. It would need to be repaired but we opted to deal with that the next day since it was dusk, kids needed to be put to bed and dog needed a bath.

Dog was NOT happy to have a cold bath in the hose in the dark. I was not happy to be administering said bath. Muskrat stench doesn't just wash out, you know. It takes several shampooings. So a quarter of a bottle of my favorite shampoo later (dog shampoo isn't strong enough for some reason) the stench became faint enough that I was willing to let her in the house. She shook, as dogs do, and then headed for the open door. "Nooooooo!" I cried, knowing that dogs shake more than once after a bath. And sure enough, she went straight to the kitchen and shook, spraying water all over the kitchen floor and counters. At least it only smelled faintly of muskrat.