Alissa's tribute

My daughter, Alissa, wrote the following poem about her struggles with grief and her love and hope.

I keep walking on,
Shoulders hunched,
Head down,
The hood on my dark jacket up,
The weather pefectly reflecting my mood.
Rain......sadness pouring from a rumbling blackened sky,
The river roaring in its anger, like me, pushing forward.

I see birds soaring,
Enjoying themselves,
Sweeping, diving, calling to each other,
Just enjoying the moment.

I push on
Still full of sadness and anger.
As I walk on,
I catch a glimpse of color
Out of the corner of my eye.
A Rainbow,
Faint, but there in the darkened sky,
Ending on a mountain top on one side
And disappearing into the town on the other.

Instantly, I was filled with hope,
My anger rolled away,
Slowly with the clouds.
My sadness dried up with the rain
Only a gentle mist of remembrance lingered.
My end of the rainbow moment God gave me
To remind me to push through the storms of life.

At the end there will be a rainbow.

Last year, Joshua gave me a prism. It sits in my dining room window, but the angle of the sun was not right to "catch the rainbow". Since Josh's death, the angle of the sun has been right and I have rainbows scattered across my walls and floor every morning reminding me of my precious son.

I miss you, Josh. I love you,




My son is at peace in Heaven.

Joshua Marlin Hall, born July 27, 1990, went home to be with Jesus on Sep. 16, 2008.

Joshua is survived by his parents Greg A. Hall of Avon,Colorado and Tammy Renee' Cupp of Staunton, Virginia; paternal grandparents Richard & Kay Hall of Lynchburg, Virginia; maternal grandparents LeBron & Helen Holbrook of Fredericktown, Missouri; maternal great-grandparents Marlin and Neva Starnes of Summerville, GA; and a sister Alissa Joy Hall of Staunton, VA. He is also survived by his step father S. Michael Cupp, a step-sister Kristin Cupp, a step-brother Mike Cupp, uncles, aunts, cousins and many extended family members and friends who love him very much.

Joshua was proceeded in death by his paternal great-grandparents Joshua & Tula Stephens and his maternal grandmother, Beverly Starnes Holbrook.

Memorial Services will be Sunday Sep. 21, 2008 at 2:00 P.M. at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Pate Chapel, with Pastor Jonathan Falwell, and Pastor Tom Frietas officiating.

Joshua went home to be with Jesus and now lives in peace in a place where there is no more pain or suffering.

Joshua was born July 27, 1990 and shared a birthday with his maternal grandfather, LeBron Holbrook. He was named Joshua Marlin in honor of his great grandfathers, Joshua Stephens and Marlin Starnes.

Joshua was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and lived in Delta Junction, Alaska for many years with his parents.

Josh enjoyed writing stories, and various types of music and art. He was involved in drama programs while attending Fort Defiance High School.

Joshua loved his friends and was always available to help them in any way that he could. He would talk to them for hours on the phone if they were dealing with a problem. He would give them any material possession he owned if they wanted it, and he freely gave of his money if he felt someone was in need. He loved to buy small, sometimes silly spur of the moment gifts for his loved ones just to show them that he cared.

One of Josh's best friends from grade school had a serious case of cancer. Josh did whatever it took to visit and keep in touch with his friend throughout his illness. He was faithful to his friend for over eight years as the friend struggled with cancer. When Joshua found out that his friend was cancer free, he was filled with excitement and could not contain his joy. Being there for those he loved was as natural as breathing to Joshua.

Josh loved the outdoors, camping, and had a soft spot in his heart for animals. Animals seemed to sense something in Joshua that attracted them to him. He was thoughtful and reflective and longed to make right the wrongs in the world.

Joshua loved to walk in the rain. No matter what time of the day or night, if it began to rain, Joshua would run outside with a smile on his face and let the rain soak him. He would come inside tracking up the floors and smile that Josh smile as if the rain had washed away all his cares.

Joshua was teaching himself to play the guitar and would practice for hours on end. Any free moment he had, we would find Joshua strumming on his guitar and sharing with someone something new he had learned or a song he was working on.

Joshua's passing has left a deep void in my heart and I miss him very much. I know he is at peace now and I look forward to one day holding him in my arms again.

I love you, Josh.



Sunday Dinner

We went out to eat this afternoon at the Buckhorn Inn. The restaurant is currently being run by a Mennonite family. Evidently, the family lives on the second floor of the 1800's home and the restaurant is on the first floor. When we arrived, the couple who run the restaurant was very busy with the dinner rush.
Three adorable little Mennonite girls were playing in the entrance of the restaurant. One little girl was just a baby and was somewhere between walking and crawling in her development. The other little girl faded in and out and we didnt' see much of her. The middle girl had blonde hair and was wearing a dress somewhere between blue and green that brought out the color of her eyes. This particular little girl was probably four and was determined that she was going to help her parents out. Father was doing most everything by himself, as Mother was on crutches and struggling to do her part. I started laughing when the little girl climbed up onto a chair to reach the cash register, which she knew how to open, and then proceeded to pull out some money and ask Mike if he wanted some. Then she wanted to know if he wanted chicken! She was adorable.

After we had eaten, I saw her playing with some children. When her father came out, she said she was playing with her "cousins". The father smiled and said, "You mean friends." She then came over to me and saw my bag with Dachshunds on the front of it and wanted to know if I had puppies in my purse. I laughed and told her "No, but I have puppies at home."

After eating, we spent the afternoon driving in the mountains and had an ejoyable, relaxing afternoon.


When you can't get a heifer calf.................

buy one!

I have had five Jersey calves born in the last two years and they have all been bulls! Those are not very good odds.

I have a friend that lives close who also has a family cow and she had a heifer calf. The cow is a beautiful 1/2 Jersey and 1/2 Dutch Belted, named Cookie. She has a nice udder and teats and is a great family cow. Cookie had a nice little 3/4 Jersey calf two months ago.

My friend brought Cookie and the baby over for a couple of days to work on getting Cookie bred by my miniature Jersey bull. Before Cookie went home this evening, we had worked out a deal and the heifer calf has a new home with us.


Hope's Blankie

Hope absolutely loves her blankets. She has many of them

and loves to twist and twirl herself around until she is completely covered. Here is a rare shot of her with her face sticking out of the blanket.


New Bovine Baby!

Yesterday evening around ten, Butter gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She did not have any trouble with the birth. I noticed around seven, when I fed the cattle, that her ligaments were very loose and she looked like she was close. I anticipated a calf within 12 hours and told Mike. He kinda shrugged it off, having not looked at her himself and said "Nawh". Around nine I checked on her again and I came back and told Mike she was in labor. He said, "Nawh". Then around ten, I checked on her and came back to tell Mike that there was a calf on the ground at which time he said, "Nawh".

Mike went down with me and checked the calf who was being licked clean not only by his mother, Butter, but also by Dixie who was trying to claim him and the two heifers, Nelly and Scarlett, as well! We left them alone for a while and then put the cow/calf pair in the barn for the night. The little guy would not nurse at first, so we milked out a little colostrum and fed it to him in a bottle. After getting a taste of it and a little nourishment, Mike was able to get him to latch on to a teat and nurse. We finally got in bed around 1 a.m.

This morning Butter was a perfect lady when we milked out a bit of colostrum in the milking parlor and the calf was trying to kick up his heels this afternoon. All is well! We are pleased that mother and son are doing well!


The Cow

The Cow

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.
She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;
And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.
-Robert Louis Stevenson


Making Cottage Cheese

Thought I would also give a picture tutorial on making cottage cheese. I read how to make cottage cheese from several different sources and the process involved standing over a hot stove and carefully monitoring the heat of the curds and whey as it cooked. Through trial and error, I finally came up with the following method for making cottage cheese.

First you need to clabber your milk. I do this by taking my raw milk either directly from the cow (after straining to remove any impurities) or from milk that has been refrigerated. You can use milk with or without the cream. I pour the milk into stainless steel bowles and then cover loosely and allow to sit until it clabbers. Sometimes this takes 24 hours and sometimes, if the weather is cooler, it takes up to three days. The first picture shows what the milk will be like when it clabbers. It will form a solid mass in the bowle and when you touch it, it will be kind of "springy". When the clabber has set up, I then bring clean water almost to a boil and then pour the water over the clabber in the stainless bowl and allow this mixture of clabber and very hot water to sit for 10 minutes. You will want to use a spoon and break up the clabber so that the hot water can get to the curds to cook them. The water clabber and water mixture should be the temperature of a very warm bath that you have to inch into ever so slowly. In other words you should be able to put your hand in the mixture without scalding yourself, but when you do so, you should think "Wow, that is really hot!"

After the clabber and hot water sit for ten minutes, drain the mixture through a strainer. You can save the whey (the watery part) and use it to feed your chickens, cook with it, or water your garden with it, if you like. What is left are the curds. They will only be partially cooked and very soft.

Now you want to take the remaining very hot water that you have heated and pour it over the curds and let it run out of the strainer. As the heat hits the curds they will begin to heat up and cook very quickly. This part requires a little trial and error to know when the curds are right. With time and experimentation, you will be able to tell when the curds are cooked and at that point you want to rinse with very cold water until the curds are completely cooled down. If you do not cool the curds down, they will continue to cook and even melt (and that makes a big mess, as I know from experience!)

In the end, your cooked curds will look like the following picture. You then allow them to drain for about 30 minutes to get all the water out. Salt to taste and store in the refrigerator. You can add a little cream or milk back to the curds before eating, if you like a moist cottage cheese. I prefer to eat mine dry. I like it in my salad, and on my baked potatoes and I use it in my lasagna.