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Friday, July 31, 2009

Make Friends With Whatever's Next

Make Friends With Whatever’s Next

by Max Lucado

Embrace it. Accept it. Don’t resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God’s strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments. Gideon: from farmer to general; Mary: from peasant girl to the mother of Christ; Paul: from local rabbi to world evangelist. God transitioned Joseph from a baby brother to an Egyptian prince. He changed David from a a shepherd to a king. Peter wanted to fish the Sea of Galilee. God called him to lead the first church. God makes reassignments.
But, someone might ask, what about the tragic changes God permits? Some seasons make no sense…do such moments serve a purpose?
They do if we see them from an eternal perspective. What makes no sense in this life will make perfect sense in the next. I have proof: you in the womb.
I know you don’t remember this prenatal season, so let me remind you what happened during it. Every gestation day equipped you for your earthly life. Your bones solidified, your eyes developed, the umbilical cord transported nutrients into your growing frame…for what reason? So you might remain enwombed? Quite the contrary. Womb time equipped you for earth time, suited you up for your postpartum existence.
Some prenatal features went unused before birth. You grew a nose but didn’t breathe. Eyes developed, but could you see? Your tongue, toenails, and crop of hair served no function in your mother’s belly. But aren’t you glad you have them now?
Certain chapters in this life seem so unnecessary, like nostrils on the preborn. Suffering. Loneliness. Disease. Holocausts. Martyrdom. Monsoons. If we assume this world exists just for pregrave happiness, these atrocities disqualify it from doing so. But what if this earth is the womb? Might these challenges, severe as they may be, serve to prepare us, equip us for the world to come? As Paul wrote, “These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing” (2 Cor. 4:17 CEV).

FromFearless© (Thomas Nelson, 2009),Max Lucado

Now that's a Bell!

Mike grew these Big Bertha Bell's in our garden.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Temple Grandin~Livestock and Autism

I have long been a fan of an article written by Temple Grandin entitled Preventing Bull Accidents. The article can be viewed here.

Recently, a friend sent me an email and opened my eyes to the life and works of Dr. Grandin. I really should take the time to study them in detail. Dr. Grandin is a fascinating individual whose struggles with autism have enabled her to have insight in to the way livestock reacts to sensory stimulation. Here you can read her article Can Autism Help Explain Animal Behavior.

If you get the chance, listen to this live interview on NPR. It's lengthy but fascinating.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Celebrating Life and Love

Nineteen years ago today, in Fairbanks, Alaska I gave birth to my son, Joshua Marlin. He was born on his grandpa's birthday and named after two of his great grandfathers.

Today I celebrate the 18 years that I had him to love and hold here on this earth. He was a beautiful, thoughtful and precious child who was about as perfect as any child could be. He was the baby who would nurse and then go to sleep quietly sucking his thumb. He was the child who would sit and observe quietly while the rest of the world went crazy all around him. He was the child who snuggled and cuddled and gave me kisses and hugs. He was the child who sought out the children who needed special attention and became their friend. He was the child whose greatest joy was to spend time with family and who was always there when a friend needed a listening ear.

Today is Josh's birthday. It’s the first one I am spending without him and the first one that he is spending in heaven. Keeping it real, I have to say that this is the hardest day I have had to face since his death. And yet, I want to celebrate. I want to celebrate the blessings that he brought (and still brings) to me.

Last night, I just about lost it because I didn't feel that I could even face this day without him. I cried and I asked for a sign that I could hold onto. Maybe I was wrong to do that, but I needed some comfort. After I had prayed that prayer for comfort, a gentle rain began to fall. Rain has become a symbol to me of Josh's presence. As the rain fell gently down, I felt Josh's presence once again and was comforted in the fact that one day, I will once again walk with him in the rain as we use to do together when he was a child. It was a practice he continued even as a young adult and in my mind’s eye, I can see him dancing in the rain in heaven.

Hug and kiss your children today or call them and tell them that you love them. Celebrate life and's Josh's birthday! Should you get the chance................learn to dance in the rain. It is a beautiful thing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hope for Ayla

Picture of Ayla used with permission

Ayla Zanoni is a beautiful, courageous three year old that has Juvenile Diabetes.

You can help fight juvenile diabetes by supporting research to find a cure by donating the the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Please read this heartfelt letter from Ayla’s family and watch the video at the end:

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, and begging God 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 make a donation online our team name is “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 is a link to Ayla’s JDRF video.

Regardless of whether you are able to make a financial contribution, I would ask that you keep Ayla and her family in your thoughts and prayers. When making contributions, please make them in support of Ayla Zanoni.

You can get updates on Ayla and her family by following their blog.

Thank you,


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hope Remembered

Meet "T Cupp's Hope Remembered".

It's a big name for a little girl, but she is fast growing up to fit her name. Her face looks just like her momma's did when she was that age. Her attitude? She's independent and fearless, just like Hope. Today as I held her close to my face she began to lick my face and give me kisses. Hope was always giving kisses. Yes, this little girl is my little Hope Remembered. No, she will never take her momma's place in my heart. She has, however, already found out that there is room for her to have her very own place in my heart.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Article in the Bangor Daily News

You can almost hear her say ‘cheese’

For thousands of years, the milk cow has played a nurturing role in human history. Today, her universal milk is still flowing, a source of nourishment for countless people.
But for Jill and David Frankenfield of Albion, their registered Jersey cow is more than a prodigious producer that gives about 4 gallons of creamy, protein-rich milk, every day.
Misty May is also a beloved member of the family.
“She loves us. She knows we love her,” said the Frankenfields’ 9-year-old daughter, Allison, as she stood in the family’s roomy cowshed and watched their brown cow prance out of her box stall into an outdoor cow pen.
The cow is named after world-class athlete Misty May-Treanor of Newport Beach, Calif., who won two gold medals in the Olympics for women’s beach volleyball in 2004 and 2008.
Indeed, May-Treanor’s four-legged namesake is a lively and winning creature, with large, liquid-brown eyes, a well-modeled, almost deerlike demeanor and breath as sweet as new-mown hay.
The Frankenfields opted for a Jersey because of the breed’s small size and gentle disposition, Jill Frankenfield said. Although Misty May is mild-mannered, she is polled — her horns removed — to make her a safer animal for the kids, she said.
She and her husband jointly own and operate Kennebec Timber Framing,, a small business located about 300 feet behind their home, in a 3,200-square-foot workshop. They specialize in the design and construction of homes, barns, campsites, sheds and more, using traditional mortise-and-tenon joinery.
Raising a cow to provide their family with fresh dairy products is helping them create a more self-sufficient lifestyle on their 27 acres of fields and woods, they said.
Purchased last year, the 3-year-old Jersey amply fills this goal. Every day, she reliably turns grass and grain into milk that is creamier than a Holstein’s, providing house milk, butter, whipping cream, cheeses of all kinds — and yes, homemade ice cream — in the Frankenfields’ kitchen.
“I make cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan. The cheddar has to age; it won’t be ready until December,” she said of a recently made batch.
“I’ve helped my mom make mozzarella,” Allison said. During the school week, she and her brother, 13-year-old Jacob, share early morning and evening farm chores, including feeding the cow. Sometimes they do the small amount of hand milking needed to remove bacteria before the milking machine is attached, their dad said.
Although the Frankenfields are proud of Misty May, she is not merely satisfying some romantic, bucolic notion. Last year, escalating food prices in a down economy were a motivating factor in greatly expanding the vegetable garden and procuring livestock, Jill Frankenfield said.
“I don’t buy any dairy products. We also raise our own beef, chickens, turkeys and pigs. We started out with the garden idea, and thought, ‘let’s do more.’ We think of it as a minihomestead. It helps offset the food bill,” she said.
Milking time
It was milking time. Misty May was feeling frisky that late afternoon, the celebrity of the hour. She eyed her visitor with lively curiosity.
“A commercial operation focuses on production. I don’t think they can give their cows the same attention we give to Misty,” Jill Frankenfield said of their approximately 750-pound animal.
“Holsteins are huge,” she said of the black-and-white breed that is the major milk producer in the United States. Holsteins can weigh between 1,100 and 1,500 pounds, according to the USDA.
“She’s not a terribly high producer for a Jersey,” she noted. Nonetheless, their cow gives ample milk for the family, including supplemental food for other livestock, she added.
As Misty May eagerly crunched on grain poured by the youngsters into a large feed bucket, David Frankenfield hooked her up to a stainless-steel milking machine.
Six months out of the year, her main diet is green grass. In fall and winter, she feeds on hay. She gets a small amount of grain in the morning and at night, he said.
“We don’t feed her much grain,” his wife said.
“Too much grain will make a cow fat and produce less milk,” writes Joann S. Grohman of Dixfield in her book, “Keeping a Family Cow,” (Coburn Press, Dixfield, Maine).
The book’s seventh edition was published in 2007.
“That was the book that convinced me to get a cow,” Jill Frankenfield said.
Grohman’s inspirational how-to manual is based on a lifetime of experience raising family cows, whose milk she calls “nature’s most perfect food.” In her popular book, she discusses milking, feeding and housing, making butter and cheese, drying off, breeding, calving, diseases and disorders, pasture management, cow safety and breeds.
For a family cow, Grohman recommends the Jersey for her high level of milk solids (protein and minerals), for being a steady milker with a long milking life and for her adaptability, efficiency, intelligence and charm.
One-cow economics
The Frankenfields purchased Misty May in 2008 for about $1,000. “We see her as a long-term investment,” Jill Frankenfield said.
The cow was already bred when she arrived at the Albion farmstead. In February, she gave birth to a registered Jersey calf named Maggie, who shares a separate stall next to her mother.
If they sell the heifer calf, the Frankenfields could recoup a substantial portion of their cow’s initial cost. Nonetheless, they might want to keep her, they said.
David Frankenfield used his timber-framing skills to build the cowshed inside an existing barn, thus reducing infrastructure costs. To do so, he milled locally purchased logs into hefty, 8-inch-by-8-inch timbers and rough-sawn planks and boards in his workshop.
“A setup with a milk room like we have is really a bonus that we got when we purchased the property with the barns,” his wife said. He also has constructed the other animal shelters and pens. Sawdust produced in the shop supplies livestock bedding, he said.
But does Misty May really earn her keep? The Frankenfields believe she does.
Their estimated cow expenses, not including labor or the heifer calf’s feed costs, are roughly $1,570 a year, they said.
These annual expenses include: hay ($250 for round bales), bulk organic grain ($400), utilities ($720) to run the bucket milker pump, the milk refrigerator and tank heater for winter water, and vet fees ($200), they said.
Misty May is in milk for 305 days out of the year. She gives the family about 1,220 gallons of fresh milk a year. Milk not used for the family is fed to the heifer calf and two beef calves, four young pigs and 50 chickens, “which helps to grow and produce excellent meat,” Jill Frankenfield said.
They put the value of their cow’s high butterfat, noncertified organic milk at $5 a gallon. Thus, their cow is spilling over with $6,100 worth of annual milk bounty.
Subtracting expenses, the value they realize from her milk is $4,530 a year, they said.
If the milk were certified organic, its value would be about $6 a gallon, according to Rick Kersbergen, professor at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Waldo.
But for people thinking about keeping a family cow, Kersbergen cites variables in the expenses.
“If hay was at $2.50 per bale, that would be $680 per year, but if pasture is available, that would be about $450 per year,” he said.
He also averaged, over five years, the initial $1,000 cow cost and included feeding costs for raising a heifer calf, breeding and other expenses.
Not counting labor or infrastructure costs, his estimated annual cow expenses are:
Cow cost @ $1,000 — $200 a year
Hay @ $2.50 bale (for cow and heifer) — $800
Utilities — $720
Vet-medicine — $200
Grain (for cow and heifer) — $500
Supplies (i.e., teat dip, cleaning items, bedding) — $600
Breeding — $100
Fencing-fence charger @ $800 — $160 a year
Milking equipment @$600 — $120 a year
Total annual cow expenses — $3,400
Regarding the vet fees, he said: “I would bump that up, especially if you are raising an additional heifer, as things like dehorning, vaccinations, all come into play. Vet [fees] and medicine can change very quickly with a single emergency visit.”
Citing the current price of commercial milk at $3.80 a gallon, and adding an estimated $500 value for the heifer, Kersbergen puts the annual value for the cow’s milk at $5,136.
Subtracting his expenses, he estimates her annual milk value at $1,736.
Quality of life
“We’d be happy if we only broke even. ... It tastes so good. We really enjoy the milk,” said David Frankenfield, who was raised in China, Maine. He and his wife are Waterville High School graduates and have been married for 15 years.
Their relatively recent farmstead venture is primarily about raising the quality of life, something difficult to put in dollars and cents.
“The animals also are there to help educate the kids. They get the grain ready for the cow, feed the chickens and help feed the pigs,” she said of their two youngsters who attend Temple Academy in Waterville, a private K-12 school affiliated with the Assembly of God church.
“Feeding the chickens is fun. I’ve learned a lot about farm animals — how to take care of them. The biggest surprise is how quickly they give birth,” Jacob said.
“We like having the animals and enjoy knowing where our food comes from,” Allison said. But sometimes it wasn’t easy on school days to get up at 5:30 a.m. to feed the cow and chickens, she said.
Although the pigs have names like R2-D2 and Sir William Hogalot, the youngsters said they are not shocked that the hogs are destined to be turned into bacon and pork chops.
The Frankenfields have their livestock processed at Jason’s Butcher Shop in Albion, a small business that offers USDA custom-slaughter services.
The kids have learned that farm life has its stark realism. Last year, a weasel set up residence under the henhouse and killed 12 chickens, prompting the Frankenfields to move the flock into its current, more predator-resistant pen.
Last winter, the family put in 75 maple taps, which boiled down in a small evaporator to about 16 gallons of syrup.
“We barter with some of the maple syrup,” Jill Frankenfield said. Each year her husband cuts five cords of firewood from their wood lot, hauling it out with his small bulldozer.
Despite last year’s economic decline, this year the family timber-framing business is picking up.
“It’s actually OK. We’ve got three buildings going right now. This year is better than last year,” he said.

Lynn Ascrizzi is a freelance writer and lives in Freedom.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ten Months

It has been ten months to the day since Josh left this world. Even when I try not to think about it, I find that subconsciously, the 16th of every month always weighs heavy on my mind. I have found that it is better to face it with acknowledgement, rather than try to pretend that it hold no significance.

I really am ok. I hurt so badly but God has given me the strength to face each day knowing that He is holding my hand. Life has not stopped for me even with the pain, and I contribute that to God's grace and to the fact that I have faced things head on each step of the way. Rather than try to hide from the pain with sedatives or other forms of medication or alcohol, I have faced each wave of pain and let it wash over me. It's like the tide coming in and going out. Sometimes the waves come fast, and it's all I can do to stand up against the tide. Other times, the ocean of pain is still, and I can look out and observe the beauty on the horizon. That horizon truly is beautiful for there is no pain, suffering or separation on that horizon.

So, I face this day...........the 16th............with strength and hope that someday I will see my precious baby again. I will never stop missing him and the pain will never truly subside, but each month I face that tide, I become stronger.
(Picture of Josh in Haines, Alaska)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Need a Bigger Crib!

The pups are growing and needed more room. They have graduated to a bigger crib!

In a Pickle!

It has been so long since there was a "normal" day around here that I don't know if I would even recognize one if it came along! How does life get so crazy? Ok, don't answer that because I am sure the answer would involve "downsizing" and spending less time with my animals!

Mike brought home about a bushel of cucumbers and Wednesday evening I started working on them around 9 pm. I finally got them all sliced, the onions sliced, added the salt and garlic and covered them with two inches of crushed ice. Everyone has always raved about my Bread and Butter pickles and I just can't keep enough jars on hand!

Thursday morning I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had the puppies fed at 4 am and then the cows milked at 6am and I was moving right along with my day. Well that all came to a screeching halt. I am really not quite sure how it happened but somewhere between getting the milk out to the shareholders who were picking it up, feeding the pups, and life in general the morning got away from me. I finally got back to making my pickles only to have the brine boil up and over the top of the pot and all over the top of my flat top stove. The brine erupted like a volcanoe and the vinegar and sugar mix heavy with mustard seeds covered the stove top and ran down instantly onto the floor. I tried to grab the pot but with the boiling mass rolling over the sides, I could not grab it without scalding myself. I knew Mike was outside and I started yelling for him about the time the mixture on the stove top burst into flames. Somehow, he managed to move the pot without scalding himself and the flames died down without any further effort on our part to put them out. I was pretty overwhelmed at this point and an hour past due feeding the pups, so I just left everything and went to feed the babies. After listening to the disfuctional stories on Judge Joe Brown and Judge Judy (something I never did in the middle of the day before "the babies" arrived) , changing soiled blankets and putting my babies back to bed, I headed upstairs to clean up my mess. What a mess it was! I scrubbed for an hour on my stove top and finally at least got it to the point that I could use it again, although all the trauma left permanent scars on the finish. Finally, almost 24 hours after I began the process, I finally had twelve jars of Bread and Butter pickles to show for it all!

Bread and Butter Pickles

4 quarts of sliced cucumbers
8 medium white onions sliced
1/3 cup pickling salt
3 cloves of garlic halved
Cracked ice
4 cups sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 tbs mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 1/2 tsp celery seed

In a 8 quart stainless steel bowl combine first four ingredients and cover with two inches of cracked ice. Cover with lid and refrigerate for 3-12 hours. Remove any remaining ice. Drain well in a large colander. Remove garlic.

In a kettle combine the rest of the ingredients. Heat to boiling. Add cucumber mixture.

Pack hot cucumber mixture and liquid into hot strilized pint canning jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tale of the Missing Pup

I needed to take the pups to the vet yesterday. A couple of them were having constipation issues and the vet said just to bring the whole litter in for her to check. They were going to work me in and I needed to be there around noon. I was frantically running around the house trying to get things done and answer the phone, etc. Right as I was getting ready to go out the door, the phone rang yet again. I made the conversation as short as possible and then grabbed up the puppies and drove to the clinic. When I got there, we were met by the front desk girls who had fallen in love with Hope and wanted to see the babies. As everyone gathered around, we looked in the box and someone said "How many are there?" I said seven but as I said it realized there were only six in the box. I began a frantic search through the blankets looking for the missing puppy to no avail. I tried to act calm and laugh it off as I told the girls I would be back because I had to go find my other puppy. I drove the 15-20 minutes home in record time with all kinds of crazy thoughts running through my head. In my sleep deprived state I could just imagine the most terrible things happening. I called Mike and said, "I can't find one of the puppies. What if I washed it?"

"What if you washed it?", he said. "What does that mean?"

The fear and panic were coming out as I stated, "I washed the blankets they were sleeping in. What if I didn't realize it and sent the puppy through the washer and dryer.?"

I think the fear in my voice must have caused Mike to worry a little too. He was at the produce stand when I called and all the folks buying produce heard this conversation and all began to worry that the puppy had met it's fate in the washing machine.

I started saying, "I am such a bad puppy momma! I am a murderer! What I have I done?"

In total hysteria I somehow made it home just seconds before Mike and ran into the house so frightened by what I might find. I ran to the box where the pups sleep next to my recliner and threw back the blanket and there in the corner was one little puppy sound asleep. He never even knew his litter mates had been taken away.

I scooped him up giving him kisses and and saying "Oh, thank you God!" As I hurried out the door with him I ran into Mike who said, "Where was he?" I just smiled and said, "Right where I left him!"

Arriving back at the clinic, the pups once again had celebrity status. The techs who had assisted in their birth all had to come and see them and the folks waiting out front all had to gather around and "ooh" and "ahhh" over them.

The pups were all given an exam by the vet who declared them extremely healthy and growing well. She said she could not believe that I had not lost any of them. I couldn't quite find the words to say to her that all the positive thoughts and prayers sent out by so many are the real reason that the pups are thriving, as well as the sacrifices made by my husband who has taken on more of a load so that I could feed the pups around the clock.

The vet said that I could skip the middle of the night feedings now, so I actually get five hours of sleep at a time now! She said I can begin feeding them solid foods in about another week and decrease the bottle time even more.

It won't be long and the little ones will be running around getting into everything and making even an even bigger mess!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hope's Pups

Here are my beautiful babies. I love them each so much! I don't know how I am ever going to be able to let them go to new homes!

Things are better!

Things have begun looking up around here. Although I am exhausted from the round the clock feedings with the pups, I am at least in a routine. Cookie, the Dutch Belted Cow, is also getting into a routine and most of the time, appears when it is milking time! She also is doing better at keeping track of her calf.

We are waiting on Nelly, the Jersey heifer, to calve. I expected her to calve in June, but here it is July and still no baby. The calendar says a full moon on the 7th. Perhaps she will have it then.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


My life just gets crazier and I am beginning to wonder just how much one person can take!

Here is a post that I wrote on a forum I frequent about my day yesterday:

I should be using what little energy I have left to freeze green beans and squash and pick up the house before my share members get here to pick up their milk.

I am exhausted from feeding the puppies night and day and I am not even sure what day it is at this point. I am so very thankful that they are doing very well. A
minor set back has been that about half of them are very constipated and I am waiting for the clinic to open to call them and see what they suggest. I was doing well wiping their little hineys but last night they started to get stopped up. Then someone must have "blown" later because when I removed the blanket to feed them around midnight, they were stinking and had yellow poop all over the lot of them. I gave them a "sponge" bath to try to get the worse off. I still have about four out of the seven that are constipated and wiping them has turned into a very gross, drawn out routine to try to extract the poop plugs from their behinds! (Sorry if that was too graphic, I am too tired to be diplomatic! )

After the last feeding, Mike and I went out to milk the cows. Should be routine right? Not! Cookie is being a pain in the butt! She is fine when we get her into the stanchion and is easy to milk, but getting her there is unreal! She is not use to having this much space and we have had her in a smaller area for a few days but then turned her out so that she could graze. She leaves her baby and then can't remember where she left him. She will bawl like crazy for him but can't find him. I have to go out several times a day and reunite them. Sometimes she acts like she doesn't care one thing about him but if I pen him up then she goes crazy because she wants him out with her so she can promptly lose him again. I would just bottle feed him, but would like to keep him or sell him as a bull, so I don't really want to handle and bottle feed him. Besides, I am feeding too many bottles right now as it is!

Anyway, Cookie goes to the farthest field away from the house and DH wants it left open because he wants the cows to eat on that field, so I can't shut it off. All the other cows line up and wait to be milked but not Cookie. Cookie doesn't come when I call. She is not lead trained and is to big to push or pull. She is a huge cow. No problem for us normally because we don't need cows to be lead trained with our set up BUT they all are interested in being milked. I don't think Cookie is trying to be difficult. She just acts like she doesn't get it. I swear the Dutch Belted in her makes her stupid! All my Jerseys are just so smart and Cookie just seems so oblivious to everything. She is a good, sweet cow but she just doesn't get it! Not the baby thing or the stanchion thing! In her defense, she was a dairy cow for most of her life and never raised a baby and then when Elissa owned her, she did not have a huge area to roam like she does here. Also she was tied up outside and hand milked at Elissa's. I would think though that she would be smart enough to remember what a stanchion is since she is a former dairy cow!

The good news is that Cookie is an easy milker and is already giving five gallons a day with a calf on her. I can't imagine what she is going to do at her peak. Her milk seems to be more homogenized, which would also be a Dutch Belted trait. Of course, she could just be holding up the cream for the baby she can't keep track of!

So, I have to go to the far corners of the property to get Cookie and we don't own a four wheeler, so it's on foot. I get there and she won't come. So, I put a halter on the calf and start to force him up the hill. We have hills in Virginia and I was already running on empty but forcing that calf up the hill from the far corners of the property really did me in! Cookie acted like she wasn't even going to follow, but finally she did.

Add to the mix the fact that Princess is in heat today. Princess has loud, obnoxious, crazy heats and all the cows were trying to ride her. Princess is small (half mini) and these huge cows including pregnant Nelly are riding her and I swear they are going to smash her into the ground. Nelly gets her leg hung around Princess neck and I am freaking out. (Still trying to get Cookie and bull calf up the hill.)

Princess decides I look like a great person to follow so she follows me up the hill. When I finally arrive Mike is not quite finished milking Mayfield and I tie Red Bull (what I have been calling the calf) to a post. He is fighting the post but I know that Cookie probably won't stray to far if I leave him tied. I figure it's a good time to break him. We usually don't break our bull calves to lead but I am thinking it might be a good idea with this one because if I can control him, maybe I can get his momma to figure things out!

Mike doesn't really care to see a calf that young being tied and he was not happy with my arrangment. He comes from old school where they just run free with their momma and he is telling me the calf will hate me forever and be wild because I am tying him up. I don't have time to even think about what he is saying because we have milk to get up to the frig and we now have to make two trips because I can't get it all in the Surge with just one trip. Mike takes off to get the milk to the house and I turn around to see Cookie (VERY, VERY BIG) riding Princess (VERY, VERY SMALL) and they become a tangled mess where Red Bull is tied. Princess becomes tangled in Red Bull's lead rope and he has a look on his face of "Oh my gosh, I'm gonna die! She's choking me to death!". I have no choice but to turn Red Bull off the lead and untangle them all.

A few choice expletives are now spewing from my mouth. Hey, at least I was angry and not crying! I didn't have time to end up a blubbering mess!

Cookie promptly takes Red Bull and goes to the OTHER end of the property! Mike retrieves her this time.

I start milking Cookie but leave Mike to finish as I decide that Princess is going into solitary today for her own well being and my sanity. So, I put her in the back field and have to haul water to her and get the gate put across. There she remains bawling her head off and looking for love!


Mike came home last night and said that our new bull is limping badly. We assume that he got into a fight with the other bull or extended himself with too much romance, but it doesn't look to good right now. This is a registered, Angus bull that we have owned for about a month.

In addition, the produce stand is doing almost no business this year and we just don't understand. We have been booming in years past and now we have days when only a couple of people will show up.

Our baler broke last week and my FIL who can fix anything couldn't figure it out. A man came out from the company to repair it and has been out three or four times and can't figure out what is wrong. They were able to rig something so that they can use it now, but it's still not fixed and they have to take extra steps while baling in order to use it.

My FIL also found out that they won't accept wheat locally now and had to sign a contract with someone out of Texas for his wheat and has to haul it further for pick-up to be shipped out of state.

This morning Cookie did pretty good coming in to be milked (last night I milked by myself and tied her calf up by the stanchion while I milked. I am not sure how Mike got her in this morning as I was not out there when he started milking.) Anyway, Cookie has diarrhea today and we don't know why. She was fine yesterday and has diarrhea today. So, that has got me worried.

In addition, something is wrong with Midnight. She is limping very badly. Mike thinks one of the other cows injured her. It is in her right front shoulder. Mike was going to give her a shot for the pain and she was not tied good and got loose and then we could not catch her. He had to go to the other farm, so I spent 30 minutes trying to get ahold of her. I finally got her close to a tree and grabbed the lead and tied her up. When I calm down and she calms down, I will try to move her to the barn.

Right now, if someone were to offer me a price for all my animals excluding my dogs and my miniature cattle, I would sell them everyone!