10/30/2009

10/29/2009

Books are Like Old Friends

I wanted to use this post to write about some of the books and magazines that have influenced my life.

Before I was old enough to read to myself, I remember my mom and my grandmother reading to me. I loved to hear them read the stories in my Golden Books. It was always the stories involving animals that stole my heart. Some of my favorites were THE LITTLE RED HEN, THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY, and THE ANIMALS OF FARMER JONES. For those who also loved the Little Golden Books you can view a timeline with information on the books here and a history of them here.

I remember the day when with wonder I stared at a letter my mom was reading from my grandmother and realized those little squiggly things on the paper were words! I couldn't wait to go to school and learn to read. I remember applying myself when I got old enough to attend school so that I could finally read books on my own.

Some of the books I read as a child and a young teen that made an impression on me were the Little House on the Praire series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. How I dreamed of some day growing up and moving to a homestead where I could practice all those skills I read about in the series. Of course, my favorite book in the series was Farmer Boy written about Almanzo Wilder's childhood on a farm in New York. As I like to tell everyone, I finally grew up and married my very own farmer. The Little House books are such a favorite of mine that I can't tell you how many times I have read them through. When my children were small, and we lived in little cabins in Alaska and were practicing our homesteading skills, I would read the books to them at night before they went to sleep.

Another favorite of mine in those early years was Heidi. As a child and young teen, I could not think of anything I would have liked better than running with the goats in the beautiful Swiss Alps, eating roasted homemade cheese with grandfather, sleeping on a pile of straw in the loft, and having a friend just like Peter.

My childhood and teen years were filled with more adventures than I could ever begin to recount thanks to the volumes of books that I read. It was not unusual for me to read at least a book a day. Every spare second I could find, I had my nose stuck in a book. Of course, because I loved the outdoors so much, many times one would find me reading out in the cow pasture or in my favorite spot in the woods.

As an adult, I mostly enjoy reading real life adventures. While I don't mind reading a good fiction every now and then, it is the biographies, autobiographies and memoirs that bring me the greatest pleasure. A few of my all time favorites include Tisha the story of a young teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness. Adventure stories set in Alaska always warm my heart as I was fortunate to be able to live my own adventure there for almost 13 years.

Another book that not only is a well written, interesting read but also happens to be written by a lady that I have met on several occasions and whose father was a friend of my grandparents is Road Song by Natalie Kusz. Natalie writes a heart warming story of her family's struggles in the Alaskan Wilderness while being very honest about the trials that they faced.

Another homesteading book that I have read several times is We Like It Wild by Bradford Angier. It is the story of a young couple who left the city life to live in the wilderness of British Columbia.

There are a multitude of books that I could mention but these are just a few of my all time favorites.

In addition there are a few books that have helped me tremendously with both my homesteading ventures and farming. I have been reading and referencing the Foxfire books since I was but a young teen. Not only is there a wealth of information in the series, but so much of what is written reminds me of my Granny who lived in the mountains of North Georgia and practiced many of the skills mentioned in these books.

Carla Emory's Encyclopedia for Country Living is a must have for anyone who wants to live the simple life. Some friends in Alaska gave me a copy of this book and I can't tell you how many times I have referenced it over the years.

While I do not adhere to everything that Joel Salatin says or does, he has written some great books that I have enjoyed reading that have inspired and encouraged me to be the independent farmer that I am today. Joel, whose farm is within 20-30 minutes of our place, is a vocal advocate of eating and buying local and has done a lot to bring awareness to the issues of family farming and keeping the money we spend on food within the local community.

Stillroom Cookery by Grace Firth is a gem of a book I found at our local book fair. Ms. Firth explains the importance of the "stillroom" in days gone by and gives a variety of homestead type recipes including chapters on Cheese and dairy products, yeast breads, beverages, vinegars, cured meats, fish and fowl, garden foods, dry staples and energy savers, and preserving stillroom produce.

If anyone is interested in owning a family cow, an absolute must read is the book Keeping a Family Cow by Joann Grohman. I did not have this book when I started with my family cows, but have purchased multiple copies since. Reading the book is like sitting in a comfortable chair beside the author and talking to her about the important issues regarding one of my most valued possessions..........my family cows.


There are, of course, a lot of magazines that are being published but a few of my favorites are Hobby Farms Magazine, Countryside and Small Stock Journal, and Mother Earth News.

Maybe when the snow flies this winter, I can pull out some of my favorite books and read them over again. Reading them is like hanging out with old friends. It's both comforting and inspiring.

10/26/2009

Independent Farmer

I think I have found a word that finally fits!

We have all these buzz words that seem to have various meanings depending on who you talk to: organic, sustainable, family farm, pasteured, free range, uncaged, grass fed.............and the list goes on and on.

The conventional farmers look at me and shake their heads and wonder why in the world I would choose to milk five cows, drink raw milk and have "cow shares". They also wonder why we would work our behinds off growing enough produce to feed our friends and neighbors who stop by to purchase right off the farm. And who in the world lets their chickens run around all day without a fence! And, to top it all off, we don't run our farm on government subsidies. Some of these folks tend to label me an "organic freak" but more often than not, just a freak!

Then, there are the die hard organic folks who shake their heads because I am just not organic enough for them. They whisper the words "conventional farmer" under their breath and shake their heads in disgust because everything I do, does not fit their label.

I heard there was a "good ole boy" club for farmers, but I have yet to be invited. Maybe that's because I am a woman. But that can't be it, because my husband has not been invited either.

Guess we won't worry about the labels, or lack thereof. We will just work hard so that we can continue farming. After all, it's what my husband's family has been doing for generations.


Independent

Yes, I think I am an independent farmer.


Independently Mike and I work hard together to live the life we love!

(Note to readers: Please don't take this post too seriously as it is all written in fun! It's good to be able to laugh at one's self! Don't you agree?)

10/23/2009

Ben at four months

Liza Jane


Mike brought Liza Jane up from the other farm yesterday. She is seven months old and 50% miniature Jersey. I am going to use her in the breed to pure program. She is very short and very adorable. She is 1/4 Charolais, 1/4 Angus and 1/2 Miniature Jersey.

10/22/2009

Apple's results




Recent competition Results on the new heifer, Apple, I am purchasing. If all goes well, she will be competing in Louisville the first week in November.


From the Alabama National Fair show week:

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District Dairy Show

2nd place Summer Yearling: Avonlea Apple of Pine Creek


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State 4-H Show

2nd place Summer Yearling: Apple


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State Open show
Mike Stiles judge


1st place Summer Yearling: Apple



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Pictures courtesy of Damon Folmar. Damon's daughter AC is showing Apple in these competitions and doing an outstanding job!

Maya's Bull Calf




Maya gave birth last Friday to a bull calf. It was a big surprise to us as we did not think she was due until November at the earliest. With all that was going on, we did not even notice her being ready and Mike found the calf when he went out to milk Friday afternoon. Both mom and baby are doing great.

Puppy Pictures




Here are a few pictures of two different puppies. Ben is resting on the pillows and modeling his new coat.

Gabriella and Jackson are working on learning manners.

10/05/2009

Ben Meets Rosemary Freeman

Wow! What a day I’ve had. Larry took me over to the Old Town Dog School for my second day of Puppy Head Start. Sandy took us for the longest walk, all the way down to the river, then down almost to King Street , and back to the school. In the park by the river, we practiced call and response. That’s when Sandy would let me run around a bit and then toot her whistle twice. The two toots were my signal to come back for a treat. I had so many, Larry didn’t give me lunch.



Back at the store, Larry bought me a harness and a car seat. I like the car seat, but you can have that darn harness. The car seat is really plush, and if I want it’s high enough that I can see out. Otherwise, I’m too darn short. I rode in it all the way home. I was so very tired, I just zonked out on the way home and didn’t see a durn thing. Oh, I forgot to tell you, on our walk back I got to meet Abigail, a nine month old black and tan cousin. I really liked her a lot, and I’d like to see her again, and mebbe again. I think I just might be in love.



We shopped for a coat for these cool mornings, but we didn’t like anything that was out on the shelves. Sandy ’s gonna keep her eye out for something especially nice. And we got a new collar, too. I’m outgrowing the one I have now. When I’m full grown, we’ll get some with nice patterns so that I can look good when I see Abigail again. And Larry bought a whistle. You just know I’m gonna get tired of that.



Tomorrow, I go to the vet. I think I’ll try to hide under the bed so that I don’t have to go. I just know they’ll get out that dang thermometer again. I mean, like, don’t they have anything else to do? Yep, they do. More shots. Ugh! Then Wednesday, we go out to Paris to meet Aunt Julia and Great Aunt Helen. I plan to give them lots of kisses. I hope they’re wearing tie shoes. I just get off untying shoe laces.



This last week has been great. I saw some squirrels. They don’t play fair, climbing up in trees like they do to get away and then just sitting there and chattering to taunt me. I like to listen to the birds tweet-tweeting, but I like to chase them, too. They’re worse than the squirrels and just fly away when I try to check them out. But the best thing yet: I’m just about potty-trained. Every single time I go outside I run over to Larry right away, and he gives me a liver treat. They’re tasty! You should try one.



I met Rosemary Freeman last week. She owned the Hill’s best known coonhound, but he died last year. They were inseparable. After meeting me, she decided she can’t wait any longer to get another dog. She lives over on A Street , and we’re invited to go visit any old time. Isn’t that great? Rosemary and her coonhound were written up in Sunday’s Washington Post. Larry showed it to me. It’s the bottom column on the OpEd page. You should look it up.



Bye for now





Your Little Ben

A Picture Of Ben


For all of you fans of "Ben" and his wonderful letters, here is a delightful picture of him.

Fun Photos of me with my Favorite Farmer!



10/02/2009

The Farmer's Creed

This is an early version of The Farmer's Creed, circa 1915. It is well written, but the life of a farmer has certainly changed since 1915.


The Farmer's Creed



I believe in a permanent agriculture; a soil that will grow richer rather than poorer from year to year.

I believe in 100-bushel corn and in 50-bushel wheat, and I shall not be satisfied with anything less.

I believe that the only good weed is a dead weed, and that a clean farm is as important as a clean conscience.

I believe in the farm boy and in the farm girl, the farmer's best crops, the future's best hope.

I believe in the farm woman and will do all in my power to make her life easier and happier.

I believe in the country school that prepares for country life and a country church that teaches its people to love deeply and live honorably.

I believe in community spirit, a pride in home and neighbors, and I will do my part to make my community the best in the State.

I believe in the farmer, I believe in farm life, I believe in the inspiration of the open country.

I am proud to be a farmer, and I will try earnestly to be worthy of the name.

--By Frank I. Mann.



This is the famous 1975 version, that was originally run as an ad for New Holland machinery. It has been re-used, re-printed, misquoted, and misused ever since. While this does strike a chord with many farmers, it was an ad.




Farmer’s Creed




I believe a man’s greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.

I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person’s character.

I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.

I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in ways money can’t buy.

I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.

I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth, and maturity in such a variety of ways.

I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, and the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.

I believe that true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feels the pride that springs from their shared experience.

I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it; an honor that does not come to all men.

I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellow man, and by this standard I fear no judgement.

I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he’s lived.

I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.



This was written for New Holland, 1975, author unknown.



Farmer’s Creed 2008


I believe a man’s greatest possession is his dignity, which is hard to maintain when you earn less than the kid pumping over-priced gas into your rusty pickup, yet know that you feed him.

I believe hard work and honest sweat are the reason farmers have to have a shower before going to town.

I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth, if farmers would stop polluting rivers, infecting people with e-coli, feeding their livestock hormones and antibiotics, using genetically modified crops, mistreating animals... wait, what happened?


I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in ways money can’t buy, which is good because money is out of the question.


I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way and that just because their friend has an X-box, it doesn't mean they need one too.


I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth, and maturity in such a variety of ways, but that doesn't mean you can call your teacher "one nice heifer"'.

I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, and the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring, and it's a good thing they're free, because the line of credit is full.

I believe that true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feels the pride that springs from their shared experience, just don't forget sunscreen. Farmers have a high rate of skin cancer.


I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it; an honor that does not come to all men. I also haven't paid taxes in 12 years, so that's good too.


I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellow man, which is feed them for nothing, and by this standard I fear no judgement other than by the department of the environment or the federal auditors. (see tax thing above)


I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he’s lived. He should be able to, but he can't because his knees are shot and it's a 24 month wait for surgery.


I believe in farming because it's in my blood so I can't be happy doing anything else.



Mr Greenjeans

(Credits)

10/01/2009

View from my Kitchen Window


It promises to be an absolutely beautiful fall day. I love that crisp feeling in the mornings and afternoons that are "warm enough" but I can still do outside chores without breaking a sweat. While I am stuck inside freezing broccoli, it's nice to be able to watch some of my Jersey girls enjoying fall as well. I spend so much of my time when I am inside in the kitchen. I love being able to see my cows while I work!