5/30/2009

4.0

We are celebrating! Alissa has a 4.0 grade point average this semester! Yeah!

She hopes to finish up at the Junior College this next semester and transfer to Mary Baldwin in Staunton. The only way she can go to Mary Baldwin is if she gets a full scholarship, so we are hoping she will be able to do so! Mary Baldwin has a great program for education majors.

http://www.mbc.edu/

5/29/2009

A Walk In The Rain

We have been experiencing drought conditions for the past two years. However, things have changed now. We have been getting an abundance of rain. The rain can make the outside chores difficult at times and cleaning muddy udders before milking the cows can be an adventure, to say the least. But, we can't complain about the rain. The hay is growing, the garden is growing, the grass is growing and everything is very green.

It seems I am always getting caught out in the rain. Instead of getting irritated with the muddy mess and with what seems like constant down-pours that leave me soaked to the skin more often than not, I have begun to see the rain as kisses from heaven.

You see, Josh loved the rain. I have mentioned before how he would run outside the minute it would start raining and take a walk. The harder it rained, the more he liked it. He would lift his face to the sky and let the rain drops brush his cheeks and soak his skin. What most people avoided in the weather, he welcomed and embraced. Perhaps it was the memory of the times when he was a child and I took him for walks in the gentle spring rains that made him seek out even the greatest downpour. I mean, if a little bit of rain is good, then a torrential rain is even better, right?

My son I am convinced is talking to the Father and saying, "Send some more rain. My mom needs to feel it on her skin. She needs to look up to the sky and let the water wash over her face. She needs to feel the gentle drops on her cheeks."

And the rains keep coming. I convinced that there is some lesson here that I am suppose to learn. This journey I am on of deep sadness and overwhelming loss is a walk in the rain. So, I lift my face and I inhale the air around me. I breathe. I contemplate my life and the life of the child to whom I gave birth who now lives in heaven. I remember all the special times we shared. I embrace the rain.

I cry, but I smile. Sometimes, I even laugh. One day, I even found myself speaking outloud and laughing as the thunder rolled and the rain soaked through my jacket, "Ok, I accept the rain and I will learn to laugh in spite of it, Josh." I see his smile sometimes just like he was standing beside me again.

Those rain drops.................they are little kisses. Each rain drop is a kiss sent down to me from heaven from my precious son. I no longer run from the rain and try to avoid it.

I taught Josh to walk in the rain, now he is teach me to do the same.

This has been a hard week. The grieving process is a long road and I am learning to put my life back together a little at a time. But still I know, it will never be the same. Some days are better than others and some days are just downright hard. I had my 42nd birthday yesterday and it was a wonderful day filled with phone calls, emails and cards from a lot of people sending their love and best wishes. Yet, I missed that one birthday wish, that one "I love you" and that one hug from my son. The best part of my whole day was when Alissa came by and I got to hold her in my arms for a prolonged hug. It was good just to feel her there inside my embrace. That was the best birthday present ever. I just wish that I could have held Josh one more time as well.

Josh's best friend as well as other friends are graduating. Had Josh not taken his GED and finished last year, he would be graduating this year as well. I can help but imagine his excitment over his best friend's graduation. I can just hear him calling me on the phone to tell me all about it. Josh was always so proud of his friend's acheivements.

It's a hard week. I missing you really bad, Josh. I'm learning though and I am trying to be strong, buddy.

I love you,

Mom

5/25/2009

Baby Goats!






I finally got my baby goats home! They are so cute and I love them so much! I don't know how I ever lived this long without having goats in my life! They have such character and really seem to crave human attention! The smaller girl is still shy, but the larger of the two is very friendly! Poor things are missing their mommas though! They have cried so much that now they have lost their voice! If you have never heard a baby goat cry, then you will not believe how "human" it can sound at times! It just breaks my heart to hear them crying for their mommas! They will get quiet and then hear or see me and the crying starts all over again! Poor things!

A Visit from "Online" Friends





When I was growing up, my friends consisted of the people that lived close to me and went to school and church with me. It's amazing how times have changed and how the internet has opened up doors for us to meet folks "online" that we would have never had the opportunity to meet before. I also greatly appreciate the fact that the internet allows us to connect with people who have the same interests that we do. My love of animals has brought me in contact with some awesome folks over the last few years that I never would have met otherwise.

This past week, I was priveleged to meet a wonderful family that lives about 1.5 to 2 hours away from us that I previously had only corresponded with through email. When we met it was as if I we were already "old" friends and we had a lovely time visiting. The young adults in the family, Levi and Lacy, were a delight! Courteous, considerate, kind and articulate, they also are fabulous photographers! The pictures above are used by permission from my new friends and I invite you to vist Lacy and Levi's blog sites where you can see even more pictures of our visit.

(You may have to cut and paste. For some reason I can never get the links to show up on this blog! I'm not as smart as Levi and Lacy!)

http://lacy.obeyingthetruth.com/blog/2009/05/a-trip-to-the-cow-farm/

http://levi.obeyingthetruth.com/2009/05/24/a-visit-to-bloggerville/

5/23/2009

Bantams for Fun!



I have five little Bantams just for fun. I have no idea what kind they are but would love for someone to tell me! I think two are roosters and three are hens.

5/18/2009

My Mini Heifer Calves~Updated Photos




Future Herd Sire Update



Here is the latest picture of the new little bull calf I am getting to hopefully be our future herd sire. We should be picking him up the first weekend in June if all goes as planned.

(Photo courtesy of Courtnay Chase, Cape Fear Miniature Jerseys)

Strawberries



I love strawberries! Strawberries mean spring and sunshine and happy memories. I can remember being just a small thing and always in the way when my parents were trying to garden. So, they would set me down in the midst of the strawberry patch and leave me there to pick and eat the berries while they worked. Of course, that was back in the day before parents entertained their children with DVD's and computers and games! I also associate strawberries with my birthday because as far back as I can remember, I have always had strawberry icecream and strawberry shortcake on my birthday!

This weekend Mike, his mother and I picked about 45 pounds of strawberries. It was the first weekend for them here.

5/16/2009

Hot Milk Cake Recipe

A simple, old-fashioned cake using ingredients easily found in the average kitchen.


Hot Milk Cake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
10 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350*F (175*C). Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder; set aside.
In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat eggs at high speed until thick and lemony colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla until mixture is light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until batter is smooth.
In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter just until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Add to batter, beating until combined. Pour into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tests done when wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Frost as desired.
Makes 12 servings.

http://www.cooksrecipes.com/cake/hot-milk-cake-recipe.html

We love this cake with fresh strawberries and home made ice cream! What did we ever do before we had all this milk?

5/15/2009

A Farewell Tribute To Peanut



Two years ago this very month, it was with tremendous excitement that I looked in the field and saw a beautiful Miniature Jersey calf emerge from the brush along the edge of the field. I had been waiting all my life for this moment. I had dreamed of owning a Jersey since I was a child and had searched for them for quite a while before falling in love with the Old World Version of the Jersey. Fate was in my favor when through a series of events, I was actually able to purchase two Miniature Jerseys cows and a bull. When I bought them, the cows were short bred and I had to wait almost eight more months to get to this magic moment when my first little Jersey calf was born. I did not witness the birth as Momma had secretly given birth in the brush, but I will never forget that moment when I saw him emerge, already dried off. He was breath takingly beautiful.

Mike wanted to get Mayfield into the barn that day and walked out in the field and as she began to follow him, the calf followed her. Mike was eating some peanuts that he had in his pocket and he fed a few to Mayfield. His name came to me at that moment and I knew I would call the little calf "Peanut".

Peanut became "famous" when I submitted an article about my experience with miniature Jerseys to Countryside Magazine and the article was published along with some pictures of Peanut. In a small way, he became an overnight sensation when the magazine hit the stands. I received at least a hundred emails asking me about him and about Miniature Jerseys.

Peanut grew from a beautiful baby in to a handsome young bull. Never was he hard to handle and he always had a quiet, regal way about him. As I added standard size Jerseys to my breeding program, it only made sense that I would allow Peanut to be my herd sire for the new girls in my breeding program. He was always efficient at his job of herd sire and without fail bred every cow in an efficient manner and always remained a gentleman.

From Veterinarians to dairy farmers to farm visitors to those who have only seen his picture on the internet, Peanut received many compliments on his outstanding physical characteristics. What I always saw was my sweet little baby Jersey boy and what a fine young bull he turned out to be.

Last night, as if he knew something was different, he hesitated when I put out a little hay for him. He looked at me as if he knew there was going to be a change. I called him and he stepped by me and began nosing the hay but not eating it. I shut the gate on him and held him in the paddock to separate him from the cows. He played with his hay but didn't eat it. He gave a few loud sounds of disgust that I had penned him up, but never got seriously upset. Then he stood there calmly waiting while we waited for the transport company to call and say they were on their way.

The transport company was suppose to be at our house around 8 PM but the time came and went and they still were not there. About eight, it began to drizzle and we could see the rain coming in. Because it is difficult to maneuver a large trailer around our house, we had to put Peanut on our trailer and we were going to meet the transport company half-way down the drive way. We had the girls in the back pasture and Mike had removed part of the electric fence so that the transport truck could turn around in the field. With the inclement weather, we decided to go ahead and load Peanut on our trailer and wait for the transport company. I held the gate back to the trailer and Mike walked around and moved Peanut up to the trailer. Peanut had never been trailered before in his life. Peanut has never been off our farm since he was born. He stepped up onto the trailer as nice as can be and we shut the door.

I could hear him shifting back and forth in the trailer and calling out to the girls from time to time as we waited and waited for the transport company. Finally around 9 PM they called and by that time we were getting a real down pour. We suggested meeting them down the road in the grocery store parking lot because it was impossible for them to turn around in our field now due to the darkness and the mud.

As we stepped out of the truck to meet the driver the sky went from a steady down pour to absolutely just pouring down rain. The transport company's trailer has doors on the side and our trailer had doors on the back. So we backed our trailer right up to the other trailer and I stood outside in the pouring rain hanging on the side of the trailer and looking at my beautiful boy and talking softly to him. Thank goodness it was raining so hard and I was completely soaked because no one could tell that I was crying.

Peanut never got aggressive, even when Mike and the truck driver got in the trailer to push him through the door into the other trailer. However, Peanut was afraid to step across the thresh hold. I think he could see the glare of the lights and the water running between the two trailers and he was disoriented. The driver got a blanket and put it over the thresh hold so that Peanut could not see the water and the glare. The men got back in the front of our trailer to push him out and he hesitated and started to turn back. I gently put my hand through the side of the trailer and touched him softly on the his hip. "Go on Peanut", I said. He stepped across the thresh hold and into the trailer, headed to his new home.

Farewell, Peanut. You will always have a little piece of my heart. I know you will do well in your new position and make your human momma proud.

5/11/2009

Good News!

I had the vet out today and he confirmed that Maya is indeed pregnant. I was not sure if she had been successfully bred or not. He said she is about three months along. She is my registered standard Jersey that is bred to Peanut and will be having our last calf for the year, probably in November.

5/10/2009

Homestead Preserve: The Old Dairy






Today was Mother's Day and it was a bittersweet day for me. I tried to focus on the joy of my children and how blessed I am to be called "Mom" by two beautiful, wonderful and precious children as well as step-mom to two extra special, lovely children. This being my first Mother's Day with one of my children in Heaven, brought tears to my eyes but also joy to my heart knowing that I am so blessed to have had him here with me for 18 years and to know that one day we will spend every Mother's Day together for the rest of eternity.

Alissa had to work today, so we went to Red Lobster early and asked for her to by our waitress. She gave me lots of hugs and extra attention. Several older men wanted to know why Mike and I got hugs from the waitress and they didn't!

After leaving the restaurant, Mike took me on a long drive into Bath County, VA. We have done a lot of Sunday afternoon drives but have never gone in that direction before today. What a lovely place! The scenery was beautiful and I would love to go back again and spend more time exploring. There were no crowds of people and everything was quiet and relaxed. We found a lovely spot where the only existing commercial dairy in Bath County was built in 1928. The dairy has long since been out of business, but in recent years the residents of the community have seen the historical significance of the place and they raised money along with grants from the state of Virginia to restore the old barn and buildings. The buildings are now used as a community center and house among other things, a nice little deli where one can buy farmstead cheese, gift items and have a sanwhich, homemade soup or a hot latte. Since I am very into all things dairy, I fell in love with the place! I told Mike he could just by it for me and I would just live there with my dairy cows! :-)

5/02/2009

Average Milk Production In Jerseys Before WWII

It has been noted that the Jersey cow began to be bred for a larger size and more milk production after World War Two when women began to leave home and join the work force and the family cow began to become extinct. I found an interesting article from 1905 that gives the typical production of Jerseys before they began to be bred up for production.

In part the article states:

"In two or three instances, however, the yields of the cattle are given, and it is interesting, in view of the performances of these latter days, to consider them for a moment or two.

Quayle gives 22 quarts (English measure) as the greatest quantity of milk given in 24 hours, the medium quantity being 10 quarts i.e. 5½ gallons, with an average of 2½ gallons. From April to August some extraordinary cows gave 14 lbs. of butter in the week, instances of 12 lbs being well attested. In summer 9 quarts of milk (English measure) produce 1 lb butter, in Winter 7 quarts. I presume the lbs are Jersey lbs.

Mr. Garrard gives 14 lbs. of butter per week as the yield of some cows, the yields of milk being from 3 to 4 gallons per day. "In one year the produce of a good cow in butter may be from 220 lbs to 230 lbs. (Jersey weight)."

Mr. Inglis had heard of a cow giving 22 quarts of milk, but according to him the general average produce was 10 quarts of milk per day and 7 lbs of butter per week."


http://jersey-dk.dk/index.php?page=jersey-home&id=906

Taste of Goodness Web Site~You gotta love the Jersey Cow!

Facts about Jersey cattle

•The Jersey is relatively small in size - about 400 to 450kgs in weight
•The Jersey’s hard black hooves are much less prone to lameness
•The Jersey can now be found across the world with a large population in countries such as;
Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and Zimbabwe,
as well as here in the UK
•After the Holstein the Jersey is the second most popular specialist Dairy breed world-wide
•Jerseys thrive under both extremes of temperature - they can grow thick coats in very cold
climates, whilst suffering from much less heat stress than the other dairy breeds
in hotter regions of the world
•Despite her small size the Jersey is renowned for its ease of calving, allowing it to be
crossed with the larger beef breeds
•Studies carried out in Denmark show the Jersey to be less prone to many diseases
than other dairy breeds
•Scientific studies also show the Jersey cow produces milk more efficiently than other breeds.
This can be especially important in countries where feed may be restricted
•Jersey milk is in many ways unique. As a product it contains; 18% more protein, 20% more
calcium and 25% more butterfat than average milk
•In both the USA and South Africa the Jersey is the only breed increasing in numbers
due to the demand for its high quality processing milk

Check out the web site for more information as well as wonderful recipes using Jersey milk!

http://www.tasteofgoodness.co.uk/cows.html#jersey