Fall Harvest

The apples are in and I put up applesauce yesterday and need to get started on some more today. The Limas are really producing as well and last night we shelled out about 1/2 bushel of Limas that I need to blanch and freeze today. I have a mental list of about a dozen things I need to get done today and here I sit at the computer. I am so tired from yesterday that I can't quite get motivated today!


Ben Goes to School

Wow! What a day this pup had. Larry took me to the Old Town Dog School to be evaluated for Puppy Head Start. Sandy gave Larry lots of tips, particularly about house-breaking (as If I need that) and then gave me a short lesson. We focused on vocabulary (let’s go, leave it, sit, hurry up and stuff like that). I felt a lot better when I found out we would not progress to grammar. Sandy thinks I could be awesome; it’s really hard not to get a big head with praise like that. If Tammy were going to have more puppies, Sandy said she’d refer people to Tammy, that’s how much she likes me. She made Larry get me a training leash. It’s cool. It’s really long, and I can run ahead or back or in circles, or anything I want, and it’s a lot more exciting than walking along at Larry’s pace. You know, he’s an old geezer and slow, and I really need to run. I sleep a lot better that way.

We went for several walks today, and I met two really nice dachshunds, a 2-1/2 year old black and tan named Birgit and a nine year old blond wirehair named Leah. Both minis, like me. I tried to play with them, but they don’t have my energy. Leah’s daddies want to form a Capitol Hill dachshund club. Wouldn’t that be fun? You know, I’m not an elitist; I would even be willing to play with the ones that didn’t get a chance to go to school. Oh, I forgot to tell you, after I finish Puppy Head Start and get to be six-months old, I’m going to get private lessons.

It was windy out today and leaves were blowing all over the place. I never saw that before; it was so much fun to chase them. And last night I found a big old beetle on the sidewalk. I tracked it wherever it went. Eventually, it hid somewhere, and I couldn’t get it. Oh well, there’ll be more where that one came from.

I go back to the Old Town Dog School next Monday for my first full lesson. I like Sandy a lot. She’s the co-owner and has been training dogs for 35 years. I think she’ll get Larry straightened out eventually. That’ll made life a lot easier for me. On Tuesday, I go back to the vet. Not my cup of tea, I’ll tell you right not. Well, that’s it for now. I need my rest.

p.s. The potty training’s goin’ pretty good.

Kisses and licks, and lots of both

Your Little Ben



Pictures courtesy of Damon Folmar

The heifer on the left,Louise, was the grand champion at the Shelby County, Alabama fair for 2009. The heifer on the right is Apple, the new heifer that I am purchasing. She took second place to Louise in her class.

I think Apple is gorgeous!

The Wanderer

Alissa took these photos of Monarch Butterflies today.


Ben is three months old!

I was three months old yesterday. That’s one minute for every hour I’ll be alive if I live to be 15. Imagine! How time flies. Nobody, nobody sent me a card or a present or anything. I was crushed. Larry tells me that nobody pays any attention to three-month birthdays. I can’t imagine why not. It was a big day for me.

Today, I went with Larry to get his haircut. I was in his lap when he got shampooed and in it again, but under the smock, when he got his haircut. I went to sleep. Can you believe it? Afterwards, we went over to the Old Town Dog School to arrange for Puppy Head Start. Larry asked Sandy, one of the owners, if she could be the trainer. She said she wouldn’t do it for just anybody, but that I seemed special. I was so proud. She said I had lots of potential and that I carried myself so confidently when I came in the store. We go back there on Monday for an

“evaluation.” What on earth do you think that means? Then we went to Pet Smart so that I could pick out some more toys and make up for yesterday when I didn’t get anything on my three-month birthday. I’m gonna need something to keep them in. Right now, they’re all over the floor.

Larry tries to brush my teeth with his finger. I won’t let him. Today, we got some of those treats that help clean your teeth and freshen your breath. They taste OK, but I’d rather have real bones. And I still don’t want anyone sticking their fingers in my mouth. It’s not sanitary.

Oh yes, I’ve been tricked into going outdoors. Larry gets up at 530 a.m. (while it’s still dark outdoors), gets dressed, and scoops me up and whisks me outside before I can pee on the paper or anything. After holding it all night, which I do rather well if I do say so myself, I go Number 1 and Number 2 right away. I get a treat for it, but I still don’t like being tricked. Then, we go inside and eat. Sometimes during the day I use the back porch if the door is open.

This afternoon, I jumped up on the kitchen table and took a good look at some acorn squash. I got caught before I could see what they tasted like. I like to taste EVERYTHING and get in lots of trouble when we go for our walks. We see lots of dogs on our walk. They remind me of my brothers and sisters. I greet all the dogs we meet, no matter how big they are, and just sit down and stare at the ones that walk by on the other side of the street. I can’t understand why they don’t come over and say hello.


Yur Little Ben


Ben's Been Naughty!

Seems that Ben has been into some things he shouldn't have!

I had a really hard day yesterday. First, I found some kinda glue trap for insects and got my foot stuck in it. It was about two inches by four inches, and I couldn’t get it off. I went clop-clopping around the upstairs until Larry heard the racket and rescued me. I had a sore foot for a few minutes. I licked and licked it until it felt better. Then, while Larry was outside trimming the ivy, I got tired of watching and raced upstairs to see what I could find. Ah, recharger cords! I killed the one for the Kindle. Larry had to order a new one from Amazon. Actually, he ordered two in case I did it again. He didn’t say anything to me, but he really yelled when he found out. I didn’t have time to complete the job on the iPhone cord. Oh well, that’s for another day.

We had several long walks. I’ve gotten really good at holding it until we get back inside and I can go on the paper. Today, when I really, rally had to go, these two girls stopped to adore me. I couldn’t help myself and peed outside. I might do it again, just for the heckuvit. And today, I’ve pooped on the paper every time. I got treats and praise, so I just might keep that up, too. I’ve gotten lots of sleep today, so I’ll be able to terrorize the place tonite. You can bet I’ll give plenty of love bites with my extra sharp little teeth. Speaking of teeth, I won’t let Larry brush my teeth. I mean, what’s up with that? I look for new stuff to do all the time. I’m gettin’ to be a pretty good pickpocket. Larry carries a handkerchief in his right front pocket. If I’m real careful I can get it out of his pocket before he even has a clue. Then I can run around with it until I think of something else to do.

We saw Gene Weingarten last night on one of our walks. He lives nearby and works for the Washington Post. Larry says he wrote this great book called “The Old Dog” or something like that. Mebbe Larry will read it to me when I get a little older.

Oh yeah, one new thing. I actually went down the stairs by myself with a lot of coaxing. It’s still scary.

Bye for now.

Little Ben

Another Letter from Ben

I think I need to clarify for those of you who missed it, that Ben is one of the puppies that I sold who found a wonderful home in Washington, DC. The letters I have posted are from Ben's (the puppy) perspective with a little help from his new human companion, Larry.


Tomorrow, I will have been here on Capitol Hill a whole week. Can you believe it? And can you believe I’m turning into a city dog? I tell all the big dogs we see not to mess with me, that I’m a country pup and really tough. I’m just kidding of course. I love to play. The big dogs can’t figure out whether to eat me or play with me. I attack ‘em before they can figger it out; it’s a lot of fun.

We went on five walks today. I think Larry’s trying to get me to “go” outside. I don’t know why. He doesn’t “go” outside. Why should I? I don’t think he’s amused when, after a very long walk, I pee on the paper just as soon as we get back inside. These walks take a long time, ‘cause everybody who walks by has to stop and say hello. Lemme tell you, it interrupts my search for stuff to eat, which is hard enough with Larry trying to keep me from doin’ it. Some little kid wanted to pet me, but he dropped his back pack, ‘bout as big as he was, and it scared me half to death.

A policeman on one of those segway things stopped to say hello on one of our walks. I played hard to get. He said getting to pet me was part of “the puppy tax.” Wow! I didn’t know about that.

We went over to see our neighbors Arthur and Buggsy this afternoon. Buggsy is seven and about twice as big as I am with really long paws. We got along really well once he figured out I was just kidding when I growled and barked at him. We ran around and around Arthur’s house. Buggsy couldn’t keep up with me; I stayed out of reach of those big, long paws, though. We’re gonna go back and see him again.

Big news of the day! I’ve been barred from gardening. All because I dug up a few plants and tried to eat the leaves on some others. I mean, like, after all it’s September: harvest time. Oh yeah, one other thing, we got health insurance today. I must be really important.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’ve had a really, really hard day. If Larry doesn’t go to bed soon, I’ll just sleep in his gym bag ‘til he does.

Your Little Ben


Bull Roar

So many times I see folks that have little or no experience with cattle raising a bull calf and making a pet out of it. I have been very outspoken about the fact that this is the worst way to raise a bull. At times, I am afraid I have put people off by my insistence on how a bull should be raised. When I raise bull calves, I raise them according the the methods in the article, Preventing Bull Accidents, by Temple Grandin. We currently have Little Bull on her property, the miniature Jersey bull that we are leasing. I wrote about some of his antics in a previous post Living with Little Bull is Challenging.

My friend, Selden, wrote a post on her blog about some bulls that she has raised. She gave me permission to share her story, Bull Roar, with readers of my blog.

Thank you, Selden, for allowing me to link to your blog. I hope folks will realize how dangerous bulls can be and be cautious in dealing with them! I also hope that those who choose to raise bulls will take care to raise them properly and help to reduce the number of bull related accidents and deaths.


A Letter From Ben

Dear Tammy

I went to the doctor’s today. First time! They seemed so nice, but it was only an illusion. While they were distracting me with treats, they stuck this thermometer (well, I’m too refined to say where). Boy, I’ll never trust them again. They tried spraying bordatella up my nose. Eeeeew! Not for me, no ma’am. They ended up giving me a shot instead. And another shot. I’m so tired I can hardly get this letter off to you. Tomorrow, I get heartworm and flea and tick stuff.

I weight 5 lbs 13 ounces. Wow! I’ve gotta quit eating so much. I had a little accident on the way home from the doctor’s, but whadda you expect? Man, I’d been through so much. Larry had to change his shorts. He didn’t care, at least not too much. He loves me, you see. I sleep with him. It’s a lot better than sleepin’ by myself in the crate.

I went all the way up the stairs today. By myself! First, I went one step; next time I went five; then I went six; and, finally, I went all the way. I haven’t figgered how to go down the stairs yet. Don’t worry, I’ll get there. Yesterday, I stayed in my crate while Larry went to church. I was really good and didn’t cry at all. Then Larry took me for a walk to meet all the neighbors. They really make a fuss. You’d think they’d never seen a puppy before.

Larry’s gonna buy me health insurance, and he’s thinkin’ about sending me to puppy head start and then for some private lessons. He didn’t do any of that stuff for Tyler , so I don’t know why he’s doing it for me. I’m just as smart, if not smarter.

Well, Tammy, that’s enough for now. Thanks for everything, You gave me a really, really good start.


Fall and Winter Projects

There is a definite chill in the air this morning, even though yesterday afternoon was humid and hot. The official temp says 50 degrees and it is 8 am. Something about the crisp autumn mornings always excites me. I absolutely love this time of year.

I think one of the reasons I love fall is because I know that things will slow down on the farm and we will get into a daily routine. I hope to get back to making cheese again soon.I would love to be able to make and sell artisan cheeses at some point. I am in the process of trying to get information on what the state would require for me to do so. So far, I am not getting a lot of feed back. I guess I need to find a different source of information.

I did not sew last fall and winter because I just could not concentrate long enough after Josh's death to actually sew. I am really getting the urge to sew now that things are slowing down and it's getting cooler. I have some delightful projects running through my head. I still have difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. I am hoping my dear friend Liz will motivate me to actually follow through and complete some sewing projects this year! (Love you, Liz!!!!)

I played around with making soap a couple of years ago. I think I could sell milk based soap at our produce stand in the summers if I can perfect my soap making skills. There's another indoor project for cooler weather!

But for today, my agenda involves the not so exciting or creative task of shelling, blanching and freezing more lima beans and making more pickled peppers. My house sure could use a good cleaning too! Mike informed me there were spider webs under the furniture. (Who looks under or behind the furniture anyway?) ;-) With the morning sun shining through the kitchen window, it looks like I could spend quite a bit of time in just the kitchen! Something about that morning sun shining through the windows at a certain angle shows all the grease, dirt and every smudge and fingerprint.

Guess I better get busy!


I love my Husband!

Only God could have given me the perfect match of a husband! I am just amazed at his love, patience and devotion to me.

There is no other man on this earth who would possibly put up with my obssession with my animals and do all that he does to support me in my endeavors.

Tonight, my dear husband, built me a fence for my goats. By the time he was finished, it was too late to actually try it out, but we will do so tomorrow. Goats are known to escape most any type of fencing, so I am hoping that this will work.

Goats have got to be the funniest creatures God ever created! Boy do they make me laugh. My goats are young and I did not know enough when I bought them to make sure that I was getting bottle raised doelings. So, I have one goat that happens to be very friendly, but the other is the most frightened little thing you have ever seen! I had to catch her and put a new collar on her. (I can't find her other one. Do you suppose she ate it bell and all?) She "screams" when someone grabs her and she sticks her tongue out when she screams. It is the funniest thing. I was laughing so hard, I could hardly get the collar on her. Then, S'Mores, the tame goat walked nicely on a leash but Moonbeam proceeded to try to throw her neck out of joint by jerking in the opposite direction. I figured it was easier just to carry her. Mike thought it was too much for me to carry her, so he came to relieve me. I laughed again because here she was being carried with legs flopping out in front of her, her tongue sticking out and screaming at the top of her lungs. If you have never heard a Nubian, they sound just like a human baby!

We temporarily put them in the dog's pen and boy did they have fun in there. They were able to reach some of the pears on the tree and Mike, who is very stingy with his pears, about had a fit! They were jumping up and down the steps going into Sadie and Spencer's dog house and peeking through the windows. Once again, I was lauging so hard at them. (The dog's house is actually a child's playhouse.)

When we finally got them back in their shelter for the night, they were not too happy because it has been relocated. They let us know by crying for quite a bit before they finally settled down.

We shall see how they do in their new surroundings with their new fence tomorrow. Perhaps, I can even get some pictures!


Another Puppy Goes to a Good Home

Another puppy just left. He went to this wonderful, wonderful older man from Washington, DC who has previously owned Dachshunds. One lived to be nine and the other nineteen. The man was so kind and I apologized to him because I was in tears before he ever left. I was doing ok until he told me that he "just knew" when he found my web page that one of these puppies was the right one. He said that he could just tell that this was a special place. I gave Ben, his new puppy, a kiss goodbye and bawled like a baby!

When the nice man was trying to pick a puppy, the three available puppies kept jumping up with such force that it looked like they were going to launch themselves into the man's lap! It's no wonder he had such a hard time deciding. They reminded me of Donkey on Shrek when he is bouncing up and down and saying "Pick me! Pick me!"

I put Oscar and Hunter outside while the nice gentleman was playing with the puppies. Otherwise, Oscar rolls over and expects everyone to scratch his belly the entire time! So, the two big Weenies went out to the barn yard to do their thing. Whatever that is, it involves walking and rolling in various varieties of manure.

The very nice gentleman is ready to leave and has his car door open and Oscar happens by and decides to sit in the nice, clean, leather driver's seat.

He left the nice man with some Oscar size footprints that I am sure were chicken and cow scented!


Today's Agenda and Miscellaneous Ramblings

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days when the majority of my cow share members come to pick up their milk. Because some of them travel from several hours away, it does not always work out for everyone to get here on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, these two days are usually my busiest share days.

Mike brought home and shelled a half a bushel of Limas last night and I have those to put up this morning. He also brought me some Okra which I will freeze. We have not had much Okra this year and I am crazy about the stuff! He said something about selling some to a lady who asked for it and I put a stop to that! Okra reminds me of summers when I was a kid and of my Granny in Georgia. Isn't it funny how nostalgic food can be?

It's raining here today and Mike has opted to go to Harrisonburg and asked me if I wanted to ride along. I told him if all the share members come before he leaves I will go with him. He has it in his head that he wants to get a double recliner so that we can sit together in the evenings. I guess he means in the winter because I never get down to the family room before 10 PM and usually he is already asleep in the recliner when I get there!

I made some awesome scalloped potatoes yesterday. Talk about comfort food! The potatoes were Yukon Gold and grown by dear hubby. I made some ricotta type cheese by bringing some of my Jersey milk to steaming (not quite to a boil) and adding 1/2 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of milk. The vinegar separates the curds from the whey and leaves a wonderful tasting, mild, sweet cheese. I added some salt to the cheese after straining it. I also included some "cream cheese" that I had made. I took the cream off the raw milk, let it clabber and then strained it until he thickened. I then added salt to it. I mixed this with the Ricotta cheese and the potatoes and baked until the potatoes were done. Delicious!


DeLaval~Do YOU like butter?

Mike and I went over the mountain to Charlottsville and some antique stores there and in Ruckersville, and then back across the mountain to Grottoes and the ice cream shop today!

I needed to get away and get my mind off some things and try to have a stress free afternoon. We had a great time and I was excited with my purchase and wanted to share! I found the follow framed advertisement for DeLaval. It says "Compliments of E.L. Hutcheson General Hardware Dexter City, Ohio" on the print. The little boy is holding a butter cup under the little girl's chin. Under the little girl's feet it says "Do YOU like Butter?"

The crate the little girl is sitting on says THE DE LAVAL SEPARATOR CO.

You can see a cream separator in the corner of the room.

In very small print on the bottom it says COPYRIGHT 1915 by DE LAVAL SEPARATOR CO.

The frame is made with wooden pegs rather than tacks or nails.


Good News!!!

Day 22 and no sign of heat from Cookie!

I hope, hope, hope she's bred to Little Bull!!!!


We MIGHT be pregnant!

No, not Mike and I but Cookie and Little Bull. I know I am really pushing it but I really want Cookie to be bred by Little Bull and from their antics when she was in heat, I really did not think he was able to get the job done. So, I have (not so patiently) waited 21 days to see if Cookie comes back in heat. Now with a bovine, they could be a few day early or a few days late, but today is exactly 21 days from when Little Bull tried to service Cookie. Was he successful? Only time will tell, but I am cautiously hopeful that maybe Little Bull was bull enough to get the job done! Cookie normally has very loud, obvious heats and today she is calmly eating grass and Little Bull is not paying any attention to her at all. I will keep my eye on them and see if Little Bull shows any interest in the next few days. If Cookie did get serviced on August, 14Th she will be due to have a calf on May 23rd.

I can't help but dream of a miniature, belted heifer!


Mike in His Office

Look closely to see Mike in his office, on the phone, with guard dog standing duty!

Simple Things That Made Me Smile Today

*My Hibiscus in bloom
*Cool nights
*Warm afternoons
*Riding with the sunroof open
*Bouncing puppies
*Playful calves
*Real milk
*Real food
*Corgis ears that go up
*Dachshunds ears that flop down
*Warm thoughts from friends
*A hair cut and color
*My daughter's voice
*My husband
*Knowing that my Father holds me in the palm of His hand


One Breath at a Time

After all most a year, I still can't figure out how I am ever going to live the rest of my life without my son. So, I just take it one breath at a time. One moment at a time I have made it through almost a year.

I decided in the beginning that I would not deny this pain but rather, I would embrace it when it overwhelmes me, allow myself to cry and grieve, and allow myself to remember. To deny the pain would only allow it to fester until it would erupt into something ugly. To face the pain and deal with it is hard but I know it is the right thing to do.

I did not want to dull the pain in any way by alchohol or medication. I have not touched either and have not allowed myself to escape the reality of the hurt I hold inside.

I have learned that I can laugh and find joy even with the deep abiding sorrow that is my constant companion. It can't be explained how such contradictory emotions can abide in the same heart.

While most moms my age are dealing with the empty nest syndrome and trying to find a new normal once their kids have moved out of the house and moved on with their lives, I am trying to find a new normal knowing that my child won't be coming home at Christmas, or on spring or summer break.

I cling to the hope that I have that assures me that Josh is in a better place and that time is of no importance to him there. To him, it will be but a breath and we will be together again. To me, the years will be long and my heart will ache, but when I see him again, there will be no more parting. I find my peace in that and my strength to take the next breath and make it through one more minute until the days, months and years slowly fade away.