Is it August??

It's been a really weird August here, weather-wise.  
It's the first August in a loooong time that we have not seen 100 degree temps.
We are delighted to finally have some watermelons.  
Much, much rain has been good for the orchard.
It doesn't look like much now, but there are over 20 trees out there, 
and the watermelon patch on the left.
Emmi saved a hummingbird this week.  She thought it could not fly because it's wings were wet--I don't know if that's true.  She dried him and took him to the hummingbird feeder, after several gulps he flew away.
This was the view from my float today, cows and land as far as the eye can see.  SO blessed!
One day last week, between rains, we swam. The water was so cold the kids begged to get out
after 30 minutes, .....not the normal August.
The pigs had to be moved this week, one was caught steeling milk from Josie.  
Josie has been so "dragged down" since calving in July.  
The piggy stealing milk did not help her any, I'm sure.
Now these pigs are in a section of the back pasture, with their new electric fence.
DH spent an entire day cleaning out the parking shed.
I'm so glad to have it clean and organized.
Avery is learning to play the guitar, and doing very well.
We are enjoying temps in the 80's--however strange it may be.  
There are many, many butterflies on the Lantana.
Days are getting shorter already.  It's getting dark before we finish milking now.
Hard to believe, not only is it August, but August is almost gone!

Odds and ends

This week we changed our way of buying feed.  A ton (literally) fits in 7 drums.
This will last a month, and saves us $100 over buying it in bags.
The 3 jerseys we feed, eat $258 a month!  We've not calculated for the other animals.
We hired a new clean up crew.  A certain group of chickens have discovered the milking barn.
We ordered some winter boots!  The past 2 years the kids have gone through countless cheap boots.

  We decided to get good ones this year for the two kids that help with the animals.
I bought bogs for myself our first year here, and after the initial sticker shock, I have loved them!
These boots have been worn every day for 2 winters, through mud, ice and snow. The clogs through 1 year, and there's lots of life left in them both.

I usually don't plug a product on my blog, but Bogs are really great!  I bought myself a nice leather pair to wear on errand days.  The past 2 winters I had been wearing my longest skirts, with knee socks, and mules, but my mules were wearing out.  SO I took advantage of the "last year's style" prices, and got these!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I love that their boots are insulated with neoprene (see comfort rating on the heel of -30 and 5 degrees), so they are warm without being big and bulky/furry.  And all the boots, even my leather ones, are waterproof.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Other than drooling over winter boots in 90+ degree weather, we did a Progeny Press unit study on The  Milly Molly Mandy Storybook.
The girls designed dresses, above, and the boy's are below.  The boys were good sports and didn't even complain about designing dresses.
I bought the books a couple of years ago, so some kids are above that level now, but we had fun with it=).

Not lazy days of summer

Who coined the phrase "lazy days of summer"? 
 Surely they did not live on a farm.
Peaches was caught being lazy, I spotted him through the window between rooms, 
while I was pouring up cream.
Aside from the garden, and daily farm chores......
We've been busy picking pears.
This old tree has about called it quit, the trunk is split and rotting, 
but still, half of the tree produced pears for us.
We have planted over 10 pear trees in our orchard, 
hopefully they will bear fruit before this old tree dies.

Emmi and Avery helped when it came time to use the food mill.
A friend commented about the dairy products always sitting around the kitchen, 
we are very busy with dairy right now.  I'm making at least 2 cups of sour cream each week.
A gallon of yogurt every other week, and a pound of mozzarella every week.
A half gallon of milk on top of the fridge has become a regular site, it makes one pound of cream cheese.
Since it takes 4 days, a jar is up there almost every day.  I am freezing some of the cream cheese, for when milk supply is down.
Right now we get 12 gallons of milk a day!
 I am making about 12 pounds of butter a week, also, since it can be frozen.
The dogs and cats get a gallon a day, the chickens get some, and the pigs get at least four gallons a day.
We're so blessed to have cows producing healthy milk for us and other animals!

Birthdays, goodbyes and huitlacoche

AJ's birthday was the last of our summer group.  
He turned 13.  He has overcome so many obstacles!
We recently learned (from chiropractor's x-rays) that AJ's pelvis was crushed at some point in China.
He has a dislocated elbow, that was never repaired, and grew back wrong.  That was hard enough to stomach, and now to learn this.....can you imagine the pain?!

We will never know if he was abused, stepped out in front of a car, or what....just that he had to have gone through unbelievable pain as it healed incorrectly.  We had all kinds of tests run on the kids at the time they came home, even genetic testing for some, but who thinks to x-ray a child's pelvis!  Things like this make me angry and sad at the same time.  Fortunately, he has not had any ill-effects from the injury to date.  He is and over comer!
We said goodbye to a cow for the first time today.  
Elvin was sold to one of DH's co-workers, who plans to raise him for beef.
But when he got home, he texted us saying his family was in love with Elvin, 
and that he may have just bought a very expensive pet.
They are new to farming also. 
 It takes some time to get over the fact that you are 
going to eat your cute little calf one day.
Lastly, we had huitlacoche on our corn.  That's the South American name, they consider it a delicacy there.....we call it mold.  The grey knots are hard, and I read that they taste mushroomy. 
 I threw it over the fence to the pigs and hoped it wouldn't kill them.
Guess I'll stick to buying corn as a rare treat from the organic store=).

A bit of landscaping progress

The other day I tackled this little corner of the world.
The camellia in the corner was planted earlier this summer.
Previously, there was a tired, misshapen azalea, and many, many irises scattered about....
I don't even like irises.
I got lowe's gift cards for  my birthday, so I
was able to do some work on both sides of the porch.
It's tough to find a shade loving shrub that is a bit unique, I got Pieris.
I had to work around the peonies in the right front corner,
 and I left a space in the middle for a future birdbath.
 I had a large, gorgeous, cobalt blue one, that had been at 4 different houses with us, 
but it was broken by a large limb during the winter.
The large rocks were brought up from the hollow last year, as a means to keep Happy out of the landscaping.  He's learned his lesson now, I could move them, but they kind of grew on me.
In the fall I hope to paint the cement block beige.  
This is the side of the house that was most recently added on to, about 20 years ago.
It's wonderful to finally be getting pieces of the landscaping done more to my taste!

Catching up

Last week Emmi, said goodbye to 2 little boy goats, 
and fattened up her piggy bank in the process.
Jake was home last weekend, Kristen came on Friday, and all 10 of us went to Ruby Tuesday's to celebrate the 5 summer birthdays.  I do not have a single picture=(.

I still chuckle looking at Lilly and her tan calf, 
those 3 little ones are fun to watch romping about in the pasture!
Helen Keller finally calved Friday, but unfortunately, it was stillborn.
I could write a whole post on that learning experience, but most readers probably 
would not want to read the details.
Since she calved, the milk is overflowing!!  16 gallons in the "pet" fridge above.  Eight gallons in the milk fridge, and I got 5.5 at milking this evening.  So currently there are 29.5 gallons in the milk room, at least one more in the house, and Emmi is getting about a gallon of goat milk a day.
Want some milk?!?!?!  
The pigs will be feasting on milk the next few days until I figure out the new normal, and who gets how much milk at feeding time.  There will be a lot more pudding, yogurt, mozzarella, etc made this week.

We have tiny eggplants, 
and tiny cantaloupe, 
enough black eyed peas for a small army (oh, wait, we are a small army), 
and maaayyyybbbbeeee enough corn for one meal.
For various reasons, this has been a very difficult month, but looking back at these pictures, I am thankful, and know that we are very blessed!

Chep cheep cheep

We found a hen hiding 23 eggs last week (in a place that kids had been told to check the week before.)
Emmi was assigned the job of marking the eggs, so we would know if any more were added to the pile.
If so, we would take those, but leave the existing eggs to hatch.
About 12 hatched today, and there are about 10 more, hopefully they will hatch soon.
Last week I cleaned off the giant marker board that is in the milk room.  I began, again, trying to keep up with how much of each type of feed we use in a month.  Also, with 21 cows now, I needed a chart to show how many cows are in each pasture, so we don't loose anyone.  (If you've ever searched for a cow in the woods of the back forty, you understand that daily counts are important.)
I drew a line and told the kids they could draw under that line.  The cat on the left, with his surf board, is Mr. Fuzzy Pants.  The goat with the fan is Felicity.
I forgot who they told me the others were, but they are animals on our farm.
These are the type pictures I get on schoolwork everyday, with captions, usually relating to the Teaching Textbooks math lessons.  They make me smile everyday.
In other randomness, we have a lovely trumpet vine growing between one of the pastures and the orchard.
I read that they can be invasive, but there's really nothing here to invade, 
so we will leave it alone and enjoy it.