The Goats are in the Barn for Winter

The goat houses we built this summer are super cute and work really well to keep their hooves dry and their heads out of the rain. Once we settle in for another long, cold winter their summer homes aren’t going to be enough to keep them warm. So every Friday, while I have been at work in town, Mike has been at work in the barn.

Winter Goat House

Winter Goat House

He built “kids” an insulated house that all four can share while still keeping Hank on his own side of the fence. He made the pen inside temporary because of our plans for a hay loft over the cows next summer, that would allow for a larger cow pen and shift the goats down a bit. What he has came up with will work great for now. They all still have access to their outside pens so they will have plenty of room to run. Their inside house is the perfect size to keep them warm in the colder months.

Divided Pens In the Barn

Divided Pens In the Barn

The mini water tank from outside has been moved in and placed between the two pens so I only have to run heater for them and one for the cows.

Split Goat Stock Tank

Split Goat Stock Tank


Halleluiah! There’s Water!

A big part of daily chores is making sure all the animals have fresh water. Simple enough one would think and it usually is. In the summer I string a hose from the spigot off the house to the stock tank in the corral. The goat tank is just on the other side of the fence of the cow’s tank making watering them pretty simple. The chickens and other animals require a couple buckets of water be filled and delivered. So not too bad but it does take some time and when there are little one to chase after it takes a little more time. Our little boy now has a gallon bucket that we put a quart of water in so he can help bring water to the chickens and not go wandering off.

Winter, on the other hand is a whole other routine. In the north is gets cold. Water freezes when it’s -30 degrees out (and warmer). Stock tanks freeze. Chicken waterers freeze. Dog dishes freeze. Cat dishes don’t freeze because the cat came with a heated water dish. Once a tank or dish freezes hard, it’s time to plug in the tank heaters and move the water from the outside tanks to the insulated ones in the barn. The hoses that worked so well in the summer, if left out, get buried under feet of snow and yes, freeze.

I had had the expandable hoses recommended to me by multiple people. They worked really well for them. They could hook them up, turn on the water, fill everything and when the water shut off, the hose would scrunch back up into this nice light ball and could be easily brought into the house. Well, that was not my experience. In fact the first time I used them one broke and they turned out to be more work than it was worth. This was really disappointing. But they do work well for flowers in the summer.

By the time Christmas came I had hauled enough water from the kitchen sink to the barn that my husband got me a utility sled. That was amazing! I could haul four full, five gallon buckets at a time to the barn, dump them in the tank and then  fill the sled with enough firewood to last me the day. By this time I was seven months pregnant and it made the work much easier.

Last winter we were keeping two and a half cows, thirty (or so) chickens, threes dogs and a cat that appreciated water in the liquid form. This summer the cow herd, expanded to four, the nonexistent goat herd had climbed to four and the chicken coop, going in to fall, is holding at thirty-five(or so) and two turkeys (Martha and George) and we just found another cat in the barn ( I don’t know if it will keep permanent residence here or not). That’s a lot of water every day. Pregnant or not I don’t want to haul that much water every day nor am I willing to give up any animals.

I was in a bit of a pickle.

With the genius of my husband and dad, they came up with a plan to put a water line from the house to the barn, attached to a frost hydrant. Sounds like a fancy hose, right? Well, not so much. It’s so much better because it doesn’t freeze! (if it does, the cows have probably froze too.)

What you do, is dig a deep hole where you want water, eight feet deep or so. Then dig a trench from the hole to your water source, about three hundred feet to the house. Then put pipe or some sort of heavy hose in the trench and attach it to the water source and the other end to the hydrant in the barn. Fill in the eight foot deep trench and voila! Water! If I were the one taking on the task that’s about how it would have went. A few years later I would be done. Good thing it wasn’t up to me.

N & M Directional Drilling, making quick work of my would be trench digging.

My uncle brought over his skid steer with an auger and extension. Between, him, my dad and husband they had a hole about 8 feet deep dug in the barn in a short time. This was after they disassembled the cow pen so they could get the equipment in there to begin with. From there on I’m not sure the “step by step” of what went on. It was a project I wouldn’t have been too much help with.

One way or another a bunch of rock was put in the hole in the barn to create a bit of a drain field, the guy’s from N & M Directional Drilling bored a hole from the north end of the barn into the hole and then from there all the way to the house, where they were able to come up into the foot and a half hole in the basement. How they managed to drill that far and find that spot in the house is beyond me! But they did. Then some sort of hose was pulled back through the hole they drilled and it was hooked to the hydrant, the hole filled in. There was some sort of work done in the basement to get the plumbing all tied in but after that there was water in the barn!

Dad hooking up the hydrant

The best part is the water that is in the barn can be used all winter long! The frost hydrant, after being used, drains back down into the rock that was put in the hole so the pipe won’t freeze and the water line was bored deep enough that that shouldn’t freeze either! I put an old hose on the hydrant and cut if off just after the first lawn mower mishap. It’s just the right length to reach the cow tank and the goats! I will still need to bring a couple buckets to the chickens but that’s only every other day and the coop is just outside the barn. So much closer than the kitchen!


The Hydrant set in place

The Hydrant set in place

As usual this project was a group effort and I am so thankful! This has already been a big help and we don’t even have snow yet! Thanks, to my husband, my dad, my uncle and the guys at N & M Directional Drilling!

Halleluiah! There is water in the barn!


The Cows Came Home

It’s been just short of two weeks ago that the cows came home. It was nice to have everyone back on the farm where they belong. The girls were bred and are due late spring. They spent their time away with my uncle’s herd of Angus. They were comparable in size to this year’s calves it seemed. So as we drove by they were easy to spot from the road. I didn’t visit them nearly as much as I should have, but one Sunday we did stop in after church. They were all on the other side of the pasture when we arrived. I stood at the fence and called for Lucy. It wasn’t too long before she wandered slowly over, Wheezy followed keeping her distance. She refused to eat from my hand as she used to but I was just happy she still came when called.

While the girls were out Elvis and G.W. settled right in. They have become so tame. I’m so glad we are not going to eat G.W.. He is so friendly, he will walk up to me in the pasture to be pet. I can get the burdock off of him without any fuss. He is so sweet. Elvis is the same. I already dread the day he has to go. That’s going to be a rough one.

G.W. and Elvis

G.W. and Elvis

Elvis took G.W. under his wing and they became good buddies. This was made more apparent when the cows came back. Wheezy’s horns look to have grown 6 inches while she was away and she has learned she likes to use them. Hers have grown much more forward instead of upward as Lucy’s are. As soon as they hopped out of the trailer they began chasing the boys around trying to establish a pecking order again.

I don’t like. Not one bit! Those boys are so sweet and they just get pushed around.

Because the girls get so territorial over the big hay feeder Mike made a couple smaller feeders in the barn. I was worried that the boy’s weren’t going to get any feed. Every time they get in the barn Wheezy runs them out. They look great! And work well. I asked for 2 more once I saw them installed, then we could remove the big feeder and give them a little more room in there.

Hay Feeder

Hay Feeder

Last night Wheezy and I had a little “get to know you”. It wasn’t a full blown “come to Jesus”, I’m hoping it doesn’t get that far, because that will end one of two ways: I come out on top and she will mind from then on out or she will take that round and when I recover she will be turned into hamburger. Lucky for both of us it didn’t go that far. I’m giving both girls the benefit of the doubt that they haven’t been home for too long and are still getting readjusted.

I went into the pen with an arm full of hay for Hank (his feeder is next to the fence most easily accessed through the cow pen). I wasn’t a few feet in the gate when Wheezy lowered her head and came towards me. It wasn’t a leap or real charge, there wasn’t enough room between us for that, but it was obvious she thought she was going to establish a Queen Bee status with me. This time she got an up close view of my boot. Right between the eyes.

Dexter Angus Cross


She wasn’t expecting it and she backed up pretty quick, tripped on her own feet and then stood there for a minute processing what just happened. We had a bat inside the front door of the house, only because shortly after we moved in I found it marking a gopher hole in the field, brought it in and hadn’t thought to move it since. But in the last week Mike had finally moved it to the barn and it happened to be right outside the pen. I grabbed the bat, hay in hand, and told Wheezy to get out of the barn. She left, I fed Hank and went on my way.

I didn’t have to use the bat that night. I hope I never do. I don’t want to hurt any of our animals but my 115lbs up against the 700lbs of horned Wheezy, I’m going to need Jesus and a bat if she gets mad.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and my bat…” well it’s close anyway.

This morning Mike and I moved the big feeder so it’s no longer next to the outside door in hopes the boys will be able to make their way in to the other feeders on the wall. Wheezy came in and said hi. She kept her distance.

Lucy is still skittish and has kept her distance since coming home. Hopefully it won’t take too long for her to warm back up to us and Wheezy will calm down again too.

The Girls

The Girls

Dexter Cattle

Big Hank

Hank or “Big Hank” as my husband calls him has settled in quite nicely on our little farm. He came home with Scarlet from Big Wheel Fainting Goat Ranch as well. He too is a fainting goat and a smelly one at that! He is our first buck and we have learned quickly how fun and oh so smelly they can be. The Boys are whethers (missing some of their “boy parts”) and so they don’t act “bucky”. (A lot of quotations, I know.) Hank, and all bucks from what I am learning, when in rut (breeding season) pee on everything. That’s Everything with a capital “E”. Their chin hair included! I guess the ladies like that sort of thing. I’m not a fan; good thing I’m not a goat I guess.

Once Hank has made it past this season, he will be a little more fun. As of right now he’s fun to watch and does get his grain treat hand fed through the fence (he doesn’t like crackers like the others) so he gets some attention. When he’s not going to pee on himself or me, he will get to hang out with us a little more.

As you can see, he sure is cute.


… and Scarlet

For my birthday I received 2 fainting goats; Clyde and Lyle. That was going to be it for goats on the farm, well so we thought. As we made friends with The Boy’s we began thinking how fun it would be to have another and maybe another. And there you have it, a couple more goats have made their home on the farm.

Last weekend we made the trip to Big Wheel Fainting Goat Ranch and brought home two more. Scarlet and Hank.

And Scarlet

Scarlet has made her home with the Boys. She is such a doll!

I didn’t realize how used to hearing the voices of Clyde and Lyle I was until we brought home Hank and Scarlet. She sounds like a girl and notices if you slip out of the house. Immediately, she starts calling. It works every time. We go over and say hello and usually she gets a soda cracker. They are her favorite.

She was one of 4 kids and was a bottle baby because of it. The extra attention she was given has made her love people from what I can tell. She walks the yard with me and heals better that the best bird dog. She will not let her side leave my leg.



Scarlet 2

Dead Buck-Buck?!

Chicken2015Every now and then for whatever reason a chicken will “fall off the roost” if you will. It’s been a while since I’ve walked up to the coop in the morning with my buckets of water and it smelled like death. I’m not talking disgusting, rotting corpse death, just death. We were just out there the night before so there was no time for rot. There is no good way to describe it. Just death.

The chickens were out pecking and scratching as usual, the roosters crowing and yet, I just new there was a dead one somewhere. Sure enough, one of the grey cochin ladies didn’t make it. I’m not sure why; aside from dead, she looked healthy. I don’t know what it is but almost every time there is a dead chicken in the coop I can tell before I even get the door open. Those are the mornings that I start humming “Go rest high on the mountain”. I know it’s a chicken but it is a life none the less.

Now I’m sure there is some scientist somewhere that has came up with some experiment that explains this. Something about pheromones or hormones or whatever it is. All I know is it smells like death, not to be confused with that of hot feathers ready for plucking.

A few weeks ago it was once again time to butcher chickens for the year. With a lot of help from family we were able to process 84 birds in 4 hours. That’s pretty good as far as I’m concerned.

I take the little boy with me to do chores every morning that he is awake early enough to go out. He has seen dead chickens before. “Dead buck-buck.” But we didn’t think that having him run around while we were butchering was the best thing for him to see at such a young age. Not that he doesn’t seem to know he’s eating chicken; he proclaims “buck-buck” every time I bring one up from the freezer for supper or pull out a roasting pan. But if you have had the privilege of raising and butchering your own, you know things can get a little messy.

Luckily my in-laws were able to come visit for the weekend and able to watch the kids for us. For the most part they stayed around the house and  we were set up between the barn and coop. They came to see how things were going and of course, the little boy scrambled out of the stroller as fast as he could. He checked everything out and then began pointing at the chickens in each stage of the process,

“Dead buck-buck?”

“Yes, dead buck-buck”

Then he got to the cleaning table, where my Grandma, mom, brother and our neighbor were cleaning the plucked birds.

“Gate Gamma dead buck-buck.”

“Nana dead buck-buck.”

“Mark dead buck-buck.”

“Uncle dead buck-buck.”

It didn’t seem to phase him at all. Which is good. I’d hate to traumatize my kid.

Although it may have been a bit early, it is a part of life and the fact that he already understands where his meat is coming from, well, he knows more than some people my age these day. That’s sad. He is out there almost every day learning to feed our animals, helping to clean the pens, mending the occasional hurt bird and putting some to rest. At such a young age he is already gaining a foundation that will help him to make a difference in the future.

The Humble Pot

A cheap cut of meat and some aromatic vegetables. This used to be thought of as a poor folks dish. An inexpensive way to feed a lot of mouths for little cost. Slow food revolution, back to basics cooking, whatever you want to call it, this pot of humble beginnings is what it’s all about. I haven’t seen it make the comeback that it rightfully should, but in time I’m sure it will.

A rich aroma that passes through the house gets anyone within reach feeling hungry. The warmth of the oven makes the kitchen a cozy place to wander in and stay. Second only to bread, a dish made in a single pot can warm a house and gather everyone to the kitchen before they are called for the meal.

I am not talking about hotdish (for you non-Minnesotans, casserole) although, those can be good and an easy way to use up leftovers, a humble pot dish is so much more. In the way of comfort food there is really nothing better. The meat- super tender and juicy, some of the vegetables- cooked down until they reach a rich, flavorful sauce, the rest have soaked up all sorts of great seasoning. Everything mingles together in one pot. No single ingredient more important than another (except salt, that rules all).

Recently, I have been making these more and more. Mostly because I work full time in town and still want a decent homemade meal for my family. A humble pot dish can be started the night before or morning of and placed in the oven with a timer and left to cook for the better part of the day. Some people use crockpots for such dishes. I do sometimes, but more often than not, I find it is not roomy enough to get the full potential from the ingredients inside. The vegetables need space to cook down and work with the added liquid of choice. I prefer to use cuts of meat that have the bone in tact, not only does it add richness to the dish but it also adds more nutrients too. Even a small roast or bird take up a considerable amount of space when coupled with vegetables and broth.

For all of these dishes I use a heavy enameled cast iron pot. The whole thing can go into the oven, lid and all. The lid is important; a foil covered dish just doesn’t make the same results. I think it has something to do with how the lid retains more of the steam and helps the insides to keep a more even temperature… or I am just full of it. It’s just a guess. In addition to the collection of cast iron skillets in my kitchen, I also have a variety of these pots as well. In a perfect world I would set up a pot for each weekday on Sunday, place them in the fridge and have them ready for the week. Maybe someday, if we end up with an extra refrigerator, right now there is no room in the one we have.

I must admit, not every humble pot I make looks very pretty, in fact most don’t. The taste more than makes up for the lack of visual appeal. Honestly, over time the look doesn’t change but the dishes start to look better and better just because of the anticipation of the deliciousness to come. I know it’s possible to make such a meal vegetarian style, I have yet to make one as such. Considering we just made the last chicken in the freezer, this may be something to look a little closer at. I can and have “offed” a chicken on a meal by meal basis, but it’s not something I would like to make a habit of. I would like to stretch the beef supply as long as possible. I really don’t want to have to start getting meat at the store. I could. I don’t want to.

The method is simple:
Start with a combination of aromatic vegetables, most common around here is onions, carrots and celery in a 2:1:1 ratio.
Sauté the vegetables.
Add any herbs, spices or seasonings.
Add meat. ( a cut with the bone in tact will produce more flavor and nutrition)
Add dry rice, par cooked beans, or raw potatoes or squash.
Add liquid. (water, broth, wine, beer etc.)
Cover and cook slowly until done.

With this simple “recipe” there is an endless amount of meals that can be made.

Ain’t No Bull About It

We’ve been in the market for a bull this year. After planning to A.I. (artificially inseminate) the girls, then not, and then again planning to. When we finally were able to get a hold of the vet and get the process started, I’m not sure what happened but we haven’t heard back from him in a few weeks again and have given up on that for the time being. All the while we have been looking for a bull of our own.

Everyone we talk to that uses A.I. on their cows also has a bull to take care of the ones that the A.I. didn’t take. I’m not a fan of that method to begin with and then when you add all the costs that go with it, it’s rather expensive. You go through the whole process and still have a decent chance that it won’t work and you will need a bull anyway. I don’t understand why I would go through all that when having a bull on site will do the same thing?

I’ve asked that question a few times and the answer is always the same. “You A.I. with semen from a high quality bull, and then have a lower quality bull for “clean up””.

Huh. Well that’s somethin’.

From what I figure… in my head without too many numbers… the cost for the vet, the shots to put them into heat, the straws (which depending on what bloodline you want, start at $25 and go past $100 each, and have a 5 straw minimum), figure two straws per cow-times how many cows, it can get rather pricey. Now go through all that and some don’t take. So, you either, buy or rent a bull to have the girls impregnated the old fashioned way. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just buy a quality bull right off the bat and not have to mess around with all the rest? We are already doing cow chores daily so adding another mouth over the fence isn’t that bad in the scope of things. The only hay problem we have is we either need to find someone to buy some or we need to get a few more cows to eat it (and the second cutting is getting baled tomorrow).

After some looking we found one near by, affordable and looked like a good quality animal. We were all set to pick him up and the farmer called to say we couldn’t take him because of another deal he had going and a misunderstanding with that guy. He felt really bad to have to back out. He offered us one of his bull calves instead, it was a deal. We were able to bring the girls down to my uncle’s and put them in with his bull this year.

Using a borrowed truck and trailer we packed up early that morning and headed farther into the country to a little farm not too far from ours. The farmer met us at the barn where he had this years calves penned up for easier catching. The way it sounded they were all going to be sold that day. We got first pick. Talk about cute! I was hoping for the red, horned one, Mike wanted the dun without horns. We got the dun. I named him.

G.W. McLintock

G.W. McLintock

G.W. McLintock. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m not sure we can be friends… Well maybe. My grandpa was a fan of John Wayne and old western movies. That, McLintock,  is one of my favorites. The little guy will have to grow into the name.

When we first were discussing getting the calf as opposed to finding another bull neither of us were too excited about the idea. After a little thought I was quite happy it worked out the way it did. He has only been “home” for a few days and he is already quite friendly. He is learning what a halter is and let me tell ya’, it is so nice to work with a critter that small.

This little 1/2 pint is doing great!

G.W. and I

G.W. and I

Put Your Bra Back On and Go Clean the Kitchen


Seriously, who’s grand idea was it to keep the women folk working in town after the men came home from war? And then again when women started protesting for equal rights? Ladies you really messed things up for those of us who want to be home, tending the children and doing “women’s work”. Even with careful spending on a modest budget, most households need two incomes to make a go of it. There a very lucky few that can make with one but not nearly as many as there should be.

The women’s rights movement really didn’t do me any good. As far as I can tell I am worse off now than I would have been without they so called extra rights and feminism. I am a mother. Isn’t it my right to stay at home and raise my children? I am a wife. Isn’t it my right (and duty) to keep a clean house and serve my husband? (assuming he doesn’t let that go to his head.) That’s my God given right and it has been taken away by man, women actually.

Equality is what was asked for and for the most part was what we got, but not without cost. The negative effects can be seen every day and for the most part not many take the time to notice. It affects our relationships, marriages, children, health and environment. Think about it…

“Chivalry is dead.” I hear it all too often. Well guess what?!  You killed it with your need for equality! Some girl wants the door held open or a real “pick me up for dinner” date. Well if you want to be treated as an equal then you will be treat as “one of the guys”. What will that get you? A slap on the ass and a that-a-boy! That doesn’t come with sweet sentiments and kind words, it comes with noxious gas from both ends. It may not be right it’s too commonly true. (There’s always a couple exceptions) You know there was a time when being treated like a lady actually meant something. And the women actually acted like ladies?! Amazing!

Go through some old photographs, the more casual candid shots, you will find shy smiles or a smirk. The poses are relaxed and natural. Now look at the photos taken today, an obnoxious amount of “selfies” with “duck lips” and flipping the camera the bird. What the heck are people thinking?! Seriously, where is your head?!

I would like to think this kind of nonsense would not be nearly this prevalent is there was a little more respect and attention to who the audience is. That begins at home with a parent that is actually paying attention to the child, actively engaging with them and teaching what them what it is to be respectful, have ethics and for heaven’s sake think. Use your head for more than a hat rest. I see parents so busy with their day jobs and extra activities that they are too busy to take time and really be with their families. There is a difference here folks. You can have the whole family in the living room and not have “family time”. Unplug, have family meals and notice each other for the next month, you will be amazed at the things you can learn from (and about) each other. I guarantee it will strengthen your relationships.

Family meals have changed a lot in the last few decades. Cooking is becoming something of the past I read recently. How amazingly sad is that?! I can’t imagine sending my children out into the world unable to make a decent meal by themselves. Happy, healthy, and capable is the goal we have for our children. They don’t have to be rich or successful at anything in particular. All of that again begins at home, with a parent willing to take the time to teach (and in this day learn and then teach).

Important basic life skills are not being handed down because there is no one home to give or receive them.

Then there is the argument “I work so I have my own money to shop (or whatever)”. Marriage is when two people become one. There is no “yours” and “mine” any more, it is “ours”. You are in it together. When one falls, both fall and both should help each other up. If you need extra money to spend frivolously, discuss it and budget for it. If the money isn’t there, do you really need whatever it is you want right now? Can it be saved up for, to be purchased later? Arguments involving money coupled with lack of real communication is one of the top causes of divorce. Again this is at home, where we should be mentally present as well as physically. When the little bit of time at home is spent hurriedly cleaning, doing laundry, whipping up whatever frozen/boxed dinner, there is little time, if any, left to be together as family time.

Keeping a household together is a full time job with overtime. How is anyone supposed to keep up on the cooking, cleaning, laundry, children, garden, lawn, animals and so on, when they are already working full time in town? I am a firm believer in “to do” lists. I can get a whole lot done if I have a list. Even I get to a point where it is just not physically possible to add any more minutes to the day. Talk about frustrating. Holy cows!

I have no problem doing “women’s work”. Don’t even think about telling me to do it though, that will get you in a bit of hot water. I know my place, I’ve read the bible. I have yet to figure out how to make all this work. I will get there…maybe. For now I am blaming all those bra burning… ladies (and the overuse of electronic technology) for the majority of the problems we are experiencing these days. Humph!!

Not to mention, if the majority of women were removed from the workforce, there would be plenty of jobs available for the men on the unemployment list. There. The unemployment rate would drop considerably, the kids these days would once again be taught a little respect and a work ethic ( I would hope), causing crime to go down, school grades to go up and we would begin to see a generation capable of taking care of themselves and there neighbors once again.



There was a challenge at work that had me trying to get as many steps during the day as I could (I was trying to win Twins tickets… I didn’t). I did drag the family on a few walks in my attempt, one of which we went to Erica Lane (our new parcel of land). Mike was trying to show me the property lines; otherwise known as my tilling/plowing/fencing limits.

It’s really a pretty piece of land with a little bit of everything- woods, field, slough and a creek. The deer paths have over grown with ox-eye daisies, one of my favorites. The old garden plots haven’t been worked in years by the looks of it. In fact the only reason I knew they were there at all was because of the weather worn wire hanging hap-hazardly from crooked old posts. The tall grass and weeds was no different than what is in the field. I marched through each plot to check things over, I’m not sure what I was looking for, in anything.

By this time the little boy had climbed out of the stroller and waded through the tall grass to an old swing set. The swings were long gone but the ladder to the fort was still in tact as well as the slide and that was all he needed. I was still searching for nothing as I tripped over a row of tomato cages and then a couple rows of make-shift cages out of sturdier garden fence. Then I found a diamond in the rough or a worn out hoe… same thing in my eyes.

Well I didn’t know what I was pulling out of the weeds at the time. I just saw an old handle and decided to pull. It was caked with soil, little trees and weeds were growing out of it keeping it well hidden. By the time I wrestled it out of the tangled mess I had quite the contraption! I had seen pictures of such things, but to be honest we had to look it up online to get an idea of just what I was dealing with.

A Row-hoe! A cultivator from one direction and a weeder from the other. Needless to say, Mike pushed the stroller home and I drug the new piece of equipment all the way home.


I was absolutely delighted with my find. I haven’t decided if I want to shine it up real pretty, give it a new coat of paint and a new handle or just leave it old and worn. The appearance won’t affect the quality of work that comes out of it, but it does make me look like I have been working hard and know what I’m doing.