Sweet Caroline’s Homecoming

Sweet Caroline


The morning was off to a great start, in fact if I didn’t know better I would have thought we were trying to make it to church on a Sunday morning ending up late as usual. This morning, however, we were off to Cavalier, North Dakota. We made it to the end of the driveway when the first spider dropped from the roof right in front of my face. I screamed, threw the mail that I had just pulled from the box and almost caused Mike to hit the ditch. I had no idea where the spider went and from that point on was on edge to say the very least. About a mile down the road a huge spider dropped by Mike. Again I screamed and reached for the door causing Mike to swerve a bit. He got that one. Along came spider number three a few miles past that. It was another big one, it got the same reaction from me and it went missing. We stopped at the only gas station on the way and Mike searched it out and took care of him. “One more spider and I’m going to walk” I said. We were a few minutes late out the door to begin with but nothing that we couldn’t make up, after the attack of the spiders we were late. Cyril and Scout made it do daycare in time for breakfast and we were finally on our way. Almost. We had to stop at my parents and pick up my dad’s truck and a friends trailer. With Emerson in his baby carrier strapped in the back seat, we were on our way.

The drive was uneventful. The sugar beet harvest is in full swing in the Red River Valley area, there were extra trucks on the road but the traffic wasn’t too bad. We past miles of flat land fields of soybeans, potatoes, and the sugar beets divided only be tree rows and shelter belts around the farm yards. It was a nice day to see some new country. We made our way down some one-lane gravel roads and came to a small farm tucked in amongst the commercial farms.

A mother hen and nineteen chicks wandered by, there was a flock of guineas checking a fence line and the cow in the pasture. The majority of the time when we pick up an animal the seller is ready to just load it up, get the cash and we are on our way. This couple was very nice and began visiting. It was really interesting to hear how they were pretty much self-sustaining on their fifteen acre farm. That day they had a litter of piglets in the garden cleaning up this year’s leftovers and “tilling” in preparation for next year’s planting.

Heather explained her cow breeds she was pasturing; two “butter cows” as she referred to them and Irish Dexters. The butter cows were crosses of high cream small dairy breeds which she used for butter. The dexters milk was their prefered drinking milk and beef. We loaded our new heifer into the trailer and were once again on our way. The drive back was a little longer due to the precious cargo and we were behind schedule to pick the kids up from daycare as well.

My parents agreed to pick up the kids for us allowing time for us to unload Sweet Caroline and clean out the trailer. Simple enough, it shouldn’t take long, one would think. Nothing ever goes as planned so we should have figured that if we were able to make the whole trip and nothing happen, something was going to happen at home. It did.

We pulled into the yard and up between the flowering crab trees to get lined up with the barn door for easy unloading and then it happened. The truck tires began to spin and we weren’t going anywhere. Put ‘er four-wheel drive and still nothing. We had gotten a fair amount of rain all season and apparently the ground was softer than we realized.

We tried pulling with our truck from all directions and still there we sat. Once all options there were exhausted Mike pulled out the tractor. We unhooked the trailer from the truck and using the tractor got the truck pulled into the driveway where I proceeded to turn towards the house. I figured that since I didn’t have the trailer behind me the small hill I was turning down wouldn’t be an issue. I was wrong. We didn’t have the truck out for a full two minutes before I got it stuck again. Once more Mike and the John Deere pulled me back to semi-solid ground and I parked along side the barn.

While all of this towing was going on I had the baby in his carrier on the center council trying to feed him a bottle with one hand and drive with the other. Surprisingly it worked out ok and by the time the truck was parked he was sleeping. Perfect timing considering there was still a trailer with a cow stuck in the barnyard too.

Mike got out his chain and we wrapped it around the three point tractor hitch and the other end on the trailer hitch. When the three point was lifted, the trailer jack was just barely off the ground, but enough so that we could very slowly push it back to the open barn door. Finally, I was able to open the trailer gate and wait for the little lady to hop out into her new barn. It took a little coaxing with some rolled corn but she came out without too much fuss.

After that the rest of the evening went on without any troubles. We used the tractor to get the trailer to the truck and got everything hooked backed up, cleaned out and ready for another day.

She Just Climbed Over and Thump!

The January thaw that usually only lasts for a couple days has lasted for a few weeks this year and we have been taking full advantage of the warm weekends. It has been a great time to get everyone’s pens deep cleaned before we plummet back into sub-zero temperatures. It was pretty exciting to have a blister on my hand mid-winter that wasn’t from a woodstove. That’s some good work! This Sunday was no exception.

Once the kids were down for their afternoon naps Mike and I headed to the barn. I was busy cleaning in the cow pen; we are going to have some great compost this year! I was happily running my pitch fork getting things all pretty for the herd while Mike was busy in the goat pen. I had the bigger area but he had the bigger job I would say. The ducks are doing quite well in the goat pen and not making nearly the water mess they could. They are however making themselves known. Mike spent a portion of time chipping the little ice rink out from around the mini stock tank. He then removed the tank and shoved Stinky Hank back into his own pen. His time with Scarlet was up. With any luck there will be some kids coming late spring! With everyone separated accordingly we were able to install the insulated tank my dad made. Talk about nice! Those are some spoiled goats!

I had the cow pen cleaned just as Mike was ready to start wheel barrowing out the goat pen cleanings. It was the same time that the cows remembered there was a fresh bag of alfalfa cubes in the barn and if they all line up to the rail there’s a good chance of getting a treat or two (or five if the Little Miss is feeding). This isn’t a big deal but to get to the winter heap we have to go through the cow pen. For the most part this is done without a second thought. The eager faces were quickly disappointed when the realized I was not going to be handing out and treats, but they were not moving. G.W. (the bull) has watched me take Sweet Caroline out of the pen a few times through that gate and he’s been pretty sure that that’s where he wants to head. Smart cow, he knows where the good stuff is kept.

I opened the gate for Mike so he could wheel out the load and he instantly hit a needy roadblock. G.W. was not moving. He wanted his alfalfa cube and his head scratched. I went in and tried to get him out of the way which didn’t go as planned. Mike backed out and G.W. pinned me to the gate with his neck, insisting he get some attention one way or another. I was able to squirm my way out and give him a quick shove so I could close the gate.

Plan B. We took a few flakes of hay and tossed them on the far side of the corral. That kept everyone busy for the rest of the afternoon so we could continue uninterrupted.

As we were getting close to done the neighbor stopped by. We were visiting in the barn leaning on pitch forks and fence rails, “I s’pose, I should go in and check on the baby” I said. We looked out the barn door to the house and there was the little boy, dressed in all his winter gear, shuffling out to the barn. That’s all fine, it’s not the first time he’s came out after his nap. I always leave him a note so when he wakes up he knows where to find me if I won’t be in the house. The big surprise was a few yards behind him.

“How the hell did she get out of her crib?!” I said as we all watched in disbelief.

“Hi buddy. How did (Little Miss) get out of her bed?”

“She just climbed over and thump! She landed on her butt.”

Well alright then. They both made it down the stairs, read the note, got their outside clothes on and headed for the barn!

I was off to the house to get the baby and the little boy was asking for a four-wheeler ride to go play at the neighbors in no time. Mike came in to get the Little Miss clean pants and then they were going to head over for a bit too.

That’s when it hit us… The little boy sleeps in his underwear. He doesn’t usually get dressed unless told to (weather doesn’t matter). He was on his way to the neighbors in his snow pants.

“Do you think he put clothes on before coming outside?”

“I hope so but no.”

Mike grabbed him a set of clothes and headed to the neighbors with the Little Miss.

Welcome to life on our farm where there is never a dull moment!

My notes to let the kids know where to find me upon waking. Each building has a different shape and will get them close to where I am or there’s the lawn mower. It works surprisingly well.

*He did have shorts on. Thank goodness. The Little Miss graduated to a toddler bed that night to reduce the risk of injury.

A Little Farm First Aid Lesson

Lucy in the pasture

Lucy in the pasture

I am once again in need of yet another bookshelf… and a place to put it. I don’t know if I could convince Mike to build me a mouse proof room in the barn for a library. I’m sure he’ll figure something out for me. He’s good at that.

For now, I’ve started reading “Veterinary Guide for Farmers, New and Revised Edition” by G.W. Stamm copyright 1975. I’m learning all sorts of things; shots, sutures, temperatures, diseases, viruses, blood, puss and stool samples. No one is sick or injured but it never hurts to know that you read something about that and now what was it… That’s how this will go. Someday one of the cows will be sick and I will be standing there thinking “I know I read about what’s going on here, hmm.” I’ve never been super interested in surgery and such. M*A*S*H* is pretty much the extent of it (and of the military movies too). I can stomach it but ‘eh I can do without though too.

We haven’t had too much first aid to be done on the farm as of yet. A few run-arounds with Wilma the chicken, and a few other birds. Of the four-legged critters it’s been pretty routine, hoof trimmings and so on with the exception of one of the dogs. Stinks was hit by the FedEx truck this summer and left for dead until the neighbor found her and let Mike know. She was in pretty rough shape. There was a lot of blood and swelling. I was surprised she lived through the night. Mike was able to nurse her back to health. She has a bit of a lazy eye now but it’s getting better. So a faint idea of basic veterinary procedures wouldn’t be too bad. If nothing else I will know what the page looked like that I need to find.

As I was reading about all the different types of shots, subcutaneous or hypodermic, intradermal, intravenous, intramuscular, and intraperitoneal, I thought of Mike. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t see stars when a needle and syringe enter the room but the last shot that was given on the farm Mike shared with Lucy. After reading the shot chapter I’m pretty sure we didn’t administer that one properly aside from them sharing.

It’s a long story and I’m not going to go into it because the vet pissed me off and I haven’t called him since. I will just take the shot excerpt of it. Lucy was to be A.I and to do so it was recommended that she be given a shot that would send her in to heat so the A.I. would take. Simple enough. I picked up the shot from the vet and Mike and I headed to the barn that night. We don’t have a head gate, chute, or even a stall to speak of, I did have the calf pen set up so I lead her into that. She was still pretty tame at that time, I could halter her and lead her where I needed her to be so getting her there wasn’t too big of a deal.

We used the two gate panels that formed the pen as a make-shift squeeze gate. Then was the tricky part, Mike giving her the shot. She didn’t care for him and still doesn’t. With me doing my best to keep all buck-20 of me pushed against the gate keeping all seven-fifty pounds of her against the wall, Mike climbed the pen boards and stuck her with the shot as quickly and painlessly as possible. She was, we’ll say a bit upset, throwing her head and kicking and such. I don’t blame her, I’m the same way when someone tries to give me a shot too. The shot was done in an instant, I opened the panels and she went running out of the barn.

The needle was bent some and when Mike went to replace the cap it went right through, and he stuck himself too. Good enough to draw blood even. Between the two of them the shot was successful, well Lucy went into heat any way, Mike was concerned but he made it through.

When it was all said and done the straws were paid for and unused, she was loaded up and brought to my uncles for breeding.

It’s Only Powder

Most mom’s I’ve talked to love their mini-vans. That’s…um…no. I don’t love our van. I appreciate that it holds the number of car seats and baby carriers that our family needs, it’s clean (as much as it can be with kids), I don’t have to do car-seat-yoga to get everyone in and buckled and it has been reliable. I get it… we need it at this point. That doesn’t mean I love it or even like it that much.

Mike went in to work about 2 am to start plowing. I was out to the barn shortly after 5, taking care of my chores and checking the snow to see what I was up against for drifts that morning. Not too bad, looked like a lot of powder. Nothing to be concerned about, so when Mike called and said he wasn’t going to make it home for breakfast as planned I wasn’t too worried that we weren’t going to be plowed out before I had to go to work.

After breakfast, putting in the pigtails that were insisted upon, brushing teeth and getting everyone bundled up for the cold we were out the door. Everyone was soon buckled in their assigned car seats and we were off. Hahaha. No. We were not off. We were spinning at 25 mph in reverse, going nowhere fast. With a little rocking I was able to back up enough to see there was no good reason for me to be not going anywhere.

Logical thinking kicked in: “if I can’t back directly up the slight hill and its only powder why not pull forward and turn around to go up the hill forward.” Simple enough.


Now I’m thoroughly stuck! The little boy is asking “What are you doing?” “Are we going to (daycare)?” “Why are we stuck?” “Are we still stuck?” Ahh! “Honey, please stop talking for a minute.” “Why?!”

I got out of the van and went stomping off to the barn for a shovel. By now the rickety barn door is pretty well drifted in, but after some wiggling and wedging I made my way in to realize the shovel is over by the chicken coop. So back out into the frozen tundra to the coop.  Shovel in hand I was headed back down the driveway just in time for a quick hello with the neighbor on his way home with the morning paper.

My inner sailor was starting to come out and I realized I should probably bring the kids to the house before I start expanding their vocabulary. I sent a text to work saying I would be late and one to daycare saying the same. I got everyone back out of the car and headed back to the house. Take off the snow gear, get them settled in and head back out.


“Hi. I’m stuck in the driveway. I’m late and pissed.”

“Ok. I will be on my way to come help.”


With Mike on his way I started shoveling. It was powder topped ice. I still couldn’t see any reason to be this stuck and proceeded to let Mother Nature and the beloved van know just what I was thinking about the whole situation. I don’t mind snow until something like this happens and then all bets are off.

Mike was greeted with “Hi. Just hook it up to the tractor and drag it down the driveway.”

“Well let’s see” he said.

He shoveled a bit more, then did a little plowing. With a fair amount of spinning tires, pushing and floor dry for extra traction we finally got it onto level ground. We got the kids bundled and buckled again. “Don’t let off the gas and have a good day. I will plow when I get home.”

We were finally on the road.

I Stole the Tractor Seat

Not the missing seat...

Not the missing seat…

I stole a tractor seat last night. It was dark and raining, I pulled in the yard and called Mike.

“Hey, where is the tractor parked?”


“The tractor. He’s not in the shop and they aren’t answering the phone.”

“You’re there?! Are they home?”

“Yeah, I was going to grab some breakfast sausage if they had some.”

“See if you can get a scoop of coffee too. We’re out.”

(We are good thieves. Haha!)

“The doors locked. Tractor?”

“Oh yeah, it’s (over there)”

“K. Bye”

Of all days to not wear boots, of course today would be that day. I hopped out and ran across the yard splashing through the mud. In the dark and managed to find the seat. It was heavier than I expected. I tossed it into the back of the car and drove out.

A few miles down the road my phone rang.

“Hi mom”

“Hi. You called?”

I didn’t tell her I stole the seat. I’m just going to let them think they’re going nuts until Christmas. You see, my dad is one of the hardest people to shop for. His list usually goes like this:

“Dad what do you want for Christmas?

“Three happy children and a sassy wife.” (that’s where mom gives him “the look” and rolls her eyes).

So helpful. Over the years I’ve been forced to get creative (like stealing his tractor seat). I put handful of nuts and bolts in the boxes so he can’t shake them and guess what’s in them (he’s always right) and so on.

My sister sent a text the other day:

“What are you doing for mom and dad for Christmas? I need ideas.”

“I stole dad’s tractor seat and am making mom a doily.”


I can picture the look on her face when she read that. Her fiancé on the other hand was probably wondering what the heck was going on that this would not be found odd. She was used to such replies from me. One year I was wrapping presents and mom had just bought a case of toilet paper. I wrapped that up and put my brother’s name on it. (He did get something besides that that year. I don’t remember what.) I have also been known to wrap unfinished gifts- knitting still on the needles, or leather projects in pieces and then finish them after Christmas. So a stolen tractor seat was really nothing new.

This past summer we had dad’s tractor at our farm for a second set of wheels. On his way home with it this fall, the seat must have flown off the tractor while on the trailer. We all drove the stretch of road between their house and ours slowly for a week or so scanning the ditches for a black tractor seat. It was never found. I ordered a new seat for him, wrong color of course. But I did manage to get the order fixed and a black one was on its way. That’s when Mike called me at work.

“I was just at your dad’s looking at a goat waterer. It looks like he’s planning to make a new seat for the M. He’s got one sitting on it. He could take it take it apart and cut it to size. You should see if your mom can hide it or keep him from working on it for a while. Just in case.”

After she didn’t answer the phone and the door was locked that night, she missed her chance to get in on the Christmas plot, I took matters into my own hands.

I stole the tractor seat.

Christmas morning the old tractor seat was returned and a new one was wrapped and waiting. Mom’s doilies turned out nice too.


Time to Put Some Pants On

Chores http://wildflowerfarm.org

Its official, I have to start wearing pants to the barn in the morning. I held out as long as I could. The time has come where my short summer night gown and long, fuzzy bathrobe is no match for the sub-zero temps and biting wind. Winter is once again here and my feelings for morning chores haven’t changed; they’re still my favorite. A bonus this winter is I’m not too pregnant for coveralls to fit!

The new hayloft gives some extra insulation over the cow pen despite the barn walls that are quite drafty. In fact after a good west wind everything has a heavy dusting of snow because the barn boards have weathered so much over the years. On the extra cold mornings the refuge of the barn is welcomed, as it’s always a few degrees warmer in there. When the mornings are warmed up to -15 in the barn pants are a good idea.

This morning I went out and quietly opened the barn door and gave the animals the usual greeting “Good morning guys. Here comes the light.” I always appreciate a warning before someone flips on a light in the early morning, I’m sure they do too. It was peaceful in there aside from the ruckus of quacks coming from the corner when the light turned on; the ducks are new to the routine. After a few shakes of their tail feathers they all settled back into the hay. The goats peered out of their winter house without any intention of getting up. At the other end of the barn the cows were laying quite contently, their backs and noses covered in frost. The cat’s dish is still half full of food and covered in snow. He quit showing up a few weeks ago, so I’ve quit feeding him. When he comes home from whatever journey he’s been on he shows up at the back door, gets a “welcome home” can of tuna outside and then I start filling his dish on the steps to the hayloft again. The mice haven’t been noticeable like they were earlier this fall so he can wander for a while. I don’t need his daily catch freezing to the back step.

It was a quiet morning of chores, the only challenge was cleaning the cow pen and working with Caroline. They still haven’t accepted Sweet Caroline yet, aside from G.W., those two are buddies. I am still working with her to keep her calm and tame so she’s ready for milking this spring/summer. Usually I can throw a bale of hay outside and everyone heads out to eat and she will sneak back to the barn for her own ration and to be haltered and walked for a bit. These extra chilly days, even hay outside isn’t enough to coax the herd out. That’s when I need to get a little creative and things can get a little harry. Because the girls don’t like to get too close to each other and Caroline usually gets the run-around, I had to get her semi cornered to halter her all the while keeping an eye on Wheezy. She’s never really cared for me but we haven’t had a problem since our last almost “come to Jesus” moment. Right now she’s pregnant and likes to be told just how big she is as much as I did. She’s also a little feisty when she’s hungry in the morning.

Caroline is usually really good about being haltered but is on edge when Wheezy and Lucy are in the barn with her. A little slow paced chase, some calming reassurance and quiet swearing and she was haltered. We carefully made our way through the crowd and out the gate. I tied her to a hayloft post next to a stack of bales. She was pretty content to eat at her leisure knowing she wouldn’t be getting the boot… or horn.

Then was the fun job of cleaning the pen. I actually don’t mind it especially when the pies are frozen. Assuming they aren’t froze down, they are pretty easy to toss in the wheel barrow. If they are froze down and you decide to try and pry them loose with the pitch fork, do so with your mouth closed. Just a little tip for ya’. This morning I missed Elvis in the barn. He was always by my side when I would clean. He was less than helpful as he would tip the full wheel barrow at least once a morning. But I liked having him there anyway. I forked what wasn’t frozen down or under hoof and got the stock tank filling for the day too.

Only once have I forgotten to unhook the hose from the pump this year. I wasn’t a huge deal but Mike had to use the blow torch to remove it and then bring the whole thing to the house to thaw. I now have to dip the end in the warm water of the stock tank to thaw the threads so I can attach the hose, fill everyone’s water and then unhook and hang the hose to hopefully drain before it freezes.

The hay was distributed to the cows and goats and the grain for the ducks was in their pan and it was time to put Caroline back in with the rest. Usually this is nothing to think twice about, if someone wandered in while she was out they are usually pretty easy to shoo out or at least out of the way. Not today… It was already established that no one intended on going outside this morning and G.W. was pretty sure he was going to make his way out the gate to the stack of bales that Caroline just finished enjoying. He may be little but he’s a sturdy bugger. I was pushing him back and trying to pull Caroline in at the same time. The three of us went back and forth a few times, then G.W. got a little snorty with me. I shot him a don’t-go-there glare and came out on top. He backed up and I ended up pushing Caroline in too.

After latching the gate, it was time to brave the wind outside and get to the house to start breakfast. The perfect start to the day.


Goat Poop is Not Raisins

I turned around just in time to see the Little Boy slide out of the wheel barrow, barefoot on the gravel driveway. The wheel barrow was clean according the wheel barrow standards; it hadn’t carried manure in a few months and had been used elsewhere in the meantime. His jeans would need to be removed before he goes into the house, mud dried between his fingers and dirt from ear to ear. “Thank God we are able to raise our children out here.” I thought as I turned back to the Little Miss who was sitting on the tractor. She’s all about cows, tractors and baby dolls right now. There she was clothes speckled with dried mud from the duck pen, sand in her ponytail that was already falling apart (again) and a face that was looks like she was eating dirt not too long ago.

I know it’s crazy to be thankful for dirt behind the ears but we are. Did you know that most people forget to wash behind their ears? Not at our house! Our kids are very involved with our outdoor work. It starts with the baby carrier in the stroller and once they can walk they are on our heels… or somewhere close by. They are always encouraged to help even when their helping is not so helpful. I’m already talking up how much fun it is to stack square bales on the hay wagon in July. They are so excited to be big enough to help with that! Yes!! They really do enjoy helping with any task at hand. Especially tasks that require a hose and/or water, the ones that can get really messy. The trick is to keep them busy allowing them to explore but not too much (if that’s possible).

That between one and a half and two years old stage can be a bit challenging at times. I’ve found myself saying things that I never thought I would ever say…ever. Things like “No! That’s goat poop!” When a tiny hand is extended to show “a-in?” (raisins) or “Don’t lick your fingers! That’s duck mud!” (after they’ve been happily crawling in and out of the duck door in the coop) Who says those things? I’ve got a little notebook that, among other things, I write the odd things that I find myself saying or that the kids have said. The potty training days have a fair amount of entries but that’s a whole other conversation.

It’s not for lack of effort to keep them clean. I don’t see any harm in dirt as long as it’s washed off at the end of the day… or before lunch some days. A pair of mud boots and room run is the best thing you can give a kid as far as I’m concerned. However, when we go to town I expect them to not look like they just jumped out of the hay loft. Unfortunately that is not always the case. This Pig Pen state is not limited to the days we are able to stay home. Nope. Somewhere between the bathroom counter and the church doors on Sunday morning the Little Miss’s hair turns from a nice ponytail to a hap-hazard whale spout of sorts and the clean faces need yet another wiping between the car and the pew.

My pretty little girl loves to have her nails painted. “See!” she’ll exclaim as she holds out a fingernail polished pink. Well, it was polished this morning, before we went out to the sandbox. There may or may not be much paint left but she’s proud anyway. Someday her nails will be as prettily polished pink before she goes to bed at night as they were when she left the breakfast table that morning. I don’t think we’re asking too much. On the other hand, I don’t want her to sit on the sidelines because she doesn’t want her nails messed up either. That’s no way to go through life.

Then there’s hand-me-downs. At this point summer hand-me-downs are either “this could be worn in the barn” or “there’s no use is saving more barn clothes”. (I am currently taking suggestions for a stain remover that actually works.) They each have a couple “town shirts” that are only to be put on as we leave the house and even those end up a mess before we get where we’re going most days. I swear if they just imagine the fun of climbing on a hay bale someone ends up with hay in their hair. It’s really quite amazing.

Cleaning the chicken waterer

Cleaning the chicken waterer

Cleaning the winter goat house

Cleaning the winter goat house

Building the hayloft

Building the hayloft

Feeding the goats

Feeding the goats

So I Made Pie


It’s been a long time since I’ve talked with a dear friend. Years, to be honest. In fact I think the last time we hung out I could have killed us both if it weren’t for Jane stopping us before we left the bar parking lot. Not the brightest decision I ever made, the angels were watching over us that night. It was a fun night of bad karaoke, Jack Daniels and a polka if I remember correctly. Years leading up to that had plenty of good times, shooting clays in the gravel pit, four-wheeling and so on.

A lot has changed since then, life sent us other directions which is expected. The news a few years ago that a pace maker was needed was a surprise. More recently the news of him in need of a heart transplant caught me completely off guard. It’s not news that you hear every day or if you’re lucky never in a lifetime and especially about a friend so young. I sent a message “we’ll be praying for you” and that’s what we did. What else is there to do in a situation like this?

Even praying about it comes with a little more anxiety and thought than usual. He needs a heart. He has a heart of gold, but he needs a real heart. You always want the best for a friend or family member and that’s what you pray for. But how do you pray for the best for one when you know somewhere it will cause pain to another? I pray anyway. I pray that he gets a healthy heart and I pray that the one who’s left the world to give it to him goes in peace and their family is at peace too. Yes, I pray for peace and a healthy heart.

Last week Jane told me she was going to go to the cities and visit him and his mom at the hospital and agreed to bring something down from me when she goes. I figured I’d send a card and if I could find an old picture I could send that too. I didn’t find the picture I was looking for. It’s probably in a box under the stairs I didn’t get that far. Instead I made pie.

It was about time for me to leave work yesterday and drop the card off at Jane’s. I hadn’t written in it yet. What do you say in times like this? I don’t know. I called my mom and asked her. “Thinking of you” was deemed appropriate. I had the note card on my desk, it’s not a big card but those three words would have left it pretty empty and I like words. So I texted my best friend.

A- What do you say in a card to someone waiting for a new heart? Get well soon and hope you feel better seem inappropriate. I’ve already said we will pray for you. Maybe I should just skip the card
N- Is it family? Close Friend?
A- It’s Mike (…)
A- I made a pie. Maybe that will say enough
N- The pie is good.
A-Yes, pie is good.
N-You can say praying for you. That’s appropriate

When it comes to writing I’m not usually at a loss for words but every once in a while words just don’t cut it. This is one of those times. There are just no words that seem right. So I made pie.

I’m not an emotional eater more of an emotional starver if anything but there is something special about a homemade apple pie. It may not cure what ails you and it won’t change a situation but there is something comforting about it, even if it just sits on the counter. So I made pie.

I did end up writing in the card. Words. The only words I could find that seemed appropriate and sent the note with the pie.

I don’t know the right words say right now.
So I made pie.
Still Praying



Lining Up the Ducks

Really?! Ducks?! -Clyde

My last attempt to ready a spot for wintering the ducks. I spent my time this weekend installing a duck fence around the bottom of the goat pen. This summer the ducks made a sloppy mess of the south chicken run, the rain was no help in the matter either. Unfortunately their water loving habits don’t let up just because it snows and I won’t have then ruin the floor of the coop this winter.

As much as I like eating duck I was really hoping for eggs from these guys and don’t want to eat the birds. I was going to keep Henrietta and Lucky and let the rest go. I put them up for sale or free online. One found a new home and the gal who said she wanted the rest was a no-call/no-show. This seems to be the way a lot of online deals go. A little common courtesy would be nice. That’s ok though, I didn’t really want to give them up.

After some thought about what the ducks needed and what would be possible until my bird eating dog is six feet under, I decided they would try living with the goats. There is grass to munch, bugs to eat and a wash tub for head dunking and drainage for their splashing. Ideally I would like them wandering the yard with the rest of the poultry but as we’ve found many times before, it just won’t work for now. (Chicken tractors are in the works for next spring though.) So the goat pen it is.

I used short chicken wire 2 ½ ft or so and lined the whole perimeter of the pen inside the barn and out. It started off real dandy. It was chilly and lightly misting but it was now or never because deer season starts next weekend and that marks the end of outside work until spring. While the family took their Saturday nap I headed out. Lyle, the pig of a goat, was nibbling on my fingers after the first ten inches of fence. It was annoying but fine. Then he bit me! Took a chunk right out of my knuckle little $#*! head. The next forty feet I bled all over the fence as I worked, he was no longer interested in my right hand.

After the south line was done, the rest needed to be done inside the pen because of how the corral and Hanks pen sit. I didn’t get bit again so that was nice. I’m not sure what happened to my left hand but it wasn’t too long into the last seventy feet that that began to bleed too. Gloves. I know. The tie wire was pretty fine and getting a decent tie through the chicken wire and around the cattle paneling didn’t work with gloves. Bloody hands it was. Most of my work on the west line was done with Lyle’s head on my shoulder and Scarlett’s head under my chin. Again, annoying but fine.

Then the north line. A shared fence with Hank. A couple things with Hank: He’s stinky and his dehorning didn’t go well so he has scurs (partial horns that grow kinda deformed). I’m pretty sure the scurs are bothering him as he spends a lot of time scraping them on everything (we will be taking care of that very soon). As I was working on his fence line he spent his time pushing back on the fence at each spot I was trying to tie and I spent a fair amount time telling him to back up and swearing. Of course about that time is when the neighbors came walking up to see what was going on. I don’t think they heard me… Either way I guess.

I finished up tying the bottom of the wire on Sunday and Mike got a pallet situated inside the pen in the barn so the ducks could be fed without having to share with the goats. It all looks pretty good I’d say. We’ll give it a try and hopefully have duck eggs rather than duck roast this winter.

I think the ducks are a little homesick and the chickens seem to miss them too. The Ladies have been lined up at the fence looking towards the ducks which are gathered together at their fence looking back. Poor fella’s. A few days and hopefully everyone will be adjusted.

Thankful Thoughts of Favorite Things

Living on the farm is not all blue skies and butterflies. There’s a lot of hard work and sometimes it rains on your hay. But even the soggy days are speckled with my favorite things.

  1. Hearing the roosters crow in the early morning calm when the windows are cracked.
  2. Watching the spring calves pounce through the  spring pasture.
  3. Losing sight of the calves because the pasture grass is taller than they are.
  4. Catching the right moment to see eggs hatch.
  5. Our weathered, big, red barn.
  6. The view from the top of the hill in the hay field.
  7. Collecting fresh eggs in the evening.
  8. Hearing the song birds in the afternoon.
  9. The smell of fresh cut hay in the breeze.
  10. Anticipation of the miracles that will sprout from freshly turned soil.
  11. Freshly turned soil.
  12. Coffee percolated on the wood fire cook stove on a cold morning.

Just to name a couple.