Monthly Archives: February 2013

Frozen whipped cream dollops

Since we rely on our frozen dairy to get us through the winter, we don’t have the luxury of “fresh cream” like we do when we are milking. [Click here for more details about our seasonal dairy.]

I. Love. Fresh. Cream… Especially in my two cups of coffee each morning. πŸ™‚

I was excited when I stumbled on the idea of whipping fresh cream and then freezing dollops of it on parchment paper, in my internet searching last fall. I tried it, and it has been a success! Sadly, I didn’t freeze enough for EVERY cup of coffee this winter, but it will definitely be my goal to freeze enough for next year! πŸ™‚



Frozen dairy

We are a seasonal dairy. At about the second week of December, we dry our herd up & they are on “vacation” – preparing to have their calves beginning mid-March. They “chill” in a nice big field (Mordor), where there are hills & trees for shelter.

We enjoy the break, too. A time to really buckle down on our homeschooling and attempt to catch up on all the chores we let slack during the milking season. πŸ™‚

During this “dry” season, we obviously don’t have “fresh” milk. To compensate for that, we prepare for our “dry period” during the previous “fresh period”…frozen milk, butter, cottage & ricotta cheeses, and NEW this year: frozen whipped cream dollops! With our thawed frozen dairy, we still make daily kefir & weekly yogurt.

There have been MANY learning curves in freezing our milk. One of the biggest lessons was the importance of not allowing the cream to separate from the milk before it’s frozen. On the days I am freezing milk, I set a timer to go off every hour so I remember to shake every jug & rotate them in our freezers. It is a burden at first, but once I’m in “my routine”, it’s not that big a deal. Normally, it’s 4-6 hours of shaking, because we don’t do super-huge batches at once. πŸ™‚

In our opinion, thawed frozen milk (if shaken properly) does not taste much different than fresh. It is not exactly the same, but a change we are ok with so we can have our break, and not have to purchase any dairy off-farm. πŸ™‚

We place the bull in with the cows in June for about 6-8 weeks. This puts our girls’ due dates to be about mid-March to the beginning of May. Our goal is to be able to begin weekly pickups for our herd-share owners by the beginning of April. It’s a chaotic “rush” as we jolt into calving & baseball season at the same time, but with deliberate, make-ahead meal planning & lots of anticipatory prayer, a very rewarding season! πŸ™‚

Michael’s woodwork…

Thought I’d highlight some of Michael’s handiwork, since it is his b-day weekend… πŸ™‚

For the past two years he has been dabbling in wood crafting/carving/whittling. Some of the wood he uses comes from when he, Paul, & Mike are working on harvesting firewood for Grandma & Grandpa’s outdoor woodburner. Our basement has many “treasured” pieces he is drying out to turn into “something”. πŸ™‚


Last year, he & Mike “played” a bit with chainsaw designs. Mike cut this cross, then Michael stained it & added the nails. πŸ™‚



Mike cut these “tablets” out for Michael, and then Michael burned the words, and varnished the finished product. This replaced the hand-written, construction paper tablets the boys wrote out our first year of homeschooling. I LOVE the upgrade! πŸ™‚



And other creations are crafted from softer woods, like bass wood. He has made quite a variety of ornaments. Here are just a few…









What a blessing it is to watch our boys develop the creativity the Lord has blessed them with. I love that Michael & I share “visions” of transforming things into a finished product. We’ve learned many of the same lessons, but through different crafts. Sometimes the finished product looks NOTHING like we originally planned. Sometimes the action was more about perfecting a technique, so that the NEXT time, there will be a better end result. And sometimes, it turns out better than we ever imaged it could! πŸ™‚

Michael – 14 today!

Had Michael pick out four favorite pictures from when he was younger…





This morning – boys “killing time” while we wait for a table at an Amish country breakfast buffet…


Post breakfast – pleasantly full! πŸ™‚


Just us with our first-born…


And couldn’t resist – one with his “blogger mom”, lol! πŸ™‚


Even this?

Funny story. As I was washing the umpteenth sinkful of dishes yesterday, I saw this:


First, I admired how pretty our tiny flock of chickens was: 2 hens + 1 rooster. I love their colors, that they are descendants from one of our original roosters, that our friends hatched them, and that they gave them to us to raise.

Then I thought it was cute that my view of them in that moment from the kitchen sink also included a hand-carved twig rooster that Mike made, and my chicken suncatcher…

Then I thought how funny it was that here I am admiring chickens, both real & decorative, when I have a fear of the flapping wings of birds… Through glass, I can admire live ones, just don’t ask me to catch/touch one, lol…

Then I thought of how much I enjoy watching these birds free-ranging in our yard. Being thankful the snow was gone so I could watch them forage… and see them with a green backdrop, instead of a white one.

Let’s zoom in a bit now:


Then I remembered what the boys told me just a few days before – about those light-colored flecks you see in the grass… No, those weren’t bits of unfrozen snow or small leaves like I so naively believed, lol. I was informed these flecks were left from flocks of starlings that have been landing in our yard. Yeah. That’s right. Bird poop. Yuck. Starting to ruin my moment of admiration here…

And then I couldn’t help but LAUGH! Wasn’t I just complaining about how our 2 hens have stopped laying eggs for us?

You know, I’m not too upset they aren’t making eggs right now, considering their current food choice, lol. But I am thankful for all the friends we have who surprise us with fresh eggs… ‘Cause, surely, their birds don’t eat stuff like ours, right? Ha! πŸ™‚

Oh Lord, You never cease to amaze me. Thanks for showing me how to be thankful in all things, even this… Amen.

A podcast – oh my…

Last week, the boys & I had fun recording a podcast with Brian & Susy for “Cultivate Simple”. Enjoyed talking with them about our dairying journey, for Episode 18: The Family Cow. It has been a blessing to get to know them over the past 6 years, and sure do appreciate being able to glean from the research they do & so willingly share.

Must say, it’s WEIRD hearing your own voice over the airwaves, lol.

Click here to go to their site & download the podcast from there.

Or you can click here to find Cultivate Simple on iTunes & download it from there. (Hopefully this link will work – I’m not 100% sure I did it correctly…)



Home again, home again…

Well, I’ve been home for a week now. I enjoyed helping Kristin, and seeing Nebraska, but it’s nice to be back, too. I love how a trip away can remind me of the joys of experiencing family life together here, and puts a fresh perspective on my daily chores… Kinda like a “new spring in my step” this week, lol! πŸ™‚

Made many memories while I was out there…laughing with my nieces as I taught them the “chicken dance” [Um, I won’t go into detail about WHY I have that song on my phone…but I am 75% Polish, lol!] πŸ™‚

…survived a fall down some steps without any broken bones, praise the Lord! Simply made an unwise decision about not using the railing – sure made me thankful for every successful step after that!

...and my arm muscles are much stronger now after so much Sawyer-cuddle-time… πŸ™‚

But the trip home was a bit taxing.

My flight out of Lincoln was postponed by 5 hours due to mechanical issues. Because of this, I would miss my connecting flight in Chicago. I didn’t mind the extra time waiting, because I THOUGHT I could use the time to blog & make use of free airport wifi. BUT, when they made the announcement that there were only 4 seats left on the same flight the next day (for those who wanted to try again tomorrow), and I saw how many other travelers were in the same boat as me… When the spokesperson said it could be a WEEK before we’d all have a flight out, my hopes of a leisurely 5 hours began to be dashed. A note about me: I am not a big fan of rushing or making quick decisions. I’d much prefer time to think, pray, and ask questions…

Instead, I was completely consumed with investigating other flight scenarios, updating family, & requesting prayer… All while keeping the corner of my eye peeled for the rep to come back to the podium so I could ask some questions. She finally did appear, and I joined the rest of the room in line, waiting for her time. My main prayer now was to be able to exude Hope in this circumstance… I was surrounded by soooo many upset people! That prayer was answered with a wonderful conversation with the German man in front of me. Because of this delay, he & his family were going to be severely inconvenienced in their travel to Germany. As my “minor” plan-change dimmed in comparison to his, it was a joy to shift my prayers to him, and as we spoke about it, it led to over an hour conversation about his walk with the Lord. It was beautiful, and I hardly noticed how long I waited for my turn. πŸ™‚

It was decided that I would get to Chicago, accept a voucher for a hotel, and be aboard an early morning flight home. I was fine with this & ready for the next leg of my adventure to begin… Until I began to board the plane…

Upon boarding, I was informed by another passenger that there was a flight that had been delayed in Chicago that we might be able to get on & still make it to Ohio THAT NIGHT. Of course, my calmness was now disturbed & since I had to turn my phone off on the plane, my final txt to Mike was that he needed to pray as the Spirit led him, because I was too overwhelmed to even know how to pray…

Got off our plane in Chicago, raced to the gate for the other one, and missed it by 5 minutes… Ug. Such a sickening feeling! 😦

Went to customer service, and what do ya know? ANOTHER detained flight headed to Ohio – leaving in 30 minutes!! More rushing & sweating, but it was a successful effort to board the plane… Only problem was now I was flying to the Cleveland Airport instead of Akron/Canton, lol. My poor boys had to leave our house at 11pm for the 1.5 hour drive to the airport… Yeah. Felt like a re-run of our Christmas night, lol… Thankfully, all went well & by 3am, the 4 of us were home & in our beds. Geesh. What a day! πŸ™‚

Lord, as I recount last week’s trip, I see so much evidence of You around me. Thank You for the opportunity to help Kristin & more bonding time with my nieces & nephew… For teaching me to s-l-o-w down and watch my steps… For protecting me, when I forgot to do that… For the sounds of laughter as fun was had… For conversations about You with family & beyond… For modern transportation, and plan b’s, and plan c’s… For knowing what’s best for me when I have no idea… And for pushing my “comfort level” to where I never would… Continue to shape me into who You want me to be. Amen





And I love this pic that was floating around on FB… πŸ™‚