Category Archives: Family

8th calf 2020

Hooray! Our final calf for 2020 has arrived!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Seems like we’ve been waiting f-o-r-e-v-e-r for Gluey to have her calf.๐Ÿ™„ She’s notorious for having late calves, but once we hit the two-week late mark, we started to get concerned. She wasn’t acting sickly, and her udder never really got huge – so we began to wonder if we had calculated her due date wrong…๐Ÿค”

YEP!๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ (Record keeping is a good thing when done correctly, lol.๐Ÿ˜)

Her new due date became 7-2, but her calf actually arrived today, 7-1.

Paul actually was the one to find him. He had gone up on the hill to mow the campfire area he and Michael had made. The cows were up there staring at him, and so was an extra little guy, lol. Here is the pic he txted me. (Gluey is the light one with the goofy face, and Nat is the other one. Notice how the calf is drifting toward the one NOT his momma.๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ)

And of course, Mike had JUST LEFT to go get some farm supplies, so it was just me and Paul.๐Ÿ˜ณ

Here’s what I saw after I made my way to Paul.

Here’s Gluey trying to figure out if the calf is hers…๐Ÿ˜†

And here’s Nat arguing with her, lol…๐Ÿ™ƒ

At first, Paul & I were going to let them all hang together and wait for Mike to return…

BUT. The calf had other plans, and promptly went under the electric fence. Which of course stressed ALL the mamas out.๐Ÿคจ

After I fumbled around a bit, I was able to get a halter on the calf, and I know I breathed a little sigh of relief!

Meet Christopher. He is Gluey’s 10th calf. <Click here to ready about her calf from last year.>

(He wasn’t too happy about the halter at first, lol…)

Then he decided to chill and rest…

Once Mike returned, he met us and we all walked down together.

Mike decided to hand-milk Gluey since we only needed a half gallon to feed Christopher this afternoon. It didn’t take long and we had plenty…๐Ÿฅ›๐Ÿฎ

And Christopher took to his bottle perfectly. Thank You, Lord!๐Ÿฅฐ

Ahh. 2020 calving season is now officially over! The 6 older calves are growing really well, and Winnie and Christopher are off to a really good start. PRAISE THE LORD.โœ๏ธ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

Final tally is 4 boys and 4 girls.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Father, thank You for this season that is now complete. And thank You in advance for the new one that is beginning. Prepare us to handle the ups and downs with grace and mercy. Continue to grow us more dependent on You each day. Use the circumstances of our lives to reveal more of Your Truths, and strengthen us by the power of Your Word…๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

7th calf 2020

Here we are again – finally time for another new calf post!โค๏ธ

Yesterday morning, Mike thought it looked like Rosie might have had a calf. (The cows are in a field not far from our house, so he was looking from our back yard.)

After feeding the older batch of calves, we headed out to the Shire to check things out.

Yep – Rosie had her first calf unassisted and all cleaned up. Thank You, Lord!โœ๏ธ

Meet Winnifred.โค๏ธ (Gonna call her Winnie…๐Ÿ™ƒ) She has beautiful markings and did a good job moving with her mama into Green Dragon so they could spend the day and night together. <Click here to read about when Rosie was born.>

This pic cracks me up – it’s like Rosie is saying, “Wait – you mean I need to stay here by myself with this thing??”๐Ÿ˜†

Here we are this morning – it was a misty-humid, typical Ohio, summer morning.๐Ÿฅต Since I couldn’t keep up with the fast pace, zooming in made for lots of blurry pictures.๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ฌ Winnie shot up and stuck with Rosie all the way out the gate. BUT – then she stopped and came toward Mike, lol. She patiently waited for him to get the halter on her and then headed toward the barn.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

We were grateful Michael was with us to help get Winnie into the barn before he headed out to work down the road.โค๏ธ

Now our tally is 4 girls and 3 boys. Only one more to go!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ Gluey should be having her calf any day now…

What a beautiful season this has been!โœ๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Meet Roni – 1st calf 2020

Not gonna lie. This one caught us off-guard.๐Ÿ˜ฏ Yes – we knew calving season was approaching. But it just didnโ€™t โ€œfeelโ€ like it was gonna be this soon, lol. We were thinking next week would be the earliest…๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ But God knew. And today we started our 2020 season with a beautiful heifer from Uno. This is Unoโ€™s 5th calf for us. [Click here to see the post from her calf from last year.] [Click here to read about when Uno was born.]

Mike txted me this when he went up to feed hay this afternoon.

After the shock wore off, we stopped working on our current projects, made a list of things to do before we could bring them down, and got to work: cleaning up the milk house (which had recently been serving as a maple sap rendering station), creating temporary calf pens in the top of the milking barn, checking runway fencing, and hooking up some electric wire along the field up on top of the hill. An extra bonus was that Michael was home from work to be extra hands if we needed him.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

We’ve been getting A LOT of rain here lately, so everywhere is pretty yucky.๐Ÿ˜ฌ Thank You, Lord for boots that can handle wet and slimy mud!!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Uno did a great job cleaning her calf up. We decided to name her Roni. (Sounds like the end of macaroni. Think: short and slang for Corona. Because – well – that’s how my brain works – I think about what’s going on around me…๐Ÿ˜‚)

She allowed Mike to walk right up to her to get the halter on.โค๏ธ

And off we headed out of Mordor and to the milking barn.

Uno dropped her afterbirth on the way down…

We decided to keep them both together until tomorrow, so Roni came with us into the milking barn while we did a quick check on Uno. All was well, and back out into the field, we went.

We should have 7 more calves to arrive this year. They will be spread out longer than our normal six week window, as we had problems getting our girls bred last year.

2019 was a challenging season for us. It had been another wet year, and our ground really suffered. That, in turn, had consequences in the fertility of our soil, which led to pastures that did not thrive, and health issues for both our dairy girls and our calves. It got bad enough, that we ended up shutting down our herdshare dairy in October. Severing ties with over 30 families made it an emotional end-of-milking for us, but the Lord could not have made it more clear that that chapter needed to end.๐Ÿ˜”

So 2020 will be the beginning of a re-boot here. We’ll be reducing the sizes of our herds so we have less animals on the land. That way, we can amend the different pastures with what they are deficient in, so they can recover and thrive again. Depending on the quality and quantity of our milk this season, we’re prayerful we’ll have enough to feed our family and perhaps to even feed out a couple pigs. We sold our bull the end of October, so any breeding we do will be artificial breeding as we move forward. Our desire would be that in a few years, this land will be able to support more animals again and that we’ll be able to continue providing food for our family and others.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

The Lord will use t-i-m-e to show us what is next here. Something new He introduced for 2020 is the rotation of harvesting timber from some of the farm’s wooded areas over a pattern of years. Mike has enjoyed walking the woods with the forester and learning more about better timber management.๐ŸŒณ (And drooling about a future sawmill some day.๐Ÿ˜‰) This avenue fits in perfect with the firewood harvesting we do each year, and the woodworking Mike enjoys dabbling in when he can.โค๏ธ

Our prayer is that we honor the Lord with each of these decisions alongside Mike’s parents. We recognize that He is moving us in the direction He wants us to go, and we cling to Him each step of the way. There will be seasons where we work off-farm for a bit, and there will be others where we get to stay here. If we focus on what we don’t know, it can be overwhelming. But when our focus remains steadfast on Christ, He is faithful to direct our paths. We wouldn’t have it any other way! Been there, done that.๐Ÿ˜‰โœ๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

We are so grateful for the support we’ve had since day one, and we appreciate all the encouragement and prayers we continue to receive in this farming journey!๐Ÿฅฐ

Stay tuned!โ˜บ๏ธ

Four years in the making…

It all started with this picture that came up on my social media feed back in January of 2015:

I LOVED how it looked like a sewn quilt, but was actually crocheted. I did some research and I think the pattern was called Grandmother’s Flower Garden… At that time, I was looking for a project that was portable with the potential to be connected into something bigger. Also, our down comforter seemed to be losing some of its warmth, so the thought of making something functional AND pretty was intriguing.๐Ÿงถ

I decided to create my own pattern since I wasn’t finding what I wanted as I searched. We found some hexagon graph paper, and Mike helped me map it out.๐Ÿค“

After researching all about different fibers, we decided to use wool.๐Ÿ‘

And even though I knew the cost to make it would be higher, I really wanted to use yarn from a smaller company. I was excited when I learned about Brown Sheep Yarn, and that a small, local yarn shop had it in stock.๐Ÿงถ

In October of 2015, we started acquiring skeins. (I could crochet 21 hexagons from each skein.) Each one was $8, so we just purchased them for the flower petals as we had the funds. We waited until we had a larger chunk saved up to purchase all the yellow at once. A benefit to this kind of patchwork project is that dye lots are really not that important. Any slight color variations wouldn’t really be noticed. We also did not assign flower colors on our graphed pattern until after I had most of the flowers done. I had no color preferences for the flower petals going into the project, but I wanted the middle of each flower to be the same yellow. I wanted the flowers to be random. (In reality, it is more like planned random, lol.๐Ÿ˜‚) I wanted there to be enough flower colors that when I laid them all out, I wouldn’t have two of the same color next to one another.๐ŸŒธ

Next, I found a hexagon pattern I liked. I didn’t want something that used a ton of yarn (like the one in the original picture), or that was complicated to make. The one I settled on only had 3 rounds, and I could complete one in under 8 minutes. It was perfect.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ (I used a size “F” hook.)

Click here for the link to its pattern.

In September of 2018, it was nearing the time we’d need to make the biggest purchase – all the green. We learned of an online warehouse inventory sale that Little Knits was having for Brown Sheep Nature Spun yarn, so we investigated the price for the 30 skeins. To our amazement, each one would only be $2.65!! We did a quick inventory of how many other colors we needed to complete the remaining flowers, and placed an order for what we needed. It was so exciting to actually have all the supplies here to complete the project!โค๏ธ

It took 16 months from that point to finish those remaining flowers, all the green hexagons, and then connect everything.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

When this project started, our boys were in their junior year of high school.๐Ÿ˜ฏ I crocheted as we watched their final two years of baseball gamesโšพ๏ธ, it’s been my travel companion in the car wherever we’ve driven for the past four years๐Ÿš—, and it was in my hands during many evenings of the colder Ohio seasonsโ„๏ธ. Many prayers, tears, laughs, and even irritations have all gone with this project. I’ve learned much about my creative abilities AND its limitations, lol. Creating the hexagons and flowers was easy. Making the flowers was easy. Connecting it ALL together was NOT. Ugh.๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Once the connecting got to the point of long, heavier strips of blanket, it was easy for me to get lost where I was on my pattern. Straight lines became “bendy,” and well…I often didn’t know which end was up!๐Ÿ˜ณ I’ll just say I’m very grateful the Lord gave me Mike to double check my work and help dig me out of messes.๐Ÿ˜† I became an expert on how to disconnect hexagons without ruining them.๐Ÿ™„ <For those who are not familiar with crochet – one wrong snip of the yarn and the entire hexagon could unravel.๐Ÿ˜ฌ>

I’ll end with the funniest mistake I made the day before completion. I was down to my final group of flowers to connect to unite the two sides of my blanket. <In hindsight, with my connecting-challenged abilities, I SHOULD have just worked from left to right.> Mike helped me line up the first flower, and went to bed. Some time between picking up both sides of the blankets and getting situated on my chair to crochet it, I must have moved the flower’s position to the wrong set of green hexagons. AND I NEVER DOUBLE CHECKED ANYTHING UNTIL I WAS DONE. I had decided I was going to stay up as late as it took since the end was so close… So at 12:30am, everything was connected, all my ends were tucked in, and I was ready to lay it out and admire its beauty…๐Ÿ™ˆ

Ugh. I couldn’t believe it.๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜‚

Needless-to-say, it was NOT finished that day.๐Ÿคช I spent Sunday afternoon, evening, and late night disconnecting the entire strip, fixing all my ends, and re-attaching to the correct location.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Last night was the first night we had it on our bed. LOVED IT! It was toasty warm and didn’t slide off the down comforter like other blankets have.โค๏ธ Now I’ll be on the lookout for a bed-skirt when we hit the estate sales. I think that would be a nice finishing touch.๐Ÿ˜Š

I’m excited to crochet some new projects now – but I think it will be awhile before I do another BIG one, lol.๐Ÿ˜Ž

Might as well end with my nerdy details๐Ÿ˜:

53 full flowers and 14 half flowers

Grand total of 875 hexagons.

875 x 7.75 minutes each = 113 hours in crocheting hexagons, and no idea how many hours in connecting everything…๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank You, Lord, for giving me the ability to crochet. What a fun activity to keep my hands from being idle! I’ll always treasure the time that was invested in this blanket. Thank You for giving me Your Word to meditate on, personal circumstances to talk to You about in prayer, conversations I was able to have with others as I worked on it, and for the activities I was able to watch while crocheting. May the warmth of Your love be felt by each person who is wrapped up in it, for however long it lasts. Amen

And just like that: weโ€™re done calving for 2019!

2:25PM 5-2-19

I got this txt from Mike. This is Ruby – the last of our 3 heifers to calve… We knew her calf would be born within a few hours, just didn’t know if she would require assistance or not. Needed to watch and wait…๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

2:51PM 5-2-19

I finished up what I was working on and headed up to the field to get a couple pictures for myself. She had progressed a little – you can see feet sticking out! But she was hungry, so she just kept eating, lol.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

4:30PM 5-2-19

Ruby was laying down and beginning to push.

We waited around/watched for the next 40 minutes or so. Got to listen to a lot of grass chewing, lol…

5:02PM 5-2-19

Ruby continued to make progress…

And she didn’t want Mike to help speed things up! The other 2 heifers: Peggy & Nat, came over to throw some interference, lol…๐Ÿ˜‚

As I’m taking pictures and videos of all this with Ruby, all of a sudden I hear a weird noise behind me. I turn around to seeing Gluey laying on the ground and pushing for a few seconds and then she popped up and started eating again. I asked Mike if he thought maybe Gluey was going to have her calf today, too?๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Time would tell…

5:10PM 5-2-19

Decided that since Ruby didn’t appear to be in distress, we would head down to get a drink and come back up in a half hour or so.

5:43PM 5-2-19

Found BOTH Gluey AND Ruby with calves, lololol…๐Ÿ˜†

Wow. So funny how some labors take hours and others just minutes!๐Ÿ˜ฒ We could tell a rain shower was headed our way, so we decided to let the mamas clean their babies up, grab a quick sandwich from town, and then come back up to assess the situation after the rain rolled through.

It’s a boy! This is Ruby’s first calf for us. [Click here to read about when Ruby was born.] His name is Boy-o. A name from a movie my boys have memorized lines from. Kind of fun to attach it to a calf now, lol.๐Ÿ˜‚

This is Gluey’s 9th calf for us – her 5th boy. [Click here to read about her calf last year.] Gluey is always cracking us up because she kinda looks like a cartoon cow – sorta clownish.๐Ÿคฃ We’ve often said she reminds us of Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars… Therefore, we’ve named this boy: Jarjar.๐Ÿ˜Ž

7:16PM 5-2-19

The rain was done & we had eaten, so we headed back up to check things out on the hill.

Both calves were pretty cleaned up, and it looked like they either had already eaten or were in the process of eating.

If you listen closely toward the end of the video, you can actually hear him sucking!โค๏ธ

We toyed with the idea of trying to get everybody down to the barn, but with only about an hour left of daylight, it would have meant that everyone would have needed to cooperate 100%. That was not happening, lol.๐Ÿ™„

After much prayer and deliberation, we decided to allow the boys to stay with their moms for the night. With the sun going down quickly and our bodies feeling weary, we felt it would be better to bring everybody down in the morning instead. This concept is scary for us control-freak-types…๐Ÿ˜ฌ In this field, the herd is contained in just a single wire of electric, and there is no perimeter fence around the edges.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

7:49PM 5-2-19

Mike decided to add some kelp and DE to the girls’ mineral feeder in hopes of diverting their attention from the two new additions. Perhaps then the calves could bond more with their mamas in peace.๐Ÿ˜‰

First Mike allowed Peggy to try some to see if it would entice her to get more. It worked! Didn’t take long for others to follow her.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Of course, extra attention was needed, too…๐Ÿ˜

It was such a beautiful evening.โค๏ธ

6:29AM 5-3-19

Sure enough – BOTH calves were on the WRONG SIDE of the fence when we got up there this morning, lol.๐Ÿ™„ We don’t think it had been for too long, though. They were quite happy to be laying together. Sure did have all the moms in a tizzy in the corner!๐Ÿคฃ

Boy-o and Jarjar were good about letting Mike & I get halters on them. That made it easy to get them back in with their moms.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Next we wanted to start walking everybody down to the barn as usual. This is when we realized it would be nice to have an extra set of hands to help. Fortunately, Michael hadn’t left for work yet, and was able to join us for this fun.๐Ÿ˜‰

Mike had Boy-o, and they started walking with Ruby the direction we wanted. Gluey wanted to follow, but it took a bit for her to convince Jarjar to join her…

Amidst this drama, Ruby ended up leaving Boy-o and coming back to meet up with me, Gluey, & Jarjar.๐Ÿ™„ Mike was able to walk Boy-o to a fencepost and tied him there until we could get back to him.

Then Mike took Jarjar from me, and walked him with Gluey & Ruby toward the barn. At this point, BOTH mamas thought Jarjar was their calf, lol.๐Ÿ™„

Michael & I were ahead of them and walked the remainder of the herd down to the barn.

Once we got them in the barn, Michael headed back out to join Mike with Boy-o and his two mamas.๐Ÿ˜†

It wasn’t long, and Boy-o was really losing his steam, so Michael volunteered to carry him the rest of the way down the runway. Mike was overjoyed to allow Michael to do that!๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

We were so grateful for Michael’s help this morning! What a blessing that Don’s Custom Meats is so close to our home, so he wasn’t too late getting into work.โค๏ธ

Mike was then able to walk Jarjar to his stall in the barn.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Next, Mike & I headed back up to where Boy-o was waiting. He basically informed us he was DONE walking, lol.๐Ÿ™„

Mike prepped the 4-wheeler for the trek down the runway…

He scooped up Boy-o and loaded him up. This is the pose I get when I’m supposed to be driving, but turn to take a QUICK picture, lol…๐Ÿ˜ (Have I mentioned lately, that I LOVE this man? How in the world he can even put up with me, I will never understand…โ˜บ๏ธ)

Unlike Clint, Boy-o hardly moved at all in the drive down. It was a much more comfortable walk for Mike down the hill.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Mission accomplished! All the dairy girls were in the barn, and both calves made it to their pens. THANK YOU, LORD.โœ๏ธ

We were also grateful that they both ate today. Sometimes, when they’ve been with their mamas for a decent spell, they aren’t interested in eating from a bottle for awhile. But these guys drained their bottles. ANOTHER PRAISE!โœ๏ธ

11:55PM 5-3-19

Phew. What a long two days. I don’t think it’s ever taken me so long to write a blog post and get it uploaded!

Final tally for 2019 is 5 boys and 3 girls.โค๏ธ

What a season this has been, Lord. We’ve already learned many new lessons, and we know more are coming. We thank You for how You lead and teach us, and even how you gently correct us. We continue to seek Your Wisdom now as we move forward. With the Psalmist, we pray: May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – YES, establish the work of our hands! Amen (Psalm 90:17)

Rendering suet into tallow 2018

Now that all our beef for the year have been taken to the butcher shop, we’ve got suet that needs rendered into tallow. We’ve learned to do it as soon as we get it or it takes up precious freezer space for too long since there never seems to be a “good day” to plan to render, lol.๐Ÿ™„ So – despite it being 88ยฐ and humid today, onward we go!๐Ÿ™ƒ

Here are summary pictures from today and links for more details from earlier years are at the end.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

(The favorite part for me is cleaning up at the end of the process with super hot water & our tallow soap!โ˜บ๏ธ)

[click here to read about our experience rendering in 2013]

[click here to read about tallow in skincare]

[click here to read about an old lesson I learned that had tallow in it]

2nd calf 2018

Last evening after work was done, showers done, and the 4 of us sat down to watch a movie together, the call comes: Gluey had her calf.๐Ÿ˜‚ Figures, right?๐Ÿ™„ This is always the hard part – had the girls’ been up in Grey Heaven, we would not have known she’d had her calf, so we would have found out in the morning. BUT, once we KNOW a calf’s been born, we just can’t NOT go and check on the situation…especially with a snowstorm on its way annnd Gluey’s past fiascos…๐Ÿ˜ฌ

So Mike & I got bundled up and headed next door.

Could tell from a distance that the calf was a boy, and that he had just been born. He was still wet, and hadn’t eaten yet. Gluey has had 8 calves for us. This boy makes her count 4 girls and 4 boys.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

The snow was just starting to stick, and we had about an hour of daylight left, so we told Gluey she had one hour to prove she knew what to do… If he wasn’t cleaned up when we came back out, we’d bring him inside and milk Gluey so we could feed him ourselves.

Michael randomly chose the name “Phillip” for him when we came back inside to catch some more of the movie. I thought it was kinda weird as I had no idea where that name came from, but it ended up being the perfect name…๐Ÿ˜‰ (This will make more sense in a bit, I promise.๐Ÿ˜‚)

So now it’s an hour later. Yes, Gluey had done relatively well at cleaning him up, they were still alone together, and he was walking around looking like eating was on the agenda. The snow was coming down a little heavier, so it was a really hard decision to let them stay together. But after much consideration and prayer, that’s what we decided to do.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Came out extra early this morning to see how things were going. Found “Phillip” up by the round bale feeder with the rest of the mamas.โ„๏ธ

Mike got a halter on him, but then he decided he didn’t want to walk…๐Ÿ™„

So Mike carried him and led the way into the barn.๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

He’s MUCH bigger than Patty, so it was a challenge for Mike to carry him as far as he did. These bodies lack the oomph they used to have…๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Next Mike carried “Phillip” upstairs. He was pretty wet from the snow, so I grabbed a towel and dried him off a bit. Began to wonder at this point if he actually HAD eaten…๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

Gluey milked well, and we got plenty for “Phillip’s” morning and afternoon feeding. Got his bottle ready and headed up. NORMALLY, a calf that has been with its mama overnight is not interested in a bottle the first day with us – especially bull calves – they just lay around and pout for a day, but by the next morning they are ready to eat and do fine after that. BUT THIS GUY SUCKED DOWN ONE WHOLE BOTTLE AND A BIT OF ANOTHER. We hardly had to cooerce him at all to take the bottle. All signs to us that perhaps he really had NOT eaten with Gluey.๐Ÿ˜ 

We are VERY encouraged he is doing well now and we rejoice in the resiliency of these animals.โค๏ธ He is not out-of-the-woods yet. We’ll be watching him closely, especially over the next 24 hours. And “Phillip” is now being changed to “FillUp” in my records. Because that’s just the kind of weird-word-girl I am.๐Ÿ™ƒ

Patty continues to flaunt her cuteness to us, visitors, and the cats – especially Junior.๐Ÿ˜ป

Lord, we thank you for the gift of life. For the patience You have with us as we stumble through difficult circumstances. For allowing us to feel Your mercy and grace as we go. Continue to grant us the sustaining strength and divine wisdom we need to navigate through this farming adventure. In Your name, we pray. AMEN

Our count is now 1 boy+1 girl. Lord willing, 5 more to go…๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

A purple sweet potato pie

Our friends grew some purple sweet potatoes this year, and we were blessed to receive some of their harvest.โ˜บ๏ธ [click here to read more about Ipomoea batatas]

After we brainstormed a bit for possible choices, Mike’s mom chose a “purple* sweet potato pie for her birthday “cake!”๐ŸŽ‚

*Some funny behind-the-scenes-trivia: we actually thought these were called “BLUE sweet potatoes,” so the whole time we were working with them, we kept remarking about how PURPLE they looked!๐Ÿ˜‚ Glad to learn they are, in-fact, PURPLE!๐Ÿ˜*

I have two sweet potato pie recipes in my collection. Decided to do the simpler one here, so we could get a better appreciation of the purple color. First I washed, and then boiled 1.2# pounds of taters for about 40 minutes.

After that, I ran cold water over them and started by peeling skin off with a knife but ended with just using my hands and rubbing the skin off. Came off SO easy!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Had about 50 grams more than the one pound of sweet potatoes the recipe called for, but decided to just use it all.

Added 4 oz. of our butter and was struck by the color contrast of deep yellow & vibrant purple!๐Ÿ˜

Mixed above well, and then added the rest of the ingredients:

1c (145g) sucanat, 1/2c (4 oz.) milk, 2 eggs, 1/2t ground nutmeg, 1/2t ground cinnamon, & 1t vanilla extract. Mixed on medium speed until mixture was smooth, and poured it into the single pie crust I made before I started.

For it, I added 140g of unbleached flour to 4g of sea salt + 78g of butter and used my pastry blender to pulse it up. Added 2.5T cold water and blended it a bit more until it formed a ball. Rolled it out and formed my crust.

Baked it for about 1 hour and 5 minutes at 350ยฐ.

And here you can really see the purple vs. blue color next to this blue lid…๐Ÿ˜‰

Tasted great and was fun to celebrate Mom’s birthday with this pie!โค๏ธ

Thank You, Lord, for the gifts of family, friends, harvests, sharing, and celebrations. You weave everything together in amazing ways…Amenโค๏ธ

A trip to NE 2017

Mike’s parents invited Mike & I to go with them to Nebraska after we finished milking for this season. Mike’s brother and his family live out there, and the twins would be turning ONE!! So grateful that we could go on this journey…โ˜บ๏ธ

This post will be my “scrapbook” of the memories.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

We decided to travel a southern route west instead of driving the turnpike. Thought it would be fun to surprise Mike’s dad with a stop at the town(s) he grew up in: Piqua & Covington, OH. Thanks to the help of Andy’s older brother, we were supplied with detailed maps and descriptions on how to navigate around the area. He also shared family history with us that we enjoyed talking about with Dad. We drove by his childhood homes and stopped at the baseball field he used to play on in high school. Found out the field has been named after his old coach!โค๏ธโšพ๏ธ

This cute kittie just showed up and wanted some attention. Made Andy smile as it reminded him of one of the cats he had growing up…๐Ÿ˜ป

This outdoor orchestra shell holds many memories… Andy’s dad was a conductor/teacher and very passionate about music. It is in really good condition, and looks like it is still used today.๐ŸŽถ

Next stop was to Bear’s Mill. Found it when searching for places to visit on our route, and knew it would be a great stop for us. [Click here to see our posts about the steam powered Algonquin Mill that is near and dear to our hearts in Carroll County, OH.] Bear’s Mill is not powered by steam, however – it’s water powered, by a turbine. We enjoyed the self-guided tour. Here are some pics:

Of course you take a picture of random ducks swimming under the mill, lol…๐Ÿฆ†

I was trying to take a picture of the water below, but the sun/shadows were making it a challenge. Then I realized how cool the shadow was of Mike & I. So we just had fun with shadow pictures, lol! Love this man!๐Ÿ˜

Pictures like this are necessary when you are terrified of mice (all rodents๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ™„), so that your sons can make fun of you upon return…๐Ÿ˜

No idea why there’s a covered wagon inside the mill, lol. Appeased Mike by climbing up for a pic!๐Ÿ˜‚

Next stop was at the KitchenAid outlet store in Greenville. My family has used these mixers and many of their attachments over several generations. We LOVE our KitchenAid mixer and have been through several over the years, so it was fun to browse through their little museum and showroom.

Here’s a cute, hand-painted mixer they had on display for the holidays.๐ŸŽ„

A fun mixer we knew our patriotic son would love… ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโค๏ธ

And our last stop of that area was for lunch at Maid-Rite. The boys had seen it featured on a tv program several years ago, and the last time they traveled to NE with Grandma and Grandpa, they stopped and ate at one. They serve a steamed, loose-meat burger. Ever since then, they have wanted Mike & I to try one. We had our opportunity, and it was a nice lunch.๐Ÿ˜‹

The outside of the building was a bit unique.๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Wondering what all the speckles are???? CHEWED UP PIECES OF GUM!!!๐Ÿ˜ท๐Ÿคข

The scenery for most of the drive was pretty repetitive: lots of flat land, grain farms, and windmill farms….

Spent the night in Hannibal, MO. Plan for the next morning was to visit the Lock and Dam No. 22 (on the Mississippi River) in Saverton a few miles south of our hotel. Read there was an observation area to see bald eagles, so we brought our binoculars to check things out. WELL, we found the area, but not any public viewing area. (And we didn’t want to spend any more time searching.) There was restricted/gated area for employees, and this funny sign. Took that as our “sign” we would just move on!๐Ÿ˜‚

Stopped at an antique mall in St. Joseph, MO to stretch our legs and grab lunch. Mike found some treasures from his favorite actor that were a bit out of our price range, lol, so we took pics instead, lol…๐Ÿ˜Ž

And finally – we made it to Lincoln, NE! What a joy to see our family and capture some moments on “film”. โค๏ธ

Had fun showing them some of our pics from home…๐Ÿ“ท

With the twins having such light hair, they match well with Mike & Ben, lol!โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ

Sawyer especially loved looking at Uncle Mike’s pics from the farm and of his cousins back in Ohio.โ˜บ๏ธ

Mike’s sister flew in from Mississippi to join in on the fun, too…โค๏ธ

Feeding moving targets is quite the challenge, but Grandma was up for it!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ (Probably didn’t help that Aunt Dawn was distracting with picture taking, lol…๐Ÿ˜‰)

Stayed in a 3 bedroom basement of an airb&b home while we were in Lincoln. Overall, a good experience (and definitely cost effective), but not without some drama/laughs. Had to get aggressive with an unwanted-banana-eating kitchen “visitor”…๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿญ๐Ÿ’ฃ

And learned our bed was held up by a lone stilt…๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿคฃ

But it did get upgraded to 4 stilts the next day.๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Did some shopping and ate lunch at Noodles with my sisters…๐Ÿ˜

Ben took Mike, Dad, & Sawyer for a drive in the country. They stopped at the Haymaker District so Sawyer could show Uncle Mike a BIG train…๐Ÿš‚

Celebrated Christmas on Saturday, so lots of laughs, games, eating, and snuggles!๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽโค๏ธ

After worship and a great message at Lincoln Berean, we took advantage of the 55ยฐ day with a walk to the park.โ›…๏ธ

And ended the day with celebrating the twins’ first birthday. First was a big family meal at Lazlos…๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹ The Grandmas: The Grandpas: Ended the day with presents, cake, and BATHS…๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ‚๐Ÿ›

The trip back home…๐Ÿš™ We were on the road early since Aunt Jenny had to leave before 5 to get to the airport. Always love catching the sunrise!๐ŸŒ…

Got to cross the Mississippi River in daylight this time…๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Stopped for lunch in Springfield, IL. Looked for something non-mainstream-chain and found Dew Chilli Parlor No. 2. (This place didn’t have old chewing gum around the outside, but it did have a neat, penny floor!)๐Ÿ™‚

Passed by a Nestle plant, and snapped a pic…because it’s not everyday you see a giant Bugs Bunny on the side of the highway, lol…๐Ÿ˜‚

Spent the night in Decatur, IN. That left us with just a 4 hour drive to get home on Tuesday. Thought about driving straight through, but decided we’d rather not arrive home completely exhausted. These bodies enjoyed the break, and felt refreshed for the final leg…๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

Caught this fun city-sunrise pic after we left the hotel…

Mike and I LOVE finding small-town coffee shops. Both to support local small businesses and because we love coffee…โ˜•๏ธโค๏ธ

Found this gem in Downtown Decatur…

My favorite part were the loyalty mugs! My mug would be here if this was in my neighborhood – just sayin’…๐Ÿ˜‰

Kinda fun to see the line of lake effect snow ahead of you while you watch the radar on your phone…โ„๏ธ

And our final stop before home was at Bob Evans outside of Mansfield.๐Ÿณ๐Ÿฅ“

Thank You, Lord, for giving us this opportunity to travel with Mom & Dad to see our family in Nebraska. We are grateful for the clear path You set out before us, and for how You equipped our sons to take care of the farm around their work schedules at home. Though our family members are spread all around the country, You unite us through modern technology; but boy is it a blessing when face-to-face moments arise! Continue to grow each one of us closer to You with every step we take. In Your Name, I pray. Amen๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ