The Top 5 Blog Posts for 2014

2014 is a year I’m not sad to see go. It was crazy, it was chaotic and frankly I’m glad it’s drawing to a close. In 2014 however, after much thought, I joined the blogging world on the last day of March. I’ve enjoyed it and am very glad I did. I also went off the deep end and started a Twitter account, Instagram account and Facebook page for Of Kids and Cows. Then I really dove in and joined a group called Ask the Farmers! Agvocating is challenging at times, but I can’t believe the wonderful group of people I’ve met.

With no further hold ups, here are my top 5 blog posts for the year. I hope you enjoy!

1) The Last 36 Hours

This was the first blog post I wrote while Emma was in ICU at Akron Children’s. The 15 or so blog post dealing with the kids being ill trumped anything else I wrote this year. The support of all of you was at times overwhelming (in a very good way) and appreciated more than any of you may realize. I’m just posting the link to the first blog post, but please feel free to go back read them all.

https://ofkidsandcows.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/the-last-36-hours/

2) Sometimes Thank You Isn’t Enough

The support of our community thru Emma, Taylor and then my dad’s illness’s was incredible. We had such an out pouring of help. It makes me proud to be a member of our community and the ag industry. As the title says, some times saying thank you can feel so inadequate. But we are eternally thankful for these people helping us thru crisis.

https://ofkidsandcows.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/sometimes-thank-you-isnt-enough/

3) Jamberry and A Farm Girl

On a lighter note, I was not anticipating the response this post received. Apparently I’m not the only lady involved in agriculture who wants to have some snazzy looking nails every now and then.

https://ofkidsandcows.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/jamberry-and-a-farm-girl/

4)How We Get The Milk Out of Our Cows

We are a dairy farm after all. I thought a post explaining the milking process would better help my readers understand what it is I do daily. Click on the link to read how we milk our girls, complete with a video!

https://ofkidsandcows.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/how-we-get-the-milk-out-of-our-cows/

5) Skinny Cow

I wrote this post after posting a picture of one of our girls. Reba had a professional “photo shoot”. I posted her picture on several social media sites and a fellow ag blogger asked “She looks healthy and all, but why is she so skinny?”. So this post was my response.

https://ofkidsandcows.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/skinny-cow/

See you in 2015!

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A Birthday Cake for Jesus

Our kids have always associated Santa with Christmas. We have a count down of how many sleeps until he arrives, we go see him the various places he’s at during the holiday season and we have an elf that lives with us a few weeks out of the year who can report bad behavior to Santa Claus. However, we have made sure that our kids realize the religious aspect of Christmas as well.

Sometimes kids have an interesting perspective of things. Last year it was brought to my attention that we should make Jesus a birthday cake. What are you to tell a 4 year old who wants to celebrate  the true reason for Christmas? Of course you tell her yes! I mean it combines 2 things very worth celebrating during the Christmas season, 1)Jesus 2)the intake of an immense amount of goodies.

When this was suggested last year, it was on Christmas eve. A basic yellow cake with chocolate icing was constructed with the items we had on hand. I even had a few sprinkles laying around in the cupboard. It was a Christmas miracle I had enough baking items to make a cake. Thank goodness for Pinterest and the ability to comb thru recipes! There was nothing fancy about this cake but it served the purpose. Emma then had to tell everyone about the cake we made, everyone we encountered for the next week…She was so tickled about it. It’s amazing how happy a simple 9×13 cake can make someone.

This year we had brunch Christmas morning at our house. I didn’t think of including cake on our menu. Don’t worry, I had 2 kids who did. So this year I was a little more prepared. Which was good, because apparently Jesus had a specific way he needed his cake decorated. Strawberry cake, vanilla icing, red and green ‘Christmas’ icing to decorate and of course lots of sprinkles.

I went shopping one evening by myself to get everything I needed for brunch, complete with my specific list of baking items. As I was combing the baking aisle at our local Wal-Mart I kept crossing paths with 2 college age girls. We started making small talk. It came out what my baking ingredients for. They thought it was both comical and great that the tribe comprehended the meaning of Christmas like that.

Christmas Eve morning Emma, Taylor and I baked our cake. They decided we needed to do a layered cake, this way it could be placed on the cake stand that Emma supposedly did not get me for Christmas. After it cooled we put it on a large serving plate and gave it a good coating of vanilla icing, which may or may not have come from a can.

Early Christmas morning, while waiting for Tom to come home from the barn I used the cake as a distraction. We finished icing it to pass the time while waiting to open presents. Lots of red and green icing to decorate. Then came the sprinkles. Emma delicately sprinkled a few on, then it was Taylors turn. Let’s put it this way, three year old boys do nothing delicately. Nothing. He poured 3/4 of a bottle of sprinkles in to one massive mountain in the middle of the cake. We spread them around a little….

Our finished product! I may have forgotten to take a picture before the cake was actually cut... But check out those sprinkles!

Our finished product! I may have forgotten to take a picture before the cake was actually cut… But check out those sprinkles!

For brunch we placed the cake on a cake stand Emma so secretly hid from me until Christmas. Made it look much more professional. Do you have any slightly different holiday traditions?

A Dairy Farmers Christmas

I wake up Christmas morning, full of anticipation to open presents, I’m still kind of like a little kid that way. As I walk down the stairs I see presents encircling a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. I wonder what perfectly wrapped packages are mine. Did I get what I really wanted?

That’s a great question and I’m going to be wondering for the next couple hours. What? Why? I’m a dairy farmer. While old Saint Nick may have dropped off presents, he didn’t milk or feed the cows at our farm.

Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean that our girls realize it’s a holiday. We still wake up early to begin the first milking of the day. After all of the cows are milked, the barn is scraped free of manure, the sand in their free stalls is raked clean and every bovine on the farm has been fed then we head in to open presents!

One of the challenges of farming can be balancing family time and the farm. No other time is this more apparent than the holidays. We attend Christmas get-togethers for both sides of our immediate family, as well as needing to make sure all the shopping and cookie baking is done. And let’s not forget our annual dash to Christmas Eve service! All while tending to our “girls”.

Our cows still expect to be milked 3 times a day and be fed in a timely manner, regardless of what day it says it is on the calendar. To them it doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or not, they’re hungry, their udders are full and they still need to have clean beds. Some even decide to bless us with babies on Christmas to add to the chaos! While this is all time consuming on a day where many want to relax and enjoy the festivities, it is necessary. It is our job as farmers to care for them regardless of what else may be going on. They can’t milk or feed themselves. Farming is truly a 24/7, 365 day a year job.

I grew up this way and have always known that family gatherings need to be schedule around milking time. While the cows always seem like the dominating factor in our lives, the truth is we wouldn’t have the lives we have if it wasn’t for the cows.

Even though the cows may make us open our gifts a little later than you open yours and make us run around a little more crazy than most, their care is constant in our lives. And I’m not sure I would want it any other way. Merry Christmas!

I Live With a Real Life Buddy the Elf

I like Christmas as much as the next person. The paper, the presents, the hustle and bustle. Christmas Eve service is by far my favorite of all church services. It’s the energy and excitement, the anticipation! As an adult you can still feel the magic. When you’re a child the magic of Christmas may just well push you over the edge.

I live with one of these children on the brink of Christmas crazy. I love Emma and I love Christmas. However, Emma around Christmas time is enough to try the most patient of people. We’re talking monks would struggle with her.

Emma is a manipulative, bossy child. I say this lovingly. Her pre-school teacher used the term “natural leader” at parent teacher conferences last year. That is the nice way to say it. She wants things done her way. The kid will suggest something, you say no, she re-suggest and mentions a way it will benefit you.

Doesn't she look so sweet and innocent at her Christmas dance recital...

Doesn’t she look so sweet and innocent at her Christmas dance recital…

Example: “Can we pleeease wrap presents now?” It was almost 9 o’clock at night when she suggested this. I told her lets wait until morning. Her response “Can we pleeease wrap presents? If we do it now you’ll have more time to drink your coffee in the morning.” Seriously.

Today in a moment of wrapping paper and Scotch tape frenzy she nearly pushed me over the edge. I was ready to reach for the Baileys instead of the Coffeemate. I was politely informed that Christmas is only 3 sleeps away and she simply can’t control herself.

Our nativity display is rearranged daily in anticipation of the arrival of baby Jesus. It must look just right for when he arrives. She encountered a small problem when she accidentally dropped Mary. Do you know what kind of trauma it causes a 5 year old to decapitate the mother of our Savior? The next problem occurred when I had no craft glue on hand to re-attach her head. The good news is Mary has been mended in time for the arrival of her son.

Emma also spreads her love with her presents. She has the theory of “Go big or go home”. She had a hard time deciding between a new truck or a $700 rifle for her father. I was a scrooge because I said no to both. What’s wrong with me? I was informed he really wanted both…The good news is she was so excited while shopping for presents she behaved amazingly. Her brothers were also in great spirits. I don’t know if they were equally as excited or worried the Christmas dictator Queen of Christmas Spirit would retaliate if they interrupted her shopping.

One of our many visits with Santa this year, we seemed to find him everywhere. Here was a planned visit at the library (yes, I'm holding Taylor in place). Then we had a chance sighting in Walmart of all places.

One of our many visits with Santa this year, we seemed to find him everywhere. Here was a planned visit at the library (yes, I’m holding Taylor in place). Then we had a chance sighting in Walmart of all places.

Em has bit slightly obsessed with santa. We’re talking 2 visits, reading books, double checking her mother is going to make cookies in time and devising a plot to hide behind the tree on Christmas eve to see him. Things got a little shaky when this part was being done. I was pretty sure the tree was coming down… Then we had a chance encounter with him at Walmart of all places. If nothing else it brought home the fact that Santa is always watching you.

I have to give her credit. I’m awful at procrastinating. This year my shopping is already done, with 3 days to spare, partly in thanks to her. Almost all of my presents are wrapped that aren’t for the kids. AND I have a menu planned for Christmas morning brunch, complete with a strawberry birthday cake for Jesus (we started this odd tradition last year). I guess when you live with a pint sized Buddy you’re on the ball!

Emma brings the magic Christmas holds for a child front and center. While this isn’t a bad thing it can be overwhelming for Taylor, Henry and I. Notice I didn’t mention her father. Where do you think this overwhelming love of Christmas came from?

We Should Name Her Lucky

Life is fragile. There are few places where this is better observed than on a farm. We welcome births, but also watch as animals breathe their last. Both can be very emotional moments. To me nothing is worse than watching a calf you helped enter this world a few weeks ago take what you believe could be her last breaths.

The weather here has been horrid lately for young calves. We’ve had odd weather patterns which have given us a mild, damp end to fall. All of us have had to be consistent in watching the babies for signs of pneumonia. If caught early it can often be easily and effectively treated. Tuesday evening a few milk calves just seemed off. Nothing incredibly wrong, but a few didn’t finish their milk and seemed a little sluggish. They were given a dose of antibiotic and no one thought we needed to worry much more.

Upon starting chores Wednesday morning, my dad saw something was very wrong with one of the calves treated the night before. She was out flat, cold, had very dull eyes and was basically unresponsive. We pretty much assumed the worst was going to happen. For what ever reason she had taken a drastic turn for the worse over night. It appeared any efforts we made would be futile.

I made a last ditch effort and administered a bottle of electrolytes with an esophageal feeder, as well as a dose of pain reliever/fever reducer to make her as comfortable as we could. An esophageal feeder is a bottle with a long tube on it. The tube goes in the mouth, down the esophagus and in to the stomach, while using the help of gravity to eliminate the need for the calf to nurse. It is used with sick calves to ill to nurse or in giving newborns colostrum. I went home for breakfast figuring if nothing else, I made her a little more comfortable on her way out.

That afternoon the kids and I stayed home. My husband was doing calf chores and called to see how everyone was doing (3 kids with the stomach flu is no fun). I reluctantly asked about the little calf, assuming I knew what the answer would be. Much to my surprise he said she was sitting up and acted hungry! He gave her her pail of milk and she drank a little more than half on her own. This was no small feat for the shape she was in that morning.

I had the night milking and checked on her before I started. I turned the lights on in the calf barn and had this little face looking at me!

Talk about a surprise!

Talk about a surprise!

And let me tell you, this little girl was hungry! She wobbled up to me and began sucking on my pants right away. I mixed up another dose of electrolytes for her. Dehydration will kill a sick calf faster than anything. The electrolytes would help her replenish her fluids from being sick. She gobbled them down and still acted hungry. Apparently almost meeting your creator leaves one with one doozy of an appetite!

I finished milking and mixed up a bucket of milk replacer for her. She drank almost all of it. I gave her a good scratch on the chin and went home to bed. I was still worried about her. Although she was looking better, by no means was she out of the woods.

Today little 1460 had her last dose of antibiotics and is doing well. She’s eating and back to normal calf activities. She is a registered calf and needs a name. I’m pretty sure “Lucky” will fit her just fine! It goes to show there’s always a shred of hope.

Where Did a Year Go?!?

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was up, a little earlier than this, waddling around and packing my hospital bag. I have not packed a bag ahead of time with any of my pregnancies. Call procrastination, trying not to jinx myself or the exhaustion of 9 months of pregnancy setting in… I just never have packed early. Tom and I gave hugs and kisses to the tribe of 2 and headed of to the hospital to make them a tribe of 3.

I’ve been induced with all 3 pregnancies. The first with the beginnings of pre-eclampsia, then the other 2 after Emma was born weighing as much as a toddler. So no dire rush to the hospital. We got there and settled in. After 12 hours, an epidural that didn’t work and lots of me puking and feeling pretty positive death was near, we met our little Henry. And if you’re wondering, like the 10,000 other people who asked after he was born, no it is in no way, shape, nor form a family name.

A shiny, new Henry. All 9 pounds 6 ounces of him. He was the smallest of the tribe at birth!

A shiny, new Henry. All 9 pounds 6 ounces of him. He was the smallest of the tribe at birth!

Poor little Henry had no idea the craziness he was born in to. It only became crazier once he arrived. There’s something about a third child that adds just the right amount of chaos and disorganization in to your life.

The look he gives you when he realizes just how crazy his siblings are...

The look he gives you when he realizes just how crazy his siblings are…

To add to the crazy, having a baby 3 weeks before Christmas is not always the greatest idea. Between still working, having a baby that hung out on my sciatica and holiday mayhem, it was a stressful interesting rush to Christmas last year! This year we can semi-relax and enjoy

He had to spread some Christmas cheer!

He had to spread some Christmas cheer!

Being the youngest, Henry sometimes finds himself at the hands of his siblings mischief. They love him unconditionally and have done their best to make him feel welcome in the tribe.

Super Baby!

Super Baby!

He also has transitioned into be my shadow at the farm very smoothly. This guy absolutely loves the animals and enjoys nothing more than a nice tractor ride.

Baby at work milking those cows.

Baby at work milking those cows.

Taking selfies with cows..

Taking selfies with cows..

Chopping corn like the little boss that he is!

Chopping corn like the little boss that he is!

Henry is a real ham these days. He is constantly happy, seriously. I have a feeling when he gets older he’ll be the guy constantly walking around with a smile and a laugh! But when all’s said and done, he’s just a regular baby today celebrating his birthday!

Henry5

All smiles!

Happy 1st birthday Henry!!!

 

Donut Muffins

 

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It’s the first day of deer season… The men make themselves scarce around the farm this week. They are in pursuit of “The Big One”.  My husbands cousin comes down to hunt with everyone and usually ends up spending a night or two because he doesn’t live that close. So like any nice person, I make breakfast for the two great hunters if I’m home. I have the morning off and am still in a good mood (believe me by the end of the week I will be tired and cranky) so I made some muffins for them. This muffin recipe combines muffins and donuts, what could be better than that?

Donut Muffins

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and mix until combined. Stir in flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder. Pour in milk and vanilla.  Mix until well combined. Bake at 350 degrees in either 12 regular muffin tins or 24 mini muffin tins for 18 minutes or lightly browned.

Once baked you can glaze, ice or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. I opted for the cinnamon sugar and vanilla glaze.

For cinnamon sugar: melt 2 tablespoons of butter in small dish. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon (more or less to taste). Dip hot muffin tops in to melted butter then dip in to cinnamon sugar mixture. This topping was my favorite!

For vanilla glaze: combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1-2 tablespoons of milk. You want mixture to be runny. Dip hot muffin tops in to glaze and enjoy.