Wednesday, June 30, 2010

9:50 pm- out the back pasture

I love the evenings. Here in Montana the summer evenings seem to go on forever. Daylight activity slows and the air feels good as it cools. Night time breezes become damp enough to want a sweat shirt. Owls can be heard calling to each other deep in the woods. The chickens fluff out their feathers and settle, each in their own place in the rafters of the little red coop. The rabbit does bed down in the straw and the babies snuggle into their mothers. The turkeys, interestingly enough, don't roost but bunch up together into a big, white, turkey pile, one on top of the other. Quiet voices of my family drift over to me through the open windows of the house as I finish the last of the evening chores. Evenings are good.

10:20 pm.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just a few snaps of the farm

(Ooops. How did this big guy get here? He's supposed to be in the woods....)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The sun is shining and the farm is starting to dry out. Though very late, I think the garden is going to do just fine. I can see shoots of corn and the first large flat leaves of squash peeking out from the straw mulch. Yea! For a while there I wasn't sure we were going to have a garden at all. The constant rain and unseasonable cool temperatures have been unreal. It has seemed more like April or March instead of June.

We (finally) put the turkeys out on pasture yesterday. I'm not sure why we started our first meat bird project with turkeys. Cornish rock cross birds might have been a smarter option. Turkey babies have a reputation for being hard to raise from poult-hood to harvest. But the turkeys seemed to be doing famously despite the heavy dew this morning and temperatures in the 40's. I can hear them peeping to each other through the open kitchen window.

The chickens are doing their part by giving us lots of eggs. All this rain has not seemed to change their laying habits. I've been easily able to supply a few friends with a couple dozen a week and still keep my pack of kids happily eating fresh farm eggs. It really makes me smile knowing that I have a wonderful source of cheap, healthy food to put in front of my family. (I have to admit that I also feel pretty smug when I walk right by the refrigerated egg and dairy cases in the grocery store without even a second glance.)

The little black hen continues to be broody and now is sitting on 10 eggs. One by one she lost every egg she had been sitting on during the early month of May. She is so determined to have a family that she happily sat on two rocks for a week. So between Saturday and Sunday, we collected a pile of eggs and now she can try again to satisfy this great urge she has to start a family. I hope she makes it this time.

The meat rabbits are growing fast and fat as only meat animals can do. They will be ready for harvest in about 5 weeks. They will be weaned from the does in two weeks and will be put out on pasture so they can finish out their frames with field grass and dandelions, lounging in the sun and feeling the mountain breezes tickling their long ears. They have a short but good life.

I know there are some who read about our farm and wonder how we can sacrifice our animals just to feed ourselves when there is food readily available at any grocery store. I don't want to be sanctimonious but I am convinced that we give our animals the best life they could ever receive. All our animals have a safe, warm, dry place to call home, whether it be a coop or a cage or a (turkey) tractor (made for moving around the pasture so the birds can have access to fresh grass/ bugs everyday). They have healthy, nourishing food, often supplied from our own gardens and fresh well water. They are always handled gently and when it's time for harvest, the animals are quickly dispatched without fear or long suffering. I am continuously grateful to the animals that give all or part of themselves to feed my family. I show that gratitude by giving them the best life we can offer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We've had a lot of rain.

This is our back yard grass. The boys are taking turns mowing it. They come in the house between turns with grass ALL OVER looking like they've been plucking a green chicken. Give it another couple of weeks and the garden will be this lush, too!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Country kids just having fun

Yesterday, my youngest son ran into the house laughing and begged my husband and I to come out side to see what he and his brothers had done. Well, I was expecting the garden completely planted, or the lawn completely mowed, or a new barn built, or the back pasture completely fenced. But what he showed me was, um, different than what I expected.
First he took us out to the middle of the driveway. Did we see anything funny (the messy garage didn't count)? He asked us, just laughing so hard tears were starting to form in his eyes.

No? How about if we moved closer? Do I see anything funny about the top of the garage?

No? Don't we see anything weird about the roof of the garage?

No? Move closer, mom. What about now? What is that?

What is that lump....with legs?


My youngest launched into this story about how he and his brothers found a dead frog. We have lots of dead frogs around lately because of the immense amount of rain we have had (only 2 nice days since the middle of May and those were half days where the sun came out just in the afternoon). For some reason known only to boys, my sons picked up the dead frog and were tossing it back and forth between them, kind of like hot potato, but with a frog (hot frog?).

Anyhoo, one of them got the great idea of throwing the frog over the house to see if it could hit their sweet, innocent sister who was playing with the red puppy in the back yard. Since the pitch of our roof is so steep, it was a real challenge to toss the frog over the roof into the back yard without completely missing the yard and landing the frog into the back pasture. Most of the attempts ended with the dead frog rolling down the front of the house back into the waiting hands (bleck) of one of my boys. (As my son was recounting this part of the story, he interjected, with glittering eyes, how COOL is was to watch the frog roll down the roof instead of sliding.) All this was great fun until it was the youngest son's turn to launch the frog. Instead of the frog rolling down the roof like the other attempts, he had (masterfully, he added) tossed the frog at just the right velocity as to have the frog land just on the tip of the roof.....balancing perfectly......with it's legs in the if it had gone to heaven in just that exact spot.

I was slightly appalled and was just about to tell my boys how gross that was when my husband placed his arm around his youngest boy's shoulders and said with admirartion, "Wow, that's just about the best shot I've ever seen with a frog, son. I'm proud of you!"

I have lived with them all my life in one way or another- dad, brothers, husband, sons. But I don't think I'll ever understand them. (Bleck).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

There are sorrowing hearts in North Central Texas tonight. The medical flight program where my mountain boy and I worked for almost 10 years, experienced a devastating crash Wednesday afternoon and two people were killed. The details are sketchy. But I'm sure the media will keep us informed as information becomes more available.

There is a brotherhood that exists in the circle of caregivers, especially first responders (IE firemen, police, EMTs, paramedics, flight medics, flight nurses, ER nurses, ER doctors...), that reaches beyond time and place. This accident has really touched my heart though I haven't flown for several years. It has caused me to cry and wrestle with sorrow that is out of proportion with my recent life. I have been on delivery side of "the call" where the words are "there's been an accident" so many times. I've watched people grieve over lost lives, held mothers and fathers crying for children, listened to the wail of mothers and aunts and daughters. I've comforted grandmas and grandpas. I've passed Kleenex, offered coffee, ice water and hugs. I've known grief for lives that seemed to be prematurely completed.
I know how those families are hurting.
I hurt for them, too.

A friend sent this to me yesterday. Poignant.

To realize
The value of a sister/brother
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one.

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
Who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one-second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

Time waits for no one.

Treasure every moment you have.

You will treasure it even more when

You can share it with someone special.

To realize the value of a friend or family member:


Go hug and kiss those you love.
Tell them how much they mean to you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We had an AMAZING storm today.

I thought I was back in Texas!

The storm clouds had been rolling in all afternoon and I was watching the progress over my shoulder while I worked outside in the garden and with the animals. Then all of a sudden it started to rain. But the rain turned to small hail after just a short time.
Now I've been in some doozy storms in my life but this was truly a STORM. The hail just kept coming......

And coming.....

The chickens ran for cover.
They thought the end of the world was at hand.
But it was the sky.
It was falling.
In small balls of ice.

Then, just as fast as it started...... it stopped.
And the chickens came out to play.
Just like nothing had happened at all.