Hello Family and Friends!
Finally! One of those huge involved updates on the family, animals and gardens to catch y'all up to date on the goin' ons around here.
To start, I have some sad news but from night whence comes the dawn so there's good news too! We had our milk cow unexpectedly die last month. All we could figure is that sometimes it happens. It was just unfortunate that it had to be our only (then current) cow in milk and she left a baby bull. We had raised her from a baby and it was her first time freshening, so we were excited to finally have her in milk and paying herself off. We did have our other three cows pregnan,t so we knew we just had to make it a couple of weeks without milk. What our three goats were producing went to appease the bull calf. It wasn't an easy three weeks without our staples, (some friends graciously supplied us with some of their milk, which helped tremendously, though we couldn't help but miss our butter, whipped cream, cheese, etc. Aren't we terrible?). Anyway, the bright streaks of dawn broke through the night the other morning! Quite literally, actually, it was a beautiful morning and when we got home from church, there she was, a new little baby girl calf! She's just adorable, and to fit in with the flower names that our other girls have, the kids decided on 'Glory' for the Morning Glory flower, and since we were at church giving glory to God when it happened. Anyhoo, we survived and now have our milk back in full swing, (man, those are some huge udders! Theresa has a blister from milking her out! ) and to top it off, Buttercup had her baby (another bull) and so we are now literally-almost swimming in milk. Buttercup's little boy is really cute and got the name 'Willy' almost immediately (for the Sweet William flower). The overflow bursting point will be when Lily freshens in a few weeks. Auuugh! Milk baths anyone?
I just love the calf pen right now... Three little spotted calves, all cute as buttons!!
The garden is doing good this year...Some things have been better, but other things are better than normal, so it evens out and overall I think we're coming out with a pretty darn good harvest. First the good: We have beets coming out our ears! Pickles and cukes galore. We've been working hard to put up 5 gallon buckets of pickles for the winter. Carrots have decided that they love their garden beds and are weighing in at nearly a pound a piece! Looks like we'll get a good crop of pumpkins too. Beans are steadily coming in. I've been putting up a gallon at a single picking... Oh, and kohlrabi has never done better! The potatoes are the best we've ever grown, and thus said, I think they're pretty average. Corn, sunflowers, rutabagas, cabbage and broccoli are all doing well and still growin'. Tomatoes aren't as good this year, but they still might pull through depending on the kind of fall we have. Some warm weather would be helpful... Oh, good news! Squash is as good as ever this year.. (now if only we liked squash...). The melons are growing tons now, but they had a slow start in the spring so they may be in for quite a dash to get fully mature before the frosts. Garlic and onions are in; the garlic did pretty well, but the onions were small this year. ...And there's lots more but I think this survey is plenty informative!
The root cellar is finally getting done! Now, at the end of the summer, Andrew's getting the time to apply some of his attention to getting that built. Since we're trying to build it as cheaply as possible, he doesn't have the connivence of squared lumber so it's more time consuming, but I think all his building experiences this way are making quite the carpenter out of him! And, I think it's coming along beautifully. We're already starting to backfill it by hand. It's going to be big at 12 x12 and a 9 foot ceiling! There will be a shed on top of it (to be built next spring) that will be 16 x 16. We are hoping that it's done in time for the big harvest that's eagerly awaiting it!
We sold another pony! Poor Stephen, he was quite attached to Duke after all the training he's put on him, but, yet again, God has provided for us quite timely, in the form of another horse sale.
Stephen hatched out another clutch of chicks (well, with the help of a broody hen ). They're all growing well and are a cute addition to the barnyard critters.
Apple season is just starting around here--a surefire taste of fall. With the new root cellar we hope to be able to put up a real good amount.. there's never enough.
The bear hunting season just started which means we're doing bear fat again. It can be rather sqweemishy for newbees, but for us we've all enjoyed the crispiest french fries and the flakiest pie crusts ever, so we're attacking the fall chore with a vengeance this year! We're boiling it down outside this time, on the maple syrup boiler and it's working really well, we can do a lot at a time and we don't have any of the mess inside!
We all enjoyed a bear sighting in our back pasture the other day. Big guy lumbering by, just outside the horse fence. He held the mule's attention for quite awhile afterward.
Theresa had a litter of baby bunnies born a few days ago. Andrew, Stephen and Michael were rolling a round bale to the cows and discovered their nest when the bale was moved. A couple of her bunnies refuse to be contained in cages, so it was no surprise (despite the fact that she didn't want any more for the time being.. they breed like rabbits you know), Theresa was still tickled pink to find that there were seven of them and what a colorful bunch they are this time!
Now for the kids... They're all just ducky. But for a more detailed update...
Donnie couldn't be cuter--she's the heart of the family and we all just adore her. Dad gave the example of Donna being cute in church the other day and glancing down the pew to see several heads bent over to watch her with goofy, proud grins.
Johnny is the same--most happy when he has a chore (with the other guys), tags along on the coattails of any poor unsuspecting big sibling and is unadmittedly looking forward to school (I think).
Lizzy's creative mind has her dressed in odd outfits and dancing in the front lawn (with Johnny) as she acts out her made-up stories every now and then.
Michael's been spending a lot of time with the new calves. I think he's in love with Glory's big eyelashes.
Stephen and Theresa are now training the mules and after only a few days, have had much success. The mules are easily turned on by the creative minds of the younger kids and both are totally enjoying the training sessions.
Donna has become an extension of Annie's right arm. Thank goodness Annie's always there and willing when Donna has one of those diaper emergencies!
I'm thoroughly enjoying these fall evenings. My only regret is that the days are growing shorter and pretty soon all the vibrant color to be had about the farm will be turned to plain white and grey, come winter. Thank God for Christmas!
Andrew is more than busy this fall with all his projects. In fact, he's usually always working on several things at a time. He's plugging steadily away at his list in a slow easy manner that's completing them surprisingly quickly.
So we're all doing well and enjoying life!
As always, I have to share some pictures now...
Baby Perla in the back pasture. She looks pretty goofy as she's shedding her foal coat.
The girls and I got into recycling jeans into skirts a little while ago. We all liked Theresa's first ever skirt, (made of her own design!) the best:
One of our bee's at work on my Hollyhock's:
Speaking of the boy's pictures, you may have noticed the new photo of the day on my sidebar by photobros. Since they have such an overflow of pictures, they're showing them off a day at a time, here on the blog. They also installed a little comment box bellow for any feedback you may have. Also, I wanted to mention that you may experience some new blogger authors in the coming months. I'm going to get my other siblings to start posting, both for their homeschooling benefit and for some more interesting reads for your benefit, so look out for those.
Anyways, I'd better sign off now. The boys are working on the root cellar this morning, the girls are harvesting and there's a 100lb. bag of bear fat defrosting to be processed today. Ahh, good times!