Unskilled Labor

Three of my kids were in Des Moines this week attending Teen Pact.

Which meant my house was really quiet, dishes were limited and whenever Jan needed help outside there was only one option – me. Poor guy, he had definitely reached the bottom of the barrel.

After all – I am definitely unskilled labor.

I can carry water to the pigs – 4 trips to Jan’s one.

I can feed the chickens and gather eggs.

And I’m getting pretty good at chasing the calves back in their pen – if I can catch them before they head down the road.

But this was a week to expand my horizons and increase my limited skill set!

I can now open and close gates for Jan while he feeds a bale to the cows.

I have learned how to walk the fence line and check the wires to figure out why the fence is shorting out and the calves are in my yard again.

I learned that screaming loudly and swinging a big stick will remove the cows from the hay bales – but that it is wisest to leave the bull just where he is until my husband comes home.

And – are you ready for this – I even drove the tractor!

Yep. I did.

White knuckled, without a bale, in low gear. But I drove it. Five times even.

And I parked it in the shed – by myself – and didn’t hit anything.

Although Jan still laughs when I let off the clutch too quickly and give myself whiplash. (Wait – that is called the clutch – right?)

I have even progressed to the point that I can switch gears without assistance.

Yep. I definitely expanded my horizons this week!

And – as exciting as it was – I’m quite ready for the kiddos to come home!

They can go back to the chores they do so well and I’ll head back to my house and garden.

Washing dishes never looked so good!

A Tale of Christmas Greens

tale of Christmas greensTwas a cold day in December when the lady of the place,

Decided she needed  some Christmas greens  to fill an empty place.

So dressed up very warmly, with boots so she wouldn’t fall,

She found her handsome husband, looking rugged in coveralls.

Hand in hand together, they headed through the snow,

When suddenly they heard a noise that made them say “Oh no!”

They turned around in horror and saw to their dismay,

They were being followed by a piglet, out of his pen that day.

“Go back you pesky varmint” yelled the woman of the place.

But that curious little piglet just kept right up with their pace.

She waved her hands and stomped her feet but it was of no avail.

That piglet would not turn around, for he thought her basket was a pail.

And pails mean food in a piggy’s world, so he kept up with their gait.

And with a sigh they realized, they had to take a piglet on their date.

Flying Pigs

While most people would consider this a season of flying reindeer – around here we are more burdened with flying pigs.

Yes, you saw that correctly. Flying piggies.

We discovered this amazing feat quite by accident. The electric fence was down one day last week and the entire herd of pigs took advantage of this oversight on our part, rooting up my yard, making it look like a bomb crater.

This is not pretty. Nor will it be fun to mow next summer.

As soon as the fence was fixed, most of the pigs stayed in the pen – except for four little piglets. These little varmints have been out every day expanding the mess in my yard.

I declared war, sending Pedro out to lower the fence, expecting them to get a good zap when they tried to get under it.

It didn’t work because they didn’t go under it – they went over it.

when pigs flyYes, my friends, pigs can fly. They jumped that electric fence with such form and grace it would make Bambi proud.

I saw them myself.

I do not lie.

They took a running start and flew right over that fence.

I told you these pigs were amazing.

Since they are so intelligent, maybe we should train them to pull a sleigh? I wonder if we could attach reindeer antlers? Think of the marketing potential!

Move over Rudolph – meet the flying porkers!

Maybe if I post a video on YouTube Santa will see it and want these amazing piglets with him at the North Pole!

Anything to get them out of my yard.

Direct Hit

skunk stenchOur sleep was rudely interrupted the other night by the tear-inducing, horrific stench of fresh skunk spray.

My initial thought was that that skunk must have been  pretty close to the house and hoped that whatever animal he nailed would be long gone by morning.

But as we woke up it was impossible to miss the lingering skunk stench hanging in the air through-out the house. This smell was especially strong in the kitchen, down the basement stairs and in the basement laundry room.

Thankfully the morning passed quickly and we had a 4H activity for a good part of the afternoon that allowed us to leave the smelly house (with windows open in hopes of airing it out) for a while.

But – alas – we returned to an even stronger skunk smell.

It took Buddy to discover the cause. As he went out the side door on an errand, he happened to glance backwards and discovered a brownish stain all over the storm door.

Upon closer examination (yes – he actually smelled it!) – he verified it was definitely skunk spray.

It was a direct hit. Bull’s eye.

Whatever varmint animal provoked the skunk attack must have escaped unscathed while the storm door took the complete force of the assault.

Ewww…

But how does one clean skunk smell from a storm door?

A quick look at Google determined that a solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap should work.

The only problem – the “recipe” called for 2 quarts of hydrogen peroxide and we had – maybe- a half of a cup in the bottom of the bottle.

Buddy bravely mixed that 1/2 cup with the soda and dish soap and scrubbed that door clean.

Bless his sweet heart.

And- surprisingly – it helped! A lot! While there’s still a lingering nasty smell right near the door itself (possibly some spray on the wooden trim?) – it is definitely improved.

Now if I can just get my hands on the pesky critter who provoked that smelly varmint to attack…

Because – of course – I have no intention of going after that smelly varmint himself.

Nope – I’m giving him a really wide berth!

The Pretty Princess and the Frog Legs

Look who came to visit Auntie Melinda!

DSC_0340 Our very special Anniekins! (and her four brothers!)

And since Anniekins is totally a girlie girl who loves high heels and sparkles, we spent a lot of time wearing princess dresses, reading princess stories, listening to Disney songs for hours, and playing with dolls.

At least we girls did. The guys did their own “man-stuff” (well, other than one little incident with some dress-up clothes that we got pictures of that I won’t post on line if they send me more chocolate but will totally be a part of some graduation videos someday soon! I prefer my chocolate really dark, boys!)

They spent their time jumping off roofs, having water gun wars, playing Zombie tag, and perfecting their survival skills.

Which of course, involved frog hunting. Thank you , Bear Grylls.

Their first attempt yielded one pathetic little frog.

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Which  Andrew very carefully butchered and they cooked both bites of meat from the frog legs on my stove and ate them.

Then they ate massive amounts of pulled pork sandwiches and chips and finished off the cookies. So much for living off the land!

But they were determined and a later exhibition – that including sneaking over to borrow Grandpa’s fishing net in the middle of the night – yielded one nice big bullfrog.

Which they also cooked up and shared bites with any who wished to try it.

DSC_0374

And – in a surprising twist of fate – Anniekins – who is definitely more of an ice cream and sprinkles kind of girl (heavy on the sprinkles please!) – took a taste and loved it! She grabbed the rest of one of the legs and picked it clean! But Grandpa – who grew up eating lutefisk and pickled herring – politely refused to try it.

And yes – I ate some! It tasted like fishy chicken in case you wondered.

And yes, I would eat it again – especially if it meant the guys didn’t try for bigger game. I’m not sure Auntie Melinda is ready for coon, or ‘possom, or even wood chuck!

And remember my darling nephews, I like my chocolate dark! 🙂

Monster Eggs

EggsRecently a friend –  knowing I was short on eggs due the raccoon devastation last summer – shared a shopping bag full of them with me.

I reached in the bag and pulled out two cartons full of eggs in every color of the rainbow – and then I noticed another container.

A closer examination revealed 4 mammoth eggs.

Whoa! Really?

I quickly sent her a text asked, “Who or what critter laid those monstrosities?”

Her reply – a goose.

Wow! I know understand why we call a bump on the head a goose egg. Those things are huge!

I feel like Wilma Flintstone when I crack one – which isn’t easy since the shells are so very thick. I almost expect to find a baby dinosaur looking up at me!

We thought about dying them for Easter – but decided they would be way too easy to find in an Easter egg hunt.

So how big are these eggs?

Buddy boiled one and made a deviled egg so big he could only eat half.

It only takes the whites of 5 eggs to make an entire angel food cake.

But the most amazing thing of all is that one egg will fill up Pedro.

Now that’s a big egg.

 

Wandering Calves and Life Lessons

I happened to look out the window yesterday morning and saw Belle – the youngest of our calves  – walking across the yard.

It was a cold, drizzly and windy day. Not a good time for a little gal to be away from her mama.

The problem was – she was short enough to walk right under the electric fence. To her – that fence wasn’t a boundary – just a mere suggestion.

Maybe the grass did look greener on the other side.

Maybe she just wanted a little adventure.

Maybe she wasn’t paying attention.

But there she was on the wrong side of the fence walked away from the safety, protection, and life-giving nourishment of her mama.

I quickly found my shoes and went out to round her up.

But she didn’t want to be rounded up, and took off running in the other direction.

She was down the hill and almost to the ravine before she stopped for a breath. When she did, she realized she was lost.

She let a scared little bellow for her mama – but it was lost in the hollowing wind.

She had gone too far.

She was wet, cold, hungry and alone in a big scary world.
Baby Calf
I have to admit – it brought tears to my eyes.

I quietly walked behind her and got her turned around and running in the right direction.

It was several minutes – and a few false turns before she ran back under the electric fence – and several more before she found her mama.

The whole incident was eye-opening for me.

I saw her danger. I wanted to help. But I couldn’t make her go in the pen. I just kept pointing her in the right direction until she finally crossed the fence.

As a mother – I could see so many lessons in Belle’s little romp.

How can I make sure my kids see Biblical boundaries as safeguards and not suggestions?

How can I stay faithful in pointing them in the right direction, even when they don’t always want to listen?

How can I stress them to them the importance of staying near so they can hear their Master’s voice – no matter how loudly the world tries to drown it out?

This morning as I looked out the window, I witnessed a very different scene.

Little Belle was standing right next to her mama when the cows walked in for water. She nursed for a long time , doing little happy dances as she went from one side to the other.

Then, with a bulging tummy full of warm milk,  she jumped and twirled and kicked up her feet as she followed her mama all the way back to the pasture.

And I thought to myself, that’s what I want for my children.

Safety at the Savior’s side.

Joy and contentment in obedience.

This Little Piggy Is Home!

This adorable little piggy – and her 5 red waddle siblings – have finally arrived!

PiggyVarying shades of red with miniature waddles and big floppy ears -they are the cutest little piglets I have ever seen!

Just one day old – they are still sticking pretty close to momma, who looks happy to have it over.Piggy'sNow – wouldn’t you call that a piggy smile?!

Daisy

Well – look who’s here!

Baby CalfMeet Daisy – our very first Belted Galloway baby.

Born yesterday – she has created quite a stir around here.

Cutest thing I’ve ever seen – and smart too – she’s already figured out how to get out of the fence!

To Market, to Market to Buy a Fat Hog….

Meet the new kids in the neighborhood.

Well – they’re really not kids.
Piggy'sThis is Diesel and Ethel.

Two Red Wattle pigs who have come to live at Windy Ridge.

Why pigs?

Hmmm….very good question. One we asked ourselves as we chased them back in the pen in the excessive heat Sunday afternoon. 🙂

Let’s just say that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Red Wattles are a heritage breed of hog that is becoming rare. Which is sad – because they grow fast, have great tasting meat, and do really well on pasture.

Which is good – because that’s where they are going to live. We’re hoping they fertilize it well.

We’re also hoping for baby piggies in about 6 weeks – if the previous owner is correct.

Which means we have a lot to learn in a little bit of time.

Ham and bacon here we come.