Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What's been happening in my life (in photos)!

We lost our old man, Bo.  I miss him so much.

Officiating at weddings, because I believe in love and marriage.


Third time I've seen Home Free in concert.  

Hubby had open heart surgery (planned, not emergency)

I didn't lay a hand on him!

Baby Coffee

Youngest (a sophomore in college) bought a horse

And with Hope, Joy and Faith, I will live my life!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Volunteering.


I am a volunteer! Have been all my life.  I used to volunteer for things that I didn't like, but that was before I learned how much volunteers need to believe in and enjoy what they volunteer for.



A few years ago I decided to volunteer for the things I liked, the things I believed in.  In the past communities worked together to help each other, to get things done, to hold events and gatherings so that everyone could participate.  Somewhere along the line that changed. Our society in America started becoming lazy, with a "what about me" attitude.  That elderly neighbor who's lawn needed mowed?  Only if they pay you, right?  Or the fundraising event that you are going to? The people who put it on probably are getting paid (wrong).  If the quality went downhill, it certainly wasn't my fault that there weren't enough volunteers to help.  I was busy, right?  I mean, I work, I earn money.  And if I don't work? Well, volunteering is for the old folks, the ones who are retired. Maybe you have kids and you feel like you shouldn't be expected to help out, you're busy.  I never had this attitude, because I like to help people.  I like knowing that I can do something for others.  That my contribution counts for something.  

What's the key to volunteering? Here's what works for me.  Find something you like and believe in, maybe something that affected you when you were a kid.  Do you really like dogs?  Or cats? Find a shelter to help out at.  You can be a "foster" for an animal that needs some social skills.  I could do that, but my husband wisely won't let me (he know's I'd never let them go-not to mention we already have 3 dogs).  Maybe you really like mountain biking or running? I bet that there are others in your community who are out there creating and maintaining trails or putting on fund raising events to help others learn about the sport.  Don't volunteer because you are guilted into it.  Well, it's okay to do that once or twice, because maybe they really need help.  Volunteer because you do get something out of it. I don't mean something material (though if they want to feed me while I'm there, that's always a plus).  I mean something that makes you feel special, happy and valued.  Because trust me, you are.


Another thing: Don't be afraid to say "sorry, I can't help with that right now." You do have a life separate from your volunteer time. And if you feel overwhelmed by the requests for help, speak to the person in charge.  Burned out volunteers are not a good thing. Do you have friends who complain that their kids spend too much time in front of screens (TV, Computer and Phone)?  Encourage them to take the kids with them and volunteer somewhere. What a great family activity, plus you're teaching your children how important it is to be a part of their community. 

Don't know where to start?  How do you find out if a project, group, event, etc that you are interested in needs volunteers?  Call or send an e-mail, drop by with a plate of cookies and ask. It's that simple.  Some organizations have gone so long with the same crew of volunteers that often times there is a feeling of resentment when "newbies" join.  Don't let that discourage you, and if it continues, talk to them.  Or make your own volunteer job. Do you notice that there is always trash on the roadside when you drive home?  Grab a trash bag, put on a bright colored shirt or coat and pick it up.  Do you like helping senior citizens, or visiting with them?  I bet there is a senior home close by with someone who doesn't have family.


Volunteering and being a part of your community is important.  Too many people have the "it's not my responsibility" attitude.  If each of us spent 1 hour a week volunteering, a lot of great things would happen. You can gain important skills for future employment, meet people and get new friends and change things.




Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hectic, crazy, overwhelming life!

I am not gonna lie. I'm a homebody.  Don't get me wrong, I love to go places, bigger towns and cities where there are different places to eat, shopping and different activities to do  But really, my ultimate weekend is one where I pull across the bridge on Friday after work and don't cross it until Monday morning.  I love company, but solitude is my best friend.

It started in mid-March. Conferences, trainings, trips to the doctor, dentist, a concert out of town (same band two nights in a row) and mom's weekend at OSU. Somewhere in the middle of it will be a major surgery for a close family member and moving my big sis from her current assisted living home to one here in our hometown.  Thank goodness for close friends who are helping with the move.  The same friends will help with anything else I need at the drop of a hat, which is so comforting.

I'm feeling like I've got a handle on it, I have a mental calendar in my brain of what, when and where I'm going to be over the next few weeks.  On the other hand, I feel on edge, like I'm standing on a very steep cliff and the wind is blowing hard against me.  I fight the wind, I stand straight and tall, tightening my resolve so that I am not blown away, into the depths.  I used to feel like I could handle chaos, that I thrived in crisis. After years of struggling to discover the real me, I find reality scary.

The truth was, it was a "drug" to my depression, it made me feel alive.  I drank to push the darkness away, to feel happiness.  Using chaos and crisis kept the fear from overwhelming me. I choose not to embrace those anymore. That makes it hard during times like these, when things are happening left and right. I want to stand and scream and just say "I'm not doing it", "I quit" and "Leave me alone".  But that's not real life. Sometimes things just happen this way, everything at once. I can't avoid it and if I tried to, it would be worse.

Do I have an easy solution? Nope.  Can I change it? Nope, not right now. It's just what's going on in my life. So I need to accept it and do what I can to ease the crazy.  If a chore that isn't critical to the farm doesn't get done, oh well. If I go to bed and read a book a couple hours earlier than normal, it's okay. I'm listening to my body and my mind.  That will keep me sane and sound, able to take care of what needs done and the others around me.

Is it a perfect life? No but it's my life! And it's full of hope, joy and faith!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Miniature Herefords (great cattle for short girls like me).



Steve started looking into miniature cattle breeds a few years back. Our farm is only 5 acres so raising full sized beef cattle here really isn’t feasible even with feeding hay.  We’ve been raising bottle calves for about 6 years now, partnering with good friends who own pasture and it’s been a very rewarding set-up.  However, Steve really likes working with and observing our calves, so it just kind of progressed into doing research on what types of breeds we wanted to get started with. I was interested in Scottish Highland and Steve was looking at Lowline Angus.  The first thing we noticed was that there wasn’t a lot of options on the southern Oregon Coast.  As a matter of fact, there was nothing close by, at least on the internet.  The second setback was cost.  We might be able to save up money for a heifer (a few thousand dollars), but then we’d have to pay for transport and that just wasn’t in the budget.  We put it out of our minds, grateful that we are able to raise our own meat with our friends.




Steve was doing his nightly search on craigslist and facebook and discovered that there were mini’s in our area after all.  Three purebred Miniature Herefords at an affordable price were located only 45 minutes from our farm.  The plan was that we would buy one heifer.  Then we started talking about it and decided that two would be okay. Then we saw the bull and decided that it would be okay to buy him and let him hang with the cows a while to ensure they were bred.  Thanks to good friends who agreed to help us finance us and other good friends who loaned us a trailer, we brought all three of them home that day.  Fast forward from September, 2015 to now, March, 2016.  We sold the bull and now are the proud owners of the two cows, a bull calf born in February and a beautiful little heifer born the other day (March 21).  We are debating whether we should sell the bull calf or put him in the freezer. Because I’m hoping to encourage others to raise this breed, I’m leaning towards selling him as a breeding bull.  Though the cows are naturally polled, he isn’t, so we’ll have to dehorn him soon.  The heifer will stay here to become a part of the “herd” and provide us with more calves.  Since we don’t have any bulls close to pasture breed, I’m starting to research AI (Artificial Insemination) as an option.



I have shared baby pictures like crazy on social media and a lot of folks have asked if they are pets, for meat, etc.  Some people do buy them for pets, as the breed is actually quite social.  We will be raising the offspring for meat if we don’t sell them first.  Steve did a lot of research regarding Miniature Herefords after we brought them home and he found out a lot of stuff that make them the perfect fit for our small farm. Please note that links to the various websites that I got this information from are at the bottom of this post.



Our cows are not registered, but they are purebred.  Miniature Hereford can be registered with the American Hereford Association just like their full sized counter parts.  Herefords are beef cattle and once again, just like the full sized cattle, Miniature Herefords are beef cows designed to be raised and slaughtered for the freezer.  We ultimately raise cattle for beef and the miniature version has the added benefit of better efficiency using less feed.  They also exhibit an improved cow/calf weaning ratio, greater rib eye per hundred weight, a higher dressing percentage and increased tenderness due to shorter muscle cell structure, genetics and early maturity.   These traits are outstanding when compared to the modern beef animal.  You can also have more more head per acre (which helps those who have an ag exemption), they are not hard on fences or land and they have a calm nature, which I like because our livestock is a part of our family.



Miniature Herefords, while smaller in stature, are still beef cows.  An adult female weighs anywhere from 650 to 800+ pounds, while an adult bull can weigh 1,000+ pounds.  A newborn calf typically weighs anywhere from 35-45+ pounds with bull calves weighing more than heifer calves.  There is quite a difference when compared to traditional full sized cattle weighing 1,200 to 2,200 pounds.  They are proving to be a hearty breed. Our girls seem to be doing well in our rainy coastal weather.  The calves are out in the weather and mud at a day old and show interest in sharing their mom's hay at just a few days old.

I don’t know for sure where this adventure is going to take us. We need to do some fencing on our hillside to get everyone moved out of the mud.  And we need to find some “cow” hay (traditionally cheaper than horse hay due to the texture and protein content).  Cheaper is important right now, as cattle waste a lot of hay.  I love our girls but I’d love to eventually get some registered stock to offer for sale.  We certainly aren’t experts, but I’m not afraid to research and I believe it’s okay to learn as you go.  If you have questions or would like to meet our herd, please get in touch with us.


http://mini-hereford.com/

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, the flowers are floating!

Spring is on it's way.  Actually it's officially here according to the calendar.  Mother Nature begs to differ.  We've had some pretty heavy rain and the farm is swimming.  The frogs have been "chirping" for a couple of months now.  I love them to a point.  Sometimes I go out and say "Be quiet" very loudly.  

Last year at this time, I was going into the first year as my new position as a 4-H Education Program Assistant.  Spring slid right by me and I didn't get to do any wildcrafting.

In case you were wondering, wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or "wild" habitat, for food or medicinal purposes. It applies to uncultivated plants wherever they may be found, and is not necessarily limited to wilderness areas. Ethical considerations are often involved, such as protecting endangered species.
When wildcrafting is done sustainably with proper respect, generally only the fruit, flowers or branches from plants are taken and the living plant is left, or if it is necessary to take the whole plant, seeds of the plant are placed in the empty hole from which the plant was taken. Care is taken to only remove a few plants, flowers, or branches, so plenty remains to continue the supply.

I harvest spring nettle and dehydrate it for a tea.  It is supposed to help with common allergies and I've read some information about how it helps with arthritis.  Since I have that in my hands, particularly in my thumb joints, I figure it can't hurt.

I harvest by taking a basket or cookie sheet, putting thick gloves on and using scissors, I cut leaves and tops (no blooms) off of the spring nettle plants.  Because I harvest on our property, I know that there is no spray, etc.  Please be cautious when harvesting along road sides or commercial properties, as you don't know what chemicals may have been used.  And ALWAYS get permission from the property owner first. You don't want to come face-to-face with the wrong end of a shotgun.

I dehydrate the leaves in my food dehydrator for a very long time, (test carefully, if they are still limp when I move them with a fork, I don't even touch them, I simply let them keep going.) I prefer them crispy-sounding.  I then carefully slide them into a mason jar and mash them with a wooden spoon til the leaves are crumbled.  I found out the hard way, being a smart a** that there is still some sting left even when they are dry.

I make a tea using boiling water, which ensures that the sting is dead. (I'm a bit paranoid).  I usually add some of our honey and will occasionally toss in some blackberry leaf and dried blueberries.

I will share my "cooked nettle" recipe another time, along with other things I wildcraft here on the southern Oregon coast.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Quit complaining and start making changes.

I bought the local paper yesterday for the first time in a couple years. Now I know why I don't read it anymore. There was a letter from a local "businessman" stirring up trouble saying that our small town city administrator hadn't done a thing to make our community better. He was saying that the city looked trashy and she needed to make things happen.

Hey mister!  I have an idea... it's our community and it's up to us to take pride in it and make it all it can be. People who live here need to step up and take responsibility for how it looks. If you own property (or rent) step outside and look at it, I mean really take a look.  Do you have weeks growing out of cracks in the sidewalk?  Pull them. Are there cigarette butts lying in the parking lot? Pick them up and post a "No Smoking Sign".

Do you have main street property? I know a new paint job costs money, but if you can get the paint, contact me and I'll be there with some friends to help you get it painted. Do you go to our local park?Take a bag and pick up trash. Tell the juvenile delinquents who hang out there to leave and stop vandalizing what belongs to the tax payers.

It used to be that people took pride in where they lived. I'm not saying that there aren't people here who really try to help our little community, but they are few and far between.  Step up and help, be willing to work for the changes you want to see. It's not perfect here, but it can be pretty darn close if everyone would quit complaining and start helping.

Watch this page for upcoming ideas.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Oh my goodness, life is good...

I was sitting on the couch a bit ago, next to this big lug, Mason,
When I realized something strange... I am happy, life is good.  Yes, I'd like to say that financially, we're great, but that isn't true. But for the most part, I'm happy.  My job is amazing (see, I get to have baby lambs at work)

The holidays were wonderful, from Halloween on through today (Valentines day).  I went to Portland to see my middle daughter and she and my youngest daughter and I went to Halloween town, then I went to a "Home Free Concert" (seeing them again in April).  Christmas and New Years were pretty much stress free.  We had a baby miniature Hereford bull born last week and are bottle feeding a Simmental heifer.  We played in the snow, I've played with the almost 2 year old grandson (he loves to help on the farm). I've helped people because I wanted to, not because I felt obligated.  Today we went and helped my "boss" (she's 20 years younger than me).  She had a baby (her first) on Thursday and has no family here.  The farm they live on also houses her landlords 4 beef cows and they were escaping.  So hubby helped repair the fence, while I did her dishes, gave some motherly advice on breastfeeding and of course held the baby.  We left them with dinner prepared and a good feeling in our hearts. 

Something has changed inside of me.  I don't go to bed every night and lie awake worrying.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a perfect situation. I worry about my children (doesn't every mother) and paying bills still makes me bite my nails a bit. A friend committed suicide, leaving behind a wife and 20 year old daughter.  I saw her at his memorial, the daughter.  She stood smiling and laughing a bit with friends, but she had grown up overnight.  Our youngest was affected by her friend's pain.  L (the youngest) told me that in one month, she'd turned 20 and her childhood seemed distant.  Life must go on.  I don't know what happened to me.  I've been sober over 16 years now.  I never thought I'd be able to truly say "life is good", but for some reason, I can, and I'm not complaining a bit.  Here's a few photos to show you my last few months....

Happy 2016! Snow day on New Years!

Baby Grace Slick

Good friends of all ages, I love them like family

Christmas day (only the youngest child was home)

Halloween town and the Sanderson Sisters (Hocus Pocus is the best movie ever)

Hanging out in Portland with the youngest and middle.

Family photo on Thanksgiving.
 
The youngest tries out for Rodeo Court in two weeks.  Fingers crossed.

Baby boy and momma.

Steve is in 7th heaven, he loves his cows.

Cutest little guy ever.

My favorite flowers!

Have a day filled with hope, joy and faith...