Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Duck, Duck, Goats

Our friend Holly is here for a visit. She is my partner in culinary crime. We love to think up delicious food, then to cook it up. Roast duck(from the farm, of course) was on the menu for tonights Tuesday once a month potluck. We put the bird in a hot oven and I made a sauce, cooking rice vinegar with sliced green onions from the garden, orange zest, garlic, orange juice concentrate, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and some sesame seeds. We made a huge salad from greens and radishes out of the garden, tossed with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame seeds, plenty of red onion and some more sesame oil. We also planned on serving every bit of the broccoli we picked out of the garden today.

As our guests arrived, Rose ran into the kitchen out of breath. Quizzy, our nubian, went into labor. Right in time for supper. With company. So we ran out to the barn, moved her into a clean stall and waited. All 16 of us. I directed our friends out-side to smoke cigarettes and pace. Well, no one really smokes, but they did go out. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Would I really want 16 people hanging out watching my contractions?

About the time everyone gave her some space, Quizzy quickly delivered her first baby. No complications. Perfectly presented. Beautiful little girl. Then we waited. Silent children lined the windows to the stall. Silent adults waited outside as well. Nothing. But the mama sweetly nuzzled her newborn and licked her clean. At some point I realized that her contractions had slowed down and were very unproductive. After and internal investigation, I knew that baby was correctly aligned, but VERY big. Finally baby number two made his entrance into the world. Not too long after, humongous little sister was born. They are healthy and happy. What an exciting appetizer to a meal on the farm.

We then made our way back to the house, washed up and assembled our feast. We licked the platter clean. Had a fun time with our friends. I don't know when was the last time we were bored. Not since we moved to the farm.

Day before, Thistle had her two little nubian-alpine babies, boy and girl. So cute. But in the evening, one died. It was very sad. We cried. Philip buried him. Having more babies today helped Maggie feel much better. She is still a bit sad, but knows that life on the farm can be hard. Through it all, there is a sweet flow that moves us along. A new day with new joys.

We now have 4 lambs and 10 baby goats. Life is hopping for us. I am ordering some more cheese making supplies. Fromage blanc. Chevre with dill and garlic. Mozzarella.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is it the end of the week yet????

Monday we ran out of feed. I had to run to Stuart's Draft to buy animal food because there is a mill that offers locally grown non-GMO feed. It is over an hour away. I tried calling before leaving, but noone answered, so I went anyway. Philip and the boys worked on our chicken slaughter preparations and girls played outdoors. I drove. Got to the mill and noone was there. Two hours later noone was there, but a girl in the area assured me I could load up what I needed and leave a check on the desk in the open office. (I love rural America!) 1500 lbs of goat food, chicken food, hog food and dairy cow food later, I was back on the road. And down in my back. Why do I think I am invincible, unstoppable and able to load multiple bags of feed that usually only 23 year old young men are able to handle???

Got home around 6:30 and proceeded to wash down the cement barn floor to get ready for Tuesday. Ate supper and collapsed.

Tuesday morning Philip and I got up in the wee hours to prepare for our big day. Tuesday was the day we had all been waiting for, chicken slaughter day. We had around 50 birds and our friends, the Depret-Guillaumes had 25. Philip got an old kitchen counter at Habitat for Humanity store for $30. He was given an old stainless steel sink for free. He hooked it all up on saw horses which he and the boys built. They ran water through the faucets and it was quite an improvement on our operation. We set up the kill station. We set up the pre-scalding, the water heating and the scalding station. We set up the plucker machine. Did I mention that since I did not adequately put away the goats the night before, I had to sweep and clean the barn floor AGAIN? James and Serge showed up to help, we donned rubber boots and aprons. We were only 1 3/4 hour late starting the processing once we got all the pieces put into place.

The first chicken I started to process I seriously cut my index finger. I really wanted to cry as I headed back to the house to get gauze and a glove. Not because it hurt, even though it did. Because I could NOT believe that I was going to have to have stitches and that was going to cost us another hour in the day, along with the handicap of having an injured hand.

Did I mention that Serge is Dr. Depret-Guillaume? Well, he had his wife pick up a suture kit, and after lunch, at the table ( we did clear off most of the dishes), he put seven stitches in my finger. Little did he know that the cost of using our facility here would require not only his time and labor, his wife and daugher's home-cooked lunch, but also his medical services. Talk about community... They even provided some friends who wanted to learn something new. Those friends were catching chickens and eviscerating with the best of us before you could say chicken and dumplings!

We have processed up to 50 chickens before, but this was the biggest job we tackled so far. As we went along in the day we discovered areas where we could definitely become more efficient. The new stations are a great improvement, but we can fine-tune things like flow and system. Need more knives. Need more hot water pots. Need more defined roles. Need shorter lunch breaks with NO medical interventions. Need all set up ahead of time with animals securely separated from barn so we don't have to repeat ourselves. Nevertheless, we have come a long way, baby. Patrick has done a fine job learning how to humanely slaughter the chickens, and to work for hours. Maggie can eviscerate a chicken as quickly as me. Philip is doing a grand job of keeping that plucker machine running, Thomas doesn't really get into the processing, but he did a fine job of unloading 1500 lbs of animal food and putting it into the feed room. And taking mountain of feathers to the compost. And burying offal. Nora and Rose are good pinchhitters all the way around.

We were not terribly pleased with our results with the ducks. We are raising Pekin ducks for meat and slaughtered 6 of them after all done with the chickens. Maybe we should have called it a day when done with the chicken. I did not want to set everything up again, so we pressed on. It is very hard to pluck a duck. Definitely have to work on technique. But it was a joy seeing Maggie, Rose and Nora collecting the fluffly clouds of down, talking together about all the pillows they would make. I will keep you posted on whether or not all the culinary delights we anticipate will be worth all the work of processing ducks.

Late into the night I put chickens into vacuum sealed bags. Philip put all the equipment away and cleaned up. We were very very tired.

Next morning as I went out to pick garden, something felt out of whack with my neck. As the day progressed I discovered that my back and neck hurt so bad I could no longer work but had to go lie down. I spent two days in such pain I could hardly sleep. Farm life is hard on a body. Instead of pushing through, I decided to take a new tactic. I rested. I read to the children as they massaged my back. I took naps. I took lots of Naproxen and Ibuprofen. I did not weed. I did not milk. I did not do laundry. The world did not fall apart, and by Friday I was much better. Not 100%, but at least 75%. We baked and went to the Farmer's Market today and I let everyone help me carry stuff. Then, instead of coming home to work, we went to a friend's house and hung out for a very long time while the children played. It was a lot of fun.

It was a hard week, but one full of lessons. My body is not meant to lift and carry so much weight. No matter how badly I need feed for the animals. Maybe I better take strong son Thomas next time just in case.

Sometimes we are going to have to work really hard for a season. It is worth it, especially when the result is a couple of freezers of healthy chicken to eat. However, rest is necessary. I want to teach my children to know when to work hard and when to rest and play. There is a joy in the virtue of work, but let's not get crazy about it!

And PS, we have broken our farm chicken fast in a big way. Fried chicken, baked chicken, pan-seared chicken, and all that in the course of 3 days! Along with spinach and lettuce and the first baby broccoli. Boy, are we glad to have chicken on the table. What shall we have tomorrow night? Broiled chicken, chicken cacciatore, arroz con pollo, barbecue chicken, chicken salad, chicken with brown butter sage sauce, coq au vin, hmm. I think I better take a look at my most recent Gourmet magazine. While I rest.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm Late! I'm late!

Ever since we started milking Coco I have been late to church on Sunday mornings. Except for maybe twice. A while back someone asked me if I taught children during the church service. Nope. Just milk the cow and the goats. Occasionally chase the goats back onto our side of the fence. Coax chickens out of my garden and into their yard. Other similar spiritual disciplines.

I try to get up early enough. But sometimes I just want to make breakfast for everyone, and get chores done and put on a dress and comb my hair. Or at least put my hair in a pony tail and slap on some lipstick.

This morning was our friend, John's last morning with us. One of his favorite breakfasts is pancakes, so I wanted to make some nice spelt pancakes and sausage for him. We all enjoyed our breakfast and an extra cup of coffee and a nice Sunday morning chat with the family around the table.

All of a sudden it was time to head to church and I still was in pajamas and hadn't even gone out to the barn. Maggie and I waved good-bye to the gang and headed out to milk. We strained milk, filled up the fridge, and then I got ready to head to church. At 11:30. Better late than never. Driving out of the valley and up the mountain I was listening to a new(to me) CD by Andrew Peterson, LOVE AND THUNDER. One of the songs, Just as I Am, touched my heart so much. I felt loved by God, happy to be my imperfect self, satisfied with life. Funny how some lyricist I don't know, have never met, probably will never meet, can move me. When people do what they were created to do, the world is impacted . This guy's music touches me. He speaks my language. It makes me think of how God is glorified by people doing what they were created to do. Like my dad in the butcher shop, or my mom in her studio, or my sister Terri in her garden or her sewing room, or my sister Christine in her yard, or my friend Donna J organizing a farm group, or my friend teaching highschoolers literature, or, or, or, or...

I guess it was a really cool thing, being late for church and yet feeling totally filled up spiritually, thinking about the love of God and the many things that means to me.

Driving home this afternoon, a springtime thunderstorm blew in. The hay is up in the fields. Unbelievable how absolutely beautiful the rolling hills appear. The wind tumbles down the ridge making waves in the grass. The pending storm seems to turn the leaves to silver. Smoky gray clouds pour into the valley and boom, crack, leaves explode, and rain scatters everything. We drove up to the barn "al filo del agua". (that is reference to a Mexican novel of the same name-at the edge of the storm), and laughed as we watched the animals quickly file into the safety of the dark cozy barn. One little red hen was a bit slower than the other gals and it was so funny seeing her feathers fluffed as she pushed her way past the wind. I could almost hear her say, "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!" as she disappeared into the barn.

Continuing on the theme of "lateness," we are still waiting for Quizzy and Thistle to give birth. In recalculating figures, they really aren't late. They are probably due on Wednesday or a little later. But it feels late. They are so big. It hurts to see those girls waddle out to pasture with their herd. Quizzy, a full-bred Nubian, looks like she is carrying around about 2 gallons of milk in her udder, poor thing. A watched goat never boils, or has babies, or something like that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I think I should calculate how many hours we spend weeding our various garden beds every week. Or maybe not.

The guineas are singing their cacophonous lullaby. The children are settling in upstairs. The frogs and bugs trill down by the pond.

I am tired. We didn't get everything on the list crossed off. But we did get over 25 lbs of potatoes planted-only 2 months late! Only 25 lbs more to go tomorrow. I planted tomatoes. Maggie planted some carrots. We did some schoolwork and ate three meals. Cow was milked, goats were milked. We discovered that our four little lambs don't walk any where-they bounce.

The children are now louder than guinea hens. Better help them settle, then will settle myself.

I wish all my friends could go to sleep listening to frogs and bugs that trill by the pond. But I would never wish for them to have soooo many weeds to pull.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day

My mom is Mary Frances Conner Rowe. I love her so much. She grew up in Wichita Falls, TX and Rogers, AR. She loved to be barefoot and wear jeans in an era when little girls were supposed to curl their hair, wear pretty socks and shoes and dresses and, for goodness sake, not run around like a wild thing. Her dad is a retired Baptist preacher who loved/loves to tinker, fix stuff, paint beautiful paintings, take drives in the country and take lots and lots of pictures. Her mom is an accomplished musician who played piano or organ in church for most of her life! Mom's mom tried awfully hard to get Mom to fix up her hair and be lady-like. Mom tried awfully hard to play hard outside. She milked goats(guess that came through in the DNA), drew and learned how to play the piano and organ. Not to mention all the other long list of things she can do.

Dad was working at a filling station pumping gas when he met Mom. He says that when those long legs got out of the car and he saw that cute smile that followed it was love at first sight. Not too long after, they were married. Money was tight in those days- they would go duck hunting for supper. Babies started coming along before you know it. When we all moved to the country, mom worked right alongside of daddy, doing whatever was necessary. When his hand was to big to assist in a goat or cow delivery, she would stick hers right in to save a baby. When garden needed planting or hay needed cutting-she was right there. Many years she and daddy would be up most all night Christmas Eve making homemade toys for us for Christmas. She would sew matching dresses for my two younger sisters and myself for Easter. She would make us special dresses for the dances in our little Oklahoma town, Prague, for the Kolache Festival.

Mom is a professional artist. She has artwork in some galleries in Texas and you can look up her work online. She probably would be a lot more well known except for the fact that for many years, instead of painting full-time and marketing her work, she made biscuits(angel biscuits-the absolute best), helped with homework and taught us how to hang clothes on the line and iron. Too bad all her lessons on ironing didn't stick. But anyway, I digress. Mom helped teach VBS at church, took us to piano lessons because moms really don't have any business teaching their own children piano and helped us make caramel corn. She played the piano or organ at church and at home for us to sing around. Sometimes I know she would be tired, but would keep playing one more song as we sang and sang.

Mom didn't do everything for us. She let us get in the kitchen and learn to cook by trial and error. Some people I know had moms who never let their kids cook for fear of the mess. We must have made cookies three times a week. She didn't live to clean house. Mom is a great house cleaner, but is an artist first and foremost. So she taught us really important lessons, like do what you have to do- and for her, that was paint. Even if she couldn't paint full-time, she made time to paint anyway. And to occasionally go to a workshop to improve her natural talent. And to occasionally go to artshows to sell her work. I have great memories of the times she would take me along and I had free reign to roam around the exhibits-not like today where you have to worry about your kids getting out of sight for a minute. She would go places to take photos and paint on location. She would take mental health days and run away from home for a couple of days when she needed to recharge. Sometimes she would get mad at us when we would finally push one button too many, and she would slam cabinet doors and yell "Fiddlesticks!" She didn't hold it in and simmer forever.

Mom taught us to appreciate beautiful things. She would play the most beautiful classical pieces on the piano on our little farm. Just thinking about listening to that music makes my heart rate slow. She took us to art museums. She and daddy took us to beautiful places. She took thousands of photographs of flowers and grass and rocks and hills and deserts. Speaking of rocks, she taught us to look for pretty rocks and who knows how many rocks she has carried around from home to home. She worked to make a beautiful home and to pull out beautiful dishes for Sunday dinners. Even though mom is an introvert, she welcomed and offered hospitality to the many people my extroverted dad would bring home, even guys he met who were hitchhiking and needing a clean place to work and live.

Mom made time to read books. Lots and lots of books. And she would get up in the mornings and have her cup of tea and read the Bible. Actually, I think about the time we hit our teens, she would get up much earlier and spend quite a bit more time reading her Bible, praying, writing in her journal. She prayed diligently for us. Still does. She would take us to the library and let me check out at least 10 books a week without a fuss knowing that she and I would read them every one before Friday rolled around and it would be time to check out 10 more.

My mom has cried with me, held me, gone to Mexico with me, typed my papers for me, made pretty dresses for me, cheered me on, encouraged me, believed, truly believed I could do anything I set out to do. She is proud of me and tells me so regularly. She doesn't even get mad when I never get around to sending cards to her because I forget. She bakes valentine's day cookies for me and Philip and the kids. She teaches me that sometimes life hurts and we keep on moving anyway.

It would take years to tell my mom thank you for all she has done for me. No little post in a blog could cover the half of what she means to me. I know Mother's Day is just a big commercial holiday, designed to make us spend big dollars. Never mind. I am glad for a chance to tell my mom I love her. I appreciate her. I am glad she has been a part of making me who I am.

I love you, Mom. I am proud of you. Thanks for everything. Now go get a kleenex and blow your nose! I'm on my way to get one, too. And for all you non-sentimental people ready to throw up, well, I didn't force you to read this silly blog!!!

May 10, 1958

Fifty years ago, a little baby boy was born to Victor and Margaret Hillery. It was a very quick delivery. No problems. shortly after arriving to the hospital on a Saturday afternoon, out popped little Philip. He was the first and only child. He grew up making people laugh. At least most people! Maybe there were a few teachers in Catholic elementary school who did not fully appreciate that sense of humor. And there may have been a few youthful pranks his parents did not greet with mirth.

Who would have thought that a Jersey boy who loved baseball, lacrosse and acting would end up at Roanoke College? He always loved the south and wished as a senior in highschool that he could have live on a farm in the south. Southern rock probably had something to do with that.

That famous sense of humor was one of the things that first drew me to Philip. Plus his love of art and books and travels. His love of God figured in there pretty high up on the priority list. His handsome Irish looks and sense of adventure, plus a very determined plan to woo me must have all worked, because a year and a half into our graduate work at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, we were married, December 21, 1991. I always said I was in seminary to learn greek and theology, definitely not to marry a Baptist preacher boy. Sure enough, Philip was about as far from being a Baptist preacher boy as I was going to find!

Philip is and adventurer and we embarked on many adventures together. Japan, for two years, central Tx for a year or so, to do chaplain work and construction work, Fort Worth- to do chaplain work in prisons and renovate our old home. He is always willing to do whatever it takes for the sake of our family. Sometimes that meant getting up at 3am to go to work at UPS in the morning. Sometimes it meant throwing newspapers in the morning to supplement the job at Goodwill, helping teach and assist people who were down on their luck. Sometimes it meant going to marriage counseling so we could do our part to break the cycle of divorce in our family.

When Philip's mom needed care, he moved her to Texas so she wouldn't have to be alone. When his dad reached the end of his days, Philip was willing to go to New Jersey and let us nurse him in his last days so he wouldn't have to be alone.

I don't know many dads who have worked harder or longer to make their children and wife a nice home to live in. Don't know very many dads who have worked harder at making their children and wife laugh. Nobody I know could have made a better partner for me-Philip has encouraged me to be everything I want to be. He not only supports my dreams and visions, but he does what he can to help me accomplish them. He loves me. He thinks I am beautiful, even when covered in sweat, manure and staw. He is compassionate and thoughtful and helpful to the underdog. Generous. I don't know how many times he has helped someone in need in a situation where no one but God saw and took notice.

He is not perfect, thank goodness. He allows me to be imperfect, too. He even admits when he is wrong to me and the kids(at least most of the time!). Sometimes I wish he were a little more organized so there would be at least one person in the household who did not have to look for stuff. He probably wouldn't be nearly so merciful if he were...

Philip has been willing to learn how to kill chickens, milk a goat, skin a deer, not to mention learn how to communicate, love children and know when to take over so I can escape on a mental health day every once in awhile. He regularly prays for us and seeks to be wise.

I am so grateful that on May 10, 1958, God had a plan for Philip James Hillery to be born in Summit, NJ. And to get our paths to cross 33 years later. And to keep us together when at times no one thought we would make it. And to keep him alive during times of health crisis. Happy 50th Birthday, Philip. We love you and are so glad you were born.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sometimes life stinks.

The mower is not working perfectly. The truck had a flat tire. The tractor is still out of commision. The laundry mountain in the basement continues to grow. At least there is a basket of clean socks if you care to match them yourself. Yesterday I had to go to Fincastle to take care of some business. Dropped off little girls to play with the Thomas family. Dropped of Maggie to play with Moekel family. Continued up the road to pick up feed for the animals at a family run mill, Sunrise Farms, offering non-GMO grains. They are very reasonably priced, but due to supply and demand, had to raise prices from $11 a bag to over $13. Ouch. I then stopped in to The Cheese Shop to purchase grain for bread-baking. Wheat went from $31 to almost $40 in less than 3 weeks time. I have many customers who love spelt bread. Spelt berries went from $40 something to $98+tax a 50lb bag. OUCH. Guess we won't be offering much spelt these days.

Life in the land of milk and honey is not perfect. Some days seem full of an extra high percentage of bad news. We are all tired from many hours of work tending our garden and maintaining the farm. BUT, I still love our life on the farm. Yesterday morning, as I put on my go to town clothes, Patrick ran into the house. "Naomi just had a baby lamb!" We all rushed out and got to witness the birth of baby lamb #2. Wow. And even made it to my appointment on time with minimal manure on my town shoes! Our herd of sheep has grown to over double! Those sweet mamas are taking good care of their babies. Baby goats are growing. New ones to come any day now. Garden is growing. The other night we had some of the best spinach, green onion and feta pizza I have ever eaten, picked moments before cooking.

Speaking of feta, here is a funny story. Last summer I tried my hand at making feta cheese with goat's milk. It turned out-alright- but not exactly what I wanted. Tucked it in a plastic bag and shoved it in the back of the cheese drawer because I didn't have the heart to throw it out.

We, on rare occasion, take everything out of the fridge and clean it. But when I opened the bag of moldy cheese it didn't smell bad, so we would shove it back in there. WELL, some of our friends came over for Tuesday night supper. She asked if I had any feta cheese for the pizza. I said no. She proceeded to dig through the cheese drawer any way. Ughhhh. Now she knows I have a gross refrigerator that hasn't been cleaned in at least 2 months or so... She pulls out the infamous bag of moldy cheese. Opens it. Smells. I tell her it is my experiment. Better not try it. She grabs a knife and proceeds to cut off the moldy rind. Tastes. (Is this a bold friend, or what?) Declares it is one of the best goat cheeses she has ever eaten. WHAT!?!? I taste. It is creamy, picquant, just enough depth, no overwhelming goaty essence. It was absolutely delicious. We put it on homemade freshly ground whole wheat pizza crusts with the spinach combo and a fresh arugula, sun-dried tomato pesto combination. Unbelievable.

Out of a poor, forsaken, moldy plastic bag came a wonderful surprise. Delight in the middle of not very pleasant circumstances. Hmmm. OK I get the message. I love our sometimes stinky life on the farm.

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Better go get to work on the laundry.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Little Bo Peep Lost Her Sheep, or Never a Dull Moment, or All We Are Like Sheep and Have Gone Astray

Yesterday was Week 2 of Farmer's Market and we were pleased to see another great turnout. So many people want to shop locally and know their farmer. Cool. I baked even more goodies this week and sold out. We also made some great barters with some of the other producers- hamburger buns and pizza crusts for hand-crafted soaps, and pizza crusts for organic salad greens and gourmet croutons. We met lots of people and had a wonderful time talking nutrition, agriculture and community. One of my favorite things.

On Friday afternoon, the sheep were hanging out by the stream. Ewes were developing a bit of an udder. We looked on the calendar and predicted babies sometime the first part of May. These girls are timid, so it is a bit hard to do an easy up-close and personal obgyn visit. They will come to me if I call them, but they are not as friendly as the goats who think they are part human. Well, by Friday night, the sheep, Ruth, Naomi (dorset-mix) and Boaz(the Jacob Sheep ram) were missing. I looked around Saturday morning and they were not in their usual grazing field. We have 5 acres of woods, so occasionallly they hide out over there. Saturday evening these sheep were not around either.

This morning I made the executive decision to go to church and then come home and search. Got home. Changed clothes. Put on farm shoes. Headed to the woods. It just doesn't take that long to cover 20 acres. Those sheep were gone. I found a hole in the fence leading to the neighbors' hundred acres of woods and bramble bushes. I remembered the sermon today taken from the Gospel of John, chapter 10 about Jesus the Good Shepherd. I remembered verse three and following: "and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." Walking up and down through the woods and brush I called out to Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. I told them they should come on home and I would take care of them and their babies and give them organic alfalfa pellets and fresh cool water. Farther and farther from home I hiked. It takes a long time to cover 100 acres. Further up the ridge I continued to call and a nice loud "Baaaaah" met my ears. "Thank you, God!" Tucked in the middle of the briars were my 2 lovely ewes and wonderfully protective daddy, Boaz. AND 2 little black lambies! What joy! I went over to pick up the incredibly healthy little boy and girl. Two black woolly little things in arms, I headed down the mountain back home. Mama Ruth was a bit put out, but she and Naomi and Boaz followed me back to the luxury suite in the barn. What a happy day! I love our life on the farm.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Old timer wisdom

The other day someone told me that they were told by an old-timer to be sure and get up on the first day of May at dawn, to speak to no one, and to plant squash and cucumbers. Apparently this is a sure recipe to have plenty of squash and cukes with minimal bug damage. Hmmm.

Lots of other old-timer wisdom has proven itself to be true, so last night the kids and I made great plans. We set out our seed packets. Agreed to get up extra early. Agreed to keep quiet. Agreed that those old farmers knew an awful lot about gardening and we wanted to experiment.

We got up extra early. Maggie and I silently headed to the barn to milk. It was dreadful not speaking to Coco upon entering the barn. I nodded to her. Then the naughty goats who are not supposed to be milked started to get in the way of the ones who were supposed to be milked. I silently directed them out the barn door with a big frown on the face, hoping they would get the message. I pulled the big barn door shut. I slipped on a big fresh pile of steaming manure. All the world went into slow motion as I fell bottom first into the manure. At that point, old-timer wisdom went out the window. It is too hard to be silent when there are Grrrs to be said.

Maggie had a hard time milking goats without talking to them, too. Patrick, on the other hand, was out the door, straight to the garden, and without a word, planted his pumpkins. Maggie and I did our garden planting later on in the day, and thanked God for garden grace! After a good morning of indoor school work we all headed to the garden and planted lots more green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash, cucumbers and a few watermelons, sunflowers, cosmos and martin house gourds. Thomas and Philip tilled. Philip put up mesh for peas to climb up. Patrick, Maggie, Rose and I weeded.

We can't wait to see whose squash comes out better. The silently planted at dawn ones, or the "at least we got them in the ground" ones. Maybe next year Maggie and I will plant before milking. Wish we had a couple of old-timers who wanted to help out in the garden.

By the way, Rose and Maggie worked all on their own getting Priscilla (Rose's heifer) into the milking stanchion. Rose wants to work on taming Priscilla now, so when it is time for her to be milked we won't have so much work. They did a great job. The girls loved on Priscilla and fed her treats. I never would have been able to be so patient. What great little milk maids.

Speaking of milking, better hit the sack. I think the old-timers must have gone to bed a few hours ago.