Ugh! Sometimes you work, and work, and work and things still don’t go right. We are hosting a large family gathering here and Jeremie wanted to smoke a hog for them all to enjoy. Poor guy had been working hard all day in the hot sun on projects that needed to be done around the farm. It was close to midnight when he got around to slaughtering the hog. Then is needed to be scraped and gutted and smoked. Something happened during the night becuase he woke me up at 4am to say, “there isn’t any hog.” What a disaster! Grease from the hog had dripped onto the fire, causing the carcass to burn instead of smoke. This is result. Charred. What a waste.
Here at the Funny Farm we try to be intentional with our time. We do A LOT of work. But we also enjoy A LOT of fun. I think that’s why are kids are such cheerful workers. They realize we all do it together and then we all have fun together. We also believe in teaching life skills to all the kids. And we start ’em out young, lol! While they are working on a project that will result in hours of fun family time, it hardly seems like work or learning, but it is! Measure once, cut twice!
Our beloved Jersey milk cow Clover died this past weekend. She was pregnant with her second calf, due to deliver next month. We noticed her laying down in the pasture for quite some time, which is not normal. Especially in the hot sun. After repeatedly trying to help her up, we decided to call the vet because a Jersey cow is fragile, not hardy at all. We had to call the emergency vet on call because, of course, this happened after hours on a Saturday evening. When he got to the farm, he put a tube down her throat to relieve any gas. A cow is prone to bloat, excessive gas in their rumen. Some pressure released (very stinky) but she still wouldn’t get up. The vet determined that Clover had late pregnancy toxemia, which is similar to pre-ecalmpsia in humans. This simply means that the pre-born calf was sucking too many nutrients from the mama cow and she couldn’t keep healthy. We are glad that the vet noted Clover’s body condition was good, and that we were feeding her the right things. He said that Jersey’s are so docile, which makes them good family milk cows, but they just don’t possess a great will to live. He joked that he had seen some give up and die from a mere fly bite. After injecting Clover with a bottle of glucose, for energy, and calcium/magnesium for strength, the vet left. He did leave us with a bottle of something to give her if, after 24 hours, she didn’t get up. In that case, he said, she won’t survive and it would be best to try to induce labor, hoping to, at least, save the baby calf. And in rare cases, delivering the baby, enables the mama to get up without all that extra weight. Well, Clover did not get up within the time frame, so we gave her the shot to induce labor. However, sadly she didn’t deliver the calf, but died the next morning. I loved that cow. She was born here on the farm. I feel positive that we did all we could in trying to save both her and the baby. Death is a reality here on the farm. And my kids are not unfamiliar with animal losses. Now, they have taken Clover’s hide and are tanning it. That is what homesteading is all about. Doing your best. Accepting your losses. Taking what you can away from the situation. Moving on, wiser and more experienced.
The boys got busy over a hot fire while mama was away out of state. They knew this was a treat I would voluntarily forgo. But, oh, how delicious they were! Or so I’m told. Remember all that back fat that we cut into cubes? Well, the boys popped them into a cast iron kettle and heated them up over an outdoor fire so the skins could fry in the fat. Cracklin’s. Piping hot, crunchy fried skins. Eeew!
7 years! We’ve learned so much these last 7 years that we’ve lived in Tennessee. We’ve laughed so much, and cried just as much. We’ve grown in so many ways. Children have been born here. Asian hillbillies, I call them. When I remember what life was like during this life transition, I can see how God is faithful and GOOD all. the. time. I remember calling my parents from my first trip to Tn to tell them that we bought land. I remember crying, because life would be so different, living in another state from them. No more walks to see the grandparents. No more quick ice cream visits. No more built in babysitters. No more homeschooling help. But this land, this was something Jeremie and I both wanted so much for our family. It has been such an adventure! Raising animals and planting gardens and an orchard. Whew! What a learning curve. We could live here 100 years and still be learning and trying new things. Processing our own meat, rabbits, chickens, deer and pork.. Canning our garden bounty. When we lived in Illinois, we didn’t even have a pet. Our garden was a 4X8 box. Jeremie used to travel into the city for work everyday. The kids have grown and changed as well as Jeremie and I. Confidently herding animals. Showing sheep. Riding horses. Planting trees. This life has been so enriching for the kids, just like we prayed it would. When we first moved here, our oldest was only 11. She was a big helper, but I wouldn’t qualify her as a “big”, as she is now. These days I can breeze in and out of the grocery store, while she holds down the fort at home. Or better yet, drop her off to do the shopping, while I have coffee and visit with a friend. She knows all the brands and quantities I usually buy. I have 4 or 5 children that can babysit for me, if needed. Date nights have never been so fun! How did my life change so much in 7 years? Time flies too fast.
I don’t know why, but my kids always have these weird skin reactions. Many of them are highly allergic to poison ivy, so most of the summer we battle that. But I don’t know what Charlotte got into lately. She has had a swollen face, itchy patches on her arms and legs for a couple days. She doesn’t have a fever or sore throat, so I can rule out scarlet fever, praise the Lord. We have been applying colloidal silver topically and internally, Noni cream and a salve I made out of goldenseal, frankincense, myrrh and beeswax. I finally resorted to giving her Benadryl today. She just couldn’t get any rest because of the itching. After two doses the swelling has gone down and the itching has subsided. Not totally gone, but much better. We always avoid Benadryl because we were told years ago, that if we used it for an allergic reaction, the next time it was triggered, the reaction would be much worse. So even though I had reservations about giving it to her, I’m glad she has been able to rest a bit today. And I came home one day to this! Boys + bikes + tow ropes + gravel driveway = sad Roo. She was quite traumatized by the ordeal, but is healing nicely.
One of my favorite things that Jeremie has made for me is the kids’ mud kitchen. I firmly believe in the necessity of outdoor, messy, creative play. According to this article, I’m not the only one who thinks that is important.
According to the Council for Learning, much greater importance and value should be placed on outside learning in the preschool years. They strongly support the hypothesis that outside learning fosters healthy and active lifestyle development. They believe it promotes a strong sense of well-being, freedom and independence; while simultaneously encourages respect of nature, the environment and animals.
Although It’s not only my preschool children who delight to concoct in the mud kitchen. We all, from Momma to baby, have been known to be mixing and simmering and cutting and dicing in this fabulous outdoor playspace!
T-Dot has been spending some time at the end of our driveway digging up our old culvert and laying down a much longer one. The boys have been out there watching them with interest. Big machines, loud noises and fresh brownies. What a fun time! And the new entrance is so nice! It will be much easier for Jeremie to maneuver our camper and stock trailer in and out of the driveway now.