Friday, December 2, 2016

November's happenings~

We sure have an interesting life!

November flew by super quickly. Besides just, you know, living life, there were lots of unusual things that happened last month.  I'll list the most unusual ones below:

My little brothers got another year older, Andrew turning:

and Jacob turning 21. I didn't get a nice picture of Jacob that day so here's one from just a few years ago. ;)

Here's just a random picture of my dear husband reading his Bible....
(That's my favorite of his shirts as it's the one he was wearing the first time we met. ;) )

6 of the 11 calves we've raised this year on Ivy's milk...

Ok, so, how many of you have ever butchered a moose?   I have helped, so that's why I ask...

Andrew was coming home with a semi load of corn (it was dark) when he hit this big creature. Thankfully, Jacob was able to swerve and miss it, as he was following Andrew with another semi-load.  
The Deputy Sheriff put the moose down and said we could take it home for the meat.

Sooooo, Michael cut out a couple steaks and I cooked them in French onion gravy and we invited the neighbors over for supper----to help us decide if moose meat was worth the effort of processing the moose.
It was.  My mom came over and helped for a couple hours, but other than that, Michael and I did all the work ourselves. It was a young female moose, so the meat is nice and tender. It truly tastes a lot like beef.
We are grateful to God for this meat and this experience. A lot of people travel a long ways and pay a lot of money in order to hunt a moose and then have the meat. This one cost us the price of the freezer paper and tape (which we used a lot of!).
We borrowed Zach & Paula's electric meat grinder, 
which made fast work of the meat we wanted ground into burger.  We were finished with the whole project (cleanup included) by 7:00pm that day, so I'd say it went pretty well.
November 19th through the 21st, Michael and I headed over and down to Hettinger ND to attend a certain school.  We stayed in a hotel near Lemmon, SD. I'd been to the Petrified Wood Park once before with Lauretta, so really wanted to take Michael and show him the wonders there. We got up and left the hotel extra early the one day so we could have a quick walk through the park before our classes started...
Talk about a lot of petrified wood in one place!

Me and my darling...
You might be wondering what kind of schooling we wanted bad enough to drive 3+ hours to obtain? 

Well, I took a class on classing. :) Classing wool, that is. Learning how to properly pick up fleeces from the shearing floor; to throw them; skirt them; then decide which USDA grade it qualifies as. These are the different categories they had there. (AA, A, A1, A2, A3 and A4)

I learned a lot in the classroom too, mostly about what qualities are desirable in the flock and what we should be culling out. I had 2 challenging written tests and then a practical test (grading 5 fleeces in front of our teacher).  It was a good experience.
 (See me?    *hint*  My favorite color is green.)

This was in Michael's classroom. The shearers and wool classers were brought together for certain parts of the schooling.  So, can you spot the 2 of us?

Meanwhile, Michael was taking the sheep shearing class!  He did shear our sheep and Heather's sheep this Spring but he wanted to learn tips and tricks of how to do it better/faster. A surprising amount of the success of the shearing has to do with foot placement. It was fun watching the professionals shear (one shearing a sheep with just one hand and later doing it blindfolded.)  I timed one of the teachers and he did a whole sheep in a little over 3 minutes.

Here's my sweetheart:

They had a really nice set-up...  They sheared something like 500 sheep in those 3 days.

On the way home, we drove on The Enchanted Highway. These are a few of the sights we saw...

We also drove up and saw Salem Sue---the world's largest Holstein. :)
We got home late Monday evening. Tuesday, Michael worked at Steele and I went grocery shopping and did laundry and packing and got ready for our next adventure.... and made these little pumpkins to take.
We were very grateful to my family (Andrew mostly) for doing our chores so we could get away.
Wednesday (the 23rd) we first went to Nicholas and Rachael's new apartment, both to see it and to have a bridesmaid-dress-fitting as Rachael had sewn the top layer of my dress and needed to shorten the bottom layer (which had been purchased and was 7 inches too long!).  When finished there, we went on to Dale & Kathy's farm for the night. It happened to be "Pie social and Bible study" night so we got to see a lot of the dear Cushing Baptist church people again.  James and Jenny came to the farm that night too so it was good to get to visit with them. The next day, James and Jenny rode with us down to Bud & Joyce's farm (Michael's grandparents, Kathy's parents) for the big Thanksgiving celebration. Lots of relatives to visit with there! The house and tables were plum full.

 Several of us gave Michael's cousin her baby-shower gifts there, since we won't be able to attend the shower.  Of course, baby Lilyanna got handed all around the room and we all got to admire the sweet little one.  Here Rachael is giving Dessirae the baby hat she'd sewn. Isn't it just adorable? 
Michael and James, visiting with Grandpa Bud...
We went home that night. The next day, we went to Jamestown for the Schlenker wedding reception for their 3 children who married out of state. It was good to visit with friends there, BUT it was very sad to say goodbye to my husband, as he left me there (I rode home with my mom and Andrew).

Michael went up to a cabin in the woods near Cook, MN to spend time with his cousin, Grant and another guy, setting traps for marten and fisher (and otter and coon and anything else they could trap). He was gone for parts of 5 days. It sure was lonely without him here. While he was gone, we had a 3 day blizzard...with a total of 11" of snow!  That made chores interesting----digging out feed and water troughs from snowbanks and uncovering hay to feed the hungry critters.
Now we have a few days at home before leaving again for a certain wedding. ;) Andrew headed for MI yesterday to pick up Marie and her sister, Lydia to take them to Kentucky to stay with their brother until the wedding. Andrew's staying down there, of course, to help with wedding preparations.  We're looking forward to meeting Marie's family and friends very soon.

Yesterday, Michael didn't have to work at Steele so we spent the morning in Napoleon. We talked to the banker about what paperwork we should be doing now so as to be in a position to buy a farm when, Lord willing, the right one becomes available. We watched the sale at Napoleon Livestock for quite a while, so as to get a good idea of where the cattle market is at now.  We plan to buy some bred heifers when we get back from the wedding, before the end of the year. :)  When we got home, we sorted out our sheep (white sheep and Shetland sheep) and goats and put the rams/billy in with the ewes/does.  5 months from now, there will hopefully be many little bouncy babies on our farm. :)  In a matter of weeks, there should be another kind of baby animal on the farm, but I'll leave you wondering about that for a while...

 Exciting times! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A post about October...

Remember when I wrote once a day, EVERY day? Yeah, married life changes things. :) 

I still intend to update my blog from time to time, as it has been my journal of sorts for so long. Once I have a year finished, I get it printed into a book, complete with pictures, so as to be able to look back on the years that have passed and remember......well, everything that I took the time to share.

Our gardens were a tremendous success this year! Michael got to be home all day yesterday, so we spent part of the morning clearing off most of the big garden and burning the vines and old dead plants.

This is the Stevia plant that we bought this spring and planted directly into the garden. It can't overwinter out of doors, so I transplanted it and will try to keep it alive over the winter months. It's currently blooming.

 Anybody need some squash? 
 The popcorn produced well too. So far, we've enjoyed 2 evenings of popcorn while watching movies---
all from 3 cobs of corn.
In the early part of October, Nicholas and Rachael came and visited us for the first time. Sadly, they had a bit of a mishap just south of our farm while flying off of what used to be a road (there were no signs telling them that the road ended), and they hit that rock there with their car.
 See that dark streak? That's the oil that used to be in their car.
 See that big hole in the oil pan? That's where the oil used to be.
On my parent's anniversary, (October 10th) my dad had to work, so we took my mom, Nicholas and Rachael, and 7 weather Shetland sheep to Bismarck/Mandan. We dropped off the sheep at Kist Livestock (it was the last sheep sale of the year); we took everyone out to eat at Dennys; picked up the band saw that Michael had bought from a guy; and got a used oil pan at a junk yard to replace the broken one.  While Michael took the old oil pan off of his sister's car, Rachael and I cleaned up the "New" oil pan, only to find cracks in it. ;(  As that was the only used oil pan for that kind of car in all of Bismarck, the next day found Michael and his sister and her husband driving to Valley City to make a 2nd attempt at getting an oil pan that would work. Thankfully, that one was in much better condition and Michael and Nicholas got it put in the car and they were able to make it home in time for Nicholas to get to work the next day.  We had a nice visit with them----but agreed that we could have done without the car troubles.

Oh, and Michael also hit a rock with his car (all because of the huge road rebuilding project they're doing on the road by our place) and broke something on his car's exhaust system. His car consequently now sounds like a loud pickup.  Also, our Pastor and his wife lightly hit a rock with their vehicle when they came to see us, but thankfully, I don't think there was damage done that time. Consider yourself warned though:
If you come to visit us, please watch out for the rocks and roads that aren't there!

The next weekend brought us a very sad event. I wasn't sure about sharing this here, but it happened and is a part of our life...  Saturday (the 15th), I miscarried our first child.  It was very hard to go through, but many friends were praying for us and that helped. We'd been praying for a child for months, so to lose our baby was especially hard when it was so wanted, but God knows best and we have to trust Him. Thankfully, I was only 7 weeks along and the actual pain wasn't unbearable. My dear husband took such excellent care of me through it all, and then our friend, Heather came and stayed for a few days and did the cooking and dishes and other garden produce work so Michael could get a break from that, as he still had work to do at Steele and the chores to do by himself.  

The next Monday (the 24th) was our very first wedding anniversary. Here is a bouquet of flowers that my parent's had delivered to our door.
 While I was down and out for over a week, Michael went pheasant hunting one day and brought this home. He skinned it and cooked it, and I must say, it was very delicious.
 On our wedding anniversary, we went to Bismarck and ended up running a lot of errands. We did go out to eat at the Cracker Barrel and bought some music at Pepper.  Then I got some blood work done at the clinic. I had packed a picnic supper to eat at our special spot on the way home...

That night, we watched our wedding video and reminisced. :)  Can it be that a whole year has gone by?
I'm so happy to be married to Michael!!!  God sure knew what He was doing when He brought us together.
Since then, Michael did the milking and chores twice a day for Carrie (the lady who we bought our milk cow from) for 5 days. Since her chores were at the same time as ours, that meant we were both doing chores at the same time, just not in the same location. For part of Michael's pay, we got a bull calf to raise on Ivy's milk.

My mom and Andrew were gone in Michigan for a week, spending time with Marie and her family and making more wedding plans. Michael and I made our hotel reservations a couple days ago and figured out some more details for the trip to Kentucky in a little over a month from now.  When Mom and Andrew returned, we helped them unload Marie's things that they'd brought back (including an upright piano). When I got back to the yard, who should I find but----LAURETTA!  :)  It was so good to see my old friend again and to show her our home. I really miss that lady. Hopefully I can go visit them when their baby's born in a few months.

Michael has had a few days off of work, so it's been really nice having him around the place, building and fixing things and trying to get ready for winter. We made plans to attend a sheep shearing and wool grading school in November. Michael knows how to shear already, but wants to get better and learn tips and tricks to make it go easier. I'll go to the wool grading class.  We're hoping to be able to stay overnight with friends, as the class is over 3 hours away and lasts 3 days.

The animals are a big part of our lives. The turkeys are getting pretty big now and half of them insist on flying out of their pen every day and wandering around the farm, even though we clipped off half of their wing feathers to keep them from flying. The chicks are almost chickens now, and 3 of them have started laying eggs. I'm still milking Peanut (a goat) but just once a day. Little Annie (Buttercup the goat's baby) is getting very big.  Michael still is building fences for the sheep and llama and moving them every few days. Ivy (our milk cow) is now bred to calve in about 7 months. The guineas sleep with the chickens at night, but freely roam the farm all day, including flying on top of the barns at times. We've raised 10 calves off of Ivy's milk, going on 11 with the new one Michael brought home on Monday.  Oh, and Beretta (Basset hound female youngster) still chases and has killed one chicken. She's learned to leave the turkeys alone, so gets to roam in the morning, but still has to be tied up when I let the chickens out at noon.  

It will be interesting to see what November brings.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Another every-once-in-a-while update:

Well hello again. :)

I finished the apples from the 3 apple trees here around our house. This is one of the several batches of apple butter that I cooked down.
 My Grandma Marly came and stayed here for parts of 4 days and helped me with putting up apples and corn. She also went along with my mom and I to partially clean out the jars from our former land lady, Fern's basement. Most of the jars we brought home are canning jars, and most of them had old food in which we had to clean out and then scrub the jars really well and put them in the dishwasher.
Grandma came with to get the Azure order and then we stopped in at Mid Dakota Grain in Steele so as to see all the improvements.
 We had a visiting goose for a while. He was obviously somebody's pet. He ended up being the neighbor's.
 My mom bought herself a 4-wheeler at the Orr auction. :)  
Michael & I bought a car trailer that needs work but was a good buy.
 Paula McGrew (we live in what used to be her grandma's home) came to ND to visit for a few days and stayed up at Andrew's place.  Here she is, riding with her cousin through the Braddock Threshing Bee parade.
 Zach M. driving the old trencher through the parade.
 James & Jenny came and visited us again mid-September. It was their anniversary weekend, so I experimented and made my first ice cream cake.  

We took them to the Braddock Threshing Bee and both Michael and James drove tractors through the parade. 
 My Michael.....  
Like the wheels? :)
 My man----helping to thresh the grain...
 Tracy Jo, riding the kid's tractor-pull rig.  There's a weighted trailer hooked on behind.
My mom, Paula McGrew, Michael some of the time, and I did an apple cider pressing demonstration during the threshing bee and gave free samples of the cider. We gave out about 3 gallons of cider over the 2 days.  I also demonstrated using the drop spindle some of the time, when I wasn't kept hopping with the cider pressing.

 Michael worked up half of the alfalfa field we're renting from my parents and planted a mix of rye and oats. The rye is up a couple inches already now.
 My husband and I went, uh, boating a week ago Saturday. We went down to Beaver 
Lake State Park, caught no fish, then went on McKenna (West) Lake and also caught no fish, so yeah, we went boating----not fishing.
 Last Sunday, the two of us went to Bismarck to run errands for the farm and to buy a trailer-full of sheep fencing (woven wire) from 2 different people, using our "new" trailer. We were able to trade hay for some of the wire. 

It was such a beautiful day, so we decided to take an hour or so to go to the zoo, since Michael hadn't been there yet and it's a really nice zoo. 
 ...they even have alligators!
 Putting up the 3rd planting of sweet corn...
This variety is called Anasazi sweet corn and is from seed I saved a few years back. I love all the colors. 
 I baked 2 pies in honor of the first day of Fall: 
~Squash pie and Peanut butter cream pie (both sugar-free)~
I made another batch of soap from scratch (using a friend's beef lard, my goat's milk, coconut oil, lye, pink clay, essential oils, and pink Himalayan salt. We'll see how it turns out in 4 weeks.

 "They" have begun work on redoing the road corner to the south of our place. This is in my dad's alfalfa field. What a mess!  I helped my dad clean off the field of haybales so they weren't in the way (which means that I got my old job of driving the hay-truck).
Yesterday we went to our church's annual Harvest of Thanks celebration in Alfred. It was a great day of speaking, good food, and lots of music that praised our Lord.

And now, we're starting a new week. The guys are keeping very busy up at Steele, 6 days a week usually. They do have line 1 up and running, so are cleaning grain as they work on line 2 and then line 3 someday.  They are saving so much money by doing the work themselves (things like building conveyors).

Happy Autumn, everyone!