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18 years together

Had to start milking extra early today so we could make it out in time for Michael’s double header. ⚾️

I will never grow tired of sunrises… ❤️

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Looking back toward the girls…

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Now I’m back at the milkhouse, looking up toward where the girls were…

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And then I glance toward Mike in the barn and I do a double take…

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I LOVE THIS MAN. ❤️ I love that he sees beauty where I see beauty. I love that I just caught him taking a picture of it like I was. 😍 I love that the Lord has blessed us with 18 years of marriage together. 💏

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And I love that he txted me this picture after he took it. That he knew I’d love it. And I do. 💗

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We love because He first loved us. (‭1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭19‬)

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Farmily fun with Flat Stanley

Got a fun assignment from Arizona last week… 🌵

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I decided to turn it into a blog post for a couple reasons. First, because I am THE WORST at being prompt at mailing packages out. [Like birthdays, for example. I still have my mom's August 25th b-day gift sitting on a table waiting to go to the post office. I mean, the gift is DONE and ready...all I need to do is mail it! 😔] And second, I am THE WORST at getting pictures printed… We don’t have a color printer, so the procedure to get a picture printed is just more than I can handle, lol… Especially when the printer at our local Rite Aid doesn’t seem to ever be able to read our travel drives! 😡

Soooo, to my brother, Mark: Hope this post can count as completing Abbi’s assignment – and if you want to print any of these pictures out, you’ll get them quicker than any I’d send from here! 😬I’ll place Flat Stanley and his new wardrobe in mom’s package and try to get it shipped tomorrow… 👍

Now: on to our adventure! 😊

First thing we had to do was prepare Flat Stanley with proper “farm” attire… Custom-made a pair of muck boots for him and introduced him to the dairy girls during the morning’s milking. 🐮Here he is with the boys and ScotchTape:

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Next he helped me hand milkers to the boys…👏

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Then he “hung” with me in the milkhouse… 🙈

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And he helped me bottle the milk. He MAY have taste-tested the milk when I wasn’t looking…not sure how else he may have gotten a milk mustache… 😧

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He liked our cats, too. Though they weren’t interested in sharing their milk with him…😼

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He wanted to get an up-close look at the calves, so we brought him to see them… 😎

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He chose the wrong wire to hold onto and was a little “shocked”… [It was a "hair-raising" experience! 😉]

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Then he almost turned into a snack, but Uncle Mike saved him… 😱

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Didn’t take long and everybody just went back to business… ☺️

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Then he helped me frost Uncle Mike’s birthday brownies… 🍫

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And posed for a selfie with Michael… 😏

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He fit perfectly in Uncle Mike’s phone pocket on the 4-wheeler, so he was ready for a ride with the boys…🌞

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They took him to see the dairy girls grazing in their field…🐄

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Fixed him up with a Terriers shirt to root for Michael’s baseball team, and then he partied with us as we shared a dessert celebration for Uncle Mike after the rainy game. Even Aunt Jenny got in on the fun! 🎉

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That’s it! Some farm, some family, and some fun. Thanks for sending Flat Stanley to us, Abbi! 💌

😘,
Aunt Dawn, Uncle Mike, Michael, & Paul

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Tractor tugboat…

So funny. Couldn’t help snap these pictures this week. Our lawn tractor stop moving forward while Michael was mowing. My 3 “mechanics” needed to get it next door to the big barn where all their tools are. Paul went and got the 4-wheeler and a chain, so he could tug Michael up the hill next door. Mission successful! 👍

Funny, our school year has started a little differently than planned. Lifeschooling: Mechanics 101 actually began a couple weeks ago with our “farmily” (no, that’s not a typo) truck. Boys got to learn how to replace brake pads, emergency brake cable, and water pump. And this week it’s all about replacing mower belts and patching tractor tire inner tubes. Perhaps next week will be oil changes, fixing muffler holes, and door handles… Ahh, vehicles – such a love/hate relationship! 😬 Truthfully, we ARE very thankful for them, but it seems they are most often used as vehicles to grow our patience. 😉 And that is most definitely A GOOD THING. 👍

So here’s Michael coasting down our hill to hook up to Paul.

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All hooked up…

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And away they go!

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Scraping marrow into beef broth – a new level of weirdness

Used up our last quart of broth last week, so its time to simmer another 4 roasters of broth. As I was straining the first two batches of broth on Monday, the strangest thing happened. All the bone marrow was STARING at me! I know, I know. I’ve seen it before, and I acknowledged it, but that was it. “Too weird. Not ready for that yet.” (I distinctly remember thinking that and even saying that to several people when it came up in conversations.)

And then it happened. Guilt. “Those articles (like this one and this one) you read a couple weeks ago DID make sense… And look at the marrow sticking out of those bones…” 😉

So, I did it. I took a narrow knife and scraped out the marrow. Whisked it up, poured it into the broth, and whisked it again… Funny thing is, I KNOW bits of marrow have fallen in it every time I’ve made broth. But (for me) there’s just something about taking the effort to actually do it on purpose, lol… 😏

I feel like that’s what happens in my walk with the Lord, too. I can be sooo stubborn. I get into my “autopilot” mode and completely miss the open door in front of me. Or worse, I see the open door, but choose to do what I’ve always done, and miss an opportunity to grow. The cool thing, though, is that EVENTUALLY, I catch on. Autopilot goes off, and I quit fighting change. It’s always hard to see just how much pride I still have in “my way”, but it’s so freeing to finally “see it”, seek forgiveness, and continue forward with a renewed spirit to let the Lord keep me off of autopilot. Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me. Keep making me more like You!❤️

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭23-24‬ NLT)

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Dilly Beans – a family affair

We all worked together yesterday to make a family favorite – dilly beans. They are basically green beans that taste like spicy/dill pickles. They are pretty labor intensive to make, so a cooperative effort is much appreciated. I actually thought I had already done a blog post about them, but a search proved me wrong. So here goes… 👍

We set aside about 7 pounds of the straighter beans as we picked to can or freeze – they fit down in the jars better… (I like the bean tips to all be up so it’s easy to pull them out of the jar.)

Once filled with beans, we added a clove or two of our garlic that has been drying. (It’s pretty potent, so we didn’t put the full amount of cloves in as the recipe says.) Paul went out and picked some of Grandma’s dill heads to add – 2 to 4 heads/quart. Then we added 1/2t of Michael’s ground hot peppers. For the brine, we heated up 3Q+1/2c of apple cider vinegar with the same amount of water. (Wish we could have used our homemade ACV, but we didn’t have enough made.) Stirred in 1.25c of Celtic sea salt, and brought the brine to a boil. Poured the brine over the filled jars to 1/4″ headspace. Had extra brine, and needed 3 more quarts to fill the last canner, so we played with cuke slices and spears, too. Made sure the tops of the jars were wiped clean, placed the sterilized lids on top, tightened the rings around them, and water-bath canned them for 10 minutes. Only had two jars’ lids “crinkle”, so we’ll just use them first. (They DID seal, but I’ll probably just keep them in my fridge.) We normally let them sit in the pantry for at least 6 weeks before we dig into them. 😊

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Paul – 14

Celebrated Paul’s 14th birthday this weekend. After browsing through his birthday post from last year, I’d say he’s grown another 3-4 inches since then. He’s a couple inches taller than Mike now… Probably puts him at 6’3″ or so. Every time I go to hug him I get less face and more neck, lol… 😉

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To kick off Paul’s b-day weekend, both boys enjoyed a Friday night out with Aunt Jenny & Uncle Matt…LOTS of food and a Mighty Ducks game. 😊

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Tryouts for 2015 Stark County Terriers began this weekend, and both boys are trying out for the 16U team. Such PERFECT weather for baseball! We always enjoy watching Michael & Paul on the field together. Whether they make the team or not, it’s been a good experience so far… ⚾️

Aunt Jenny’s birthday is just 2 days before Paul’s, so we celebrated them both together yesterday. 😍

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And today we took Paul to get his very own SabreCat Bat made. His is the same size and weight as Michael’s, but his color and finishing details are a little different. He’s excited to try it out in the cages soon. ⚾️

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Here’s a shot of the boys at lunch, while we waited for Paul’s bat to dry… ❤️

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And now my 3 boys are ending the day at a movie in the discount movie theater, and I sit in the parking lot of statcare around the corner to take advantage of free wifi, lol. Feels good to have a few minutes to blog again. 😊

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WELCOME 8th calf – 2014

FINALLY! Got to meet our last calf of the season this morning… Here is Suezy, and her son, JamesMadison:

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Click here to read about her calf last year.

Click here to read about our method for naming bulls this year.

His birth tied up the tally for 2014: 4 bulls and 4 heifers. :)

He walked down to the barnyard like a champ. Had to dodge some pretty big puddles and his mama ran him into the electric fence a couple times, but he was able to complete the journey… :)

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Was so funny watching last year’s calves follow along the fenceline! :)

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The end is near – almost there… :)

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Made it! :)

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A well-deserved rest… :)

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Since we are done milking for today, JamesMadison will stay with his mama until tomorrow morning. With there being a little over 5 weeks between him and the last calf, it creates some challenges with our type of setup.

For instance, the first seven calves are already trained & adjusted to once-a-day feedings, but this little guy won’t be ready for that for a couple weeks… Makes it tricky for afternoon baseball and far-away double headers…

And we need his mama’s milk to help feed all the other calves, so she needs to be able to come into the barn for morning milking… But our barn setup isn’t the best for having a calf running loose in it, nor do we feel comfortable having a calf joining the dairy mamas in a single-wire electric fence as they are rotationally grazed…

So every year we think about experimenting with a “nurse cow” in the field with all the calves, but that isn’t as easy as it sounds either! Hmmmm – not sure what we’ll decide on, so I guess that’ll have to be a future post! :)

Thank You, Lord, for all these beautiful, healthy calves!