Are you in a comfy chair?
First of all, sorry for the unexpected bloggy absence! Our computer (which should be collecting social security) finally bit the dust and the little old laptop I'm typing on right now is no spring chicken, either. Before the last couple days, it was basically unusable due to a very annoying virus in which the screen was blocked by pop-ups every ten seconds. Erg. But, it looks like Dan's fixes have finally taken hold and I can at least type away on here unmolested for a while. But, I can't download pictures onto this thing, unfortunately -- and there are lots of pictures I'd like to share.
There's a Lot going on around here! Oh, my gosh, where do I start?
Let's see... The children are all doing great in school. They love their teachers, all Sisters except for Mrs. Medina, and Anna says, "She's the bomb." (Funny how the vocabulary of my last five children is so different from my first five, isn't it?) The girls ride their bikes to school and back most days, taking a seldom used service road between the hay fields. To the delight of the school children, our lab mix, Noey, has taken to following the kids to school every day. She's become somewhat of a mascot; the Sisters even get her to sit at attention during the pledge of allegiance. (One of those things I need to post a picture of!)
I'm tutoring a delightful young man four mornings a week in high school English (Grammar and Comp). He has Asperger's Syndrome and is an amazing and wonderful person -- so incredibly smart, but with challenges to overcome that make our mornings both fun and stimulating. On Fridays I get to teach art to the school children in bunches, starting with the K-2, then 3-5, then 6-8. This job is totally a blast for me -- fun, fun, fun! Here's a funny thing, though. My K-2 children, without fail, finish their projects more quickly than the older kids. You can guess why I bet. It's such a hoot to watch how the kids approach things, relative to their age and maturity. The Littles have no fear of something new and just jump right into it with no worry about how it'll come out; the Big Kids have to have it explained, then detailed, then explained again and then they carefully set. about. completing. the task. And, of course their outcomes are more precise and conventional and really beautiful. But I have a special place in my heart for those free-wheelin' Kindergarteners' work. :o)
So, let me think... What else is new? Oh, yes, of course, the really big news: We're getting milking cows! You remember for years we had dairy goats -- and hens, and pigs, etc. And we did do beef cows a couple of times -- without good results... Have I told you the story of Victoria, the Angus who jumped over the moon? Or have I painted the picture of my four boys crisscrossing the prairie hither and yon, up hills and down, sillhouetted on the horizon, one son, lasso ready, sitting on the hood of our old c. 1979 Ford truck, chasing after a stubborn brown cow with a wicked sense of humor? Those were the days... =sigh= And I thought they were days best relegated to fond memories... I thought we'd just keep a few hens and a good, big garden, in these the latter days of our child raising. I mean, well, the big boys are grown and moved away. It's just me and the three little girls and the two littlest boys. Dan's around, but he's very involved in his start-up business and all... So we were going to hang up our milk pails and muckin shovels.
I saw an ad on Craigslist. Why was I looking? I 'm not sure I can tell you. But, there I was, and there was the ad: Three Dexter Cattle, 3-year-old milker, 1-year heifer, 4 mo old steer calf. $900.
All three for only $900? And here we are with a big retirement pay-out, fifteen acres of beautiful irrigated hay right out our door, and a big beautiful barn just waiting for useful employment. And the memory of that fresh, healthful milk and the satisfaction of the self-sufficiency of it washing over me like a crisp autumn breeze surprising an Indian Summer afternoon. But... why so inexpensive? The milker, alone, should go for well over a thousand bucks! And Dexter cattle? What the heck are Dexter cattle?
Well, we corresponded with the owner, and drove over the San Juans to meet her and the cows. She (the owner, who, by the way, was the most elegantly beautiful woman I have ever seen in mucky corduroys and work gloves) is selling them cheap because she hasn't handled them much and the heifer, especially, is pretty wild and unused to handling -- and she just wanted them outta her hair, as she's found she prefers milking goats, and she doesn't want to deal with that danged heifer who broke out of her fence and moseyed up to a bull on a neighboring property -- wherein we all surmise that said heifer is, as we say, likely "exposed," and could present with a calf in seven or eight months or so.
And Dexters -- Here's the best part! -- are an heirloom Irish cow. They're the smallest cow that has not been purposely bred down for size, and were traditionally used as Irish family cows, because of their hardiness and dual (actually three) purpose characteristics: they're good for milk, meat, and can be used as oxen. Could we find something more perfect? Now, will we actually be able to handle these half wild cows and will they let us milk them? That's a whole other question... (Pray for us, will ya?)
But, we did buy them, and the sweet owner said she'd keep them for us until the middle of September, so we could get ready for them. So, the last couple of weeks we've been all in a dither, psyching up and preparing for cows. I have been what you might call "immersing" myself in the bovine world, joining
Dexter internet societies and various cow forums (I love one I found call Keeping Milk Cows. I've learned tons there!). And Dan's been fitting our barn with proper stalls and a milk parlour and installing electric fencing, etc... We're picking the girls and the calf up tomorrow, so weve had to hurry to get everything ready. The girls are being fabulous helpers with all the fencing and collecting recipes that'll be especialy good with fresh cream...
But, unfortunately, I haven't been much real physical help with all the hard labor (and I have terrible guilt about it), because I just found out a couple weeks ago the root of the back problems I've been having for some years now. I have degenerative disk disease. Which stinks. But, by the grace of God, I happened to land in a place where practices one of only two certified practicioners of a very successful chiropractic technique for this condition (the Cox technique). Which is awesome. We're very hopeful that, not only can we put an end to the chronic back pain, but reverse at least some of the damage, and end or at least slow the progress of the degeneration. So, it's all good. At least now I know what the problem is and have a plan to work it out. But... I can't lift hay bales, and my doc says I can only milk if I dig a hole to sit in or put the cow on a ramp so I don't have to bend over to reach her udder. Ah, well... We'll figure that out. (Get this. He says I can't read, either, if it means I have to bend my neck forward. Seriously. Don't you think I'll find a creative solution to that restriction! Not read? Might as well not breathe!)
Anyway.... There may be more to tell, but I think I've bored y'all long enough! That is, if anyone's even made it this far? (Anyone? Anyone?)
But, one more thing, anyone who made it this far... Dan is ostensibly ordering a new computer here soon. He wants to know if I want a laptop or a desk top. I can't decide... He says we'll get more for the money with the desk top, but lose the convenience, obviously, of the laptop... I can't decide. What do you think? Regardless, I'll be so happy to have access to pictures again. I have lots to show you!
Happy September! (One of the best months of the year!) Happy Birthday of Our Glorious Heavenly Mother today! And, then the feast of her Holy Name is Sunday! (Feasts of the Blessed Mother always fill my heart with a special happiness.) And, I've always felt a particular honor to have my birthday snuggled up in between these two feastdays, on the 11th. Special greetings to my beloved mother on my birthday. ( I always thought it was the mom who should get the glory, honor and gifts on birthdays...)
Hopefully be able to get on again soon! (Maybe even on a new computer! Maybe even with pictures!)
Blessings to all!