Friday, December 27, 2013

New On My Mp3

Okay, never mind the name of this music group; their songs are *awesome*!!! If you're into soundtracks, medieval style music, thriller music and basically all around awesome songs, then here's the motherload  for you. This is basically all I've been listening to for the last three days. No lyrics, just a symphony doing an incredible job at creating inspiring songs. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Horse Girl

  Today I had the immense pleasure of being back in the saddle. ^_^ And not only merely being "back in the saddle" but getting to go as fast as my little mount could carry the two of us, and together we did some crazy, topsy patterns through the pasture. It was interesting, I'll say that much. My mount's name was Benton; he's a fat, short, palomino-colored boy who seems to be a Quarter Horse cross of sorts. He and I were on five days acquaintance, he hadn't been ridden in months upon months, and I hadn't been on a horse since I was seventeen. Four years ago. I won't mention the fact that my safety head gear was a camo hunting cap, 'cause that would freak my parents out. So we just won't go over that... Continue on, folks.

  So! Benton and I were up for a crazy ride! Ha. He was as good as gold *except* for one thing: the silly boy doesn't seem to remember how to turn. Once upon a time he knew that a gentle pull on the right rein meant he needed to turn right. Apparently that info got lost in his spam folder somewheres. More than once today I found myself scolding him, "Benton! That's an electric fence!! Turn you moron! TURN!!! No, don't run me into that tree! TURN!!!"

   But other than that minor glitch (hehe), it was awesome. This little guy can move fast! Riding a horse is a lot like riding a bike; once you learn, you don't forget. So I was pleased to find that I hadn't forgotten any of my riding knowledge, but could instead pretty much go on auto-pilot and simply enjoy the sensation of flying. Being on a galloping horse is such an incredible experience... I feel bad for all those who have never gotten to try it.

 And now I shall stop my chattering and let y'all scroll down and see what's next. ;)

  First we have a picture of chubby Benton himself! Isn't he CUTE!?!? He so squishy looking that you just want to hug him! That, and I'm always tempted to do something to his fuzzy little ears. ;) He's such an adorable character. Even if he does have a grudge against all canines. LOL.

  Second up is Nick. He's a coal black Standardbred gelding; a buggy horse that was trained by the Amish. He's not saddle broke though, which is a pity... He looks like he would have some amazing gaits on him! I like Nick; don't tell Benton this, but I think I like Nick the best. And it's not just because he doesn't mind dogs (although that's a plus). He's just a calm, laid-back fellow that seems wise beyond his years... That, and I have a thing for black horses. *cough, cough*

   And now, ze' crazy video of Yours Truly, riding madly around on a lovely Mississippi winter day. :) 

P.S. All that yipping and yapping you hear in the background of the video? That's Gyp going bananas over the fact that I've obviously been taken captive by an evil horse and no one will let him come rescue me. Once he saw me get off the horse he was fine! But he wasn't keen on the idea of trusting Benton with his master. 

It was crazy fun though. I'm a horse girl through and through... 

I Want One

  Being down here in Mississippi has been an absolute blast so far! Goodness, it's been so nice to be around people who talk the same way I do (i.e. say "y'all" and "Bless your heart"), have that gorgeous Southern drawl, and know what real sweet tea is. *Happy sigh* Today I got to ride one of the horses here (pictures and video coming right up!), and gloried in galloping every which way in the pasture. This girl has a need for speed, and that's the gospel truth.

 And speaking of a need for speed... I done got a crush this afternoon on my Papaw's four-wheeler. ;) Hot dawg, that thing is more fun than you can shake a stick at! I kept it at 35-40mph on my first go-'round with it, and then Papaw took over the steering and we scooted on up to 60 mph. So. Much. Fun!!

  After putting that baby away, I came to a conclusion: I want one. It's on my birthday wishlist now. ;) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Kind of Christmas

My Christmas was spent a bit differently from most folks... Sure, I still opened presents and had a special meal. But the highlight of the day was sitting in a deer stand; silent and motionless. Hoping and praying for a buck to cross my path and become a target. The hoped-for buck didn't appear today, but maybe tomorrow he will. It was fun though, gettin' to spend some time with my Papaw (grandpa) here in Mississippi. My kind of Christmas, really. :) 

My Papaw and I!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Everything. (I don't want to think up a title right now, so this is what you get)

 I miss having a camera. I so, so badly miss having one. I keep having these moments of wanting to share a moment with y'all; wanting to share the beauty of the countryside here in MO... Like the gorgeous snowfall that we had (which is now gone) or the stunning sunsets/moon rises that we have a clear view of, the awesome folks I'm staying with, or even Ellie's (cow) funny half of an ear (no idea what happened to the missing half; frostbite, maybe???). And then I remember that I have no camera! Aargh! I'm gonna' have to do something about this soon; we just gotta' keep prayin', folks. Sooner or later this girl will have a camera again. I just hope that it's "sooner" rather than "later". 

  I've been here for fifteen days now; it feels like it's been a month already! But I think it's safe to say that I'm finally settled here. I've settled into a routine, know how things are done, and I'm comfortable with everyone here. Even Penny, the boss cow, has gotten used to me and will let her milk down for me! I didn't think that cow would EVER decide accept me as the new milker... She would be a pill and hold her milk back so that no matter how hard I tried, I could only get a quart out of her. Yesterday morning was the first time that she let her milk down all the way, and I had her milked out beautifully before too long. 

  Of course, right when I feel I'm finally settled, I find myself leaving for a week! LOL. I'm headed down to Mississippi to spend Christmas with family, which I'm uber excited for! But then there's still that little bit that wonders if I'll have to "re-settle" when I come back. I doubt it, but then, I'm a rather strange character... Anything is possible. 

 On a note of randomness, has anyone else here gone to see The Hobbit 2 in theaters!?!?!?! I went on Monday with two friends, and *LOVED* the movie! ^_^ And the popcorn; that stuff was pretty darn good too. Although, I will admit that I covered my eyes during almost the entire scene with the giant spiders (to the amusement of my companions on either side of me). I can handle many things in life, but spiders are not one of them. And most definitely not giant ones. Nope, not me. Tauriel was okay, but I didn't care for her too much; I suppose I like her about as much as Arwen (which isn't much. Let's go back to the Hobbits and Dwarves!). Aaaaaand Kili was as cute awesome as ever. I really hope they don't kill him off in the third movie... But I have my suspicions. I'm gonna' bawl my eyeballs out if they do.

  Today's been a fairly slow day; I did morning barn chores, hacked brush away from the beehives, made lunch... Then hung out at the neighboring family's house for a couple hours. Truth be told, I have a cold right now. A whopping good one, at that! Sore throat, cough, runny nose... The whole shebang. I had it coming though, seeing as the 17 year old lad (yeah, yeah, I keep forgetting to ask him if I can publicly share his name) got the bug on Sunday, and then he shared his popcorn during the movie on Monday (it was theater popcorn! I wasn't about to turn down an offer like that!). It was good popcorn though... Worth this abominable cold.

  So while my daily routine is fairly settled, I'm still trying to get back into my writing groove! I was doing so well before I left, and now... Not so much. Sigh. It's coming back though; the more I get settled here, the more brain space I have to get back into the state of perpetually obsessing about what to write next. 

 And now I suppose I should run and find some tissues... Colds are such a high maintenance thing to deal with.

 It was good popcorn though. ;) 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snow Day!

  I. Am. Sore.

  Like, Ridiculously sore. 

  Like, I-can-hardly-raise-my-arms kind of sore. 

  No, I did not get into a fight. 'Nor did a cow trample me. And no, I didn't not get clipped by a moving vehicle. 

  Reason behind the soreness? I played in the snow yesterday. For almost 9 hours. Yep, you read that right. Snow. Nine hours.

  Oregon doesn't get a whole lot of snow. Or at least the part that I'm from, doesn't get much. We might get a couple inches and it sticks around for a day or two, but I've always wanted to experience a good, deep snow. I've always wanted to make a BIG snowman that didn't take up every snowflake on the property, and right along with the territory of making a snowman, I wanted to have a grand snowball fight, go sledding, make a bunch of snow angels... You know, the classic stuff that people do with snow! But there was never enough snow in Oregon to do that. 

  Yesterday morning dawned here in Missouri and what do you suppose I saw outside my window? SNOW!! It was only 7am, and already there was eight inches, and still more piling up. Praise the Lord that it's Saturday!! I got to skip chores and go straight to playing in the snow! Now, to be honest, I did suit up and head to the barn, and had every intention to stick to routine and help with the milking. Honest to goodness. I was right there in the barn and had just put Penny in the stanchion. Then the resident seventeen year old lad (brother to the wife of my host family) showed up with sleds. Sigh. A girl can only be so mature for so long. At the sight of sleds, I was relieved of my barn duties and I felt like a little kid as I almost rocketed out of the barn. IT'S A SNOW DAY!!!! I even got to ride in the sled as the two of us (plus Gyp) headed down to the hilly driveway. 

  What followed was probably one of the funnest, most glorious days I've had in a long time. We had snowball fights, made snow angels, we sledded down the driveway over and over, and we built TWO snowmen. One was a proper snowman, and the other was a comical looking snow-dalek. Yeah, we made a dalek. So for the record, I had no idea what a dalek was two weeks ago. My hosts have been introducing me to the 'Dr. Who' shows, and it's becoming a good way to spend our evenings. LOL. So yes... I'm learning about farming and Dr. Who all at once. David Tennant is awesome. ;) I'm so glad to find out that I'm not the only human being with such dramatic facial expressions. Hehehe

  We finished up our afternoon with a round of what is called the "tracking game", and then a loooooong game of 'Capture the flag'. The tracking game is basically a warped version of 'hide and seek'. One person runs helter skelter through the 40 acres of land before hiding, and then after about fifteen minutes everyone else has to track that person down through the snow. It can get challenging if the runner decides to be sneaky and hide their tracks. I always feel like Aragorn when I play this. 

  I was zonked by the time Capture The Flag ended, but thankfully so was everyone else. So we all took a two hour break and waited for the sun do go down and the place to get dark. What were we planning on doing once all light was gone? Why, sledding in the dark, down a huge hill, of course! I have to admit that the idea of sledding at night at never occurred to me... But I was game for it! Uphill and downhill we trudged to get to said epic hill, and oh was the long walk worth it. It was big, long, and boy howdy did you get some speed going!! The snow lit the night up just enough that you could see about three feet in front of you while sledding down, but no more than that. A couple of us (code for "me and the seventeen year old") had to attempt snowboarding our way down the hill on the small, flat sleds; it would have worked fabulously, except for the fact that you eventually got up so much speed that your feet slipped forward on the slick plastic and the sled would flip. I ended up in the snow three times before finally admitting defeat. I could keep my balance beautifully, and even steer the silly thing! But you really need a proper snowboard for that trick; somethin' that you can strap your feet to. I now want to learn snowboarding. ;) 

  By the time we were done, everyone was ready to crash and burn with a movie. So we all sledded our way home, looking like a flock of giant penguins going down a country road. Pretty much everyone stayed down at the main house to watch 'Dr. Who', while the seventeen year old (good heavens, I need to ask permission to use names on here!) and I trekked up to his house to watch 'White House Down' and eat entirely too much popcorn.

  So today I am sore. Ridiculously sore. But it was worth it. Oh boy was it worth it...

 And I promise I'm learning about farming stuff. Pinky promise. But sometimes you just gotta' have a snow day. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Makin' Monterey

The thermometer still reads 92 degrees Fahrenheit, so I'm content to leave the scene and find something to keep me busy. Thirty minutes later, the thermometer still reads the same. Ninety-Two degrees. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means I don't have to do anything. Bad, because it should really be two degrees lower.

  I'm watching a pot.

  A pot of cheese curds, to be precise. I started this batch earlier in the day, starting with frozen milk. Working over the steady, purring heat of a wood powered cook stove (these are popular here), I warmed the milk up, added a culture, gave the milk time to ripen, added some rennet, let the milk solidify, then I cut the curds into rice-sized pieces, and now it's ripening a wee bit more. Thus the waiting now. It needs to sit for 40 minutes (and I'm having a momentary panic attack right at this moment; what time did I start this round of waiting!?!?!? Ack! Hang on, gotta' run and see what time it is...).


 Okay. Panic attack is over. I'm such a great cheesemaker... *much sarcasm* I ran and checked the time, curds, gave the pot a stir, checked the temp on it, and now I'm back here. Now, where was I? Right, the curds need to sit quietly for 40 minutes, and stay at 90 degrees. Right now it's at 91F. We dropped a digit. :) In thirty minutes I'll put the pot back on the woodstove and get everything warmed up to 120F in a thirty minute period. If I warm it too fast then the cheese will be rubbery. Too slow, and it won't set right. This is my first time, so it'll be interesting to see how I do. When all that is done, then I'll press the cheese in a mold, and store it. In thirty days it will be ready to eat and will be a Monterey Jack. Good heavens, I'm making a for-real Monterey Jack cheese!?!? Will wonders never cease? Tomorrow I'll make a Parmesan too! Looking forward to it. :) The milk comes directly from the Jersey cows here at the farm, who are named Ellie and Penny. Yep, only two lactating girls this winter. The third was just sold. The other bovines around here are Onyx, who is a Jersey/beef cross steer who will be going into the freezer in just a couple weeks (looking forward to that!!), and then two ADORABLE Jersey/Belted Galloway bull calves (Ellie and Penny's babies). These calves are the cutest things I have *ever* seen. Seriously. No kidding. I'm gonna' have to steal a camera, er, ahem, borrow a camera from someone just so I can take some pictures of these darlings and show y'all. They're fat, fuzzy (uber fuzzy), and look like Oreo cookies that moo. And did I mention that they're fat and fuzzy? Oh gosh they're cute... I want to hug them so stinkin' bad. 

Besides the Monterey Jack that's in the works, there's also some homemade yogurt that's culturing on the counter, and freshly made butter that's just been put in the freezer. I'm a tiny bit proud of myself; I made a proper batch of butter, all by myself! And yeah, it turned out to be ridonkulously easy (brownie points if you know what movie that word is from). Last time I tried it, which was back in Oregon, I did something wrong... And every time you heated that butter up, it turned right back into milk! It was weird. After that attempt, I never did try again. But now I know what I'm doing! Aha! I'm going to start up a batch of kefir soon, too. Lots and lots of dairy products around here, that's for sure!

I'm slowly getting the hang of things around here... Still making mistakes though. LOL. And while my hands are getting used to milking, the cows are still not getting used to me. Penny stubbornly held her milk back this morning, and wouldn't let down until the wife (hmm, she needs a title, or code name. I'll have to think about that) took over. Cows. Picky creatures. Hehehe. Oh its been glorious to be working around dairy cows again. If we could just get our act together though, things would be fabulous. I need to get used to them, and they need to get used to me. I will however, admit that I am really missing my milking machine. I'll hand milk for the time that I'm here, but I could never do this long term. I love my machine too much. I miss its humming noise, the speed that it works, and the routine of washing the equipment. Ah well... Hand milking will suffice for now. 

 Making the Jack cheese will be the end of my work day today... Since it's cold and snowy outside, we're only doing 3-4 hours of work each day (yeah, it's really rough! These people work ya' hard! LOL.). Not sure what I'll do once I'm done with the cheese. Read? Write? Go bug the extended family? Hmm. Part of me wishes that I had longer work days, but then the other part of me doesn't mind that I'm not out in the cold for very long. 

  Anywho, the clock says 1:49pm, so that's my cue. I need to go get those cheese curds warming up to 120F now! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

By The Way...

  You may have noticed the severe lack of pictures by now... To confess, I have no camera. Sorry! I honestly tried my best to buy one before leaving, but there was some crazy run on cameras, apparently. Poof! They were all gone! And now I can't afford one. Phooey. So I don't know what's going to happen. But I'm trying my best to get the problem righted.

  Bear with me. I don't like the lack of pictures either. :-/ 

My Kind Of Crazy

  During my free time here, I've tried to stay out of the way, keep to myself, not be a nuisance, and give my hosts and their extended family some of their family time back. You know, just try to be a considerate person who isn't always in the way? Hasn't worked. There is a lot of family in this area. And they've decided that since I'm staying here long term, I shall be family too. So now I'm a "cousin". ;) These people are great; without so much as asking my permission (hehe), they pulled me into the center of their family activity and made me a part of everything. I wasn't sure how I would fit in here, but now I have no worries. Today I went to church with some of them, and had the chance to meet yet MORE of their extended family! Good grief, right when I think I've met all the people there are to meet, more show up. LOL. It's been pretty neat to find that a lot of the family is right around my age, and it's definitely been fun interacting with them all. I'm presently hearing rumors about two plots in the making... One being a family adventure to the theater this Saturday to watch The Hobbit (eeek!!), and then the second rumor is a possible gathering of the younger folks to all go bowling (can I say "eeek!" again??). I've got my fingers crossed for both plots to succeed.

 One thing is for sure though. These folks are my kind of crazy.

 Don't tell them I said that. ;) 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The First Few Days

  Ta da! I'm resurfacing from the depths of silence! Was I missed? Eh, probably not... LOL.

 So. Missouri. Getting here was a long, long day that I don't care to repeat any time soon, but it was at least fairly uneventful and smooth (in comparison to when I went to Joel Salatin's farm last year and had horrible turbulence the whole way... Oy vey.). It was weird though; leaving Portland (OR), it was about 25-30 degrees. Then I got to Texas. Ha. Okay, does Texas EVER get cold!?!?!? It was 80F and HUMID!!!! I was absolutely broiling as I walked through the airport sporting my heavy Carhartt coat and toting a 20 lb. backpack. Hot, hot, hot. Then I got to Missouri and we were back down to 25-30F. It was kind of a strange shock to the system; first it's freezing, then it's frying, then it's freezing again. Huh. Oh well. Like I said, at least it was a smooth ride and there was no turbulence. Although, I still get "see-sick" from "seein'" too much out the plane windows. ;) High altitudes and I don't get along very well. 

  Gyp did awesome the whole way through; he was calm and quiet in his kennel, and then he sat curled up on my lap during the 1+ hour drive from St. Louis to where I am now. 

  My first night was hysterical. I didn't get to bed until about 1am, and my living quarters (known as the "loft" around here) were freezing. My heat source was the coolest looking wood cookstove. How cool is that!? It's an honest-to-goodness, pioneer-looking cook stove that runs on wood! I'm well versed in working woodstoves, as that's our heat source back home, so I figured I had this whole heat thing down pat... I'd be toasty warm all night, right? Heh. Yeah, whatever...

  I couldn't for the life of me figure the damper and vent out. I know, I know, how does one not understand something as simple as that??? On this behemoth though, it's got knobs instead of just a lever that goes one way or the other. You can fine tune the temperature on the stove by knowing how many times to turn the knobs. This, I did not know. So there I am; cold, tired, 1,900 miles from home, and glaring at a stove that just wouldn't get HOT. I did my best, loaded it up good, turned the knobs four times to the left, which I thought would work to get some heat going, and then gathered up every single blanket I could get my hands on. It was hilarious. I've been bested by a hunk of metal. That kinda' hurts the ego. Anyway, in the end I found about six wool blankets, and I had a double layer of wool socks on. It wasn't so bad at first... I fell asleep pretty much instantly. Until 2:30-3am when I awoke to the sensation of a freezing nose. And then I realized that the rest of me was cold too. After some pondering, I dug out my hooded fleece sweater, zipped it all the way up, felt ridiculous, and then tried to go back to sleep. They (whoever "they" are) say that the best way to stay warm is to keep something on your feet and head, so I figured between my hoodie and my socks, this oughta' work. But my nose was still cold. Darn it. There really wasn't any cure for that, so I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep.

Three hours later, I gave up and decided to start my day. The sun was juuuuuuuust beginning to rise, and I was eagerly waiting to see what the landscape looked like. Before heading out though, I was determined to figure this stove out. I had a total "Duh" moment two minutes later when I realized the simplicity of this thing. To open the flu/vent, you turn the knobs 6-8 times to the left (depending on how hot you want it). To get a good, slow bed of coals, then you would only turn it 2-4 times. So my problem on the first night was simply that I had the flu closed too much to ever get a good fire going in the first place. And for the record, I learned the trick to how many times to turn it by seeing when smoke would finally stop billowing out when I took the lid off. Yep, I smelled like wood smoke pretty bad for awhile. LOL.

  My first thought of this area in MO is that it looks a LOT like Oregon. A lot. It's beautiful here! The hills are rolling as far as the eye can see, and they're good sized hills. Lots of trees too; although they're almost all deciduous, whereas OR has mostly coniferous. The first owner of this farm planted a lot of pines though, so the place has the feel of the Willamette.

  The work here has been enjoyable, although I feel awkward and clumsy right now seeing as I don't know where anything is, anyone's routine, or how they do things around here. Even milking the cows has been a challenge; it's been months and months (in fact, almost a year!) since I've hand milked and I've lost all that muscle tone that's required for the job. I used to have the hand strength to milk 4-5 gallons without stopping, but right now I'm finding that I can barely do 1 gallon before I have to stop. With luck, that strength will be back in about two weeks. I can hardly wait.

  Since it's winter, there'a not a huge amount of work to do. We milk and feed the cows in the morning, clean the barn stalls out, take care of the milk and equipment, and then comes whatever the day's projects are. Today we made butter, and reseeded a pasture. And then we played outside in the snow... *cough, cough* Yes, we have snow here!!! Eeek! I was so excited to see it coming down as I walked back to the loft last night; there was hardly a light to be seen as I walked the dark, forest lined, gravel road with two new friends (part of the family here, and only a stone's throw away from the loft!); it was just pure white snowflakes contrasting with the inky darkness. It accumulated fairly quickly, but we only got an inch before it stopped. Sigh. I still want to make my snowman... Maybe soon though.

  Last night was another cold night. I fired up the second wood stove in the loft (yep, two of them!), and then played the martyr's part in keeping both of them going all night. This time around, I ditched the hoodie and got a seventh blanket. Ahem. I like to be warm, okay? All total, I got about four hours of sleep. Ouch. Woke up feeling nauseous, and had a splitting headache that felt more like a migraine. I caved there and then. Call me a wimp, but I was going to be a snow bird from now on, and spend the winter in the main house. If I'm going to be of any use around here, then I really need my full night's sleep, which means 6-8 hours. Not 3-4. I also missed having my internet connection, seeing as there'a deplorable lack of wi-fi up at the Loft. So down I've migrated, and now I'm in a WARM house, where I don't have to even think about keeping a wood stove going (still love those things, but I like them better when they're used in houses that have insulated flooring and not so many drafts everywhere), and I have internet access!! Yay! I can write on my blog now! I want to move back up to the Loft, but I think I'll wait until Spring, when the nights are warmer and I won't have to work so hard to keep the temperature above 40F.

 So that's the latest scoop for y'all! So far I really like it here in Missouri. :) In a couple hours I'm heading out with my host family to have a game night at a neighboring family's house, which I'm looking forward to. I think I'm also going to try going with my host family to church on Sunday (I was delighted to find that they go to the same kind of church that I'm used to!), and I'm hoping to start getting to know some of the folks around here.

 Right at this very moment though, I think I might take a cat nap. I've got some shuteye to catch up on... ;)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stories Coming!

Hey guys! I'm writing this from Missouri! I've got tales to tell, but I can't share them just yet; breakfast will be ready in about 2 minutes, and then I have to go milk the cows. :)

 But no worries, I've got stories coming... Lots of 'em. Missouri is proving to be a pretty place, Gyp and I are settling in quickly, and the wood stove and I finally found a compromise in life; I feed it wood in a nice manner, and it in turn keeps me WARM (without being grumpy) so that I don't have a repeat of last night where I was sleeping with five blankets, and a fleece sweater with the hood pulled up. ;) Yep, it was cold and comical. 

  So toodle pip and cheerio! I'll catch y'all later! Right now I need to go eat something... I'm feeling positively famished!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Want YOU. (yeah, you.)

  Hear ye', hear ye! I'm looking for a Hobbit to share in an adventure! Oh wait, that's a movie line... Not what I meant to say. Scratch that. I'm not looking for a Hobbit (but if you find one, let me know!), I'm looking for a human. Specifically YOU. Yep. You.

  If we want to get even more specific, I'm looking for some writers. And yes, that still means you; even if you say you haven't written anything since your college days. 

  Folks, I want to do some knowledge sharing around this place. I want some guest writers. And shucks, what better way to do this than to ask my very own readers!? So I'm putting this out here for your consideration: I would love to hear from you. I know for a fact that you know enough about something to write up a post; so why not share that knowledge with the rest of us? Pretty please? I sincerely want to hear from you! We're talking all kinds of subjects; small farming topics, homesteading, DIY, gardening, animals, wildcrafting, beekeeping, soap making, elephant hunting (hehe), training herding dogs or horses, creating straw bale houses, predator control, what it's like to run a 10,000 hog CAFO,... You get the idea. 

 Your posts would be shared once a week, and if you have a website or blog, then yes you may give yourself a shout-out in your post. 

 So who wants to be the first? C'mon guys... Don't make me beg, m'kay? I don't do so well with the begging. And you know you want to write on here... Stop listening to the voices in your head that say you don't know what to write, or how to write, or that you're too busy to do it. That's an order from The Caitlyn herself. ;) 

 I'll even make life easy for you. Right HERE is the link that you send your post idea to, or attach that Word document to. Wow. How delightfully easy. Write it up, send it in, and I do all the hard grunt work of posting it for you. 

  And let me know when you find that Hobbit.

Monday, December 2, 2013

She Chose Well

 I found this old image during a web search and was thrilled to see it! You know who that is in the picture? It's Beatrix Potter. And that dog next to her? It's an English Shepherd/Scotch Collie!

  I will be the first to admit that I'm a fan of Beatrix Potter. She was an amazing woman who did way more than write children's books; she was a naturalist, botanist, and farmer who raised the rare Herdwick sheep. She was independent, resourceful, and knew how to go after what she wanted. She's one of my heroes in life. ;) And seeing a picture of her with her farm dog has only increased my appreciation for this author. An English Shepherd!! Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's the Scotch Collie and ES tended to be grouped as one breed; neither one was completely established (whereas they are now. The Scotch Collies are bee-yew-tee-ful! They're like flat-coated, smaller sized, Rough Collies; the original "Lassie"), so it's possible that some Beatrix Potter historian/nerd/fan may argue with me saying that this would be more of a Collie rather than a Shepherd. But I'm sticking with the guess of it as a Shepherd. I know that canine face well enough to think that that isn't a Collie. 

   Either way though, That Beatrix Potter chose well when it came to a canine companion. Very well indeed...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Please Hold

  You may have already noticed this, but posts are getting slightly erratic these past few days. I used to be so regular! A post a day! So here's a warning for y'all: It's probably going to stay fairly erratic until the weekend, when I'm settled in MO. I'll be doing my best to keep you updated and all that jazz, but tomorrow and Tuesday will be spent packing, packing, and - uh - packing. *rolls eyes* I doubt I'll have time to think up any blog posts during those two days. And then come Wednesday I'm leaving! So I probably ain't gonna' do any blog posts then either!

 Please hold. I'll be back shortly, and you may still see me here and there. :)

Friday, November 29, 2013


Hope y'all had a good Thanksgiving, yesterday! We celebrated ours a day late this year, so today was my day of eating waaaaay too much food (oh glorious food!). Now I'm feeling sleepy, and wondering why on earth eating so much food is so tiring. Hehe. Eh, I'll ponder the answer to that in my sleep.

 I've got nothing hugely new to share since Monday (gadzooks! Was it really Monday that I last blogged???); save for the fact that I got my very own laptop as an early Christmas present from my family (eek!), and I've been busy all week doing that last-minute stuff before flying out next week. Yeah, I leave next week! Wow. My days have been full of saying goodbye to friends here in Oregon, enjoying having a driver's license (freeeeedooooom!), getting Gyp ready (he aced his health inspection at the vet!), and now I'm realizing that I do eventually have to pack. Grumble, grumble, grumble... If there's one thing I don't enjoy doing, it's packing. Too tedious.

 So in some random attempt to post SOMETHING new on here, I'm caving and posting a Youtube of a band that I've got a new crush on (okay, not the usual crush... But, you know, I'm like downloading aaaaaall their songs now. It's crazy.). They're called the 'Eli Young Band' and I'm loving the country/pop twist that they're putting in their music. This particular song, 'Guinevere' is probably my favorite so far (I call it my theme song), but hey if you're ever bored and you're looking for music, you could always try their other tracks like 'Crazy Girl' (second favorite!), 'Even If It Breaks Your Heart' (third favorite!), or perhaps 'Always The Love Songs'.

Or -- you could be a normal/sensible person and not listen to them at all and just smile at my eccentricities when it comes to taste in music. I really can't decide if my taste in music is awesome or horrible... Hm.

Anyway, talk at ya' later, guys. I'm off to go find something useful to do, while avoiding the kitchen and the tantalizing smells coming from there.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Q&A Monday

Hey guys, here's this week's Q&A post/video. I'm a little hesitant to share this one because of the topic, but I'm gonna' try it anyway. (P.S. Sorry for the background noise. Gyp was pretty active and had no desire to lay down and be quiet. Goofy dog...)

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Saturday, November 23, 2013


No Pinterest Link Up this week as I have to leave for town in about 30 minutes and will be gone almost all day. Sorry!! Maybe I'll whip that post up tonight... We'll see.

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Ask It!!


All day long yesterday, there was a thought niggling at the back of my mind. "There's something I was supposed to do today... What is it??" At about midnight I woke up and realized that it was the 'Ask It' post that I had been forgetting! *smacks forehead*

*cough, cough*, sooooo it's a little late, guys. But, better late than never! All questions will be answered in another crazy video, not this upcoming Monday, but the next one. I can only film these things on Thursdays right now (hopefully that'll chance once I'm in MO), so that wonks things up a bit and your questions will take a little over a week to get an answer to.

 This Monday's video is ready and raring to go though. ;) Prepare yourself, folks. Hehehe.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

I'll Never Be The Same

I found this quote on Pinterest (ahem), and thought it fitting for this moment in life. I leave Oregon in 12 days. Something tells me I will not be the same person when I come back... And I wonder if that's a good thing or not. Only time will tell how a year in the Midwest shapes me. This quote also made me think of a movie line from The Hobbit. Bilbo asks Gandalf, "Can you promise me that I'll come back?"

And Gandalf replies, "No. And if you do, you will not be the same as when you left..."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

English Shepherds. They've Got It All.

I haven't been idle tonight. I had one random thought about wanting to adjust one of the images I have of Gyp, and it totally slid into something altogether different when I sat down to do that one thing.

Ta da. :) 

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Crunch Time

  Fourteen days until Gyp and I uproot to Missourah (I'm using a Southern accent here).

  Folks, we're officially hitting crunch time.

Let's Pretend It's Monday

 I didn't forget the Q&A Monday. Honest, I didn't! But we ran into some glitches along the way. To put it bluntly, Youtube ate my video. Yes, dear reader, this is my latest awful plan. The Caitlyn (meaning me) has gone live. I look like a dork... But here it is, nevertheless!! It's really low quality this week, and I apologize. Since Youtube obliterated my original clip, I had to cave and run this through My Movie Maker. Blah. So bear with me folks. Its got mistakes, its got hiccups, and its got me. This is a recipe for disaster. Or a really good laugh... Not sure which is worse. ;)

  Now, the book I mentioned in the video is called Microgreens: A guide to growing nutrient packed greens. Clicking those highlighted words will take you to the Amazon link of said book. If you're thinking about trying micros out, I DEFINITELY recommend buying a copy of this!

 I did also want to give a quick link to Johnny's Selected Seeds. So here's that. You're welcome. ;)

  And that's that! I'm already regretting this video of myself, but that's just the introvert in me... I need to get over this. Oh, and hopefully each subsequent video will be a little better in quality. This one's pretty pathetic.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013


  Life just got interesting. And busy. Oh boy did it get busy... Yesterday was pretty normal, all things considered, but I had the pleasure of getting to do a quick phone interview with GMO Inside, Concerning the challenges that small farmers face with GMO's in the system. That was -- interesting. I felt like a talking tornado, but I'm not sure if I actually speed talked or not. It was a blur though.

  Today was a big day; I took my driver's test! Yes, I'm 21 years old and up 'til this point I've never had a driver's license. The roads were wet, it was raining lightly, and I was driving a manual car. End result? A score of 90% and a license of my very own!! Not bad for a girl driving a stick shift!! I'm pretty excited to finally be an independent driver. And it's definitely a huge relief that I got this taken care of before I head out to Missouri. Otherwise I would have been looking at trying to get a license down in Mississippi (I have family down there).

  Now I'm off to go clean the house before company comes, and then the rest of my week looks like it'll be packed with all those random things required before one goes gallivanting off to another state. Gotta' get Gyp's health certificate so he's ready for the flight, need to get in touch with some blog sponsors, finish cleaning the barn, and then still do those every day things like dealing with the microgreens and blogging. The necessities of life, right? ;)

 My days are packed. But it's good. It's good...
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pinterest Link Up! Week #8!

Ta da! Here's this week's Pinterest Link Up! Lots of chicken stuff this week too! :)

1. The Chicken Manual. {Courtesy of Tilly's Nest}

2. How much you need to plant to feed your family. {Courtesy of New Life On A Homestead}

3. Physical signs of health in cattle. {Courtesy of Matron of Husbandry}

4. Flock Block Substitute Recipe. {Courtesy of The Chicken Chick}

5. Fermenting your chicken feed. {Courtesy of Blue Yurt Farms}

6. Breeds of goats. {Courtesey of Fias Co Farm}
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Ask It!

Whew, I'm zonked! I've been in town pretty much all day and I'm more tired than I am after a day spent bucking hay. I foresee an early bedtime in my near future. ;)

  In the meantime though, before I fall into oblivious sleep, here's this week's 'Ask It' post! Come one, come all, ask your questions here. :) Oh and remember that idea I was hinting about a few days ago? Concerning the Q&A Monday posts? My evil idea worked! Or rather, it's working. So hopefully those posts will be much more interesting for y'all now. With luck, I'll get to reveal what awful thing I've done on - uh - Monday. Makes sense anyway, right? A Monday post published on Monday? Oh whatever... I need to leave now before I start saying weird (er) stuff in my current loopy state.
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Veal: The "Bad" Word In Agriculture

Poppy. My Jersey calf from 2008!
 One thing I've learned over these few years of being in the farming world is that if you want to ruffle the average consumer's feathers, mention veal. More often than not this word brings on some expression of horror. "Veal!? You mean that practice where people eat those innocent baby cows!? That's cruel!"

 Veal is a bad word. People don't like to think about this (although many love to eat it as a guilty pleasure). And you can find yourself as the recipient of some very strong language if you find yourself talking about this to the wrong person (hello vegetarians, vegans, and animal rightists!).

  But you know something? Veal doesn't have to be what most people think of, which is that of doe-eyed calves chained to tiny stalls and aren't allowed freedom. Few farmers do this anymore, anyway. There's an alternative for us small farmers though; it's known as "rose veal". These are calves raised on pasture and allowed to romp until they reach the proper size which is about 300-500 lbs. They lead a happy, healthy, carefree life, and are a far cry from what the average consumer imagines in their mind's eye. Some people will still say they don't want to eat a baby animal, but guess what? Just about all animals are butchered at a very young age; people only seem to balk at the idea of eating a young cow. Last I checked, those slaughter age lambs and goats were pretty darn cute...

  Anyway, this post isn't supposed to be a rant (well it sort of is... I'm getting of the soap box now though). I wanted to share a link with y'all about raising veal as a startup enterprise. I've looked into veal over the last year and a half, and I personally like the idea. Running a beef herd sounds good in theory to me, but then I start thinking about having to deal with those adult cows... And a bull... And the infrastructure I'd need... And my lack of physical strength... On second thought, maybe a beef herd isn't such a good idea for a single girl to tackle. Even if she does have a good dog. Of course, there's always the idea of raising stocker calves over the summer and then slaughtering them. That's where you buy 500 lb. calves, fatten 'em up, and ship 'em off when the cold weather comes. Easy to do, Joel Salatin recommends it, not much infrastructure is needed. Boom. We're cookin'. Right? Eh... Until you look at stocker prices. Granted, those vary from state to state, but in my area you're looking at $1 to $1.50 per lb. for a stocker. That's $500 to $750 for EACH calf!!!! I'm not made of money!!! Sure, it probably pays in the end and once you get going you can use your profit to invest in more calves. But - um - what about those of us (meaning me, primarily) who usually only has about $500 to their name? I could buy one calf and then poof! I'd be broke. I wouldn't even have enough money to haul the calf home. Or buy fencing. Or a charger. Back to square one, we go.

  I live in an area where you can't hardly throw a stick without hitting a dairy (or a vineyard, or an alpaca farm... Yeah. It's eclectic here.). And those dairies sell their bull calves for anywhere from $0 to $50 per calf. The dairyman who I've bought calves and cows from over the years sells his Jersey bull calves for $25 each. I could buy TWENTY dairy calves for the same price as ONE stocker calf. Hmm. Granted, bottle feeding those twenty calves for the first 6-8 weeks can be expensive, so that would take careful planning so that you're not burning money. Profit wise though, I see potential. Looking at who's selling what here in Oregon (all my math is very, very specific to my location. I'm not saying you can't have the same prices; I just can't confirm it), and beef is selling for an average of $3.00 per lb. dressed and cut. Veal is selling for $9.00 per lb. So if you butcher out your 1,100 - 1,200 lb. stocker calf and get 600 lbs. of meat, you're looking at a gross of $1,800 (your profit depends on all those details that vary from farm to farm). If you butcher out your 500 lb. veal calf and get 250 lbs. of meat, you're looking at a gross of $2,250 (if you think that $9 per lb. is ridiculously high, then I sure ain't about to tell you that I sell my greens for $96 a lb.). Who's your customer for veal? I'd say high-end restaurants primarily. If you've got a good farmer's market near you that brings in folks willing to pay top dollar for food, then that'd be a good outlet too.

  Personally, I like the idea of veal. Those calves aren't hanging around for near as long, they're easier to handle (especially since they're used to human contact), small enough that a girl + a good dog could handle them, they're cheap to get into, and there's a growing market for this.

  Now, why am I spouting all this? I'm not trying to create some bandwagon that everyone jumps onto, I promise. But I do want to put this idea out for those of you who are on small acreages, or you have limited start up finances, or you like the idea of cows, but are rather intimidated at the idea of caring for something that weighs 1,200+ lbs. I think there's something to this.

Edit: I had a different link earlier, but then reader and friend, Lindsey, informed me of a better one! So, here's for your reading pleasure, folks. This is a five-part blog series coming from a lady who's been raising veal calves for something like eight years now. The information that she shares is detailed and very handy. I loved reading through it!! Just click HERE and you'll be directed to it!
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

He Notices Everything

How To Make Homemade Dairy Goat Feed

  Well looky here! We've got a new tutorial! Three cheers for Caity, who never seems to do these when she intends to!! Wait, wha? Oh never mind...

 Goat food. Recipe. More specifically, dairy goat food recipe. Yep, I live an exciting life. Instead of doing what the average 21 year old does, this one writes down and tries out recipes to feed goats. What can I say? I like to live life on the edge; with lots of danger and excitement. 'Cause, um, goat food is so -- so -- risky and thrilling? Okay, I give. I plead guilty to being a farm girl. And one who likes to cut costs when possible, increase profit, and be able to customize my own feed for my stock. That's excitement enough for me. :)

 Almost seven years ago I started looking around for a way to make my own custom feed for my milking does. The feed at the store was something like $17 for a 50 lb. bag and not only did that NOT last long, but it had corn, soy, and a bunch of empty fillers in it; none of which I wanted my does to eat since I was trying to keeping things corn free/soy free for the sake of my customers. I was pretty clueless at first. What in the world did people feed their goats back in the old days? Can you really mix your own feed? *skeptical tone and look*

  Then I found a recipe that seemed easy enough to make, proved to be cost effective, and the goats did AMAZINGLY on it. I've used this recipe ever since. I've even fed it to my dairy cows (with a slight modification that is explained below). So I thought I would share my recipe with y'all; if you're looking to try making your own feed for your caprine friends, then give this one a whirl!

Homemade Dairy Goat Ration

50 lbs. Rolled barley
50 lbs. oats; whole, crushed, or rolled... Doesn't matter unless you're feeding cows. Then you want it crushed/rolled to increase digestibility.
3 lbs. Linseed meal
1 lb. kelp meal
Molasses to coat everything

The barley is essential for this mix. Barley = milk. The oats can be replaced with a different grain, but take care that you look into how that changes the protein content. This mix is supposed to come out averaging 16% to 18% protein, but you may want to check that on your own since grain can vary in protein content from area to area. 

To Mix:

1. Find a big clean tarp (those blue, 10'x12' ones work great) and a clean leaf rake. These are your grain mixing tools!

2. Dump the oats and barley onto the tarp and use that rake to start mixing it all together. This can take a few minutes.

3. Once the grain is thoroughly mixed, scatter the linseed meal and kelp meal over it all and gently spread it out. Over mixing at this point will make it all sift to the bottom, which makes the next step a bit harder...

4. Pour molasses over and mix that in too until you get a slightly tacky, but still well coated mix. How much molasses does it take? I can't say for sure. I've gotten nice thick batches of molasses where it only took 12 cups to coat 100+ lbs. of feed, and I've gotten thin batches that took loads of that sticky, sweet stuff to coat everything. I would probably suggest starting with 10-12 cups worth and then working your way up from there. It takes a LOT of mixing to really coat everything. It's almost like you have to "rub" it into the grain with that rake. When you think you've gotten everything coated, pull on a tarp corner to get the bottom flipped onto the top and then get that coated. Yep, right when you think you're done, you'll find that you're not. ;)

5. Store! I kept my grain in metal trash cans meant specifically for grain. I find that this stuff stores pretty well (I think 40-50 days is the longest I've ever had this stuff hang around before it all got eaten), although since we don't get REALLY hot days here in Oregon, or humidity, I can't say what the shelf life of it would be for those of you who get real summers.

  You may have noticed that I didn't include any salt in the mix; that's because I offer salt free choice at all times to my goats/cows. The kelp meal is a nutritional powerhouse that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and other such goodies, but not all of my goats would eat it free choice. Hiding it in the molasses coated feed got it in them no problem.

  So there you have it! It's easy to make, relatively cheap, and you are able to choose what is - or isn't - in your feed. :)
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What I Put Up With

 Doing any sort of photography work around here gets interesting when one has a nosy dog who wants to be in on the fun. And when you're photographing anything remotely edible, you can bet on Gyp pulling all his very best tricks to get a bite of whatever you're snapping pictures of. Observe:

The first phase is his "adoring dog" look. It's the look intended to melt your heart and make you feel bad that you're not sharing the food that appears to be not getting eaten. He will sit and stare in total silence for as long as it takes before you look up and notice him. Staring. At you. "I love you Master. Please share."

If the first phase has no effect (which, it did not today.) then he moves to phase #2. He will "very subtly" stand over the object you are trying to photograph and stare at it. He likes to make sure that you know what it is that he wants. This move very effectively blots out your natural lighting and casts a shadow on your object. It's subtle, folks.

Then comes Phase #3. To which he will pace a few circles, complete with soft whimpers, before flopping down dramatically and resting his head on some part of your body. If you're standing, then your foot will be the target; if you're sitting, then be prepared for a head in your lap. This phase is accompanied by the look of total dejection and betrayal. He thought I loved him... That I cared for him. All he asks for in return for his loyalty is permission to scarf down my entire project. Is that so much to ask for? I told him he needs to work on drooping his ears a bit more for this look.

Phase #4. The look of total boredom. Usually accompanied by a big sigh, as though he can't believe anyone would even WANT to take pictures of food when you could just -- eat it. This unwavering look completely unnerves you and you can't focus on your work at all because you've got THIS staring at you!

  I did finally break down and give him a crumb of the food I was photographing. To which he wagged his tail in happiness and then started the entire process over with Phase #1. *smacks forehead*

See what I put up with!?!?

Lost Dog

  Gyp is really good about coming to a quick, two-tone whistle. Most evenings I'll leave him to his own amusements throughout the house (Yes! He's an inside dog now!), but whistle every now and again just to bring him over and make sure he's not getting into mischief.

  Tonight I was watching a movie with the family and absent-mindedly whistled for Gyp, just to see what he was up to. He didn't come. Enthralled with my high-action, suspense movie (starring Matt Damon! Eeek!), I didn't give this fact too much thought. Figured the pup must be asleep somewhere... Fifteen minutes later, I whistled for him again. Louder this time, wanting to hear his clicking paws on the hardwood floor. Only Copper, our Golden Retriever, came. So up I got, right in the middle of the movie's climax, and went searching for my dog. I checked the laundry room, the kitchen, the dining room... No Gyp. I quietly poked my head into my bedroom that I share with my four other sisters but didn't see him anywhere on the floor and I knew he couldn't be in his kennel seeing as the door was open and Gyp's not normally the type to randomly go into his kennel when not told.

   Okaaaay. Maybe someone let him outside? That's logical. Mom just got home a little while ago, Gyp could have easily slipped outside. He usually sits on the doormat until someone lets him in, but he wasn't there.

  I whistled into the dark night, but heard no answer. Saw no dog. I whistled louder; the shrill tone echoed through our hills. Still nothing. Gyp's tracking instincts have been seemingly in overdrive lately; lots of critters are coming down from the mountains and that little dog follows his nose willy nilly. For the past three days I've caught him wandering on the road, on the neighbor's property, and once headed who knows where. If Gyp got bored while waiting to be let in, what if he wandered off across the road? The cougars have come down from the quarry and he would be an easy snack for one.

  I ditched all ideas of the movie. (Sorry Matt Damon, I'll have to catch you next time. You look really cool in army camo though.) It was time to hunt for a dog.

  I think a lot of you know this already, but I'll say it again for those who might be knew: I'm afraid of the dark. Well, to be more specific, I'm afraid of what's in the dark. From ghoulies and ghosties, and long legged beasties, and Things That Go Bump In The Night, Good Lord deliver us! (that's some old Swedish prayer or something... No idea where I heard it. But it stuck, and goes through my head whenever I'm alone in the dark) Being out in the dark, alone, without my dog was -- unnerving. Ever since Gyp came, he's been my buddy outside and as he's grown older he's turned into my body guard. Out in the silent, cold dark, I felt exposed and conspicuous. Like something could see me, but not I them. My back was unguarded and I felt like I was prey instead of predator. Think I'm overreacting? Ask the folks in my area about the local cougar problem. These cats are bold this year since the deer population is abnormally diminished.

  I grabbed my dad's strong flashlight (Sorry Dad. I put it back though!) and swept the strobe of light across the landscape; looking for reflective eyes belonging to a small, fox-like dog. I saw nothing. By this time, I was trying not to panic. My dog was gone. This is my buddy, folks. My shadow, my guard, my DOG. And he was gone. I searched the pasture, the barn, the shop, the backyard. I walked across roads, whistling and calling; trying to keep a level of calm in my voice.

  He wasn't answering my whistles. All I could hear were leaves scuffling across the sidewalk, sounding uncannily like dog claws clicking across. The only living creature making noise outside was a pack of coyotes on a nearby hill.

  Now was the time to panic. He wasn't anywhere!! Great. It's dark, I'm exhausted, not feeling good, and I can't find Gyp. All I could think about was that he left me and wouldn't come back. My shadow LEFT ME. It was time for Plan B; whatever that was. I stomped inside, breaking the household rule of "no boots in the house" and searched for mom. Had she seen Gyp anywhere? Did she let him out? When was the last time she saw him? She and my sister Emily both looked at my quizzically and then one of them said, "Um, Caity, he's in his kennel. I just saw him. The door's open and he's just laying there."

  I think my reaction at that is best described as "dumbstruck". He's in his kennel? And the door's open? My dog doesn't just "go to his kennel"!! I flung my boots off and jogged to the bedroom, thinking mixed thoughts of, "I'm gonna' kill him. No, I'm gonna' swear at him for freaking me out like that. No, I'm gonna' make him sleep with me tonight. No, I'm gonna' hug him 'til he pops!"  I plead guilty to late night emotional-ness. Give me a break folks; it had been a long day and I thought I had lost my dog.

  I peeked inside the large sized kennel and there he was: curled up like a fox, with his beautiful, bushy tail curled over his nose. I lost it. I ordered him out of the kennel and scooped that confused dog up into a bear hug. Bless his heart, he was good enough to simply sit still and gently thump his tail on the floor while I cried, scolded, and rocked him. "Gyp! You just about gave me a heart attack!! Shame on you for freaking me out like that, you gorgeous, perfect boy!!" I eventually let him go and he hung out with me for awhile longer, shadowing me through the house before he went back to his kennel on his own accord. I guess he's decided that it's a good place to be now.

  I closed his kennel door and said goodnight. And now I'm here, writing this all down when I should probably be sleeping too. Gyp's my shadow; he's rarely far from me and we're getting to the point where a mere look or head nod is communication enough for the two of us. A girl's gotta' have a good dog. And this girl done found herself one...

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Idea Brewing. Please Hold.

  Yes, I was supposed to do Q&A today. No, I did not do it. On purpose. I had questions to answer too... Oh bad me. First I fail to post the Link Up on Saturday (thought about posting it on Sunday, but it didn't happen, and now I'm all discombobulated!), and now I'm not doing my usual Monday post!? Sorry! Things will hopefully be going back to normal from now on.

 Today was a crazy day that was rather catawumpus (am I the only one in love with this word???), and then I had an idea for the Q&A Mondays to make them a bit better. Yeah, yeah, another hair brained scheme of mine that may or may not work. So hold your heifers, folks. I'll get to Q&A eventually, but we may not see the next round until next week. If it works, then you'll understand why the wait. If it doesn't... Well, then y'all can roll your eyes at me and say something along the lines of "I told you so". Or you could yell at me... Or shake your head and sigh... Or just be glad that we're back to doing it the old way. Personally, that last option doesn't sound half bad.

  Toodle pip and cheerio for now! Oh, and happy Veteran's Day! Thank you to all who have served and are still serving!!
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

We Have A Winner!!

Ladies! Today's the day that we pick a winner for the Cowgirl Dirt makeup!! 

I have to be honest here and admit that I was originally thinking about drawing a winner this morning, and then keeping y'all in suspense until this afternoon... *cough, cough* Yeah, I was feeling ornery. So nice of me, huh? But you were in luck, seeing as I ran out of time to do such an evil thing before I had to zoom off to church. So I only just now found out who the lucky lady is!

Aaaaaand the winner iiiiiiiiiiiissssss....


Rebekah, you posted as "Anonymous" (but signed your name) and said you were thinking you would probably want some lip gloss! Congratulations on the win! Eeek! If you don't mind emailing me HERE and telling me what exactly you would like your prize to be, and then sharing your mailing address, I'll have Cowgirl Dirt send you your lovely prize directly! And if you want to take one more look at your choices, lip gloss can be found HERE, and eye shadow can be found HERE!

And to all you other ladies who didn't win, I'm sorry. :( Shucks, I wish I could shout "Surprise! Everyone gets something!" buuuuuut my bank account might not appreciate that. There's still hope though; you could always splurge a bit and buy something fun from Cowgirl Dirt. :) 
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Thank You

 Thank you guys for the comments on my last post. :) They all mean a lot and I've read every single one as they've come in. It's awesome getting to "know" who y'all are a little bit, and it makes my day that you each took the time to write. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

  Y'all have also succeeded quite well in cheering this farm girl up; these comments are a good reminder that I'm never truly "alone".

  And there's still time and room for more comments down there, so if you haven't said "Hi" yet, feel free to do so! ;) 

 Now, onward and forward? Together? :)
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Who Cares?

  I've been told by so many "wise" people, who are much older than me, that nobody in this world really cares about you. About me. About anyone but themselves. That things like Blogging and Facebook are superfluous and a waste of time because nobody really cares about what's going on in your life. They don't care about what you're doing, what good things have happened, what painful things you've experienced. "Why write?" People ask... Why write when no one in this world cares. No one wants to hear it.

  This breaks my heart.

  Speaking as an individual who is forever hesitant to say what I'm thinking or feeling (oh the joys of being an INFJ... *note sarcasm*), I learned early that writing was a good outlet for me to express myself. It's slower, it allows me to think about my words before sharing them publicly, as well as creating a barrier from a lot of inevitable pressure that comes with talking directly with a person. Mind you, I still enjoy talking face-to-face with folks, but there's a difference between "talking" to someone, and actually "opening up". Guys, it can take me twenty minutes or longer just to work up the nerve to say something to my own mom. That is how introverted I am.

  So when people tell me that no one cares about my musings, my personal FB updates, or my random thoughts that I write, this comes across as a heavy handed slap in the face. It's like being told that in every possible sense, I am unwanted.

  But you know something? I don't wholly believe the words of these "wise" people. I think there are still people in this world who care. Perhaps it's just the wild hope of a naive introvert, but I still cling to the thought that people care. Maybe not all, but some do. I get emails occasionally from people who say they enjoy this blog, or I meet people who say they read all this, or readers tell me about their 3 year old who draws pictures of my darling cow Mattie, or someone tells me how they read these stories aloud to their family during breakfast... Maybe it's just me, but all this sounds like there is still a percentage of this world's population who cares about more than just themselves.

  For the last few months I've been revamping this blog; making it more professional looking, tweaking this and that, bringing in more traffic, more readers. I was reading book after book, blog after blog on all these tips and tricks to bring in more readers. It's the coveted "readership status" that every blogger secretly harbors. I'll even bluntly state my secret desiring: My goal was/is a minimum of 30,000 readers each month. That's what I've been building for. It slowly became my everything and all for this blog. MORE READERS!! MUST HAVE MORE READERS!! I unwittingly unearthed a dragon in me.

  Then I found a completely different book that basically hit me over the head, sent me to my room, and told me to think about what I've done. It was just a small e-book. I paid $2.99 for it. It was called something like "The Small Army Strategy". The author wrote simply, but powerfully; asking which is better: a large readership (hmm, like 30k each month?) that doesn't care a lick if you suddenly disappear one day, or a small readership of people who sincerely care. This was a knock over the head because up until this point I had more or less believed the lie that "no one cares". Shucks, if no one in this world cares that I exist then I might as well shoot for the goal of a large audience, right? But reading through that small e-book reopened a small, hidden desire. I do want to know that people care... I don't say that in a selfish way, like "oh pay attention to meeeeeee, everyone!". But rather, it's more like wanting a community of like minded folks. It's knowing that here in this small corner of cyber space there are people who won't tear me down for my beliefs, mistakes, and desires, but instead can share their own beliefs, mistakes, and desires. It's a quiet longing for a tribe of my own that usually isn't heard over the static noise of others saying that it's a pipe dream. No one cares.

  Last night was a bad night. I was all alone at home, and I was lonely. Normally I love being alone, but being lonely is a whole 'nother thing. It was just me and the dogs in a large and silent house. Every noise had me jumping, and all I wanted was a voice. Just another voice of a human. I didn't find said voice; didn't know who to turn to. But it was during those few hours of crushing loneliness that this post was born in my mind. Do people really care??? My blogs stats show that this blog is averaging a little over 11,000 visitors each month. All I could think about was, "why are these readers here?" To be entertained? To learn? Is that all I am? Just a teacher and 3-ringed circus rolled into one person?  Does anybody even really care!?!?!? Normally I'm fine with being in the shadows; unnoticed, unheard, left to my own devices. But last night, for some reason I was craving an authentic voice. I just wanted to know that I'm not the unwanted shadow that I think I am.

 It was there and then that I decided I was done with making that 30k my goal for this blog. I don't want a large group of silent readers who will simply up and leave when this blog no longer interests them. I want my goal to be a group of folks who care. This may be a small group, seeing as some folks are under the impression that no one really wants to hear details. But you know what? FINE! Let it be a small group! I care about other people; I've been told I care too much about other people (again, problems of being an INFJ...). And I will write as though people care in return. Maybe we won't always agree (I love a good discussion, so varying opinions are welcomed), but hey, I'm willing to keep putting myself out here and writing authentically.

  Having said all this, I think it's time for introductions. I'd like to meet y'all if you don't mind.

  Hi. My name is Caitlyn. I'm 21 and I farm. :)

  Your turn.

Friday, November 8, 2013

If I Was A Guy, I'd Do It.

  I think I'm coming down with cabin fever. Actually, I think it's been setting in since September, but today I'm really feeling the symptoms. Folks, I haven't done a full, hard day's work since August. And I'm feelin' it. Sure, I stay busy, I find various projects to keep me somewhat engaged... But today I'm downright pining to move livestock to new pasture, milk a cow, and slaughter something (animal, that is). It's a cloudy, grumpy day outside and the walls of the house are beginning to feel like they're closing in. I worked outside during the morning; adding new plastic to the greenhouse, cleaning out the barn some more... But it's not enough. My body wants to ache from physical activity spent working with another living creature, and my brain is going ballistic from weeks and weeks without a really good project to puzzle over. I'm not exactly "bored", but I'll certainly say that I'm not accustomed to this slow pace of life. I miss outwitting pigs, teaching the heifer to lead, cleaning my milking equipment, and slaughtering. I've said that twice now. I admit, I really do have a hankering to get a knife in my hand today and slaughter something. Not exactly sure what's with that, but it is what it is. Earlier I was trying to read a book, but found that I kept having to read that same page over, and over, and over. Nothing was sinking in because my mind kept wandering to my old job that I used to have at the slaughter house. And I got to thinking about how much I missed the work. I don't regret my reasons for leaving that job, but I do miss the work. It was good, solid work that folks really appreciate, and I enjoy. Thinking about my old job led my wandering mind down the rabbit trailing thoughts of how fun it would be to own a mobile slaughtering unit (hey, there's always this gorgeous ride to consider, right? LOL. I'm 75% teasing on this one.), which led to finding and buying this cool looking book about a mobile poultry slaughter house (It's almost creepy how excited I am for this to come. I also have Joel Salatin's newest book coming, Jenna Woginrich's newest one on it's way, and one more book due soon... Yet I want this one more than any of them!!!), which then led that rambling mind to thinking about the Portable Plucker folks near me and what an awesome, lucrative gig that is for them, and then finally to the brand spankin' new slaughter house that opened down south in Brownsville (I still swoon over that pretty building, and how well they've set it up.). Yeah, my mind goes everywhere. You should try living with it for a day. *note much sarcasm*

  I believe the end result of all this mental wandering is that 1. I really miss slaughtering. And 2. this really seems like a good opportunity for anyone with the skill and stomach for it. Seriously! There is such a need for more processors; good ones. Especially mobile ones. Or at least folks who will rent out equipment, like what the Portable Plucker folks do.

 At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I'm going to make a statement that I normally keep to myself: If I was a guy, I would totally put myself in training to do this work. I'd be running after this idea so hard and fast that I'd put the Warner Bros. Roadrunner to shame (meep, meep!). But since I'm a girl, I've decided to stand back and try and keep a lid on this desire. Now, before y'all start huffing at me for sounding legalistic, or saying that there's no shame in a woman having her own career, or encouraging me to go for it anyway, allow me to explain. First off, this is merely MY conviction. I have no qualms with other women who have long term careers and whatnot; it's just not my personal cup of tea. It takes all kinds to make a world, and we need all these different people with their different tastes to make everything work. So this is mine. :) Okay, disclaimer is now over... I'm not actively pursuing a long term career because quite frankly, it gets lonely all by yourself. Farming alone is hard and I don't find it enjoyable (why do you think I bought a dog!?), running a slaughtering unit long term sounds just as lonely. Let's imagine for a moment that this crazy farm girl someday bumps into an equally crazy farm boy (remember? I'm a klutz; therefore, "bumping" into someone is perfectly legit in my case. And he'd have to be crazy too to put up with me and the fact that I like cows, bow hunting and know how to use a knife.). That'd be a dream come true if Mr. Right had a farm of his own, or at least liked the idea of going for it. Wahoo, I get to live on a farm! But my job wouldn't be to run the farm. I'd be backup, primarily doing the role of Farm Wife. And I'm okay with that. THAT is my long term goal. Call me old fashioned, but House Wife or rather, Farm Wife is long term goal. This farming gig which I've come to love so much is to keep me busy during these single years. Everything I've learned during these years will be handy in the future. I can milk cows, fix a vacuum pump, drive a manual truck, slaughter any animal, hunt, can, raise broilers, deal with customers, haggle with grain suppliers, and buy good quality hay (the gardening part is still a work in progress... *cough, cough*). If it came to where a second income was needed, then hey, I'm ready! I know what to do! But aiming for a long term career such as a mobile butcher (or a vet, or anything else) seems pointless to me, in my case (please notice emphasis; go back to disclaimer if necessary) when I would be giving it all up after the honeymoon. In the end, I get to be the brains, and he gets to be the brawn around the place (I kid. I wanna' drive the tractors too. Okaaay, I'm teasing again. He'd probably be both and I'd be the one wreaking havoc, bringing home new cows all the time, and annoying the stew out of him); meaning I'm in the background cooking up evil ideas that probably have some hole in them, but he'd be the one actually bringing home the bacon. There's no shame to keeping a house standing and raising a family, folks. That's my job. I've never been hugely keen on "stay-at-home dads" and "career moms". But again, just my tiny two cents with which you can do whatever you like with (meaning chuck it, or agree with it). But you know what, if Mr. Right needed a working partner for whatever reason, I'd be right there doing it (hey he could drive the semi and I'll use the sharp, pointy knives! Grand idea!). So if that means I'm an "employee" who does evening milking for 300 cows, or drives the tractor/combine all day long until harvest season is over, then fine. I'm good with that (as long as the tractor is green. I might have qualms if it's red or blue). The difference here is who's boss. Somehow I don't think the marriage would be as strong if I was the one running the 300 cow dairy and I told Mr. Right that his job around the place is to do what I tell him... ;)

  Now, where in the world was I going with all this? You see, my mind totally rabbit trailed and the above rant was originally not planned. Slaughtering. Yes, I was talking about slaughtering. If I was a guy, I'd consider it as a career. But since I'm not, I get the fun job of puzzling over how I can weave this interest into my life for a short term. I like a good mental puzzle, and this one has been fun to chew on during these rainy, quiet days before I leave. Who knows, maybe in the end I'll just do like the Portable Plucker folks and merely rent out equipment for other folks. I think even that would be enough...

  In the mean time though, I think I'm beginning to suffer from a serious case of cabin fever. And I've still got twenty seven days before I leave. Think I'll survive? ;)