Winter Wonder thaw!

So it’s been a while since I posted, we have been a little overwhelmed by the weather. I hope that you all made it through snowzilla! Atlanta is about sixty miles to the north-east from us and it was as bad as the news reported it. People laugh at southerners when it snows. But have you ever experienced snow/winter precipitation here? If not, you have no idea. Even though it doesn’t snow here we have blustery cold winters, sometimes even colder than the northern states. Our climate is very humid year round and that makes the cold even more cold. Think about the air around you being an ice-cube and that is what it is like. No most of us are not accustom to driving in the winter precipitation, be it sleet or snow. So when we have both as fast as we did a few weeks ago, it can take us hot-blooded southerners by surprise.

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Our animals are also accustom to mild winter conditions. The farm the Herdsman works for produces Brangus cattle. The Brangus breed is a cross between Angus and Brahman cattle. It is a wonderful cross taking the best of both breeds. Angus are known for their intense marbling and mothering ability. The Brahman are known for their heat and disease tolerance, as well as frame size and mothering ability. We are at the end of a calving for the moment, but at the time of snowzilla we were smack dab in the middle of it. The first calf heifers did a fantastic job with placing their calves out of the wind and into the hay that had been rolled out for them. Some calves did get frost bite on their ears, but that could not be helped. With temperatures below freezing for several days in a row and wet babies being born is not a combination that any cattle producer wants. The Herdsman and the farm were glad to have everyone come through and it is a real testament to the perseverance of the cattle and the hard work the men of this farm do.

I myself had a sever dose of cabin fever! Being a stay at home mom is still new to me and although I enjoyed watching the girls have fun in the snow, it was even better to see the school bus! The rewards of being at home vs. working full-time are tremendous. The decision was made so that I could continue my education at the status of full-time.  We also used my whole paycheck as a state equine inspector to pay for child care and gas to get them to and from.  I am currently taking four classes online and it’s just about all I can do to keep up with my work and the kids.

The Herdsman was especially cold and ready for spring. I hope you all will take the survey that I posted in January. It will help me to post about things you want to know about. I have been thinking about doing a video post to show you what the herdsman does everyday, but I will have to play around with that. I’m also glad spring  is coming because I’m planting a garden! It’s been several years since we had a garden and we love tending our crop. I think fresh is best, don’t you?

Untill next time, I hope you will enjoy sunny day’s!!!

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From the reader…

So I have a question for you the reader. What would you like to know about our farm? It’s hard not to be technical sometimes, so please let me know what you enjoy about what I have written thus far. I have also asked my fellow agriculture associates to be contributing writers. Look for those special guest in the coming months!

Arctic Cold

Most of North America is bracing against the arctic cold that is rushing upon us.  I can not remember when it has been this cold. When talking to my grandmother today, she recalled back in the late 1970’s being the last time she had seen it below 30 degrees for any given time. She remembered not having any power and the huge live oak behind their house dropping limbs covered in ice. Grandma said that it was so cold that the hog’s burrowed themselves in straw.

As I look out at our cows at the house, I see that they are bedding down in the low parts of the pasture’s and have placed their calves in hay piles. We have a group of first time mama’s in the pasture that surrounds three sides of the house. Three calves were born last night and The Herdsman was up and out the door at 5:30 this morning to check on them. Even though these mama’s are new at taking care of their calves, they are doing an excellent job. I watched the cow’s move around the pastures for the better part of the morning trying to keep worm and at the back of the herd was where the three mama’s were. The little calves trotting close to their mama’s.

The Herdsman has spent most of yesterday and today putting hay out to all of the cattle. Most of the hay he put out yesterday had to have more added to it because the cows are eating it so fast. Hay and feed are one of the ways cattle keep their body temperature elevated.  Cattle in the south are definitely not use to wind chills in the negative! The people are not used to it either.

Most of the horses on the farm have shelters provided to them, but The Herdsman’s horse “Leo” and two others only have trees to shelter them. So tonight Leo and his pasture mates get to go in the barn.  It would be nice if they could always go into the barn, but to be honest not many horses like to be confined to the barn.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a horse chose to stand out in the elements instead of in a shelter. It’s where they are most comfortable and have their surroundings in view at all time.

I ask that you pray for the men, women, and livestock that are braving this crazy weather.  “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Genesis 2:26

The New Year, Southern style!

I’m not sure where most of you are from, but everywhere has traditions for the New Year. In the south we celebrate with  food of course.  It is imperative that a proper New Year feast includes black-eyed peas, collard greens, and pork.

086 087       I have watched this meal be prepared for thirty-two years. It’s always the same and I never get tiered of eating it. With out prompting; every year I was told why we ate the same thing every New Year.

But how did this tradition get started? Being a history major, I did a little research. I found that everyone agrees on the following.

During the Civil War in the South the Union Army took what ever was available. More than just the good silver was looted. Any food grown on the farm and especially the livestock were also sweep up by the Union Army for their own consumption. But when it came to the black-eyed pea they considered the bean only fit to be consumed by animals and so they did not bother with taking it. Many feel that is when the tradition started and that because they were one of the only sources of food. The dry bean when soaked in water greatly expand, therefore symbolize humble beginnings lead to expanding wealth.

The collard greens, or greens as we call them in the south, are associated with good luck with monetary gain. Being that U.S. currency is green. They are also a staple in most southern states. Pork is thought to be a part of the meal due to their ample fertility and that they root the ground in a forward motion. Thus representing a positive motion going forth into the New Year.

How ever you celebrate the New Year, I pray that it is blessed with family and friends. The Herdsman and I are excited to see what 2014 holds. Many changes are evolving on the farm and we are positive they will be good changes. I hope that you will share some of your regional New Year traditions with me. I love to learn about traditions and I hope that my readers will share them to keep them alive. Happy New Year and don’t forget the cornbread!

Nutter Butter Balls

Do you love peanut butter and chocolate? They are my two favorite things to put together.  If you are looking to take out some of your holiday stress…this is also a great way to do so.

Ingredients

1 package of Nutter Butter cookies                                                  IMG_20131218_113253_838

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened)

1 package of Ghirardelli Chocolate chips for candy making

Place all but 5 cookies into the food processor or in a ziplock bag and crush into a fine consistency. (Fun, Fun)

combine with cream cheese with a spoon or your hands (washed hands first). I like to use my hands. Place a teaspoonful of the mixture into the palm of your hand and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on to a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Once you have used all the mixture, place the cookie sheet into the refrigerator for fifteen to twenty minutes. This helps when you are coating them with the chocolate.

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Melt the chocolate as directed on the package. I used a medium pot filled 1/4 of the way with water and placed a clear glass bowl on top of it. Be sure that the water in the pot doesn’t touch the bowl. That can cause the chocolate to burn.  Have a second baking sheet out and covered with wax paper for the finished product.

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Place balls into the melted chocolate with a toothpick. Roll the ball around until completely covered. Place it on the second baking sheet. Once all the balls are coated, place them into the refrigerator to set up.

Enjoy!!

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Christmas goodies, yeah boy!!

This time of year I find that my kitchen is full of treats baking and laughter.  What better to excite your senses than that combination.  As a child I can remember mashing potatoes for potato candy and cutting up fruit for ambrosia. I have always thought that the gift of sweet goodies was the best gift I could give.  I love to bake and Christmas is my favorite time of the year. The girls are always a part of my holiday cooking in the kitchen.  It is my hope that it will always be something that they will look forward to and pass it on to their children.

I like to find new recipes to do each year to go along with our favorite’s. Usually we fix hay stacks, sugar cookies, and spiced checks mix. This year since I am at home now, we have made so many new goodies! It’s been a first for many of the goodies. Like Snickerdoodles, Nutter Butter Balls, Jelly rolls, and a twelve layer chocolate cake. I would like to share these with you and I hope that you can enjoy them as much as we have.

Vanilla Snickerdoodle Cookies

Ingredients Needed                                IMG_20131218_120335_447

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) Jell-O  Vanilla Instant Pudding

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees farenheit

In mixing bowl blend butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar until blended well. Add in dry pudding mix, eggs and vanilla. Mix until well blended.

While first part is mixing; Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Once first part is blended; start gradually add flour mixture until blended.

In a container ( I used a washed lunch meat container) mix remaining granulated sugar and cinnamon. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; roll a few balls at the time in the mixture evenly coating each ball. Place balls on baking sheet ( spray with cooking spray prior to placing balls on sheet)

Bake 8-10 min. or until lightly browned. cool on wire racks.

 

 

Faith, Family, and Farm

When The Herdsman and I decided that we could not live without one another, He said, ” So, do you want to get married?”  Needless to say, romance is not a part of The Herdsman’s personality! I obviously said yes and its been an adventure from day one. The Herdsman and I felt it was important to discus our beliefs early on in our relationship. It is our faith in the Almighty God that has made us strong as a couple when faced with individual trials, as well as situations that test our marriage. One of the biggest subject we discussed was how to rear our children.  We agreed that immersing our children in the word of God, as well as living our lives as God would have us live it was most important.  That being said, we are not perfect and don’t expect our girls to be. We just want to strive everyday to make the best effort of living as God would want us too.

Our family unit is built on personal responsibility. Everyone has to carry their weight so that we can balance. We try to do this by assigning chores. The Herdsman is responsable for the outside of the house and maintenance of the house. I take care of cleaning, cooking, and care for all living things in the house. Em has to keep her room clean and the play room picked up. While the youngest mostly tag’s along behind me; she does help carry laundry, gets utensils out of the dishwasher, and helps her sister clean up the play room. We like to do a lot together as a family. Cooking is one activity that we enjoy the most. The Herdsman likes to cook and we will cook together sometimes. Every meal we say our blessing before we eat and thank God for being able to be together. We also like to guess the “secret ingredient” in the main dish. It’s a game that we made up mainly to encourage Em to eat different ingredients, but it also lets us just talk to one another.

The farm is our way of life. Our faith teaches us that God made animals and then he made man. We feel that the lessons learned by living on a farm will prepare our girls for life. The miracle of a new life and seeing that moment as it happens is a beautiful thing. They also see the finality of death and that death knows no age. The girls are learning that a calf who has to be bottle fed will be looking for them to come and feed it. Grass has to be planted for the winter so the cow’s will have grass to eat. The cow’s have to be feed regardless of if it’s 85 degrees or 29 degrees.  Our way of life is not understood by the mass majority of people today.  People don’t understand that we can’t just up and go on vacation or that the cow’s don’t just stop having calves so you can go on holiday. People laugh when I tell them that we planned our wedding and children’s births around calving and hay season. Reality is that if I wanted to go on a honeymoon it wasn’t going to be when he had calves coming or hay in the field. If I wanted him to be able to be with me during the birth of our girls, we had to plan it.

The average person with an 8-5 job can not imagine having to live their work.  The farmer is up before the sun and many times home after it goes down.  We see that our life contributes to feeding the world and feel that it is our duty to do so.  Even when farmers and ranchers are made out to only be harvesting government subsidies and poisoning the world. There will always be people who take advantage of government handouts, but they are a small percentage of the mass majority of those who truly need help.  We can only have faith in our Lord to bring our family and farm to the table!