Welcome to Antler Valley Farm

farmphoto1364

Can It Really Be December??

Is it really December already???  How did another year come and go so quickly?  That’s just not right.  I’m still struggling not to write 2018 on my checks and now I have to start over with 2020.  Nope.  Not liking it.  I am a creature of habit and I need some more time to adjust to 2019 and all the many changes we’ve had.  Oh, how I wish it worked that way!  Since I’m not ready for 2020 at all I’ll just finish telling you about our last month of 2019.  Okey, dokey.

I love taking sunrise and sunset pictures.

I love that each one is so different yet they all provide me with the same sense of awe, wonder and peace.

Just after Thanksgiving we went to find a Christmas tree.  The kids love to go pick out a live tree each year but they don’t like the long and winding road up the mountain. Maylin is prone to car sickness so a 1 1/2 hour car ride through curves and hills is torture for my sweet chatterbox.  So, this year we decided to try a new place that was much closer.  It was actually in Green River where a lot of my Mom’s relatives live.  It sounded perfect.  Off we went.

It was a cute little farm with people everywhere.  We hiked into the rows of trees and started sizing up each one, comparing them to our high standards.  High standards means that the tree has to appear somewhat alive and green and can’t contain any live animals bigger than a spider.  Ya know, high standards.  HA!

Those high standards are important as a parent.  Camden can find a “pet” anywhere.  To be honest, Maylin can too.  She has had her fair share of fish, turtles and even snakes.  Thankfully, this time the “pet” was a cute snail that we allowed Cam to keep.  I have learned to pick my battles as a parent.  Having a pet snail is much easier than a frog or snake.  A pet snake means that Jim and Maleah leave the house in protest and vacation at a local motel until said “pet” is gone from the interior of our home.  True story.

This tree wasn’t the tree we decided on but it was a great photo shot.  The girls loved this tree but it was way too big.  It would have taken up most of our living room!  By the way, where is Camden?  Excuse me, please.  I apparently have a missing child….

Oh, here he is showing his dislike of that tree.  Thanks for telling us how you really feel, buddy!

Picking our trees is so much fun for the kids.  And for me too.  I love watching them size up each tree.  The reasons they have for liking or not liking a tree is quite comical sometimes.  One tree was too fat.  One was too green.  Another was too grinchy.  Wait, what??? Yeah, apparently trees can be “grinchy”.  Who knew??

Jim hates it when I take surprise pictures of him.  Sorry!  I’m so blessed to be married to this handsome, gentle, giant of a man.  This man will always have my heart so I have to take his picture every chance I get.  Did I mention how handsome I think he is?

Sweet Maylin… just before she realized these trees were hiding a dark secret.  They were porcupines in a former life! I’m so not kidding!!

Maylin thinks I’m kidding.  Nope, honey.  Don’t touch the trees!!  They attack!!  And they are vicious!

Notice their hands in their pockets?  That is NOT because it’s cold.  Nooooo.  It’s because they have both been attacked by a tree already.  In hind sight, we probably should have left and went somewhere else for a tree but we thought it might somehow work out ok.  We were wrong.  So very, very wrong.  It’s over now, so I’m going to try not to dwell on those evil trees or the particularly spiky spawn of **** that we brought home.  Let’s move on for a minute to our almost grown Maleah.  Did I just say that???  Oh, dear.  Now I really am going to try.

Maleah looks so grown-up this year.  I don’t like that one bit!  Why can’t kids stay small a little longer?  Blink and somehow they are 19!  It happens so fast.

This is the tree we thought was the least pokey.  Ha!  It was definitely pokey.  Very, very sharp and ready to pierce anything in a 10 mile radius.  Oh, how I loathed this tree by the time it was over.  Never again will we have sharp weapons disguising themselves as tree branches again.  We will go for the softer trees regardless of how far we have to travel to find one.

Every one found a tree they liked but each tree had the same problem.  The trees thought they were porcupines!  I’m not kidding!  By the time we picked a tree and brought it home I had already dished out about 5 band-aids.  When we got home and started decorating the tree we had to break out gloves to even get the decorations on the branches!  It was funny at first, but not so funny after a few days of battle scars.  I will admit that this prickly-pokey tree did break the puppies bad habit of messing with the Christmas tree.  They couldn’t even steal an ornament without whining.  So, while the tree became despised and known as “The grouchy porcupine” it was a great lesson for the Basset Hounds.  Next year, we will all enjoy a nice, soft tree that we can love on.

Needlesss to say that this tree was drug out into the yard just a few days after Christmas.  No one wanted it left in the house.  We all wanted to be able to relax and not worry about pine quills being imbedded into our skin.  Since we usually leave our tree up until the end of January, the house seemed bare without it.  Not to mention the holiday season seemed over so quickly without decorations up.  I did not like it at all.  I even joked with Jim about buying another tree to put up for the month of January.  He laughed.  And then he left the room.  I took that as a NO.

The last month of 2019 might have proved to be the busiest month of the year.  That’s the case though.  Isn’t it?  Yep.  Well, this year we added in a whole new level of craziness with a new milk cow and calf,  a pletheria of mastitis and milk production issues and a school schedule that left me dizzy.  I went from milking at the barn each day to helping kids at school shop for their parents in the Penguin Patch. Then it was helping with train rides, faculty appreciation lunches, ornament making and snowball fights.  Whew!  And that was only half the stuff that went on in December!

The kids at school were extra good this year so Santa made a special trip from the North Pole to visit them.  Doesn’t Santa look real?  I mean, that is exactly what a Santa should look like.

Maylin is on the verge of not believing in Santa.  That breaks my heart so much.  I want her to believe in all the magic of childhood for as long as possible.  Yet, this Santa made her believe for another year.  Thank you awesome Santa!

This is Camden and classmates riding on the Little Blue Choo.  Ok, riding is not the correct word.  Zooming is a better word.  That train flys!  I was a little scared that the train would achieve lift off but thankfully that didn’t happen.

I love all the memories that the kids are making in school this year.

To begin the month of December we were still dealing with some ongoing mastitis issues from sweet Daisy Mae.  She showed no clinical signs of mastitis but every other day or so I would get a “trace” or a “slight” positive on both the paper strips and the liquid CMT test from the same front teat.  The next day with no treatments at all it would be all clear again. I was so confused and our vet felt like the tests were not a big deal since they weren’t consistently positive.  To make matters worse Daisy’s milk quantity was no where near consistent.  At first we got 1-2 gallons of milk every morning.  Then near the end of December her milk dropped to only a quart a day.  Our vet suggested that Daisy was coming into heat and experiencing a dry spell.  She suggested more oxytocin injections.  Well, that’s not very nice.  If you’ve ever had an oxytocin injection then you can imagine why I was hesitant to give a shot every day to sweet Daisy.   Yet, after a few days I did as she suggested.  Sadly, it did not improve her milk but it did give her very loose stools which ended up all over her tail.  Not so fun.  Daisy just wasn’t producing enough milk.  I asked repeatedly about her food intake and whether I was feeding enough but the vet assured me that Daisy was already quite large, had plenty of pasture, hay and grain twice daily to keep up her milk production.  I wasn’t convinced though.

This cow is a gem.  She is kind enough for the kids to love on and lead around.  She can be slightly pushy if grain is involved but she is also a hungry Mama.  I will admit to being a little grouchy about my food when I had nursing babies.

Just after Christmas I decided to call another vet for a second opinion.  I love our regular vet but I’m so glad we had the other vet come check on Daisy.  He was amazing!  And he lived on a dairy for over 8 years so his experience and knowledge was so useful! He checked Daisy’s milk glands and assured me that everything was in working order.  He took milk samples to send off and he thoroughly discussed feeding regimens.  He suggested increasing Daisy’s grain to help her milk supply until her tests came back.  Well, of course, Daisy loved that idea.  She enjoys her grain more than any animal I’ve ever seen.  She happily trots into the barn and pigs out every day.  It’s so cute!

I really wanted all my kids to learn how to milk a cow.  Maylin took the most interest in it though.  She was my little helper when she wasn’t in school.  I loved it!!

The next week the vet called and said all of Daisy’s milk samples and test results were perfect.  No problems at all.  So, we kept increasing her feed until we were feeding almost 12 lbs of food in the morning and again at night.  That is so much food!  Sadly, it didn’t help her milk production.  So, we scheduled another appointment with the vet in late January and hoped for the best.

The good news is that Daisy is an excellent Mom to sweet Clarabelle.  Clara is growing like a weed and learning every day how to behave like a good family cow.  She leads beautifully and is learning to stand tied.  Daisy has enough milk for Clara so that’s the most important thing right now.

I think I’ve been promising pictures of Maleah’s newest hens for some time now.  Sorry!!!  I finally have pictures of the newest ladies in the hen house.  They are the sweetest birds and they have even begun earning their keep lately.  Yep.  All 15 of them started laying in December!  Maleah now collects about 3 dozen eggs a day!  That’s a lot of eggs for this time of year when most chickens are molting.  All of our hens will likely molt next winter and leave us eggless for about 6-8 weeks while they grow out new feathers.  Hmmm…. I don’t like the sound of that!

These ladies are so sweet!  They love to be petted and carried around.

This one is beautiful!  It’s really hard to get good pictures of these ladies because they won’t leave you alone.  They huddle around your feet until you pick them up or love on them.  Awww!

So, we were getting around 3 dozen eggs a day.  That’s a lot of eggs!  I mean, I can only make so many omelets and quiches!!  Maleah’s egg customers were buying most of her eggs but we still had some extras.  We also knew that around Christmas most of her customers were going out of town and she would have about 20 extra dozen that week.  What??!?!?

My refrigerator will not hold that many eggs AND all my other groceries so I made some calls and found that the Farm Store in Mill Spring buys from ASAP certified farms.  Well, then.  It’s a good thing we became an ASAP certified farm!  They were wonderful to work with and just fell in love with Maleah and her eggs.  Most of their regular egg suppliers were out of eggs due to their chickens molting so they were thrilled to buy eggs from Maleah.  They gladly pay a fair price for all the eggs she has available and they are interested in her turkeys as well.  Wow!  What an amazing opportunity for Maleah and our farm!

 

Speaking of turkeys.  These guys are still here!  While they are very entertaining, they are also very loud!

We are still trying to find a place that will process these birds so they can be cooked and eaten on someone’s table instead of just perching on top of a table.  Those silly birds.  Don’t worry though. Maleah has convinced me to let her keep 1 Tom and 2 hens.  Now, she just has to convince her Dad.  Good luck, dear.

Somewhere around the first week of December I looked at my calendar and realized that Christmas was coming.  DuH!!!  I had exactly 2 presents bought.  Only 2.  2!  What???  Not exactly my finest Mom moment but that’s the reality of it.  Thank the Good Lord that someone was kind enough to invent Amazon Prime.  I normally try to shop locally and invest in other small businesses but this year I failed miserably.  The one day I went to do some Christmas shopping I came home quickly with a stomach bug.  So, I pulled out my laptop and shopped in between vomiting.  Again, not my finest Mom moment but it was all I could do.  I plan to try to do better next year.  I think I can,  I think I can!  Please keep any and all viruses and bugs far away from me next year please.  I have had my share and then some this year.

Just before Christmas this year Maleah decided she was ready to get her license.  Notice I said “Maleah decided she was ready”.  Yeah.  Mom wasn’t ready.  Mom was a basket case of emotions.  We didn’t think this day would ever come for her.  Yet, here she is.  Asking for her license after she’s worked her butt off to become a really good and respectful driver.

I kept putting her off.  I mean, she can’t take the driving test in the rain, right?  And she can’t take the driving test if I’m sick either?  I mean, maybe we should just wait until things calm down?  My calendar looks somewhat open for 2025 but ya know 2030 is wide open!

At some point, God really worked on my heart and made me realize that Maleah needs to take this step and I need to step back.  That is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a parent.  I’m letting my child, my beautiful, innocent child, drive off into a world that can’t possibly understand her the way I can.  She’s always needed me to talk for her, to take her to therapy, to help her stay on track, to find ways to help her regulate her sensory issues, to help her understand what others are asking of her, the list goes on.  I’ve been her crutch in life for her whole life really.  And now she can drive away.  I really needed a little more time to process that.  But Maleah was ready.

Ultimately, as a parent, you pretty much do what your kids need regardless of whether you are ready or not.  So, Jim took her up to the DMV.  I hated that I couldn’t do it with her but I had already committed to being at the school that morning.  And Jim is a Rockstar of a Dad.  He is so supportive and laid back at the same time.  I was a nervous wreck that day until she called and said that she had passed.  I had just left the school thankfully because I had tears streaming down my face.  I think I cried most of the afternoon actually.  I am so darn proud of that girl.  So proud!!  She is amazing and God’s miracles in her life always leave me speechless.  It’s been almost 16 years since we sat at the Fullerton Genetics Center and listened to them tell us that her chromosome abnormality would severely limit her abilities in life.  Having an incomplete trisomy meant that her prognosis was less than that of a child with Down’s Syndrome.  She has worked so hard in therapy all these years and has come so far.  She deserves her license more than any kid I know.  I still cry just thinking about it.  Okay, time for a tissue break….

Maleah looks so grown up in this picture.  This growing up thing that kids do is hard on a Momma’s heart.

So, now we have a young licensed driver in the house.  Wow.  Just WOW!  Maleah started out following us to church or to town so she could get used to driving in the car by herself.  She did awesome. She really did.  She has now progressed to driving to town by herself.  She even drives herself to knitting classes at night alone.  And Mom always stands by the door for a minute when she leaves to say a prayer for safety and a hedge of protection around her.

Maleah loves knitting and is getting quite good at it.  She makes washcloths, dish towels, scarves and now mittens.  Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Christmas was great this year.  We had a pretty low key event that morning and then went to Melissa’s house to open presents with the family.  Of course, we were all sick pretty much the entire break but at least we were together and regardless of being sick we really enjoyed all the family time.

 

As you can tell, Camden gets pretty excited about Christmas.  He was a happy boy this year.

Maylin looks like she is completely grumpy in this picture but she was actually just taking a break from opening presents.

Maylin got some really great science gifts that she was excited about.  That’s my girl!

I always love watching the kids at Christmas.  Lots of memory making in progress here.

  Maleah had a great Christmas as well.  She got several new CDs which is always her favorite gift.  This girl loves her music!

 

Santa brought a zipline for Christmas.  Pretty cool, huh?  I thought so too until I tried it and the line sagged until my knees touched.  That was slightly embarrassing and outrageously comical at the same time.

Maylin said the zip line was epic.  That is her new word.  Love that kid!  So far we haven’t had any major accidents.  Keep your fingers crossed please.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before a bone is broken thanks to this present but we will have lots of fun until then.

 

So, that’s a wrap on 2019.  I’m looking forward to 2020 and all the new adventures for our family and our farm.  Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone has a great 2020!!

 

 

 

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email