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2020 Here We Come (A month late as usual)

February.  It’s already February!  That makes it seem like the year is flying by and I’m already behind!  No, really, I am seriously behind on so many things right now.  It’s April and I’m still uploading pictures for the February blog post.  And in the process of doing that I’ve realized that I left out the snow pictures from the last of January.  What can I say?  I think I’ll borrow one of Maylin’s lines and just say, “It’s a gift!”  I so love that kid and her carefree wisdom.  HA!

Since it’s better to be late than never, and since I also LOVE some good snow pictures, I will now show you the snow pictures from the last of January.  A month late.  Sorry.  I would promise to do better, but I can’t bring myself to make promises that I feel certain I can’t keep.  I will try to do better but I certainly can’t promise!

We had snow the last week of January and then another small snow the first of February.  Neither snow lasted more than a few hours but it did cancel schools a few times since the temps were hovering around freezing.  School was also closed due to flooding rains.  Just another crazy year of weather.  That really seems to be the normal lately.  I should just expect crazy weather all the time and then I won’t be surprised when it happens.  Snow surprises are always welcome though.  It’s the ice that I despise.  You can bring on the snow anytime though.  We LOVE it!!!

This snow might not have produced a lot of snow but it sure produced some of the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen.  One snowflake could almost cover the palm of my hand!  They were really lovely!

Maylin came straight home from school one day and jumped on the trampoline and snowy slush for the longest time.  Hey, it was good exercise.  And then we had some lovely, hot chocolate.  Yum!  Good times and wonderful memories.

Camden loves sledding.  Always has and always will.  He gets it honest from his Mom.  Yep, that’s my boy.

Okay, maybe they both love sledding like their Momma.  Maleah loves sledding too actually.  I have successfully passed that gene down to all my kiddos.

Well, all the snow showers that quickly melted made us start thinking about the shape of our pastures.  Last year we dug up multiple soil samples and sent them off for testing.  We found out that our soil Ph level was pretty low.  We weren’t that surprised since we have a lot of red clay and a lot of broom sage growing in our pastures.  We really wanted to raise the Ph of the soil last year but we found ourselves pretty low on a long list of people that were needing lime added to their fields.  We waited and waited.  And it rained and rained.  When our turn came up on the list it kept raining and our pastures were too wet for the spreader trucks to get in and out of.  When it finally did dry up for a few weeks their truck broke down.  I am not kidding!  For 2 weeks they were without a spreader truck and we had the driest weather of the entire year.  Once their truck was fixed, the weather slapped us with more rain.  And then more rain.  It was enough to cause a landslide at the TN border which blocked the way for more lime to be delivered to them.  So, of course, when the weather dried up again, they could no longer get more lime.  The whole situation was so unbelievably crazy that we couldn’t help but laugh.  Okay, maybe Jim was laughing and I was not laughing as much.  I was a little frustrated and impatient….maybe more than a little actually.

We vowed that this year would be different though. 2020 should be a year of focus, right?  That’s right.  In 2020 we were going to focus and get this done.  I mean, how hard can it be to get the fields limed and raise the soil ph?  This isn’t rocket science people.  It’s traditional farming that is done everywhere, every year.  So, 2020 was going to be our year to get it done. Well, of course there is a story here as well…

It’s simple.  This year we were going to get lime spread on our fields and raise the Ph of the soil.  Simple.  Except the rains have continued all winter.  Since spreading lime can take months to really get into the soil to make a difference we started researching Bio-lime.  It’s a new product that is a liquid concentrate and is supposed to raise the Ph level of your soil within days.  Since it also adds beneficial bacteria and probiotics it also makes your soil much more productive in a very short time.  It sounded awesome but I was quite skeptical at first.  Then I started asking other farmers.  Everyone gave us really good feedback.  Our vet even gave it 2 thumbs up.

It sounded like a great idea now.  Except that we didn’t have a liquid sprayer…and they can be pretty pricey.  Like $8,000 pricey.  Whoa!  The prices to get someone to spray it for us was also pricey at $150 an acre-just for labor.  We had to supply the product.  Yikes!  Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.   Hold on a minute!  I’m about to have a great idea!!

One day when I was looking for a used sprayer online I scrolled past a pressure washer and realized that Jim still had a 500 gallon pressure washing tank sitting in our backyard.  We have used that tank for nearly 20 years now for a variety of things.  I can’t tell you why we’ve kept it, but we have and we’ve always found a use for it.  We even have the pressure washer that it hooks up to.  So by my calculations all we need is a larger sprayer nozzle.  Maybe something more like a pressurized drip sprayer with long arms or boom poles and a way to hook all this up together into a liquid lime spreader.  Crazy idea??  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Let’s ask the boss.

I took my idea to Jim thinking he was going to give me “the look” and walk away.  To my surprise he picked up the phone and called the tractor mechanic store down the road.  They are bunch of good ole boys who can fix and make anything.  Anything.  Including making a liquid lime spreader out of our old stuff.  They were intrigued and seemed excited to work on the project.  The only problem was that they stay quite busy.  With mowing and hay season coming up they promised to try to fit us in.  (Spoiler alert: It’s now April and they still haven’t finished it.  I’m so disappointed but we have bigger things to worry about in April right now so it will have to wait.  Since it’s already April and you’re reading this, you kinda know what I’m talking about.  That pesky Coronavirus just won’t go away!)

So, we wait.  Hopefully, they will have the sprayer put together soon and we can see if this stuff lives up to the hype.  If not, then we aren’t out that much money and we’ll go back on the list for powdered lime.  In the meantime, I will keep loving on the animals.

Large, medium and small, we have them all.  Cows, that is.  Love these ladies!

The next few months will bring a lot of challenges that most of us couldn’t ever even imagine, yet the world will turn upside down in a few short weeks.  For now though, we will laugh and joke about Rosie sticking her nose somewhere it didn’t belong and getting pooped on.  Poor Rosie.

Maleah loves sweet little Clarabelle so much.  They really have become the best of friends.

In January, we made the decision to leave Clarabelle with her Mom, Daisy, until she was at least 6 months old.  That decision left us without milk for the last few weeks.  However,  Daisy, must have known that the world was going to be put on pause.  She stepped up to the plate and started weaning her calf and producing extra milk for us.  At first, it was only a few quarts a day but some days she would have nearly 2 gallons in the mornings.  That was an amazing gift in these uncertain times.  We have been able to limit our trips to town for milk and even been able to share some of our milk with friends who need it.

These lovely flowers and delicious milk make my day.

In February we also made the difficult decision to get rid of some of Maleah’s turkeys.  She had 5 Toms and 4 hens and they were always fighting.  We tried separating them only to find that they will fight through any type of fencing. Their hormones are ridiculous.  Once they start fighting it’s nearly impossible to stop until one is seriously beat up.  And if they can’t fight through the fence they will pace back and forth and strike at the fence all day long.  Crazy birds.  The worst part was realizing that the hens were the ones who started the fights most of the time.  Well, I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, huh?

Maleah struggled with wether to sell them to someone or to process them and put them in the freezer.  In the end, she had several people who wanted to buy turkey meat from her so she found a local processor and we started preparing for our goodbyes.  We loaded up 6 turkeys, 1 crazy rooster and 2 mean hens in cages and put them in our stock trailer.

I’m not gonna lie.  It was rough.  She cried.  I cried.  Jim brought us Klennex.  Then, we both cried together.  At one point, I think our dogs cried.  It was brutal.  But that’s farm life unfortunately.

We went a few days later and picked up the processed turkeys.  I was in shock when I realized that they had done a very sloppy job on processing these birds.  I won’t go into a rant, but I will say that the turkeys weren’t sellable and we will never use them again for processing.  The turkey’s still had tons of pin feathers.  Tons!  It took me almost 20 minutes to pick the feathers off for us to cook the turkey.  Maleah’s heart was broken all over again.  She had made the decision to slaughter her turkeys and now she couldn’t even sell them for a profit.  I was mad as a wet hen, to say the least.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t much we could do either.  Complaining wasn’t going to change the fact they we were still going to be stuck with 9 birds in our freezer that we couldn’t sell.  I did the only thing I could.  Jim and I talked and then we stepped up and bought all the birds from Maleah for us to keep and eat.  Little did I know that God was really just providing extra food for our family for the coming months.  I had no idea how much that extra meat in the freezer would mean to us when we were under a stay at home under and everyone at the grocery stores were going crazy for meat, eggs and milk.

This beautiful Tom is Pikachu.  Obviously, Maleah let Camden name this one.  He is Maleah’s favorite Tom so we kept him.  I will admit that I don’t think he is the brightest crayon in the box but he is sweet and very easy to have around.  He is kind to his hens so far as well, so he’s a keeper in my book.  We also kept 2 turkey hens, Snow White and Aurora.  Even though we still have 3 turkeys it soooooo much quieter when we step outside.  We are no longer bombarded with an overwhelming chorus of turkey calls the minute we step outside.  Now, we just hear 3 lovely turkey songs when we step outside which is much more pleasant.

Just before we took the other turkeys to be processed we found our first turkey egg!  So exciting!  At first, we didn’t think the eggs were fertilized because…well….Pikachu didn’t seem to understand his role in the process. Poor Tom. We sold a few dozen turkey eggs and ate a few ourselves. Wow! Are they creamy and delicious!

A few weeks later we decided to check the eggs again to see if they were fertilized.  Yep, the first egg we cracked had an obvious “bulls eye” outside the yolk.  We have fertilized turkey eggs!  We decided to leave the eggs in the house with the turkeys and see if they would lay on them.  It would be lovely if the turkey hens could hatch and raise their own babies for us.  That would be so much less work!  Well, that might not work out the way we want….

The hens did start laying on the eggs though.  Snow White started laying on the eggs at first.  She kept the eggs warm for almost a week before deciding it was too much work.  Aurora was more than happy to take over her responsibilities and quickly snuggled herself in.

As February went on Camden and Maylin got strep throat again.  And then again.  Ugh.  I am so over strep throat this year.  The kids have never really strep throat until we put them in school and now they seem to have had it all winter.  At least it’s not the flu.  Or the Coronavirus.

Maleah also started having more problems with her jaw.  She still has 12 year molars that haven’t came all the way up yet.  She’s had multiple surgeries, numerous dental contraptions and procedures that haven’t been successful.  She’s only 19 and we hate to start removing perfectly good teeth just because they are stubborn so we were referred to another dental surgeon since the one we had been using had retired.

The first surgeon we saw recommended removing large amounts of jawbone in 4 places to get her molars to come in.  OUCH!!! The second surgeon we saw said it would never work and recommended that we pull her 12 year molars immediately.  Neither one was very talkative or empathic about what she has already been through or the fact that regardless of our decision she will have to face at least 1 more surgery.  So we asked around and got a few recommendations of other surgeons.  I pray that 1 of them will be personable, kind, informative and most of all has a better option for Maleah.  For now, that will have to wait though since all the offices began shutting down all appointments that weren’t emergencies.  This Coronavirus is really starting to sweep the country and changing everyday lives for everyone.

Some days Maleah’s jaw really bothers her.  It makes it difficult to chew and really just makes her miserable.  The dogs know exactly what to do.  They pile on and smother her with puppy love.  So sweet!

Maylin loves her aerial silks class. She is really amazing to watch on the silks. I can’t believe how fast she has picked up some of the skills.  She has worked so hard to learn a routine to perform at the end of the year show.  She was even given an award for student of the month.  Wow!  I’m so proud of her!

With all the confusion and panic of the Novel Coronavirus penetrating everything, it was nice to stay home and watch Cam learn to ride a bike.  Whoo-hoo!

Camden announced that he wanted to ride a big boy bike instead of his run bike one afternoon.  Less than an hour later he was racing around the yard.  Yes, racing because he couldn’t quite figure out the brake thing.  Never the less, I was so proud of him.

Sometimes Camden rides his bike down the hill to help collect eggs with Maleah.  He loves helping with the chickens and giving them hugs.  He just needs to work on not putting the eggs in his pockets.  He has a tendency to forget they are in there.  Then if a bike crash occurs we have egg yolks oozing out of his pockets.  That’s farm life with kids, I suppose.

Maleah’s little egg business is doing great.  Really great.  She is consistently selling out of eggs and has several people that want eggs if she ever has them available.  She also has another store and a CSA that wants to carry her eggs. How awesome is that?

She loves spending time with the chickens and turkeys so we started talking about helping her expand her business.  My prayer for all my kids is that they can find a way to earn a living doing something they enjoy.  It seems like Maleah is on the right path.

Maleah works really hard taking care of her chickens and turkeys and delivering all the eggs every week.  I’m so happy for her.  I’m just so darn proud of her.  I’m so proud of all my kiddos.  I’m one proud Momma bear!




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