Friday, July 29, 2011

Extremes

Thirty-six. That is the number of days we've had in the triple digits this summer. Fifty-one is the all time record and we haven't even gotten into August yet. Looks like this summer could go down in history as the hottest summer on record. Phew. It's tough on everything out there. The heat is killing off or severely stunting the growth of grasses meant as food for livestock. Herds of cattle are going to auction because there is just no way to feed them. It's pretty depressing around here, as it is for most of the country.

I was a little worried about getting hay this year for the animals but it worked out ok. I'm lucky enough to have an "in" with Jessica's family and they look out for me. Which I'm grateful for. They gave me a heck of a deal on 160 bales of prairie hay. That along with the 20 bales in the shop are enough for a full year of hay. The two miniature horses are "dry lotted" or kept in an area where they are unable to graze due to their easy ability to founder. I feel bad for them not being able to go out and graze but after seeing how painful founder is I'm ok with keeping them locked up in their pen. The goats get out to graze nearly daily but they are overgrazing since it's not growing with the heat.  I think that keeping livestock happy in the summer is nearly as difficult as it is to keep they alive in the dead of winter. We went from having a -16 degree winter to a 111 degree summer. Talk about extremes!

I've talked to a few hay dealers and they said farmers are getting about half as much hay as they did last year, therefore with supply and demand they are asking upwards of $7 and $8 dollars a bale. Last year was $3 a bale. That's some CASH when you are looking at feeding herds of cattle and horses. Many  people around here are heading north and bringing down loads of hay to store for the winter.  Having animals is expensive at times.....especially during a drought.

On a sad note, I did loose one of my hens at the beginning of the month. I believe she died from the heat, I found her lying in the hen house which can get pretty warm. It was a 105 degree day (aren't they all?!)  Poor Poppy.

Hay, glorious hay!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bennett's Baptism

We traveled to Kansas City this past weekend to be there for baby Bennett's baptism. He's such a sweet laid back baby, just a smiley happy little thing. My sister is one lucky gal. We had a nice time seeing everyone and a good time was had by all.

Such a smiley little baby.

A nice baptism.

Greta let down her guard around Uncle Blake.....as long as there were books involved.

My kids were very helpful when it came to opening baptism presents.

Church nursery was a hit!

As was Aunt Betsy's slip n slide. We are now on the hunt for one....nobody has any.

He's in his tighty whiteys, we were too lazy to go out to the car to get his swim trunks.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ten Years


I can't believe it's been ten years since that incredibly hot day in July when I married that handsome, young college boy. It's been a wonderful ten years and I can't wait to see the next ten.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Funday Sunday: Zucchini Brownies

Yep, I'm aware that it is not Sunday. I don't care, I had to share this awesome recipe for zucchini brownies. You see I am drowning in zucchini. I've won my battle against the squash beetle (well still battling I guess) and I am left with more zucchini than I know what to do with. It's a wonderful thing to have this problem. So I've raided the internet in hopes of finding something new and exciting to make. I've burnt everyone out on zucchini bread and sauteing it, so the newest thing is zucchini brownies. They are moist and so delicious. Please give em a try if you too find yourself with a zucchini or two to spare. Best thing? The kids don't know they are plowing into something packed full of shredded veggies! I even got Wesley to eat the batter (no egg in it) and he came back wanting more. If a 13x9 inch pan of these is too much you can successfully halve the recipe and put it in a round 8 or 9 inch pan.




Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Frosting
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits


-Guess who canned today for the first time? Me! I've been wanting to learn to can for awhile, and now that the garden is producing in abundance I felt it was time. So today I went out and picked a few pounds of cucumbers and made some dill pickles. It was fun, easy and super messy. The stove looks like something exploded all over it. The next thing to can will be jalapeno jelly, yum!


-Horrible picture, I know. She's going to kill me when she gets older. Well, Miss Greta has shown an interest in potty training so I figured it was time to start the process. I know she's not even two years old but she's acting ready. She likes to take off her diaper when it's full of urine and come give it to me. She'll tell me when she needs to go number 2 and then go hide behind the couch to actually go. Today she came up to me and told me she had to pee so I ran up and got the little potty seat out of storage and she sat on it for a good 10 minutes. I can hardly wait to have the last kid out of diapers, and so it starts.



-The siding project is nearly done! Hubby started tearing off the rotten siding over the July 4th weekend and finished up this past weekend....just have to put up a little trim around the window. We laugh when we think we could have completed it in that long four day weekend. He did an awesome job! I think climbing all over 15 feet of scaffolding has helped him get over his fear of heights. The red 2X4's you see in front of him he actually nailed to the house to keep himself from falling off the roof of the bay window (which he's standing on). The scaffolding couldn't be put over the bay window. I'm so happy he survived!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Piggy Pinata


So one of the things that Wesley wanted at his birthday party was a pink pig pinata. Don't ask me why. After some searching the internet for an evening, I settled on a nice big pink pig pinata from Amazon. Two weeks later I was filling it with loads of candy and hanging it from a tree. The rest was captured in this video. Pardon the laughing, I found it to be hysterical....but it was 105 degrees so I might have just been delusional.

video

Dad holding the carcass.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chapter Closed

I do believe I am done with milking a goat. Whew. I've been trying to dry Dym up since April and boy, has it been a challenge. You see there is very little information out there on how to dry up a goat with the udder that Dym has on her. She's got long, pendulous teats with an udder that isn't attached very well to her body. Add to that she produces a HUGE amount of milk. Combine all that and you have a goat that's difficult to dry up (stop milking). In April I went from milking her daily to milking her every other day. Two weeks later I skipped another day. And so on. Finally last month I was milking her once every six days and still getting two gallons each time. I felt that this could have gone on forever. So I talked to a few knowledgeable people and was told to just stop milking her. So around the middle of June I milked her out and left her alone. She wasn't too pleased with me but she got over it and finally it looked like she was done making milk. The problem with her udder was that she couldn't reabsorb the milk in her bag since it didn't attach to her body very well. Poor goat was just lugging this bag of milk around everywhere. So I let a month go by and last night I milked her out for a final time. I think everyone involved is happy that experience is done.Thanks Dym for letting me learn on you.....you are an awesome goat.

My homemade set up....worked for six months. Thanks Brenda for the use of the milking machine, you saved my hands. Literally.

Sweet Dym.

Come on Ma! Share the good stuff!

Dym's cute kids sure are getting big.....the boy is nearly as tall as Mom.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Birthday Boy

Wesley turns four years old today! I can't believe we have a four year old now. He's growing so fast it's hard to believe it's already been four years. Crazy! We celebrated with a party this past weekend. A while back I had asked him what he wanted for his party and he was very specific. He wanted a giant blue cake and a pig pinata. Yep, I thought it was a strange request myself, but was happy to try and make a reality. So I hopped on Amazon and found myself a pig pinata pretty easily. Then Saturday night I whipped up a "giant" blue cake. It was a fun party and was nice to see my sister, her hubby and kids, Jessica and Josh and the kids and my parents there. Wesley had a blast!

Birthday boy in his hat....got a picture of him in it every year now. Can't wait to take a picture of him at 18 in it.

He seemed to enjoy his big (leaning) blue cake.

Yum!

The kids having lunch.
Everyone was very generous and the kid made out like a bandit when it came to presents. My Mother-in-law called to ask what he might enjoy this year and we had to brainstorm over the phone trying to figure out what might be a good gift. I told her that Wesley LOVES to clean. He's constantly wiping stuff down with rags and he even has his own kid sized broom and mop. He'll take the cushions off the couch and ask me to get the vacuum out to suck up the dirt, so I suggested a Dust Buster. A few days later a nice box showed up on the doorstep. Sure enough he's thrilled with his new portable vacuum. As soon as he gets up in the morning he's already got it down and is walking around sucking up stuff in his pajamas. It's hilarious. He'll literally use it until it's battery is low, then we have to put it up to charge. He loves it, thanks Granny Randi and Papa Rich!

I doubt many four year olds have a hand vac....and love it.

Immediately trying it out on the couch dirt.

Four kids playing with the air craft carrier...oh wait, that's three kids and my Dad. Another hit! Those Imaginext toys are awesome. Thanks Mom and Dad!


Mom with baby Bennett....what a happy, laid back baby! 


Oh and can't forget Dad with Bennett. 


video

Monday, July 11, 2011

Water Fun!

My sister and her family came down for the weekend for Wesley's birthday party. It was sure nice to see her kiddos. Baby Bennett is already three months old and growing like a weed, as is Emery who is roughly the same age as Greta. The sun was shining and we thought it'd be nice to let the kids play in the pool. So after slathering them up with sun block we let them splash around in the kid pool.





After a bit, the little one's diapers swelled up so bad with water that we took them off. So two of the three became naked little swimmers. I'd like to say they took to the water like ducks but not so much. There was so much slipping and sliding and coughing up water that it was exhausting. Not to mention it was a thousand degrees outside. Luckily we weren't outside very long since we discovered it was almost literally a thousand degrees outside.


Man this is one hot summer! Broke all sorts of records with this temperature. Hope everyone is staying cool wherever you are. Birthday party pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Under the Weather

We had our first experience with ear infections yesterday. Poor Greta started screaming around noon and wouldn't stop. Nothing could be done to console her. It was sad....and very loud. She sat at the table for lunch with one hand pressed over her ear saying "Head!" I called the pediatrician and was able to get her in later that afternoon. Sure enough she had fluid in her ear but the ear drum hadn't burst yet. The doc prescribed some antibiotics but I asked if they were necessary. According to the pediatrician they give antibiotics to children under two years old. Over two years old they wait and watch and give only if a fever spikes or it continues for longer than 48 hours. Since Greta is two months from her second birthday I opted to wait and watch, the doctor was fine with that. When we got home Greta just laid on the couch for three hours without moving (pictures below). I gave her Tylenol every four hours. She was acting pretty puny. Poor little girl. She slept last night for nearly 14 hours straight and woke up her bubbly energetic self. She's only said "Head" twice today so we are laying off the Tylenol as well. Looks like she's over it. Hopefully our first and last experience with ear infections.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mid Summer Garden 2011

The garden has exploded in growth! It resembles the Amazon back there. I'm getting dozens of cucumbers a day, along with several yellow squash a day. The zucchini are growing well but only giving me about one every other day....so far enough for two loaves of zucchini bread YUM! The corn is almost ready, maybe just another week on the early variety. But the thing I'm most excited about? I have half a dozen cantaloup growing and about a dozen watermelon. I'm so excited to dig into melons!

I'm still fighting the squash beetles but their numbers are nothing like they were last year. Every seven days I spray the squash with insecticidal soap and once every two weeks I spray the cantaloup and watermelon with an insecticidal oil. The soap was too expensive to spray much with ($5 a bottle and I needed two every week just to do the squash) so today I picked up some concentrated Neem oil. It dilutes to 2 Tablespoons per gallon and the bottle was $19. I'll have the bottle around for a couple of years I'm thinking. Much better deal than the soap. Hope it works as well. The only plants under attack are the squash so far, but last year the beetles spread to the cantaloup and wiped it out within a week. So I'm keeping my eyes open. I'm sure enjoying the garden this year.

First kid that was dragged out to the garden.....the whole time "Mom, it's too hot, I want to go inside."

A sea of cantaloup vines intermingled with Butternut squash and cucumbers.

Watermelon!!!

A whiny Wesley among the sunflower forest. Those things require A LOT of water. They are all about up to his belly except one, a few feet from his left shoulder, that is taller than him.

Greta was wondering why Mom dumped her in the middle of the squash and ran to take her picture.

Cantaloup!!! I took this picture three days ago and now they are softball size. Cool.

Butternut squash! There has to, literally, be 50 of them out there.

Zinnias are now my favorite garden flower. There are going to be so many zinnias next year.....I might have to devote a whole bed to them. Beautiful flowers and they bring all the excellent pollinators to the garden.

Children of the corn.....and one picking her nose!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekly Winners

The kids LOVE watching YouTube videos. The flavor of the week? Reba Mcentire's "Turn on the Radio." Wesley knows about 70% of the lyrics. It's a hoot.

Painting time in Daddy's old t-shirt. She's a pretty good painter....maybe a chip off the old block.

When it's 103 degrees out, it's chair sitting time.

Or stump sitting time. Greta likes to dip her head in her water table.

Reading time with Grandma. Greta piles the books in your lap and yells "READ!".

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Our Rotten Problem

This is what poor Hubby gets to do for his long Fourth of July weekend.


Right about now you are saying to yourself "Wow, glad I'm not him!". I've caught myself muttering that phrase a few times. If the kids weren't so young I'd be out there with him working but luckily unfortunately I have to babysit. He's a trooper! He's gotten all the rotten siding stripped from the east side of the house and will start putting up new stuff tomorrow. I was out in the shop late tonight painting siding. There will be lots and lots of painting. The old siding wasn't painted on the back or edges so it rotted faster than normal.

To add to the insult, it's been over 100 degrees here the past week. It hit 103 on Friday. Talk about miserable. It's strange how many house projects we've started lately, yet the outdoor project is the one we focus on when it hits 100 degrees. It's not raining and that's what is important. Wish him lots of luck and balance.