What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The timing was impeccable.

We knew a calf would be happening over the weekend...but would it happen after Matt poured the concrete?  Would the concrete have time to set properly?  Would the vacuum pump be installed and the piping complete?  

And what about our farm boy Andrew- the boy who had been devouring every cow and calf book he could get his hands on for the last few months- copying the texts and illustrations for handwriting and copywork during school time and reciting telltale signs of first and second stage labor to any willing (or not) listening ear at every opportunity...(I heard more about a cow's swollen and purplish vulva than I care to even think about...particularly coming from my 9 year old son.)  Would Andrew be able to witness the ACTUAL birth or would Penny give birth at night...or while we were at church?  

Saturday was the due date but the barn project wasn't completely done so we were hoping Penny would wait until Sunday.  But Sunday- we are gone from about 9-1:30 for church and if she had her calf then, I knew Andrew would be devastated.  And then- there are only another good 3 1/2-4 hours before dark and things got even more tricky.  

When we left for church she was back at the edge of the woods- in the very spot where she had given birth the first time.  

Oh boy.

After church, as we drove up to the house, we all anxiously scoured the pasture for any signs of a calf.  Andrew ran to Penny the moment the van shut off and raced back, completely thrilled to give us the great news that her pin bones were loose and flabby and all the other telltale signs of labor.  We went inside, changed our clothes, ate some lunch and played a bit of checkers.  Andrew, all the while, came in every five minutes or so to give us detailed reports of her condition.  Then, at 2:45, he rushed in to tell us that there were feet!  And a snout with a tongue hanging out.  The boy was over the moon.

We all went outside to watch the 'action' take place but eventually Matt realized that Penny was having a bit of a time with it and not progressing as she ought.  (He had bred her-a Jersey- to a Holstein, making for a bigger, sturdier calf but perhaps a more difficult delivery.)  He eventually had to step in and help out. 

I wish I could look so serene when giving birth...

What a scrawny thing the calf was...and a girl! 

 I was surprised to see that while she was technically a 'Jerstein', she was pretty much all black!

All the animals came up to watch- it was quite an intriguing show!

I know animals are animals and all that...but there is no denying that a baby loves its' Mama and a Mama loves its' baby...  It was so precious to see them nuzzle each other and to see the dead-looking calf perk perk right up after its' Mama started licking it all over.

It was also super cute to see the calf eventually try (and fail) to get up.  And again.  And again.

It was pretty cold so Matt got the wheelbarrow to get the calf in the barn.  

You should have seen how fast that Mama was up after her baby!  She practically ran all the way to the barn!  I have to admit, I kinda feel the same way when the nurses snatch my newly born babies away for a wash up and measurements.  

The calf, dubbed 'Acorn' before she was born (and without knowing she'd come out black!), is doing well.  Sturdy.  Feisty.  And after a few scoury days, doing very well!

Those first two days were a terrible pain to get Acorn to eat- so when she finally started eating like she meant it- well, it was pretty exciting!  I love Corynn's face in this picture.  That is a girl overjoyed with a calf that actually WANTS to eat.

And this is the newest face on the farm.

We are, once again, in the milk making business! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


It's been a long while since I wrote a 'Weekending' post and, since this past one was a bit of a doozy, I knew now was as good a time as any.

Matt had quite a project he was working on every spare moment of a long-weekend (more on that in a bit...) so I tried to document that for posterity.  The rest of the photos I took over the weekend were of FOOD.

As I was scrolling through the pictures I thought "Wow.  Here Matt was so productive this weekend and accomplished so much...but it seems I did NOTHING this past weekend."  And then I started to think- now wait, I organized and cleaned the school room!  I organized the Spare Oom and emptied a dresser for Tiddle clothing!  I did this, I cooked that..."

And then I once again realized the sometimes discouraging truth of Mamahood... the work that we do is consumable.  The food we make gets eaten up.  The rooms we clean get disorderly as soon as we walk away from them.  The clothes we wash get dirty as soon as they find their way to little bodies.  

All that is left is crumbs and smudges.  And, well, I guess smiles and giggles and full bellies and warm bodies.

This, I suppose, is some solace.  ;-) 

Molasses cookies- so delicious.  I really must post this recipe sometime.  It has been a while since we made them and I had forgotten (until the batter was halfway mixed up and Corynn was nearing a panic with the enormity of it) that the recipe was a huge one- calling for 8 cups of flour!  Needless to say, we had molasses cookies spilling off the cookie sheets and we have quite a few frozen molasses dough balls in the freezer for a quick cookie bake.  ;-)

Matt made me breakfast one morning.  What a man!  

I roasted a 24+ pound turkey (bought from Wegmans at .48c per pound) over the weekend and then had a freezer meal making marathon for after Tiddle is born.  I made four turkey potpies (two nights worth of dinners) along with Turkey and Gravy (to be eaten over biscuits or toast), BBQ turkey for sandwiches, Turkey Soup and about a gallon of cubed turkey for turkey salad (all in meal sizes enough to feed our family).   Turkey dinners and molasses cookies- what more does a postpartum Mama need?!

While I was working inside all weekend (DOING THINGS! I DID!), Matt was racing against the clock to finish a barn project he started a couple of weekends ago.  Our cow, Penny, was due to deliver soon and Matt had quite a bit of barn work to do in preparation of that.  Penny had broken up much of the already broken up concrete over the last two years and the stanchions were small and uncomfortable for her to overwinter in anyway.  Matt had plans to take out the wooden stanchions and replace them with tiestalls (more spacious and comfortable) and pour concrete.  Which meant, of course, first breaking up the rest of the OLD concrete.

He made these plans early in the fall and then realized something else needed to happen first, which pushed the barn plans further down the road- and closer to both cold weather and Pennys' freshening. Ah- the pressure!  The race was on!

He took out the stanchions and then, with the help of the boys, pick-axed the concrete until it was no more.

Then, he had to build wooden frames in preparation of pouring the concrete.

He also had to move the vacuum pump further down the barn and re-do all the the piping and electrical stuff.

Concrete making and pouring day... that was a loooooonnnng day.

He poured concrete the day before the cow was due.

It really was a miracle that he finished the barn work before it was too late.  

I'm a wee bit jealous of Matt and his projects.  

They take grit and sweat and muscle and (most of all) time ~ but in the end, Matt can sit back and look upon his work with great satisfaction and pride, knowing that he has changed the landscape of the place for many years to come.  Not just for a few minutes. (Which is about how long I can change the landscape around here! hehehe) That four inches of concrete in the barn is going to be there as long as we are around (and longer!).  No one can break down the foundation 10 minutes after he replaced it.  The new siding on the barn and his new door and floor and porch are constant beacons of his hard work and reminders of a job well done....and well, done.  He DID that!  

I still can't believe he finished in time.  HE still can't believe he finished in time.

And it was just in the nick of time too- because guess what happened the very next day?!?

(Pictures of a very personal sort to come tomorrow...stay far away from this blog if birthing cows gives you a case of the squirmies!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tiddle :: 6

Living, Making, Doing :: A Countdown to Baby


Story time is getting pretty crowded around here.


The upstairs of our house gets pretty darn cold during the winter months and, while I have hope that this year may be better than previous ones, I knew I wanted to have a little extra warmth tucked away for Tiddle.    

I followed the instructions for the Patchwork SleepSack from the book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby by Anna Marie Horner but scratched the whole "patchwork" part of it.  Instead, I found such a perfect fabric already in my stash!  I lined it with flannel I was given earlier this year (in the EXACT amount I needed) and used leftover bits of bias tape, velcro and rick rack to complete it.  FREE!  


The biggles brought in the handmade cradle Matt made for our babies from the Granary.  

I cried when we put it in there last year and I very nearly cried when we brought it back in.  

Preparing for Winter: A Papa Project

The last two Pennsylvania winters on the hill were brutal.

 We had an inefficient woodstove which required about 24 face cord of wood to get us through- and not even warmly.  Can you understand how depressing it can be to cut down, split, stack, haul inside every week and burn up 24 face cord of wood and still be freezing cold all winter- wearing coats and bathrobes inside?  Having the ice cubes in my bedside water upstairs still fully formed in the morning?

Well, let me tell you.  It's depressing.  

So last year, instead of  putting our tax return money toward a new van as I had originally intended, we instead decided to invest in a more efficient woodstove.  I seriously questioned whether or not I could remain sane through another harsh winter.  I think we all did.

When the weather began to turn in October, we went to replace the very inefficient woodstove we had with our new 'Beast' only to discover- it wouldn't fit down the stairs.  We knew the foundation wall to the basement had been shifting but we didn't realize the extent of the situation until that moment.

The stone wall needed to come out for us to get the woodstove in and, it being the end of October and all, the clock was ticking.

So Matt does what he often does- he got straight to work doing it.  Just hauled right in.

I really admire that about him.

While Matt is the sort to just roll up his sleeves and get to work when a job needs done, I tend to think about what needs to be done, write a list of all that is needed,  break it into stages, think about when the perfect time would be to work on it, and then procrastinate until I can't procrastinate any longer.  

It took about two weeks to get to the next stage (time and weather factor in here) during which time we had just a tarp between the outside and basement.  Cats came in.  And cold wind.

And then came the block laying.


Next came the stairs.  Hauling armloads of wood down cellar every week on icy broken stairs was not fun, with a capital NOT.  It is a miracle no one broke their necks these last few winters.

So Matt made some forms and poured concrete.

Isn't concrete so beautiful?  It is to me. 

 (Now I KNOW I am officially a country girl...)

Testing them out after they've cured...

But the true test happens when we bring wood in for the first time:

Big helper!  He's so stwong!

We've had such an unusually mild Fall so far and for that I am SO, SO THANKFUL.  We would have been in BIG trouble if it had become cold early as the last two years have been!

 I would love it if a mild winter followed this blissfully mild fall.  But if not- we are ready to hunker down on this hill to survive (nay, thrive!) through the winter.

Thanks to the hardworking fellow who lives here and God, who gave us not only the means to do it but also gave this particular fellow to me.