Zechariah 13:9

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. Zechariah 13:9

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our House - Our Home - #1

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

  • Our House - Our Home - #1

    Yep!  It is the wee hours of the morning again and here I am.  I was wondering why this is happening - me getting awake in the middle of the night and came up with 2 reasons.  The 1st is that I am a very light sleeper.  Half of me sleeps and the other half listens.  I think it is just part of motherhood.  First it was the baby stage and getting up at night to tend to their needs and then just moves on into the rest of the stages - you know, like, is that someone throwing up?  who just went downstairs?  did our teens get home yet? what was that noise?    and if you are a mother I sure you can think of other reasons, too.  Dave sleeps like a log.  He said he can, because he knows that I will hear everything and anything!  Lucky guy! =)   Well, once I get awake, I have a hard time falling back to sleep and then my mind starts working overtime, which is the 2nd reason.  This morning I realized that it is probably the only time in my day that I can really think about things clearly and without all the interruptions of our busy days.  It can be a good time of thinking or it can be a bad time of thinking - God can use it as a time for edification or Satan can use it as a time of condemnation.  It is up to us which we will allow.  I decided this morning to use it as a time for blogging again, and pray that it will be edifying.
    This past winter, I experienced weeks of feeling overwhelmed, depressed, unmotivated and a general feeling of "deadness".  It was not nice!  And, everywhere I looked in this house, I seemed to see clutter and dirt and decided that maybe that was part of my problem.  When things are cluttered and out of place, that is exactly how I feel in my mind and something had to change.  So, the boys & I set out doing our spring cleaning in the wintertime.  We started with bedrooms and worked our way to the downstairs.  It was in the middle of cleaning the worst room (schoolroom/laundry/playroom) that I also realized that another part of my problem was that I permitted clutter and dirt to enter into my spiritual house as well.   Since then I have been thinking on how we can relate each room of our physical homes to the rooms in our hearts.  Over the next few weeks, I would like to share with you the spiritual lessons that can come  with spring cleaning.
    The first place Dave & I lived in was a small apartment that was part of our landlord's home.  It was in the country and close to our jobs and was very affordable, but both of us literally hated living there.  There was something spooky about that place and we felt afraid living there.   We could not wait to move and after a few months a house my grandpa owned opened up in a nearby small town nd we were able to move there.  After living there for about 2 years, we were able to purchase 2 acres of land and put a house trailer on that.  Dave & living in town just didn't get along too well, so moving out to the country was good news!  In three years, we had built a new home right outside our trailer door.   We loved that home!  It was where we were building our lives with our 3 oldest children.  About 5 years later, we had the opportunity to get into dairy farming, which was always Dave's dream.  Neither of us were raised on a farm, but he was a hired man on one in his teen years.  He would also do relief milking after we were married, so farming was in his blood.  This opportunity we could not pass up.  That eventually led us to selling our home and moving to the next county on a rental farm for 5 years.  We went from a new home, to a huge old farm house that had leaky windows, poor insulation, and other issues, but we also loved it there.  It was our home and we were now building our lives with 6 children.  Our lease ran out after 5 years and we decided to try to find a farm with a bigger barn.  We were able to purchase a farm back in the area we were originally from and here we are!  We went from a big farm house that needed help to a little farmhouse that needed even more help.  It still is a work in progress, for everything takes time and money and all farmers know that neither is  readily available on a farm.  As I was thinking about all the houses we lived in, I realized that we loved all of them, except the first one. They were our little homes, our little oasis in a crazy world.  Each house was different, but all had two things in common - our loved ones and our belongings were in that house and that is what made it our "home".  So, no matter what your house may look like, it can be your home.  A place where you can build your lives together, love each other, work and play together.  Webster's definition of house:  "a building or part of a building occupied by one family or tenant: dwelling place".   Home: "a place where one likes to be; place thought of as the center of one's affections; restful or congenial place".    Thank you, Lord, for this dwelling place we call home.
    Until next time...............

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Mighty Men!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

  • The Mighty Men!

    This weekend was Georgie's Hunter's Education Course.  It started last evening (Fri. for about 3 1/2 hours) and about 7 hours today.  In PA, a person must take these classes before they can legally go hunting.  They may take these classes when they are 11, but cannot purchase the license until age 12.  Due to Dave's schedule here on farm, I took Georgie.  Alot of material was covered - being a responsible hunter, first aid, rifle, bow & arrow, crossbows, flintlocks, trapping, treestands, turkey hunting, dress requirements, how to take care of the harvest and ......not sure what all else.  And then a test was given.  We went to Robesonia to the Lebanon Valley Sportsman Assoc. and they have really wonderful instructors - very good with the children.   Anyway, Georgie passed and is now an official hunter.
    Geo. hunter
    When we came home, I noticed that the house was cleaned up.  I thought maybe a maid was here while we were gone.   Well, instead of 1 maid, I had 5 maids!  And they were all male!  The ringleader was Dave. He knew it would not be too fun for me to come home to alot of work, so he delegated.  He ran to Hornings and the library for me and Ben, Solomon, Uriah & Oliver tidied the house, swept the floors, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, took down a ton of laundry, folded it AND put it all away, and hung up another load.  The dishes were done and trash taken out.  Needless to say, I am VERY proud of them all, and I feel most honored and loved by my very dear husband.  He sacrified his time and the boys time to help me out.  There was alot of work they could've & should've done outside, but they put me first today.   I certainly am undeserving, but am extremely grateful for this very special man who is my lord, my closest friend and companion, and for my mighty men sons, who do so much for me and would protect me with their lives.   I also have a mighty man son-in-law who would do the same for me, also.  Kelsey & I are very blessed women-folk, indeed!  This post is to honor our men!
    Until next time.......

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Here She Is!!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

  • Here She Is !!

    Little Oakley is a week away from being 6 months old - already!  She has her uncles wrapped around her little finger.  Poor Kelsey & Gordon - Oakley gets all the attention.  The boys and grandpa ask me quite often when Oakley is coming and if she is bringing Gordon & Kelsey?  =)   Today Kelsey and her were here for a visit and the boys just sit and watch her and she will look from one to the other and then she smiles and smiles and tries to talk to them.  What fun!!  What a perfect little grandbaby!  I know, I know - all grandparents say that!!
    Oakley5 months
    Thanks to great grandma for sharing this picture.  She is the one who usually takes the best pictures.
    Until next time...........

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Yoke

Saturday, 20 March 2010

  • The Yoke

    Here it is, 3:30 A.M.  (yes, it is in the middle of night!) and I am wide awake.  Not because I went to bed really early, or that I need to get up.  No, it is because I can't turn off my mind.  "Oh, I shouldn't have said that......I should be spending more time with the boys......laundry to do again......need meal ideas.......failed to reach weight lose goals - again!.......should walk every single day, it would be good for mind & body......should we do a garden? and if so, what should we plant?......what about the happenings in the world.....how consumed should we get?........."   On & on & on!   Then God taps me on the shoulder and whispers, "what about the lesson you learned this week?"   Sigh!  It is so much easier to see the truth & tell/teach the truth, but much more difficult to put it into practice in our own lives.  Easy to become a hypocrite?  Yes! 
    One of my favorite scriptures is Matt. 11: 28-30.  "Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon me, learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden light."   I was to have devotions at our homeschool co-op and felt led to share this passage.  When I did more studying on this and learned more depth of the meaning, it became my most favorite passage.
    What is a yoke?  It looks like this....and it was used with oxen many, many years ago.  The heads of the oxen would be put into the loops and they would be "yoked" together to work in the fields.  Could they do their own thing?  Go their own ways?   Nope!  They had to work together, pull together, turn together, stop together, etc..  They were a team!!  Who is weary?  Who is heavy laden? Who is carrying a burden?   Me, and most likely, you.    Everyone is in a sense.  Maybe we are weary of trying to meet expections and goals that are laid on us by ourselves or other people.  Maybe we are carrying the burden of guilt for not meeting these goals or expections and sin in our lives, or the burden could be trying to make a living and supported your family.  The youth (and adults, for that matter) could be consumed with gaining exceptance among their peers, or wanting to be the most popular, best looking, most athletic, having a model figure, the fastest car.  Parents can become consumed with having the same goals for their children, just adding to their burden.  Maybe we as parents compare ourselves to other families.  "Oh, that family gets to go on a vacation every summer,  their children are going to college, their children behave so much better then mine, why didn't they gain weight like us?, they have a nicer home, car, lawn mower, swimming pool...............(where does it end?).   After awhile this burden becomes so heavy, and we become so weary, and so guilt riden that we don't feel like going on and living.  We are in one side of the yoke and the world is in the other.  Jesus says, "Come to Me, take My yoke upon you, for it is easy and My burden is light."  That does not mean that when we decide to follow Jesus our lives will be a piece of cake.  No, it will be difficult and hard at times.  It requires submission and self-denial (2 things that don't come easy, for sure), but this is the only way that we can have true peace & joy in our lives.  Jesus can come in and remove all guilt and pain.  He is offering this to all people, which means He loves imperfection, for who is perfect?  His yoke is lined with love and when we put it on we will receive it, along with forgiveness, peace, guidance & direction in our lives.  Picture you in one loop and Jesus in the other.  It is His yoke, so He will be carrying the load of it, but you will be walking together, working together, talking together, living together and He would be beside you through it all.  When temptations, expectations, peer pressures, etc. come to you, He would be there to walk through them with you, making your burden light.  Will I chose to wear it?  Will you?  As we walk with Him, just talk to Him.....
    " Lord, what do I do with the meal plans?  Could I really serve cereal every meal?  =).  What about all the laundry?  Would you help me do it with a smile on my face?  Please put a guard at my mouth that the words that come out would be upbuilding and positive and the food that goes in would only be enough to satisfy my physical hunger.  Help me to discipline my time that I would spend is wisely and that I would take time to have fun  with my hubby and children.  Am I being too self-centered?  Forgive me when I try to be someone I am not and help me find contentment in how you created me.  Help me to see and love other people as you see them and not lay any burden of expection upon them.  Thank you for being a God who loves us in our imperfections, is willing to carry our burdens and cares and for providing forgiveness and grace when we stumble.  Amen"
    Now, I think I can go back to bed.  The only thing is, is that Dave is up ready to get started with his day!  I will see if the Lord will allow me to nap today.   His yoke, not the worlds, is what I desire.
    Until next time..............

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home-made Muenster Cheese

Thursday, 11 March 2010

  • Home-made Muenster Cheese

     One of the blessings of living on a dairy farm is that there is always an abundance of milk.  Over the years we have made butter, cottage cheese, different flavors of ice-cream and different types of cheeses.  The most frequently made items are the ice-cream, especially in the summer, and muenster cheese. On this post I will walk you through the steps of making the cheese and maybe you could give it a try.   It is easy and delicious.   These are the ingredients that you will need.
    4 gallons whole milk, 2 cups cultured buttermilk, 4 junket tablets, 4 T salt.  You will also need a very large kettle, some cheese cloth and a cheese press.  Actually, if you don't have a press, the curds are delicious to eat. 
    lg.kettle junket
    Pour the 4 gal. milk in the large kettle, add the buttermilk and 4 junket tablets dissolved in a little water.  Heat to 86 degrees.  Let set one hour.  Cut in 1/2 inch squares and heat to 102 degrees.
    cut curds
    Let set another hour.  You are to pour off the whey, but I find it easier to scoop out the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander, due to how big and heavy the kettle is.  So, scoop out all the curds.
    warm curds
    curds draining
    I let the curds drain for a while, then mix in 3 Tablespoon sea salt.  Gather up cheesecloth corners and put into the press.
    curds 2
    For the press.  My very kind father-in-law (that's you, Jim!) made me the square base, top and round "follower" out of oak.  My very dear husband made me the rest of the press.  He used PVC pipe for the molds and pushers.  He drilled holes in the molds so that the whey can drain out.   It was very inexpensive to make.
    press pieces
    I like to put an aluminum pie pan or cake pan under the mold so that the cheese is not directly on the wood.  After you put your cheese in the mold, you would put the round wooden follower in next, then a pusher, then the square top and lastly, weights on top.  I just use the boys dumbbells (30#).  All this is put on a jelly roll sheet that is propped up in the back so that the whey can drain away from mold.
    cheese press
    After about 1 1/2 - 2hrs., I flip the cheese around in mold and continue to press for a few more hours.  This recipe calls to age the cheese for 2 weeks, but we rarely do.  We ususally can't wait that long to eat it, but it definitely is better if you have the patience for 2 weeks.  This makes about a 3 1/2 # block of cheese.
    block of cheese
     slice of cheese
    Are you ready to give it a try?  It is worth all the efforts. 
    Until next time...................

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Calf Birthing & Jokes

Sunday, 07 March 2010

  • Calf Birthing and Jokes

    First let me warn you....I included pictures that show the birthing process, so if you feel funny seeing "gross" stuff, maybe you want to avoid this post.   
    On our farm we artificially inseminate our cows, or should I say a breeder from Select Sire Power does.  There are signs to watch for to detect a cow in heat.  We have a herd check about every month or so, which is when a vet comes and confirms whether or not the breeding was successful.  They do this by reaching inside the cow's rectum (yes, rectum) while holding the wand of an altrasound machine in her hand.  And yes again, it usually is a woman and she has to stand on her tip toes to reach where she needs to reach.    After a cow is bred, we have to wait at least 32 days til the calf can be detected.  A cow carries her calf for about 9 months.  We will dry off (stop milking) a bred cow 60 days before due date.  We had a cow go into labor this past friday and Dave called down to house wondering if I wanted to take pictures to put on the blog.  He thought that it might interest some of you who may have never witnessed the miracle of birth, so here are the pictures!
    Her water broke, but part of the sac is still hanging there.
    water broke
    A calf is born head first, with the front hooves emerging first.
    feet first
    The nose starts to emerge with the front legs
    nose emerging
    then the head
    then the head
    head 2
    then the body (sometimes with our help)
    then the body
    calf being born 010  
    Yes!!! It is a heifer calf.  Everytime a heifer calf is born they become part of the future milking herd.  Always good news to hear that a heifer calf is born.  Dave dragged the calf up to the mother's head so she can clean it up.  She will lick it all over while eating the white membrane that is on the calf (this is gross!).  The mom's licking helps stimulate the calf and it starts to perk up and soon will be on her feet trying to nurse. 
    clean up
    We do have a birthing pen at the end of the barn where momma cow does not need to be tied in a stall, but this cow was already in labor and Dave decided to leave her tied in.   The cow is milked right after birth into a milking bucket and that milk (which is thick yellow colostrum the first milking) is fed to the calf with a bottle.  Speaking of colostrum, it is very good for us humans as well.  It is like a natural antibiotic.  We have already saved colostrum from a fresh (one who just gave birth) cow that had been out on pasture and  froze it.  This is expecially good made into milk shakes adding chocolate and peanut butter.  Only have to drink small amount to get the benefits.  Here is the new calf at 2 days old.   
    We were thankful that this calf was born  friday afternoon and not this Sunday morning when it was time for church!
    Q: What do you call a cow that has had a calf?
    A: Decalfeinated
    What happened when a short cow ran through a tall field of grass?
    What does a cow say while walking backwards?
    What do you get from a pampered cow?
    Until next time...............

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Winter Cook-out

Tuesday, 02 March 2010

  • Winter Cook-out

    Georgie, Uriah and Oliver were outside playing this afternoon, for it seemed warmer then the last few days.  Uriah soon came and wondered if they could make a fire and of course, that led to the question, "Could we make hamburgers for supper?"  Wintertime seems long this year and we are all ready to be out doing Spring-like things, so, hey, why not?  Making hamburgers over the fire is one of our families favorite things to do.  The boys usually build a fire, put lawn chairs around and prepare to have an evening together as a family.   So, a fire was made, hamburger mixed up and made into patties, fixins' gathered together, rack cleaned, lawn chair gotten out of shed and we were ready to make it happen!   As the men folk finished up chores, Oliver and I got the burgers cooking.  The boys had their hearts set on eating outside, so we got as close to the fire as we could and enjoyed some delicious, juicy hamburgers!   Making memories.........."hey, guys, remember when we had a cookout in the snow?"  Fun Fun !!
    burgers 2
    the cook
    eating burgers
    Let us know when you want to come over!
    Until next time..............

Monday, March 1, 2010

Week 3 for Jokes!

Monday, 01 March 2010

  • Week 3 for jokes!

    Eat the watermelons

    A farmer in the country has a watermelon patch and upon inspection he discovers that some of the local kids have been helping themselves to a feast.

    The farmer thinks of ways to discourage this profit-eating situation. So he puts up a sign that reads: "WARNING! ONE OF THESE WATERMELONS CONTAINS CYANIDE!"

    He smiled smugly as he watched the kids run off the next night without eating any of his melons.

    The farmer returns to the watermelon patch a week later to discover that none of the watermelons have been eaten, but finds another sign that reads: "NOW THERE ARE TWO!"

    Three-legged chicken

    Juan was driving down a country lane in his pickup when suddenly a chicken darted into the road in front of him. He slammed on his brakes, but realized that the chicken was speeding off down the road at about 30 miles an hour. Intrigued, he tried to follow the bird with his truck, but he couldn't catch up to the accelerating chicken. Seeing it turn into a small farm, Juan followed it. To his astonishment, he realized that the chicken had three legs. Looking around the small farm, he noticed that ALL of the chickens had three legs. The farmer came out of his house, and Juan said, "Three-legged chickens? That's astonishing!" The farmer replied, "Yep. I bred 'em that way because I love drumsticks." Juan was curious. "How does a three-legged chicken taste?" The farmer smiled. "Dunno. Haven't been able to catch one yet."
    Farmer Giles is so interested in conserving energy, he built a pig-powered car. He has to get rid of it, though. Every time he turns a corner, the tires squeal
    Until next time........