Knolltop Farm Wife

Welcome to my blog! I'm a wife, mother of four and a self-employed freelance writer. I live on a dairy farm with my family and I enjoy sharing our life with family, friends and anyone else who wants to visit the farm. There's no telling what the I will write about from day to day, but hopefully you'll be enriched when you stop by! Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nothing is impossible...

Good Morning from the Knolltop! It's 40 out this morning and supposed to be windy and about 60 this afternoon. It will be a good day to get some work done outside to get ready for winter. I think these warm days are escaping us and pretty soon we will see the snow fly.

Yesterday we got word that Holly is clear to go to Louisville. Here in Michigan we have to test everything for TB before we leave the state. I don't even think a fly is allowed to leave without health papers! Well, it's not that extreme...it really only applies to cattle. We had to have a clear TB test and all the health papers in order for Holly to go and we finally got all that accomplished yesterday after a bit of a scare.
The first test we had done on her, she reacted to it. So that meant she had to have blood drawn by a USDA Vet. Thinking that would take weeks we gave up hope that she would be going south. Our deadline for the vet coming to draw blood was last Wednesday. On Tuesday night when Luke was getting the show halter to go work with Holly, we broke the news to him and told him she wasn't going unless the vet came the next day and that was next to impossible. He hung his head then hung up the show halter...seemingly until next spring.

I watched him as his faced turned red and his eyes started to get watery. I couldn't stand seeing him to sad, but reality is hard to take sometimes and life is not fair.

That night as we were munching on popcorn reading the paper, the phone rang. I answered it and it was a USDA vet. She wanted to schedule a time to test Holly! Anxiously I said, how about tomorrow? She said sure! I hung up the phone and ran into tell Luke and he calmly smiled a big smile.

The next day she came and tested the cow and said she was awared that the cow was entered in the North American and she would put a rush on the test. Waiting on pins and needles to see if the cow was actually negative Dr. Cauley called yesterday with the good news.


The trip was back in motion and now she will head out tomorrow morning on Gregg Hardy's trailer. There is a white dry erase board in our barn and at the top of it there is a statement to remind everyone of us when we walk into the barn. It says, "Nothing is impossible with God" and truer words were never spoken.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What a day

It's cool here on the Knolltop this morning. I think the thermometer read 40 this morning when we went to the barn.

Boy, yesterday was fun and exhausting. I picked up my cohort from Knolltop Morgans up the road and we headed south....way south....deep in the south....almost to Kentucky. I know, that's not the deep south, but from the way the waitresses talked in Bob Evans, we might as well have been in Mississippi.

I took my atlas to help us find the quickest route to Mohrfields in Pleasant Plain, Ohio. The map of Ohio was on two pages, the first page was northern Ohio, the second was southern Ohio. Because Pleasant Plain is just northeast of Cincinnati, it was on the second page of Ohio. So naturally when we got through the first page of Ohio I expected my navigator, Lori, to turn the page and we'd be in Cinci....wrong. We had another 10 inches to go!

We finally got there and with my phone ringing I pulled in and parked and answered the call from the boss. His only question was...has she sold yet? I had no idea since I hadn't even darkened the doors of the sale barn. So I went in and the sale was in full swing with ringmen taking in bids on a fancy cow parading through a mum decorated ring. I walked over to the clerks table and peered over the clerk. With that, I called the boss told him she had sold for.....$5300...yes, that September calf you thought was so nice with a deep pedigree....everyone else thought she was that nice too. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing none of the money from my Knolltop would be heading south today!

With that, we sat back and waited for a heifer bargain for Lori's daughter....it never came. There were no bargains to be had with farmers from Iowa and Bubba from Georgia bidding up everything that walked in on four legs.

When all of our "business" was done, we went over to visit with Delbert Yoder for a few minutes, walked through their beautiful tie-stall barn, snapped a few pictures of the crowd to have here on my blog and bought a chocolate milk from the Goshen Athletic Boosters.

We headed home on this beautiful fall day and enjoyed unending conversation about everything from cows to kids to college days. It was a great day full of laughter, crazy drivers, homemade horns and rich, vast, flat Ohio farm country.

Monday, October 29, 2007

On my way out

Good frosty morning again!

Ever have one of those days where you're late and you are frustrated cause you're late? That's this morning...I'm waiting for the shower while I stew about being late. I'm headed south to Ohio for the Mohrfield Sale today. I'm taking my neighbor so it should be a good trip...if I ever get out of here....shower's empty! Have a good one!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Frosty!

We finally have frost out this morning. I don't think I've ever been able to go out and pick fresh tomatoes for a salad in late October. I was even getting peas again...my second volunteer crop!

But that's all over with the thick frost out there all over everything. It's clear and sunny out and if I don't get some pictures snapped today the opportunity to show you autumn in Michigan will be completely gone.

By the way, I want to wish my sister a belated happy birthday, she turned .......one year older yesterday! We called her yesterday morning and by the time all the cousins got done catching up we had been on that phone for 2 hours! I had gone to town to run an errand and when I got home they were still talking! Happy Birthday Ginny!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Radio: How much I don't know

It's amazing to me when you begin researching something you find out just how much you don't know.

Take radio for instance: Ashley Messing our Michigan Dairy Ambassador is now doing a radio program called "The Scoop." Since I was the one who came up with the "brilliant" idea to do a radio show, I told her I would be here to assist her in any way that I could. So, when she couldn't come up with a title for it....I helped her out. When she couldn't come up with an intro describing it...I helped her out. When she couldn't come up with music for the intro for it...I took a smoke break....and I'm on my fourteenth pack! (Joke)

Who would've thought picking music would be that difficult. Just pick a song you like and go with it. Oh no, not that easy. Three weeks into this project I'm thinking the radio program has been completed and ready to be listened to by all of America. Then I get an email from the producer, Trent Loos, who by the way is offering his expertise at a considerably low cost...zilch.

In his email he said in no uncertain terms it's time to pick the music. I contact Ashley, she can't come up with anything off hand, so we both decide to let the expert do it. I contact Trent and tell him he can pick the music....whatever he wants is good with us.

Well, between dying his mule pink(see Faces of Ag for a great story) and traversing the country standing up for agriculture, he doesn't have time to pick music and besides he said, it needs to be something Ashley likes.

Okay...I'll go with that. So here we are at square one again. So, I call my radio expert in Kansas, Kyle. Sick in bed he returns my call and starts talking this radio jabber about bumper music and how it can't be more than 7 seconds long or we'll have to pay a fee and you can't do this because of copyright laws and a CD full of bumper music to choose from....ahhhh! I couldn't tell if he was delirious from being sick or trying out his newly learned foreign language.

So I ask him, can't you just call me and play a few of these bumper music selections over the phone and I'll pick one? That idea didn't fly. Maybe he knew we'd be there for an hour while he played 2000 selections of 7 seconds of music before I picked one.

Frustrated and on my second pack of cigarettes I called Trent and said, for heaven's sake, are you sure you don't have some music there you can just use? He said, "No, besides it has to be just right, it has to match Ashley's voice, it has to be good." I decided at this point that if I ever wanted a career in radio I would never make it...I'm not picky enough.

So, are you tired of this story yet? Okay, then I'll keep going....I decided to check with Chewing the Cud radio host Amanda Nolz, I asked her what she did for her show. She said she and her roommates sat around one day and listened to selections on itunes and finally voted on one. Ah ha! Now, I'm getting somewhere! Why didn't the men who were making a living come up with this brainy idea? Why did it take a farm girl from South Dakota to enlighten me? We speak the same language...farmgirl talk.

I urged Ashley to start scouring iTunes and see what she could find. She did and emailed me asking for an opinion. I almost didn't take the time to listen. I wanted to just say, "Oh, that first one sounds great...go with it!" Afterall, it would've saved me from smoking another pack of cigarettes.

But...I lit up another and listened to her selections. Wondering if every bluegrass song had the same intro, I sat and listened to about 10 million songs and came up with the conclusion...except for the funny titles of the songs....they all sound the same.

With that, I emailed Ash and told her what I thought and haven't heard a word yet. So the question still remains....do we have bumper music yet? Or is the bumper crushed from a head on collision? I'll let you know when I know something. In the mean time hopefully I've whet your whistle and you are on the edge of your seat for the debut of "The Scoop"

And, now you know, I know nothing about radio and I've quit smoking!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tractor races by a full harvest moon.

Good Morning from the knolltop. It's breezy and considerably warmer than yesterday. I was hot in my turtleneck and sweatshirt this morning. The moon is still big and bright and making things much lighter at 4:30 am.

Last night I went on a moonlit tractor ride. Well, it was actually a tractor race. I brought my "A" up from the tractor barn because I hadn't started it in a while and all the mechanics say you need to start your tractor regularly to keep it running right...okay...I'll go along with that.

After my walk I went down and slid the doors open to the barn. The smell of oil-soaked dirt and gas poured out of the doors and I was again taken back to my younger days in Grandpa Peckens farm equipment dealership, otherwise known as "the shop." It's a great smell!

I started the ol' girl up and she sounded just as wonderful as the last time I drove her. I drove her up to the barn and parked it right outside the stable so I could see her while we were milking.

While washing the pipeline I heard a loud noise outside and it was Luke on his Farmall. I peered out and he said with a big smile, "Let's race!" Now Big Daddy frowns on such frolics....but me....I'm always ready for an old fashioned tractor race.

I finished up my chores and went out to where he was waiting. By this time, everyone had headed in the house and it was dark, cool, breezy and the big harvest moon was shining down on us. Since I have no lights on my tractor that work, I had to rely on Luke and the moonlight.

We headed up the hill and down the road for a little ways. He stopped halfway down the road and turned around and I followed suit. I lined up next to him and he had a big smile on his face. He counted us down and I took off like a shot leaving him in my....smoke. My lead lasted all of about 20 feet as he swiftly took over and sped down the road and beat me by a mile. Yes, his tractor is faster, but it's also got two more spark plugs than mine...doesn't that mean something?

I picked up Jake and the way down to the barn and he drove it the rest of the way. When we turned to park it in the barn, Luke was standing there and wouldn't move until Jake got out of the drivers seat. I guess he didn't trust Jake to slowly drive the tractor into the barn and park it without crashing into the "M."

As we walked up to the house on the cool October night we pulled up our hoods and I tried to explain why my tractor was so slow but they wouldn't cut me any slack. Jake was totally disgusted that my John Deere wasn't as fast as the "M" and we decided tomorrow night we'd have a slow race....I'm sure to win that!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lots of informants and a full moon

I asked and I received!

I didn't realize what great informants you blog readers were! I was sent descriptions and pictures of the devastation on the Larry and Sandy Place farm in Perry. It doesn't look good. So today, I hope to find out more details on where the cows are being milked because it sure doesn't look like they could be milked in what's left of the barn. If any of you know that much...please let me know.

Yesterday I was in a dairy supply place, J&M Dairy visiting with Jan and Marv Sober...yes, they both hail from my home town of Fowlerville and Jan was a Copeland, just in case anyone was wondering.

Anyway, we were discussing the BST issue and what the dairymen are saying down on the farm. As we visited Marv stated that he had heard there was a test being developed at Cornell to detect rbst in the milk. I disputed that fact and swiftly came home to check it out with the rBST guru, Terry Etherton of Penn State. After reading some research I found out that there is NO test that will detect rbst in milk from cows given rbst. Cornell is not working on it at all. A professor from Cornell wrote a letter stating that a professor had been working on it for a few years and applied for a patent in 1997 for the test, but it was not rigorous enough for FDA standards and therefore was not valid. He tested six samples of milk. One sample from conventional milk and five samples from cows who were given rbst. He came up with nothing conclusive. Just thought you might want to know this...I think my column will be on this very subject today.

As I came across the road after milking this morning the moon was on the western horizon and it was big, bright, full and beautiful! There wasn't a cloud in the sky and every star was shining brightly. Boy it was fun to see such a sight.

So, as you can imagine, it's clear and cool here on the Knolltop and a hat was necessary this morning for chores.

Better get to breakfast and I think I'll perk the coffee this morning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Scrapmania!

It's overcast and 45 here on the Knolltop. Turtlenecks and sweatshirts are the appropriate clothing for milking on these cool mornings. I haven't had to break out the red union suit yet....but I hear that weather may be coming soon.

It's been scrapmania around here lately. The other night I was reading and heard some banging around outside. At 9:30 at night I looked out and saw JW out there loading up his truck with scrap metal by the light of his headlights. The next morning he was headed to town with a load of scrap before school. Just in time for breakfast he walked in the door with cash in his hand and a smile on his face.

The combination of elevated scrap prices and a teenage boy who needs gas money for his new truck that he also wants to get repainted makes for a really clean farm.

The list of things to do today includes a trip to the glass place to replace a storm window...just in time for cooler weather. I heard a Jersey farm up near Perry was devasted by the tornado that went through mid-Michigan last week, so I need to check on that today too. Does anyone know anything about that? If you do, let me know. I got an email yesterday describing the damage, but I haven't heard that first hand, so I don't want to perpetuate possible rumors. So if you've heard anything let me know!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two hour delay

Yes, I'm late this morning...it was a two hour delay for the kids this morning....so my attention was on them instead of this blog.

I just got done cleaning up from a breakfast of pancakes with walnuts and bacon with homemade syrup. They love it when I cook a big breakfast on a school day. It just seems to put everyone in a good mood.

We had a miracle this morning on the Knolltop. Last evening Jake and I came in from the barn and Bobby was still out there feeding TMR. The other three were at the school for a volleyball game. Bobby called and asked us to come out and help with Jackie...she had split out and couldn't get up.

We headed out to help with Jackie who also happened to be one of Jake's favorite cows. She is a nine year old cow who is on her seventh calf. She is the only cow in our herd that had 165 pounds on a test day...yes, that's not a typo...I couldn't believe it myself but I milked her and we all just stood there while she cranked out every drop. Her next three tests were 140, 138, 120...so it wasn't a fluke that she had that much milk in one day...she is just a good milk cow.

So seeing her on the cement not able to get up was not a happy moment. In the cold rain we worked and worked and finally got her on some dirt just inside the barn just a few feet from a boxstall that Jake and I had prepared for her. She was drained so we just left her there on the dirt with some hay and water and figured we'd get her into the stall this morning after she had a good nite's rest. All three of us came in soaked clear through and really enjoyed a hot shower.

We didn't know what to expect this morning when we went to the barn...and much to my surprise she was in the isle way right in front of the boxstall...almost like she knew where to go but couldn't get there. I figured after chores we'd get the hip lifts back out and just scooch her into the stall onto a thick pack of soft, dry shavings. When we got all done milking, I went out to clean the heifer pens and guess who was laying in the boxstall? Yes, Jackie was all the way in the stall and resting comfortably, chewing her cud. Wow...that was a miracle if you ask me! Now, she had the option of going a different way that led back into the stall barn, but she choose to head for the boxstall...she's smarter than the average bear!

And by the way.....the fence stretcher that was lost yesterday? I asked God where it was...and He led me straight to it...just in time for the boys to help Bobby with some fence repairs!

Laundry and a dozen other things are calling!

Monday, October 22, 2007

To town and back...already

I was in from the barn early this morning to take Luke to the doctor for a sports physical. I should've gotton this done last summer, but I forgot and just didn't get to it. So last Friday I was scrambling around to find a doctor who would give him a physical before tomorrow because tomorrow is the start of basketball season for him. So...I got it done and we're good for another year.

Sarah is still at a friends, she spent the night with Sidney and Brad spent the night here. Right now they are chowing down on my favorite food....donuts! Yes, I was hungry when I stopped at the store after the appointment.

Well, I'd better get on the day...we've got conferences today...thus the kids have the day off from school...which also means they get to go clean their own heifer pens this morning instead of me! I've got to go hunt down the fence stretcher...they couldn't find it on Saturday when they were working on fence and it seems I'm still the only one who can find elusive objects. Actually, I have God on my side...I just ask Him where something is and He leads me right to it...so we'll see where He leads this morning!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

It's here

The fall colors that I wrote about last week being so slow in coming are finally here! If you look across our backyard you can see the most beautiful fall colors in the woods that borders the corn field. They are not quite at their peak...but they sure are pretty.

Although the colors are nice...the weather is still unseasonably warm. It was 70 yesterday and will be in the mid 70s today...what's up with that? No, I'm not complaining....I love doing fall work in short sleeves!

The galloping gourmet was at work on Friday...this was so funny! I had to use up the roast beef that was left over from Monday so I made some beef stew on Thursday, it was wonderful stew, but not very thick. Everyone knows stew is always thicker and better the next day. So on Friday morning when I was getting ready to head to the draft horse show for the day, Bobby, the gourmet chef that he is, commented "If you put that stew back in the crock pot and add a little brown rice it would probaby thicken up nice and be great for dinner today."

"Great idea honey!" Taking his suggestion, I put about 3/4 cup of brown rice in with the stew and knowing how the rice would soak up all the liquid in the stew, I added a little more water and some beef stock. Happy that I had dinner all prepared, I headed off for a special day with my daughter and mom.

When we got home, Jake had set the table and warmed up the sweet potato casserole, so all I had to do was make the coffee and put dinner on the table. I opened the crockpot and much to my surprise the rice had multiplied and soaked up every drop of liquid in the pot. It was stiff and difficult to stir. With Bobby sitting right there not saying a word, I commented, "Boy, I guess that rice really soaked up the stock...I guess I added more rice that I thought I did."

A bashful grin came over his face and he said in his southern drawl, "Well, at noon when I came in, it didn't look like it was thick enough so I just honked the rice to it to make sure it'd be thicker, guess I added too much, huh?"

I looked at him and in my fit of laughter, I just said, "Yeah, I guess you did!" We put it on the table and as we thanked God for the food on the table, I silently thanked Him for that BBQ turkey sandwich I enjoyed at the horse show!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Great fun

Well, I it's a beautiful afternoon here on the Knolltop. A warm, sunny, breezy fall day. The only bad thing is that at this moment, MSU is losing to OSU, but we won't dwell on that.

I had a great time today ministering to women at the SPA event here at a local church. We had a great time worshipping, laughing, crying and eating...don't forget the eating! Tim Hampton, my cohort in crime...aka my accompanist, was wonderful as always....we did a duet together that was recorded by the Gaither Vocal Band and we had the best time. The ladies were clapping and some were even dancing in the back row...where no one could see them. We just had a great time and Tim was awesome! He was also good at being on the losing end of my jokes...he was a good sport about it.

Now, it's back to reality as I take Sarah to a party and then out to the barn to milk the cows. Everyone survived here at home while I was gone...they usually do better when I'm gone because Big Daddy keeps them hopping!

Better get back on the road!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A howling good morning

This morning when we stepped out to head across the road to the barn we heard a strange noise. We both stopped dead in our tracts to listen for it again. Even Sadie stood frozen. We listened carefully and heard it again....it was the coyotes playing out in the woods. Boy is that an erie sound first thing in the morning with the wind howling around us.

Last night was a wild night in the midwest as tornadoes touched down in several places. Last evening I called my mom to ask if she wanted to go to the draft horse show today at the pavilion and the first thing out of her mouth was..."Are you okay?" I didn't bother to tell her JW was 30 miles south of us in the path of some bad weather and possible twisters at a volleyball game with his buddies. She would've worried all the more. I just have to say thank God for cell phones.

I called JW and all I could hear was screaming in the background with him saying, "I can't talk right now...I can't hear you, call me later." Meanwhile I'm sitting there looking at the weather warnings on tv seeing he's right in the thick of bad weather and doesn't have a clue. I guess him not knowing kept him from worrying too.

At 10 pm, he walked in the door and all was right in the world. I don't like this growing up stuff...I think I want to go back to changing diapers and stumbling over building blocks...it was so much easier then.

Sarah and I are headed to the Great Lakes Draft Horse Show this morning, she loves draft horses and so I thought it would be fun to spend the day at the show. Don't worry, I'm not leaving the laundry undone...I got that done yesterday! But as I walked into the laundry room, I see I've got enough for another load....it's endless.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fall Rain

Well, it's raining and blowing this morning and we're supposed to be in for some stormy weather today. You know what that means....more attention to indoor projects like laundry. That seems to be the only thing I do. If I didn't have laundry to do in a day I think I would be absolutely lost! Like not heading out to the barn to milk cows morning and night. Although I could get used to sleeping in...very quickly...not going over to the barn every evening would be very disorienting for me.

So, what makes your day normal? What do you do everyday that gives you routine in your life?

Yesterday was a busy day, Bobby and I ventured into town in JW's new truck. Yes, he finally earned enough money to pay for his truck and it's sitting in the driveway right now. I'll get a picture later...I know you just can't wait to see that gem!

As I said, we headed to town for a round of errands. While he didn't intend on doing as many as I had in mind, he didn't complain too much about sitting in the grocery store parking lot while I headed in "just for some coffee"....six bags later....I came out with just the necessities of life...you know, coffee, shampoo, ginger snaps, cereal, cheesecake, butter, flour, sugar, apple turnovers....I was hungry.

After stopping at the feed store, TSC and the orchard, we were home again. Then the vet came by to vaccinate some calves and pregnancy check some cows. The curious thing about this particular vet is that she is 8 months pregnant and is still standing behind a cow with her hand shoved up her......Wow and that belly doesn't even get in the way! It was when she came into the barn with the ultrasound machine strapped to her person. Oh my, was that a sight. I almost ran in and got my camera, but I didn't want to embarrass her. After all she took my laughter so well. Ol' Doc is a great sport and is a cute mother-to-be in her blue overalls, that big belly and her rubber boots.

In the end, we have lots of cows who are pregnant to good bulls and will freshen at the right time for show calves.

Breakfast awaits!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cool Mom

Good Morning from the Knolltop! It's foggy and a little warmer yet, I think the aged thermometer reads 60 already. I say the thermometer is aged because it is. It's one from the local hardware store in Hillsdale and the phone number on it is only two digits. How many years ago did we have two digit phone numbers? I can remember party lines and not having to dial the area code if you were calling a number that was in the same area code...but two digit numbers? Can anyone tell me how long ago that was?


Okay...now I have to let you know you are reading the blog of a "cool mom." That's according to the girls over at the school. A couple of weeks ago, JW came home telling me that the girls in his class think I am really cool. They also said, I was so beautiful and they hope they can have that kind of natural beauty when they get to be my age....oh those little girls are so precious, I just love them!

But seriously, what they don't realize is they are all so very beautiful themselves. Each one of them could be on the cover of a magazine with their flawless faces! But they didn't stop there, which they could've...then they went on to say that Bobby doesn't look his age and if JW was going to look that good at that age they wanted to marry him. JW just grinned and walked away.

Then to take the cake, last night while we were milking Luke said that his girlfriend, yes, he has a new one and I'm not all that joyous over him having any kind of girlfriend....but.....she made some brownie points when she told Luke that I was cool. She thought I was so funny and so nice. Luke promptly pointed out that she didn't know me and that if she spent time in the barn while we were milking she would have a different opinion.

Now, I don't know why he said that, I'm no different in the barn than any other time. I milk and then I try to teach him how to dance properly or I try to hug him if he's got his back turned. If he's bouncing a basketball, I school him a little. But I'm not all that strange in the barn...honestly, I don't know what he is talking about.

In the meantime...I'm going to enjoy my cool status...it may not last long when those cute gals over there at the school learn that I'm not in favor of any girl touching my sons in any way shape or form and they can't date until their 40....well let's reconsider that age...I do want grandchildren before I'm 70.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Slow turn

Does the fall color seem a little slow in turning this year? I don't know why, but it seems like fall has been here a long time and the leaves are still green around here. I don't mind a slow turn...it means winter in a little further off...I hope.

While I used to enjoy winter when I was younger because the snow was pretty and fun to play in...now that I have to be out in it every morning and night...it's not as fun as it used to be. Coming in out of the cold into a warm house is much more enjoyable that it used to be.

We've had our corn stove running for a week now, but with the temps getting into the 60s there isn't much need for it today. It sure is nice to knock the edge off the cool evenings after coming in from the barn.

I've yet to dig potatoes...I think that should be on the top of the list today...especially since roast beef is on the menu for dinner today. What is a roast beef dinner without potatoes and good, smooth, dark gravy?

Coffee's ready!

Monday, October 15, 2007

All over again

Here it is on Monday and we're starting another week already. It's a little overcast this morning and warming up nicely. I had to take my sweatshirt off halfway through chores this morning.

Yesterday's women's retreat went well. We only had one screw up, but it was minor in my eyes. My singing partner was having a cow, but she's an only child and has to have everything just right. In my eyes, it wasn't a big deal and we dealt with it. The sound guys made a mistake and listened to my instruction....they shouldn't have listened to me! That's why they are the sound guys and I'm the singer...I don't know how to run sound and they don't know how to sing.

I also re-learned yesterday that it's better when you don't try to fix things and that when you get more than two women together, no matter where, there's going to be conflict....and there was.

But in the end it was a great afternoon and God was honored with what was said and done.

I've got a list a mile long of things that need to be done today...better get at it!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Talkin' smack....tractor style

Good Morning from the Knolltop! It's overcast and 48 out this morning. I think it's supposed to be warmer today.

Yesterday the neighbor came down and wanted to borrow a tractor for a hayride. After figuring out he had never driven a tractor with a hand clutch, I decided there was no way he was getting on my tractor. Selfish and protective...yes...that was not a proud God moment, I'm sure.

He borrowed Luke's tractor instead, it's prettier anyway. In order to get Luke's tractor out of the tractor barn, I had to back mine out first, so I thought I would just put it on display for the afternoon under the Maple tree.

The hayride was successful, no accidents, no broken tractors, just a nice fall hayride for a bunch of little kids. After chores, Luke and I still had to put our tractors away. ...that's when he started talkin' smack about my tractor.

He began by telling me his tractor was bigger than mine. "Whatever!" was my intelligent reply. So we measured and yes, his tractor is taller than mine. Okay...I still stand by "Whatever!"

Then I said, "Luke, my tractor eats spikes for breakfast," in the best sneer I could manage. He then copied his intelligent mother's reply with "Whatever!"

Then he leaned up against the back tire of his tractor and cocked his head to one side and said, "Mom, you know what my tractor eats for breakast?" I said, "What Luke?" He said, "John Deeres!"

At that point I just fell out with giggles...

We climbed up on our tractors, he raced off on his, I lagged behind with my putt, putt and we put them away in our barn. Never in a million years did I ever dream I would be sharing in the fun of tractor ownership with my 14 year old son. You just never know where life will lead you.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Corn harvest is up and going

Jake is off and running this morning with the neighbor who is combining corn. He will help with unloading, moisture testing, lunch eating and CB chats today as he and his best farming buddy, Rodney Schoenberger take in the "cheap corn" as he refers to it.

I will be cleaning up outside today, digging sweet pototoes and some white potatoes and then hopefully decorating the porches with some pumpkins and mums. I've got the orange orbs already, just have to pick out my mums. This afternoon we have a mess to clean up in heifer haven. Someone, who will remain nameless, left the hose running in the heifer water tank last night and flooded a couple of pens. We all make mistakes....it's just a little water.

Yesterday I had a wonderful time rehearsing with Tim. What I thought would be a two hour time stint turned into three and a half hours of constant singing. What a riot we had just going from song to song...he's amazing on the piano. IF no one dies late next week and he doesn't have a funeral on Saturday it will be a very fun weekend. And I know who to petition about that!

After a breakfast of pancakes and bacon with homemade syrup, I've got a sticky mess waiting for me....better get to it!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Friday!

The end of the work week is here...but I've noticed when you live and work on a farm Friday doesn't mean much except the next day you'll have more help because your kids aren't in school!

I get to do one of my most favorite things in all the world this morning...rehearse. I will be leading worship at a retreat this weekend and next and so I get to go practice with one of the best accompaniests in the world....Tim Hampton. Not only is he a talented piano player....playing mostly by ear, he is also the local funeral home owner. We practice at the funeral home in Hillsdale, it's always so dead around there! (Sorry, just had to do it!)

I will run some errands while in town and then head home to prepare dinner, do chores and head to the football game. Bobby has to do his civic duty and run the chains so we will milk without him. It might even be cold enough to warrant a winter coat tonight.

I keep forgetting to announce that we have another flute player in the family. Sarah has just started band and plays the flute. What a cost cutter since she can use mine. She's actually very good, the band teacher even had her demonstrate to the other flute players how to form their mouths to make a sound. I'm very proud of her and I am now planning on her getting a college scholarship in music...I can dream, can't I?

Better get to my column....yesterday's Hillsdale Daily News column arrived just under the wire!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm back!

It's been a couple of days since I blogged and my mother even called to see if there was something wrong with her computer because she couldn't get today's blog to come up. She was mighty relieved to see it was not her computer it was MINE.

I finally got sick and tired of the way my computer was acting and I took it in to get it repaired. It was so bad I couldn't even hear anything on it...and if I can't get my daily dose of Rural Route Radio with that wild and crazy Trent Loos then my day is just not complete! Actually the real story is that Amanda Nolz, the host of Chewing the Cud, interviewed me a couple of weeks ago and I was curious to hear how it came out.

Well, now it's time to get dinner on the table and get the kids from school....better get...I've also got two columns to catch up on...and one of them actually has a pretty stiff deadline:(

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

No more sweating

A cool breeze drifted in on the Knolltop this morning. It's finally down to where it should be....55 degrees this morning. And it's going to be cool today only in the low 70s. That's more like it!

Holly the Hottie, as Jerseyboy likes to refer to her, is entered in the North American. I will believe she is going when I see her loaded on the truck and headed south. Until then I will not get my hopes up about this pretty young cow traipsing the tanbark trail.

She will most likely go with Delbert Yoder from Ohio, one of Bobby's buddies from his cattle fitting days. Last week Delbert won the prestigious Mackenzie-Klussendorf award at World Dairy Expo. The exhibitors call it the "barn award." It's basically an award that goes to one of the old faithful cow care takers, the ones who put their lifeblood into a good cow. The one who sweats over getting her topline just right, the one who gets just the right amount of milk in her, the one who does all the work for the love of the cow and then hands her off to a big bellied notable with white pants and a show harness who will take her onto the colored shavings for all the world to see while he heads back to the barn to get the next cow ready. Yes, that is Delbert...he's one of a kind and we love him.

Like I said, I'll believe she's going when I see it. Until then we'll just work and work with her until she's like those push-button winners the boys saw in Madison.

Well, breakfast awaits!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Let's get it straight

Good Morning from the Knolltop! We are in the dog days of August here with heat and humidity. Wait, I just turned the calendar to October but that's not what the weather says....what's up with all this heat? Complaining? No....I shouldn't complain...afterall I don't want to be running the furnace any sooner than I need to and I don't know what the seed corn supply is like right now for burning in my cornstove...so no, I'm not complaining a bit....just sweating.

I think I'd better get one thing straight this morning. It was brought to my attention that some of you reading this blog were under the misconception that the "Sarah" I was writing about earlier who came to help me with chores and brought her byfriend was my daughter Sarah. NO, NO, NO...that was not my daughter, it was another gal named Sarah who is 17 years old and shows dairy cattle in 4-H.

My daughter is only 11 and according to her father will not be able to date until she is 35 or so. Hope this helps everyone out.

And, I need to apologize to the sensitive Ayrshire in Montana named Betzy Loo. Apparently I spelled her name all wrong...pointed out by her owner, the Montana dairyman, Tom. Sorry for such a huge mistake...imagine me the writer making such an error!

The boys are home from Madison with so many stories to spin. I don't know what stories are true and what are tales. They had a good time, but I could tell by the hugs, they were glad to be home.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Growing weary

Okay, it's been fun, but it's time for the boys to get home.

I don't mind doing the chores, with my helpful crew, it's been a breeze...it's all the socializing that's done when all the work is through.

Yesterday at 11 am...I got the great idea to meet a girlfriend for lunch. We sat for two hours and caught up on things. I skidded into the school parking lot just in time to get the kids and made a date with another girlfriend who's husband was going to be gone for the evening. After getting back home and starting chores another girlfriend stopped in to drop off her daughter for the afternoon and I invited her along for the girls night out.

When chores were through, we headed to the restaurant and I got home promptly at 9 pm....I started yawning during dinner and we all decided I needed some sleep. I hit the hay after visiting with the kids and when the alarm went off this morning I just couldn't move.

I got all the chores done and had planned on heading to the outlet mall with mom, but I changed that slightly. My body just said, no, you need to shorten the trip and make it a shorter afternoon. So I'm headed to Jackson for a couple of hours and lunch of course. Then I'm coming home for a quick nap before all that milking stuff starts again.

Yes, the men need to come home so I can get some rest!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Half here, half there.

While the big boys are in Madison, us younger ones are left to keep the cows milked and fed.

All went well yesterday. When I got in from milking, Sarah had breakfast on the table and the coffee made! It was wonderful to come in a sit down to eat without having the get it on the table myself. After I got the kid to school, I started the rest of chores. No breakdowns, no melt downs, no hitches...just routine chores.

When I got done spreading manure my neighbor called, so I pulled up the lawn chair and just sat and talked on my cell phone. When our called got dropped, I just sat there and enjoyed the sunshine. Boy was that nice just sitting there with no immediate chore pushing me to get up and go.

Then I pulled out the lawnmower, considering the lawn hadn't been mowed since before the fair...it was in bad shape! A trip to town was a sure bet since I needed a new belt and some string for my weed trimmer. So after a shower and a short nap, I headed to town. When I got home, I put the new belt on, started mowing the lawn and then it was time to pick up the kids. We started chores and the two teenagers that Bobby had hired to come help me with chores showed up early and we got a great start.

They were wonderful help, Sarah and Cody, they are "going out." This is a county fair romance that is still going a week later...they are great help and a very cute couple!

When all the chores were done, Sarah, Jake and I headed out for dinner. I gave them the choice of where they wanted to go and where did they choose? McDonalds!

I heard from the travelers when they got to Madison. JW called me every two hours. I'm sure he didn't mean to, but it just happened that way. Of course I didn't mind at all~

They checked in this morning already and gave me the run down of everything they did and everyone they've helped do chores. Apparently they got up just as early as they do at home, headed out to the grounds and just helped out where they could. I'm just glad I"m not with the....if I were there I would insist everyone stay in bed until at least 6 am! For heaven's sake it's a vacation!!!

Gotta run....chores to do, gutters to clean, manure to spread and yes, one column to write...shame on me for not getting it done yesterday!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

One more cow in Montana

It's a beautiful cool morning here on the Knolltop with a sunrise beyond compare.

Yesterday I was visiting with my mom, who happened to be at World Dairy Expo, I think everyone has gone there but me. Anyway, she and my dad were there to deliver an Ayrshire cow. My nephew in Montana, the one with the very lucritive "dairy ranch" had such a demand for milk out there that he needed another cow. Because he already had an Ayrshire and he's convinced they have better milk, another Ayrshire will now call the hills of Joliet, Montana home.

She will awaken to a sunrise in the east that will splash light on the Rocky Mountain Range that is just to the west of her pasture. She will bask in the dry climate and never have a worry of running out of companionship with her new herdmate, BetseyLou and the brood of Missouri Foxtrotters that also call this ranch home. Imagine, way out there, two dairy cows producing a product so high in value the city dwellers are willing to pay $7 a gallon for it while all I hear around here is how expensive $3.59 is for a gallon of milk. I think I'm milking cows in the wrong part of the country.

Well, to continue that swapping story, my parents met my nephew and my brother-in-law and his brother in Madison. They all had a good time enjoying the big show and then the Montanans headed back west and my parents headed back east around the lake.

I'd better get going, I've got a couple of columns to write today...plus all that wonderful other routine work that keeps me from becoming a couch potato.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Anybody ever heard of the Royal?

I ask that question sarcastically because I have a great friend of mine who is crazy not only about the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Tornonto but who also seems to find redeemng qualities in the Jersey cow.

Russell Gammon, Executive Secretary of Jersey Canada, otherwise known as the "Big Guy" of Canadian Jerseys, or as he likes to refer to himself as Jerseyboy, is a big... no huge fan of the Royal and I wanted to share with you the comments he sent to me this morning about their big event coming up. I think we'll all be ready to hop in the car and cross the border after reading his description of one of the best ag expositions in the world.

It has been thirty-one years (November 1976 while I was a student at the U of G's Ontario Agricultural College) since my first memorable visit to "The Royal." I've been back every year since then and certainly every year since 1981! More than an autumnal rite of passage "The Royal" is sheer magic! The people, the sights and sounds, the excellence of competition, the fun, frivolity, joy of socializing and the scores of international visitors and amount of business conducted there are all an intoxicating mix of delights!!!

You long for those few golden days in November all year through. Then, as soon as one Royal is over you start dreaming about next year! We have some great Jersey shows in Canada because great conformation is one of our Canuck hallmarks and international calling cards! Nonetheless, the Royal is known world over as "THE BIG Dance", "THE one to win", "The Grand-daddy and Grand-mammy of them all" !!! In short the Royal is the jewel in the crown and nothing else quite compares! That's why since 1922 which is far from yesterday it has been "simply the best!"

Russell, your passion for cows and love of the Royal is palpable, thanks for sharing!

Different kind of morning

It's windy, cool and spitting rain. It feels and smells like a storm moving in. But I think it's supposed to clear off.

I'm feeling a bit more normal now. We've had a couple of nights of popcorn eating and homework doing....so we're getting back into the routine. Tonight Bobby has to run the chains at the Junior High football game and I'll stay home and milk.

JW is still getting up and milking for the neighbors. He's in a better mood in the mornings after he's gone out and done something. I don't know if he's content because he's making money or just the physical activity makes him feel better.

We've been getting on the internet to see who won what classes out at Madison. It's my only way to be connected to the show...they have lots of pictures of each class so that's fun. So far a Michigan Jersey owned by Greta Koebel of Three Oaks won Junior Champion of the Junior Show and I saw that Craig Martin of Springport was 10th in a heifer class...which is nothing to sneeze at when you're showing at one of the best shows in the world.

I'll get on this morning and see what else happened....I just love the internet! Oh and the shavings this year are a dusty rose color...it looks just like brand new carpet.

Better get going....coffee and errands await!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Left home

Well, this week is Madison and farm women all across the country are saying goodbye to their counterparts and looking at doing chores alone on the farm. Whether it be one cow our 200, those left home to keep things together for the family farm are happy to do so because they know that husband needs a few days or hours away just to get a fresh perspective.

My husband will be heading out this week as well and he's taking our two best hands with him. While I would love to be in the car riding along as they head through the traffic of Chicago and then look across the fields and fields of corn in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, I'm happy to stay home and keep the cows fed and milked. They will have a great time as Bobby is able to take his two older boys who haven't been to World Dairy Expo since they were 3 and 5 years old (they don't remember it). He will them story after story after story of all the years he spent fitting cows at Madison. They will finally be able to put a face to all the names they have heard about over the years and I can't wait to hear their reaction when they look across the colored shavings and watch as the best of the best enter a showring fit for queens.

In the meantime...I've got to make sure they have enough clean clothes to pack....off to the laundry room with a big cup of coffee!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Back to the real world

Good Morning from the Knolltop. It's kind of overcast and 60 out this morning. A very pleasant morning to milk.

The kids are back in school this morning ad we're back to the real world today. Today I will be playing catch up with the laundry, I will bale up the straw chaff scattered through the house from last week, I will make a few phone calls and send out some email responses that have been waiting. I'm leading worship at a couple of ladies retreats this month and I've really got to get that music all wrapped up.

After a week of express eating....I finally cooked a good meal yesterday. We had baked ham, brown rice, stir fry veggies, homemade rolls an apple crisp for dessert. It sure did feel good to sit down at the table after everyone being scattered around last week.

Off I go...coffee is waiting!