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!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wouldn't you know it

Well, I have to say, someone who reads this blog is a major prayer warrior! Yesterday morning the gutter cleaner worked like a champ. Yes, it needs some repairing, but besides that, it worked really well...it can only be attributed to God answering someone's prayer! More prayer is needed for the Knolltop...please don't stop now...God's on a roll...keep praying for the whole operation...if you don't mind!

Unfortunately, other obstacles got in our way of making it to our district meeting...but that is the way it is on a dairy farm. You learn that early on...you may or may not get to where you're going. If you get there, you will probably be late.

Of course staying home proved to be very productive...I got all the laundry done...after I de-iced the water lines going into my washer. The laundry room is on a southwest wall and when we get a good stiff wind, no matter what, the lines freeze. So I was up on my washing machine with my handy blow dryer getting them thawed and once that was done, I kept them thawed by doing lots and lots of laundry. So, today, I don't have any to do!

The milk inspector is due back today to check on a few items...just three and I took care of one of them this morning...putting in a new lightbulb over the bulk tank. So, two more to go and they are easy fixes, just have to run to the hardware and get the supplies....spray foam to fill a couple of holes.

Better get going....later!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Turn up the heat!

Yesterday with my 40 degree temps, I was chuckling at Mel from Pryorvu and how he posted his chilly temps and how they had to make sure everything was plugged in. I'm laughing no more....it's down right cold this morning. It's 1 degree with 25 mph wind and a -20 windchill. Now that's just not needed in my world.

We are on our way to our Holstein district meeting this morning with the neighbor...providing chores go well, the gutter cleaner gods have not been good to us lately. So I may be on my way to Mooville Creamery today or I may not....it's all up to the gutter cleaner. For those of you incline to...PRAY!

Gotta go get cold again...it takes about 10 minutes just to put all the clothes on...yes, I'm a baby!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No School!

The kids have the day off of school today since it warmed up and then cooled down just enough to ice the roads over. As of this morning we have very little snow...most of the ground is bare and it's very warm...41! I like this! But it's supposed to get cold and nasty tonight.

I don't care...I'm just glad to have the kids home. In fact, I found out that in all the craziness of teenagehood, they still are human...sometimes. When I came in last evening early from chores so I could go grocery shopping because I was working on a story most of the day yesterday, JW was standing there in the kitchen. I looked at him and I must have looked really stressed or something...even though I wasn't anymore stressed than any other day. He looked at me, reached out and gave me a big hug and told me he loved me. Wow....I kept waiting to hear the request....the confession...the other shoe to drop....but it didn't. He just wanted to hug me and tell me I was a great mom. Now we all know those moments are fleeting....so that's why I'm writing them here to tell you and I also wrote it down in my daily journal. That way I can look back and see that at one point, they are still human and somewhere I did something right as a parent. And some day, when I'm dead and gone, he may pick up my journal and read about his kindness and remember that he is a good person...and then he'll go read it to his wife in order to convince her that he's not the awful husband that she thinks he is! HA!

Well, I'd better get...but before I do...I have a prayer request from a reader named Sara...not my daughter...just Sara. She emailed it to me and because I know some of you who read this are wonderful prayer warriors....you'll want to stand in the gap for her. I'm seriously considering starting up a prayer blog...we could call it "knolltop prayer circuit" or "God's hotline"....or "You pray, He answers." Anyway...if and when I do that, I'll let you know! Here's Sara's situation.:

Let me just say right off how much I enjoy your blog. It just great... Finally someone who understands dairying and farming. It's just so refreshing.

Anyway my family (mother, grandmother, aunt and myself) are in need of much prayer at this time. We of course dairy which at times is its own prayer category, but this at present is more needed. :) This is the situation... after years of looking and much prayer we decided to get a new home. A modular or a stick built. It would be much faster than a stick built. ANYWAY all was going well... We had found a contractor for the basement, the loan was having a hard time going through or so she said because of the housing market troubles. In the beginning it was just supposed to be 30 acres with the other 130 free and clear. Well for it to go to construction loan it had to be the full 160. It was just going to be for 6 months and then the 130 would be free.

Well things happened. The contractor wouldn't give receipts or lien waivers. And now the 6 months are almost up. The house isn't on the basement as the contractor didn't give us the right height in the basement walls, there is no rebar to speak of and we've had to hire a lawyer since he has money that hasn't even been spent. The mortgage company says it's our fault for signing the draw forms but they didn't even get receipts and he (the contractor) wouldn't give them to them. All in all it's a royal mess.

The lawyer has sent out letters to all parties in this thing. I could go on but at the present time I will stop. At this point I don't know how to pray or what to ask for. All I know is the farm is in jeopardy (even though the lawyer says don't worry) I trust God and that he can work through our lawyer. We should have been moved in before Thanksgiving... Not being cold or having cats fall in thru the bedroom ceiling.

Thanks so much--Sara, Little Brown Cow Dairy

Monday, January 28, 2008

Glad it's Monday!

Well, I'm glad it's Monday here on the Knolltop. Last weekend was too busy for this family!

On Saturday I was privileged to speak to the Michigan Cattlewomen's group at the Michigan Cattlemen's Annual Meeting. Boy did we have fun! After listening to Mark Thomas of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association talk about marketing and then hearing the new director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture speak at a delicious lunch it was the ladies turn to slip away and have some time of encouragement.

Although I had heard rumblings of some of the men wanting to join the ladies at our conference, I kept telling them "no!" I guess they thought cattle worming might not be the most thought provoking topic of the day. Who could blame them?

So as we all got in our places and were settling in for our afternoon session a man came bursting through the door! Randy H. the auctioneer from Napoleon Livestock...and he's the owner too. He said he wasn't leaving...I even threatened to talk about female stuff and he didn't budge.

As it turned out he contributed a lot to our conversation and even helped some of us understand how men think. It was a real blessing to have him in there with us. We talked about beef promotion, life in agriculture and family life on the farm for 2 hours and it was hard to stop then! It was a great time to be with that group!

Then yesterday, after church, JW and I headed back to East Lansing for a Michigan Junior Holstein meeting. Those are always fun...plus we always eat lunch out. It's fun to get my kids alone and visit with them one on one. JW and I always have intriguing conversations. Yesterday was no different.

Okay...I've got so much more to write...but I'm so late for the barn...Bobby will think I've given up on coming out!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

When it rains it pours

We are in answered prayer overload on the Knolltop!

Two days ago we had one vehicle and I was praying and asking you to pray for another vehicle so I could get to the Michigan Cattlemen's Conference today. Well, Thursday my parents offered to bring me a vehicle and Friday morning our truck showed up in the driveway with a new transmission! WOW!

All I can say is thank you for your prayer and thanks to God for his provision! So that brings me to my next thought...if you people are so good at this prayer thing...I shouldn't be the only one who is beinging prayed for....you should be too! So if you have a prayer request that you want to share with us...let me know. YOu can post it here so we can all read it or you can email it to me and I will keep it confidential if you like. What I'm getting at is that we are seeing God work in our midst and it's exciting....get in on the action!

I'm headed to EAst Lansing for the conference....yes you can pray for me!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wonderful farmers!

Last evening, I had the best time with the Monroe County group of farmers and conservationists. There were so many nice people there, I loved visiting with every single one of them. There is just something about a farmer that is so appealing. Maybe it's there great sense of humor or the wild sense of adventure or the fact that they are such risk takers. But I really enjoyed talking with all those folks...especially Delmer Cilley and Herbert Smith. More about them later.

I was able to see a few old friends...one of them was Larry See, a man who thinks blogs are for those with nothing else to do. Well, he might not have put it in that context....but I love teasing him. I'm hoping he'll log on today and take a gander at my attempt to educate the world on agriculture and stay connected with folks. Larry is the father of Dr. Todd See, one of my old college friends. Todd and his wife Leslie were on the livestock judging team with me at MSU. Yes, that's where they met and now Todd is on staff at North Carolina State University and they have two kids who enjoy raising and showing livestock. Larry had to show me all the pictures....how fun! By the way....Todd is completely bald....that's a payback for all the times he made rude comments about my hair on the judging trips!

I also saw the Chapmans, parents of Rob Chapman, someone I graduated from MSU with. Rob is now a pharmaceutical salesman...which fits him perfectly since he was always the salesman of the group. And his wife Kelly Boles-Chapman who was also at MSU, is working for the Battle Creek Foundation and is an international horse show judge. She was such a joy to be around with lots of smiles and a kind word. I miss seeing these friends...we need to have a judging team reunion!

Well, today is a busy day on the Knolltop. JW has a game tonight in Litchfield, I have two stories to write, 4-H forms to fill out and at some point I need to make a quick trip to the store and work on my presentation for the Cattlemen's annual meeting tomorrow.

BEtter get to it!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Update!

Okay...God works at lightening speed! My mom called me this morning and offered to bring a truck down to us on their way to Iowa tomorrow. She hadn't read the blog yet so she was being used by God and didn't even know it! Isn't God Great!!!!

Thank you to all of you who have been praying today. I so appreciate it. And I just got off the phone with Bill Broadie of the All American Beef Battalion it was a great interview and I'll have more on that tomorrow. This is exciting stuff!

Get on your knees!

It's another cold cloudy day here on the Knolltop. I think it's about 10 out, but no wind...so that's good.

Today I get to interview a guy named Bill Broadie from Kansas. He has started a campaign to get steaks for all of our troops in Iraq. He and a board of directors have begun the Beef Battalion. I'm doing a feature on him and I'm looking forward to interviewing him. When I spoke with him yesterday he was on his way to Ft. Worth to tape an interview with the American Rancher, a show that airs on RFD-TV. I'll let you know how it goes!

In the meantime, tonight I speak in Monroe County and anyone who wishes to say a prayer or two for me, I would appreciate it. It seems something really good is going to come out of this and the reason I know this is because I have had a lot of spiritual warfare this week. Now, some of you are thinking..."this woman is really whacked out! What is she talking about....spiritual warfare?"

I'm not whacked out, but when you are trying to accomplish something good for God, then the enemy likes to hang around and tell you lies, make you say and do things you would never otherwise do and basically try to throw a monkey wrench into the whole deal. That's what I've been dealing with...listening to lies, saying things I would never say and being confronted with situations I've never had to deal with that come from out of no where.

So, those of you who read this who are incline to pray....please do so for me today and on Saturday as I speak again. And by the way, I need our truck to be out of the shop by Saturday...otherwise I have no way of getting to my speaking engagement in East Lansing...sad isn't it? Actually, I think it's funny....but let's pray and see how God answers that prayer...I will keep you updated!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Milk Labeling

Good Morning from the Knolltop! It's cold here..although I received warm greetings from a dairy farm in New York state....it's still cold here! Hey you guys in the west...send us some warmer weather..I'm tired of winter already!



JW's team won last night and so did the varsity team with a half court shot at the buzzer for the win. We beat Jackson Christian and my pastor and his wife sat with us so we were able to enjoy the victory in their company! Oh....did that feel good. They were good sports about it.



I was reading a blog yesterday from the North east and they were elated that Pennsylvania reversed their labeling laws and decided it was okay to put rBST free on their milk labels. This is a big step backward, I think. Anything that incinuates that our milk supply....our WHOLE milk supply is less than nutritious or safe is dangerous and wrong. Milk is Milk. But I'm not getting on the bandwagon today....I'll let you do it.



Do any of you out there have an opinion on this issue? I'd love to hear it...whether you're a dairy producer, city dweller, organic producer whatever...I want to hear what you think.

Boy do I have to write today...I've got two stories and a column to create.....what would I do without a deadline?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

AFACT

It's another winter day on the Knolltop. It's cloudy, snow is falling and we're supposed to be getting 2 inches or so. Just enough to cover the ground and make things look pretty. It was actually warmer this morning when we ventured across the road to the barn....it was 22 out.

I talked to a dairy farmer yesterday and he asked the obvious question...anything frozen? It's funny how we think about the same things because we are all experiencing the same situations. Trying to keep the cows eating, drinking and milking while weathering the cold temps and wind that can freeze water pipes and drinking bowls quicker than anything.

I was on a conference call yesterday with AFACT. This is a group of farmers and industry people who have formed an organization to preserve technology in agriculture. It's name says it all, American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology. AFACT was birthed out of the push from processors for dairy farmers to stop using rBST. It's quite a group and they are well organized....I was impressed.

Are any of you who read this blog familiar with this group? Have any of you participated in any way with this group? If you have, I'd like to know your impressions.

Well, it's off to the barn for chores. I've got to write today and tonight JW has a basketball game...at home..thank goodness!

Monday, January 21, 2008

No sun

The sun is not shining here on the Knolltop...partly because there is cloud cover, but mostly because the Packers lost yesterday. Jake was so bummed, he wanted to stay home from school....well, that was as good as an excuse as any. I told him I'd send an email to his buddy and fellow Packer fan, Mark Adam extending his condolences. That wasn't much comfort to him. But MSU beating Minnesota kind of took the sting out of the loss....at least one of our teams won.

The Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference is coming up in a couple of weeks. Again, this year I've been able to help plan the Partners Program...aka...the women's program. I wrote a column last week inviting everyone to it. I will include it here today..I'm still chuckling...it doesn't happen very often that you laugh at your own writing...what a joy!

Along with the Partners Program, I also get to emcee the Thursday night banquet....I get to introduce the guest speaker....guess who? Trent Loos. Yes, I get to introduce him again, this year and I'm having a ball coming up with my intro. As you might remember from last year, my introduction of him was how I finagled a regular spot on his Rural Route Radio show. Instead of reading his bio, I made one up...fictitious of course...and I had never even met the guy. Now that I know him...it will be even more fun to introduce him to the crowd....

Well, enough of that, right now I've got to clean up breakfast dishes, head back out to the barn and then work on my speech for Thursday night.

Truth from the Trenches
By Melissa Hart

What’s your favorite door prize so far this year? The free calf bottle? The ear tagger? The free bag of calf starter?
Yes it’s door prize season again…otherwise known as meeting season for farmers around the country. And boy is it fun to win those door prizes!
I was at a recent meeting where I won a free calf bottle, a deck of cards and a candle warmer. I just love those door prizes!
I want to tell you about another place where you could not only win some door prizes and have some wonderful food that you don’t even have to cook, but you could walk out with a gift bag of goodies including a book signed by the author.
This year at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) to be held on February 7th and 8th at the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth, Michigan, the Partners Program will not only make you want to get up and start dancing you may even want to plan a trip down under and learn how to take pictures of your trip as well.
Author and speaker Rebecca Long-Chaney will share about her adventures as she and her husband sold all their belongings, left their families and headed down under to work on a cattle station in Australia. Rebecca is a journalist from the east coast and grew up on a dairy farm.
She married a dairyman and they thought they would milk cows and live forever doing the life they enjoyed as youth. One day they decided to plan a trip of a lifetime. She will inspire us with this adventure and tell us what did for her personal growth and her marriage.
While Rebecca would be enough to make you want to come, we have more planned for those who wish to embark on a day of refreshment with other dairy women. Bring your digital cameras and learn to take good pictures. You know what it’s like when you sit down to do your scrapbooking… you have the curly scissors, you have the sheets and sheets of pretty paper, you have the cute stickers, the stamps, the ribbons and all those great little do-dads to decorate…only to be let down by the really bad pictures that you took when you really thought you were the long lost national geographic photographer of the year.
You will learn how to take really good pictures to fill your scrapbooks that in reality only have two pages filled in them because good intentions don’t get squat done.
When we have finally learned how to take good pictures we are going to learn how to drink really good wine. Well, that is if you’re not a recovered alcoholic. If your stiffest drink of choice is strawberry milk then you can hang with me and we’ll learn what goes into the good stuff that makes people say and do foolish things. Then while we are slurping our strawberry milk and they are sipping their white wine we’ll take high quality pictures of them dancing on the tables and make a scrap book of their day at the Partners Program that they will remember forever!
And that’s just the first day. The second day we will learn how to make good salsa, take network breaks and make new friends while downing as much free ice cream as we can and then the best part is we’ll learn how salsa dance! Doesn’t that sound like a riot? Then you can meet back up with your husband and show him your high quality, suitable for framing pictures of you and your new best friend salsa dancing on the tables while drinking a really good glass of wine!
Seriously, we will be having a good time learning about Australia, wine making, salsa tasting and how to promote the dairy industry. This my humorous attempt at personally inviting each and everyone of you to the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference Partners Program. You can on line to
www.glrdc.msu.edu. Or you may email me at mhart1@frontiernet.net or you can even call 517-353-3175 ext.229 to find out more and sign up to join us on February 7-8, 2008 in Frankenmuth.
I look forward to dancing with you!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Only on a Sunday morning

Well, it's a very cold morning here on the Knolltop. Although the orange sunrise peeking through the trees in the east was breathtaking....it made for a rough morning in the barn.

Things were going fine, until we started the gutter cleaner. With time running short before church we were trying to get done in time. But to no avail, when I saw that there was no way we would get the gutters cleaned and the bedding done before church I told JW to take the kids and pick up the extra passengers and head to church without us.

The nice thing is having a son who can drive, before we all would've had to stay home, but now at least half of us can go to church....that made me feel much better as a mom!

So now I will do a little baking and just a little cleaning on this really cold, breezy morning here. I think the windchill is down to -15. Not bad if you live in North Dakota the wilds of Manitoba...but we haven't had this kind of cold yet this winter and I'm not adjusted yet!

I just have to post this mom moment for you moms of teenage sons out there who think they may never grow up to be decent human beings. As I was popping our nightly bowl of popcorn, JW came into the kitchen speaking spanish, like I would have a clue....asking me questions...of course I tried to answer...I might have answer correctly and he would've thought I was really smart...but I didn't.

Anyway, a song came on the radio that we both liked and we began talking about the artist. He pulled out his ipod and said he had another one of her songs on it and asked if I wanted to hear it. Like I'm gonna say no? I said yes, of course I wanted to hear this song. So he put one of the ear phones in my ear and the other one in his and we stood there in the kitchen, the pop corn popping, listening to this song he wanted me to hear while he sang along...which was real treat because he has a beautiful voice. It was such a nice moment to stand there with my 16 year old sharing a song with him...I just can't tell you how fleeting those moments are beginning to be....it may seem silly to the rest of the world, but it was a great four minutes for me....so I just had to share it with you.

I'm off to walk on my treadmill...stay warm!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's chilly!

It was down in the single digits this morning on the Knolltop. But the barn was warm.

Last night while I milked, Bobby and the boys brought in all the dry cows and heifers and tied them in to the empty stalls in the barn. It was a rodeo as those heifers who haven't been in the barn since they were six months old came in and challenged every barrier there was. But every one of them is now tied in a stall.

The amazing thing was the difference they made this morning as we walked into the barn. It was so much warmer in there....I loved it! It will be a rodeo this morning as we let them out to bed the stalls and get them back in...it will be good to have all the kids to help us out!

Last night we went and supported the girls basketball team as they lost to Litchfield. After the game we always stay and help the athletic director and his wife...good friends of ours, clean up the trash and fold the chairs and stuff.

While we clean Luke and their son, Brad, shoot baskets until we finally pull them off the floor and take them home. We stayed too long last night...long enough so that Bobby and Gary, the AD, got into a game with Luke and Brad. I guess they just wanted to see if they still had "it." Although Bobby felt great last night when he got home...this morning he was a little stiff. I was proud of my nearly 50 year old husband who could still try to take his 14 year old....I said "try."

Today the boys have to work for the neighbor and then Luke has basketball practice. Sarah and Jake also have practice and I will spend the day cleaning, baking and running!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good report

After a cold windy night on the Knolltop, we went to the barn and found everything just as we left it last night. No frozen water lines or anything...now that's a real blessing! This weekend promises to be even colder, so we'll have to button the barn up good and tight tonight.

Bobby and JW got home at 11 pm last night with the report of a win for the JV's and a loss for the varsity. JW fouled out...a good night for him. Today they only have a half day of school, so they are excited this morning.

I think I'll include a column today...

Truth from the Trenches
By Melissa Hart


Are you ready for some courage? Here’s my courage transplant for the beginning of the year.
It was about a year ago and I was complaining out loud about how cold it was outside and I just didn’t want to do my daily walk in the cold. I blurted out, “I need a treadmill!”
Realizing it was a buyers market for milk and a sellers market for corn, there was no way I could ever squeeze out any money for much more than macaroni and cheese to feed my family, much less a treadmill. So I decided to do the next best thing….pray for one.
I told my kids that I was praying for a treadmill and my daughter said, “Mom you should pray for a cheap one, not a free one.” I looked at her and said, “I know a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, I’m sure He has a treadmill out there he can wrangle for free!” And with that, I began praying for the FREE treadmill.
Months went by and no treadmill. The warmer weather came and I began walking outside again and soon forgot about my treadmill dreams. I had mentioned wanting a treadmill to a few people, but just in passing. One Sunday I shared that I’d been praying for a treadmill with a group of Christians and the look I got was incredulous. I just looked back and said, “God owns it all, why not pray for a treadmill? If anyone can give it to me He can. He tells us in His Word to ask, seek and knock….why are you all looking at me as if I’ve just broken the Ten Commandments all at once?”
Not losing my courage to pray, I just kept on praying. When summer came, some friends of ours came home on furlough. They were missionaries and were home for six months. The wife of the family asked me one Sunday, “Are you still looking for a treadmill?” I told her that I was and people think I’m crazy for praying for one. She said, “When we get ready to go back I’ll give you the one I’ve got in my house, someone gave it to me to use while we’re in the states and I knew you were looking for one, so it’s yours!”
I just about jumped for joy! I was excited to say the least and I couldn’t wait to share the good news with my kids. At the end of the six months, she asked me to come get the treadmill. When I walked into their garage she pointed to a bunch of stuff and told me to take anything I wanted, it was all mine if I wanted it.
I looked around and couldn’t believe my eyes. When I shut the van door and headed out the driveway I not only had a new treadmill, but a brand new 27 inch TV, a DVD player, a radio/CD player, an ironing board of which I really needed and I left behind the printer and furniture she offered me.
I know possessions aren’t everything, but I’m constantly amazed at God’s provision for our necessities and overwhelmed with His wild love for us to provide the things that we want too.
At the beginning of 2007 I was asking for a treadmill, by the end of 2007 I had a whole gym. Not only did I get a treadmill, my neighbor offered me her Nordic Track. So instead of buying a membership to the fitness center I can pop my exercise DVD into the DVD player hooked up to my new TV and do my exercises after I’ve worked out on my Nordic Track and walked four miles on my treadmill all while listening to my favorite CD!
I’ll think I’ll start praying for a new dishwasher and see what happens!
Yes, God is good.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Redemption

Good Morning from the Knolltop. It's supposed to be a warm day today and then get cold and windy. Being on a hill in an old farmhouse on a windy day is not a good combination!

Sarah redeemed herself and didn't know it. Last night when she came home from AWANA she asked if she could invite one of her friends for next week. Okay...I can breath a sigh of relief. After thinking about it yesterday I realized that she has gone to church her whole life and really can't imagine not going. So I'm sure she is thinking everyone else does too and they just need to go by themselves. Wouldn't it be great to live in such a rosy world? I'm thankful I have a 12 year old who still sees the world through rose colored glasses.

I had a nice surprise this morning. With my eggs, ham and toast, I found a jar of peach jam on my jelly shelves. I didn't think I had any left, but I guess I had one more jar of it. And boy was it good on my toast!

Bobby is headed to JW's game tonight over in Climax. It was my turn to go this week, but when he climbed into bed last week at 11:30 pm from the basketball game in Burr Oak, I decided then that he could go this week too. While I love to watch JW play I know Bobby gets a lot of enjoyment out of it too. Besides, I have two speaking engagements next week leaving them all home by themselves...so I guess I can stay home tonight.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Evangelism

Good morning from the Knolltop! It's sunny here and that helps brighten the spirits!

I am still laughing at an episode I had with my daughter Sarah yesterday. I think I will be laughing for a long time.

We are members of a church that is about 35 minutes away from here. We've been going there for 14 years now and although we have looked for a church closer to where we live, we always end up back at "home." So needless to say, when we invite people to go to church with us, if they are children we have to take them with us and if they are adults we usually caravan.

Over the past year we've had one friend of Luke's go with us and he has been very faithful in going....every Sunday. Now JW has a friend and she's been going with us the past few weeks too. The other day, a few of JW's other friends decided they would like to try this church too. Now we only have a seven passenger van and JW's truck and our truck is in the shop...so needless to say we only have room for seven people. Fortunately the past couple of weeks we've had sick family members so we've been able to accommodate the extra guests....but now everyone is healthy and we are running out of room.

On the way home from school yesterday Jake said one of his friends had arranged to go to church with us this Sunday. I just whimsically said, "We need a bigger van!" Sarah asked why and I told her we had Jake's friend and JW's two friends, and Luke's buddy....we didn't have enough room for everyone.

She looked at me and just as seriously as Sarah gets she said, "Mom, this taking people to church stuff has got to end!" I burst out laughing and Jake said, "What are you talking about Sarah?" She continued on and on about how people needed to find their own way to church or get their parents to take them or maybe they should just go to church in North Adams.

I just couldn't stop laughing about it...I mean I spend all my time trying to get more people to go to church...especially young people. God has given me the spiritual gift of evangelism...so I get really excited when people received Jesus as their Savior and now I have a daughter that thinks we need to just stop taking people to church! I'm still laughing! Either I failed in teaching this young lady how important Jesus is to everyone or she's possessed! (Just a joke, she's not really possessed!)

Today I'm picking out a Bible study for Sarah and I to do together...this "cooperative, flexible and kind student of the month" needs a little more than a splash of Jesus...she needs a tidal wave!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Validation

Good frosty morning from the Knolltop. It's still a little snowy here...nothing deep though.

Last weekend at the DHIA banquet, Jake and I stood in the buffet line with one of our local vets and we were visiting about stuff. I figured I'd save myself a phone call and I told him I had two cows, standing side by side in the barn, who had D.A.'s (displaced abomasum or twisted stomach's) and I needed him to come by on Monday....not over the weekend, I was too cheap to pay for a weekend call.

He looked at me trying to figure out if I was serious or not. I assured him I was and that he or someone else from the practice really needed to come by. He said okay.

Monday afternoon the phone rang and it was him...he asked me "Were you really serious about those cows with D.A.'s?" I reassured him that I was totally serious. He said he would be over at about four. When I headed to the barn to milk the doc was out there with his stethoscope listening to the cows and then he looked at me and with an incredulous look and said, "Melissa, you were right! Both of these cows have D.A.'s!" I looked back and him and said, "Of course I'm right, I told you they did...and you didn't believe me...now I'm finally validated!"

Now, I'm no vet and of course I wasn't totally confident of my diagnosis, but it pays off to sound confident...at least one vet thinks I have some smarts!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rest...finally

Good Monday Morning from the Knolltop! It snowed a little last evening.

Yesterday after church, we came home and I decided I would not take Luke to his practice...Bobby wanted to and I didn't feel the need to tag along. Besides someone needed to stay home and get a decent dinner on the table.

After they left, I cleaned up around the house and then I did something I rarely get to do....I laid on my bed, covered up with a quilt and watched RFD-TV! I think I was there for about an hour or so, it felt so good to watch a bunch of horse stuff that no one else likes to watch but me. I think it's interesting to hear everyone's perspective on how a horse should be trained.

Then I figured I'd better get started on dinner. I made ham, fried potatoes, salad and french bread. While all that was cooking I hopped on my new treadmill for 30 minutes before they got home. That's fun because I listen to one of the kids mp3 players and I love to just hear music going into my ears and nothing else....it's so peaceful!

Well, no games tonight....just practices so it will be a quite night. We need a few of those after the wild weekend we had. By the way, the DHIA banquet was fun...we had a great meal and a great speaker and it's always fun to win door prizes! Jake got to go up three times for the prizes...he had my ticket, his ticket and the featured speaker's ticket. We sat with the speaker, Krissa Thom because I had to introduce her. So Jake must have appealed to her and she gave him her ticket....what a con artist.

He picked a calf bottle and a deck of cards for himself and then I told him to get a candle warmer for me. It was a great time.

Time for breakfast!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Someone needs to stay home!

It's been a very busy day here on the Knolltop and it's still going strong. Last evening JW's team beat Burr Oak. After Luke, Jake and I got done doing chores we called one of my girlfriends and we went out to Saucy Dogs BBQ place and had a bite to eat. When we got home, I crawled in bed and Jake and I watched a little TV. It was nice just to lay there and spend time together...Luke was on the phone to his girlfriend...hmmmm....

Anyway, this morning everyone had to get out to do chores so we could take Luke to his AAU basketball tryout in Adrian. JW went to work for Mr. Kiser and Jake had to stay home to go to his basketball practice. Sarah finally came home from her sleepover....exhausted of course.

When we got home from Luke's tryout, I took Sarah to her practice, picked up Jake and came home for a short nap. Then I hustled in to get Sarah, got home just in time to slap something on the table for dinner and put in my barn overalls in the dryer and start a load of jeans.

Now I'm headed to the barn and tonight is our annual DHIA banquet...Jake and I will go and we get to hear Krissa Thom speak...she is a Trent Loos protegee...I hope I spelled that right! Bobby will stay home..he's too tired from being out late at JW's game last night. JW is gone to the FFA Big Buck Banquet and Luke and Sarah will stay home with Bobby. Normally our Saturdays are not this busy...today is an exception.

Better get to the barn.....later! By the way...it's sunny out and a great help for my rotton attitude that I've had lately!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Student of the month

It's overcast here on the Knolltop. I guess we are supposed to get rain off and on today and through the weekend. Bobby will go to JW's game tonight in Burr Oak...a long way from here. And Luke, Jake and I will stay home to do chores. Sarah has a birthday party to attend...so she misses out on chores tonight.

Speaking of Sarah...we just got home from seeing her be honored as the Student of the Month in her class. It's pretty neat deal, all the parents of the honored students are invited to the school for donuts and juice and milk and then we listen to what the teacher said about each honoree. This is what Mr. Parks had to say about Sarah:

One of the key lifelong guidelines is No-Put Downs. Despite the lame name, it is an important lifelong guideline. Sixth graders are not always known for always being kind and thinking about the feelings of others. It is nice to have a student like Sarah Hart in my room because I know that she will be thinking of others and won't be hurting their feelings...except maybe when she consistently aces the spelling pretests! Students like Sarah make teaching more fun! I am glad that she is a Parxie.

Some life skills that I appreciate in Sarah are: Cooperation, flexibility and patience. Sarah shows these skills in my classroom frequently. Sarah, thank you for your hard work. Keep it up as you are mooooooving through the 6th grade.

As you can see Mr. Parks has a silly sense of humor...and Sarah really enjoys him. I'm very proud of Sarah!

Okay, now that we spent the last hour at the school...chores are late and I need to get going!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Better late than never.

Yes, I'm a bit late posting this morning. That's because I had to run to town early this morning and get some hydraulic fluid and some other things, then I had to run lunch money into the school for the kids, they were almost down to eating a free PB&J unless I deposited some money in their accounts. Althought how bad can PB&J be? It keeps your sides from caving in.

And then when I got home I had to help finish chores, clean up a few breakfast dishes start a load of laundry and pick up before I felt like I could get to the computer. And the first thing I did was respond to some newspaper editors about running my column. I'm trying to get my column in some papers around the midwest and they all claim they don't have room. What I want to say is, you always have room for good material! But I don't. I just send them some samples and pray they like them enough to start running it.

A few weeks ago Farmshine finally ran my first column and I got a few responses from readers of that paper. Now if a few people responded, how many others wanted to respond but didn't because of the busyness of life? Well, that's my vent for the day...I'm done now.

I've got to start writing!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Another win

Last night JW's team won again. They were really playing well and JW had 3 fouls....yes, you could say he had an off night.

It's a partly sunny morning here with a stiff breeze...no more balmy weather, we're back to winter for a while. It sure was nice to just wear a sweatshirt with no long underwear out to the barn for chores!

The mercury light is out in the yard...boy is it strange to walk out of the house and have it so dark outside....we didn't realize how much light that thing casts until it quit working. I wonder if we're the same way, we don't realize how much light we cast on others....hmmmm

Better get going...lots to do today!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thuderstorms in January?

I just heard a rumble of thunder and I can't believe it. We must have moved to Georgia and I didn't know it. This weather feels just like the south on the few occasions that I've been there during the winter. I like it.

Last evening was such a hoot during chores. I told the kids after Christmas break they needed to start working with their show calves. While we were milking I saw JW and Luke get rope halters and drag their June calves out for a walk.

What was so funny was that JW has Pami's heifer, Pontoon who is the friendliest of the two calves and Luke has Holly's heifer, Honey. Neither one of these heifers has been worked with, they only get their chin scratched when I get in their pen each day to clean it out. They love having their chin scratched.

When the pulled them out to walk down the isle, Pontoon fought it every step of the way while Honey walked along as if Luke had been working with her for months. It was so funny to see JW fighting and pulling and complaining while Luke just passed by him with this perfectly trained, or so it appeared, heifer.

JW said it wasn't fair and I agreed and then I told him he just had to be patient....well, telling a teenage boy to be patient is like telling water not to flow down stream.

I've got two rooms cleaned out...today I head to the Salvation Army with my items that are no longer needed but still had a useful life.

How 'bout that New Hampshire Primary? Are you tired of the election yet? I am!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Spring for a day

It's a balmy 55 out this morning and it's a good thing because Jake wanted to wear his new Packer's hat to school.

Over the weekend, Jake had another big blessing. The farm family up the road are good friends of ours. They are crop farmers and run over a lot of ground. In the fall and spring, Jake gets to "hang" with these folks...he calls it working. Last year, the whole family received Carhart farm coats with their farm name embroidered on the back. Jake was very envious of these jackets and they knew it. They told him they would order one for him...or so Jake said they said they would order one for him. I kept thinking to myself that it was more of a hope of Jake's and not a promise of these nice friends.

Well, me of little faith, Jake showed up in the barn Saturday night to do his chores with a brand new dark green Carhart coat that said, "Schoenberger Farms" on the back. I was elated that they thought so much of Jake to buy a farm coat for him. This coat has now sealed Jake's assumption that he is an actual part of the Schoenberger Farms Team...whether they want him or not. They are an awesome family!

And for a game report from the MSU girls basketball game on Saturday....they lost to Penn State. It was still lots of fun though. What was amazing to me was all the people we knew there. I was going with the assumption that we wouldn't see anyone we knew in 4-H...instead we ran into so many people we knew and even sat with the crew from Nugentdale Farms.

We had awesome seats...eight rows up from the court and we had a blast!

Well, it's time to get going. With the kids back in school...all except Sarah who caught Bobby's bug...life will get back into a routine now and maybe I'll get something accomplished.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Packer surprise!

Good morning from the Knolltop. Yes, it's warm this morning....32 out and it's going to get warmer. By the end of the day we will be smelling like spring and wishing April were here! At least I will...I love spring.

Yesterday I was again pleased with the human race and realize even the "big" people care about little people. A couple of weeks ago when we attended the Top 10 Invitational Sale, Jake and I were visiting with Mark Adam....a "big" person. No, not just in stature, although he is a very tall man with a booming voice and a real strong presence. Mark is also a VIP....head honcho....the big guy....whatever you want to call him.....of Northstar Cooperative based in East Lansing. For those of you who don't know, Northstar is a semen company and they also the ones who do all the milk testing here in the midwest and they obviously sell other dairy supplies and products...you get the idea.

Anyway, we were visiting with Mark and he and Jake struck up a conversation about the Packers. They discovered they had something in common...they both loved the Packers. A season ticket holder, Mark said the next time he went to a game he said he would bring a hat back for Jake....well you know Jake was thrilled with this thought and so was I because his Atlanta Braves hat was becoming unrecognizable.

Well, as a mom, I know how busy people get and I figured that would be a nice gesture, but I have to admit, I didn't think Mark, in all of his busyness of running a company, would even think about the promise he made to a ten year old Packer commrade.

Yesterday when I came in from chores, there was Jake meeting me at the door with what else but a Packer's hat! I couldn't believe it! Not just any Packer's hat...a custom fitted Packer's hat! And in the box was a very nice note from Mark. I was absolutely amazed by his kindness and thoughtfulness. For a man to take the time to buy a hat for a little kid in North Adams after a 10 minute conversation about a football team....that just blows my mind.

So, from the bottom of my heart....Thank you Mark! You are an awesome person in my book. And Jake is trying to figure out your phone number, he wanted to call you last night to thank you....by the way, he hasn't taken the hat off yet...except for this morning's breakfast when his father insisted that he remove it!

Today Sarah and I have a girls day out. Through 4-H we were able to attain FREE MSU girls basketball tickets. So we will be heading north to my former home of five years and cheering on the green and white. Although Sarah has a wardrobe of MSU green and pink, I will be in green and white.

Jake and Bobby will keep the home fires burning today while Luke and JW work for Mr. Kiser...after they do their chores here!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ill feeelings

What a morning here on the Knolltop. We started out kind of slow since the leader of the farm is feeling under the weather. When that happens, things just don't go like they should. After chores, I was fixing biscuits and gravy for the clan plus two extra boys who spent the night and a knock came at the door...it was Mr. Kiser bringing us donuts for breakfast! I gave him a cup of coffee and we all had a feast for breakfast.

Now the older boys are gone to work for Mr. Kiser and I've now got to get going on the day's work in the house.

Last night, JW's team won their game and the varsity won too. JW fouled out of the game and was all smiles. What a kid.

Well, my work is waiting patiently! Hopefully I can get back to this computer later today.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A surge of testosterone

It's going to be a beautiful sunrise here on the Knolltop. I can see the sun starting to light up the sky and with all the snow...it's so pretty!

First off, let me clarify something for Linda and anyone else who thought I was serious about my laundry. I didn't have 17 loads from one kid, that was an exaggeration...although I think I might have come close...it seems like I do 17 loads a day! And yes, a front load washing machine was wonderful...when I had it. My parents had mercy on me one year and bought me one...I wore the thing out! When it was going to cost more to fix it than it was worth, I decided to get a new one. Well at the time we were paying $4.00 for a bushel of corn and selling milk for $13 a hundred...you don't have to do the math...I will....it was bad! So instead of a new washing machine I bought a used one that was in the paper...it came with a used dryer that I still have in my back room that I haven't had to put into use yet. The funny thing about this washer is that it is from a laundromat and so it has a coin deposit thing you have to slide in and out to start it. Don't worry, it's fixed so I don't have to pay for each load...it's "free." So there you have it...that's my laundry saga.

There was an incident the other day that just made me chuckle and I've been wanting to write about it ever since, but have forgotten! The other day when we were coming home from JW's basketball game it had been snowing and there was a fresh layer of about 3 inches on the roads. So to say the least it was slippery and everyone was going a bit slower. On the outskirts of town there is a hill known as Buck Hill and we were approaching it when we saw this truck in the ditch. As we got closer we noticed it was a kid on JW's team and his older brother and they were clearly stuck in the ditch. There were three other vehicles ahead of us who had stopped, but strangely enough hadn't gotten out to help the boys. So when we got up to them, Bobby and the three boys all got out and rushed over to the truck to help. They all got on the front of the truck and pushed and in a matter of seconds the Kast brothers were back on the road.

When my boys walked back to the van they were all about three feet taller with huge bulging muscles and the confidence of David...at least that's how they acted. It's amazing what a surge of testosterone will do for young men!

Speaking of testosterone...if I get a chance later on today I will give you a run down of the typical day on the farm yesterday...it started out with lots of breakdowns...but ended up with great success.

Better get on my day...writing and errands to do today!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Digging out

Good Morning from the snowy Knolltop!

We ended up with a total of a foot of snow and it's still coming down right now. The boys will find out how passable the roads are since they've gone to basketball practice this morning. I'm sure they will be fine.

Since all we did yesterday was goof off and eat, today we will get back to work and dig out of this mess. I'm still doing laundry....over the weekend, JW decided to clean his room and that meant bringing 17 loads of dirty and some clean laundry down to my laundry room. Oh boy....and then yesterday Luke caught the cleaning bug and he cleaned and rearranged his and Jake's room...again, 17 loads of laundry! So while I like having them take the initiative to clean their rooms and have them look so nice, I do have to pay a price for it. Yes they should do their own laundry...but I find it just as easy to do it myself. Folding laundry gives me time to think and figure out what I'm going to do next.

Well, I'd better head out to the barn for the rest of morning chores....later!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

With the new year came nine inches of snow last night. It began about 10 pm and didn't quit until this morning. Bobby is plowing snow as I type and it's pretty slippery out there....but it sure is pretty.

Yesterday was a great day at my parents celebrating Christmas with my family. Like I said we would do, we ate until we couldn't eat anymore and then we ate some more! When I arrived I made a pot of coffee so we could have some with the hot cinnamon rolls, muffins, cookies and cheese and crackers that mom had spread on the kitchen table. After downing my first cup of coffee and several goodies, we opened presents. After enjoying all of our new things the little boys went out to sled on the "mountain" and we began making dinner preparations while the big boys cleaned up all the wrappings.

Things were going along as expected until Jake came running in to tell us one of the cousins had a crash on the mountain and then it was all down hill from there....well, it wasn't really, but I couldn't resist the pun.

The littlest cousin hit his head and was pretty miserable. By the end of the day he was fine, but he gave us grown ups a bit of a scare....so much so his parents decided to play it safe and take him to the ER. A good report this morning shows he's back to normal....thank God!

We enjoyed a dinner of ham, cheesy potatoes, Amy's homemade rolls, fruit salad and pumpkin pie, lemon pie and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. Yes, I ate too much again. We got home just in time for chores and then because the snow was coming I made Bobby go with me to the store for some "snowed-in" provisions. I hate being snowed in when I'm low on the essentials of life....like butter and coffee!

When we finally were in for the night, we enjoyed lots of football!

So today we will continue with our New Year's Day tradition of eating nothing with any remote hint of nutritional value. Chips, dip, candy, pop, pizza, whatever we feel like eating and we will graze all day long while we watch football!

My house is a total mess and totally out of control...so I think that will be something I will try to tackle...ha! I'm on a run! I did it again!

Have a great day!