Here is our little "Sunshine". We found her in the pasture being guarded by none other than Sally the painted pony. She would not even let the mother of this precious creature near her. It was late in the evening when we arrived home from a gathering. Mark told the boys that they were going to throw some hay down to the animals and check on things. It had been about 2 weeks since we "thought" our heifer would calve. We were always worried that she might need help, being that it was her first calf. Any time we would leave, we would always check to see if there were any "signs" before we would go. Just when we figured it may never happen, it does. That is how life goes sometimes, just when you relax and stop fretting, things just seem to fall into place. Anyway, that is just how I have learned life to be. The boys started pitching hay and noticed the comotion in the pasture. It was a good thing that they did notice, because that pony did not make milk for the calf and it could have died during the night had we not intervened. Mark shoed the protective pony away and cradled that sweet little newborn calf in his arms and carried her into the box stall in the barn. The boys bedded them down and worked on getting the calf to suck. The cow was very attentive to the calf but when the calf would try to suckle, she would kick the poor thing. Mark said he had to tie back the legs while Miles helped the calf get its much needed portion. It was a challenge but they managed to get the mamma and baby settled in with full bellies for the night.
The next morning the whole family came out to the barn to have a look. They were all curled up together as we talked about how cute little "Sunshine" is, how the two of them will be best friends for life, just like we are in our family. Because "Sunshine" is a heifer, we intend on keeping her and milking her one day as well. The old saying "Two heads are better than one", applies to more than just people! Cows really like having another cow to be with because of the herding instinct. Most dairy farmers would separate the calf from it's mother right away and feed her a bottle each milking, but we like to keep them together until the calf is weened. It is handy if you have to go away in the evening, you just keep the calf on and you will not have to worry about milking that evening. The calf gets a lot of nurturing and love as she shares her mommy with us. We usually milk twice a day and get about 1-2 gallons per day. That is plenty of milk for our family for now. It is so exciting to think about all the cream we will have now. Enough to make butter and ice cream!! Yogurt, kefir, and cheeses will be brewing in our kitchen. The children will enjoy smoothies, fresh cheese curds, and good health. They will pet the calf and cow each day. What a special blessing for our family.
Mikey's Chicken Business
A few weeks ago, Mikey bought 46 laying pullets. They had just started laying eggs. Most days he would get around 3-4 dozen. He would bike down to the Amish country store and sell his eggs to the customers. Mikey made a clean area in the barn where he set up a desk with his paperwork. Each time he gathers the eggs, he counts them and writes down how many and the date collected. He beds them down each and every day and then he feeds and waters them thoroughly. After he gathers the eggs, he washes all the eggs very carefully in the wash-house sink and places them into the cartons. Some days, Miles hitches up the pony and takes Mikey down to the store to drop off the eggs. It is really a blessing to see your kids growing in responsibility and character. Mikey is learning how to manage money, how to utilize some Math skills and apply them to real life, and ways to make the production better. Just the other day, he discovered that they were dropping in production, so Dad ran to the local hardware store with Mikey and purchased a light bulb that can attach to the battery to allow more light in. They also make sure to allow the chickens free range of the farm during the brightest part of the day. The chickens need plenty of light to produce plenty of eggs. All the learning that goes on at the homestead is such a blessing.
Miles's Rabbit Business is Hopping Along
Miles just bred the rabbits this past week and is hoping for a good turn out. Just Saturday, he rode down the lane with the boys in his buggy with one of the doe rabbits. He brought the boys down to Mary Ester's farm because her son John has rabbits, too. John is about Miles age and they seem to relate really well. John had a Rex buck that would work for breeding and Miles bought two Rex does from him as well. They had a fun morning together playing in the barn, discussing the potentials of a rabbit business, and also getting in some target practice with bb guns. Typical boy stuff, you know. While all the Amish men in the community are getting a strong case of "Buck Fever", our men at home are as well. Opening day, Mark and Miles made the trek back to the woods for a chance at shooting some deer. They saw nothing, but bonded, Man and Son, just as Man and Son has bonded for the past thousands of years. Fathers training up men in the field for the hunt. It never gets old.
Junior and His Little Teeth
One morning I heard a sad noise in the other room. It was Junior crying. I asked him why he was crying and looking so glum. He said it was because he had "little teeth". Supposedly, everyone was making fun of him for having little teeth. I never heard that, but with children, anything is possible. He dried up in hopes that I could pop one of his teeth out with a pliers. I did not want to hurt him, but he begged for me to pull it out. Just then all the children came to me, all lined up in a row with a pliers. They all wanted me to pull teeth that day. Imagine that! My kids are tough! They WANT me to pull teeth out with a pliers. One by one, I pop teeth out, (loose teeth, of course!) and the kids are all smiling and giggling with one another. They are excited to have a tooth to hold in their hands. Junior was last because I just thought, since it would be the first time, I thought he might think it was bad. But to the contrary, he was so happy! He was so happy to get rid of one of those "little teeth". It still makes me laugh thinking about it. It just sounds so terrible to use a pliers, but for some reason the kids think that hurts the least and it is so quick. Don't try this at home...Consult your local dentist for advice on teeth.
Little Girl Sleep Overs
We had 4 little Amish girls over for a little girl sleep over. We played lots of fun games until 1 am. I read them story after story. The next morning we had an "English" tea party. I taught them how to ask politely, in an "English" sort of way. They made tea cakes and berry tea. I asked each of them if they would "Like a spot of tea", and they would respond "Yes, please". Molly and Megan set the table with the fanciest of china and lit candles all around us. It was very lovely. After the tea, we girls rode our bicycles to the Lark country store. We found some candy there to buy to have a treasure hunt back at home. I hid the little treasures all around and when they found one, they were done looking. One by one, the girls found their treasures and then Molly and Megan started to teach them how to sew on a treadle machine. They were all making sock dollies together. What fun!
12 Years of Canning Apples
We just completed our 12th annual applesauce and apple pie filling bee. This time we invited Catherine and her oldest daughter over for the working bee. We enjoyed many hours of sweet fellowship. This time, I thought I could fill all the shnitzed apples into my big box canners over the stove. That was such a mistake! The stainless steel was much to thin for the weight of those apples I loaded in and they started to burn like crazy. I even put a gallon of water on the bottom. The entire canner load full of applesauce tasted like an ashtray smells. Hating to waste the batch, we added a lot of sugar and spices to it to offset the flavor. It was just fine after that. We will surely eat it, being sweet, it will be a nice dessert. The pie filling really turned out nicely. That will be handy for making pies and cobblers. Catherine rode her bicycle home after a long day of hard work. We ended up with about 40 quarts of sauce and 24 of filling. A very productive day indeed.
Goat Milk and Amish Faith
Our family has been trying to help milk each Friday evening at Perry Beachy's goat milking farm. The two girls go right for the milking like they have done it their whole life. We love the goats, they are such gentle creatures to work with. Perry's wife helps with the milking while Perry and the boys work on cleaning the barn, feeding the animals, and other such chores that need doing. I sat in the milk barn with the girls, watching them change the milkers from one doe to the other as needed. I was able to sit and draw the door open to let the goats in or out. Good team work! After the milking was done, we went into their home for a meal. I brought a casserole over and her oldest daughter made some cottage cheese and cream pies. Oh, it was so good. We were able to sit with Perry who is a minister to the Amish church and ask lots of questions about their faith and it cleared a lot of things up for us. Because the Amish seldom talk about their beliefs, you tend to think that they have a very strange doctrine. They try to be doers of the word, not just hearers of the word, and that is why they do not talk about it as often.
It is very biblical and is in it's original form from the early 1600s which is so neat. We learned that the Amish came from the Reformation. They were able to read the bible for the first time and when they did not go along with the modern church of that time with infant baptism, they were called the Anabaptists because they were "baptized again" after they received the faith as adults. Many were persecuted for this and every Amish home has a big book called the Martyrs Mirror that shows all the many people that were killed for their faith. Since then they moved here to the United States to flee for religious freedom. And that is how they came here and how they kept their articles of faith is by not always embracing all the modern things as they come out, else they loose the community and family life as they always have known it. It is interesting that about 100 years ago, they lived just as normal farming communities lived. Something changed. With the introduction of the automobile in the early 1900s, farming folk could get more farm work done alone, some found it easier to get out of the country life all together. It didn't take long before women were out of their homes and into the factories and work force, and oh, how our society has unraveled. People just do not depend on each other as much anymore. Everything is a click away, so convenient, yet everyone is too busy to get together as much. Most families only get together a few times a year over the holidays. Years ago, even regular country folk got together in the evenings on each person in the community's birthdays. They would play cards, sing, and visit, catching up on the past weeks life. When the television was invented, people started staying home to unwind instead of getting together. It was just too much bother. Today, as far as I am aware, the Amish are one of the only groups that still do the birthday suppers and singings. What a treasure. It is a blessing to find this way of life and to learn more about it each day.