While we still have power....

I thought I'd post a few pics.  Praying that power stays on, but it has blinked.
These were all taken about 4pm.  The snow started around 12:30.
So in 3.5 hours, we got 4 inches.  It is still snowing at 10pm.  I do not ever remember 9 hours straight of heavy, steady snowfall.  
We don't have TV, but computer updates say we have 6-10 inches, and are setting records.
Since 9pm I have seen some icicles from the eaves, which means there is some melting.  Which will most likely re-freeze overnight.  Not good for power lines.  Roads all across North AL have been closed since early afternoon.
I know my friends further north are chuckling at my update info....but for us, this kind of snow only happens a few times in our lives. (Thank Goodness!!)

This week....

The record cold temps continue, and when the ground is not frozen there is LOTS of mud.
Because of the temps, we have let the cows into the hay barn.  They may never leave.
Jenifer's favorite place to sleep is in a horse feeding trough in the barn.

Charmaine had her calf, 3 weeks after Lilly.  Two down, one more to go.
She is a pretty gray color.  Her name is Ginger, and she's a keeper, since she is a girl.
Here is William, chomping down on some hay at 3 weeks old.  
It started sleeting here before 12, and the snow started shortly thereafter.  It is supposed to snow for 9 hours.  We were supposed to go to the orthodontist in Bham today....rescheduled from last week.  That means we have missed a Wh*le Foods grocery day as well.  Last month we had to come straight home after the orthodontist appointment because of bad weather.  Needless to say, supplies are low.  I can't wait to re-stock next week, I'll be buying whole cases of many items.
Next post will have lots of snow pictures!

Our ccccold week

Ah, the first sign that spring is on it's way.....and then our week of crazy weather happened.
DH went to work at 3am Sunday morning, on his normal schedule (if you call 3am normal).  He came home Tuesday at 5pm.   I'm thankful that he was prepared, and had packed a bag in anticipation of the bad weather.  We had generators ready at the house, and milk barn, chili in the crockpot, laundry caught up, a plan for the animals.....all ready for a winter storm.
On Sunday it rained buckets.  This is the side yard, not the pond.  See the huge tree to the left?  I was concerned about everything freezing that night, and tree branches falling on the house.  I asked DH if I should worry about getting squished in the night by a huge pecan tree..... he informed me that there was no chance of that, because it's an oak.  (But we do have 5 wonderful pecan trees.)
The equine were hiding out under the potato house (left in the picture before this one), and Emmi had to fetch them.  She was so cute tromping through the rain with 3 little guys following her.
Also shown in that picture....one of our no-freeze faucets......priceless!  I am so thankful for them.
We had hot chocolate several nights straight from the cow, and homemade cookies.  The kids were great helpers, and thankfully, our power never went out.  
Besides milking time, we went out twice a day to check on animals, and provide non-frozen water.  Here are William and Jennifer, having a little fun.  
So, we survived our first winter storm (which never really happened) and endured record low temps here at our farm.  I feel a sense of accomplishment, even though the power never went out, and nothing major happened.  We were prepared, and I know we could make it, even with DH gone, if we had to.
Again, SOOOO thankful we never lost power!

This and that

The cutest, chubbiest kitten ever---pictured for no reason.
Last week we were thrilled to see this guy.  Natural gas has only been available here for a year or so.  The only reason the area got it, is because a school was built a couple of miles down the road, and natural gas was needed for the school.  We signed up, and paid fees back in November.  Our line had to run across a large pasture.  We are excited to be getting a gas water heater and stove.  Our old propane tank and wall heaters will be moved to the barn.  
William the calf has been getting out of his stall for half the day.  Here are some cute pictures of him meeting Jennifer.
The literally played hide and seek around the hay bale.
He is hilarious with all of his hopping and kicking.  I believe William thinks he is a bunny, not a cow.

Feasting on the Manna

Are ya'll tired of hearing about Lilly yet?--too bad=)
Lilly is giving us 3 gallons a milk a day.  Oh my goodness, let me tell you what this means.
My kids can drink milk at every meal, about 10 gallons a week, instead of me rationing the 4 gallons we used to get at $8 a gallon.  Savings=$127.84 a month.
I can make our yogurt, that we eat twice a week for breakfast, saving $27.92 per month. (shown below)
I can make my own sour cream, saving $17.94 a month, and butter; saving $49.90 a month.


Since we are giving a gallon a day to baby William, I may not be able to make as many of the products as I want to just yet, but he is already nibbling at clover and hay.  And the fattest kitten ever--Mr. Fuzzypants, and the other 2 cats get to argue over the "test milk" everyday.
I can't wait to make mozzarella, cream cheese,.... and other cheeses when we milk goats!
Before cheeses, our savings on dairy products will be $223.60 (plus tax).  If I can eventually make all the cheese we use, the savings would be an additional $96.31 a month.

Of course all of these wonderful dairy products are not free, it cost thousands to get set up to machine milk, and pay for the cow.  It's hard to really figure out the cost: there's the land for pasture, non-gmo feed, water, electricity, our labor, and so on.....  But just counting the cow, milking machine, and a little wiring (DH is an electrician), the savings at Wh*le Foods pays for all of this in about 14 months.  This was Lilly's first calf, Lord willing, she could give us about 19 more calves!, and milk for over a decade.
And on top of all that, we get to see beautiful sunsets and sunrises, most of which we were missing before!  God is good!

Amazing Lilly


First let me say this little boy is pretty amazing.  Letting me put a halter on him at about 26 hours old, then a lead a few hours after that...what a good boy.  He needs a name though.
Lilly was at the gate at "training time", only now it's the real thing, not just training.
What a huge blessing this cow is!  She's such a good girl.

She has yet to be separated from her calf, so we weren't expecting anything.  
Lilly gave us about 3oz. of liquid gold.  This colostrum went into the freezer for future emergencies.
You see, if a calf's mother rejects it, or the mother died, and the calf does not get colostrum, it will die.
SO, it's a huge blessing to have even a few ounces on hand.  

A Baby!!!!

Thankful for God's timing!  Yesterday Lilly started looking really ready to have a baby.
Since DH got up late this morning (5:30 as opposed to 3am), I went to check on Lilly, even though it was only 22 degrees.  Lilly looked at me like I was a maniac, but was fine.
I went back out at 7:15 and Lilly was ready!  She did great---1st time!  BUT-she had the calf in the corner of a pen, where 3 pastures meet.  There was a gap at the bottom of the fence, which of course no one would consider a big deal....unless your calf's head slips under it!

I went through the gate to the other side of the pen and reached as far as I could trying to push the calf's head back under the fence.  As the calf was completely delivered, it just slid further and further under the fence.  I ran down to the next gate, about 50 yds, and back up the other side.  I thought maybe I could carry the calf back to Lilly.  Ummmm, no, a slimy limp 50ish lbs calf, not gonna happen.  
I had told Emmi to come out at 8 and check on us.  I looked at the time on my phone, and knew Emmi would be there in a minute.  When she got to us, I ran to get the golf cart, got it through 3 gates, and we tried to get the calf onto the floor of the cart.  It was no easy task, but we did it.  BUT, when we got back to the other side, Lilly was heading off into the wild blue yonder.  I knew she needed to clean the calf up and get it dry.  Thankfully, with some sweet talk, Lilly came back, and mothering kicked in.
Since then, everyone is doing great.  Lilly even came to the milking parlor like we have been training her to do every afternoon.  Tomorrow, we hope to be milking! And loving on a precious calf; who, without God's perfect timing, wouldn't have made it.

More animals

A few days behind... but here is Hobo, 
and there are 2 of these cute bunnies.  The children informed me we are up to 57 animals!

Busy girls

Goofy-faced Emmi and Avery have been sewing.  It was just on a whim, with t-shirt pieces, and regular thread.
Emmi made Lilly the cow, and actually had the patience to make all those little pieces of hair.
Avery made a bird with a berry in it's mouth.

I'm glad they stuck with it and enjoyed it.  Next time I'll have embroidery thread, hoop, and better fabric.


Emmi has also been helping with Waid's schoolwork.She can be an amazing helper---when she's in the right mood=)

Silly goats

Milly and Jennifer can't decide if they like it better inside the fence, or outside.   We let them out in the daytime, into a non-goat-proof fence.  They pretty much do what they want to.
And that is fine, as long as they  stay close by.
Jennifer is hilarious to watch, such a bundle of energy.  It is amazing how she can jump straigh up with no effort.
She loved getting a new bale of hay today.  At one point she was hopping and going from side to side teasing her friends that were on the ground.  Cheap entertainment on the farm=)

Progress

Lilly has been practicing for her big day.  DH has been very busy, building this head-lock/gate combo, for one thing.
She is such a good girl, and enjoys getting brushed while she's in the milking parlor.
Today we turned on the vacuum pump while Lilly was snacking.  She didn't even flinch.  Which is excellent news!
DH also built stairs, which are much nicer than the cement blocks that were there.

Maybe now i won't break my neck while milking  Lilly at 6am!