Monday, April 25, 2011

Goin' to Tennessee!

Hey y'all. Workin' on my southern drawl, here ;)

In less than 6 days, Daniel, Sonia and I are going to be on a plane headed to the other side of the country. I honestly don't know what to expect, but I'm so thankful for this opportunity to get a change of scenery.

Funny thing about being up in an airplane - it gives me a clear picture of my size and importance in the world... not much :P

I hate pettiness and quarreling in my family, but I don't do such a hot job of avoiding it in my own life, either. Another thing about traveling, seeing different people and sub-cultures, for me it lifts my head above the comfortable sameness that can lead to a small mind and above the clouds I again see how great our God is, and am less likely to push Him into that tiny box we all tend to keep around.

My expectations for this trip... a bunch of fun times, laughs, and a fresh perspective on life.

Making Your Own Butter

A couple notes before we begin. The keys to successful butter-making are temperature and acidity. Never try making butter from cold, fresh cream. It will not separate. If you use room-temperature fresh cream, you'll end up with very soft butter that is hard to gather into a ball. Best to use either fresh cream that has sat on the counter for about 5 hours (for sweet cream butter), or sat on the counter for 2-3 days until it is acidifying and thickening into sour cream (for cultured butter). My favorite is the cultured butter, but if your taste buds are accustomed to highly salted pasteurized white storebought butter, take your time to adjust and enjoy some sweet cream butter from your own raw cow cream. It will sour over time if you leave it out, or stay sweet if you refrigerate between uses. Real butter can last for an extremely long time if prepared on clean equipment, is salted, and all the buttermilk thoroughly rinsed out.

Start with a kitchen aid mixer and a half gallon of raw Jersey cream.

You'll need the plastic guard to go around the outside of the bowl, and a clean towel to prevent splashes.

Mix on 8 or 10 speed until it turns to whipped cream. Then you know you're close.

In just a minute or so, the butterfat will separate, and you'll see golden butter floating in buttermilk.

Pour buttermilk through a strainer into a separate container for use elsewhere.

And voila! Put your butter into another bowl.

Rinse with cold, cold water while kneading out the buttermilk.

Once the water runs clear, add a couple dashes of salt, to taste. Knead it into the butter - the salt will draw out more moisture which you will need to pour off.

Form your beautiful butterball and wrap in plastic.

Use right away, refrigerate, or freeze for long-term use. :D

Enjoy some toast with your butter... :P

I Will Listen

Hard as it seems
Standing in dreams
Where is the dreamer now
Wonder if I
Wanted to try
Would I remember how

I don't know the way to go from here
But I know that I have made my choice
And this is where I stand
Until He moves me on
And I will listen to His voice

This the faith
Patience to wait
When there is nothing clear
Nothing to see
Still we believe
Jesus is very near

I can not imagine what will come
But I've already made my choice
And this is where I stand
Until He moves me on
And I will listen to His voice

Could it be that He is only waiting there to see
If I will learn to love the dreams that He has dreamed for me

Can't imagine what the future holds
But I've already made my choice
And this is where I stand
Until He moves me on
And I will listen to His voice

~Twila Paris

Monday, April 18, 2011

All Flesh is Grass

That's the title of a book by Gene Logsdon, a favorite author of mine.

We moved cows out to pasture on Saturday.

So far it's keeping them clean and busy grazing. Two items I wish I could figure out are a loose free-choice mineral container for use out in the open field, and a backpack-type sprayer for foliar feeding the pasture. Oh, and don't forget the portable milking system...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Our newest baby girl :)

She's a Fleckvieh/Jersey cross heifer, and looks like she'll take after her papa.

We're thinking of naming her Crystal...

Thank you, God, for the safe delivery of this little one.

Monday, April 4, 2011

When Fear won't go away

"Perfect love casts out fear".

Ever since the chick tragedies last summer, I've had a hard time dealing with my fear. Knowing what is the worst that can truly happen in farming is hard. hard. hard. Add to that a narrow tunnel focus that can only see what is before me, instead of my God who orchestrates life, and it's a recipe for panic attacks.

I know it takes time to get over hardship, but will I ever learn to give and let go? It makes sense to not stress about things you cannot control, but what about freaking out at church because you remember you forgot to cover the toxic rhubarb plants in the field where your beautiful calves are grazing and you thought you saw a calf on its side as you drove out of the driveway... that's just my own stupidity and scatter-brained-ness that could lead to tragedy. How do I control fear of my own failings? When it's MY FAULT that animals die, I can't forgive myself and become paranoid that I will do it again.

Part of the issue is growing up a judgmental perfectionist. Small failings are often blown out of proportion - I am guilty of this, and it's wrong.

I'm embarrassed by my fears, but I can't just pretend they don't exist. Maybe God has a reason for making me have to face them, some future event where I'll need a memory of how He showed Himself strong in the past.