Friday, April 29, 2011

23 Years! I can't believe it!

April 30, 1988 was a pretty important day to is was my wedding day. 

The very first time I saw Al, I came home from school (NTC - Tech/trade Scool) and announced to everyone that "I saw the guy I'm gonna marry.  He has copper colored hair and copper colored eyes.  They call him "Little Al" (because there were 2 Als in that class - one big, one little)."  Mind you, Al, didn't know me yet, much less that we would be married.  I knew it instantly, that he was the guy for me!   I was 19, in my second year of an Associates Degree program and had NEVER had a boyfriend or even been kissed!  Unheard of I know...  If you know me now, you might not believe that I was ever quiet or shy....right?  Well, I actually was around "boys."  Al and I had one class together, Criminal and Delinquent Behavior.  He was going to school for Police Science, me Legal Secretary.   So, like an idiot, I just starred at him all during class, every time he looked toward me, I would just look away.  This went on until about December when I finally got up enough courage to ask him something.  Anyway, he hasn't been able to shut me up since.....

It seems like a lifetime ago, yet just like yesterday.  That is how life goes you know.  "Here today, gone tomorrow"  The bible says:  "To everything there is a season..." 

The other day, Al and I were in his truck on a ride home from Fleet Farm and we were talking about our life, marriage and kids; and he looked at me and said, "I can't believe we did it, we actually did it."  "It" has been 23 years, 2 remodeled houses, 4 outbuildings, a dozen or so vehicles, 5 dogs, 10 or so cats,  2 daughters, public and private school, 2 driver's tests, 1 childhood cancer -  and alot of "its" not mentioned - you know, LIFE. 

Our world today has become an instant message, drive thru windows, no money down - same as cash, charge it today - pay tomorrow,  text me and a "just Google It" society.   We have become use to a "quick fix" to any problem or situation.  It may just be me, but I would rather wait for a steak to marinate overnight and then put it on the grill - its the oil and spices in the marinade that makes it taste good.  So too are the joys and trials in ones life that makes a relationship "sweeter".  Oh ya, on that truck ride home....Al tells me that one of the things that made him want to marry me was that he knew how strong I was - not physically, although I am - but he said he knew that because of my faith and strength - he wanted me for a wife and mother to his kids....that was the nicest thing ever! 

Blessings from Wisconsin!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring - A New Ending?

So, I found this quote that was pretty neat: 

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending"
Maira Robinson

I love Spring!  New buds, blossoms, chicks, seedlings - a time for beginnings.  I also love Fall - a time for endings and harvesting.  That is why I LOVE Wisconsin, we are blessed with all 4 seasons. 

At this time of year, we often think of these new beginnings.  On many an occassion, I wish I could have made a better first impression, or started a project earlier, or made a change in my job sooner, or dealt with an emotional issue before I got start over and a have a "do over" would be nice.  However, life doesn't let us do that.  I believe that each day offers us new lessons.  Some come and go and we see what we are supposed to learn from it.   Others, we may stuggle with and not understand the "why?" to it.  One thing I do know and have learned to trust that God is in control. 

So, take the lessons you learned from your past experiences and make the changes needed to create a new ending....Blessings from Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Signs of Spring

I think we are finally seeing signs of Spring here in north central Wisconsin.  However, it is still Wisconsin, and we have had snow storms in May.  Here are a few pictures of some bulb flowers that are starting to bloom - these are Crocus I think?  The other is Rhubarb.

Blessings from Wisconsin!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter - Lamb Cake

Another thing to crosss off my "bucket list" - I made a lamb cake.  I've always wanted to make one.  I've had the antique mold for, today I made one.    I used mini marshmallows for the fleece, coconut dyed green for grass, sugar cookie eggs and jelly beans for decorations. 
Happy Easter, Blessings from Wisconsin! 

Sometimes I Amaze Myself With My Cluelessness!

So, my Mom is in a nursing home for rehab.  It can be long lonely days for anyone in one of these facilities.  Anyway, I was reading the bible to her (KJV) .  I was trying to find comforting verses to read, so I was reading in I Corinthians 13.  We were enjoying that so we moved on to chapter 14 then 15.

Now to my own defense, I just watched ET the night before on the old movie channel.  And, my Mom loves the SciFi channel she watches it ALL the time.  We got to the verse in I Cor. 15:40:  "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another."

Now, wait a minute...I've been going to church my whole life and never heard a sermon on aliens!  So I stopped and said "Mom, it says right here in bible that there are know like ET".  She said "well, no one ever told me that before"  It was like we had this big revelation about aliens or something. 

I've also been watching the History Channel.  They have been showing documentaries about 2012 predictions.  One of the episodes showed Mayan drawings that looked liked aliens.  Also, another talked about Enoch, he was in the bible and it says that he was and was not - (taken in the clouds).  I also saw a posting on the Internet about this star constellation that is coming toward Earth and it will pass the closest ever to us.  It is of a man with a sickle and made reference to the book of Revelation where John sees a man with a sickle in the sky - an end times sign.  You know if God chose a star to show his first coming why wouldn't he use a star for his second. 

Anyway, all of this information has been floating around in my head and reading this scripture was is all tied in together.  So I come home and tell my daughter Justine, "guess what, the bible talks about ETs"  she is like What???  So I read her the scripture, she says "Mom WE are terrestrial, you know living on land, Earth!  I say "Oh really, I didn't know we were called that!"  Totally shot a hole in my alien theory.  Clueless Blessings from Wisconsin!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Whazit #2 - Nodder Salt & Pepper

I'm sure most of you have seen nodders.  You know like the dog you may see in many elder driver's cars.  Or, even the sports character, or if you watch the Office (I LOVE it!) like the one Angela gave Dwight.

Nodders in the collectible world of salt & pepper shakers can be rare and hard to find.  I "bought out" over 600 sets of salt & pepper shaker collection.  I have sold some at auction, in my booths and now have listed some on ebay.  Click on Where to Find Me seller site at right to see what I have on ebay.  

Nodders have a portion of  the shaker that rests on or in a base so that they can swing from side to side or back to front. Here are pictures of two I have listed now and I plan to list more nodders next week.

The top picture shows the back of set and how they can lean forward - those are chickens.  They have little pegs on each side that holds them inside the holes.  The part that nods is also the shaker part.  If you ever go to a flea market or thrift store, make sure to look at the kitchenware department, you just might find a nodder.  Blessings from Wisconsin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cutest Egg EVER! So Tiny

So, yesterday, when I was gathering the eggs, I found this tiny egg.  It is about the size of a quarter.  Only one other time have I seen an egg from one of my hens this small.  I have some small bantam cross chickens that lay small light brown/cream color eggs.  I have been saving the extra small ones to decorate for Easter.

Here is a picture of the different size variety of eggs my hens have layed.  The antique scales in the photos are what is known as an egg scale.  You place the egg on the scale and it weights it for size.  I was lucky to find these 3 at the Edgar Steam Engine Show and Flea Market.  This is a HUGE event in central Wisconsin.  I plan to set up my vendor booth again this year.  It is a "picker's paradise".   I purchased all 3 scales from one vendor.  I think I got them all for like $25.

I wonder if it will have a yolk? 
Blessings from Wisconsin!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pray For Our Troops

Hey, one of the girls friends, is in the army.  He just graduated this past year with Justine.  His name is Nate Kowatch.  He is now deployed to Afghanistan.  He has only been there about 1 month and 3 men in his unit were killed this past week.  Nate and all of our soldiers need our prayers.  I know it is easy to forget, because unfortunately we have been "at war" or whatever you want to call it, for so long.  But, this is a fresh reminder that some really YOUNG BOYS are over in the middle east - in harms way - so lets PRAY for them.  Thanks. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

G.I.T. - Global Impact Team

For 4 years, I have been the adult advisor for a club at our daughters' school - Faith Christian Academy.  The club is called G.I.T. or Global Impact Team.  We meet every other Wednesday during the lunch hour.  The purpose of the club is to impact our school, community and world for the glory of  God.  We have set up several fundraisers - bake sales and food stands - to raise money to put toward the different projects that we do.  This past year we raked leaves for Make a Difference Day, walked dogs and donated food to the Lincoln County Humane Society, rang bells and worked the "Giving Tree" for Salvation Army, wrapped Christmas presents at the mall for "Bundles of Joy" (they provide diapers for families), Christmas Extravaganza for younger classmates to make gifts for their families, an in school "Giving Store," BINGO at a nursing home, "H2O for Life" (sell fair trade African doll ornaments to dig water wells in Africa), sending cards of encouragement to an alumni in basic training for Army and making polar fleece blankets for Children's Miracle Network.  For a small group we actually try our best to make an impact . 

My mom recently has had to stay at a nursing home for some rehab after a hospital stay.  G.I.T. played BINGO here last year, so we made arrangements to do so again while my mom was there.  The great thing about this "team" is that I have wonderful young people to work with!  They tuly have a heart for helping others.  Here are a few pictures.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Mission Statement"

Do you remember the movie "Jerry Maquire?"  In this movie Tom Cruise plays a sports agent.  In the beginning of the movie he has this epiphany - moral epiphany - of the synical business he is in.  He goes on to write down his ideas and convictions from this epiphany and shares it with his company and coworkers.  It was not received well by therefore, he said "it was only a Mission Statement." 

I was thinking about that the other day.  Not sure why, but I was.  I have been reading some blogs on here, you know you click on one and then see a button to another that looks interesting.  One could spend too much time doing this....hence, I don't have facebook.  Anyway, I was thinking that I should have a "Mission Statement" for by blog.  What I want it to be about. 

When we first moved to the "country" there was no such thing as google.  When we had a question as to "why the calf is pooping yellow" or "why did the momma rabbit eat her babies" there was no place to ask that questions and get an instant answer like there is today.  So my number one mission is to share information about farm life and the things I have learned.  It won't be one of those "How To" answers, but more like "How Not To Do" things.  Unfortunately we have learned many an important lesson by what not to do.   Thankfully, we have some great country neighbors who have shared their knowledge and experiences with us.

I love folk art and primitive antiques.  I am an artist and antique dealer.  I do have a studio and a huge pole building where I store my "finds," "projects" and "buy outs."  My studio has also been a shop that I use to open up each month for 4 days.  It was "Town Hall Trinkets a Monthly Market"  I did this for a couple of years, it was alot of fun and I enjoyed meeting my customers.  They also enjoyed coming to the "farm" for a visit.  However, God had other plans for me and my family and I had to temporarily close my shop here.  Our youngest daughter was diagnoised with bladder cancer - Rhabdomyosaracoma.  I just stopped everything I was doing and took care of my family.  I thought I was already doing that, however, I didn't realize how much I was consumed by my "junk."  I know I am still a hoarder, truly, but I have been able to keep a better perspective on it.  Jesus healed our daughter and she is now celebrating her 5th year cancer free. 

Anyone who know me, knows that I have strong religeous convictions and political views.  Well, guess what, so does everyone else, and you can hear that all day long on the T.V. or radio.   I don't want my blog to be political.  I will try to keep my opions about the Government to myself.   This will be a challenge!  However, I will share with my readers experiences and trials that Jesus has brought us thru and what we (me) has learned from them.  I want my blog to be encouraging to those that read it.

Also, my blogs will not be long.  So this one is about all I would want to read as a "visitor" and so I will go now, but I hope you will check back with me and leave comments.  I truly want to meet new online friends.  Blessings from Wisconsin. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Take Care....

Most of you know that as a business, I "buy out" estates.  Professionally I guess it would be an estate liquidation service.  Anyway, yesterday, I was going thru a box from an estate I recently acquired and found this old paper magazine called "Rural Progress Magazine" from April 1935.  I LOVE reading old papers and magazines for recipes, household hints, animal and agriculture tips and of course the ads.  Anyway, I found this cute poem that kinda goes with this Spring season:

Take Care of Young Animals

Give livestock babies the very best care,
For the colt of today will soon be the mare.
Though wobbly and weak the little calf now,
In two years' time she'll be a great cow.
The lamb which are frolicking down on the green,
Become sheep overnight - or so it would seem.
The wee little pig you could put in a hat
Is a hog at six months, or just about that.
If you want your livestock to be what it should,
Don't ever neglect it in its babyhood.
 By:  Rudolph Spires Allen                                                            Cute....or at least I think so.

How true!  If you want anything to "grow to be what it should, don't ever neglect it in its babyhood."
This applies to everything:  plants and flowers, gardening:  too many times I've said, boy I wish I would have weeded earlier!  Animals, like the poems says, proper care and nutrition make a much healthier and happier "product."  I think this is especially true with children.  "Babies don't last", "enjoy them while they are young" "little kids little problems, big kids, big problems"  -  has anyone else heard these quotes, or maybe it's just a Wisconsin thing.  I know one thing, it's alot easier correcting a toddler than a teenager!  A wise mother will "tend to her little garden of children"  and motivate and encourage them, shower them with praise, even "prune" off the unwanted shoots with discipline.  If you start out with these ideas and principles when your kids are little, keep up with it while they grow (this is not always easy and neither is weeding in the hot sun), the rewards of your efforts with show in what you "produce (fruit/veggies)."   Will your garden be perfect, will you have a Grand Champion blue ribbon winner, will your kids be straight A honor students - maybe not.  One thing I do know - the time and effort you put into any of "IT" will not be wasted!  


Monday, April 11, 2011

Time for Sheep

Our girls have shown market animals in 4-H for many years.  We started out in the hog project, but moved to sheep because at our fair the hogs and horses are shown the same day.  We live in Marathon County in Wisconsin.  Our county fair has an excellent market animal program.  We have many first class breeders in our county.  Our friends actually have world class angus beef.  These 2 families have shown their cattle all over the U.S.  They have world, regional, national, state and county grand and reserve grand champions.   Another breeder family in our county has excellent sheep and hogs.  This family has won multiple state and county grand and reserve grand champions with both sheep and hogs.  So, needless to say, the competiton within our county fair is pretty stiff.   Marathon county 4-H kids are so blessed to have an opportunity to purchase such quality project animals so close to home.   

Last year, we decided to go over to the UW River Falls for the Indianhead Sheep Breeders auction.  We just wanted to bring something different over to our county fair.  This is nearly a 3 hour drive to buy some sheep.  Anyway, our oldest daughter, Justine, had decided that this was going to be her last year showing a market animal.  Well, last year she did win the grand champion sheep in the carcass contest.  It was so exciting because there are only 2 grand champions per species.  She was so excited to end her 4-H career in the market animal project with some "hardware".   The buyer actually gave her the plaque - that was really nice of her! 

Anna, our youngest, is still in the market program, so we went over to the auction again this year.  It was last Sunday.  We drove over to River Falls again (thru snowy conditions) to pick out her sheep.  When we arrived, she picked these two right away.  They are what is know as speckled face sheep - a Dorset cross.   She took them out and handled them, set them up to make sure they were natural bracers and based her decision on their "cuteness"  I don't think Dorset cross do well in market classes because they are a little smaller.  She wanted them, so she bid on these two.  The breeder is from Plainview, MN.

This is freckles and speckles.....

I had NO intention of purchasing any more sheep.....neither did Al.  But, he let us buy another one.  She is soooo cute and tiny.....she is a registered Suffolk ewe lamb.  Anna and I couldn't help it, she was too cute.  Anna really likes to show the sheep.  Our sheep leader's family has let Anna show some of their sheep at other shows and she has done pretty good.  She wanted to get a "showmanship" animal.  One that you work with more than just for one season.  This ewe will be shown in a breed class, not a market class.  Anna has been out there everyday - even getting up 30 minutes early before school - working with them.  She really wants to do good this year.  She carries this little ewe around like a baby....this is "dotty"

So, I guess we have a ewe now....


Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker

When  we first moved out to the country to "homestead," we were really "green."  We didn't have all the equipment or "tools" to make our work easier.  Tractors, manure spreaders, plows, haybines, hay rakes, hay wagons, 2 bottom plow, disc, goes on and on.  We did work out bartering with our neighbors and went to alot of auctions thru the years.  We still don't have everything we could use out here.  One thing we do have is a chicken plucker.   When we first started to raise chickens, cornish cross meat breed, you could have them commercially butchered for $1 each.   Now many places that use to process chickens no longer do so, due to laws and regulations in processing.   The one place left charges $2.50 each.  That cut into our profit too much, so we quit raising birds for resale only for ourselves.  We are not opposed to trading chickens for something else.  Breaking no laws that way. 

My husband, Al, is very handy.  He can build and fix just about anyting.   Well, he saw an ad in the Countryside magazine that sold plans to build your own chicken plucker.  It is called the Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker (YouTube has many videos).  We use a propane turkey fryer to keep the water hot for "scalding" before putting them in the plucker.  Works super!  Cleans them nicely and very fast!

We did process 33 roosters.  I didn't realize we had that many.  Some were small because they were old english game cocks.  I bagged and sealed them with my Food Saver Vaccum Sealer.

We never butchered a black rooster before, suprised at the skin color.  These will be excellent for pressure cooking and making soup, stew or chicken dumplings. 

A part of homesteading is herdsmanship.  Management of a flock and making use of each and every "bounty" God provides is biblical.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Catchin" the Roosters

Life on a hobby farm is always busy.  We identify ourselves as "hobby farmers" because we don't rely on any part of our farm for our main income.  However, we do live on 39 acres, 30 of which are pasture.  We do have 3 seperate fenced areas for our animals to rotate on, in addition to open pasture we cut hay off each year.  So, it really isn't a "hobby" but a lifestyle choice.

I just came in from catching the roosters.  Tomorrow Al has off of work and our plans are to reduce our rooster population.  There are too many for the amount of hens.  Every year I let some of the hens set on their eggs and hatch out batches of chicks.  We love having little chicks in the summer.  So, when those little chicks grow up I have more hens to add to our flock and some roosters for butchering.  These are NOT the cornish cross meat type chickens.   The roosters we butcher will be for stew meat and soups.  Not all roosters end up like this - in the past I have given them away for free.  However, this year it didn't seem prudent for me just to give them away.  A part of herdsmanship is managing your flock and deciding which rooster has the genetics you want to pass on for this next year.

Our chickens are free range - we just let them roam around.  They go back to the chicken coop each night.  So, while I was out walking around making sure all of the hiding places were empty, I found some eggs behind the horse stall door.  I knew they were fresh ones, because my daughter cleans the stalls every day and they weren't in there yesterday.  So I filled my pockets with the eggs and went on the hunt for more roosters.  While I was climbing over the wooden horse fence, I felt a "pop" in my pocket....I forgot I put the eggs in there - what a mess.  Boy, are the yolks bright!  Super FRESH and they must be eating something good over there by the horses.

So tomorrow with be another day on the "hobby farm" - not too much hobby in butchering roosters...but, we will have about 30 chickens for the freezer.    

Monday, April 4, 2011

4-H Spring Craft Day

Last week, during spring break, we had a 4-H craft day.  The kids made wool felted Easter eggs, washcloth bunnies, beaded hair barrets, painted bird house gourds and blow torch recycled jewelry.  We had alot of fun.  We also had a food project meeting where the kids made banana streusel muffins.  Mia had the kids make 2 batches and that was our snack.  The mufins were really good.  The recipe is below:

Banana Streusel Muffins:

2 C flour                                         1 tsp baking powder
1 C sugar                                        1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda                        1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs                                             1 C sour cream
1/4 C butter melted                         2 medium mashed bananas


1/4 C sugar                                        3 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon                               2 Tbs. butter

In large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  In small bowl, beat eggs, sour cream, butter and banans, stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fill greased or lined muffin cups three-fourths full.  Combine streusel sprinkel over muffins.  Bake 375 for 20-25 min.

Whitney didn't want her picture taken. :)

eye protection for blow torch first....

The gourds were left overs in the weeds of my garden.   I just put them in a bussel basket and wintered them over in my barn.  They dried really nice and we drilled holes, cleaned out old seeds, sanded and painted the gourds.  Note the snow...this was spring break!  Only in Wisconsin...we are all outside without coats, it was sunny after all!   

My niece and great-nephew...they joined our club this past year.  Christal homeschools her boys and is an excellent mother!

The group picture show each member with at least one of the projects they made that day.

I have been a 4-H project leader for 14 years.  Our oldest daughter, Justine has been in 4-H since kindergarden.  This will be her last year.  She is a freshman in college.  I truly love 4-H for the opportunities the offer kids.  We have learned many valuable life lessons!