Milkin' It - Home on the Range Blog at - 301533

Home on the Range

Milkin' It 
Apr. 23, 2013 10:33 pm 
Updated: Apr. 30, 2013 7:30 pm

I woke up and the sun was shining in a cloudless sky, the temperature was pleasing and the barometer was holding steady. The pain in my body had eased to a point I could almost forget it was there. I set about cleaning the kitchen, feeding the sourdough, putting some jerky on to dry and putting a couple of roasts in the crock pot with seasonings to be canned up later for burrito meat or taco salads.

I grabbed the last bucket of oils I had pre measured for soapmaking, along with a jar of lye solution. The resulting soap was poured into log molds and set in the back room, insulated with towels to begin its cure. It will first ‘gel’, becoming very hot and translucent, then the insulation will be removed allowing it to cool slowly and to prevent overheating and cracking. The next day or so, it will be removed from the mold and cut into bars to begin its second state of curing. I still have a long way to go to catch up on my inventory.

I headed outside to check the surviving turkey poults, my little “birdbrains”. Unzipping the door to the green house I stepped inside to check the seedlings. There were a few that needed to be moved up to larger peat pots so I did that, then filled the birdbrains’ water jug. They were hiding in their little sleeping quarters, but curiosity got the best of them. Making little peeping sounds they stepped out and investigated me. I went back outside deciding that today was as good a day as any to start tilling the veggie garden. I knew this would come at great cost to me, but it has to be done and it was supposed to be nice all weekend. That is one of the things about having Ra and its related companions, when I CAN do something, I need to get it done because there is no telling when I might have a good day again.

I grabbed the heavy electric cord and plugged in my little tiller. I have a tiny electric one because I am not strong enough to start a gas tiller engine and it’s small enough for me to handle as Randyman doesn’t have the time to help me with the yard. It is not without its problems. It is so small that it bounces and tends to beat me to death and also makes a very narrow swath. This is a good thing for weeding between rows, but not such a good thing for getting  a large garden ready to plant. As I drag it into position, I notice the bird brains are following me. I turn it on and both birdbrains stop. Instead of running, they squat and watch. I start a row that will pass them within inches. Instead of leaving, they both lay down in the sun, necks outstretched and take a nap, the roar of the little engine drowning out any other sounds.

When I have done all I could manage, I walk to the house for a hose and both birdbrains jump up and run after me. I squat down and pet Ted, the larger one. He seems to enjoy it. I drag the hose around the yard, watering my little fruit trees and the perennial plants that survived an unusually hard winter. I notice the parsley and thyme are actually thriving and the strawberries are springing back to life. I groan as I take in all the bare dirt around me, wishing I had the money, strength and time to get my landscaping up to a standard that is satisfying to me. It is a high priority on my list that has, for obvious physical reasons, not been accomplished. There are many times I miss my old kids and not in that order...

The weather is clouding up suddenly and unexpectedly and I can feel the results of that. So much for a long, constructive weekend. Sunday I am down all day.

Monday, we jump up and head to town. I have been pushing EmmaLouMoo’s milking back to 8 p.m., as I still have no relief milker and we have to try and make it back in time to milk  her.

We leave at dawn and 2 hours later Randy blasts right past our normal doughnut stop, to my dismay, as I had been slavering thinking about the fresh maple bars we would finally get to eat...then he blasted right on past the big truck stop, where I could get a cup of coffee. We got into town just in time to pick up a special delivery of wheat berries and other things at a drop point. Afterwards  we picked up 5 little guinea fowl at the hatchery. Hopefully they will grow up to be well behaved and eat lots of ticks and bugs. They sure are noisy little campers! A few more stops and we finally get to eat dinner before the long drive home.

Discussed treatment options with the doctor and thankfully received an injection that really helps with the pain and inflammation. It was a short trip, as we left home at 6 a.m. And got back by 10:30 p.m., only 2 1/2 hours past Emma’s regular milking time. She wasn’t very happy with us, but the Maremmas were beside themselves. As I sat on my stool next to Emma, I suddenly found two very large, heavy, white, hairy legs ending in enormous polar bear sized paws around my neck while someone licked my ear. Cletus could not contain himself. I extricated myself from his hug and gave him a big squeeze. When we got back to the house he climbed up on the couch next to me and growled and grumbled at anyone who threatened to come near me. It’s nice to be loved.

Pain has come and gone according to the barometer. I seem to keep rallying every time high pressure comes back in, which is unusual, but exceedingly welcome. We had picked up 40# of potatoes in town so I canned a bunch in chunks and about 8 quarts of ham and potato soup which is our favorite. I also canned 8 qts of apple pie filling and have a boatload of apples left so while the peels and cores from the pie filling are turning into vinegar, I need to find time to make and can some applesauce.

My niece and her family are coming to visit for the first time and I am very excited! I think they will have a lot of fun here. It is incentive to get the house straightened up more as it tends to fall into chaos when I don’t feel well, which this year, was most of the time. I’ve been doing pretty good, with the exception of a few mental lapses, such as forgetting I DID put bread in the oven. Four hours later, it made a remarkably durable toy for Cider to fetch and run around the yard with, once it cooled.

The grass is beginning to come on nicely so it was time to rotate the animals around. Emma was kicked out into the old milk pasture, below Mister, so nothing can nurse on her. Sushi and Chuck were released out into the lower pasture with the sheep and a couple of calves the boss kicked out in there. 

That night I slept in the chair, again, because of the issues with my hips and back. Randy let the “polar bears” in and I woke up to Potamus hugging me with his head. He had managed to slither about 80 of his 120 pound body up onto my lap, only his hind legs reaching the ground. He moaned in ecstasy as I hugged him back and rubbed his ears. It took about ten minutes for him to get his quota of huggin’s before he was willling to get down and let me up. Then it was Bruno and Cider's turn. They are not so needy. 

 I spent a good day with the critters, working on the house and yard. When I went out that evening to bring the sheep into their corral, I noticed Sushi was up at the top with everyone else...but something wasn’t right.
I walked out closer and found Sushi on her knees, trying to nurse....


Yup. She was desperately searching his bag for a spigot, determined to find one.  She has been watching the lambs nurse and I guess she figured that since he wasn’t spoken for, she’d just belly up to the bar.

I guess it’s time to tell her about the birds, the bees and the sheep, after I get her into a 12 step program for milk addicts.
Apr. 24, 2013 3:53 am
petey: The amount of items on your To Do List always amazes me. That Cletus is such a good friend. Yup, it's nice to be loved. Sushi is going to need some education, but she gets an A+ for determination.
Apr. 24, 2013 4:29 am
Oh, Petey, always enjoy your blogs so. Glad you have those days where you can get done what you're itching to do. You still lead a very full life, doing more than most of us can imagine doing. Love little Sushi's ingenuity! Sending good karma your way.
Apr. 24, 2013 5:24 am
Was happy to see you blogged for this morning! I look forward to hearing about your niece's visit! ..... Will she be bringing any 'little people' with her?
Apr. 24, 2013 6:39 am
bikerfamily, Sushi needs an intervention I'm afraid! LOL @sweetcook, thanks! @heather-she will be bringing her 11 year old son who is quite a guy!
Apr. 24, 2013 7:04 am
Again a super blog. I always look for you everyday so see what your and your day is like. I feel happy for you on the good days. Have a great time this weekend.
Apr. 24, 2013 7:37 am
oh! That's awesome! Thanks Nadine!
Apr. 24, 2013 8:17 am
Another great blog. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.
Apr. 24, 2013 10:02 am
picturing that cow trying to nurse on a ram has made my day!! I look forward to your blogs, and this one was awesome!
Apr. 24, 2013 10:48 am
I imagine that was quiet a site. Sushi trying to nurse that ram. I am surprized he stood there and let that happen. Glad you are having more good days lately. Love this blog as well as all the rest.
Apr. 24, 2013 11:37 am
Thanks Paula, Christie and char! The ram didn't seem to feel the least bit threatened or annoyed. That just made me laugh harder because it encouraged her to keep looking!
Apr. 24, 2013 11:59 am
Hey petey,wonderful blog.Glad you were up to doing a "bit" of stuff.Makes me tired just reading about all you do.When is the book coming out?I sent you a email,first day at the pain clinic.Hope I got t email right.I will wait for your reply,then will send you what we did today.Have a great time with your niece and family.
Apr. 24, 2013 4:59 pm
Darn near in tears over that ne'er do well, Sushi. Milk addiction is a horrible thing. I wish you had a photo of the expression that must have been on that Ram's face!
Apr. 24, 2013 5:40 pm
It was one of the rare times I didn't have a camera with me. You can't even imagine the look on MY face!!
Apr. 25, 2013 7:48 am
Good Morning Petey- I once went to your blog site where you sold your soaps... I have a new computer and your site was lost to my old favorites. Could you post it again for me? I have some questions about your method of canning up burrito meat and wonder if you'd answer them and if so, where should I post those questions... only when you have time. I am in no hurry. Thanks.
Apr. 25, 2013 1:10 pm
I swear, petey, I laughed at Sushi for a full minute, this morning, all alone in the dark! What a picture! This kept me smiling all day. Then, I remember your precious dogs, and I smile again. Thanks so much for sharing your unique point of view. You have a gift.
Apr. 25, 2013 8:56 pm
Rohnda, the soap page is It hasn't been updated this year. I am building inventory and making soap but havent had time to take pics or anything for that page. If you want you can just email me with questions at ranchrustics @ me dot com
Apr. 25, 2013 8:57 pm
Thanks Bibi. they make me smile a lot too! :)
Apr. 26, 2013 8:22 pm
I do feel your pain, Petey. I had a hip replaced 6 yrs. ago when the pain was so bad I could barely walk. Now I have a bad knee. I get injections every 6 mos. which does help, but pain is a horrendous visitor. I don't mean to insinuate that my pain is anywhere NEAR what you go through, but just to acknowledge that pain does bring on depression and affects those around us as well. It brings such a feeling of despair. But, what you accomplish in one day is more than I do in 2 weeks, I think!! You know how so many of us look forward to your blogs, and we are never ever disappointed. Please keep the blog on your "To Do" list as we would all miss the events of the days you share with us so vividly through your words. Be well, and I pray the pressure stays UP if that does, indeed, help.
Apr. 26, 2013 9:21 pm
Thanks chris K and I pray your knee improves or they can adequately treat it for you! I had one of mine replaced, finally and that turned out to be a good decision. I will surely try and keep blogging and thank you so much for your gracious words!
Apr. 27, 2013 5:38 am
Petey, you are amazing,... with all of your pain you accomplish more than anyone else that I know of. Your blogs are always such a treat to read. Your stories about your animals are wonderful and professionally written, Thank You for enriching our lives with details about your life on the ranch.
Apr. 27, 2013 7:10 am
Oh, thank you Vanillabean. I am glad you enjoy reading my stuff! I'm not sure that I do all that much more, I just have to cram more into a good day instead of spreading things out over a weeks time like lots of other folk. The days I am unable to 'do', I plot strategy for how to multi-task it!
Apr. 30, 2013 5:09 pm
I am absolutely fascinated by your ranch life. I'm a city girl, but slowly turning into an urban homesteader. I recently found out I can have a goat! I don't drink milk, but I would like to know all the things I can make with goat milk...and now I see you even make soap with it?? My eyes are wide open with your blog. Keep telling us more!!
Apr. 30, 2013 7:30 pm
You can make cheeses, yogurt, ice cream and lots of other products with your goatsmilk. The only downside to goatmilk vs cow's milk is the cream. Goatsmilk is naturally homogenized so the cream doesn't rise to the top like with cows milk, so you can skim it off and make butter. However, goatmilk is nutritionally superior :)
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Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
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Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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