Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teaching the New Driver

My middle son got his learners permit a few weeks ago.

What this means is extreme anxiety on my part since I'm the parent he's driving with...

Now don't misunderstand me... he's a good driver. Only not as good as he believes he is.

It's tough to sit in the passenger seat and let a person with only hours of experience drive your car. Especially when that person who believes they drive better than you.

I file my nails.... a lot and try to stay calm.

Yesterday he did something really, really stupid... he was driving too fast (not over the speed limit but still too fast) as he approached an intersection,  the light turned yellow, since he was going to fast, he had to make the turn.

My heart was thumping, and I really let him have it.
His response was "Amy, it's OK , calm down."
( he's started calling me Amy.. we're on first name basis).

He believes if the speed limit says 30 or 50mph.. that's the speed a driver must go...even when I tell him repeatedly to slow down.....

So after this episode I said to myself ' he doesn't really need a license and he'll probably hurt himself or someone else'... and I told him this... I told him he can wait til he's old enough to get his license himself or listen to me.. his choice.

You see, I don't think I have to let him get a license until he learns to listen..and understand how much
responsibility driving is, I don't owe him a license... especially if I feel he lacks the maturity to handle it.

My job as a parent  isn't to be popular, my job is to raise him and sometimes make decisions that are very unpopular..

So my husband and talked to him, later this same night and the next day he got it!!! he actually slowed down when I told him to, he looked behind the car twice in the parking lot.... I think he realized that his getting a license really doesn't matter too much to me...

I made my older son drive behind the wheel almost 9 month with me before he got his license and I'll probably do the same with this son. I've known people who have had serious accidents and it ruins their lives...

Yesterday Juliette asked, "when can I start driving?" Yikes!!! I can't think about it now!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Goodbye Old Friend

 On Tuesday night Jasmine ( our Dachsund) started crying.. really loud and for no obvious reason, but she was in great pain.

So I made an appointment and took her to the vet on Wed. evening. The last appointment of the day...
She is fine, the doctor could find nothing wrong with her, she's probably just getting old.

But I got a call from my oldest son while I was at the vet's office.
"I ran over Blackie!, I didn't know he was under the car, I ran over Blackie, I'm so sorry!!!"

"OK, where is he now?"
" He limped under the trailer"

I told my son to calm down and get to his class, ( which is why he was leaving and had run over the poor old dog...)

I figured the fact Blackie had limped to the trailer was a positive sign...

When I got home he was under the trailer, I thought it best to
leave him alone a bit and see if he decided to come out. So after about 30 minutes I went out, kneeled by the trailer and talked to him, and that poor old boy tried to follow me when I got up to go in to call the emergency vet.

He crawled out and cried out in the most horrible way then he collapsed...

I made a pillow for his head and had to wait for my middle son to get off work to help me load Blackie into the car.

We had to kind of slide him onto a piece of ply wood to keep him from moving.. we got him loaded up and my older son showed up early from class, so we all headed into Austin to the all night vet,
which I unfortunately know too well.

Those people are so kind, they are just so kind.

Long story short, he was in so much pain and at 12 years of age
we elected to put him down. I felt so guilty.

Look at these photos, isn't he cute? I wish I could have given him a better home, a better life... but we do the best we can.

I do believe animals have souls, and he's in a better place.
A place with no pain, no fleas and soft dry beds.

I'm going to miss you.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Whats left of the field across the street
This morning I got a text from my neighbor across the street.
"I'm going to burn brush today, dog inside, bring cows over to graze"

I briefly thought it was perhaps too breezy to burn, but I just answered  back.. "thanks" but I decided to keep my girls home today.
I can't explain why, I just felt like I should keep them in my yard today....

Around 11:00  I took my son to work and we saw a young man, who my neighbor had hired  pouring gasoline on a big pile of brush...

Now we've done cedar burns here and we never add fuel, and
always keep the pile small and add to it... fires can get out of hand fast..

Any way we came home and all was well, Juliette even went across the street around 1 to check if the fire was out.. after the Bastrop fires a few years ago she has a very healthy respect for
summer and fire.

Around 3 Juliette and I headed out again to take a sandwich to my son, and as we headed out the gate I saw flames.I also noticed there wasn't anyone around....just fire and tall dry grass.

The burn pile had flared up due to the wind and it was spreading.

I sent Juliette to the neighbors door, the fire was heading to her house. It was about 50 feet away, so she ran out and started to fight the flames coming to her house.

I called  911 and headed to the end of the road to flag the fire engines down as they came down the street. ( my son, who's a volunteer fire fighter has mentioned it helps to have someone flag them to where the fire is..)

It felt like forever waiting for the fire engines to arrive. When I had called, the fire was spreading in all directions, I had visions of it growing huge and where the hell was the fire department?!

Finally, finally I heard sirens, they appeared around the curve, I jumped up and down and waved my arms and they turned down my street to end of the road.

I jumped in my car and headed down too, I didn't see Juliette and the smoke was thick.. but then I saw her with my neighbor.

Our fire department uses a kind of pickup truck for grass fires.
They drive right into the fire basically and start to try to put it out.

I kept yelling about the oak trees that were being burned, then one of the guys who was managing the pump expained the way to fight a fire is to concentrate on the flames being blown by the wind.
Does that make sense? They were concentrating on just not letting the fire grow....

Eventually another truck showed up, so there were 3 fire trucks in all, they got it all out! It probably took about an hour. Not even smoke when they left....

Then they wanted to know who started the fire and I can't even
describe how happy I was to say "not me" ...

The whole event is a string of Thank Gods.
Thank God...
we left when we did
I didn't have my cows out grazing in her field
no one was hurt

Thank you God.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Keeping Milk Fresh the Froggy Way

I believe I may have mentioned a time or two about the importance of temperature on milk... in fact along with cleanliness and animal health I would say it is the most important thing a person can do to insure milk safety.

Of course now a days we have the luxury of refrigeration. Myself I just stain milk into a stainless steel milk can, put it in the freezer to quick chill and then bottle it several hours later...

But have you ever been curious what folks did before refrigeration?

Well, there was spring water to place milk containers in and keep the milk safe, and caves... I have heard of
people storing milk in caves... and I understand the logic of both of these methods.

But keeping frogs in milk to keep the milk fresh?

What I don't get is how anyone came up with putting a frog in milk to begin with, it just seems like most people would prefer to keep frogs out of their milk.... Isn't it weird?
My son mentioned this tidbit  to me and I had to look it up.

After reading about it,  I understand how it works, the frog exudes peptides that inhibit bacteria and fungal growth... I just still can't imagine how anyone ever initially though putting a frog in milk could be a good  idea..

And anyway, even though the milk is "fresh" the fact is there's been a frog living in the milk...GROSS.
I just wonder how it started.... I think there's the makings of a great fairy tale somewhere in this froggy milk story.
You can google this or click on the link below if you're interested.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Apple Fell by the Tree

a beautiful, kind, young woman
You know, what I do is an awful lot of work. I feed animals, keep them watered, manage their grazing, milk, collect eggs, clean pens, miss out on vacations ..and on and on.....

The primary reason I do all this work may be a surprise..
it isn't actually because the products are healthier, although they are, no the reason is for peace of mind. Years ago I was a vegetarian and I still really only eat meat we have raised and slaughter ourselves.

I was vegetarian because I learned about the way animals in our
industrial food system are raised. It broke my heart and I wanted no part of it... but I ate dairy ( I had no idea how horribly dairy animals are treated). I learned about this as an adult...

So fast forward to today... I know my dairy is being produced by animals who are well treated and cared for, my eggs come from chickens getting sunshine, and being allowed to be chickens as God made them.... in short our animal products are clean in a karmic way..

Naturally I have taught my kids about the food industry, they need to be aware of what their consumer habits support. It isn't only about monetary price, there are other kinds of  "price" to consider.

Juliette won't wear cosmetics that have been animal tested, and is really thinking about what she wears..leather and such... and also the entertainment industry..

While on her recent Girl Scout trip the girls attended a dolphin viewing tour. They went out on a boat and
the guide showed them  dolphin mamas and babies in the wild. Did you know the mother dolphin stays awake for 30 days after giving birth to be sure their helpless baby is safe?.. I didn't.

Today Juliette saw on facebook that a friend had gone to Sea World and she started thinking about the animals there, and what their lives are like.. I was working of course and she was helping me when I looked up and saw she was crying. " Why don't people think of any other animals but themselves she asked?"

While I'm sad she has to feel pain about anything, I'm proud of her and the woman she's becoming.
I'm proud she has developed compassion for other creatures, she used to not really  understand why I was doing what I do, but she gets it now, and she respects it.

As they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Oh and please do consider signing this petition that was sent to my email today.


Friday, July 4, 2014


This week for the first time ever I harvested honey from my bee hive.

I could have probably done this sooner, except I didn't have my wonderful bee breeze bee suit til too late last year.. and it would have been suicidal to have attempted it with out proper attire.

Also I had to figure out exactly how I was going to
handle the procedure.

The first hurdle is actually getting the frames of honey into the house with out the bees coming along too.

I did some reading and decided to go with a method
called "Abandonment".
Basically you remove the frames of honey and leave them outside by the hive til after sunset. When the sun goes down the bees on the honey frames will
abandon the frames of honey and return to the hive.

The bee keeper then goes out and collects the
frames, takes them in the house or where ever the
honey will be extracted minus the bees.

It worked like a charm, and I have to say this
bee suit is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I
wasn't stung at all! In fact I'm getting Jerry one so he
can start helping me, you'ld be amazed how heavy the boxes can be with so honey in the frames.

Here's the bee box with the honey filled frames
minus the bees in the house.
I put the box on top of  a ice chest to catch dripping honey.

I  knew I needed to get started on the honey removal right away, so the next morning after I finished all my other chores I got busy.

I covered my counter with freezer paper,
I had a feeling it would be sticky.

I selected a knife, rubber spatula,

a strainer, a salad spinner... and just started.
Most people are fortunate enough to have an extractor but I reasoned that people harvested honey before the days of extractors so I would figure it out as I went along.

I started by cutting off the cappings,
the honey is really dark.... like molasses

I initially thought the honey would just drip out ...which it would have .... just  not very quickly.. and  I didn't have
days to complete this job...
Then I had the thought to try the salad spinner, I scooped out wax and honey and put some in the spinner...

and spun it around a bit
that worked, but it got so sticky, it wouldn't have been feasible for more than a tiny bit of honey.

In the end the stainer did the job, and there is not photo because my photographer ( Juliette) was mainly talking and eating honey..
I gave the bees the dirty bowls which they cleaned up fine.
I got about 3/4 of a gallon from 3 frames.
The color is so dark!(although not as dark as the photo looks) It tastes kind of like caramel.

I read the color of honey is caused by what the bees fed on, (wild flower mix with golden rod makes dark honey)  I am assuming these bees also reused the cells a few times and there was probably quite a bit of pollen in the cells as well as honey.

The honey in the store is very different, it is ultra filtered to the point where there is no pollen at all,
which is crazy because that's part of what makes honey good for you! but by removing the pollen the honey source is pretty much undetectable... thus honey from China, India etc.. Honey in the store is also heated and watered down....

Kind of makes my dark, pollen loaded honey look a little better, doesn't it?