Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Drop In the Bucket

We’ve been home for over a week now. I miss the kids and try to relive the feel of little hands, kisses and hugs and the smell of sweet baby skin. It was so good to feel welcome and the moments we had were precious and few, but here we are again.

It has remained bitterly cold. Our friend Afif was an enormous help because he cooked for us and made breakfast for Randy so I could sleep in...oh yeah, I always sleep in anyway and Randy makes his own breakfast. Actually, sometimes he makes me breakfast too. It was nice for Randy to have Afif here to make him breakfast.

The pups have been VERY attentive. They would come up on the back porch after their night patrols and Randyman would let them come in to visit with me. Randy would head to work but I have had kind of a rough month so it was hard to take them back out and put them in with the sheep, where they are supposed to spend the day. BTW, the jump-gate was an epic failure. The majority of the sheep don’t go through it, but the goat and lambs don’t even slow down.

I digress. The pups spent the greater part of the day with me a couple days last week. Bruno climbed up on the couch and did his best to discourage anyone, including Randy, from coming near me. Poor Cletus and Cider would have to sneak around him or wait until he relocated to get and give hugs.

I made some sourdough breads and got rave reviews for them. Afif left this morning for Nebraska, armed with sourdough starter and recipes for his new bakery. I guess I can’t garner any higher praise than that.

The really exciting news is that I finally get to wean Sushi. All EmmaLouMoo’s milk is MINE! ALL MINE!!! It’s actually a lot more milk than I can use, but I will find something to do with it all. I already got a gallon of buttermilk, yogurt and clabber cultured. I use the yogurt and buttermilk for baking and yogurt and clabber for making cheeses, so I am really happy to be back to milking again. She was a little stingy the first night, but by the second day she was giving me 3 gallons, milking once a day and she wasn’t getting engorged at all.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I used 3 gallons of milk to make mozzarella so we could have homemade pizza. I was so proud of myself because I was so ORGANIZED. This is not something that is normally my method of operation so I was pretty tickled. Everything went perfectly and I actually had the kitchen clean by the time the cheese was done. I put it in the refrigerator to chill so I could shred it later.

Around milking time, Afif showed up and asked if I needed help. I have been depending on Randyman to carry the bucket and pull the wagon because I have not had enough arm or leg strength to do it myself, but I was feeling pretty good for the first time in a long while. I am not sure if it is a coincidence or if its because I took some Turmeric (an anti-inflammatory natural spice that tastes VILE  if you mix it in lemonade!) at the advice of my niece. It is interesting enough that I ordered some in gel caps because I really can’t stand the taste of it to drink it, and doubt that I can eat enough foods that I use it in to do myself much good. I told our friend I thought I would have no problem handling the milking equipment myself. After all, I have to get strong enough to do these things on my own again, because I can’t expect Randyman to always do his job AND mine.

I put the milker together, got my  hot water and rags to wash her udder with and headed across the melting ice and slush to the milk room. I was pretty taxed by the time I got there and had her all hooked up but at least I made it. I coaxed the evil Sushi, my snotty, anti social heifer, into the small area in front of the milk room with some grain. She entered while I was out of sight and I shut the gate behind her, essentially trapping her in the area. I had to chase her around and around before I could get my hands on her halter and drag her...or rather tire her out as she dragged me around, until she came to a halt, so I could rub and pet on her. I was pretty wore out, but I figured if I keep giving her grain and petting her she will sweeten up eventually.

I stepped back into the milkroom and sat down to check on the milker just as Emma started walking backwards. I noticed with horror, that I had forgotten to lock the headcatch. She continued backing out as I squeaked “NO! NO! NO! EMMMMMMAANOOOOOOOO!”

The vacuum hose got ripped off of the milker which was now swinging crazily underneath her udder as she kicked at it and began knocking over feed cans, saddle racks and everything else in the small space, including myself. She would start in a direction then suddenly back up into something, and half turn to go forward again, all the while my precious milk can swinging drunkenly from side to side. I felt like a HackeySack, being bumped and popped as I continually tried to undo the belt around her girth from which the milk can was hanging and twirling like pasties on a pole dancer. I finally succeeded and she stepped back once again, sending me over the stanchion bar and stepping squarely on top of the pulsator lid. Once I finally got control of her and got her back into place I put the kick bar behind her and finished milking out her rear quarters.

The can was so full of milk I could hardly lift it. My cup runneth over.

I apologized for the names I called her but continued to berate her for making my ‘therapy’ such an unpleasant experience. She slowly chewed her grain and stared at me blankly. I could see she felt really bad about it.

I managed to drag the milk wagon back to the house, struggling to lift the bucket up onto the deck for the short trip to the kitchen, and process the milk.

I grated the cheese, rolled out the pizza crusts and pulled some of the stuff out of the fridge for building them. I decided it was a good night for Randy and Afif to build their own pizzas.

We watched taped episodes of Duck Dynasty and as we laughed I decided there was actually something on TV I was willing to watch. Those guys are totally goofy, but they have good character, and I was mesmerized by how much Jase reminded me of my oldest son. His demeanor and way of speaking was almost like a flashback, minus the hair, beard, hat... The pizza was magnificent. I forgot how good our homemade pizza tastes. I’m pretty sure it was all about the cheese. Afif liked it too and had several pieces.
Randy and I made pigs of ourselves, like always.

This morning I woke up in extreme pain. Not only was my back killing me from the workout with EmmaLou, but the autoimmune flare was super active. I prayed I could get through the day. Back to using a cane and wrist braces again. I had been thinking about how difficult autoimmune diseases are and how they change a persons life, disposing of hopes and dreams like so much dust. I considered how many people suffer from similar maladies, as well as other kinds of pain, both physical and emotional. I felt convicted to share my own journey through this facet of my life, with others, so I have begun a new and separate blog, "Through The Darkest Valleys" if anyone should care to read. There is also a link on the right hand side of this blog.

If all goes according to plan, more bread and cinnamon rolls tomorrow.


  1. It was nice to hear you had a day good enough to go milk. Sorry Emma Lou was not better behaved! Did not like hearing the adventure was followed with a BAD day. I end to feel sorry for myself with bad feet and assorted pains. I can hardly imagine what you feel. And am amazed by the strentgh and detirmination you have. I have a co-worker with Fibro Myalgia and a friend with Lupus. Both are amazing. I will check out your other blog, too. Hang in there.
    Sweet Bruno must be able to sense your discomfort and want to protect you. Love that dog. Big Hugs...for Bruno and all.
    (And as usual your discriptive writting had me in giggles, even though I am sure it was NOT funny at the time.)

  2. True...I wasn't laughing while my milker was whizzing around the milk room underneath my back-pedaling bovine!

  3. It's a testament to your great writing ability that you can make us laugh at your misadventures. Hope your bruises heal quickly : ) . The jump gate is a new concept to me. Is it for the dogs use to go in and out of the pasture? I am having a hard time picturing Emmalou poledancing....but never mind. I love home made pizza too, and am glad to say that after 34 years of attempts I have finally arrived at a method that is delicious. I can only imagine what it must be like with your own mozzarella on top. It's almost worth thinking about getting a cow.

    I will be following your new blog also. God bless you Petey!

    1. Yes, the jump gate was SUPPOSED to allow the dogs free access to the sheep pasture as well as the rest of the ranch while keeping the sheep and goat confined. It doesn't work. EmmaLou is quite the dancer, although what she was doing was really more of an oakie stomp!

  4. Well, sounds like a amazingly full day to me. I wish I had some of that milk and cheese! The pizza sounds so good!

    1. The pizza and all the other good stuff is definitely worth bleeding for! LOL

  5. Glad you are getting so much milk but what an ordeal EmmaLouMoo put you through! I can only imagine how "beat up" you felt the next day and the flare didn't help any.
    The dogs are probably afraid to let you out of their sight in case you go away again.
    We absolutely LOVE Duck Dynasty, those folks are a hoot but they sure have some good family ties, which is refreshing to see these days.

    1. All the critters are acting suspicious, like I might bolt and leave them again. I know it sounds silly and absolutely irrational, but raw milk makes me very, very happy. :)

  6. now how am i supposed to keep both blogs from melting together. ur milk cow experience brings to mind many of my own misadventures with ranch animals. I could laugh soon aftr but my parents didn't have that luxury since they worried about other issues an accident could cause. dang it was on the day u were starting to feel better too. double dang! We still hand-milk cos it's a chore for us but some day when the last kid is gone i can see my dad getting a milker and a dishwasher. love ur blog...and kip gets like that when i'm gone for awhile and makes a fuss over dev too. kuma could care less about devon. blessings...dan-el

  7. I am back to feeling good again, thankfully! For some reason Em HATES being hand milked. Maybe because the machine is so much easier on her, there's no friction. I know Sushi made her pretty sore on a couple of dangleys. That's great, I didn't know you guys had no dishwasher. We didn't have one either until I broke my shoulder and Randy had to start doing dishes! I'm thinking the people 'pets' in your family make over both of you enough when they've missed you to save either dog the job of having to do so. You guys are such a gift!

  8. Glad you're back to feeling better - you need to take care of yourself as well as everyone around you :-)

  9. You absolutely amaze me. I know that at this point in my life, I couldn't do what you do up there. I spent a few hours clearing and pruning a hillside yesterday and I could hardly move last night. It was time for Advil and Aspercream.
    You inspire me to keep at it. Life is now and it's a gift.

  10. It is indeed a gift, one I feel I need to live to the fullest while I still have that opportunity!

  11. I have just discovered your blog and am slowly making my way thru your posts. I love reading about your days. I also have autoimmune issues and there are days I can't get going at all. I appreciate what you go thru to get things done. God bless. Toni