Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of 2009

Well, today is the last day in the history of the world that I can blog and say it is 2009! For our family there is not really anything special about today.

Dad just got done frying a double batch of donuts so we ate some and we will freeze the rest. They are great as a snack or for breakfast. I was over at Metigoshe Ministries for a while this afternoon to take down tables and chairs from a funeral this morning, vacuum, then set up 120 chairs for the church.

Andrew has been creating some pretty neat 3D drawings on a new program we got called "Blender."

You start out with a mesh frame and construct the basic shapes and then you can add fill colors and lighting and textures and look at it in 3D. I guess you can animate your drawings as well and make a movie of them. It is a pretty complicated program to use but once you figure out how to run everything it goes pretty fast.

This is the screen you edit and shape the drawings with. You can create landscapes and all sorts of different drawings with it.


P.S. I think I'll wait to blog until next year :0) !

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back to work...

Hello again,

We had a fun few days with my Uncle and Aunt who drove out here from Minnesota on Monday. They live a few miles down the road from where my grandparents live where Mom grew up in Carlton MN. We played games with them and visited mostly. They hadn't been here since the upstairs of the house was just being shelled in so there was a lot to show them around the farm.
Today I had to go to Metigoshe ministries to vacuum again after going yesterday and I will need to go tomorrow also. They had an event called "Nights of Christmas" held there and there was a lot of stuff for me to vacuum up and sweep off the kitchen floor. There is quite a few spruce trees set up in the church sanctuary that are always dropping needles on the floor so today I used the shop-vac to clean up all of them.

We had the snowplow come up and plow us out (finally) but he didn't get it plowed all the way up to the house so we had to blow the snow for a driveway to get the car down to the front door.

Milking the cow has been getting easier now that my hands are getting used to it. Sandy has been giving us about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 gallons each time. I'm still slow at milking her (not fast enough for it to foam) and it's been taking me about an hour to strip her out. We are getting about a quart of cream off of each one gallon jar that has been sitting for 12 hours. We haven't made ice cream yet but we've been using our own butter. This afternoon Mom made a batch of simple soft cheese that we tried melting on pizza for supper. Taste was perfect! I got the first pieces because I had to go milk.
You can't beat the taste of pizza made with pizza sauce made with homegrown tomatoes, crisp crust made with (mostly) freshly ground whole wheat, locally grown organic beef and fresh homemade cheese!

I guess it's time to go to bed now so I will be done with this blog post...

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Truck stuck

This afternoon I was supposed to go vacuum at the church but we're stuck here until the grader makes it through. We shoveled the truck out and loaded the back with a stack of heavy firewood and tried to make it but even a four wheel drive pickup won't go through an 20" snowdrift very well. We shoveled some but that didn't work for the whole driveway. If the plow makes it in tomorrow I will go then.

Andrew started up the snow blower and cut through the snowbanks by the house for a walkway. The temperature is not too far below zero but the wind makes it seem worse.

Dad went down the driveway to check the road to see if the county plowed that but they hadn't so far.

The animals in the barn are doing well. I've been milking Sandy at 7:00 and we've been getting a little over two gallons each time. There has been a little blood in the milk but it is clearing up now. We are looking forward to making cheese, butter, ice cream and more, all things that don't taste the same if you use goat's milk.

Yesterday we sent in a few orders for some stainless steel milking equipment to keep the milking process clean and sanitized. If you're planning on getting anything stainless steel be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for it! As soon as we feel sure about the milking procedure and system for cooling we will start to advertise locally for selling cow shares. We have most everything figured out for how to handle the contract and bottling and pickup of the milk.

Calliope stays outside even through the snowstorms so this morning she came up to me and asked me to help her scrape the ice off her coat. :-) She is the boss of the barnyard. Second in command is the billy goat John. The the cow and the other 15 goats pretty much stay out of their way.

This is a logo I drew on the computer to go on the post cards we plan on sending out for advertising. We may even have nice labels on the milk bottles later on. We will start with regular one gallon jars to trade back and forth each week when people come here to pick up their cow's milk.

That's all for right now- Peter

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How much can you learn in 24 hours?


If you've checked any of my family member's blogs you have probably heard our heifer had her calf. Well, she had it. This afternoon it started showing signs of pneumonia and not long after that it ended up dieing. Even when it was first delivered it did not make any effort to raise itself and we probably should have warmed it up quicker than we did. We decided to leave it in the barn for an hour at least and see if its mother would get up and dry it off. Sandy the mother didn't want to get up at all and we read that early signs of milk fever can start to show soon after birth and so we suspected she might be down for that reason.

We took the little bull calf up to the house to warm it up and we thought it might recover. It was shivering a little so we covered it in blankets and it warmed up some. We milked out a little colostrum from the cow and used some powdered stuff and tried to get some down the calf but it wasn't able to suck on its own from a bottle. We tried using a save-a-kid syringe and that worked and we got about 2 quarts of colostrum down it in a few hours.

We have had some experience with milk fever in goats before and knew what to do and had the IV supplies on hand so it went quick and easy for the cow. Even if it wasn't milk fever for sure we thought we'd try it anyway to be safe. I have read that jersey cows can have more problems with milk fever because of the high milk to body weight ratio and it isn't rare to see it it soon after birth. After the (subcutaneous) injection was done the cow seemed to perk up a lot and was back to normal again.

We didn't feel we could leave the calf alone until we had fed it enough so Jonathan, Dad and I worked with it and ended up going to bed at 4:15 this morning. I had been up since 6:45 yesterday morning to get ready to go help with the sheep so I was up for about 21 hours. Probably a record for me. I chose not to look at the clock to see how late it was and nobody told me what time it was so I didn't feel too tired until about 1:30 and then was glad to get some rest when we were done. Jonathan and Dad were up every hour after that to check on the calf but I didn't wake up until it was time to go out and milk out the cow again.

This afternoon Dad and David decided to run to town (not literally) and pick up some things from Nodak and see what the vet carried for supplies. A little while after he left we saw the calf start to get a lot worse and called the store and asked them if they had seen Dad there. The owner and most of the employees know who we are and got Dad on the end of the line for us to talk to. We had looked up pneumonia and saw a we needed to have vitamin C injections to give the calf and asked him to pick that up and come back home soon. The calf died fifteen minutes before he got here so it was too late.

I guess the conclusion of the birth was:

not to calve for the first time in December, to feed a more rounded mineral supplement going up to calving and have a higher percent calcium content, warm up the calf immediately even if it is pretty warm outside, keep vitamin C injections an hand as well as everything else needed and keep learning everything you can about cows and calving.

We'll do better next time,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sheep herder

Well, this morning was an adventure!

Jonathan, David and I hopped in the car after doing chores and headed to the neighbor north of us to help him with his sheep. There was a professional sheep shearer coming at eight o'clock to shear his 75 head of sheep.

We pulled in the driveway a little early even though we drove slowly on the way there. Mr. Pozarnsky (our neighbor) had all the sheep sorted into his various small barns and had 35 of the black-faced sheep waiting in the barn where the shearing was going to be done. When Mr. Gietzen (the shearer) came we helped him unload his equipment and set it up in the barn. He had a chute with a spring loaded door where the sheep would be let out of and a wool packer and few other odds and ends along with his electric shearer.

We started the process by herding the mass of sheep towards the opening of the chute and a few of them willingly entered but most of them dashed past us as they were driven into the corner. David hopped over the short divider wall and chased the few sheep in the chute down to the other end to be sheared. When we tried again to get a few more into the chute, the pressure of 20 sheep pushing against each other forced the small door on the end of barn to give way and six sheep got out before I could get the door to close again. Propping the door shut (it wouldn't stay because the latch had broke) I helped clear the sheep away from the corner and Jonathan helped Mr. Pozarnsky corner and pen up the runaway sheep. Meanwhile, David herded the animals that were in the chute down to the other end as Mr. Gietzen finished up all the ones that he could reach. We left the ones that escaped outside until there was fewer in the main pen and then chased them in again. Even in the short time they were outside some frost had formed on their wool but I guess that was okay. The wool is supposed to be as clean and dry as possible.

After the pen of black-faced sheep was done, I helped herd a pen black-faced ewe lambs in to be sheared. The young ones were eager to follow each other and that made the job of chasing them down the chute a little easier. Some of the older ewes had to be either picked up or shoved the whole way down the chute in order to get them to move. After the young black-faced sheep were done, we herded a bunch of adult white-faced sheep into the barn. The wool is finer on the white-faced sheep so the wool had to be kept separate. These sheep were much easier to herd around and we didn't have to do much but stand behind them and keep the line moving.

Mr. Gietzen was really fast at shearing and could get a sheep done in about 2 minutes and not nick them at all with the cutter. He does it a lot and according to his website he has sheared sheep all around the world!

After the older white-faced sheep had been sheared we brought in the white faced lambs and he sheared them. When each different group had been sheared, they were herded into the different pens and barns that they had come from to keep warm.

After the sheep were sheared I thought they reminded me of peeled potatoes!

When the wool was cut off the sheep, Jonathan took it and stuffed it into the hydraulic packer machine and it compressed the fleeces of about thirty sheep into one big burlap bag. Mr. Pozarnsky keeps the wool until later in the year and then brings it to Bismark and sells it there.

Fun day!


Monday, December 21, 2009


Right now I feel like going to bed. It's dark out. I feel like I didn't get much done. I sat inside and did home school all morning. I was at Metigoshe Ministries all afternoon vacuuming. I was there from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. My legs are tired from walking. The wood stove is hot. The air the wood stove is blowing is hot. Now I'm hot. I don't know what to write. I only write what I know. So this is all I know. I am thinking of what to write. What I've written is all I am thinking about. Goodnight.


Friday, December 18, 2009

14 Hour drive


Last night Dad and Jonathan got home with a trailer full our wood siding. We would have liked to have picked it up sooner but we had to wait for the weather to be better so it could be milled. We borrowed a 16' car trailer from our neighbor to haul the wood back and Dad checked over everything in the truck the day before so yesterday morning they left here at 6:00. They got to the sawmill in Bemidji Minnesota after a 7 hour drive, loaded up, and headed home and got back here about 11:00 last night. That means they were sitting in the truck for about 14 hours! They said it was a long day.

We still need to get the stain, but after that we are ready to start putting it up. That will be exiting!!!

The cow still hasn't delivered...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's melting out!

Right now the sun is shining and it is above freezing outside! I think it is the first day in December that is above zero. I went down to the barn and took a few pictures last evening...

Sandy (no she hasn't delivered her calf yet).
This is where the cow will be when we will milk.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Making a furniture puzzle

Hello again,

This afternoon I went out to the shop and cut out a couple of furniture puzzles with the band saw. I took a few pictures of the process for you to see:

I mark out the first cut on one side of the block. The block is two inches thick and about 2 1/2" by 4 1/2".

After that those cuts are made I cut out the two pieces you see on the scroll saw. The band saw can't make that sharp of a turn so I use the scroll saw for that job.

Then I turn the block on its side and cut out the two chairs and the pieces under the chairs.

Then I tip it again and cut out the little bench from under the chair.
And that is all the pieces. There are no extra parts in that block of wood! There are 10 pieces: two chairs, two benches, a table and what is supposed to be a couch. I would like to have some hardwood to try making one out of but these were made of pine. We got one that I copied from a garage sale that was an antique, made of redwood, but the only other place I've ever seen one made was in one of the "Foxfire" books.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Potato chips


Right now the temperature says -11 and the wind picked up this afternoon so I'm sure it feels even colder than that outside. I have been still milking the goats (even though we're not getting much) and the first few squirts that hit the bowl freeze onto the metal. My hands aren't very warm either! It would be nice to have the barn insulated but that won't happen for a while. Mom and Jonathan are in Minot selling at a heath food meeting with Paulette. Jonathan was just going to advertise his chicken but Mom brought a bunch of jam and bagels to sell there.

Tonight Dad sliced a bunch of potatoes and we fried them and salted them. They taste just like real potato chips!

That's all for now,

Saturday, December 12, 2009



Yesterday was a little bit warmer than it was today but even though it was cold I was still able to get some things done outside. Yesterday Jonathan and I put together a head-holder for the cow down in the barn. I will post a few pictures when I have some to post. I was out in the shop today starting to work on making a few furniture puzzles but it was getting dark and really cold so I had to quit for the day. Jonathan put the topper on the back of the truck this afternoon and this time we bolted it on because last time we had it on truck we used small C clamps and they ended up bending so we couldn't unscrew them anymore. Bolts should work better.

Every time I'm outside I am usually wearing all of these:

-my insulated bibbed overalls,

-my navy blue carhartt hat,

-my polar king work jacket given to me from my Uncle,

-my new Gemplar's waterproof insulated pigskin gloves,

-and my extreme cold U.S. army issue "mickey mouse" boots.

Even with all that on sometimes I get cold when the wind is blowing hard!


Tuesday, December 08, 2009


The temperature outside tonight must be well below zero! It was too cold to be outside much but I did go out and put up a gate across a doorway in the barn this afternoon. We are getting everything ready in the barn for the cow to deliver her calf which should be in a week or so. Jonathan, Andrew and David went down to Willow City to get some grain with the pickup. They left about 2 pm and we got a little worried when they hadn't showed up at 5:30 so Dad took the car and drove the route they would have to go on to come back and thankfully met them a mile from our driveway. They had to stop in town and fill up one of the tires that was low but they didn't get stuck and it just took a while to get there and back. Willow City is about 30 miles from here. When they got home they were covered in grain dust from holding open the bag to fill it and the heater in the truck didn't kick on until the trip back so on the way down they froze!

All the animals seem to be doing well. The goats sleep in a bit later than usual in the cold weather and the horse doesn't even go into the barn when it is this cold. She has got an inch or so of hair on her hide already so she can't even tell it's winter!

We are all set on our wood supply for the winter thanks to a really nice fall and so far the wood stove has kept the house warm and sometimes it's too hot in here.

Dad brought down some pumpkins that were upstairs because it was about 35 degrees and we didn't want them to freeze. As you can see he cut some of them up this afternoon also.

That's all for now,

P.S. the cat just knocked
a plant off the window sill and covered the piano and floor behind the chair with dirt!

Friday, December 04, 2009


Well, hopefully we are done with raw meat a while! The sun was out for the first time since it snowed so I was outside for a little bit. It is kind of hard to adjust from fall to winter in a few days.

David had our snowboard out (an old one that doesn't have any place to attach your feet) and was sliding from near the house to down the hill a little ways so I thought I would give it a try too. He said I could do it after he had gone a few more times so when he handed me the rope, I decided to try the steep hill in front of the house. Part way down the hill I fell over. When you stand up on a slippery snowboard without your knees bent you usually don't get very far, so I went back up to the top to try again. This time I got all the way down the hill, plowing through about eight inches of snow I felt the snowboard hit a log and then I toppled over and landed on a tree half buried in snow. I had known there was some trees there and piles of sticks but I didn't think to steer around them so right now I'm sitting here with a sprained thumb. At least it is my left hand so I can still type with my right one. Jonathan had me put on a onion poultice to help make the swelling go down. Earlier this year I sprained the same thumb while trying to snap a small board in two and it took a while before it healed up.

It's time for supper now. Venison steak, yum!


Thursday, December 03, 2009


Not too much to say right now. Last night we took a few quarters of deer out of the freezer to thaw so we left them upstairs in a safe place to keep the mess out of the kitchen until we were ready to cut it up. We brought it all down this morning but none of it was soft enough to process. It was about 45 degrees up there and apparently that wasn't warm enough, so we ended up leaving it on the kitchen table until this afternoon. I went to vacuum after lunch and was hoping that when I got home everybody else would have started cutting up venison without me and would be almost done! When I got home Jonathan was just sharpening knives and the meat was still a little stiff so we got going late. We finished doing what we had thawed out a little while ago. It is about 9:00 pm now. We will do some more tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Morning in November

I rolled over in bed and opened my eyes. The clock on the dresser read six twenty-five. I had a habit of waking up in time to milk but this morning the fire in the wood stove had been left to die out and the house was chilly in the morning air. It felt good to stay in bed a little longer than usual and besides it was probably still too dark to do chores yet anyway. I just laid there relaxing under the warmth of two thick blankets trying to feel like getting up.

A few minutes later I reopened my eyes to find that the clock read six thirty-one. Flipping the covers off, I slipped out of bed, ducking to avoid striking my forehead on the bunk above me and walked softly to the peg where my jeans were hung. After dressing quietly in the bathroom I was trying to walk as silently as I could through the hall leading to the kitchen when I stumbled on a box that was invisible to me in the darkness. Just then I heard one of my brothers roll over in bed so I waited until all was quiet again and then entered the kitchen.
The glow of moonlight that shown through the window was enough to allow me to make my way noiselessly to the lamp resting on the sill above the sink and switch it on. I moved over to where the stainless steel milk pail and dishes were kept and brought them to the sink, filled the smallest dish with warm soapy water and then setting it carefully into the other dishes I picked up the handle and carried them along with me. On my way to the door I stopped and opened up a small container above my desk and picked out a wash cloth and dropped it into the soapy water.

In the entry way I stooped down to put on my sturdy leather work boots and before I had tied the first knot I felt two small paws pounce on my hand and then disappear into the shadows. It was the kitten we had kept in the house since it was small, playing with the laces of my boots as I tied them. Reaching out and picking up the cat I stroked its soft fur and it began to purr contentedly.

By now the darkness outside had become a lighter shade of gray as the sun approached the eastern horizon and I knew I probably should have been down in the barn by now. So, I buttoned up my faded denim chore jacket, grabbed my well used LED flashlight and picked up the milk pail and headed outside. Samson, our family German shepherd dog, slipped from his dog house and came trotting towards me wagging his tail excitedly. With my free hand I reached down and petted him as he came up and he gave a groan like he does when you find the right spot as my fingers scratched his ear. I told him he was a good dog as we started down the trail to the barn and he gave a little bark to show he understood what I was saying.
I walked down the wood chip covered pathway winding down the hill to the chicken coop, sweeping the ground ahead of me with the beam of my flashlight. The sound of my feet crunching the blades of frozen grass alerted the animals of my approach and the horse greeted me with a friendly nicker as I passed by.

With one smooth motion I unfastened the latch on the barn door and it creaked as it swung open, resting heavily on the strap hinges that supported it. After I closed the door I heard the rustle of the goats moving closer to the small interior door waiting their turn to be brought out and milked. Opening the cabinet where I kept grain and other items commonly needed in the barn I set the milking pail and dishes on an empty shelf and lifted the wooden latch on the goat door to let the first goat out onto the milking stand. With a graceful jump the goat was on the stand putting its head through the slot into the feed tray. I tossed a partial scoop of corn and oats into the bin for her to eat and wiped its udder with the wash cloth. Samson gave a contented sigh as he settled down into a pile of straw near by and watched me take the bowl down and begin to milk.

A little bit later I poured the contents of the smaller bowl into the larger two gallon container and brought out the second animal. This one did not jump up onto the milking stand so easily but was eager to have the grain in the tray so it managed well enough.

In a couple minutes I finished stripping out the last goat and poured the rich white milk into the pail thinking to myself of all the delicious food that it would be made into. Samson stood up when the last animal was put away and put his paws on the milk stand as I lowered the empty dish down for him to lap up any milk left in the bottom. I splashed the rest of the soapy water over the bowl when he was done and wrung out the washcloth onto the dirt floor and stacked the empty dishes. A few steps later I was outside in the morning air, headed for the house with Samson trotting along beside me.