Thursday, August 26, 2010


About 15 years ago, I bought my very first down-comforter. It is the same one I've had and loved all these years. I remember it being quite an investment at the time, paying almost $100 dollars for it.

Over the years, it has become tattered. Kitty cat claws, toddlers, puppies, and Rodney's bristly gorilla hair have all taken their toll on the poor thing. It's funny how attached one can get to a blanket, even as an adult.

I have patched holes and tears in it but lately it became obvious that I was going to have to retire it. Every night when Rodney and I would get into bed, we had a small down snow storm. It was actually a little bit amusing to me but it did become impractical having down leaking all over the place.

A few weeks ago, Rodney and I purchased a new comforter. It was a bitter-sweet occasion. But my old one was still full of still was so soft, what can I do with this? I don't want to just pitch it in the dump, surely I can think of something.
It came to me today. I can make a doggy bed for Emma!! I have been thinking of purchasing a dog bed for my precious new baby but I kind-of already blew my doggy budget on vet bills and her snazzy new i.d. tag.

Anyway, I began brainstorming on how to put the comforter to use as a dog bed.

This is what I came up with.
I folded it, and refolded it until I came up with the right size and thickness. Emma was in love with it already. It is so comfortable.

Then I tacked it together at several of the open folds to keep it from being too wadded up. By the way, this comforter is about 1000 thread count and putting a needle through it was one of the hardest things I've done in a while.

I purchased a twin flat sheet for $3 at Wal-mart to make a cover for it. I simply did a quick measurement to find the dimensions the cover would need to be, cut it out and stitched it up.
Incidentally, when you have a raging case of A.D.D., things like this happen frequently. I've learned to live with it. You should too.
My mom has always told me that I'm not messy, I'm just creative. Creative or seams are a big old mess, but it got the job done.

Once I got through the sewing marathon, It came time for me to stuff the comforter into the cover.
I left one edge open and stitched velcro on it so that the comforter could be removed and the cover easily washed.
Even when I was trying to stuff the thing...little-miss-thing refused to budge from it. It was her nap time. I was so excited that she loved it so much that she didn't want to move. After a bit of struggling and maneuvering, I had it.
And, voila!
I did a little looking online for down-dog-beds and one this size would cost about $200. I spent $3 on a sheet and reduced, reused and recycled. I feel so stinkin green. And, just look at how content my darling beautiful puppy is! Little projects like this are so rewarding.

The big kicker is, I put the bed in her kennel (which up till now she has wanted nothing to do with) and she is now sleeping soundly in it. I may even attempt to have her spend the night there tonight. Sleeping with her is completely sweet but I've been reading my "How to Raise the Perfect Dog" book and I think I may have to actually begin respecting her place as a dog and stop trying to make her my baby. I love Cesar Milan and, as hard as it may be, I am going to have to try to incorporate some of his principals.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

firsts and lasts

Today is the first day of school. These days are always hard on me. I can't remember a first day of school that didn't cause me to crumble. Not that it is really sad, but that it marks a milestone on my journey here on this planet and I become aware of how fleeting life is. And, I really REALLY like my kids and miss them when they are gone.
I'm not sure why God gave them to me. I've always questioned His judgement on this. ME? You want ME to raise them? Surely you're mistaken.

We have a lovely relationship, my kids and I. For one thing, I have given them permission to be who God made them. In return, they allow me to be me and we dance around each others' weirdness with a natural balance. They never fail to tell me when I'm being dramatic and I don't hesitate to tell them that I am simply figuring out life just like they are. I have told them a hundred times that I didn't get a practice run on this whole parenting thing...they are it and I am, more than likely, going to mess some stuff up.

Today happens to be Taylor's last first day of school. Yes, she plans to go on to college but you know what I mean.
This was her first day of school. Pre-K. She didn't start kindergarten until she was almost 6 because of the way her birthday fell. I must admit, God was gracious to let me keep her almost a whole extra year. Just look at that kid. She was born ready to go. I didn't want her to ride the bus but she put her foot down, literally. Her little legs could barely climb those stairs. This picture isn't the greatest but you can see that beaming smile. As apprehensive as I've been over the years about letting her cut apron strings, that gumption she has in her spirit and her calm eagerness to face the world has given me peace. Look how happy she is for crying out loud! How could I not let her go?

Change is hard, I guess. Probably because we tend to get used to the way things are and we don't want to have to move from where we feel comfortable. Rodney told me this morning that we still have so many "firsts" to look forward to. He is brilliant, isn't he? So, instead of crying over what is gone, I am attempting to look forward to the next chapter in life. My goal this year is to embrace it fully. Each day and each milestone we pass. It is going to be a very full year and I am anxious to see what it will bring. I am thankful that I have my darling husband by my side to share all of our firsts and our lasts.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Goat Milking 101

A couple months ago, our family started drinking goats-milk. There were several reasons for doing this. I have goats, they have milk, and... why not? Then I researched a bit and found out that fresh goat milk is actually quite good for you. There's lots of good stuff in it.

So, here is my lesson in goat milking.

First of all, you'll need one of these
...lots of this
plenty of fresh water
and a bucket.
This bucket is just slightly over-kill for milking a goat but it works.
Also, a handy milk stand is a must.
I built this one myself, thank you, thank you very much.
Having a few helpers for moral support is nice, although annoying at times...but cute none-the-less.

Once you have all your supplies, your ready to milk. Hopefully you have a cooperative goat that won't kick and scream on the way to the stand as if going to the gallows. Thankfully, most goats cooperate nicely. They get a nice quite meal and it provides a great deal of relief for them.
Once you've got your goat secured on the stand, the fun can begin. If you happen to have three assistants, it is at this point that they will become very excited and impatient. They will wonder why in the world you are taking pictures when such critical proceedings are imminent.
Make sure you have a good balance of grains to feed your goat while she patiently allows you to collect her milk.
A nice, patient goat makes this event pleasant for both of you. She is, after all, allowing you to become quite intimate with her. Be kind, go slowly and thank her for her generosity.
Beg her pardon and begin by cleaning the teats with a clean moist towel.
Then, gently but firmly, compress the teat with your hand; starting at the top and working your way down. It takes some practice but is easy to pick up on with just a little effort.
You will be amazed, if you are anything like me, at the volume of milk that will begin to freely flow.
Periodically, squirt some milk on the milk stand for your helpers. This will keep them happy and out of your bucket.
It also creates an outpouring of brotherly love and community service as they assist one another in their efforts.
Everyone comes away from the experience with a great deal of satisfaction.

Your milk will need to be strained. As careful as you may be, it is very common for a stray goat hair or other debris to fall into your milk pail. A coffee filter and sieve work very well for this task.
A well-fed and cared for goat will produce about 2 quarts of milk per milking. It is best to do this twice a day. I like keeping mine in smaller containers so each milking can be kept separate. A container with a lid is ideal so you can shake the milk before pouring. There really is nothing quite like a cold glass of fresh goats milk. You can read here for more information on why it is beneficial.

Monday, August 9, 2010


After weeks of non-stop busyness ...weddings, vbs, teenage drama, company, farm alterations, sick dogs, death, funerals, relentless heat and sleepless nights, I'm one cooked turkey.

For the past two days I've had a moderate to severe headache. I think this is God's way of telling me to stop and rest for a day, or two or three. For one thing, I suddenly find myself not caring a whole lot about much. People keep asking me what we are having for dinner and I can hardly muster up the energy to say "I don't know!!" I am actually starving right now because I can't find the bag of chips that was lingering in the kitchen, so I just ate the left over sweet tarts from the movies (except for the blue ones which I left in a pile for Kyle to find and wonder if I'd lost my mind). My hair is inexplicable and I keep telling myself that the natural oils are good for it and I can consider not showering a beauty treatment. The only activity I've had in the past 12 hours is taking Emma out to potty and occasionally dragging a toy across the floor. I did manage to empty the dishwasher and decided that was quite enough hard labor for one day.

I haven't milked the goat yet today. I peered out at the goat pen while letting Emma potty and that poor udder was about to explode. Oddly enough, I had no urge to get my milk bucket and head out to help the poor dear. That would have meant me locating my boots and putting on pants. There is a load of clothes in the washer that needs to be hung out on the line or put in the dryer but I don't want to fold the clothes in the dryer.I may need some sort of psychiatric help. I'm drained emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.

Writing this blog is my last resort at attempting to boost my morale. That and a big glass of wine and maybe some chocolate. Surely this will send me on my way to better days. I guess I better go milk the goat now...where ARE my pants??

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Have you ever heard the term "ring-tailed-tooter" and wondered what it looked like?

Well, let me introduce you. Oh, she looks sweet and innocent but don't be fooled.

Emma and I have gotten to know each other very well over the past few days. I've been attempting to use Caesar Milan's formula of "exercise, discipline, then affection". The affection part comes natural, it is the easy part. Exercise, that too, I think I can handle fairly well. Discipline... uuhhhh, look at her face!! The tricky part about discipline is that it is harder on the disciplinarian than it is on the disciplined. They need it, they want it. Dogs don't want to be the pack leader, they want rules, boundaries, and limitations. And, being the human, I've got to be the one to set them. It ain't gonna be easy folks.

Eddie challenged me, don't get me wrong, but I can already tell that this is going to be quite an adventure. Emma had 10 brothers...TEN! This, no doubt, had some affect on her. She isn't timid at all. She is sweet and darling but head strong. Her intelligence has already impressed me. I only worked with her for a few minutes and she had "sit" down pat! I was amazed and so proud. Yesterday was her 8-week birthday and she can sit...I'm a proud momma.
Yep, setting limits and boundaries with a face like this is gonna be tricky. My heart just wells up and I my heart says, "oh, she needs a hug". She is very smart and I can already see that she could, very well, plot to use this for evil if I don't nip some things in the bud. I guess the affection part will more than make up for the will for me anyway. Her sweet cuddles and funny antics have sent me well on my way to healing. I love her for that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Perspective

When I was growing up my family moved a lot. I don't remember staying anywhere for more than 2 years until we moved to the farm when I was a freshman in high school. Every new house we moved into, my parents were careful to devise an escape route should the house catch fire. We even had fire drills a few times. There was a designated location where we were to meet outside so that we would know that everyone got out, or didn't get out.

One thing my dad told me quite sternly, on more than one occasion, was "Do NOT go back and get your animals. Get yourself out. Don't worry about the dog or cat or your silly mouse, get your own self out. We can get another dog and we can get another cat but we can't replace you." I think he knew me all too well. Anyway, I remember thinking that was a cruel way to think. You can't replace Freckles or Samantha. You might get a dog or a cat that kind of looks like them but it won't be them.

Well, yesterday I attended a funeral for a 34 year old man. A young wife had lost her sweet husband, parents had lost their son, and children had lost their father. Boy did that put things into perspective. Eddie died on Thursday and Friday morning I had a new puppy. This family can't just go out and get another son, another husband, another father. Eddie's death was heartbreaking but it pales in comparison to so great a loss. My heart started to become thankful that my family was well and healthy, that my husband was sitting right next to me holding my hand, that my children awaited me upon my return home. The things I take for granted every day suddenly became so much more valuable. My eyes have been opened just a little bit more.

I told Rodney that if the hardest thing I ever have to endure in my life is the loss of a pet, then I've had a pretty good life. He told me something profound. He said, "that doesn't make it hurt any less." I guess he is right. Pain is pain, loss is loss. I am thankful that my loss hasn't been great. I'm thankful that my pain is easing. I'm grateful to God for the chance to see things more clearly. Everyday is a second chance, I'm going to do my best not to waste it.