Thursday, December 29, 2011

Churning Butter

Ever wondered what cream rising looks like? See the faint line about 2.5 inches below the edge of the lid?  That's cream.  We get about a pint of cream off every gallon of milk. It takes the good part of a day for the cream to rise.  Shaking a milk pitcher with cream when you pull it out of the fridge becomes a habit...even when it's a milk jug from the store. 

When I have a quart of cream I can make butter in the blender.  It's a much faster method than churning.   I dump it in and blend on high.  If the cream is room temperature the butter separates much faster, in maybe a minute or two.  This is also the look you'll get if you overbeat your whipped cream.  At this point I dump in 1/2 cup of hot tap water.

And blend a bit more. See all that butter bobbing around the top of my blender?

 Pull the butter out with a slotted spoon and begin rinsing with cold water while working with the spoon.  When the water runs clear the buttermilk has been rinsed out.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, mix in, and voila, you have butter.  I believe this made not quite a cup of butter.  

Helpful, eh?

Milk dud report: the parlor basement floor was successfully poured today.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catching Up Again

Here I am again, trying to catch up.  Excuse me for this post while I try to catch up the closest thing we have to a family journal.    (We got a new computer and trying to figure out all the changes has been a large frustration.)

Halloween often comes with question marks.  What are we going to do this year?  As a kid I loved an official opportunity to get dressed up.  Our old church had a "pumpkin patch" to attend, twice we've gone trick or treating with friends, sometimes we've done nothing. 
I have a feeling that this year we came up with our official solution to the dilemma.  Following another blogger we bought a bunch of candy, told everyone to come up with their own costume, hid the loot, turned off all the lights, gave everyone a flashlight, and let them turn the house upside down.  It was a hoot!  Totally one to remember.

 What to do when everyone wants to sleep with Jamison.

 Jamison completed Hunter Safety this fall. 

The kids found cattails at the pond.  I hope our neighbors didn't want them for anything.  The kids spread seed EVERYWHERE.  Even the dog was covered.
This, of course, brought to mind the happy memory back when mom was going through her dried weed flower arrangement phase. She had an enormous bunch of cattails saved in the basement...until there was a church gathering at our house...and the little kids found them and used them as tomtoms. 

Jamison put that hunter's safety course to use and shot his first deer...fifteen minutes after they reached their spot.  Kenton, who was looking forward to a nice relaxing day in the woods, was just reaching into his coat for his book.  They spent the day butchering instead.

The new barn area rapidly became a mudhole.  

Getting ready to pour the footers for the basement of the parlor.

The beginning of the manure pit...or our future swimming hole? 

One big highlight this year was Thanksgiving weekend.  Kenton's cousins came from New York for the Mast get together (and hunting).  Paul and Bonnie and their six kids stayed with us. From our perspective it was a howling success.  We had a pretty good set of stairsteps between us.  :-)

Meet Elena and Emily...the newest members of our family.

The barn is starting to take shape: Milk house, storage room, and office.

Pouring the walls of the parlor basement.

Making gingerbread houses is becoming a December tradition.

Daddy and Kaitlyn playing a personalized version of blokus.

Playing checkers...we have some work to do on sportsmanship.

I'm taking the week between Christmas and New Year's OFF!  I'm dedicating myself to the Mariner's Star wallhanging I've been hankering to do for a year.  No homeschool, lots of leftovers, and lots of movies, computer, and don't-bug-me moments for the kids.  I figure a few days of low-impact parenting  won't harm them irreparably. 

Great! now I'm only a few weeks behind on what's been going on at the barn and I'll be all caught up.
Milk dud report:  We lost Lawson's ground to another renter, Domingo (our Hispanic milker) has a hand in a cast and is off for awhile, and Kenton is pouring the floor of the parlor basement tomorrow.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Our dossier is finally on its way to China.  We've also switched agencies.  It has been a crazy fall.

Milk Dud Report:  (Sorry, Den, I'm not a very good sister-in-law) Kenton and his dad are pouring concrete tomorrow for the parlor basement walls.  I'm pretty sure somewhere in my camera are some pics documenting the process thus far.  I'll see what I can do.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Confusion and Hard Questions

We tentatively picked the name Alex for our future son from China.  ( We have no news.  It's been a long and frustrating process.)  Meanwhile Kenton's sister Janelle is expecting a baby in January.  They plan to name her Abigail. 

Janelle and co. were here recently and so there has been lots of talk about Baby Abigail.  I've been talking about how excited we are that Abigail is coming and we're putting some hand-me-downs away for her. 


I started to suspect that Kaitlyn was confused.  She started talking about when Abigail gets here.  I tried to explain that Abigail is growing under Aunt Janelle's heart in her belly and that after she was born she was going to live with her mama and daddy and not with us. 

It has been a day of tears and questions for her. 

Is Abigail going to live here?  Why not?
Is Abigail from China?  Why not?
Is Alex coming soon?  I want him now. 

And finally...

Is Alex growing in your belly?  Why not?

How do you answer that?

I'm not good with these questions.  And I really didn't expect to get hit with the hard ones from a three-year-old.   I thought I had lots of time to think these through.   

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Catchup Pics

My little girl in her big sister's roller skates.

My parents installed wainscoting while they were here.

Washing corn - don't ask me why.

We had some tall corn this year. Some of it was twelve feet tall.

Happy "Merry"land.

Fall color wasn't much to brag about this year. I guess that's what I get for chortling at Miss Courtney K.'s fall pics. (Sorry, Courtney! AZ might have its beauty spots but I wouldn't vote for fall color being one of them. :-P)

The effects of gravity on too big pants. Of course this does NOT explain the missing shirt.

The mighty pigeon hunters with their "hunting" dog and a dead "white beauty" in the bucket.

Don't you just love when dad sets the boys such a great example of not wrestling in the house?

Sleeping Beauty

The morning look

Oh...the big excitement in our house this week has been the arrival of the ants for the ant farm. Jamison has been wanting this for a long time. He was supposed to get it last Christmas. Did you know they won't ship ants at Christmas...or during the summer? I finally just wrote it down on the calendar - October 1-ORDER ANTS!
They actually had the timer out so that nobody hogged the prime seat for watching ants work for too long. Pathetic, isn't it?

Monday, October 24, 2011

A few more construction (destruction?) pics

The barn yard this morning was full of dump trucks and pickups and tractors, oh my!

Davis' favorite: the articulated dump truck.

The BIG excavator at work in the future manure pit where much of the fill is coming from. This picture doesn't do the depth justice.

Farm style King on the Mountain.

Fun stuff, eh?

Sunday, October 23, 2011


We prayed for Jim Brenneman. Jim had been fighting a battle with cancer for a long time. Davis heard Kenton praying for Jim and he started to pray for Jim every night. Davis had not met Jim.

One Sunday when Jim was feeling well enough to be in church I had the privilege of introducing them. Jim thanked Davis for his prayers and mentioned that he had another friend named Davis who was praying for him so now he had a big Davis and a young Davis praying for him and that he would pray for Davis too. Davis was all smiles.

We got a call one day that Jim had been taken to the hospital. Davis prayed for Jim and drew him a picture and sent him a note that said something along the lines of...I'm praying for you and helping my dad a lot. I like you. I hope you feel better soon.

Davis' prayers were answered but not in the way we had hoped. God called him to his eternal home.

I dreaded having to tell Davis. I wondered how he would feel when he heard the answer to his months of prayer.

"Davis, I have some hard news for you, buddy. Jim Brenneman went home to be with Jesus today."

He stunned me silent when he smiled an enormous smile and asked, "Should I still pray for him?"


For those few seconds he had a better grasp of Jim's new reality than I did. Heaven, a place with no tears, no pain, and a new body. Eternity with Jesus.


About 10 minutes later the loss hit him. He sobbed for a long time and that night he prayed a new prayer. He prayed for Jim's family.

Jim's family shared a few of Jim's things with Davis: a cap, a picture of a fire truck, and a prayer bear. Jim's wife hopes that Davis will use the bear to remind him of other people to pray for. If you'd like, you can join Davis in praying for Christine, Jacquetta, Tara and Bennett, Mallory, Tybie, and Ian and Jim's extended family.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Time Has Come

These pics and info are a little dated. (Sorry, Dennis) Our farm is expanding.

We've contracted a milking parlor, holding area, and walkway. Kenton is also planning a special needs barn that will be like our calf barn. He'll probably buy a kit and build it himself. In his free time. Hmm...Dennis, it should be about time for another furlough next spring, right?

This is the chosen site. The walkway is about 90 some feet angled down from the freestall barn. Part of the fence had to come out and the calf hutches were all moved.

My parents dropped everything and came out to help us start with excavation. Even though we've been talking about this for almost ten years, the decision to begin was sudden.

Here are Kenton's mom, my mom, and Kenton's dad watching the ground breaking.

My dad moved topsoil so that Kenton and Carl were free to chop corn, etc.

A lot of dirt needed to be moved to level the site out. A bunch of dirt is coming from our future manure pit spot. We hope to buy an acre or two from a neighbor and give us a bigger working area and give her a bit of distance from our manure pit. Right now we unload manure every day.

Drains going in

"Barney" at work

Kenton's hope is to get the frame up this fall and be able to work on the interior this winter himself during his slow time. I believe he is hoping to have everything up and running by next summer.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Crud! Bread dough will only "rise" to the occasion so far.


Kaitlyn has been really into two things lately: Her dad and taking pictures. She asks almost every day if she can go to the farm with him.

Some days I know he'd prefer she stick to opening envelopes for him.

Kaitlyn's second passion is photography. I should just mention that she's really much more into button pushing than aim. I have many, many photos of my knees. One day she exclaimed with great surprise, "Hey, I got your head." Yeah, that was a first...and only. One day she took a picture of Kenton and I. It was from the back, waist down. Not pretty.

Although she did get this one of my dad. Of course, he helped her hit her target. I'm not that obliging.

This is my favorite Kaitlyn-work. It's a picture of me.

Sorry, folks, that's not a goof. It was actually a picture of me...possibly the best one ever taken. ;-P

Better stick to photography as a hobby, kid. I don't think you're destined for a career in photo journalism.