Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's on my mind

I read an article that made me so angry and I need some catharsis right now. According to the FDA, factory farms used 29 MILLION POUNDS of antibiotics in 2009. That's not for "sick" animals you understand. That's just in the feed and used as preventative. That's INSANE!!! No wonder there is now another strain of MRSA rearing it's ugly head. But, that's the FDA for you. It is a communist organization run by greedy pinheads.
That's not my catharsis. It's just the rant and the reason for the need. Whenever I read or hear anything about MRSA my thoughts immediately turn to sweet Raisa, who has been dead for almost 20 months now. She's been gone almost twice as long as she was here and that makes me angry. I know that God had a plan and I know that she was leaving one way or another, but MRSA is a savage and horrifying way to go. If our government was any kind of competent then this particular virulence would never have happened but there you go.
Anyway, I thought about posting this on Raisa's birthday or the anniversary of her death but I decided today was a good day. The week after she died I started writing down all of my memories of her. I know how memories are, as they get replaced with the minutae of life and I always wanted to have them to go back to, to remember the good times. So, here they are:

1.It all started when Raisa showed up with one of her horrible diaper rashes. I had been studying the benefits of coconut oil and decided to use it on the rash that responded to nothing else. Having coated her thoroughly, I diapered her and turned her loose in the playpen/crib, leaving the little tub of oil within easy reach for the next diaper change. Unfortunately, it was within reach of her tiny fingers too. 15 minutes later I happened to really look at her and realized she had gotten hold of the tub and eaten all the coconut oil, smearing a goodly portion across her cheeks, chin, lips, eyebrows and forehead! She looked like a miniature gangster, with her greased hair. A Dapper Dan baby!

2.I had been teaching Raisa to respect the switch by switching her hand while saying “no”. Her playpen was next to a shelf that had many colorful and enticing things to play with but she was becoming so good about looking and not touching. I put the switch on this shelf so I could deal with discipline immediately. As we’re watching tv, I hear a small clatter in the rungs of the crib and look over to see the switch laying on the floor. When she saw me watching, Raisa ducked her head and peeked at me under the top rail, knowing she had been busted. It was too funny to get mad!

3.The first time she discovered her bouncy seat could also serve as a swing. She routinely bounced the seat but she couldn’t figure out how to get it to keep bouncing when she picked up her feet. She had been sick with a cold and hadn’t been in it for a month or so but the next time I put her in it she immediately began to swing it back and forth instead of bouncing it. I looked underneath and watched her pick her feet up and hold them until she had swung to a stop. She did this for hours!

4.She had the cutest chipmunk laugh and she always had a grin for me when she came.

5.The morning that she was born was sandwiched between a week of clear, sunny weather and clear, sunny weather. It was the stormiest, snowiest day I have ever seen in April. It snowed just for her! I had been sleeping with the phone for a week because she was four days late and when Kiki called at 4:30 a.m. I was immediately on high alert. It took an hour and a half for Tony to bring the older girls but I was so blitzed I couldn’t understand why he had his tiny car. How on earth could they squeeze a laboring woman into that miniscule backseat? India filled me in later. They had called an ambulance, duh! Nearly born in the ambulance, Raisa almost didn’t wait for her daddy to get there before she made her appearance.

6.Her favorite chewy was the top rail of the crib.

7. You had to be careful while carrying her cause she would grab anything and everything.

8.Kissing her mouth sounded exactly like a duck call. She loved being tossed up. (And caught)

9.She had just started playing with the ties on my hood during church, just like Phaedra did.

10.Her tired raspberries were just like Phaedra’s.

11. Just like Phaedra, she couldn’t resist an animal.

12.She carried things in her mouth while she crawled. If it was too big to fit in her mouth she crawled with it in her fist.

13.If she put something in her mouth that she wasn’t supposed to then she would take it out and put it on her head when she was busted.

14.She loved to stand backwards in her crib and yell at us when we weren’t paying attention to her.

15.When she couldn’t see me in the kitchen she would call out “Mama, mama?” until I showed myself.

13.She loved to play with her sisters, no matter what they were doing. She even wanted to have her teeth brushed like Phaedra, though she could never seem to keep her tongue out of the way.

14.Putting her in her car seat usually put her to sleep. She hated wearing the hats.

15.She snored! Softly but definitely.

16.She hated pacifiers but would suck on her thumb or index finger to fall asleep. It made it really hard to take her temperature.

17.Dad called her Rufus, Mom called her Snicklefritz, I called her “Hey You and Baby Girl”, Phaedra called her Raisapie, her parents called her Raisa Rea and Snickerdoo.

18.She loved to play peek-a-boo in her car seat.

19.When she fell asleep her body temp rose five degrees!

20.She slept on her face with her butt in the air.

21.When she was younger she needed to be on her side to sleep. It made it tricky to put her in the swing.

22.Her hair kept wanting to part in the middle. It made her look strange.

23.She had six teeth, three on top and three on bottom.

24.She hated showers.

25.She was ready to go to a big girl car seat.

26.Her favorite place to be tickled was her tummy, right at the bottom of her sternum. If you tickled her with your chin she would shriek and grab your head.

27.She could hold her own bottle and she loved kefir in her bottle.

28.Her favorite vegetable was sweet potatoes and she didn’t care for peas.

29.She crawled as softly as a hippo. You could always hear her palms slapping and her knees thudding on the floor.

30.She liked the bag of pine cones hanging in front of the Stoker exhaust.

31.Blue was her favorite color.

32.The day I changed her diaper and found a small handful of dog food! Then changed it four more times as what had been behind the dog food came out.

33.If she got into trouble while she was crawling she would put her head on her hands and start to cry.

34.She could stand alone, with a toy in her hand.

35.She loved to bang on things with her palm.

36. She would wrinkle up her nose and breathe really fast. She thought it was the funniest thing in the world!

37. I caught her with Jasher "berries" in her mouth. She was very upset when I dug them out and threw them away.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mom's New Camera

Mom got a new camera (Sony Cyber-shot) on Saturday and took some really nifty pictures when she took Kathy to Anchorage for her last chemo treatment.
Same swans, closer view using binoculars in front of the camera. It's a trick Uncle David told her about.
Sunrise in Homer
The tugboat that Uncle David brought back from... Kotzebue?? Nome, maybe?? Can't remember right off hand but it was really far north, in any case.
Frost on the dock in Homer on Sunday morning. BRRRR!!!
Phaedra Thyme on Saturday night.
Kathy, showing off her dental work, er, smiling.

There are more pictures but blogger is being a pain so I will attempt to post the rest of her pictures at a later date. We are taking Ripple home tomorrow morning and I need to get to bed!


Saturday, September 25, 2010


Has is really been three months since I posted?! So much has happened this summer and I can't believe I didn't blog about it! Oh well, here's what has happened.

When we last checked in on the Arndt farm we had taken Ripple home and were anxiously waiting for Bonnie to miss a heat cycle. Well, she did and then nine days later she got into horsetail (which stimulates uterine contractions) and lost the calf. I wasn't sure that it had happened since she wasn't here at that stage of her pregnancy with Cody. I marked it on the calendar and twenty days later she tried to jump Cody, bled off two days later and I was sure she had slipped the calf. Well, Mom pulled rank and called the neighbors before I could get Ripple's owners on the phone and we brought a little Dexter/Jersey cross bull over to try again. I was not told he was a cross or I might have gotten my way with Ripple but it is what it is. His name is Lou Lou and he is so LITTLE!! Cody, 400 lbs, is just a little smaller than Lou Lou and they spent Monday night pushing and shoving and being boys. Lou Lou won the test and was able to guard his new woman until she was in heat Tuesday night. Since she started standing for him about 7 pm Tuesday night I'm not sure if he ever got the job done but we'll know for sure in 21 days. I've heard that, if the size difference isn't too great, they will find a way. Just to be sure I am going to bring Ripple back on October 11-14. If she doesn't settle to Lou Lou then Ripple will be there to take care of business, and if she does settle to Lou Lou then I can be sure of it, based on Ripple's behavior. If she settles to Lou Lou and has a heifer then I have a plan in place for sending her to a happy future as someone's milk cow. If it's a bull then he will be castrated and eaten. I am not going to try and breed a mongrel bull to anyone's cows.Lou Lou, Cody and Bonnie

Cody is still growing like a weed on his mama's milk. We are still getting 1/2 gallon, milking once a day and that is still fine for us. It gets a little on the skimpy side sometimes but then we milk and we have milk again!! I'm getting closer and closer to being settled on his future. By the time he is big enough to butcher I'll be more than happy to see him go I'm thinking, especially when I walk the store aisles looking at grain-fed beef selling for $5 per lb. We can raise Cody for less than that!!

Next summer I will be buying some meat chickens early in the spring and we'll butcher in the fall. I refuse to buy the hybridized excuses for chicken that they call the Cornish X, but I might try Freedom Rangers. They are hybridized for faster growth as well, but not at the expense of their hearts, lungs and legs like the Cornish X. I've heard good things about them so we'll see. A hatchery in Sterling has many heritage breeds so I might get some and compare the two for flavor and vigor. Mom wants a laying flock but I'm not sure how feasible that will be next year. I've discovered that introducing one new project a year is perfect for my family. Trying more than that and something ends up being neglected or just plain forgotten.
The south side of the barn

The barn is getting there. Charlie came down for two weeks to help put the walls up but had to leave before they were completely leveled and in their permanent positions. Being around them when nothing but ropes were holding them up was freaking me out. I hate moving them with the handiman jack cause I can see it slipping, shooting into me or Dad, the wall falling and squishing me, a family member, a pet or all three. Thankfully they are in their permanent positions, balanced on concrete blocks, more concrete blocks and wood blocks. One wall ended up about 2 feet off the ground, just to be level but that's what we get for living on a hill. Dad has the corral door framed and we're just waiting on PFD's to be able to finish it off. When the floor is in the hay loft then Dad will be up there building trusses and we're hoping Charlie can come down for a couple days to help set them and get the tin on. Dad wants to be able to store this year's hay up there but I might end up buying the 1,200 lb round bales and those will be hard to get up there! We'll see what happens.

Mom is nearly at her breaking point at work. Her supervisor is addled and not really up to doing the job anymore. Unfortunately, she's union so there's nothing that can be done. We're just hoping Mom can outlast her.

Dad may have a part-time job as a jack-of-all-trades at the neighbor's. The gentleman has three businesses going and needs consistent help that's also reliable. Dad fits both criteria. They attend church at the Baptist church a few miles away so our schedules are the same as well. I have a job there for the winter at least, helping the wife while she homeschools the three older children. I'll be riding herd on the three little ones, 4, 2ish and 5 months. I'm kind of looking forward to it. They do things different than I do and she is a different kind of mother than I will be but she's nice and she's willing to let me handle the babies as I need to. I'll also be doing chores outside as needed, which is great since they own Lou Lou and his Dexter lady, Daisy. I think Daisy is bred and due this spring. I need to get my hands on her to know, but she's not that docile right now. They've only had her since early summer so she's not entirely comfortable with them yet. I am really excited to work with their cows and maybe see their calf hit the ground. The wife is very "into" farming. She was raised up north so this is her first opportunity to be a farm wife and she is like a sponge!

The turkey front is not looking good. Marathon Oil Company brush hogged the pipeline, ten feet from our turkey coop. The excitement and stress of protecting his ladies from the attack was too much for poor Tom and his heart gave out. He left no offspring to comfort his widows. He died a hero's death and will be honored at Thanksgiving... with a roast.
The hatchery in Sterling also carries Bourbon Red Turkeys, which are an heritage breed. I'm going to buy six or so this spring and keep a tom to breed my Standard Bronze girls. I think the cross would be much more marketable than a straight Bronze. Tom, dressed, weighs about 50 lbs and not very many people need a turkey that big. I'd love for them to be profitable.

Okay, you are all caught up and I make no promises that you will hear from me again before Christmas!!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's me again!!

Wow this summer sure has flown by! It's the middle of July already, Bonnie is (hopefully) pregnant again and the sun is finally shining. If you'll harken back to my previous post I was complaining about the lack of rain and the heat, well we've had two weeks of rain and near freezing temperatures at night. I just can't win!!!!

On the up side, we had a bull visiting from Homer this week. Dad and I went and picked him up on Monday, Bonnie was in standing heat on Tuesday, Dad and I took him home on Thursday. I really hope she took and I don't have to get him again. He's very calm and even-tempered but he's still over 1,000 lbs of hormonal male animal and he's a little intimidating. Dad and I had to lead him about 100 feet to the corral when we got him home and it was HARROWING!! Cody, tied on the outside of the corral to keep him out of the way in case Ripple decided to make a run for it, decided he didn't like the new guy and challenged him. Ripple didn't care that the challenger was a baby, he started pawing and snorting but Cody didn't shut up. Bonnie was tied inside the corral and she was very, very curious about Ripple. She was one day from standing heat so her hormones were raging and she was trying to get Ripple to come close enough to smell but not close enough to mount her. Ripple does have a mind of his own and no ring in his nose so he pretty much goes where he wants, when he wants. He is considered uncontainable so he is tethered all the time. I was terrified that he'd bend the stake we had him on, break through the fence and wander to the highway, getting plastered by some little old man and his wife in their rented motor home in the process. EEK!! Dad pounded two stainless steel rods into the ground right next to the other post so he was held by a steel post and two stainless ones. I wanted the third one because it is so tall. Bonnie can run in a circle and her chain will fling right off her stake so the tall post prevented that from happening as Ripple walked in circles following Bonnie around the corral. If I have him back next summer I think the tall stainless will suffice. He was so incredibly patient in his wooing of Bonnie. He tried so hard to get her to come close enough to smell on Monday night and Tuesday morning but as soon as she was ready she walked right to him. I've got it marked on the calendar so I know when to start watching for signs that she's going back into heat and she starts that early enough that I have lots of time to get him again if I need to.

Cody is still being a baby bull, goofy and testing boundaries. I measured him on his 3 month birthday and he weighs 278 lbs!! He is getting big so fast and I know that I really need to be on my toes to make sure he knows his place. It's important that he grows up as a subordinate cow, not the boss. Bonnie is pretty god about keeping him in line, but he will probably take her place as top cow before the winter is over.
The milking is going amazingly well. I am still separating 8 hours a day cause Cody has a little more growing to do before I'm comfortable separating for longer and I am still getting half a gallon a day, sometimes a little more. I want him to get the best start so he grows quickly and gets to the size he needs to be, whichever way his life goes. He is for sale, available in October, if anybody wants him!!! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

This is Ripple

Cody at 3 months old

After 18 years, Midnight has finally left us. She got sick a couple weeks ago but was eating and drinking just fine so I didn't worry too much. I did what I could to help her recover and I told her last night that I didn't want to have to make the decision for her, so if she was going to go, then go. It's much easier when pets go on their own terms since there's no what-ifs. She will be missed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

Sorry for the delay in posting!!!
Okay, life as a milkmaid is MUCH better. Cody is learning how to graze and I started separating them for a few hours about three weeks ago. It went to 8 hours separated last week and Bonnie is settling nicely into the routine. I get half a gallon a day now, YIPEE!!!!! She lets down her milk without having Cody in there nursing sometimes, but usually I have to use him. Mom has decided she likes milking so I'm the calf wrangler. I measured Cody, to figure his weight and he's around 135 lbs now. He's getting pretty shaggy, instead of fuzzy but he's still the cutest thing! His horns have erupted through the skin and are about half an inch long now. Lead training is going really great, most of the time!!
On memorial day the family, India and Phaedra went to Homer to meet the family who owns Bonnie's next baby-daddy. He's so beautiful!! I just LOVE Highlands! The family isn't "into" Highlands like Obsidian's owner and I though. They run a head of 30 Angus up on Kachemak Bay, above Homer. They have a few cows that spend all year by the house, the Highland, their Yak cow, a couple Galloway and some milk cow/Angus crosses that they use for milk. They really like the novelty of the Galloway, Highland and Yak. I had my camera with me but it never occurred to me to take a picture of any of their critters! I will take some while he's here, at the end of July.
Hm, so far this year we have pitiful grass, not enough rain and it's been too hot. I really need it to cool off and rain for about a week so the grass will get a move on and Bonnie can start putting on weight. Her milk is nice and yellow but she is too skinny.
The turkeys are breeding... sorta. One of the hens is nice and broody but the other one is injured somehow and she's not really in the mood to sit a nest. The tom is strutting around, flexing his wings and turning colors but his job is done for the year. I really need to get their pasture fenced off so he and the injured hen can run around outside and leave the nesting hen alone. Her nest was scattered today, probably by the tom but I gathered her eggs up and gave them back to her in the other nest box. Hopefully they didn't get too cold and will be fine. I'll candle them pretty soon also. I'm really hoping for a few poults this year.
That's all the new news I can think of for the moment so, until next time.

This is three days worth of milk. The creamline is much better when she lets down without Cody.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Having a milk cow is very different than I thought it would be! Hopefully, it will get better. I have to keep reminding Dad that he's never been in this territory either!
Bonnie isn't giving much milk, but that's because she doesn't have much... yet. Her calf's name is Buffalo Bill (Cody). I call him Cody and he is a tremendous help when I'm milking. She stands very still while he's nursing, lets down great and lets me milk the other side. When he isn't nursing she is kicky, tail-swatty and cranky. I had to use the Kick Stop on her yesterday because Cody wasn't interested in helping me. I hope he's hungry today! When I get a halter for him I plan on separating them for a couple hours before milking, just to make sure he's hungry. I don't want to separate them for a long time since she doesn't have much milk and he needs the best start he can get. It's fairly common for first-timers to not have much milk. With each lactation, amounts go up so hope springs eternal.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday!

The Arndt family farm has grown by four feet! Bonnie's bull calf was born at 12:35 am, today. She was in active labor for a couple hours and pushed him into the world standing up, completely silent, in six big pushes. He's fuzzy and adorable and nearly dry. I took him into the laundry room after seven hours because the temps dipped to freezing and it started snowing. He's almost ready to be reunited with his worried mother. She is calling for him and he's getting hungry. He had colostrum before I took him and she's got three more quarters ready and waiting for him. Hopefully he dries fast cause the window for the colostrum to be most effective is closing fast. Here's pictures of his first few hours:

He'd just hit the ground! She was more interested in the flashlight. Goofy cow

I moved him to a bed of hay, that he refused to stay on or near. He was on his feet in 15 minutes.

What on EARTH just happened to me?! He's fuzzier now and dried to a reddish-brown.

More pictures of him dry and them together to come soon.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Springtime in Alaska

It's not pretty, or lush or gradual. Springtime in our part of Alaska is a three day event, beginning with sunshine and ending with rain. Okay, I exaggerate! But not by much. We've been in the 40's this week and I think spring has most definitely sprung. No calf yet, but she's getting closer and closer. More experienced eyes tell me she should go right on schedule but Bonnie is a contrary cow and can't make things easy on me. She'll probably calve on Easter, while I'm at church and Mom is in the house!!! I wouldn't put it past her.
Here are some pics from our place this spring... Enjoy!

It's a stream of water, not an icicle... or snot


They weren't doing anything cause he was more worried about me than her. She just refused to move when he stepped on her.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Milk Training!!

I was outside shooting another video for the series I'm doing on milk training and I got a really good video of Bonnie's calf rolling and flipping inside of her. I've never seen or felt it so distinctly.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The rest of the month...

I intended to post the meals each day but... best laid plans of mice and men. Okay, here they are, again, missing a few because I forgot to take pictures.

Hasenpfeffer, Spaetzle and Blaukraut

Two showshoe hares, thawing. I cooked a chicken leg for my mother since she doesn't like rabbit.

Blaukraut is braised cabbage.

Maybe it's the German heritage, but I really liked this.

Spetsiota and Salad

Onion, olive, cucumber, tomato and feta salad. It's your standard, Big Fat Greek Salad and is a staple in Mediterranean countries.

Spetsiota (Halibut and Tomatoes)


Chicken Poutine

I spent hours trying to find the best way to make my fries crispy. I settled on blanching them in sugar water. The water's brown because I use succanat, instead of white sugar.

Brown gravy, made from scratch.

This was FABULOUS!! And so very worth the wait.

Meatloaf, baked potatoes and green beans

This is the only picture I took of this meal and it's the ingredients for the meatloaf. My bad!

Bao and egg noodles

I made my own five-spice mixture. I forget what's in it but it's an easy recipe to find.

The dough was really, really soft and very sticky.

I put them in this pan to rise, intending to steam them, as the directions call for but they stuck together. I put on an egg-wash and baked them instead. They still turned out wonderful.

If I'd had snow peas I would have used them instead but, anyway. I started preparing this meal at noon and had it done around 6:30. The dough needs three rises.

Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes and corn

Dad's birthday meal.

I ate too much and hurt myself so badly. But, I remembered to make enough potatoes for leftovers!! I'm always bummed when there's no more potatoes.


Get started about two hours early on this cause there are a lot of steps. Almost as many as the Bao.

I ate a couple pieces of toast, dipping it in the Rouille while I was making the toast.

Jerk pork, rice and peas

Sped steaks. That's the color of them!

Marinating overnight in the fridge.

Dad was the only one who liked this meal. I might try a different recipe for the marinade if I made this again.

Well, that's all so far.


About Me

We're a family that came to Alaska in shifts. We've been here since 1995 and don't plan to leave any time soon.

For Jaime

Comment from a SMART President

" The government that is big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."

Thomas Jefferson President 1801-1809
Died on JULY 4th, 1826



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