More Babies!

After a wonderful time at church, we came home to find that Salsa had a baby while we were gone.  What fun!  We love baby animals and goats are about the cutest things.

See, no ears!  She is so sweet.

Salsa is a LaMancha dairy goat.  Her breed has almost no ears- just little nubs.  When mixed with a nubian, the babies will have little nubs with just a bit of ear hanging down.  Just precious.  Not only did we get a cute little black doe with a touch of white on her head, we will get fresh goats milk in about 2 weeks.  I don’t milk, other than to milk out colostrum, for the first 2 weeks.  This gives the mother time to settle in and get the baby off to a good start while allowing all of the colostrum to leave the system.

Colostrum is the first milk that any mother produces, humans included.  This first milk is very thick, like Eagle Brand Milk, and very sweet.  Not only is it sweet, it is very full of antibodies and vitamins that a newborn needs to be strong and healthy.  If a new born baby doesn’t get this colostrum, they usually die.  During the first few hours after being born the cells in a newborn’s stomach and intestine are unusually large which allow the antibodies to pass through directly into the blood stream.  This protects the newborn from disease and illness until their immune system gets going.  So, it is very important that a newborn nurse as soon as possible.  Sometimes things happen and a mother may die or become ill and not be able to nurse her newborn.  This is why I will milk out colostrum and freeze it- just in case I ever need it.  You can buy colostrum in the feed store, but man-made stuff just doesn’t make for a good replacement.

Kidding season is under way!  Right now we have 2 more in early labor down in the barn.  I expect to wake up to babies or at least to babies being born.  It is hard for the kids to go to sleep knowing that such a thing is going on.  This is what makes all the days of feeding and watering and fence repair worth it.

It amazes me how a newborn can sleep!  Sweet baby girl
Jonathan with his goat, Maple.  She is one of the 2 having babies shortly.

Whoo Hoo! First Goat Baby of the Year!

Kandi’s new baby girl

Ever since George came for an extended visit back in the fall, we have been excited about the coming kids.  5 months have passed since George’s visit and the first baby arrived today.

As usual, it was not the goat we picked to go first.  Kandi brought us the first kid and she did not look like she was that close.  Several of us thought she might, but didn’t want to say so because she would have held on to the kid just to prove us wrong!

Regardless of who went first, we are so glad to have kidding season begun.  In year’s past, once a Doe kidded, the others followed suit within 2 weeks.  Finally, after several months of store bought milk we are within weeks of fresh milk right from our own farm.  Never a dull moment.                     Speaking of activity, Tony went down to check on things tonight only to find bunnies on the lose.  A support chain has come loose and the cage had dropped down allowing the little guys to get out and run around.  All are accounted for and back in their pen.

George, the baby dady

Sunnin’ on the Paluxy

I once thought that the best place to take a nap was on the couch on an Autumn Sunday afternoon while the football game played on the TV.  I still think that is some fine sleeping time, but I decided yesterday that I have a new favorite spot.  On the edge of the river with my float on the bank just enough that I won’t be carried off by the current but yet my feet are still submerged and I am still floating in the cool water.  With the sun warming my back- that is the best place to take a nap and I quite enjoyed my nap yesterday on the Paluxy river.

As the days grow longer and the weather warms, my bunch spends almost all of our time outside and it doesn’t take long for the river to call our name.  Yesterday we answered the call, loaded up the Suburban with fruit, snacks, and the swim bin and away we went.  The swim bin is a Rubbermaid container that has all of our floats, water shoes, nets, goggles, and various other assortments necessary for enjoying time on the water.  This way when the impulse to take a day trip hits, all we have to grab is one bin and a bag of towels. 

Loving the sun, He was 3 month old on his first trip

It takes about two and a half hours for us to get to Glen Rose.  The trip is very enjoyable with the scenery really beginning to change after Mansfield.  Our Suburban has a cranky a/c so we were driving with the windows down.  Seriously, life is good with the warm sun shinning on your arm, the wind blowing your hair, and some vintage Bon Jovi and Areosmith on the radio.  The kids are quiet and content and we are just plain happy.  As a matter of fact, a brand new Denali passed us on I-20 and I felt sorry for him because he didn’t get to have his windows down.  The thought made me laugh and I guess it proves that it is all about perspective.

We know the place by heart, even where to expect the deer to be when we take our drive around the park at dusk.  However, each time we go it is different.  With nature nothing stays the same.  Last summer the drought revealed rocks, ledges, and dinosaur tracks that we had never seen before and this year with the purging of the drought and then all the wonderful rain, the river was more pristine and clear than I have seen it in the 15 years that we have been playing in it.  So many of the pictures look very similar to the ones we took the previous trip, but they do mark changes in the family.  Now when I look at these pictures taken yesterday I will think, “Look, these were taken right before Cheyenne left for college.”  I am grateful for the wonderful memories I have, and so many of them were made at Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose Texas.

The air is dry in that part of Texas and it didn’t take long for the temps to cool down once the sun dropped behind the ridge.  A good day on the river is awesome therapy, stress and frustration melt away and float on  down the way like the leaves that fall on the water.  As the sun sets, we pack up our stuff and take our browned bodies back up the trail and go look for deer.  We always find some.  The one yesterday was most definitely getting close to having her fawn(s).  There were several others in the fields as we rolled down the state park road heading for Canton.

Not only do we get to know each other better spending time in nature, we get to know our Creator better as well.  If you study an artist’s work, you will learn something about the artist himself.  The same is true for God.  His handiwork is all around us and it is good to take time to study it and take it in.  I asked the girls- Jonathan was off exploring with Tony looking for fish, turtles, and snakes, go figure- what they could tell about God from his creation there on the Paluxy.  The answers were that He likes “pretty things”, “harmony” and “peacefulness”.  Very true, indeed. It is so awesome to know that the Creator of all this beauty was right there enjoying His creation with us.

The first time I took their picture together in Glen Rose they were 5 & 3
Just after I snapped this picture, he dunked them both!
He did not dunk me…        

Sierra is a water bug
Good Times!
Nap time…
One of these things in not like the other…

Such A Pretty Day

Our Greenhouse and the herb garden.
The weather we are having is just wonderful.  I love traveling down the highways seeing the hay meadows lush and green, many of them already being cut and baled.  What a change from last year.  Thank God for the rain, I don’t care how inconvenient it may have been- I will not complain.
Little Californian Bunnies
The farm has been bustling with activity.  Baby bunnies have been arriving with more on the way and the chicks & ducklings we purchased at TSC are growing.  To accommodate our growing flocks, Tony has been relocating our fencing supplies and extra materials to another paddock so that another pen can go up.  
Predators have been a bit of a problem lately.  We had a fantastic hunter in the way of our cat, Twister, but she has gone missing.  We are quite sad about the whole thing.  When she was here we rarely ever saw a snake, this year we have killed about 3 chicken snakes, seen 3 racers and a few garden snakes- the kind with tiny little heads that are a huge help in the garden.  Twister was born the night a tornado went through our backyard, about 9 yeas ago, hence the name.  Her mother was Raja, and she came from my grandmother’s house.  
Twister- a great cat, may she rest in peace.
Tony was never a fan of cats and continually said “NO” when the girls asked if they could have one.  I am not a cat lover either, but I did know the value of a good barn cat for keeping the snakes and mice at bay.  My grandmother’s cats were (and are) wild beasts that want nothing to do with people- my kind of cats.  Anyway, Tony thought he would be smart and told the girls (Cheyenne and Savannah were only about 8 and 6 at the time) if they could catch one they could keep it.  So, that next weekend was Easter and we spent the day a Grandmother’s house.  All afternoon those two were busy with the business of kitten catching.  We knew Savannah loved animals and had a way with them, but we really didn’t know just how good she was- yet.  Tony was quiet surprised to get a phone call at the ambulance station from Savannah stating that she had caught 5 kittens and wanted to bring them all home.  I still have no idea how she did it, I know Cheyenne helped her, but those kittens were well hid and wild.  So much for his well laid plan.  A compromise was reached and two kittens came home in a shoe box.  Only one kitten made it to adult hood, the mean one.  She was an excellent hunter and passed it on to her daughter.  Twister was friendly enough, but preferred to live in  the barn and hunt for her supper.  A good barn cat is worth their weight in gold!

So, with our faithful barn cat gone we have lost several chicks and many eggs to snakes.  Along with the snakes, raccoons have made themselves a pest as well as something that grabbed a rooster out of the hen house before we got the door shut the other night.  Tony has taken to keeping the shotgun by the bed and the spotlight handy.  Several times he has just popped up and ran out the door with no explanation whatsoever, only to return with no wild beast in his bag.  He hears things that I miss and it will pay off.  Tony has shot several coyotes and bobcats that were marauding in the hen house.  Chickens are just easy targets.  Because of this, anything we put up for poultry in way of pens or housing must be really safe.

Not only are snakes about, but all kinds of reptiles are being spotted in the gardens.  I am so happy to see all the life existing on our place.  About 6 years ago, before I began gardening organically, we didn’t have much in the way of lizards and such.  It seems that all the synthetic chemicals I was using in the gardens was harmful to the good insects and the reptiles.  Since we changed our ways, we have been rewarded with many new visitors- many who are deciding to call our farm home.
A bird feeder made from an old drawer.
I had an idea for a bird feeder when I spied an old drawer at a flea market.  I painted the drawer and screwed eyelets in all four corners.  I then ran wire through the eyelets and hung it on a Shepard’s hook.  It works really well.  It is not squirrel proof, but then what is?  

I love spring, everything is just so pretty.

You think you know someone…

You know, you think you know someone.  You live with a person for 19 years and they can still surprise you.  In this instance, I even carried this person in my womb and I didn’t see it coming.

In the Ross household, we have shown a lot of animals.  We wash them, comb them, give them haircuts, blow dry their hair, polish their hooves- sounds ridiculous, I know.  But, we have a lot of fun doing it.  Then the kids lead them around the ring, let the judges take a good hard look, make the animals stand pretty and hope to take home a blue ribbon and a buckle.  So, showing animals is something quite in our comfort zone- showing people however, that is certainly not in our comfort zone.

To say I was surprised when Cheyenne announced that she wanted to compete in the Miss Van Zandt County beauty pageant would be an understatement.  If you have ever seen Cheyenne, you know she certainly is beautiful, but she has never been a girlie girl.  Riding horses, swinging on vines, playing volleyball, these are things that she is drawn to, she even has a  lamb for a running buddy. So, surprised I was.

To be honest, I did not really take her serious at first.  I thought it would pass as a novel idea that flitted through her head and then on to something else.  But it did not.  So, I then said, “Sure, but I am not doing the paperwork and you will have to pay the entry fee.”  Boy, I am supportive, I tell you.  Now, if you have ever dealt with Cheyenne once she gets determined she is determined.  All of her life she has had a will of granite.  As time went on and she handled all the paperwork, got her pictures in order, and paid the fee.  It was then I saw that she meant to enter this pageant and she intended to win.  Why not, it won’t do you much good to compete if you plan to lose.

My only other concern- other than the fact that I had NO idea what to expect and what to do- was that although Cheyenne has certainly been blessed in the beauty department, charm was not something she was given in excess, she really wasn’t given it in moderation.  Speech came early, she could speak in complete sentences by the time she was 18 months old, by the time she was two she could argue with the best adults.  The little old ladies that attended the little country church with us took great delight in telling her just how pretty she was every Sunday morning, to which the little 24 month old would reply, “Don’t talk to me”.  As you can imagine, I was horrified.  Maybe it was because she was so tiny or so cute or both, the little old ladies would cackle with laughter and do it again the next week.  I followed along behind like some sort of press agent trying to manage the damage cooing things like “I am so sorry, we are working on that…”  And we did  and I guess it paid off, she no longer offends the elderly and is thought of quite highly by those grown-ups in her life.  Even so, the idea of Cheyenne parading by the judges smiling and charming them was just a bit foreign to me.  This kid had never given a hoot about what people thought of her.  People disagreeing with her or not liking her never phased her, she just assumed (assumes) they must be idiots.  Now this is something I am so grateful for in a teenager dealing with peer pressure, but raising a toddler who viewed me the same way was quite a challenge.

I have never been one to tell my kids they can’t do something that they haven’t tried and I wasn’t about to tell her anything like that this time.  We just went full steam ahead.  I must say that I was so surprised by just how much fun we had.  We found the perfect evening wear dress with no trouble at all.  The only thing giving Cheyenne a cause to pause was the talent category.  Now, she is certainly very talented, but we didn’t really think the judges would enjoy watching her castrate a bull calf or dehorn a baby goat.  Archery came to mind, she is a really good shot.  Once again she handled it all and made arrangements getting the go ahead for a sharp shooting exhibit.  We wrapped a target in black cloth, pinned balloons to it, and she shot them perfectly.  The night of practice I watched her and decided that she need a cute camo kind of outfit.  So, back to Tyler for one more shopping trip.  This was much more trouble to find than the evening wear- go figure.  but at last we found the right outfit.  I am not a gal who loves to shop and neither is Cheyenne, we were both glad to have the last outfit bought.  Still, we were having more fun than I ever imagined and I was getting to focus on her alone.  I loved every minute.

Looking lovely for her interview

Pageant night finally arrived. Cheyenne was really excited, we all were.  Now, I have spoke to some fairly large groups of people and I never get really nervous.  But, having my kid up on stage being examined by people who don’t know them and bunches of people looking on, that made me sick to my stomach.  But, there was no need.  She did great with the western wear, all smiles and charming like there was no tomorrow. It was the talent part, though, that was really impressive.  Not only did she exude power as she drew her bough back and let it fly, she looked beautiful doing it!  I was so proud I could have popped!

The next day was the interview and evening wear.  Windy’s closet was the best shop for her business outfit.  She looked great in her outfit and we spent a lot of time on her hair.  After the interview we did her hair and she put on her lovely dress.  Again, looking at her I was so proud I could bust.

Evening wear
I think Browning could use a new model

Once all the events were done there was nothing to do but wait for the judges.  I can’t even describe the joy and exuberant yelling that went on when Cheyenne was crowned.  Not only did she win the crown she also won the talent competition.  Celebrating was only natural and the whole crowd of us went to Ochoa’s- Cheyenne’s favorite.  A lot of our family came to watch, I am very grateful for all their support.

You just never know what your kids have in them unless you let them try.  I can’t say just how proud I am of her.  Now, it won’t be long and she will head off to college.  I am so glad for the time we had together getting ready for the pageant.  Pageants are not over for us, Savannah plans to compete next year and I am really excited. I t would be so great if Cheyenne could crown her sister as the next Miss Van Zandt County!


Catching Up…

Well, it has been several weeks since I posted anything.  We have had a really busy month filled with lots of great things and a lot of work.  I have been thinking that I needed to get all the news posted in chronological order, but that seemed too forced and boring and I was getting farther behind and feeling defeated.  So, I decided to pick up today and fill in with the other things in story form.

Katie Mae Preston is the cutest 7 year-old in the world.  She just happens to be my niece and a cracker-jack soccer player.  We had the best time watching her play soccer tonight.  Katie has a sister, Rylie Grace, who is the cutest 5 year-old in the world.  Rylie didn’t play soccer this year, but we had a good time watching her be herself tonight.  All the girls played hard and ran and ran and ran.  Katie plays defender most of the time and is very good.  In the game of soccer you run more than probably any other sport, those who play have the thighs to prove it.  Given that fact, it is odd to me that they make the jerseys out of polyester.  Polyester does not breathe and is hot.  However, it looks great for years. 

My sister, Sunny, had a birthday today.  Her birthday fell close to Easter this year, but her birth fell on Easter Sunday.  Because of the way the calender works, it has yet to happen again.  Sunny Bunny was her nickname for awhile given her birth date.

We had a great time visiting with lots of our family on Easter.  It seems crazy that there were only 3 kids to hunt eggs.  For years there were throngs of kiddos to participate.  I guess that is what happens when one generation waits till later in life to get married and have babies, then they only have one or two kids- the numbers just decrease.  I did my part- four kids is an ample contribution to the Easter Egg Hunt of course those four are now too old for hunting eggs. 

Now for the week ahead.  McKinney is coming up and we have plants to purchase.  The bunnies are growing like mad and will soon be weaned from their mothers.  Sierra has sold some already and we have several more folks coming to look at them.  I guess that the bunnies that are ready will go with us to McKinney.  Spring is moving quickly and we are enjoying ourselves.