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maryjane Posted - Mar 02 2020 : 08:25:07 AM
Yesterday, I took staged photos of Stella and Mia for an article about denim. Here's a shot of their absolute glee heading off to school this morning in their new outfits. We bought new jeans at Old Navy, complete with ready-made holes, and then using our embroidery skills, patched all the holes!

I'll take photos of Adria and Alina later this week (it proved too difficult to get all four of them cleaned up and together on the same Sunday). Alina has a pair of patched overalls that she can't wait to wear.

16   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
NellieBelle Posted - Apr 01 2020 : 08:24:26 AM
MaryJane! Curious, did you feel the earthquake? I know it was quite distant from you but just wondering. Hope all is okay.
NellieBelle Posted - Mar 30 2020 : 07:55:44 AM
Good morning to all! What a lovely start to the day, with sunshine and warmer temps. Mia looks so comfortable and content. Embroidery is such a calm and enjoyable pastime. I'm getting more work done outdoors with these nicer days, and if feels so good to be outside working in flower beds and getting things ready for outdoor veggie gardens. The cow gals are enjoying the green grass that's finally greening up the pastures. They are shedding winter hair so they look a bit patchy. It's a little muddy from the rains but that goes with spring. Hope you are all able to get outdoors and enjoy the day.
txbikergirl Posted - Mar 29 2020 : 1:38:02 PM
glad to here y'all are doing well. life doesn't seem the same here at all, but i am up to my eyeballs in covid-19 for work in CA so it is managing that 24/7 for me. so with our farm gate shut, to me (despite hearing from others around here that believe it is normal) it just feels strange.

my eldest niece took off for an asian-pacific country last saturday to be with her fiancee (a US citizen working there for the same company as she); she got in through immagration there just hours before they closed the border to incoming traffic that wasn't coming home. she has cancelled her june wedding and they will be getting married there across the ocean from us in about 3 weeks... i am so happy for her, this is what really matters and we'll have a wedding celebration at the end of the year when they can leave there and everything is "back to normal".

With all the indications we have, and this is after planning since the New Year, we are hunkered down and planning for 3-4 months like this for us/work. I can't see it ending any time sooner. its unsettling, and we are dealing with panicked employees as well... it is hard. i am fearful for panicked employees that are young and dont want to leave home to work, but if their job doesn't have telecommuting possibilities then they will lose health insurance if they just up and quit... i am doing everything i can to keep them covered with health insurance as with all the laws being passed NO ONE has addressed this and so legally employers that don't have self-funded insurance cannot legally keep the employees on their health insurance...

i also worry about people getting sick in great numbers at an apt we manage, and the health dept being too busy to assist... thats a hard one as we dont have a legal right to do anything as we only rent them a home, but morally you want to be prepared to do anything and everything you can for them... its hard.

not to be a downer, but even in the middle of rural southern states it is a daily 24/7 issue we are dealing with.

on the positive side, we finally built lover boy's shop last year and (thankfully!) moved his and my offices into one side of it; this has been such a great thing all around, but especially with this crisis as it gives us offices separate from the house, but also offices that are lovely and can handle having three kids hanging out all day while we work - the offices are truly lovely, we made them very comfortable.

before i forget, MJ i ordered two bread books from your site today and asked for you to sign them ;> my niece wants to learn to make bread while here, so we might as well get her started the right way once she gets out of quarantine... and lover boy is the bread maker in our family now so i asked for you to sign one for him two as well... it does my heart good daily to see him making fresh bread for all his girls that we worked so hard to bring into our lives. makes me tear up all the time ;>

take care and perhaps i can find some time to say hi more often... always hoped for ;>
maryjane Posted - Mar 29 2020 : 12:32:35 PM
Ditto everything Janet said. It's good to cross the Thompsons off my worry list and get the low-down on the lockdown decisions you've made, Cindy, and your niece, yay! And the pics!!! And yeah, milk. Daisy has become the queen of our farm lately, a benevolent giver of goodness and sustenance. This morning I noticed Buttercup's udder starting to bud. She's due April 29.

I'm certainly not minding my four grands being home full time, not that it isn't a big change for the parents. This morning just as it was getting light out, and foggy and dreary, Meg sent me the morning scene on their floor, little Mia working away at her embroidery (something Janet may have had a hand in).

NellieBelle Posted - Mar 29 2020 : 09:21:11 AM
Hello txbikergirl! So good to see your post and update on you and your family. Sounds like you and lover boy have got this. Congratulations on your bull calf and all that delicious milk that helps provide for your family. It certainly helps in times like this. You have so many things at your ready with milk. Butter, yogurt, buttermilk, on and on. Joe and I haven't noticed much of a change here. Just feel bad for others, who have to depend on store bought food. Gardens and chickens, cows, are all such a blessing. What a beautiful family picture of you all. Your girls are growing up. Hope to hear more from you in the future. Good health and care to you all!
txbikergirl Posted - Mar 29 2020 : 07:15:37 AM
We are doing great with covid-19, relatively speaking. i have to say, we always planned to be self-sufficient and be prepared to live through any world crisis ... but it is a shock to actually be doing so. being prepared physically with the things to do the job, and being prepared mentally to internalize the situation are two different things.

We closed our farm gate March 15th. It was the last day of spring break, we had just gotten back from a weekend away at a lake house wherein we had no contact, and seeing how the world was going we told everyone if they wanted to join us they had a week, or they had to go into quarantine for two weeks any time after that. So we have our camper set up for quarantine, and our niece arrived late Friday night... she lost her job at a nonprofit a week ago, shuttered her appt and picked up and came. she'll be with us for months now, as even when this is over her "normal" life wont be back to functioning for quite a long time.

she was a nanny for years while getting going in her career, and so she'll take over homeschooling in two weeks for the mornings so we can work.

lover boy and i are blessed, our jobs are still going and busier than ever. my job has 7 sites in california with "shelter in place" orders and we are busy with all the covid issues involved there. hubby is working nights and days as his job involves supporting a large medical group you would all recognize, and they are rolling out tele-medicine 24/7 like you can't believe.

we are milking daily. need i tell you how good it feels to have the for our family? to know we are able to sustain ourselves, to have that farm gate closed and still have a full refrig and pantry?

Bea dropped a calf on 12/30. i took pictures, meant to email y'all, and never got around it. our first bull calf, but who cares as it gave us milk during this crisis.

the girls are doing well. it has been a blessing for eldest, we went through a tough new year with her as she started lieing and sneaking and being difficult beyond belief... and now at home, cacooning with the family, and enjoying the time with us. middle child is struggling the most, she can't handle the sudden change and responds with anger and being difficult... and youngest is doing okay, but she is needy beyond belief and it is exhausting.

we hadn't planned on planting a garden this summer, we were actually going to rip out our raised beds in order to redo drainage this summer as we have erosion below the back yard into the chicken yard and cow barn... but we hadn't started yet, so last weekend we planted the garden and it really relaxed me quite a bit. we are stocked up in all the ways needed now.

i also want to tell you ladies how grateful i am for everything you ever taught me about cows and our farm. i have been thinking about it a lot lately. i have always appreciated you both, but now it comes through even more. to be able to keep a consistent life for the kids during this time, kids who had food issues prior to coming to us... and life for them, other than no school, is exactly the same for them. we have everything we need, and are so appreciative of everyone that helped us get here.

take care, and we are thinking of you in texas ;>
txbikergirl Posted - Mar 29 2020 : 06:51:32 AM
HELLO! Wanted to wish you a happy and healthy hello from East Texas.

It has been so long, waaayyy too long, and I think about y'all daily. Truly. Just always difficult to find the time for anything not family and kid centered as that tends to be all consuming.

First, some photos to bring you up to date visually:

We are now a family of 56,51,13,11,9... growing fast, and doing great.

We had settled into a nice groove prior to covid-19 , complete with a 13-year old wolverine (that article from, i believe, last year in MJF has brought me so much joy Mary Jane).

So a big hello and a huge, hearty hug to Mary Jane and Janet, and everyone else. i'll post about covid-19 in a bit as i want to post this now so i dont get interrupted by wee ones as they exit the bedrooms ;>
NellieBelle Posted - Mar 23 2020 : 07:03:38 AM
Good morning! Thank you MaryJane, I do enjoy the orchids. The cattleya orchids smell so good. I breathe in deep. I think I would be a worse person without all my blossoms surrounding me. Such precious gems. Whenever I see a new blossom, whether indoors or out, it is always uplifting. I have one red tropical hibiscus that is just about to open and other buds still in different stages. My Hellebores are just beginning. They are later this year. Last year they were in bloom. Scheduled to pick up bees Friday unless we hear otherwise. So onward and forward. A campfire sounds wonderful. That is a project I should work on. A fire pit where we may sit and cook. Must put that on the to do list. Have a splendid day!
maryjane Posted - Mar 22 2020 : 6:04:51 PM
What a gorgeous orchid, Janet. I have one hibiscus in bloom. So lovely.

Outside, I have some violets in bloom and lenten roses, otherwise slim pickings for my bees. Hope your bees show up all fine and dandy.

We're thinking about a campfire tonight. The day has been lovely and warm. I got out all my garden seeds and did some planning, what and when. I'd ordered my seeds last December.
NellieBelle Posted - Mar 22 2020 : 04:42:22 AM
Good morning! Things are running about the same here. Of course schools, restaurants, bars, etc. closed like everywhere else. Lumberyard is still open for business. No need to go to grocery store as we are self sufficient for the most part. We have always kept plenty of staples on hand so we haven't noticed a big change. Just the usual farm routine here. Suppose to pick up honey bees at end of this week, unless that changes but haven't received any notices of change. Milking continues as usual. More signs of spring daily. We've been getting a mix of weather lately. Rain looks to be the weather for this coming week.
maryjane Posted - Mar 21 2020 : 4:33:05 PM
It's a warm Saturday, my fruit trees are starting to show off a few buds and my bees are out. I decided to take a chance and remove all the plastic tree wraps around the trunks of my smallest trees this morning, so I hope that means we're done with winter.

Anyway, I'm sitting at my desk right now catching up on some paperwork and noticed matronly Miss Daisy running break-neck speed, Buttercup pulling up the rear. Around and around they're going in the field. Daisy keeps putting her head down and charging Buttercup and then getting on her front two knees like a bull to toss her head back and forth on the ground. It's a sure sign spring is here. I didn't know Daisy had it in her to exercise thusly. Anyway, I guess they don't know there's a pandemic.

Hope everyone is getting a system in place for safety. Ours has a been a work-in-progress but I think we're finally settling into a routine. I've always been grateful to live on a farm but even more so this morning when I harvested greens from our greenhouse, grabbed some apples, squash, and onions from our root cellar, cheese, and meat from our freezer.

As it turns out, Daisy just HAS to give milk, so I'm milking her every other day now and getting close to 2 gallons each time. She told me she wasn't ready to be fully dried off just yet. I'm fine with that if it keeps her happy and us in milk at this moment in time when food is hard to come by. I noticed sales of my Milk Cow Kitchen book are way up. People are thinking self sufficient.
NellieBelle Posted - Mar 08 2020 : 5:40:35 PM
Planting and making sure there is plenty of milkweed, finding the eggs, watching them grow, changing from chrysalis to butterfly, tagging, it's all fascinating to be involved in each stage. I'm still milking both Darla and Nellie. I haven't decided when I will dry the girls up but probably this summer, which will be upon us before we know it. Yes, snowdrops are blooming here too. I noticed buds on the Hellebores too and the other little early bulbs of spring popping up.
maryjane Posted - Mar 08 2020 : 3:13:40 PM
You've mentioned your milkweed a few times, but it never registered. But of course, you've been looking out for Monarchs for several years! I will look Monarch Watch up and go from there. I hope I'll be joining you soon by checking Milkweed leaves for eggs. Butterflies are so graceful and amazing to watch.

Your crocus are beautiful, Janet. We have snowdrops in bloom but nothing else yet.

I've started the process of drying Miss Daisy up. She's been giving us milk for 2 years now. With Buttercup calving April 29, it won't be long before we have milk again.
NellieBelle Posted - Mar 08 2020 : 2:41:57 PM
The girls look darling in denim. Excited about your planting of Showy milkweed. I've been a member of Monarch Watch for several years. We grow several species of milkweed here. Butterfly milkweed, Swamp milkweed, Whorled milkweed, Showy milkweed, Common milkweed, Sand milkweed and have had Green milkweed. Serious about our milkweed and plants that attract the Monarchs. Always a joy to find the eggs on the milkweed leaves and seeing them flying around in summer around their favorite flowers. Winter Aconite and crocus in bloom. Honey bees liking the early flowers.
maryjane Posted - Mar 08 2020 : 1:35:09 PM
Today was Adria and Alina's turn in front of my camera.

Just one word.


Alina said, "This is really my first time to be in an actual magazine photo shoot." As you can see, she did just fine.

This morning our PrairieScape was looking gorgeous and inviting. From this same window, I watched eight elk yesterday morning sauntering along, the bull in front. At one point, one of the girls mounted the girl in front of her just like my silly cows do.

Janet, I've been looking into planting monarch milkweed, called Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) in amongst all the other native flowers growing on our PrairieScape. Wouldn't it be cool to someday be a major stop-off for monarchs? Right now, our PrairieScape doesn't have milkweed, but I'm told it will grow here. In fact, there's a local government agency, (Latah Soil and Water Conservation District) that has been promoting the purchase of seed and providing help. More than 90% of North American monarchs have been wiped out over the last 20 years.

Mia has asked her school principal if she can start an environmental club and has been recruiting other students. Maybe Monarch habitat can be one of the projects they tackle.
NellieBelle Posted - Mar 02 2020 : 6:16:40 PM
Those jeans are sooooo cool! Oh to be young again! Your grand girls have grown into such lovely young ladies. What fun you must all have. The creative designs are endless. Warmer temps and sunshine this week. It would be great if it lasts, but we are just entering March so that's doubtful. But I will enjoy it while it's here.