Feb 2, 2009

A day in the life...

Since in our blog description we mention raising eleven children, running a dairy, delivering babies, I thought that at some point it might be appropriate to journal a day at Swede Farm to show what this endeavor can look like. I actually expect that this is something that we will do periodically as every day is different around here!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

4:30 Kate (oldest daughter) is up, trying her best to rustle everyone out of bed. Tim doesn't do morning well so he is still in bed. Ironic...the man is a school bus driver and dairy farmer and doesn't "do" mornings graciously. I guess God's idea of a joke...more likely God's plan for sanctification! I am actually still in bed as well but I have an excuse...I am nursing a baby. This is actually early for chores but we have church this morning.

5:15 Morning chores--mainly milking and other goat tasks at this point. Tim, and daughters #4 and 5 are on this.

6:00 The "middle" kids, those aged from 8-10 now up and doing their chores, feeding dogs, piglets, bunnies and the like. I am up, showering and praying the hot water doesn't run out before I get that kink worked out of my neck. Kate is trying to keep things running, starts getting toddlers up. And Liberty. Libby, 6 years old is the ULTIMATE night owl. Left to her own devices she will sleep until almost 10 and bebop around until well after midnight.

7:00 We wanted to be leaving now for church but that obviously isn't going to happen. Tim is on the computer checking his emails while we finish up getting toddlers ready and the baby goats get their bottles.

8:00 we finally leave, towing a flat-bed trailer that we will use to haul wood home from church. Our church lost a long length of fence during Hurricane Ike and they have offered that wood to us. We have a livestock trailer but this flat-bed is borrowed and it has a tricky hitch. It takes longer than expected to get it secure but at least we are off!

8:10 The borrowed trailer comes loose from the back of the van! Wow, is that a wake-up call! Almost immediately three vehicles stop with offers to help. I love living in the country, everyone is a neighbor and everyone is friendly. At least that has been our experience and if it isn't so elsewhere I pity you. One of which is the son-in-law of the breeder that we got our very first goats from, they live less than a mile from us. Andre and Tim together get the trailer secure this time and we are off again. I think we need to make some cookies for Andre, Amy and their clan.

8:20 On the road again.

9:30 We arrive at church for Sunday School. Not everyone will be staying, some of us need breakfast more than others. The ones who are staying (Kate, Timothy Jr, Liberty) get out and the rest of us head over to Central Market for breakfast!

9:45 We get to CM, still towing the trailer. Sara and Linnea and Emma scatter to get food for everyone which is nice but leaves me with the three little boys, Noah, 4, Judah, 2 and Seth who is almost 10 months. How did I EVER manage when littles were all I had?! Tim has settled in to drink coffee and read the Wall Street Journal but he does come and offer to take a few off my hands within a few minutes. I grab the dairy supplies we will need for the upcoming week...organic strawberries and vanilla bean paste and agave nectar for yogurt and the ground chocolate that goes into the chocolate milk. I barely have time to sit down and eat before we are up and out the door again.

10:45 We arrive at church. We settle in, greet people and try to calm ourselves for worship. When we lived in Houston we were members at Southwest Presbyterian in Bellaire, TX, really in the heart of Houston. When we moved we were unable to make a break, feeling that as long as we could do the drive it was worth it to not break fellowship. So we drive the 55 miles in to church each week. We have been unable to do much more than Sunday mornings but that is alright, better than nothing! I sometimes think that our church isn't quite sure what to make of us...we have the largest family by FAR, almost double what anyone else has, everyone else mainly lives in their deed restricted communities and has the typical 9-5 grind. We sometimes have to drag an animal to church, a tiny bottle baby goat or once a rabbit. I think that is what we are there for, to entertain and keep people wondering.

Wonderful, wonderful wonderful church service. The preaching was fantastic and communion is always a much needed infusion of purpose and strength. Half of the youngers fell asleep...we had so many sprawled in the seats that it almost looked like we were back in our charasmatic days.

12:30 Monthly fellowship lunch at church. Yummy food and hey, I don't have to cook it! (We cheated and bought food at Central Market for this month's meal) Tim and Nathan, one of the young men of the church loaded wood in the back of the trailer.

1:30 We are on our way home. We have to stop and buy some milk for baby goats. While our goat kids sometimes are left to nurse their mothers this is the exception rather than the rule so we buy regular grocery store milk for them. This time of year I feel like we single-handedly support the cow dairy industry ourselves. Each baby goat will drink up to 60 ounces of milk a day, or almost half a gallon so we really have to stock up each time we go! Before we get to the store we get a call from a milk customer, can they come and get some milk as they will be going by the house and another call from a friend with a litter of sick puppies. She knows that we maintain a fairly well stocked medicine cabinet and she thinks the pups are dangerously dehydrated so she wants to bring some pups over for fluids. We stop and buy milk and stop at Tractor Supply to buy the larger syringes that I know I will need to give the pups their fluids.

On the way home the two girls in Europe call. They just finished visiting a goat dairy in Switzerland and they are pumped about all that they saw. I don't think we will be able to replicate the "ancient stone barn" for our kid shelter, but we may be able to incorporate some of their ideas when they get home. After all, the dairy has been in operation for three generations now, so I suspect that they may have worked out some of the details that still bedevil us.

2:40 arrive at home, see our friends truck but no sign of our friends. We look on the deck, not there. We look in the dairy, not there either, so we resort to calling. Finally we hear them coming, they had walked down to the pond and gone exploring. They exclaim over the wooded parts of the property on the South side of the pond that they had never seen before. It really is beautiful back there and while we use the browse for the goats, we try to keep that section as it is, because it has proven to be a needed sanctuary for people to be able to sit by the wooded pond, or in the clearing back further in the woods. We tend to the puppies, three of them. They are looking rather limp, it is really sad. There is nothing to do but supportive care while we wait and pray that the medications do their job. Part of the supportive care that we will do will entail these fluids but they are really really limp which is worrisome. One is noticeably more dehydrated than the others. We warm the lactated ringers and inject in under the skin until it no longer immediately absorbed, which is a sign of dehydration. By the time we are done the worse pup is looking a little more alert and chipper. They are still very sick but hopefully this will help. She takes more lactated ringers and syringes with her and heads home with the pups. The milk customer comes and goes during this time and I didn't even get to see her, thankfully Tim was able to help her but still, I hate not getting to chat with customers!

(to be continued)

4:00 We draw up the pre-kidding shots that we need to give the goats that are due to kid this month. They are things like tetanus shots, selenium, etc. While we are giving the shots I notice that some of the does definitely need their feet trimmed but lo and behold the hoof trimmers have gone missing. I do not understand this...the goats feet are only trimmed in the milk room up on the milk stands. The hoof trimmers are kept in a tackle box in that room. There is never any reason for them to leave that room yet they are missing. Huh? I guess I know where I will be going tomorrow...BACK to Tractor Supply for trimmers!

5:30 Finally get the big fat preggo does back in their pen just in time to get the milkers out and in the holding pen to be milked. Thankfully Sara and Linnea can handle this one on their own so I leave them to start milking and head back to the house. I sit and nurse Seth and direct dinner preparations from the rocking chair while the toddlers create mayhem around me. I do not understand where the energy comes from. Those boys do their utmost each and every day to remind me that I am NOT a young mom anymore. A neighbor and fellow local food producer drives up and Tim hops in his truck...they are going into Bellaire to the last session of our church's Bible Conference. I am only a wee bit jealous but I cannot leave Kate to have to deal with the chaos that today seems by herself.

7:00 Chores are all done (except for the late night bottle for the baby goats.) We are eating dinner when Sara comes in, she has been late coming in from her chores. She is visibly upset. Sara has been caring for Ruby ever since Ruby went down several weeks ago. Ruby has gone downhill drastically just this afternoon. Whereas she was alert but unable to stand, now she cannot even really raise her head. She is otherwise fine, eating and drinking with gusto but totally weak and limp. Decision time. We will have to deal with this when Tim comes home. Thankfully Ruby doesn't seem to be in any significant pain.

7:30 Dinner done, we clean up. Seth is still settled in for a marathon nursing session.

8:00 I lack the momentum to get anyone headed towards bed so we sit and stare at the television for a while. Food Network, everyone's favorite. Engagement cake challenge followed by Iron Chef America, chocolate and coconut. Yum. Odd. Interesting. I call Tim to see how long until he gets home and tell him about Ruby. He asks if he needs to rush home. I don't think so, I do not think it will make a difference.

9:00 Enough is enough...Judah is already asleep sitting next to me in the chair, so we move the toddlers and youngers towards bed. Time for the baby goats to get their last bottle so they do as well as the first of the series of tetanus and clostridium vaccines that they will get. We watch for shock (always done after administering medications or vaccines) and they run and jump like crazy things around the living room. One took a flying leap from the couch only my lap from 4 feet away, barely missing Seth sleeping in my arms. This little doe, Millie looks to be a clown and T*R*O*U*B*L*E. Life with her is going to be fun, I can see that now!

9:40 All but the older three at home are in bed, so I have them get me a cup of hot chocolate. Usually I prefer tea but we just got some of the chocolate that we use for chocolate milk, Guittard, yummy, so I have some of that. Just as I breathe in deeply of the rich chocolate a toddler reappears and throws themselves at he, tipping my cup and pouring it down the inside of my shirt. Thankfully it isn't hot, lukewarm in fact, so I guess it wouldn't have been as enjoyable as I anticipated!

10:15 Tim gets home and goes out to check on Ruby. We decide to wait until tomorrow to make any decisions although we all know what the only decision is. Sara asks if she can sleep with Ruby. During the evening Sara sat with Ruby and Ruby would doze off and in her sleep move a bit away from Sara. When she awoke she would look for Sara and lay her head in Sara's lap. We say yes, she can sleep with Ruby but only with a sibling. Linnea is done, toast, not interested, her day is OVER and she doesn't care for the adventure of spending the night in the livestock trailer. (I don't blame her, really.) We wake up Emma and she and Sara go outside.

10:30 I check my email, email two midwifery clients to confirm appointments for the coming week. I work on my grocery list for the month's menus as I intend to shop Monday. I chat with Tim...

11:00 Sara comes inside and reminds me that today is the deadline to enter rabbits in the show at the Houston Livestock Show. We will not be bringing goats this year due to logistics but a rabbit we can probably do. Man, the online entries are NOT intuitive or easy to understand. First we couldn't log on due to some issue with our "credentials" so we have to start a new account, then at the end it should have been $20 for the entry and it was $5 plus a $40 late fee? We have to do it to meet the deadline but I guess we will be calling them in the morning.

12:00 Bed. Just as we turn off the lights Judah comes crying into our room. Tim welcomes him into his side of the bed and settles in to read, I think it is the WSJ. I nurse (again) and doze off.

And this is a day of REST?!

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