Nov 8, 2010


It has been a while since I have posted updates, so here goes...

As I write this we have four baby goats in a bin in the living room which means that we are seeing lots of bottle feeding as in the picture here! We actually are not planning to keep many, if any, babies this year. We have never not retained any babies, but we have lots of work we want to get done in the dairy, some new cheeses we want to try our hand at, plus yet another senior in our home school so figured that this year might be a good one to "take easy". (HA!) Thankfully pretty much all of these babies are spoken for and going to good homes.

Katarina (oldest daughter) is still in New York finishing up her internship at a Lynnhaven, another goat dairy. She is working hard (hopefully learning that mom and dad are not all that unreasonable in the things we require!) and she is also working hard at cramming as much tourism in as she can on her weekly days off. She returns in December after four months away and we cannot wait to see her! (Or maybe the goats she is bringing home with her?)

Christin (21) is handling at least one market a week for us and generally helping to keep the farm running in Kate's absence. She is tending to herd health and general animal chores. And learning to drive. I have decided I would almost rather potty train a toddler than teach someone to drive. Almost.

Grace (18) is continuing to help greatly in the cheese making department. She is also the senior referenced earlier--she will make the third that we have 'graduated' from our home school. She is considering either vet tech or farrier for post-home school work.

Sara (17) is keeping things humming in the dairy--covering for her dad when he doesn't get up in time to milk before going to drive the bus in the morning as well as in the evening. We promised her a new, enlarged rabbit house for her birthday and we are still slowly trudging towards fulfilling that promise. Her birthday was in August. Looks like we could use some help. Anyone who loves farming in farmville want to come and try their hand at the real thing so we can get her birthday gift finished before her NEXT birthday rolls around? We can always use a few extra hands around here...

Linnea (14) is keeping us fed. She is in charge of the kitchen right now. She enjoys trying out new dishes and gets offended if we have anyone else try to cover for her if she starts running behind. She is a tyrant, though--breakfast is at 8, lunch at 12, dinner at 6. If you do not come to the table when called--well, you missed your chance. It doesn't matter if you are milking, or saving a goat's life--you missed the dinner bell, too bad. Clearly we need to work on flexibility and grace with her. Thankfully she makes up for it by keeping the kitchen clean and our tummies filled. (As long as you get there on time.)

Emma (12) is lending a hand in the processing room as well as keeping baby goats fed (which she loves). The processing room job means taking out the trash, cleaning up, organizing supplies so that the cheese and yogurt maker doesn't have to. When she applies herself she does a fantastic job. When she doesn't--well, she doesn't. She has done a fantastic job with the chickens. I wanted to get rid of the chickens. The dairy inspector frowns on free range poultry and I simply did not have the time to tend to them in a shelter (feeding, watering, cleaning, etc). Emma resurrected an old portable chicken shelter (called a chicken tractor) and has taken over the feeding and watering and egg collecting. She now sells the eggs to farm visitors and people at church and is very proud of her eggs and the care she takes of her chickens.

Timothy (10) is our dairy helper. This means that he helps the main milking person by running, fetching, handing and otherwise assisting. He also takes out the trash and other sundry tasks (like training his little brothers to torment their older sisters). Like Emma, he can be a huge help--or not.

(A side note--I mentioned in the last few posts having to work with some of the kids in areas such as diligence, patience, etc. Some who read this are reading of our children and feeling as if we need to crack down on those areas where they are not measuring up. Others who read this are likely aghast that we are having our children carry these heavy loads. We see it like this--we did not decide to have a large family in order to work the farm. We actually moved to the country and started the farm six years ago from the city. We started the farm because we had a large family. We did not look around and say "hey! Look at all this free labor! We might have something going here!" Instead we looked around and felt heavily weighing on us the responsibility to raise young children to become responsible adults of good character. We felt that having the opportunity to work hard and to play hard would best facilitate reaching these goals and we concluded that a farm could be instrumental in this. This is behind the responsibilities that our children have. They are not here to do the chores--the chores are here to help mold the children.)

Liberty (8) is right now a floater--we send her to lend a hand where-ever it may be needed. Sometimes this is the kitchen, sometimes picking up the property, sometimes entertaining baby Dixie. As I mentioned a few months ago, Liberty is slowly moving out of the "Princess" stage so she is taking baby steps. The good thing is that she has stopped fighting this transition, but she still is needing to learn to be diligent. (Don't we all?) Liberty to me personifies the difference between a city kid and a country kid when it comes to the baby goats. We brought babies to church yesterday because they needed more frequent bottles and no one wanted to stay home with them. The children at church (we still go to church in the city) were oohing and aahing over them. They wanted top talk about just how stinkin' cute the babies are. Liberty's first questions on seeing them are more pragmatic. "Who did they come from? Who is their dad? Has mom been milked yet? How much is she giving? Did they come out head first or breech? Have they had their colostrum yet?"

Noah (6) just learned this morning what a feather duster is! He is having fun with is and if he keeps it up it will be a huge help! Being on a farm we tend to have a fair number of flies. Which translates to a fair number of spiders. Keeping up with the dust from the outside and the spider webs inside is almost a full time job and I am thrilled to think that someone may want to tend to this job. As I said, though, he just learned today, we'll get back to you with an update in the weeks to come.

Judah (4) is a one man demolition derby. I fail to understand what he does and why 90% of the time. He has a habit of attacking people, animals, anything whose attention he wants with his head--literally head-butting them. He also is almost obsessive compulsive that he has to have a kiss goodbye before anyone leaves the property. Often not just one kiss, either. I guess one can never get too many kisses. Theoretically he helps clean up his room. It's a theory, anyway.

Seth (2) has to be our most verbally expressive child at this age. He routinely will 'discuss' issues with you saying "well, actually..." He is also a chocolate addict and when he wakes up in the middle of the night does not ask for a drink of water. He wants chocolate milk. In fact he will tell us "No, I need chocolate milk. From the dairy."

Dixie. What can I say? She is six months old now, Pink round cheeks, sweet giggles and attempts at being mobile. She is growing too fast and I am working very hard at treasuring these precious days because I never thought I would get another daughter and I do not imagine that there will be many, if any more.

Tim (wont share his age) is still driving a school bus for insurance. He is the face of Swede Farm. He does the website, makes the phone calls, farm tours and milks in the mornings. He also juggles the budget and the bills for which we are all very thankful.

I (LeeAnne--my age is Tim's minus one) work on many things and often feel like I am in the middle of a hurricane. Well...I guess not the middle for the eye of the storm is I will simply say that I often feel as if I am caught in a hurricane! Home schooling (an increasing amount done online), overseeing things in the dairy and milk plant (aka cheese/processing room), running errand, keeping us stocked up on essentials such as food for us, feed for the goats, bottles for milk, etc. I retired from midwifery this year, 23 years after I started training. I am reviewing products for a home schooling business, insanely volunteered to lead the 4H Vet Science group in our county and am seeing a ADHD coach. So far I think I am mainly providing him with entertaining diversion in the middle of his "normal" clients. The house is not what I want it to be, neither is the dairy, neither is homeschooling. But I am working on it.

In reviewing this post I think maybe that ADHD coach is worth something anyway, look how organized I am becoming--without even meaning to (during a time scheduled for something totally different) I inadvertently wrote our Christmas letter a full month ahead of time! Maybe I can actually get this one mailed out unlike the last five years...

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