Monthly Archives: July 2009

More About That Sheep… Update

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about a lamb we found dead. It might bore you but I thought some people might be interested in what we suspect to be the real cause of death, especially if you might raise sheep of your own someday.

We happen to have a relief vet at work this week so I shared my story of the dead lamb with her. She, of course, thought about it a little more logically than me. She pointed out that A)There is no way that all those intestines should have come out even if she had started a major coughing fit and B)Even if they did come out, that wouldn’t have killed her. We hear about vaginal/uterine prolapses all the time and the cow or sheep simply lies there until the vet comes to put everything back in. The only way the prolapse itself would have killed that lamb is if there was a lot of blood loss or other trauma to those parts. I didn’t see any blood or evidence of that when I found her.

So… what killed her? For that I called a nearby large animal vet that just loves these kind of stories. I gave him a brief history and told him how I found her. He agreed that she didn’t die of the prolapse. The most common cause of these sudden deaths that he knows of is an internal abscess that suddenly ruptures. Say when she had her cough that there was infection in her lungs. Her body may have walled that off and build up a ton of white blood cells in the area. If she got to ramming around (excuse the pun) or kicking her feet up in the air the extra movement could have ruptured the abscess. Once all that infection was released in her body it would kill her quickly.

Then, when she died and her intestines quit pushing food through, the gas in her rumen (part of the stomach) built up and created a lot of pressure. Similar to how an animal on the side of the road bloats up. Since the muscles around her rectum were already weakened from when she was starting to prolapse before, that was the path of least resistance. Thus, the innards probably came out after she was already dead. We’ll never know for sure what her actually cause of death was but I feel better knowing that I was right not to be concerned with the hint of a prolapse that she had before. The vet offered to open her up and look for an abscess somewhere. I think that would have been a great learning experience but I opted to go to the fair and cheer on our niece instead.

More on the fair later, just wanted to update on this first!

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Disturbing Find and Thinking Like A Farmer

***This post contains unpleasant details and is not for the weak.***

I had a very unpleasant surprise this morning as I made my rounds doing chores. I found one of our lambs – dead. She was the first lamb born on the farm. The cause of death was pretty obvious. She had prolapsed rectally, which basically means quite a bit of her intestines had come out her rear end. She developed a cough when she was quite young and as a result she put a lot of strain on the muscles that hold everything in. She would show a small rim of pink flesh around the rear occasionally. After moving the lambs out to pasture a few weeks ago things seemed to be getting much better for her. I haven’t seen her cough for a good 2 weeks and there was no sign of a prolapse beginning. Last night she ate very well right along with the other lambs and acted very normal.

On one hand, I totally blame myself. I should have taken quicker action and treated her with supplements or found some way to eliminate this problem. On the other hand, I had every indication that the problem had solved itself. The thing that really gets me is to think that she must have been in a great amount of pain. I did chores last night before 7 PM and didn’t go out there again until this morning. I don’t think there is much I could have done had I found her alive but putting her down would have been more humane.

I can see a big change in my thinking since even last year. I love animals and I want them to have the most comfortable, healthy life we can provide for however long that may be. Now I’m learning to balance that with practicality and economics. Rectal prolapse is a known problem in show lambs and it is certainly not something I would want to breed for. If I had fixed this problem and wanted to sell the lamb I would have felt dishonest and sneaky for passing her along to someone else. She probably would have been headed for the dinner table at that point, which is one of the purposes of our herd anyway.

So, while this is a really sad start to the morning, I’m not bawling or feeling like a failure, which is good enough for me!! 🙂

Any similar experiences to share? How do you deal with having farm animals, if you do?

Freezer Cooking: Twin Meat Loaves


Way back when I was looking for new post ideas the topic of freezer cooking came up. I think there was quite a bit of interest in that and yet I’ve never posted about it since, until now. I’ll try to post some recipes from time to time under the heading and label “Freezer Cooking: ________”. I thought I had already posted this recipe as a single loaf version but couldn’t find it.

This recipe comes from Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook. I got my copy from my Grandma’s basement and I love it. It really is appropriate for the way we are trying to live and generally avoids “add in seasoning packet” or “3 cups Bisquick”.

Twin Meat Loaves

2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped carrot
2 lbs. ground beef

Break two eggs in a bowl and until well broken. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. You’ll have to use your hands to get this done in a reasonable amount of time, or I guess maybe a hand mixer would work. Pack into two greased 7 1/2x4x2″ pans – I used my narrow bread pans that come close.
Pop the pans in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. Once frozen, tap the loaves out on a plate or cutting board. Wrap well with tin foil. You could also use the plastic out of a cereal box along with brown paper if you’re trying to cut back on foil. Label with black permanent marker: BAKE @ 350 f FOR 1 HOUR.

When you go to cook these you can drop them in the pans frozen and thaw them in the fridge that way. I’ve cooked them straight out of the freezer and they were still done in just over an hour. I actually cooked one for 2 hours when something happened with the sheep and I forgot about it. It didn’t dry out or burn even after all that time so it is pretty much foolproof. I don’t eat ground meat at all but hubby says this is one of the better meat loaves he’s had, he really likes it.

I usually thaw a bunch of hamburger and make 6 or 8 loaves at a time. It is a great back up for a day when I’m out of ideas. Happy freezer cooking!

Menu Plan Monday

This week is going to be a crazy one for me I think. We have a different vet filling in at work and although she is very good and friendly she takes a looooonnnggg time with each client so I’m prepared to stay late most nights. I also have Thursday off instead of Monday so that throws a wrench in things. We’re taking the last of the colored rangers to be processed Tuesday night so Wednesday after work I’ll be busy bagging and weighing them. I promise a full review on the birds once they are all done.

So here’s what we’re eating:

Monday: Brats (for Brian) and a little steak (for me) on the grill, chips, watermelon

Tuesday: Parmesan Baked Chicken, Baked seasoned potatoes

Wednesday: Chicken sandwiches and fries

Thursday: Homemade pizza and breadsticks

Friday: Hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, chips, watermelon

Lunches will be mostly leftovers, yogurt with fresh, local berries, and sandwiches. For breakfast Brian likes eggs and I have muffins or toast. For dessert…well… we’ll see if I get to that this week! 🙂

What are you eating? What is your week going to be like?

Free TV: Getting By Without Cable


We haven’t had cable or satellite TV service since we moved to the farm almost 2 years ago. Brian had satellite at the old house and when we moved we called and “suspended” it. The company offered to install it at the farm for us but we moved in the midst of harvest season and knew we’d be way too busy to watch much TV. As we approach another fall we both agree that life without a TV bill is totally doable.

The Digital transition really threw a wrench in things. We used to get 5, 12, 19, 25, 28, 46, and 66. After the digital transition we get only half of those plus their “extra” channels (19 now has 19.1, 19.2, 19.3, 19.4, often all with separate programming). We can still get most channels but we have to adjust the antenna constantly depending on what we want.

We’ve developed a few strategies that help us deal with the “welfare TV only” lifestyle.

First, we subscribe to Netflix during the winter months when we aren’t busy and are stuck in the house the most. We do the 2 at a time plan for $14.83 per month. Wayyy cheaper than cable. We keep a notebook in the living room and when we see previews that we like we jot down movies. That way we keep a good list going in Netflix and see all the “new releases” when they come out to rent. I’ve been very happy with Netflix service. If I put a DVD in the mail on Wednesday we have a new movie on Friday so we have new movies at least every weekend. Plus they have a lot of movies available instantly over the computer. They even offer a lot of hard to find, interesting documentaries. When farm work picked up again this spring I called and canceled our account. They will save our list so we can pick up where we left off as soon as I call them back.

The other lifesaver is our computer. We have a wireless router so the computer often sits here with me while I knit or can. Here are some of my favorite websites to watch “TV” on:

-The major television network websites are the most reliable and have most of the current shows available. I have had excellent luck with ABC.com and they are very good about adding the newest episodes right away.

-Try some of the cable channel websites too. I’ve been playing around on TLC.com lately. I really enjoy 18 Kids and Counting and Jon & Kate Plus 8 (does anyone else follow them, BTW? I’m a big fan and am so sad that their marriage is suffering!). The shows tend to take awhile to load and pause a lot but there is good content there if you can connect. They have a lot of educational type things too not just reality TV drama.

-Here’s a new favorite: Hulu.com. You can watch a ton of The Dave Ramsey Show on there. Right now I have that running in another tab since it is mostly a talk show anyway. I highly recommend it.

I’m not so much encouraging you to get high tech or spend all your time on the computer. However, if you spend as many hours as I do sitting or standing doing one continuous job it is sometimes nice to have something else going on.

Enjoy!! Just think – if you’re spending $45 a month on TV you could pay a different bill with that or sock it to your debt…

Any other ideas for cutting bills or living without paid TV?

What I’ve Been Doing

I’ve been a little aloof lately and I apologize. It is one of those times where I want to post about everything but never get around to posting any of it.

I spent a lot of the weekend making invitations for my cousin’s baby shower. I made the cutest ones to tie in with our frog theme. They are all done and mailed out – what a relief!

I also got the long garden almost completely weeded and mulched. All the is left are two empty spots where I didn’t plant anything. I need to pull all the weeds and mulch those areas so they’re ready for next year. Also, the corn is very weedy again and I think I need a hoe for it this time. It isn’t growing very well (maybe due to weed pressure, maybe not enough rain) and I think I planted it a little later than my neighbors. Hopefully it will still produce enough corn to can and some popcorn for the winter.

I’m about berried out. Blueberries, cherries, mulberries, oh my!

I planted 50 strawberry plants awhile ago so maybe we’ll have some of our own next year. So far they’re doing good, just need to be mulched.

I’ve been knitting up a storm. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I’m now on Ravelry as MarriedToTheFarm. If you’re on there look me up! I didn’t think it would be nearly as cool as it is. I’ve been starting new projects left and right since we’ve got 2 weddings coming up plus it seems like everyone we know is pregnant. Of course Christmas is coming too and like Dave Ramsey says: Christmas is a craft this year. Homemade canned goods and/or knitted stuff for everyone.

Brian has been spending all his evenings and weekends working on the semi. It apparently didn’t come with wet lines which is the part that allows it to work with a dump trailer. We haven’t bought a trailer yet but he made arrangements to borrow a set of doubles for the wheat harvest. Brian and our neighbor, Ken, might get in to wheat this week! Once that is done we’re going to tear down our old garage (it is so ugly!) and put up the new building for cattle. Things are rolling right along around here.

I’ll try to get some new pics up soon so you can see all of this activity! Hope things are going well for everyone else, I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

Honeymoonin’ (again, but where?)

So in honor of our fast approaching 1 year anniversary Brian and I have planned for a week off work in the fall. On our honeymoon we went down around Chicago to Moline, IL. We went for the John Deere tractors of course! While we did not get to tour the factory there were some good sights to see and we took a ride on the river (umm, the Mississippi? I don’t know my geography…). Then we went through the bottom of Iowa and up to Wisconsin. We stayed in the Wisconsin Dells and visited some of the many water parks there. Then we rode the car ferry back across Lake Michigan and drove home. We got a late start and weren’t gone the whole week but we had a great time.

I thought I’d share some pics since no one has ever seen most of them…













It is always hard to get away when there is so much to do on the farm. I’m tempted to just throw in the towel and say let’s stay home instead. However, I know how we are and we WILL NOT relax and spend our time together if we’re here, we’ll find a project to work on, the cell phones will ring, and everyone will stop in wanting to buy hay or something. So we have to go somewhere.

Right now my only idea is to head out west a little and visit Mount Rushmore and the parks out that way. We want to drive so we have our own wheels and don’t have to pay expensive airfare. We would absolutely love to incorporate some farm tours in to our vacation.

Does anyone have any ideas? What is good to do in the midwest or nearby? It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Last time I was hoping we’d find neat little stops along the way but we really didn’t. I’d love your suggestions!