Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life of a Dairy Maid

All right so I guess I'm not the dairy maid . . . that's Hannah and Mattie. They are such good milkers. They can get more milk from our cow than Russ can. They don't balk at milking even when it's 5:00 am or -20 outside. We really don't know what we would do without them.

However, I'm the one who deals with the milk. We have been getting about 4 gallons a day. We have several people who like to get milk from us and that usually takes care of the extra. But sometimes it backs up on us. I have been learning how to make all kinds of things with the milk. I make my own butter from all the cream (we get nearly a quart of cream per gallon) It is so pretty and so tasty. Here's a picture of a bowl of freshly made butter.

(don't you want to spread that on some homemade bread?)

I've also learned to make yogurt. My niece Sarah had the recipe on her blog that I tried and I have LOVED it! It is so easy and so tasty. My little boys just eat it like crazy. (I unfortunately don't have a picture of it.) However, after straining my yogurt through cheesecloth for a few hours it makes yogurt cheese (very similar to cream cheese). I used this to make a cheese ball. It was very yummy. Of course we needed to have something to eat it on and so I made homemade wheat thins. They turned out surprisingly delicious. Here's a pic:

(mmmmm . . . I'm gonna have to make some more, this makes me hungry!)

I also learned how to make homemade mozzarella cheese. It's surprisingly easy and only takes about 30 minutes.

(pretty cool, eh?)

The next thing I tried was culturing my own buttermilk. My dad was raised in the south and loved to drink buttermilk. I learned to love it from him. I was really hoping that my home-cultured buttermilk would be drinkable. Alas, I don't like it well enough to drink it. However, it makes killer pancakes, biscuits, scones, etc. So I guess I'm happy.

It's fun to learn to do so many new things and to find ways to not waste our abundance of milk.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kids meet Little Jon

The kids were so excited to meet their new little nephew. Here are a few pictures:

"Is this cool or what?!!"

All together now . . . "Awwwwwww"

Two sweet boys!

No, no, no. . . don't cry!

I think she likes him!

Little Jon finds someplace safe!

Man, Caleb looks like a natural!

I have a feeling that these two will get to be good friends while Betsy's in Rexburg at school!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Now don't pass out everyone! I know it's a shock that I actually posted. :-) Here's a look back at 2011. What a year!

First off, in December of 2010, JT just couldn't stop talking about a girl named Lizzy. He wanted to arrange a road trip to see her in Denver (heaven forbid that they wait 2 weeks until they were back in school!). He finally flew out to see her and meet her family around New Years. Well, once school started, things started heating up in their romance. Soon they were engaged and decided to get married over Presidents Day weekend. We couldn't be happier with our beautiful new daughter-in-law Lizzy! We are so proud of Jonathan and Lizzy and what a wonderful job they are doing starting a new life and new family together.

Betsy and David both started college in January and have done very well. They both will get full tuition scholarships because of their GPA. Way to go!

Jonathon Climer graduated with his Masters degree in April. Wow! We are so proud of him. Then Mary Ann and Jonathon and Michael moved to Crestview, Florida.

March through May, Caleb played on the high school soccer team. It kept him VERY busy and VERY sore! It was fun but it's not that nice to watch (or play) soccer games in SV in the spring. (They often practiced and played in snow) He's also working hard on finishing his eagle this year. He got a job at Radio Shack in town and has become the electronics expert of the family.

In an attempt to help the kids earn some money this summer, we did the Woad program (dig weeds for money) and took on a family job to move sprinkler pipes once a day, 6 days a week. It was a BIG job! But the kids were troopers and we ended up earning about $600 over the course of the summer. We didn't get many pictures of this either but Paco came out to help us a couple times when he was visiting and so he got a picture. (Note the stylish pipe moving outfit)

Meanwhile, Hannah was selected to attend a space camp at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. It was for 10 days and was a great experience. We had to make two 12 hour round trips to take her there and pick her up in June. We also had a wedding reception in June for Jonathan and Lizzy in Denver. To just round things off, Russ and I were "pa" and "ma" on a pioneer trek for our stake in June for 4 days. It was kinda crazy!

Next we planned a great family reunion where all of our family was together! Yay! Mary Ann and Michael were able to come and stay with us for almost a month before. It was so great to have them and she was able to finish a couple of her independent study classes while we were there to help with the babysitting. Congrats, Mary Ann! Mary Ann was in charge of the reunion and did a fabulous job. Jonathon Climer joined us just in time for the reunion. Unfortunately, I was so busy helping run said reunion, that I didn't get many pictures. (bummer) I was especially bummed that I didn't get a family portrait --frustrated sigh-- I guess I'll just have to wait for the next family wedding . . . Here's one of our many family reunion meals.

We also chose to host 2 Japanese foreign exchange students for a week. It was an amazing experience. It was difficult and busy but we enjoyed it. It was interesting to be on the other side of things on the language situation. (we knew the language and they were struggling) In Mexico, it was just the other way around for us.

In July, we also found out about a house in our ward that would be going to public auction. It was a 5 bedroom house on 10 acres. It had a barn and other outbuildings as well. It was in pretty rough shape but the bones were good and it seemed to really fit into our dreams. We didn't have a lot of $$ to throw at it but decided to give it a try. We were thrilled (and a little frightened) when we won the auction! What an intense experience! So this little baby was all ours . . .

After we finally took possession, we had a LOT of work to do. We ripped up all the carpet upstairs, removed popcorn ceiling, primed and painted throughout, repaired plumbing, laid new carpet and linoleum throughout, cleaned the basement carpet, refinished the deck, removed trees, etc.) And that was just on the house!

We also put a new patio door in the master bedroom and put an east-facing window in the front room.

Caleb liked learning how to use cool new power tools!

Betsy spent her whole break from school helping me remodel the house. I can't even count the number of hours she spent cleaning, scraping, sheetrocking, cleaning, mudding, taping, painting, cleaning, building, holding boards, and did I mention cleaning? She was a life saver! I'll sure miss her when she goes back to school this week.

In August, it was time for the county fair. Mattie had been in 4-H and raised a couple of chickens. She showed them at the fair and got 2nd for her chicken and reserve champion for her showmanship. Way to go Mattie!

Finally it was time to move in to our new house. Unfortunately, move in day also turned into the day that our new milk cow arrived. (We had talked to a guy in Preston about buying a jersey cow from him sometime in the next couple of months. We got a call in the middle of our move in day to say that the cow and calf would arrive in about 1 hour. YIKES! We weren't at all ready. It was plenty exciting!) There's a whole story about frantically building a stanchion and making gates and learning to milk for the first time. But, I'll leave that for another day. I will try to post pictures of Molly and Spot (the cow and calf) when I can. They are on Russ's phone.

Three days after we moved in and got a new milk cow (and while we still didn't have a stove or oven in the house) I left for Florida to see my newest little grandson:

Benjamin Russell Climer!!!

I had a marvelous time in Florida for a week with the Climers. Little Benjamin is a such a sweetie and it was so fun to play with Michael. Jonathon and Mary Ann were ok too! ;-)

The rest of the fall was exciting (going to hunting camp, cutting up and processing 3 elk, cutting and hauling 5 cords of firewood, getting 14 chickens, 5 rabbits, 1 turkey, and 1 barn cat, hauling 10 ton of hay, rewiring the barn, digging up and replacing our well (because it was contaminated), setting up a wood shop in the garage for Russ, learning how to farm, as well as fixing up our "fixer-upper") Whew! I'm tired just thinking of it!

Then in December we got another new grandson:

Jonathan Russell Baird, jr

If this wasn't enough to accomplish in December, Lizzy also graduated with her B.A. in music from BYUI. Way to go Lizzy! You are amazing!

Joshua and Ammon have loved living on our new "farm". A.J. collects the eggs every day and Joshua likes to help milk the cow. They enjoy riding their bikes all over our 10 acres and we all LOVE the swimming hole in the river right next to our house. We hope to have lots of visitors come spend some time with us and play in the country.

All in all, it has been a wonderful, stupendous, fabulous, exciting, blessed year! Thank you 2011. I'm looking forward to 2012!

Happy New Year everyone!