Morning Milking

There are many benefits to having a family cow, among them being, the abundance of fresh milk and homemade cheese. Buttercup does require work, but I think everyone in the family (whether or not they admit it) agrees that the milk is worth it. In fact, we miss it when she is dried off (the period of time we stop milking so she has a rest) in preparation for calving.

Our milking schedule for Buttercup is 6am and 6pm. I admit that to get up and out at 6:00 in the morning to milk a cow can be a bit much. Even though we may get up that early, to HAVE to milk a cow can be a chore. To help with this, we have a rotation schedule in which two people at a time are responsible for milking and then it rotates to others.

One benefit of milking is that we are up and outside to see the sunrise. The sun is just rising as we finish milking and it can be gorgeous! Last week, our 18 year old son took this picture:

I was reminded of the verse in Jeremiah 32:17

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.


biscotti resting on coffee cup

As you may already know, biscotti is a nut flavored biscuit and comes from the Tuscan cantucci. Cantucci is a crunchy nut flavored biscuit that is often made with almonds or hazelnuts.

Do you ever splurge and buy yourself some biscotti?

I admit that I have on occasion. But, if you are like me, the price keeps me from enjoying it as often as I would like to!

Oh, I have tried several recipes for biscotti but somehow they never turn out quite right! What a disappointment after all the work that goes into some recipes! But, I have continued to try different biscotti recipes because they do taste so good.

If you are a coffee drinker like myself (and I assume you are because most biscotti eaters are coffee drinkers!) you know the joy of tasting the soggy biscotti (soggy with coffee,of course)  while sipping your cup of Joe! Which brings me to another question – how did coffee become know as a cup of Joe?

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Pruning Complete!

You may not be able to understand my enthusiasm, but after walking and pruning 20 acres of grapes, we celebrated the completion of pruning. It just so happened that we finished early afternoon on the birthday of our 6 yr. old son, so, our celebration was complete with cake and ice cream (that is, homemade coffee ice cream from Buttercup’s milk)!

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the vineyard before pruning began which showed all of last year’s growth. But, hopefully the pictures I do have will give you some idea of the pruning process. Ideally, you begin with the variety having the latest bud break – meaning the vines which begin to bud out last. So, we first pruned the Roussanne (7.3 acres) then the Montepulciano (5 acres) and finally the Aglianico (7.7 acres).

With the Aglianico, we used a machine to pre-prune the vines. The pre-pruner is pulled by a tractor and 2 men sit on the pre-pruner trimming the vines on either side of the row. Below you can see vines that have been pre-pruned. While you still must go back through and hand prune the vines, the big advantage to using a pre-pruner is that it pulls most of the growth from last year out for you thus saving a lot of time.

Optimally, you want to be left with about 10 buds per arm when you are finished pruning. Hopefully, in the picture below, you can see the little white bulge on the spur to the left. You should definitely be able to see the green bud opening to the right.

Below is the same vine completely pruned.  Each of the buds left will produce blooms which will then produce grapes. There is a delicate balance between leaving enough buds so as to have the greatest amount of fruit but not to over stress the vine with too much fruit. If the vine produces too much fruit, either it will drop fruit on its own, you must thin the fruit yourself or the fruit will be poor quality with uneven ripening.

Do not think that because the pruning is finished the vineyard work is done! We are now debudding which I will explain later.    :)

A One Dog Family

I have blogged several times about our Pembroke Welsh corgis, Sophie and Scruggs and their puppies. They have been family members for 8 years now. I also described the ordeal when Sophie tangled, about a year ago, with a coyote and her recovery. That, along with the loss of a litter of puppies a couple of months ago, really aged her.

Unfortunately, Sophie began to be unappreciative of the attention shown her by our little ones. She began growling, but thankfully, never bit anyone. Before someone was bitten, we felt it best to find a quieter retirement home. Since they had been together from puppyhood, we thought the transition would be easier if they were together.

After speaking with several people, a couple without children who had always wanted corgis showed up. Sophie and Scruggs went right to them and seemed to know what was happening. They did not even whimper!

What is wrong with this picture? I was the only one crying!

Oh well, they have a new home in which they are king and queen and – we have Squiggles.

Squiggles is a puppy from Sophie’s litter born  Aug. 4, 2010.  She is a red and white corgi, like her father, and very loving. She has adapted well to being an only dog. In fact, I think she loves the attention and spoiling she gets!

The Long Road

Long Road and Empty

It never ceases to amaze me just how fast time flies! The past four months have been no exception. The following is a summary or our life events.

At the end of November (2010), I had what should have been routine surgery requiring a three day hospital stay. Things did not go as planned! The initial surgery was on Tuesday and by Thursday, I had lost over half my blood volume (it was in my abdomen) and transfusions began with an emergency second surgery being performed Thursday night. Recovery has been very slow . The most difficult part of the process has been the lack of energy necessitating scaling back on all activities. I know, we do not bounce back as we did in our younger days but then I do not normally feel my age! Anyway, I did not think that applied to me – Wrong!

Next came the Christmas holidays and a trip to Georgia. I spent the trip itself  lying on the backseat of our 15 passenger van. Once we arrived at out destination though, we had a great time. Visiting with family is always invigorating.

The next major event was our oldest daughter’s wedding on January 15. Thankfully, the majority of planning had been done before my surgery.  After returning from our trip to Georgia, we had about 2 weeks left to finish the arrangements. We had quite a few out of town family members who attended and they all pitched in to make it a successful and joyful event.

If you remember, we had started building our house at the vineyard and hoped to be moved in by Christmas. Unfortunately, with all the complications of my surgery, that did not happen. We were also not able to complete it before the vineyard work began. So, it is on hold for the moment while we prune the vines. Hopefully, sometime this summer – early summer :)

The last few months  have been filled with the unexpected, frustrations and joys. I am thankful to say, I feel back to normal and am enjoying the energy to complete my daily activities once again.

Photo Credit: ©