February 26, 2011

Puppies, Puppies and more Puppies

Is there life after a litter of puppies?  It is unbelievable how consuming a litter of shepherd puppies are!  At first these little critters are small enough to hold in your hand and you carefully watch over them and Mama to make sure they each get their fill of milk, they are each warm and clean enough and that they are all as healthy as can be.  Even before their eyes open, they begin to make the cutest growling and sometimes little barking noises.  Pretty soon their little eyes begin to open and they struggle to try to focus on your face or the outline of your body.  Their ears open up and they begin to hear you coming and they gather together, tails wagging, waiting for you to love them.

After a few weeks they begin to follow you everywhere, you have to soon jog to stay in front of them or they will get under your feet.  They tackle each other, they tackle your plants, they wrestle in the leaves, they chase after Mama, they chase after you.......and then.....they wear themselves out and gather at your feet for a nap.

You worry about the families that will take each of these precious little pups home and during this whole process you are like a new mother, listening for every little sound and even listening to the silence, wondering if you need to check on them again even though it's only been 15 minutes since you checked on them before.

And so is life at our home these days....consumed with these precious lives that the Lord has blessed us with.  We get so attached, they are like our furry little children.  We wonder what they will grow up to be, who they will grow to love and protect, where they will sleep each night, and this is why we worry......and pray.

But the Lord is good, every puppy we have ever placed has filled a void in someone's heart.  We are rewarded with emails and pictures and gratefulness, we smile and laugh at the tales of joy and amusement that their new families relate to us....and in many ways we all become one united Shepherd family.  We have made some wonderful friends through this journey over the years and to all of you, I thank you!

To see more pictures of this litter click on the Shannons Shepherds button in the right sidebar. 

February 24, 2011

Feeding Time

One thing about living on a farm, no matter the weather, livestock has got to be fed.  Good thing is that most of the time, they make it fun.  It never fails, we will struggle with putting on our muck boots, bundle up in two to three layers of clothes plus coat, hat and gloves, and brave the winter winds and not always have a cheerful heart about doing so, but when they see us coming, their behavior and personalities will always bring a smile.  They continue to remind us why we love our animals, how grateful we are to God for His blessings and with more spring in our step we make our way back to warmth of the fire in the ole' homestead.

How one testy mare puts up with all of the cows and their horns.....well she still isn't sure she's crazy about it, but ever since the heifer was born, she gets to play Mama.  They are inseparable.  She'll come running for her grain and there a runnin' behind her is the little heifer.  Actually the little heifer is almost full grown, but she stays close to her Horsey Mama. 

 These are Scottish Highlands and they have got to be the hardiest cows alive.  Fool proof.  Believe me, if we haven't had any problems with them, they are fool proof!  We didn't know the first things about having cows when we got these and they are a dream.  They withstand winters very well, they don't have the issues that most cows can have and they will clean out the brush if you let them.

Well the snow is gone, although I'm sure we will see at least one more good round of it before spring comes on strong.  Our family made it through the whole winter without getting sick......until now, so here we sit, snuggled under blankets in front of the fire enjoying some Good Earth tea and relaxing.  We don't mind a small cold, sometimes it gives us a reason to slow down, let the world pass by and quietly watch it.

It's been raining and thundering most of the day and the birds have been crowded around the feeders in expectation of the falling temperatures I suppose.  Speaking of birds.....who else likes bird watching?  We sometimes participate in the National Bird Count, ever done that?  It's a great way to involve children and get them interested in wildlife.  Some of our most fun home schooling lessons have to do with nature and nature's lessons.  We have gotten some great help from our local conservation center.  They will send out some really neat packets to classrooms and homeschoolers, free of charge!

Well I'd better get out from underneath this blanket and fix some supper because it's getting close to our own feeding time!

February 15, 2011

Hamburger Stew

This is the MOST simple and delicious meal our family enjoys and I hope you will like it too!
I always double this recipe to serve for lunch the next day.  This is also a great recipe to make in large quantities for canning purposes.  

Hamburger Stew 

1 1/2 pounds ground beef                                     

1 diced onion

1 cup diced carrots  

 1 cup diced celery
( I slice the carrots and celery up pretty thick since I like chunky vegetables in our stew. )

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (or a half a quart of your own homemade)

1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (or a half a quart of your own homegrown)

2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (does not make it spicy, add more if you like spicy)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

In a large saucepan , or soup kettle, use a small dab of butter or olive oil and melt it.  Add your onion and garlic and saute them until they begin to soften.  Add your hamburger meat, carrots and celery.  Cook over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender; then drain the grease.

Stir in broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour until smooth.  Cook and stir for about 4 minutes until golden brown.  Add it to your stew, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while.  This will thicken the stew. 

Serve it up in a soup bowl and add a thick slice of fresh homemade bread......MMMMmmmmmm GOOD!!

Be sure and let me know how you like it!!

You can find me linked up at:  Homestead RevivalNourishing TreasuresGrowing HomeFar Above RubiesRaising ArrowsSkip to my LouPenniless Parenting, Titus 2sdaysRaising HomemakersFrugally SustainableWomen Living Well, Raising Mighty ArrowsDeep Roots at HomeFingerprints on the FridgeFarm Friend FridayLife as MomFarmgirl FridayWe Are THAT FamilyThe Shabby Nest

February 07, 2011

Beautiful Winter

We had the great pleasure of experiencing 70 degree weather two Saturdays ago, and then three days later, there were blizzard warnings from Oklahoma to Illinois.  It took us almost two days to make the usual preparations that are necessary when the power goes out, including reserving enough water for several days, baking enough bread for two weeks and healthy snacks like homemade granola, oatmeal cookies, and stew; securing the animals and stockpiling wood for the fire.  When our power goes out, we are cooking over the fire in our fireplace and it's easiest to have food that only needs to be warmed. 

When the snow came, it was beautiful, huge fluffy flakes that came down for hours.  The wind was very strong and bitter cold, but after all was said and done, we still had power!  What a blessing that was!  We were able to breathe a little easier even though we were snowed in.  We didn't even try to go anywhere for three days.  We finally heard that the nearest county highway that leads to the main highway, had been somewhat plowed.  Somewhat plowed, here in this territory, is nothing to fool with, especially when you are faced with six miles of somewhat plowed roads that are wide enough for two small vehicles, deep ditches on both sides, and roller coaster quality hills and valleys.  Needless to say, we stayed snug as a bug in a rug without worrying about going anywhere.  

By today, things are seeming to get back to normal.  We began the day by making a good supply of bread and filling the bird feeders.  I counted nine male Cardinals this morning, four Bluebirds, six Blue Jays, a few Wrens, two Redwinged Blackbirds, several Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice and too many Gold and Purple Finches to count.  Oh, and three Yellow Bellied Woodpeckers and a few Downy Woodpeckers too.  I can't forget those!  Wheew! I think that about covers it.  

The chickens seem to be very happy this winter, today there were seven eggs.  Pretty good for a 20 degree day!  I can't wait for spring, we are planning to get some meat birds to raise for the freezer.  I simply refuse to buy anymore of that Tyson mutated chicken to feed our family.  And thankfully, we won't be relying on the E-Coli beef from the commercial feedlots with their disgusting kill floors.  If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and watch the documentary called Food Inc.  It has been shown on PBS several times and there is a book too.  It sure changed the way we eat and made us much more purposeful about raising our own food.  

Well....there is a beautiful, cozy fire in the fireplace, dear daughter is curled up with her latest book, dear hubby is curled up around his Mac playing on Photoshop,  the puppies are all cozy with Mama, a pretty relaxing evening compared to last night watching the Super Bowl.  That game was intense.  Go PACK!!!  


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