Thursday, February 11, 2016

There is a mouse in the house

We came home the other night, opened the front door only to be greeted by a headless mouse deposited on the carpeting.  Actually, what I first thought was that one of the cats had thrown up, gross, but upon further inspection saw it was a mouse, ewww. 

 I think we have our fine feline Fluffles to thank for the extermination.   

After all, he did gift us with this dried up frog he found in the basement this winter.  

Not sure how all these critters are sneaking in the house.  The frog probably just jumped in, we do find them once in a while because our yard seems to be a frog magnet. On summer nights our house is covered in tree frogs.  Lots of frogs means not many bugs so we are thankful to have to so many. If it gets to plague levels we will have to reevaluate.  The mouse, since I seen no evidence of mouse activity, must have come in with a box we brought in from the garage the day before. Bad move Mr. Mouse, Fluffles is on the job!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Robotic Cow Milker Field Trip

Our 4-H club went on the coolest field trip, we toured a dairy farm with a robotic milker. I am happy for anyone who is able to put this kind of milking parlor in because dairy farmers work long hours each and every day of the year. This means they can have a life outside of the farm, even if that only means going out for diner. This is the cows all lined up eating their lunch. They were very interested in us, not sure if we were checking them out or they were checking us out.  There are so many cows in this building that it isn't heated and you could almost go without a coat.  I say almost because it was about -15 below zero.

Every half hour this robot, which I called an automatic pitch fork, came by and moved the food closer to the cows.

This is what does all the work.  It has a sensor on it that recognizes the cow when it comes into the milking chute.  If it is time for her to be milked, she gets a treat, if not, no treat and she knows to move on and come back later. They said some of the cows are in the chute almost to the minute that they are able to be milked again.  

When she gets in the chute her udder get a good cleaning off with scrubbers and a sprayer.

Next a laser comes out to find the teats and the milker hooks up.  Some cows milk in as little as two minutes and some over 10 minutes.  Ten minutes is not ideal because a line starts form at the milker. Think of it as someone needing a price check in the check out line at the store and you already have all your items on the belt. 

This girl, who had the name Jumping Frogs Splash, yes they are named by the owners daughter, was wondering why all these people where watching her be milked. I think she sassily said, "Take a picture it will last longer." I told her I already did.  

The calves are also automatically feed.  No need to wait for the farmer to come around with the bottle, food automatically mixed and is available all the time.

The babies are all together where they are so friendly and wanted pets and scratches.  Dancer would love a calf so if she could have smuggled that one out she would have had it in the back of the car.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Prunella Pachyderm

Prunella, named after Prunella Scales on Fawlty Towers, one of our favorite shows.

The pattern came from this crochet book I recieved as a Christmas gift.  She looks pretty close to the one on the cover.  I used a much softer yarn than recommended which may have made her not quite as stiff, but who wants to cuddle a scratchy pachyderm? I also crochet in the back of the stitches, which I think makes for a nicer looking surface, but again, isn't as stiff as going through the whole stitch.  Prunella would never be able to stand on that ball. but for all I know the one on the cover is highly photoshopped and all this is a moot point.

The pattern was correct, it's so annoying to start a project and then the pattern isn't right.  They only thing I had trouble with was one leg and that was because I was talking when I should have been counting.  My favorite part is the little tuffy hair on top of her head.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Birthday Dancer!

Dancer turned 19! She chose, as she does every year, cheese cake as her cake.

Turned Christmas paper into birthday paper by circling the 19 on it. It totally worked, everyone was fooled.

The one gift she really, really wanted for Christmas as an Ivory ella t-shirt.  The one she wanted was out of stock so I didn't get any, Oops! She would have been happy with any of their t-shirts I found out after we opened Christmas gifts. A good thing about having your birthday not long after Christmas is that you can reask, clear up any misunderstandings about what you wanted, and get them for your birthday.

For her birthday meal she wanted to go out to eat at Fudrucker's in the Twin Cities. This restaurant  meant a three hour round trip drive, but that is where she wanted to eat and we all love their food so we happily took her.  We went there the weekend before her birthday because no one was really available to celebrate on her birthday.  We did slide in a quick diner at Pizza Ranch between activities on her actual day so she got birthday diner twice.  

Make a box cake taste like it came from a bakery.

I saw this on Facebook as I was zooming through posts of friends so I am not sure where the proper credit goes for this idea.  What I do know is that we will not be making box cake according to the directions given on the box anymore.  

The kids and I decided to to do a taste test.  We chose a plain, white cake mix for the simple reason that we had two of those on hand and we wanted to compare cake to cake not one flavor to another.  One was made business as usual and the other we used the steps from above.

The cake on the left is the bakery taste cake and on the right is the regular box cake.  As you can see, they aren't even the same color.  And the taste, well, there was more difference in the taste and texture than in the color.  In fact, the bakery taste cake was so good that after our taste test, we scraped the non-bakery cake out of the pan and took it out to the chickens.  They didn't get to taste the other one so they didn't know how bland it was. Sorry chickens!