Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Childhood Memories

A few days ago, we went to northern Michigan to see The Mister's mom and stepdad.  We were glad the weather cooperated while we were both on holiday break and allowed us another chance to go see them.  His folks are always thrilled to see us (or at least they convincingly act as though they are!) and we have a very nice visit for the day before heading back home.  Of course, as typical visits go, his mom had a stack of things to send home with us - old movies and books she though we would enjoy; chocolates they received for Christmas that she isn't allowed to eat; magazines and catalogs; and of course, beef.  They always send us home with beef.  (It's a good thing we aren't raising our cows for meat.  We'd never have the freezer space!)

This time, when we arrived, his mom had a special treat for us.  She was almost giddy with anticipation as she told us what we were having for lunch, especially when she added - "And I made cream puffs for desert!  With pudding - just like you used to make them, Amy!"

From a conversation in September, she remembered us talking about cream puffs.  While I can't recall what prompted the subject to start with, I do remember that she was surprised to hear that my mom filled cream puffs with vanilla pudding.  The Mister's mom always enjoyed the opportunity to make homemade whipping cream and fill them with that.  For this visit, she had cream puffs all made and ready to be filled with whichever (or, in The Mister's case, both) filling we preferred.

To say she was tickled is an understatement, but to say I wasn't touched would be as much of one.  I nearly cried.  They were exactly as I remember from my childhood.  I can't even say the last time I had one.  I'm not sure I've ever made them for Jacob.  But on a plate, in front of me, was this piece of my childhood, complete with powdered sugar on top.  Mom would have been tickled, too.

Thank you, Evelyn, for taking a stroll down memory lane with me, and for taking the time to make this memory possible.

The Bovines

Samson - without his halter!  He is making slow but sure progress in learning to trust us. We have been talking for awhile now about how much we'd like to get his halter and short lead off of him.  The other day, while he was eating, I was able to rub him quite a bit and I thought I might just be able to unbuckle the harness (while he was somewhat distracted with grain).  I hollered out to The Mister to make sure he was still in agreement with me taking it off.  I didn't know it then, but he later confessed that he actually rolled his eyes when I asked that, despite responding with, "Yes, of course!" as he didn't think I could possible get it off him.  Samson let me unhook it (it took a couple tries, with him scurrying away, but he comes right back to the grain bowl) and then it dropped right off!  We were all happy to see him run around without it on for a change!

The Mister has built a little pen for us to work with Samson in.  It's inside the shelter, so it's a little intimidating as two sides are completely blocked in with the walls of the shelter and the other two are fence panels and a gate. I went in with him today and gave him some grain and carrots.  He was fine as long as he had food, but got a little nervous when it ran out and he had to face the fact that he was trapped with me in this pen (I was a little nervous, too!) 

However, after much calm prodding, and being very still, he did finally take some apple quarters from my hand, the last time, I even got to scratch his head with my other hand while he took the apple.  We were all happy to have The Mister open the gate back up, however!  Trust works both ways!

Of course, while we are trying to work with Samson, we have to keep Delilah away.  The Mister ties her up to a nearby tree and gives her just a little grain.  Today, when she finished (which doesn't take long) she picked up her bowl and tossed it.  She did it over and over again.  I think it's bovine for "Waiter!  Waiter!  More carrots and grain, please!"

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Our Jenny Bird

"When you believe beyond what your eyes can see...
signs from Heaven show up to remind you love never ends."

Saturday, December 10, 2016



(She might be a little spoiled by The Mister)

Friday, December 09, 2016

The First Snow - Highland Style

Delilah didn't mind the snow one bit.

She headed right over to the hay feeder and dug deep for the yummy stuff!

Samson had to come see what was for breakfast.

His first snow!

He didn't seem to mind the snow...but he isn't too sure about Eli.

And Eli just wanted to go play!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Lesson Clearly NOT Learned

You'd think I would have remembered.  Perhaps it is akin to childbirth - traumatic enough to block out of your memory for survival.  In any case, when my sister nudged me a couple weeks ago, saying her birthday fell on a Friday this year and, like last year, did I want to take the day off and spend it with her, I should have found any excuse to say no, but for some reason, I emphatically agreed.

Maybe it's because I have a summer birthday, but in all my many, many years of having a birthday, I have never once had a to-do list for that day.  Especially not one written in ink on paper with many many items.  If anything, my birthday to-do lists include mental notes to sleep in, read a book, stay in pajamas all day and maybe, if anything, eat an amazing meal that I didn't make.  That's it.  Great day.
The fact that my sister takes the day off from work does not in any way indicate that she is not going to do things that I would consider work on her day off.  When I asked her the night before what our plans were, she said, "I have to get George on the bus, but then I'm ready!"  After reading this text, I turned to The Mister and said, "She thinks I am coming over to her house at seven in the morning on our day off?!?  What are we possibly going to do at seven in the morning!?"  While I am up with The Mister many mornings at 3am, and I can be known to be at school two or sometimes three hours before school starts, on a Friday, on a day-off, I see no reason to be anywhere or doing anything until after 8.

We ended up out the door and headed to, of all places Verizon before ten.  We actually had to come back to Verizon because they weren't even open yet.  We spent the day driving around town, crossing items off her list as I shook my head constantly and remarked how different we are.  Jules finds no contradiction in listening to "Silent Night" while shouting at the driver that just cut her off.  She was thinking of the location of stores she needed to go to as a deciding factor in where to eat lunch.  I had to remind her that it was her birthday and we could eat ANYWHERE she wanted.  But no, it had to follow a logical route.  The day was very task-oriented.  There was no browsing, wandering, lingering.

When we finally headed back home, we decided to head to my house for an adult beverage and some relaxing conversation.  I thought we were finally going to enjoy the day when she came out of her house and climbed into the Jeep with a bag full of presents and wrapping paper.  "What are you doing?" I asked.

"Bringing something to do.  I can sit on your floor and wrap gifts while we talk," she replied.  I stopped and stared at her.

"Koehns don't multi-task," I replied.  "You are supposed to just sit and enjoy and relax!   You don't have to DO anything else!"

I was fighting a losing battle, however.  She came and wrapped, and so I put together tomorrow night's lasagna.  We did, however, squeeze in a lot of laughter!

I think, next August, I will ask Jules to take my birthday off.  And I will demonstrate for her the proper way to spend a birthday.  We might watch a chick flick, or read an entire book without stopping.  I might make her lay in the hammock and take a nap.  I'm sure she will twitch without five things to do at a time, but she'll make it through.  Afterall, I survived Verizon, Toys R Us and Target all on my day off!

Happy Birthday, Jules!

Hey Teacher! Leave Them Kids Alone!

The Mister and I share the same Spotify account.  While this makes for some interesting "suggestions" from Spotify regarding songs we might like (when I give a thumbs up to the likes of Anna Nalick, Sarach McLaughlin and One Republic, The Mister is creating playlists of Hank Williams, Sr., Johnny Cash and Guns and Roses), overall, the shared account works great and saves us money.  The Mister listens to his account at work from time to time or if he's out in the barn working.  I might play some music on the weekends while I bake or clean, so there are few times when we both might want to play something.


This week, my students started writing fairy tales.  I used to have a whole playlist of Disney fairy tale songs on my iPhone, but since switching to Droid and Spotify, I had to resort to a "Disney Fairy Tale Wedding Songs" playlist for my kids to listen to during writing.  As it turns out, The Mister had been driving to another plant to grade cattle when his music was suddenly interrupted and changed to fairy tale songs.  It took him a moment to realize that my use of the Spotify account had booted him off while he was jamming to Van Halen.

The following day I shared with my students this story, eliciting many giggles from the eight year olds about Mr. James having to listen to fairy tale music instead of his rock and roll songs in his truck.  When it came time for writing again, and I picked up my phone to play more fairy tale music on Spotify, the whole class hushed and waiting for the ping that announced a text from Mr. James.  "What did he say?" they all shouted.  I replied, "Mr. James says, 'Again!?!?  Really!?!?', which made them all giggle even harder.

Later in the afternoon, with hopes to once again foil Mr. James, my class asked if I would play some music.  I responded by reminding them that we had our turn, and perhaps we should allow Mr. James some time to listen now.  While a lesson in cooperation and taking turns was appropriate, I was truly just afraid that The Mister might boot us off and my class might suddenly be listening to refrains of"We Don't Need No Education..." a joke he would surely find hysterical but my principal might not.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Little Samson

Fearless Eli

Friday, November 25, 2016

Yesterday I finally got around to doing the leaves out back.  They were wet and plentiful, but I was ready to cross the task off my to-do list.  The Mister helped me get strapped in to the new back-pack commercial-sized leaf blower he bought this fall.  Feeling much like an astronaut preparing for a space walk, I snarked, "Where are we off to today, Captain?  Mars?  Jupiter?"

Without missing a beat, The Mister winks at me and says, "Uranus?"

So indoors or out, it's probably just best if we tackle the to-do list separately.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

He Calls it Helping

Last weekend The Mister and I decided not to tackle any big projects (like building a cow shelter, or getting a cow...) but instead, to just hit a few small projects that have been on the to-do list for awhile.  The Mister took down all the blinds in the kitchen, living and dining rooms.  We said when we moved in that we'd give those blinds a year and then, if we didn't use them they were coming down.  Eighteen months later, they came down.  He also did some work on my oven racks as they seem to have mysteriously shrunk in the last couple months (or my oven has expanded) so that they slide off the rails at the most inconvenient times.  (It took sliding off and landing in The Mister's pizza on the bottom rack that got this item a higher priority on the "to-do" list.)

We also decided to tackle the illogical laundry room shelves, that included a pull-out drawer installed by the previous owners that just seemed to take up valuable sorting and folding space.  This project required a little more know-how than I seemed to possess, mainly to get the brackets to release the shelves.  The Mister offered his assistance.  "How do I get this tab to release so I can move this shelf?" I asked after trying for several minutes to figure it out and succeeding only in hurting my fingers.

"Well," came the reply, "you need a very persuasive tool."  And off he went to fetch such a tool.  He came back and handed me a screwdriver.  I climbed on top of the dryer so I could get a better angle on the tab.  The Mister decided this was a fine time to put his hands on my ass.

 "What are you doing?" I asked.

"Helping!" Was his snarky reply.  "What?!?" He said, "I have a very persuasive tool!"

This is why things stay on the to-do list for so long before getting done.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Daily Dose of Delilah

Ya gotta love that face!


As if Delilah wasn't the cutest thing I ever saw...this is Samson.  
He is our seven month old bull calf and he is as adorable as anything I've ever seen.

No, "adorable" and "bull calf" don't normally go in the same sentence, but can you argue?
He's a bit shy at the moment.  He's getting closer every day, but he was a bit traumatized just prior to his arrival on our farm (not our doing) and so he's going to take a little extra work - read that, a little extra grain - to get him trusting us.  Every day he comes a little closer.  

We are so excited to have our pair.  They are getting along well.  Delilah is clearly the boss.  For now - as The Mister points out.  Certainly Samson will eventually rule, but he loves her company and makes a good pasture mate.  We couldn't be more pleased with our Highlands!

Monday, November 07, 2016

A Way With Words

The Mister knows of my dream to some day become a published author.  Before bed last night, I was reading "Accordion Crimes" by the Pulitzer Prize winning author, E. Annie Proulx.

"This is why I could never get published," I remarked.  "Just listen to this one sentence, 'The smell of kerosene, bilge, metal, marine paint, the stink of anxious men, of dirty clothes and human grease, mixed with the briny flavor of the sea, etched Silvano's sensibilities, a familiar effluvia later on the Texas shrimp boats, and not even the rank stench of crude oil and gas in his roustabout days in the early decades of the new century erased it.' "

To which, my dear husband calmly replied, "Well, I wouldn't have said it quite that way but..."

We are quite a pair.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

When the Cows Come Home

Delilah arrived yesterday morning.
She was glad to be out of her trailer and into a fresh, new pasture!

While it will take some time for her to get to know us (and us to get to know her!) she didn't mind an offering of sweet grain from The Mister, nor some brushing by me!

Much to our surprise, she spent quite a bit of time in the shelter.  Every highland farm we visited said a shelter was nice, but the cattle rarely (if ever) use it.  Delilah sure seemed to enjoy it.

She also loved the hay that The Mister had put out for her.  She'll get a big round bale when we open up the full pasture for her, but she didn't mind this small offering.  Of course the first thing she did was show The Mister that hay isn't supposed to be neatly contained!  She pulled quite a bit out and spread it out as if to say, "Now THIS is what a farm looks like!"

She took a look at those maple leaves...

...and decided SHE loves Maple as much as I do!!

My new favorite cow under my favorite tree.

Delilah and Maple

My favorite look! (So far!)

Fall on the Farm

I love fall on our farm.  I love all the colors - and how different they are from one year to the next.  
With a front yard so full of trees, fall and winter means sunshine pouring in to the house - a definite plus!  The property is just covered with small beauties!

The best view from the house is out my bathroom window.  Lucky me!  

I love the maple's colors over the marsh.  

Looking out the living room, or sitting in the hot tub gives us time to just enjoy the beauty of the season.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Last year, we stopped by the Bernard W. Baker Bird Sanctuary in Bellevue, MI to see the sandhill cranes as they migrate south.  Last night, we spontaneously decided to field trip over to see (and hear!) the birds again.

Just like last year we were treated not only to the amazing sights and sounds of thousands of sandhill cranes, but also to the majesty of a bald eagle. 

This year, The Mister, with his amazing hawk-eyes, spotted two eagles!

Now that's our kind of Saturday night!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Shelter

Last weekend, with the expertise of Bear, and the help of Jules and George, we built Samson and Delilah's shelter.  Bear's wisdom and experience in building was vital for us.  We, as many people know, are a little more of the "Does it look okay?  Then it must be level." kind of people.  

The Mister had many important jobs.  Cookie sampling was one.  Holding the ladder was another.  You can't accuse him of not being able to multi-task!
(And yes, Dad, that is the wooden ladder you bought for Jules and Bear almost 25 years ago.  I believe you remarked at that time that it "wasn't rated for Bear's size.")

Actually, The Mister was very involved in the construction
(once Bear told us what to do so we couldn't screw it up).  

And now, out by the maple tree that I love so dearly, is our shelter.  
We are certain, after this experience, Bear and Jules will not be calling us when they need help with a project.  But we cannot thank them enough for all their help.  We had a great time, we laughed a lot and we have one huge item checked off our list!