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Category: Farm Life

Life on a small family-owned Alabama cattle farm. We homeschool, farm, and enjoy living this life together.

My morning quiet time

quiet time on porch

Early morning quiet time, and the cows didn’t want to cooperate. When they see a person they just can’t help but to “call” them to come feed. The birds were singing and it balanced everything out, it was a beautiful morning.

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Tex-Mex Beef Casserole

tex mex casseroleFor a month or more I’ve not been myself. I’ve contributed it to yet another birthday, and while I’m not so ignorant to believe I’m old by any means, I do know I am older. Since my birthday in January, I’ve thrown my lower back out (a first for me), in a separate incident I have 10+ muscles in my upper back and shoulder that are angry – or so says my Chiropractor – and now I have a mean sinus episode in which I hack and gag like a 90 year old three-pack-a-day-er.

Suffice to say my family has been eating microwave meals, frozen corn dogs, hot dogs, and chicken fingers regularly. This past weekend I started feeling pretty spunky and much like my pre-January self. I decided one Saturday while my hubby and kids were working the cows all day that I would actually bake a real meal – one with a side and everything! You guessed it, this recipe is what I made. It was a first for my family, but not a first for me. I was saving it for something special because I just knew they would love it. Good flavor, nice texture, and enough spice for the men-folk without too much for my dainty flower of a girl. It was a tremendous success and we ate it happily as left overs as well.

That day I felt much like my favorite blogging, photographing, homeschooling, farm mama – The Pioneer Woman. Although I have no pictures to show you, I do have 4 satisfied smiling family members. We finished the day off sitting on the deck underneath the glow of my new lights and planters my favorite husband built for me for Mother’s Day.

Tex-Mex Beef Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2# ground chuck
  • 8oz. cream cheese
  • 1 packet (1 oz.) taco seasoning (I always use Old El Paso brand)
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 can (14oz.) fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (11oz.) corn with red and green bell peppers, undrained (Mexicorn)
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 cup shredded colby & Monterey Jack cheese or cheddar
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips

Heat oven to 350˚. Brown meat in a large skillet. While that’s cooking mix cream cheese, taco seasoning, and milk until blended. Drain meat; return to skillet. Add cream cheese mixture, tomatoes, corn, and onions; mix well.

Combine rice and ½ cup shredded cheese in casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; spread to cover the bottom of dish. Top with meat mixture and remaining cheese, cover. Bake for 45 minutes, or until heated through. Top with crushed chips.

Tex-Mex Beef Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2# ground chuck
  • 8oz. cream cheese
  • 1 packet (1 oz.) taco seasoning (I always use Old El Paso brand)
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 can (14oz.) fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (11oz.) corn with red and green bell peppers, undrained (Mexicorn)
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 cup shredded colby & Monterey Jack cheese or cheddar
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350˚.
  2. Brown meat in a large skillet. While that's cooking mix cream cheese, taco seasoning, and milk until blended.
  3. Drain meat; return to skillet.
  4. Add cream cheese mixture, tomatoes, corn, and onions; mix well.
  5. Combine rice and ½ cup shredded cheese in casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; spread to cover the bottom of dish.
  6. Top with meat mixture and remaining cheese, cover.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes, or until heated through.
  8. Top with crushed chips.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://cornbreadmama.com/tex-mex-beef-casserole/

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Calf Birth Caught on Camera

Calf birth caught on camera! What more could a blogger and farm mama want?
*FYI Graphic Picture Warning*

After much anticipation our second expectant mother Tallulah had her baby. It’s another bull calf, jet black and healthy, praise the Lord. Every black calf born on this farm this season, every one whose dad is Randy the Bull is a bull calf. Except for one, Chocolate Sunday. Four out of five. How’s that for consistency? Whether that’s a good thing or not we shall see. Last season bull calves were selling higher and we had only heifers. I figure this is the Good Lord’s way of making it easier for Cornbread Daddy to sell them. If we had more heifers, he’d want to keep them, but we’re not at that point right now. Later, for sure!

Now Cornbread Boy didn’t disappoint in deciding on a name, it’s a very uhhhhh … unique name. Nunchuck. The calf’s name is NUNCHUCK. I don’t believe I need to add to that at’all. I may just call him Chuck. (A friend introduced him to this video and that must be where the name came from.)

During the photo shoot Flossie didn’t understand why she couldn’t be the center of attention. See photo below.

flossie-close-up-tongue
“I’m ready for my close-up Mama,” said Flossie the cow. “Wait let me clean my nose.”

You may be wondering how we know when it’s time for a cow to give birth. What clues do cows give that they are in labor?

  • Firstly we notice they are sometimes off alone. Although that was not the case with Tallulah.
  • Secondly, she gets up and down, up and down, over and over. This is a very big clue.
  • She’ll sniff the ground a lot.
  • She can look uncomfortable, kicking at her belly, straining like she needs to poop, and holding her tail off/out to the side.
  • She may grunt more than usual.
  • Finally you’ll see what we call a water-ball. Which is exactly as the name implies. A ball of water that comes out of her rear end. It can be clear to dark color liquid.
  • After this is the calf. It should come out front hooves first, they should be facing as you would imagine. You’ll probably see both at the same time, one on top of the other. If the hooves are facing the wrong way, the baby is coming backward, breech. OR you may have twins. If the cow has twins, most times the first one comes out breech (this happened to us last season).
  • After the amniotic sac bursts there’s a limited amount of time before the calf drowns. This we try to watch closely. I believe this is the first time we saw the sac fully intact as the hooves protruded. For a minute we thought there were two water-balls.

tallulah-waterball-drawing

There are two cows in this photo, don’t be confused by the one in the background. In the front we have the rear end of the cow in question.

In the picture above you can see the hooves at the top of the amniotic sac. They look like white hooves with black legs attached.

tallulah-calf-head-drawing

Calf’s head is now out and she continues to push.

Calf now almost completely out.
Calf now almost completely out.

Now at this point you’d think it would only be seconds until the calf hit the ground, but you’d be wrong in this instance. We were a little worried as she walked around in a circle with the calf like this for what may have been 5-10 minutes. Normally it doesn’t take this long. Finally she pushed him all the way out and then cleaned him up.

Meet Nuchuck the calf
Meet Nuchuck the calf

It did take him a little longer than normal to stand up and get around, but Cornbread Daddy said it was probably rough on him hanging upside down like that for so long. Today, he’s healthy and happy, running around with his brothers and sisters.

I hope this helps anyone who is curious about calving and what to expect. It’s a very scary and exciting time around here. We know so many things could go wrong, but thankfully this season is going well.

One thing that helped us is having this book. We it bought last season, it has really helped us understand so many things about raising cattle. Nothing can substitute for the hands-on experience that Cornbread Daddy has, but this book helps even him with some things he had forgotten about over the years. I HIGHLY recommend this book! {Yes, this is one of those affiliate links & if you purchase from this link I will make a little commission. I will never recommend something I have not tried or would not try.}

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A New Calf and His Name Shall Be …

A new calf and his name shall be JamesA new calf and his name shall be [drumroll] ………………………………….. JAMES.

Anticlimactic isn’t it? I agree.

It was Cornbread Girl’s turn to name the calf. Flossie #39 is the cow whose baby/babies she gets to name each season – last season she had twins Lucy & Briana. Tallulah #158 is the boy’s. I think I shall try to make his name a little more interesting. Maybe King James, because we’re studying about Colonial America in history and there is an interesting correlation between cows and the King.

The son of Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, James had more brains than his parents put together, but none of their startlingly good looks. … He could not help having a too-large tongue that made him slobber when he ate or drank …

Excerpt from Virginia’s Father: King James I, by Bruce P. Lenman.
Didn’t know you were getting a history lesson here, did’ya?

King James and FlossieWhen we woke Friday morning to see this little fella we were all overjoyed! He is the first black calf that’s truly ours, a part of the Cornbread Family.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever let you all in on how this farm works. We have 3 cows that are ours (Flossie, Tallulah, and Elvira – full-blooded Angus), my dad has 3 and the bull-calf is his (also Angus), our neighbor has 3 cows (including the one Charolais), and Cornbread Boy has 1 of last years calves that is his named Lily (Charolais/Brangus mix). We also have the three bottle calves that are the kids’ (Gus, Copper, & Buck). So we all split expenses and help out on the farm. Cornbread Daddy is the only one who has experience in this area so we all just do as he tells us. Previous posts regarding calves born recently were none of our very own. However, James is the first of our calves born this season. Yay for James!

Two more cows that did not breed the first go-round so they are going to be later at calving, probably March/April 2016, Elvira is one of those. So we still await the birth of Tallulah’s baby and later Elvira’s and the neighbor’s cow. Most all of the cows on the farm have had their calves now, we are so thankful the Lord above for healthy babies and mamas. May he continue to bless this farm as we strive to put him first in everything.

To God be the glory, great things he has done.

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Photography Mama – Beginner Tips

November Sunshine

I confess, I am a photography cheater. I cannot remember anything well so I have some photography tips to help us newbies take better pictures.

Ain’t no sunshine here today at all. Nothing but rain and dreariness. Then I found this picture I took last week with the sun and all it’s glory shining through. It warmed my soul just to look at it. I’ve been happy learning more and more about photography. I’ll take this opportunity to let you in on a few photography tips that I’ve been working on lately.

First and foremost know that my sister is the professional photographer in this family. I am a true newbie! However, I love good pictures and I want to be able to take them and share them. I’m learning. Turning that dial on the camera to “M” is scary, and I must say I have been cheating a bit by putting it on “Auto” first to get a good idea of what settings to use before I turn it on over the the big scary “M”.

Photography tips
Photography cheat tags

Now I don’t need to do that with these handy cheat tags. Seasoned photographers may be rolling their eyes at me right now, but really it takes something like this for me to learn. Hopefully it can help other newbie photographers as well.

I had these brown tags in my crafty cabinet so i thought why not include the things I can’t remember on them and attach to the camera for easy reference? I included info on the ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. I may add more info later, but for now this helps. I found the basics at the link below as well as other cheat sheets. Just google ‘beginner photography cheat sheet’.

This cheat sheet helps with settings and is where I found my numbers for these tags.

Tip No. 1 – Get down on their level. 

When taking photos of kids, people, animals, whatever – get down on their level to take the photo. Taking pictures from your height is one sure way to make your photos un-spectacular. Squat down and take those photos from the level of your subject and notice the difference right away!

Photography tips
Photography cheat tags

Tip No. 2 – LIGHT is soooo important!

I haven’t explored all the ways I can adjust my camera lens and settings to get the most of natural lighting, but I am working on this. This is something we really need to work with and not against. Being an art major I know that light can – and usually is – the most important concept in pieces of art. The way you handle the light can stop people in their tracks. Light really matters. I’ll be learning more about this and I’ll share what I learn.

Tip No. 3 – Flashes should be used but not seen.

You may have to use a flash but no one should be able to tell by your photos that you used a flash. “Bouncing” the flash off of walls and other structures is the best way to  do this. Again, I’m not an expert on this, but am including it so that we can all research this more.

This is only the first three things I’ve been working on. I hope this can help you and I’ll try to share some more info when I can.

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Disclosure

Dear Friends,

In the interest of full disclosure … I really like that phrase. I feel like a lawyer when I say that. However, in the interest of full disclosure I am letting you know, like you I need a job. Well, I have a job. A part time job. Two part time jobs actually. And I blog. And I homeschool my kids.

I blog because I love it. I blog because I find it fascinating that there are people out there who might like to read about our life here on this small family farm. It makes me happy when people like my recipes. Stupid happy.

While I enjoy all the afore mentioned (again, lawyer speak-y phrase that makes me feel like all professional – except that I am sitting here in my yoga pants and Bazinga t-shirt) things my family still likes to eat. I mean daily. Every stinkin’ morning through the night. Especially the boy and his dad. In light of this discovery, I’ve been researching ways to help my family with my hobby and I have found that I can advertise on my blog and earn a little income or free stuff. So be aware, I may earn money or free stuff when I include a link. If you click that link and purchase from it, I earn stuff. And I am thankful to you my friends who purchase from those links.

This is a new thing to me so I am learning. I will not be hocking stuff I would not recommend to my friends. Because YOU are my friends. My invisible bloggy circle of friends. So click away but in the interest of full disclosure know I may make a little money off of your click.

Here’s an example of that –

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Give Thanks In Everything

give thanksI am thankful for YOU! God has blessed us all no matter how much or how little we physically have. No. 1 WE HAVE HIM and HIS SON. No. 2 We have family and/or friends who love us. What more do we need?

Enjoy this day!

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Chocolate Milk? Calf No. 4 Is Gorgeous

Chocolate milk? Calf No. 4 is gorgeous.
Calves in the foreground – left to right: No. 2, No. 3, and introducing No. 4. You can see No. 1 in the background she’s started eating feed with the big girls.

calf-4-collage-coming-at-meGorgeous new calf born, will she give chocolate milk?

Sunday we arrived home after church that morning to see a brand spankin’ new baby in the pasture. I mean, hadn’t-even-gotten-on-her-feet-yet new. No. 138 had her calf to the surprise of everyone. We had others on “the books” to calf before her. So yay, a new baby!

A new black baby? Not exactly.

This baby is a beautiful deep CHOCOLATE color. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad in the cow world, but in my world, she’s gorgeous. It may darken later, but for now you can tell a big difference between her and the other black calf. See pic.

She was curious about this lady squatting down in the pasture with a camera in her hand so she came to visit.

This beautiful baby needs a name, No. 4 is just not good enough … I’m thinking Hershey, Godiva, or Ghirardelli. Although I think I’d get tired of trying to remember how to spell Ghirardelli. My spell-check doesn’t even know how to spell it.

OH!

What about Chocolate Sunday? She’s chocolate and born on Sunday. That’s it!

Presenting to the world – CHOCOLATE SUNDAY.

Her father is an angus bull, mother a brangus cow. The brangus we have have some deep chocolate undertones in their coats so this may be where it comes from. Wonder if I took this photo to my hair dresser and said, I want THIS color  … what would she say? Ha!

 

Cornbread Mama – I’m an Alabama farm mom who loves sharing this farm life and recipes. Thanks for stopping by, please come back any time!

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Picture Day

I thought I’d just share a couple of pictures I snapped while walking on the farm. Hope you enjoy!

Spunky No. 2 calf is bucking and running in the pasture
Calf No. 2 feeling spunky, bucking and running in the pasture
No. 1 "Tiger", standing in the sun this afternoon
No. 1 “Tiger”, standing in the sun this afternoon
No. 3 bull calf, first black brangus calf born here on the farm
No. 3 bull calf, first black brangus calf born here on the farm
Jenny eating from Cornbread Boy's hand
Jenny eating from Cornbread Boy’s hand
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