Collins Christmas Newsletter 2014

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Collins Christmas Newsletter 2014

Postby George Collins » Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:25 pm

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Here is the 2014 version of a newsletter we send out along about Christmas every year.

Collins Christmas Newsletter 2014


People! Persons! Person! 2014 has been amazing! While each of us have grown and accomplished things, collectively this year has been defined by a whole slew of shared experiences. So what are these shared experiences which, looking back, have meant so much to us? Well, there’s Ella, our new milk cow and then there’s Ella, our new alarm clock, and there’s Ella, our new dinner bell, and there’s Queen Ella aka Ella the Supreme Ruler of Toy Ridge, and Ella the Giver of Life, and Ella the Noble, and Ella the Huge, and Ella the Moody and Ella the Center of Our World and lastly, Ella, the milk cow we love dearly because her milk is so tasty and we love to drink it and eat yummy stuff made from it.

Can you tell that our whole world now revolves around Ella? Ella has taught me two things I’ll take to the grave with me: I love owning a milk cow but I’ll never own a dairy.

All together now - Hail Queen Ella!

George – First up, GEORGIA HAS STARTED SPEAKING TO ME! Not every time. Let’s not set our sights too high. But even had it been only once, it would have still been the highlight of my year. Yes, she still dislikes me but I saw a glimmer that it may not always be so. That said, and FAR less importantly, this past year has seen Toy Ridge Farms grow substantially. We doubled the number of sows we keep to four to keep up with the number of people who want homegrown pork of the highest quality. We have dipped our toes into the homegrown beef market, and, if all goes well, we hope to offer more and more of this amazing product in the coming years. Chickens are also being trialed as something we may potentially offer one day. Youngblood has greatly expanded our egg operation and we now offer this most delectable offering.

Melissa – Via Plexus she took us to Dallas, Texas, and Orlando, Florida, for some amazing revelry in celebration of her success realized by changing so many lives for the better. Just as importantly though, her involvement with these truly amazing products has facilitated keeping in contact with so many friends as well as making a host of new ones. Melissa has been spending her time learning to make all manner of dairy products from Queen Ella (All together now - Hail Queen Ella!): butter, yogurt, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, cream cheese and even a few successful attempts at mozzarella. We’ve noticed we are becoming dairy snobs. Want an amazing breakfast? Use homemade yogurt instead of milk in your cereal of choice. Ask James Phillips about that little tidbit if you doubt me. He liked it so much and ate so much that, were he not so big, I would have choked him out of the kitchen. As it stood though, ol boy rendered us yogurtless for a time. (<---Annual shout out to that brother.)

Benjamin (23) – Ol boy is still “walking the dog.” (That’s a euphemism for welding that I just looked up.) He’s out on his own, living in a bachelor pad and staying busy with whatever it is that 23-year-old males do with their spare time these days. He recently wrecked his first car and bought his second one all in the same week. When asked to give the highlight of the year, he said, “There wasn’t much of one. Work, eat, got to bed, sleep, do it all over again.” So I guess that trip up to see me was the highlight after all? Speaking of, Ben, don’t forget that February is both tree planting season and the time that Ethan Burnett (<---Annual shout out to that brother.) is planning on coming in for a visit. Hook up and plan vacation accordingly.

Mary-Catherine – Sweet SIXTEEN! Mary-Catherine is the range boss. Whenever there is a problem that occurs on our farm and I’m not around, she steps up to fill in – competently, I might add. Sometimes she does this even when I am around. She has impressed us with her problem-solving ability and her proactivity. The thing with kids on a farm is that they can usually accomplish the required day-to-day tasks but when faced with something novel, they run to me. Everyone except MC – when she sees a job that needs doing, she just does it. I love this trait about her. As every responsible person knows, this is a trait that will take one far in life.

Madeline (15) – This year has been her year to be enrolled in the “Collins Culinary School.” She has had a hand in cooking almost every meal that our family has cooked this past year. So, in addition to being smart and cute, she can cook too. Quite well I might add. She has mastered the basics – fried meat, biscuits and cornbread, peas, greens, rice & gravy and PIE! What else is there left to accomplish? Oh, and she can milk a cow like one of them high-dollar milking machines. Anyone in need of a wife? I’m taking resumes. FYI, in addition to the medical degree (required), she likes Captain America and Thor, in that order.

Gunter (14) – The boy has grown – LOTS! Good thing too because as our farm grows the requirement to do man-sized jobs grows too. And right on time, Gunter has started coming into his man-strength. He is the one that gets the heavy lifting tasks. He is the one that goes into the pen with the grown hogs when the need arises. Y’all ought to see him Joe Louis a pig! As they age, their character becomes progressively more obvious. If I were to choose only one word to describe him it would be “steady.” This is a trait that Youngblood always encouraged in his sons and one that this son seems to possess to a greater degree than his father.

Brady (13) – This past year has seen Brady step up and take on farm responsibilities for his first time. The start was a bit rocky but he too has matured as reflected in his steadily increasing responsibilities. Another first for Brady was that he killed his first squirrel this year. (FYI, this is a big deal to me.) What’s more is that he is the only child so far to cross this milestone without me being there. His initiative is to be commended, but I wanted pictures! Brady continues to be the catalyst for much adventurous activity and the source of much of the fun his siblings experience. I’d hate to see how dull everyone’s lives would be if not for him.

Faithie (11) – Faithie is the other half of the milking team and has logged more hours under Queen Ella than anyone else in the family. And she’s REAL quick. She was the first one to master the two-handed milking technique and has been the perfect little milkmaid but for that one time she left the hobbles on Ella all night. (Fortunately nothing bad came of it.) She also bagged her first squirrel this year. What’s more, on the day she got her first one, she got three. Made her brothers envious (which worked out REAL well for me as I love to eat squirrels butchered by MC and fried by Madeline). Faith has also rivaled even her oldest siblings a few times academically. Ol girl might be the real deal. She might even be able to keep up with them RAMEY children. (<---Annual shout out to that brother.)

Forrest (9) – Last year, only a few had farm chores. This year everyone does. Forrest is no exception. He is the chicken tender (Get it? He tends the chickens.) and egg scrambler (Get it? He scrambles after the eggs.). Forrest’s education kicked into high gear this past year. He made GOBS of academic progress and occasionally, he too shows glimmers. Too early to call yet but I might have another one. Let’s hope. One thing about ol boy though: he, so far, has lived up to his namesake in at least one area – he’s game. He’ll tie up with anyone.

Life’s Little Instruction Book tells us we should “make new friends and cherish old ones.” Thankfully, because of Plexus (and Facebook) we have been able to do just that. So any old friends that may be reading this know that you are cherished. New friends, y’all just stick around a while.

If this year has a theme, it would have to be farming. Funny story, and entirely true, when Melissa first suggested physical therapy as a profession, I immediately thought, “Hey, that’s in the medical profession. And if one works in the medical profession one can get a job anywhere. That means that if I go to PT school I can go back to Heidelberg. And if I go back to Heidelberg I can farm. And if I farm I can raise my own hogs. And if I raise my own hogs I can get decent fried pork chops again.” Then I told her, “I’m in!” And like the road less traveled . . .

Merry Christmas from all of us here at
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
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Re: Collins Christmas Newsletter 2014

Postby Lollykoko » Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:54 pm

I love the newsletter! The mini biographies are fantastic glimpses at the strengths your children/wife have and use to make the family productive.
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Re: Collins Christmas Newsletter 2014

Postby matt walker » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:13 am

I'll second that Lolly. George, thanks for sharing that with us, I really enjoyed reading about everyone and life on the farm.
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