Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Still Life

I really loved it when one of my pals said that I took farm animal related still life pix... so I did a "people" food one this time.

 My best attempt at an arty still life.

OK the one thing I really love about fall is the lighting and it has been magnificent lately.

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2014


I'm not a huge fan of fall. Sure I love the cooler temperatures and everything pumpkin... but honestly I hang on to summer for dear life.

The only thing that fall really means to me is that summer is over and I'll be stuck inside during the winter - much to my discontent.

But I can't ignore the 40* morning temperatures... the last of the tomatoes need to be brought in and put up.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up entirely on my beloved summer..... I'm going to enjoy every single day that I have left. Even if that means wearing a heavy sweatshirt and a hat with my shorts.

Happy Friday everyone! Are you hanging onto summer?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What I'm Feeding the Pigz Today

Actually this was yesterday....

That's about 2 gallons of milk and corn... and about 1.5 gallons of apples.

This is what we fed the pigz yesterday. The corn was soaked in the goat's milk from the morning and then they got these lovely cull apples. Earlier in the day I gave them another bucket of apples and, of course, they can root to their heart's content.

This is a fairly typical meal for them. Today they'll have about the same but they will also get some hard cooked eggs. I think I might have about a dozen eggs for them.

You can find out more about what we feed these pigs here.

Happy Thursday everyone! Are you feeding apples to your pigz?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Seriously. Today is the day I need to work on peppers... just look at these beauties!

Aren't they beautiful?

I got all of these at the auction last week..... for $3.25 and I thought that was a little high. I stopped bidding at $3 and someone else won at $3.25. Because I was the "back up bidder" I could take two flats of these peppers for that winning price. It was still a bargain. Next time you are in the store check out the $0.99/each price and laugh at them for me.

I'll be blanching then freezing these so we'll have them for quick stir fries and for making nacho/taco meat. This process is so easy. The blanching step is necessary to stop the enzeymes from breaking down the food. It may seem unnecessary but it's not.

I made a couple rounds of Giardiniera with the last peppers I got. I just love having it for sandwiches and stuff. I also roasted than froze some of the red peppers from the previous batch.

Why didn't I get to this yesterday? Because it's glorious here! Low humidity and cool temperatures - I just had to be outside. So I spent some time taking down the garden and prepping the ground so I can plant wheat as a cover crop next week.

Happy Tuesday everyone - are you working outside or are you getting your peppers done?

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Shattered Remains of My Green Bean Dreams

A broken jar is the worst thing about canning. All that work gone to waste.

This is the shattered remains of my green bean dreams. See the bottom of the jar?

The broken jar.

Why do jars break in the canner? Lots of reasons.

A while ago there was a terrific link on the SB Canning site about this very thing. I think  I was the culprit in this case. Previously I had used a regular knife to get all the air bubbles out of the jar....and this could have caused some hairline fractures that caused the bottom to break out of my jar. This time I was sure to use a plastic spatula but apparently the damage was already done.

Knowing the "why" didn't soothe my disappointment. I hate wasting food. I hate broken jars. I hate shattered green bean dreams.

So what could I do? Nothing. Or be mad. But that didn't do any good so I just shook it off.  I would not try and rescue or reuse any food that was part of a broken jar incident. So it all went in the trash.

We were glad tho that we got our second bushel of beans processed. We ended up with 13 quarts canned, plus about one quart that were blanched than frozen....and one terrific ham, bean, and potato supper in the crock pot.

I don't think we'll be able to get anymore green beans this week... but today will be all about peppers. And maybe potatoes.

We've had a tremendous cool down and this week should be cool, clear, and comfortable.  I'm going to try and get a lot of the heavy lifting done outside...right after I get these peppers into the freezer.

Happy Monday everyone? Are you mad about broken jars?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pigz are lookin' good!

Speaking of fatty pancakes....

That one on the far left is always goofing around.

...the pigz are lookin' good!

We should have butchered one of these pigz by now... but our non-farm life has gotten kind of crazy. And now our schedule is changing - again. So when the dust settles we'll have to see when we can get one of these pigz hanging. The problem now is, of course, um... they are all kind of big for the fridge. So we will have to do some awfully fancy butchering to get the carcass cooled.

OK so is the one on the far right. Fine they are all ridiculous.

Until then it's nothing but scampering around the county finding the last of the green beans. Got my second bushel yesterday so I'll be working on them.

Here is a Life Pro Tip (LPT)... even if your best green bean helpers insist on "helping" you snap beans...and by "helping" I mean eating them out of the "just snapped bucket"..... don't let them eat too many. The big dog toots were legendary. I don't know what I was thinking. As one of my favorite pals said, "Beans, yo!" 

Happy Friday everyone! Is your day consumed with thinking about pork and beans?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No really - she's just fat. Right?

Um..... we're still going with "she's just fat." Right? RIGHT?

Dang Nibs..... things could get interesting around here. 

Any thoughts?

Happy Thursday everyone! Let's hope she doesn't blow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Land of Misfit Toys

Our garage/barn has largely turned into the Land of Misfit Toys. Here are a couple of the residents:

You'll have to zoom in to see the little chick peeping out of the carrier.

This is the sole remaining chick from that surprise hatch last week and one of my ratty old hens. I thought this old gal was going to die two winters ago but she just keeps on hanging on. She is mostly lame and lives entirely in the garage. Her job has been to scold me while I am milking... and be adorable. Her new job is to keep this little chick company.

Sadly we've been in Chicken Hell. Not only did we have that random hen flop over and then lost 2 of the 3 chicks... but then I went out to find the chick's momma dead. It was kind of horrible. Then it got worse when we needed to cull my favorite rooster.

So what happened? Who knows. We don't think any of the chicken deaths were related - but we did get some very good advice to worm the flock. So we will be working on that. But mostly some of our flock is getting to be old and it's just the cycle of life. Some of these grand old gals have been around for a while and I'm completely soft on my old bitties.

 Sorry pal. The last of a long and glorious line of roosters named Pansy.

My favorite rooster had been going downhill over the last couple of months. He might have had an impacted crop...and we could not fix his chronic bumblefoot. So it finally just got to be The End for him. I'm still very mad about it... and sad. Fortunately my husband did the deed and then buried him while I was off farm. All I could do was stand over this roo's sad grave and be sad. Dang.

Back to this odd couple....Why is the little guy in the carrier? Well... chickens are not all sunshine and love. They are extremely cannibalistic and chicks are seen as bugs or bait. So I don't want her to kill him. But since one is the loneliest number - and I couldn't find any chicks locally.... I had to do something. So this old gal is now enjoying the heat lamp and clucking at the little chick. It's kind of hilarious.  They keep each other company and she is benefiting from the high protein chick food.

The other garage/barn inhabitants - other than our superfabulous barncats - are an assortment of poultry who need a break from the main herd. Mostly I have one little dwarf duck momma who doesn't do much but peep around and try (unsuccessfully) to hatch a clutch of eggs - it doesn't matter who lays them...and also my Miss Duck who is one of our oldest barnyard residents.

Miss Duck has single-handedly eliminated the flies in the barn from this summer. It's awesome. She is one of my favorites. Pretty much she just toddles around, peeps at me, and eats flies.

Why would we keep these odd ball assortment of lame ducks and useless chickens? Because they just don't take that much effort or resources, they have done their duty for the farm over the years, and because I just really enjoy having them around. I know that this crew won't last long - probably not thru the winter - but I've said that before.

Happy Wednesday everyone - do you have an odd ball mix of old bitties and lame ducks?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's green bean day!

I picked up my green beans last nite - they were still being picked out of the field. Talk about fresh!

I got a bushel for $20. Aren't they terrific?

I got these from an Amish neighbor. How do you buy from the farm when you can't just call, send a text, or order online? Drive around until you see a hand painted sign and then go on up to the house. Sometimes you need to honk your horn and wait until someone comes out. Is this weird? Nope! This is their business and folks are happy to see you.

I asked the little gal who came out if she still had beans? Yep. How much for a bushel? $20. When can I come back? Monday after 5:00. So how easy is that? Remember that some farms do not allow Sunday sales as this is their day for religious services.

I went back with some extra boxes and baskets that I had accumulated because I knew they would appreciate them... and then I also brought my own bushel basket. Don't have a basket? Just bring a bucket. Or a box. When I got there she said they were still picking and could I wait? Sure! So played with their barncats and checked out the baby calves they had penned up in the yard. Then I paid in cash, loaded up my beans, and drove away.

How fun and easy is that?

Today I'll be snapping these beans then canning half and freezing the rest. Why not all canning? Because some times we like a little variety. Canned beans have a specific texture and quality which is perfect for being fried up with some bacon. But the frozen ones seem to be better for stir fries and adding to stews.

The bean season is winding down so I need to get busy. If I'm lucky I can get another bushel later in the week...but I have to hurry. Hopefully my green bean helpers will be my assistants again today.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Is this your green bean day?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pretty sure I know what I'm working on today... And canning stragegy.

I'm pretty sure that I know what I'm working on today.... this is my green house.

It's a little weedy. 

I can't tell if I need clippers.... or a goat. This could take a while.

Note to self: next year remember to go into the greenhouse at least once a week to pull weeds and keep it cleaned up.

Also, one of my pals asked about my canning strategy. Pretty much we eat what we have and then fill in with stuff from the store. But we don't consider ourselves to be extreme - for instance, I'd never give up coffee or chocolate just because we can't grow it here. But we don't buy a lot of avocados or pineapples either - mostly because produce here is expensive and the quality is very poor.

You'd think that in this nation's "breadbasket" that there would be a ton of produce of all kinds. Nope. Unless it's clearly local (from a farmer's market, farm stand, or produce auction) most of the food here is shipped in from the South or Mexico. Or China. It's shocking.

Last year we did really well - we had enough beans, potatoes, peppers, and tomato sauce (in all varieties) that we lasted the entire year. This is always our goal. We buy almost no meat from the store. The only exception is lunch meat and cheese for my husband's sandwich at work.

I'm fairly certain that we are on every single watchlist because our grocery shopping generally consists of cat food, chips, beer, and lots and lots of freezer baggies. I'm pretty sure they think we are drug dealers (because of the baggies) who dip chips in cat food and wash it all down with beer.

This year we'll have to see how it goes. This summer has been a smashing success - my lettuce/greens, broccoli, tomato, and onion projects really paid off - so we had mostly fresh veg that we either grew or traded with friends. I'm also purchasing some veg from the produce auction and farmstands that I can't grow - like sweet corn, eggplant, and for heavens sakes... carrots.

And some things don't make sense to grow. For instance I can get a lot of pumpkins for $0.10 each at the produce auction. Since I'm constantly fighting squash bugs and pumpkins take up so much room - it's better for us to just buy some.

There was also no summer fruit - peaches or berries - because of the extremely harsh winter. But the apples and pears are coming on strong.

But to answer your question - if we get stranded out here due to some kind of catastrophe - we are good for a long long time.  But they keep our road plowed during the winter and my husband drives in every day so he can stop and get cat food, chips, and beer just about anytime.

So that's our strategy. And now I'd better go find the clippers and try and bushwhack my way into the greenhouse so I can get some greens growing in there.

Happy Monday everyone - is your greenhouse in tip top shape?

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I think this spider came down as part of the recent solar flares... it can't possibly be from this planet. Seriously. Does anyone know what it is?

Biggest. Spider. Ever.

I was certain it was gonna come flying off that flower and try and suck my brain out or something.

I risked my life for this picture. Look at it! Just LOOK at how big it is!

In other news we've had a total turn around from last week. It was 41* when I got up this morning and it just plain old feels like fall. I'm still not ready for that and have been in denial. You'll have to drag me kicking and screaming from summer.

However that doesn't mean I can hide from the fact that I'm completely behind in canning.

This week is going to be a raging canning success. I hope. I ordered a bushel of green beans from my Amish neighbors - I'll pick them up tomorrow. I keep getting outbid at the auction or they just don't have what I'm looking for - so I'm now racing around the county getting anything we couldn't grow.  One of my friends tipped me off to another farm where I can get sweet potatoes. I'll go there tomorrow.

I also need to work on getting the greenhouse in shape. I'd love to see how far into the season I can grow greens.

In the meantime I'm going to be on the look out for spiders as big as your head.. or you know... just about as big like that guy.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Barnyard update: She's just fat.

The other day the both of us were lookin' at Nibbles and thinking... um.... do you think she is pregnant? You might remember that this could be a very real possibility because of that buck we had and his jumping thru the window shenanigans.

We honestly couldn't tell.

Nibbles - just fat.

But then on Tuesday the 10th it was pretty obvious that Nibs was in heat. So while we are glad we aren't going to have babies in October.... we have a hot goat on our hands. Next up was Dahli in heat-ish yesterday. I'm noting these so we can start thinking about what happens in three weeks when they go back into heat.

Of course neither one of us has thought about a "breeding plan." Especially since our whole big failure with the other bucklings. So someone has to get their act together.

We are considering NOT breeding Nibbles this year - and we are on the fence with Debbie. Nibs is just kind of a pain to milk compared to the big-bagged full sized girls. And Debbie has just always looked pretty ratty - and now even more so. The great thing about Debbie is that she really puts it in the bucket. The bad thing is that she really puts all of her energy into her milk and so her condition isn't great. Remember also that she had some congestion in her extra huge, ground dragging udder.

I have a lead on a meat buck that isn't too big... so that might be the way to do. We can get him next month, lock Nibbles up, and then see what happens. Then our breeding plan will end in a big butcher day.

Elsewhere, very sadly two of the surprise chicks did not make it. I was so glad that I found their momma! I think she had gotten locked in a coop at night with the babies still under that momma duck. That explains why the babies were running around loose. I found the momma hen sitting on the duck later that day - so I scooped her up and showed her the babies. They ran to her and she sat on them very happily. But unfortunately I think she stepped on two of them. The last singleton is still hanging in there and if he makes it the next couple days I think he'll be in the clear.

Also one of the chickens flopped over dead yesterday. I have no idea why - no sign of obvious sickness, injury, or being egg bound. She was in the middle of a terrible molt and then that was just it. So drat. I'm noting this just in case we see others die of mysterious causes.

One last note... did you see that there is a big solar storm coming? I just think it's amazing that we have space weather updates. I have no idea what, if anything, will happen but I'm pretty sure that it's going to make the goats go completely looneytunes. But hey! Space weather! Whoot!

Happy Friday everyone! Do you have your goat breeding plan in place?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hey Baby! Where did you come from?

Today started out with a mystery......

Hey baby! Where did you come from?

I found this little buddy in the hen house alone. I heard the peeping from across the yard so the dogs and I ran over. I found him standing alone and looking lost. So of course I scooped him up and put him in my br.... I mean.... personal mobile incubator. And then wondered what I was going to do.

What's in there with them? A sock filled with rice and heated in the microwave - 
just in case they need something to snuggle.

One chick alone rarely does well. They need little buddies. Plus I couldn't go to town today with a chick peeping inside my shirt. I mean... I could... but I already give the town's folk plenty to talk about.

Just about when I'd worked myself up into full crisis mode I went back outside and found.... two more chicks! Apparently one of my duck mommas is setting a nest and had some chicken eggs under her. The problem is that chicks hatch at 21 days and ducklings hatch at 28 or more..... so the duck momma may or may not get up from the rest of her eggs to chase her chicks around.

 I love having chicks. Even if they are hatched by a duck. For heavens sakes!

Unfortunately the babies would not last long if their momma isn't standing guard over them so I took up the babies. They are in the bathroom peeping while a host of over-interested cats try to figure out how to get under the door. Today should be interesting.

I'm going to see if any more chicks hatch today and then set the whole kit and caboodle up in the garage. The one thing that I've learned about farming is that just about anything can - and will - happen.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Did you find any mystery peepers today?

Monday, September 8, 2014

It was Kai's birthday!

Our vet switched to a new online patient management system so we are getting automatic updates... so I was reminded that it was Kai's birthday yesterday. We usually only think about her "bring home" day... but we gave her special kisses and sang her Happy Birthday.

Baby Kai.

We couldn't get over how little she was when we got her. She was always with one of us when she was a baby - usually sleeping on my husband's chest. Is it any wonder she turned out to be a daddy's girl?

Happy Birthday My Fighting Uruk-Hai Princess BearKiller!

And happy Monday everyone! Today I'm making even MORE salsa!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Spider Web Season

It's spider web season - I found this big fella this morning. Thank heavens I didn't just walk into it... unlike every other one out in the garden.

 This would incite the Spider Web Dance in anyone.

The lighting has been extraordinary. 

Our hot and swampy weather finally blew off and now it's cool and comfortable. I'm so glad to have the windows open. Nothing but more canning today!

Happy Sunday! Are you walking into spider webs?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Everybody Salsa!

I'm in the middle of a salsa frenzy. Of course I was very nearly two tomatoes short of a full batch but then I remembered another tomato plant hiding out in one of the gardens. So I barely squeaked by for this batch.

I think salsa in the jar is so pretty.

Of course I don't have enough onions so I went on down to the produce auction. I just love going to the auction. I got some good deals on these peppers and onions.

ProLife Tip: Don't ever pay $25 for a basket of tomatoes or peppers.

But what really capture my attention was the two gals who bid each other up to the final sales price of $25 for a basket of tomatoes. TOMATOES! Sure they were the big orange ones.... but $25?!?! And yes that is in US Dollars. Then I very nearly passed out when they big each other up again over peppers - the price on that peck was $17.

They were very happy with their victory over each other but the rest of us just stood back, agog.

I paid $5 a peck basket and I thought that was too much.

I barely made a dent in the sweet peppers I bought and since I'm now between pickings of tomatoes I went to the auction again. I scored some super Romas for just $5/basket.

Got the grill going? Just add some veg and make salsa - it's as easy as pie!

Altho I never ad-lib my canning recipes I do love to make fresh salsa based on this recipe from Steven Raichlen's "chiltomate" grilled salsa. I had the grill going anyway as I was roasting corn to put in the freezer. Making fresh salsa is as easy as grilling some veg and then giving it a whirl in the blender....and then I added some grilled corn and it was out of this world.

And now... everybody salsa!  Are you in a canning frenzy?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Baldric the Bull. Part Two.

“BELOVED!” She cried in a loud voice. “Do you not see me? This is my faith in you!” OFG tried to loosen the grip of Baldric but could only move a bit, her body and unhelmted head still in the line of fire.

He did not look at her. The big man seemed to shake his head slightly and quietly said, “Don't.” As if he was pleading with her. But she would not relent.

“Do you not see that your strength is my courage?” She urged across the distance.

He stood alone in the middle of the field. Her army was behind him and the enemy line stretched out before him. He looked up, the arrow still nocked but not pulled.

“End this.” She said, “Now.”

The big man pulled the bow to the point of breaking, the muscles in his arms were like thick cords, his shoulders hulking... and then the arrow was loosed.

Behind him in the battle line Col Ti, grabbed the Princess Kai and spun her around, burying her head in his huge chest. There was nothing he could do for his liege now... but he could do this. No daughter should she her mother fall.

In the long days afterward and even onto their deathbeds the archers in the front line, the very eye witnesses, swore that OFG did not flinch nor did she even close her eyes when the great arrow struck.

Princess Kai was struggling to free herself when all heard the sickening thunk of the arrow hitting it's mark. Col Ti held Kai tight to his chest but over her head he watched Baldric the Bull, still holding OFG's body, thrown back from the force of the arrow... and fall.

All could see the shaft of the arrow buried up to it's fletch in OFG's chest. She lay unmoving on her foe.

If there had been an ounce of courage among any of them, the Cow Herds could have taken that chance to mount their battle charge, that small window of opportunity when the entire army of The Good Land watched in horror as their liege fell. But in that moment of silence, and as if in slow motion, Commander Zander, The Black Death, his dark face a mix of anger, vengeance, and death snorted his rage. He took a step toward the enemy line. The earth shook. He swung his enormous head and bellowed his fury.

Whatever strength the Cowherd line may have had, whatever opportunity they saw when OFG fell, whatever chance of victory they may have felt was crushed in that one horrible footfall. They broke and ran in fear and defeat.

The Princess had broken free of Col Ti and had taken a step or two toward the fallen body of her mother. Her face looked as if to scream but no sound came out and...

“Make way! Make way! I said get out of the way!” A small figure pushed past the Princess and Commander Zander half dragging, half carrying one of the Healers - a surgeon of some renown. “Get out of the way!” Cried Little Mo as he moved as fast as he could thru the stunned throng that was OFG's battle line. He hurried the Healer across the field toward OFG.


At first, just a chuckle and then a full-throated laugh erupted.

“By the Heavens! Unpin me from this wretched creature lest I die from it's stench!” It was OFG. She lived!

“Mother!” Cried Princess Kai. 

They all ran.

The Healer was there yelling for them to stand back! Stand back so I can work! He was already preparing his tools to cut the shaft of the arrow. OFG was issuing orders while still pinned to Baldric's corpse by the arrow.

“Zander! My axe...” She gestured to where it lay on the ground. “Their utter ruin. Send them to their utter ruin. Leave none alive. Kai take the flank. Col Ti be sure... be...sure...to.” And then OFG passed out.

“It's astounding!” Said the Healer to no one in particular. “Just astounding! The arrow has passed just under the collar bone, missing all of the vital organs, but has hit Baldric directly in the heart and smited him.” The Healer was busily working to staunch the blood from the wound. OFG had gone pale but was quiet alive. “That shot was one in a million!”

“As it was intended.” Said Col Ti. He nodded gruffly seeing that OFG was being cared for then turned and began barking orders at the line.

“Fifth and Third regiments on me! Second with Zander! Fourth follow the Princess on the flank and the rest of you form a perimeter. And someone had better bring me that Healers Cart in less than ten heartbeats or you will all pay for it with your hides!” Satisfied the troops had sprung to action he walked off as the war hens scattered in his wake.

The big man picked OFG up and off the wretched Baldric and laid her where the Healers, now three or four in number, were furiously working. He then turned and with his blade ripped open the chest of the slain Baldric and pulled out the still warm heart. He turned to Little Mo, slopped the bloody mess in his hand, pulled Little Mo close, and thru clenched teeth said, “She will need strength for her healing. See that she gets this.”

He released Little Mo. Then the big man turned and stalked off pausing only to bend down and retrieve his bow, Harbinger. Little Mo watched as he disappeared into the fray.

Elsewhere Commander Zander had taken his regiment and was in pursuit of the Cow Herds. He was closing in on them fast. He held his mother's axe over his head and roared his battle cry. His men were eager for vengeance and were easily running down the scattering enemy.

From somewhere up on the ridge Princess Kai and her forces spilled down the hillside like a storm. She shouted courage into her men and dared any to show naught but fierceness and valor. Her battle line hit the Cow Herds like a hammer and rent them to pieces. As they had done many times before Commander Zander and the Princess Kai fought like furies toward each other cutting the panicked herd in two. It was a slaughter. Gradually the enemy's cries diminished as they were sent to their utter ruin. None of the Cow Herds were left alive.

Later, Zander himself walked the field and used OFG's axe to cleave the heads from each of the slain Cow Herd soldiers. He strung them together with a rope like a horrible necklace and drug them all back to the Great Hall where he piled him high before OFG's seat. Then he sat there on the steps of her dais in a silent rage.

His anger was so intense that none dared get close to him and all avoided eye contact until a full two days later. Only then did they send the bravest of them all to speak with the Commander.

“Zander,” Said Little Mo firmly. “Your mother lives. Go to her. See for yourself that she is well. The Princess is with her and sorely misses your presence. Go now. Rise and wash yourself, then go in and comfort them both.”

Zander looked at the troubadour turned wise counselor, snorted, and then got up and walked away. Little Mo looked at the dread pile of severed bull heads and wondered what, if anything, he should do with them. He stood there a long while. 

Editor's Note: You can find Part One here.  Stay tuned for the next chapter, Part Three.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baldric the Bull. Part One.

It happened fast – they were still trying to figure out how it all went wrong. There was a skirmish, OFG chased the retreating foes, and then she pulled ahead of the battle line. Alone. An ambush. Fighting. Col Ti yelling for her as she was pulled from her mount. The great warhorse fought valiantly defending her but was overcome. OFG was taken. And now the armies squared off across a wide field.

“What now Ti?” Mocked Baldric the Bull. “I have your liege and you have nothing but your pitiful troops. You cannot defeat us or run us off these lands!”

Baldric stood in front of his troops – the filthy Cow Herds. Recently they had made their way into the Northern Fields. They were a pestilence on The Good Land and needed to be beaten back to their own territory. OFG and her fighting forces rode out that day to meet them. Then it all went terribly wrong. Baldric and his Cow Herds proved... troublesome.

“A stroke of luck – that was all.” Col Ti assured himself. But now here they were.

Col Ti held the battle line and they watched in horror as Baldric shook OFG like a rag doll. The Chieftain of the Cow Herds was mountainous. His size alone was Baldric's greatest strength. He was a brute. Dark. Ugly. A massive head. Not entirely smart. But he held OFG in front of himself, across his massive chest, like a short shield.

OFG had been beaten physically but she would not be defeated easily. She kicked, uselessly, and cursed Baldric as a fool. There would only be one way out of this and she knew it. She counted on the iron-strong discipline that she demanded of her troops. Mercifully, the last thing she did as she foolishly rode off that day was to give charge of the battle line to Col Ti. “You have command!” She yelled over her shoulder. Now Ti must hold them.

“This is an outrage!” She yelled. “Col Ti! Tell the war hens to loose their arrows. Shoot these Cow Herds where they stand! I have the best armor in all the Lands! I will not be harmed! Archers! Loose!”

The look between them – OFG and Col Ti – was so slight, so imperceivable that no one noticed. Save one.

“Oh no.” Said Little Mo in barely a whisper. “Oh no.... It can't be...”

Across the field Baldric roughly pulled off OFG's helmet and curaiss with one hand. He didn't even set her down but still held her aloft. He clutched her to his chest like a child's toy. He laughed and looked back to his men. They all hooted and jeered.

“There, OFG, no more armor. What say you now?” Baldric threw back his mighty head and laughed.

The tension was unbearable among the war hens. Would Col Ti actually command the archers to fire? On their Liege? They were already on edge but their mighty discipline held. They would take no action until commanded by Col Ti.

Commander Zander was in a rage and stalking the line like a caged tiger. Furious that his mother was being held by the Cow Herd he cursed and swore. He would have vengeance. He was The Black Death. The night feared him. These Cow Herds would pay. They would learn the full meaning of his name.

The young commander would have charged across the field in an attempt to single handedly rescue his mother had not Col Ti demanded obedience. “It would not work.” Snarled Col Ti. Zander knew it. He also knew that the line would fall if he did not hold his position. There would be chaos. So Zander paced, his fury growing louder and more apparent with each pacing step. He roared his discontent.

“No matter!” OFG spat, laughing. “I have the best mail. I shall feel no sting. Col Ti! Loose the first volley!”

“We can fix that too! What do you say, boys? Who wants this arrow stopping shirt of mail?” Baldric pulled OFG's light mail off her as well, gashing her shoulder badly. She winced but did not cry out. She was looking intently at her army. At someone.

“It's happening. Oh no! It's really happening!” Cried Little Mo. He turned and ran.

Cowardice was a grave offense in The Good Land. Some of the nearby troops knew he would be executed later for leaving the field of battle. None went after him.

Baldric and the Cow Herds jeered louder and mocked OFG's fighting men. Baldric rocked back a bit on his heels. He would win this battle and take the North Field for good. His glory and legacy would be assured. Baldric laughed. His victory was close but he was enjoying this too much. He shook OFG again, his men laughed, and she cursed them and commanded Ti to war.

Col Ti's chiseled face stared coldly across the field. He glanced back, gave a curt nod, and said flatly, “You must do this. It's what she would want.”

“I know what she would want.” Said the big man looking past him.

Baldric watched as a single figure emerged from the line. The man's size was impressive. But what good could a single archer do? Baldric was holding OFG in such a way that not even the best assassin could take him down. It was an impossible shot. He snorted. “Very well,” He thought, “Let them take aim at their own liege.” He laughed again thinking of his glory.

The big man walked purposefully, and unhurriedly, out to the halfway point between the battle lines. He all but ignored Baldric and his taunts. Somewhere behind OFG's line the Princess Kai was screaming. Baldric could not hear what she was saying but no matter. She and her brother, Commander Zander, would be fine trophies for his tribute. To see them in chains would be glorious.

Some of the Cow Herds stopped their mocking and watched as the big man carefully shrugged off his quiver and removed several arrows, inspecting them as if to select a specific one. He still had not even looked up at Baldric and was completely unmoved by the screams of his Princess daughter or the mocking of the Cow Herds. He was intensely examining the arrow, the wind, the distance.

At last the big man squared himself and firmly planted his feet. He held the arrow, nocked, and the bow against his leg. His head still down as if he was gravely in thought. All eyes were on him as if no one knew what would happen next. There was a long silence and even Baldric, once laughing, now uncomfortably shifted his stance. OFG had stopped taunting her captors and stared hard at the big man, the single assassin standing in the middle of the field.

“BELOVED!” She cried in a loud voice. “Do you not see me? This is my faith in you!” OFG tried to loosen the grip of Baldric but could only moved a bit, her body and unhelmted head still in the line of fire.

He did not look at her. The big man seemed to shake his head slightly and quietly said, “Don't.” As if he was pleading with her. But she would not relent.

“Do you not see that your strength is my courage?” She urged across the distance.

He stood alone in the middle of the field. Her army was behind him and the enemy line stretched out before him. He looked up, the arrow still nocked but not pulled.

“End this.” She said, “Now.”

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