Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Exceeding my milk quality goals

Yay!  December's milk quality test results are in, and for the first time, I have exceeded all my milk quality goals.  Interesting thing is, I haven't made any major changes.  Just a few small things over the months as I have watched my test results improve.  It's amazing that these little things can make such a difference.   Here are the changes I have made since becoming licensed:

1.  Being sure to wash and sanitize my wash-bucket thoroughly before filling it with vinegar-water to use on the cow.
2.  Spraying all my milking equipment with a weak bleach-water solution after washing and allowing it to air-dry before the next use. 
3.  Being fully conscious of drying thoroughly after washing the udder.

Sometimes, there are things out of my control that can affect milk quality, such as when the cow's udder was injured and she was shedding a lot of leukocytes, or if there is a strong wind when we (my kids and I) are milking and dust (with bacteria in it) gets into the milk.  I always filter the milk so there shouldn't be any dust particles in the milk, but the bacteria is still there.  Anyway, I want my customers to know I am always striving to do my best with the milk quality for my family and yours.

With that, here are December's milk quality test results:

Standard Plate Count (total bacteria, good and bad) <2500 / ml
Coliform bacteria (environmental contamination) <1 / ml
Somatic Cell Count (can indicate mastitis) <100,000
Temperature 34 F

My goals are SPC <2500, Coliform <1, SCC <200,000, and temperature between 33 F and 40 F.  So, as you can see, I exceeded my own goals this month.  :D

Friday, December 6, 2013


I think my pinky fingers almost froze off while I was milking the cow this morning.  That wind just cut right through me while I milked, chilling me to the bone.  I must remember to wear gloves when I am draining the hose because the cold makes my hands ache.  I'm so grateful for thermal underwear and wool socks!  The high today was forecast at 27F.  I got two eggs.  Ruby has been giving just about 3 gallons a day for several weeks now.  I missed her heat cycle once again, so she's still not bred.  <sigh>  At least her daughter, Emerald (Emmy), is assumed to be pregnant, and is due near the end of June.  I hope Emmy is a good milker, and has a nice beefy calf.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Milk Cooling- It’s So Important!

I have been asked why I cool my milk in an ice water bath inside my fridge.  Well, simply, it's the fastest way to get milk cooled that I have available to me, and having the ice water bath inside the fridge makes it so I don't have to remember to transfer the milk to the fridge after it is cooled.  It takes up a fair amount of space in the milk fridge, but having quickly cooled milk is essential to the best quality raw milk.  The speed at which milk is cooled can have a great effect on how long it lasts and how good it tastes.  I want the milk from my cow to last at least a week, if not longer, and to taste excellent.  When I first started home dairying, I had goats and cows, and came across this excellent resource in one of my goat milk cheesemaking books.  It has since been published online, and so I decided to share the link here.  

Milk Cooling- It’s So Important!

And here it is, cut and paste:

Are you getting good grades when it comes to cooling your home milk supply? One of the most important factors in great quality milk is how quickly the milk is cooled.

Milk is perfect medium for bacteria (that’s why it works so well for cheesemaking).  Unless you are doing a good job of cooling the milk to slow down the development of harmful bacteria, they can be multiplying by the millions. This is even more important if you are using your milk raw. Pasteurizing the milk kills E Coli as well as many other harmful bacteria.

How close to Grade A are your milk cooling practices?  Many of you have various ways of handling your milk and think you are doing a good job.  Have you taken the temperature of your milk to be sure that it is getting cooled quickly?

If you are at least a Grade B give yourself a pat on the back.  This rating is very good for home use.  Most of us cannot meet Grade A standards without the use of commercial coolers.

I did some milk cooling testing to find out just how quickly each method cooled the milk.  Below are the results.

Grade A:

The milk is placed in bulk cooling tanks, which are refrigerated, and the milk is quickly cooled while being stirred.  This method assures the milk will be at 40 degrees in less than 30 minutes.  Usually it is at the temperature instantly then held to just above freezing.

Grade B:

Milk is placed into containers small enough to place into tubs or a sink of ice water.  This is acceptable for home use.  This method cooled the milk to 48 degrees in 30 minutes, 42 degrees in 60 minutes and 40 degrees in 90 minutes.  Results would be considerably better if some form of stirring the milk could be used to speed up the cooling.  Using a home pasteurizer would do an excellent job too.

Grade C:

Milk is placed in a small container and placed in a sink of very cold water with the water being changed 2-3 times during the cooling process.  Water temperature from our well here in Michigan comes out at 50 degrees.  If you live in an area where the water comes from the faucet even warmer, this would not be a great method to use.  The milk would only get as cool as the water.

Grade D:

Milk is placed in the freezer.  I tested a one-quart jar and it took 30 minutes to reach 66 degrees.  In 60 minutes it was at 50, in 90 minutes it was 43 degrees and finally after 105 minutes it was at 40 degrees.  If using a container bigger than 1 quart the results would be even worse.

Grade E:

Milk placed in 1 quart jars and put into the refrigerator.  In 30 minutes the milk was at 76 degrees.  In 60 minutes it was at 67 degrees, after 90 minutes it was 59 degrees.  3 hours later it was at 51 degrees and finally after 8 hours the milk had reached 40 degrees.  This is way too long.  By now the bacteria count has become very high.  Results would be even worse if using containers bigger than 1 quart.  Many home dairies use this method, but this is the absolute worst way to cool the milk.

By Mary Jane Toth, author of A Cheesemaker's Journey and Goats Produce, Too!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November Milk Quality Test Results

All tests passed again this month, though I am not satisfied with the coliform count being anything but zero.  It has been very muddy and messy around here with all the rain.  Obviously, there was some contamination, even if it was a small amount.  I am constantly striving to do better with my milk handling.

Standard Plate Count <2500/mL
Coliform 6/mL
Somatic Cell Count 100,000/mL

To pass the state tests, the SPC needs to be <15,000/mL, coliform <25/mL, and SCC <500,000/mL.  My personal goal is to have the SPC at <2500/mL, Coliform at <1/mL, and SCC at <200,000/mL.  I am glad to see the SPC and SCC looking so good, but as I said, I am not satisfied with anything but <1/mL for my coliform count.

Additionally, the thermometer for the state read that the milk was at 32*F when it was initially tested, but my fridge said it was 34*F.  When it reached the state lab, it was at 0.3*C, which translates to 32.54*F.  After 30 minutes at the lab, it was 0.2*F, which is 32.36*F.  I set my fridge a tiny bit warmer.  We don't want frozen milk; very cold will do. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

So Many Lovely Walnuts

I love English walnuts, and I'm very blessed to have a walnut tree.  They are coming off the tree by the bucketfuls right now.

Last year we gave away too many walnuts as gifts, and I had to buy walnuts before our tree began dropping them this fall.  So this year, I'm hoarding them.  ;)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Moving Day for Chicks

Well, today was moving day for the 1 month old chicks.  They are fully feathered out, and have been going without their heat lamp for about a week now.  Their dust was becoming unbearable in the little house where we have been keeping them.  So, the kids and I moved the chicks outdoors and set them up under the hay shelter.  We used leaves for their bedding.  I like free stuff, and leaves are free!  We'll turn their heat lamp on the first few nights to help them adjust to the cooler temperatures.

Step one was moving them outside.  Step two is cleaning up the thick layer of dust, dirt, and shavings they created while they were indoors.  The kids helped me with step one, but somehow they disappeared when it was time to do step two.  And then I looked at my watch, and it was time to take the kids to swim team practice.  So step two will happen another day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Making Butter

I think I found a new happier way to wash my butter.  I never considered doing it the way she shows, but I absolutely love simplicity, so I'm going to start washing my butter this way when I make butter.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October's Milk Test Results

Good news!  The bacterial count and the coliform count are great! The somatic cell count is high, but still passing. I have been watching the CMT results carefully on her left hind quarter, and slowly but surely, the somatic cell count is receding. I called my veterinarian and explained that this was the same quarter that was injured almost two months ago, and he assured me that since there was no bacterial growth on the private lab results (the state test results concur with the private lab), and because the quarter isn't giving abnormal milk, Ruby doesn't have mastitis. She is shedding leukocytes (white blood cells) because the tissue in that quarter is still healing. Makes sense. The last CMT I did was two days ago and the results were negative, so I'm feeling assured that the quarter is getting better.

And with that preamble, here are the results from October's state milk quality test:

Standard Plate Count (total bacteria, benign and otherwise) <2500/mL (passing is <15,000, and the state test doesn't go lower than 2500/mL)

Coliform (bacteria from environmental contamination) <1/mL (passing is <25/mL)

Somatic Cell Count (can indicate mastitis) 470,000/mL (passing is <500,000/mL)

I just want to take a moment to reiterate my personal goals in regards to the milk quality tests.  I want to have a standard plate count of <2500/mL, a coliform count of <1/mL, and a somatic cell count of <200,000/mL.  While I didn't make my own personal goals, I still passed the state's standards for raw milk quality.  I am pleased with these results, especially since I have a likely explanation for the high somatic cell count, and I am seeing gradual and steady improvement on the CMT results. 

With all of this pleasing news about the quality of Ruby's milk, I feel an ice cream making session coming on...  YUM!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Private Lab Test Results

All samples showed no growth. Good news! Yet, we still have a quarter (Left Hind) that is showing a trace to +1 on the CMT. So, I'm going to retest in a week if that quarter hasn't improved.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

California Mastitis Test (CMT) Tutorial Video

This is the most useful CMT tutorial video I have seen on the internet.

Milk Tests by a Private Lab

I have been running a California Mastitis Test (CMT) on my cow nearly every day for at least three weeks.  At the September state-run test, my cow had a higher-than-I-wanted somatic cell count, and an astronomical bacterial count.  The first several CMTs showed the left hind quarter positive (+2) on the somatic cell count, and the other three quarters had a trace or +1.  I wanted to avoid antibiotics, if at all possible, because of the milk withdrawal period.  So I began milking three times a day and applying a minty salve to the outside of her udder after milking to stimulate blood flow to the area, in an effort to break up any congestion inside the udder.  Over the course of a week and a half, the CMT showed less and less positive results, so the treatment has been working.  I have since switched back to only twice a day milking (making time to milk 3x per day is really difficult), but there is still a +1 result coming from the left hind quarter.

Today the state took its sample of the milk to the lab, and while the collector was here, I asked her where I might get additional tests done, between the official state tests.  She gave me several vials and the contact information for two labs where I can get tests done.  I brought a sample to be tested for bacterial count and type to a lab this morning.  I really want to see a bacterial count of less than 2500 per ml, and a somatic cell count of less than 200,000 per ml.  If there is a particular organism causing the inflammation in that left hind quarter, knowing what type of bug it is will help me know what action to take to get rid of it.  When I have the bacterial count down where I want it, I am thinking the somatic cell count will also go down.  I'll post again when I have the results.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Baby Chicks!

Nothing makes me feel quite like baby chicks do.  I just love picking them up from the hatchery or the post office and settling them in.  These have been here nearly a week, and I'm late in putting up a post about them.  I have 36+ chicks.  I lost count because I had so many helpers (my very excited children) when I was taking them out of the box, but I know I ordered 35, plus I got a free rare chick, from Murray McMurray Hatchery.  We don't know what kind of chick the rare one is, so we'll just get to see how it grows.  You can see the oddball in the upper right corner of the picture.  It's the brown one.

Ten of these little ones are Delaware chicks for my mom.  They are yellow with a little bit of black on their heads.  They will grow white feathers with tips of black at maturity.  My mother wanted new chicks, but didn't think she had a place to brood them.  So, I'm brooding hers for her, and she'll take them from me when they are feathered out.  The remaining 25 are White Leghorn chicks, well-known for being the best white egg producing breed available.  They are completely yellow as chicks, and will grow all white feathers at maturity.  I hope to be able to keep up with my customers' demands with younger, more productive chickens.  Right now I joke that I'm running a chicken retirement center!  Time for those old ladies to be sent to the freezer.  Next year I'll get more brown egg layers, and the batch after that, I'll replace my Araucanas (green egg layers).  I like to see a variety of colors in my egg cartons.  It just makes me happy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

September Test Results

Well, I got the coliform bacteria count to <1, or basically, the same as zero.  Coliform bacteria indicates environmental contamination.  That's a great improvement over the figure of 12/mL I had last month.  Passing is less than 25/mL.  I am pleased with this result.

My somatic cell count this month was passing, but higher than I would like to see.  This test can indicate mastitis.  Passing is <500,000/mL.  Last month mine was 190,000/mL.  This month, mine was 360,000/mL.

What I found super shocking was the standard plate count.  Last month I didn't have enough to register on their test, at <2500/mL.  This month, I had 160,000/mL!!!  Wowza!  The standard plate count is a total bacteria count.  Passing is <15,000/mL, so I failed that test.

Sounds like my cow has some organisms festering inside causing the somatic cell count to be on the high side, and to have such a high bacterial count.   This may be due, in part, to the udder injury she had a couple weeks ago.  I noticed the day preceding the milk sample being taken that her front quarters were a teeny bit harder than normal after being milked, and I found a small string of milk on the filter when I strained the milk.

The state of Idaho allows me to continue selling milk as long as I don't fail 3 tests out of a consecutive 5 tests.  So, we're still allowed to sell, and I'm doing all I can to ensure a safe milk supply for my own family, and for that of my customers.  I have already seen improvement in the way her udder feels and I'm not finding any strings or blobs of milk on the filter.  If her subclinical case of mastitis worsens, I will cease selling milk until she is healthy again. 

I'm really thankful for these tests, because already it has helped me to recognize where I can improve, and I am taking action where I can to produce high quality raw milk.  It means a safer source of milk for everyone!  (As a side-note, I have looked over the test results for other raw milk producers in the state, and many of them have varying numbers from time to time, and that several have not passed one test or another at any given time.)  I look forward to next month's test results. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coliform Bacteria

I was feeling pretty good about my test results yesterday, and then I was reminded by another cow-owning friend that ANY coliform in the milk indicates SOME contamination of fecal matter.  I started to feel disappointed in myself, and thinking that somehow I have failed to be as clean as I could/should be in my milking procedures.  I wanted to learn more about coliform bacteria, and I found this information from UC Davis:

Coliform Bacteria

The coliform group of bacteria comprises all aerobic and facultatively anaerobic, gram-negative nonspore forming rods capable of fermenting lactose with the production of acid and gas at 90°F (32°C) within 48 hours. While the general source of these organisms is commonly accepted to be the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, it is emphasized that bacteria of both fecal and non-fecal origin are members of this group. Typically, these organisms are classified in the genera Escherichia and Enterobacter (formerly Aerobacter); but, in addition, a few lactose-fermenting species of other genera are included in the group. In proportion to the numbers present, the existence of any of these types in dairy products is suggestive of unsanitary conditions or practices during production, processing or storage. 

Coliform Count

The coliform bacteria count is used as an index of the level if sanitation and/or water quality employed in the handling and processing of milk products. Coliforms have significance in milk and milk products because (1) they are easily killed during pasteurization and because (2) they are generally regarded to originate from the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals. Hence, the presence of coliform bacteria in pasteurized milk products is suggestive of unsanitary conditions or practices during processing, packaging; maximum standards for number of coliforms have until now been set at a maximum of 10 per milliliter of gram in pasteurized milk and milk products; however, numbers in pasteurized dairy products should be less than 1 ml., as is the case with up to 90% of samples, if packaging procedures are correct. California standard allows no more than 750 coliforms per mL in raw milk. Less than 100 is considered acceptable. 

So, I discussed the possibilities of ways the milk is becoming contaminated with my friend and reviewed my milking procedures on the cow board.  Here's the ongoing discussion:


If you don't want to visit the link, here are my procedures:

1. Brush cow all over, special attention to underbelly and udder.
2. Using hot water with a gurgle-glug of vinegar in it, wash cow's udder. Never double-dip, special attention given to the teat openings. I use a stack of clean white rags (washed in my "brightest whites" cycle with a gurgle-glug of chlorine bleach added to the wash load) and wash until the rag comes back clean.
3. Dry the udder with a clean, dry rag.
4. Milk the cow.
5. Strain the milk into clean glass jars using a stainless steel milk strainer and disposable milk filter.
6. Wash up: rinse in lukewarm water until the water is clear, wash in hot soapy water with a dedicated milk brush (brush is only used on the INSIDE of pails), air dry.

Jars are washed similarly - lukewarm rinse, run through dishwasher (or hand-washed in hot soapy water) with heated dry. If hand-washed, jars are rinsed with 1 T bleach per gallon of water and allowed to air dry.

My friend, and the members of the cow board first told me to look at my water.  That could very well be the source of the problem.  When the water was brought to my attention, I remembered that when I moved to this house almost 2 years ago, I had to shock my well 3 times to get the coliform bacteria at acceptable levels.  I'm also a cloth diapering mama, and have had problems with diapers stinking.  I took care of my diaper problem by adding a small amount of chlorine bleach to my hot cycle, and it has worked.  Now that I have my test results, I have been alerted to a potential problem with my well.  I'm going to take a water sample to the lab for evaluation.  I want that coliform count in my milk (and water) to be ZERO!!!

I was told by my friend that all milk test results are a matter of public record, and that she has requested copies and found some farms with coliform counts of 150!!!  I'm glad it's not that bad!  She reminded me that I did well for my first test, and not to feel bad.  I am glad for the testing, because I really do want to have the safest, highest quality milk possible.  If not for the test, I may not have known there was a problem.  Now I have a starting point for improvement.

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Test Results!

After the low expectations given me by the sample collector, I really wondered how hard it was to pass the milk tests.  I was worried I wouldn't pass.  Well, today my worries  have been allayed by the results.  Not only did I pass, I passed with flying colors!

Standard Plate Count (total bacteria)
I needed to have less than 15,000 mg/l to pass the test.  Well, my results were lower than their test could even detect, at <2,500 mg/l.

Coliform bacteria
To pass the test I needed to have a figure less than 25 /ml.  Mine was 12 /ml.

Of course, my cow's milk tested negative, and that is the standard.

Somatic Cell Count (test can indicate mastitis infection in the udder)
I needed to have less than 500,000 /ml to pass the test.  I had 190,000 /ml.

I needed to have milk between 33*F and 40*F.  Mine was at 33*F at the initial test.  After transporting to the lab, my milk was at 1.7*C (or 35.06*F).

So, the milk you are drinking is very, very safe!  (And tastes great, too!)  I haven't heard anything about the brucellosis ring test results yet, but my cow was vaccinated, so I am hoping there won't be any problem. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Milk Test

Yesterday I had my first state milk test.  I'll find out the results by Monday the 19th.  This is what they are looking for when they test the milk:

On site, the milk is tested for temperature, and mine was at 33*F, almost a little too low... I don't want to freeze it!  After the temperature test, it is placed in sterile plastic vials and transported to the lab for the remaining tests.  The woman who took the sample told me not to be surprised if I don't pass the first time.  She said it's rare that anyone passes all the tests the very first time.  She also said she would do a brucellosis ring test, even though my cow has been vaccinated for brucellosis, and that since my cow is a jersey, she may not pass.  She said the rich jersey milk somehow skews the test to give false positives.  Well, I'm very interested to see how we did, especially with the stellar expectations she gave me.  I'll post when I get the results. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This is where your milk comes from

Here she is, Ruby.  My 7 year old jersey cow.  I bought her mom, Fancy, when she was 11 years old and pregnant with Ruby.  Fancy was a good, wonderful cow from a jersey dairy in Emmett Idaho.  This dairy treats all their cows like members of their family.  It's like cow heaven!  Anyway, Fancy was 11 years old and pregnant with Ruby when I bought her.  She calved with no problems on July 27, 2006, and I was delighted to have a new heifer.  Sadly, two years later, Fancy's arthritis was becoming very painful for her, so I put her down.  I salvaged the meat, because I don't believe in being wasteful.  When her abdominal cavity was opened up, all her organs were adhered to the abdominal lining, so she probably didn't have long to live, anyway, and it was good that I was a wise steward.

Anyway, back to Ruby... she's been with me since the day she was born, and has never known any cruelty or harsh treatment.  She's a beautiful cow, content, and calm.  I smooth her path in life, and she gives back so generously, with over 6.5 gallons of milk everyday!  I'm a blessed cow mama!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Milk and Egg Customer Instructions and information

Milk Jar washing instructions:

  1. Always rinse milk jars in lukewarm water right away.   Use lukewarm water, because hot makes milk proteins stick to the jar, and cold makes butterfat stick to the jar. Do not allow milk to dry in the jar.  Milk proteins stick to the jar when dried on.  You can’t see them, but they build up over time and can cause off-flavors in the milk.  Special dairy acid can remove milk protein build-up.  I rinse all jars with dairy acid twice per year.  Even if you can’t do a full washing of a jar right away, always rinse it with lukewarm water immediately.  Rinse until the water appears clear, not opaque.   
  2.  If you have a dishwasher, run the jar through a full cycle, with a heated dry.  If you do not have a dishwasher, hand wash with hot, soapy water, preferably with a brush, or all stainless steel scrubbing pad, rather than a sponge or rag.  Sponges and rags are notorious for carrying numerous bacteria.  If you can have a dedicated brush or ss scrubbing pad for this purpose that would be best.  After hand washing, rinse with 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per 1 gallon water. 
  3.  Allow the jar to dry completely before replacing the lid.  If any moisture is in the jar, it will be a medium for bacterial growth, and will soon be bad enough to gag a maggot.  Blegh!

Thank you for taking the time to clean your jars as per my instructions.  It saves  me so much time, and protects you, me, and all the rest of my customers from getting sick (or just having milk that tastes "off")!

For your information:

  • My raw milk ISDA permit number is RCM 061. The milk you are buying is raw, unpasteurized, whole milk. 
  •  My cattle have been tested for tuberculosis and vaccinated for brucellosis.  The milk is tested at least 4 times every 6 months by the Department of Agriculture.  Each batch must be negative for drugs (medications for the cows) and must meet coliform bacteria and somatic cell count standards.  Milk must also be cooled to 40F quickly.  I do this by placing the milk into an ice water bath inside my refrigerator.  Usually it reaches 40F within 30 minutes. 
  •  Milk jar deposits are $4 per jar.  If at any time you choose to discontinue buying milk, your $4 deposit per jar is 100% refundable, with the return of jars with lids in good condition.  You can avoid paying the $4 per jar fee if you purchase the exact same jars and fitting lids that I use, and bring them to me.  They can be purchased at Container and Packaging Supply in Eagle, Idaho.  The website is www.containerandpackaging.com and the product number is G004 for the jar.  Lids are L247 (in any color), or L465.  Do not purchase the type of lids with liners.  Bring the number of jars you plan on using per week. 
  •  Please contact me 208-794-5016 (text or Facebook) 24 hours before you plan to pick up milk so that I can write your name on the jars.  I need to rotate milk, and the most effective way for me to do this is by marking the jars with your name.  Just tell me how many gallons you want.  Sometimes it can be several days before I have any milk available, depending on what orders I have already received, but I will fill your order as soon as possible, inform you what day I have milk available, and will tell you if there is ever a problem with your order. 
  •  Please write yourself a receipt when you pick up your milk and eggs (I need a copy for my records), place payment in the envelope provided and put it into the cash box.  You will need to bring exact change, or write a check.  If you wish to pay using paypal, my paypal email address is Laura@bestbirth.com and you must send the payment as a gift, so that I will not be charged a service fee.  If using paypal, payment must be made within 24 hours of picking up your milk, and please make out a receipt and mark it “Paypal” so that I will know to look for your payment.  Clean, return jars should be placed on the counter, to the left of the sink.  Also, please take note of the refrigerator temperature, and alert me (text or Facebook me) if it is above 40F. 
  • Prices for 2014 are as follows.  Milk is $6.50/gallon.  Eggs are $2.50/doz.  Jar deposits are $4 per jar.  If you bring 20 empty egg cartons in good condition, you may have a free dozen eggs, but please make a note of it on the receipt.  If a jar breaks while in your possession, the lid is still usable to me, so go ahead and bring it back, please.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Why Elliott's Emerald Acre?

Elliott's Emerald Acre is named "Emerald" because my animals eat green pasture, and I name my cattle after precious gems.  "Elliott" is my son who died unexpectedly, from unknown causes, at age 19 months.  I have some really wonderful friends, and they helped me come up with a name for my farm, and even created the label you see above.  It's nice to be able to see his picture, see his name, type his name, and say his name, even though he's not here with me and my husband and children.  We believe we will be with him, in the flesh, in the morning of the first resurrection.