Category Archives: Farm life

Happy 4th of July Baby!

No fireworks for us this year. Just this little cutie. She had a tough time coming; she was upside down and the cow’s uterus was twisted. We called the vet and with an “I’m on my way” he was here in a flash and we were able to get the calf out quickly. It was pretty impressive.

Both mama and baby are resting comfortably now in the barn. Perhaps we can go to bed now too!

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Might as Well Plant a Garden

From Sunday, July 1 -I finally got some things planted in what could vaguely be recognized as a garden. After two years of big plans discussed in the Spring- lots of talking, purchasing seeds and serious consideration of where exactly we would put it, we planted a garden. Or really, I planted a garden with consultation from my DF (I’m not sure he will own up to the connection with the fairly pitiful sight I have created).

To say that I have a slight glimmer of an idea for what needs to be done when it comes to gardening might be an overstatement; but I can read so I’m hoping the directions on the back of the seed packages are for real. My DF has a bit more of a clue, though he says he’s no expert. Since he is tied up making cow food for the most part these days, I’m on my own to do the dirty work for the people food.

Randomly one night after chores a few weeks ago, my DF harrowed out the spot we picked out. DF’s uncle dragged the big tiller behind the tractor around it two separate times between the initial ripping up of the grass and today. Still, about a week has passed since the last pass so a little grass popped up. Nothing a little raking couldn’t fix up for today, though I do believe grass will be my new nemesis this summer. We’re using weed cloth between the rows so hopefully that will help.

See. Pretty pathetic but I do plan to take the push-rototiller to the space between the rows in the back this week!

 

As if to throw one more obstacle in our way, my jeep decided not to start yesterday afternoon, stranding us at the grocery store for an extra hour or so. But that didn’t stop me. I got Swiss chard, beets, nasturtium, cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, buttercup squash, sunflowers and pumpkins in the ground. And boy, doI feel it now. I never knew how physical gardening is! Oh, and I even gave myself my very own “tramp stamp” with the help of the sun today. Slouchy shorts + short shirt = a band of OUCH!

So what was different today or really, this weekend? What put me over the edge to go for it after weeks, rather years of procrastinating? I think I had been holding back because I feel like I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. I really don’t. After I said that one night last week, my DF replied that we should just do it. We should just do the garden and learn as we go and from our mistakes. A light bulb went off. Yes! Of course! That’s it! How else will we learn? And already in these two short days I have figured out a few ways to do things better.

So, I’m excited. And now I just really really hope something pops up!

I’m a little proud of this tomato. You should have seen how almost dead these plants were before we planted them in a little of our own cow-post!

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Happiness Is

From June 15th! – I wrote this on my phone but haven’t taken the time to get the slick WordPress iphone app, so it’s been waiting in my notes for me to add here. Been a little crazy here lately. Hopefully I’ll get to tell you all about it!

Riding across the hay field today I witnessed happiness:

Two dogs bounding, leaping and racing through the open field, weaving in and out of the rows of mowed grass, stopping only to wrestle for a few minutes or to sniff at a hole or a root or some other debris, only to be off again in the blink of an eye.

My DF driving the tractor with the chopper attached to the wagon, totally focused on the job at hand. Making feed makes him happy. I have a feeling he had a grin on his face in that tractor cab, especially as he caught glimpses of his son observing the whole production.

My son on my lap as I drove the gator following the tractor/chopper/wagon so he could watch what was going on. Talk about discovery! Every once in awhile I could hear his little squeal over the noise of the gator, equipment and wind.

I looked all around me and though ‘what beautiful countryside; how lucky am I?’ I felt as if I could maybe even breathe it all in if only I could take a breath deep enough. And suddenly, my worries that had built up that morning were gone- poof- disappeared into the fresh, newly-mowed-grass air.

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I Know Why Mallards Have 12 or 13 Ducklings

The Tillymonster

One word: Tillymonster. Tilly, our littlest but fiercest dog – maybe the fiercest animal on the farm, has found a new pastime and it involves baby ducks. After I swallowed the lump in my throat that had popped up when my DF told me, my first word was, “Seriously?” 

“Yup,” he said, and as if reading my mind as it was pondering how awful that is, “That’s nature for you. I guess that’s why mallards must have 12 or 13 ducklings at a time.” 

Tilly is a farm dog through and through. Buzzman, our other dog, goes along with her most of the time but he is really a big chicken. He knows who rules the roost. These two have taught me a lot – the rules of the pack, pecking order, who eats first, what they eat, a few unpleasant realities of mother nature but also that undying devotion with a look that tells you they’d put it all on the line for you in a second.

Tilly really is a very good dog. When we go on walks in the fields or the back roads she always has you in her sight. She is protective to a fault – too much barking! And at the end of the day, all she wants to do is curl up next to you on the couch. 

Sometimes, though, I do wish she would keep nature to herself!

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Wordless Wednesday Part One

A few pictures of the goings-on around here today!

I almost stopped to join them today.

Feeding the new baby.

The DF having some fun with our next project.

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Filed under Dairy Care, Farm life, Jersey Cows

An Ode to the Old Stove

The old girl.

The first title to this post was,‘Ding-Dong the Stove is Dead.’ That might give you an idea about how I first felt about the stove. It may seem silly that I’m writing about our old stove that died. And is already gone. But really and truly they don’t make ’em like they used to.

 Our old stove is estimated to be at least 35 years old – older than me, older than either of our vehicles, older than any of the animals, but not older than my dear husband ;). In fact, my husband, the DF, recalls his grandmother cooking away on it when he was a kid. She passed away in 1978. There certainly have been many a meal shared with family and friends made on that stove; many a baked good baked in that oven with love and maybe sometimes a little frustration; lots of stuff spilled on it, and to follow suit, plenty of wipe-downs.

The stove and I got off on the wrong foot, really. The first cake I baked for my DF’s birthday is a sore spot for me. It was nothing difficult at all – a box mix – just add eggs, oil and water and voila, a cake after spending some time in an oven. So I whipped it up, poured it in the cake pan and then placed it in the oven, came out to check 50 minutes later and goo. Dirty toothpick, not done. Checked five minutes later, still the same. Then another five, then ten, then ten, then ten and ten again and it was almost done, or so I thought. ‘This is crazy, it must be done it’s been in there nearly two hours!” (Famous last words.)

Before we discovered the cake was really just goo.

When we got back to the house after chores, after dinner (which DF ended up finishing himself as he unbeknownst to me wanted meat in the sauce for his birthday-dinner-of-choice spaghetti) we sat down for some candles, cake and ice cream. The cake had hardened enough at the top but once you stuck your fork in it, it was all goo beneath. Yuck! And I’ve been working to overcome that first spoiled birthday dinner ever since. Yes, I’m still working on it!

Though I may have felt sabatoged by the stove from time to time over the past three years, my relationship with her had evolved from a love-hate type to one of more respect, on my part anyway. We had our ups and downs but in the end, I was a little sad to see the old girl go. I wish I could tell you that I’m sure she’s in appliance heaven now, but then I know you’d think I’ve really lost it up here!

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Mother’s Day Top Five

Happy Mother’s Day!

I started this post several times today. I wanted to reflect over the past year about becoming a mother, our beautiful son TK, the changes that have come our way and how we have adapted. I felt like what I was writing just kept getting too cheesy, so I canned it but here I am now! I decided to keep it short and simple so maybe I could actually finish it.

Here are five things I’ve come up with on my first Mother’s Day.

1. Time is a-flyin’. He’s been out almost longer than he was in now. He’s doing new things every two days it seems. This week he pulled himself up to stand. He started clapping. He also figured out how to say the “buh” sound. My DF and I are just amazed at how fast it’s all happening.

2. I love being a mom and I feel so lucky that I get to be TK’s mom.

3. There’s a lot of advice out there – a whole industry of it when it comes to giving birth and raising babies. The best piece I got was to keep an open mind. This came up when talking about developing a “birth plan” which I think was so important because you just can’t predict exactly how that’s going to go. And you can’t predict how a lot of other things will go – like sleeping through the night or breastfeeding or naps or childcare. Rolling with the punches is a helpful skill to have when you’re a new mom.

4. My priorities have changed for sure. TK is now the first thing I think of – from the time I wake up to when I put him down at night. I do usually take time for myself to unwind after he goes to bed – writing, reading, staring blankly at some t.v. show that makes you dumber for watching it if you’re not careful. But for many decisions, he is the first consideration for us and rightfully so.

5. Some things are okay to let go. Like yardwork and a cleared-off kitchen table. Or getting your eyebrows plucked (trying to do them myself lately… ouch!). Some things are not okay to let go. Like finding the best childcare option. Or taking the time to watch TK grab a handful of grass for the first time and let it fall through his fingers. Or Daddy’s kisses goodnight. Some things don’t quite seem to matter as much while others matter a whole lot more than they ever did.

It’s tough being far away from the rest of my family, especially on days like today when I know they were all together. But I know I’ll see them again soon. I’m happy to be here, to be raising a family in a beautiful spot on a farm, where cows chewing their cud will be as natural to my son as the grass is green.

Hopefully, that wasn’t too cheesy.

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The Dandelions Are Here! The Dandelions Are Here!

A sure sign of warmer temps to come…the dandelions have finally arrived all the way up here. I was starting to get jealous of the warm weather and budding trees and all things spring to the south of us. But, here they are. A few pictures to share!

The TillyMonster enjoying the field.

The Buzzman checking things out.

Wheeler Mountain in the mist. A new perspective of it for me as I’d never been to this corner of the field before.

 

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Women in Agriculture: What Do You Prefer?

As a woman who works in and with agriculture, I’ve thought about this question before from a few different angles and am curious to hear what you think. Please choose your answer and feel free to comment if you wish, particularly if you like to be called something other than what I have provided for choices.

If you’re a woman in agriculture but do not work with cattle, I’m still curious to know what you would prefer to be called if you did.

I will share the final results and commentary once the poll finished. Thanks!

 

 

 

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Got Jersey Beef?

I know it’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been working on a few posts actually, just need to finish them up and get them published. I felt compelled, though, to share this little story from Friday.

We are trying to diversify our farming operation here. In addition to the dairy operations and making our own feed, we’d like to start selling our jersey beef at local farmers’ markets. Being that it’s almost time for the markets to start and we’ve got a steer that’s prit close to being ready to go, we decided we should figure out what we need to do to make it happen.

We had an idea that it may not be a smooth process, given the lack of USDA-inspected facilities that exist, but one that happens to also be the state facility is located not 35 minutes from us. We heard they are pretty backed up with work. Well, we’ll see what we find out!

The first phone call was to the State. It went great – the guy on the phone was extremely helpful, even cheery to help us get our stuff in order. He explained the licenses we needed to apply for and that we would need to get set up with a processing plant that could put a label on our beef for us. That would be my second phone call.

Trying to push down the apprehension the seemed to be growing in my gut, I called the processing plant. To my surprise, everything went smoothly – the gal at the other end of the phone said they were only a few weeks backed up and would May 21st work? “Why, yes, yes that would be great! Oh ya, and by the way, we want to sell this meat at farmers’ markets, can you-”

She cut me off. “Oh,” she said, “I’m sorry we’re not taking on any more commercial vendors.”

As soon as she said that the apprehension I felt earlier came flooding out in the form of, “Oh damn!” with the appropriate facial expression (internal monologue of course). What do you mean commercial vendors? We’re just a couple of farmer’s trying to do the right thing and make a few extra bucks. I suppose we could sell shares in the meat while the steer is still here but that wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

Oh well. Back to the drawing board to try to figure this thing out. We heard of another facility that wouldn’t be too far that was going to be opening, possibly in May. Would it be too flatlander-ish of me to call the guy before he opens to try to get on his commercial vendor list?

We’re still going to have our steer done up. It will be our first one. I’m hoping to be able to convince my DF that raising our jersey beef to sell locally is a good idea. Stay tuned.

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