We were warned by the weather man that a big snowstorm was moving in yesterday. When the flakes started falling, I left work and headed for home. The wind was fierce. I made it home with no problems other than slipping and sliding up our driveway. By the time Tim got home there was a white-out happening. He fed the cows and went to check on the chickens and found there were only 8 of them in the hen house. So we grabbed flashlights and I bundled up, and out we went to hunt for 5 missing hens. We found them huddled out of reach underneath the coop. Tim got a long pole and tried to scoot them out. They just went deeper. We sent Higgins under the coop to "herd" them out, but they were not budging. It was bitterly cold and the snow was blowing hard sideways. We knew if we didn't get them out of there and into the coop they would die. It took us about 30 minutes or so and we finally pulled the last one out and put her in the coop. This morning they were all still alive - praise God! We left them locked in the coop today just in case they go crazy again. Stupid chickens!
And speaking of stupid... I was so intent on helping Tim that I never even covered my head with my hood. So I was covered with snow and my hood was filled with it! Burrrr!!!!
I wrote this a while back but never posted it. So here goes!
Well, it's been 6 weeks while since Tim's Alaska trip and my back problem. We learned that Tim had a bad MCL sprain and narrowly avoided surgery. The Orthopedic surgeon has released him with the option to begin physical therapy if things are not greatly improved in 6 weeks. And his knee is doing much better now. He did get an awful infection in it - not relate to the MCL injury - and spent the Thanksgiving holiday in the hospital. My back is much better too. I am still seeing my chiropractor every two weeks or so to keep me in line. It really does make a difference in how I feel.
We finally made it to Costco and restocked the pantry with coffee and other "essentials", and because of our "joint mishaps" I now have a housekeeper! Praising God LOUDLY - (can you hear me?)! A young woman from our church comes over once a week and cleans the bathrooms and does all the floors -vac and mop as needed. I cannot tell you how much this means to me. We have talked about it for years but never thought we could afford it, or worried about a stranger with the dogs, etc. Stephanie was instantly loved by all. Us AND the dogs. What a huge blessing. Praise God for all things.
My art is ramping up and I would like to write about it occasionally but I haven't figured out how to post it under the DB Art tab. I think it can be done but don't know really.
The yard and garden are a mess since the injuries occurred at the time when we needed to pull, cut, and till. The tomato plants were still standing a few weeks ago and we gave the chickens free access several days in a row. We've had enough rain that the pasture is lush and green again and Tim is rotating the girls on a regular basis. Soon it will be too cold and the grass will stop growing. But for now it helps keep the girls happy.
Never a dull moment at the farm, but we are dang blessed!
Tim went to Alaska on a much anticipated fishing trip with his boss, Mike, and the rest of the crew. Also, Mike's friend, Dan went along. Tim spent a small fortune on waders, boots, and fishing gear.
Everyone was flying up at different times so all of the crew wouldn't be gone when the business was open. Tim's trip started off badly. They cancelled his flight, put him on a later flight thus causing him to miss his connecting flight. He ended up having to stay the night in Seattle and fly out in the morning. Since he had a firearm in his checked luggage, he had to declare that and have TSA inspect his bag. This was in Portland, OR. The agent either just plain hated people, or she didn't know what she was doing. She was VERY rude to Tim, took his huge suitcase and DUMPED the whole thing out. ( This never happened to any of the other guys, by the way. Nor did it happen to any of them last year when they went to Alaska.)
Anyway, things really did not improve after that. When he finally got to Alaska on Saturday he tried to put the bad stuff behind him and do some fishing. He caught his first steelhead salmon and was looking forward to a great time. On Sunday he was injured. Dan called to him asking him to grab the net and help him land a fish. Tim grabbed the net and took off to where Dan was standing. He was climbing down the bank when the bank gave way under him and he slid down with his right leg twisted and pinned underneath his body. He spent the rest of his trip in the cabin in much pain. Mike took him to the emergency room and they told him he tore the cartilage in his knee and to see his doctor as soon as he got home. He flew home on several difficult flights, on Tuesday night.
I took him to his regular doctor on Wednesday and he referred him to an Orthopedic surgeon. (He will see him tomorrow at 9:30am.)
Thursday morning before work, my back went out. I was standing at my dresser putting on my earrings when I reached for something and BAM - shooting pain in my lower back. I couldn't get into the chiropractor until Friday. Work was miserable. I still had to work, feed cows, chickens, and dogs. Tim cannot get his socks on or off and now I cannot help him. The first time I bent down to help him, my newly adjusted back went out again. **sigh**
Today is Sunday. Exactly a week since the accident, and he is in pain and limited in what he can do. We had a real challenge trying to take the kitchen garbage out. But we have found the humor in our situation. We have quickly learned how to be creative in all things! I plan to work somehow tomorrow and go to the chiro at 4:10. I'm sure God will show me how to do what He wants me to do.
This has been an interesting lesson in preparedness. We have canned food stored in our basement "Pantry", but we are on our last 2 pounds of coffee. We have a freezer full of beef, almonds, and blueberries, but we're out of fresh food. During my lunch hour on Friday I was able to buy bread and milk. But what will happen if these issues linger long? The chickens feeder will need to be refilled soon and the only way I can do it is to use a scoop/can and refill it one scoop at a time. So far I'm doing ok with the cows because the hay is close to the manger and I can use the bales that are above floor level. However, I have not checked their water trough. It fills automatically so it's probably (hopefully) ok for now.
Of course there will be no barn mucking in the foreseeable future. And winter is coming. Praise God we have enough hay to get us by for a while. The chicken coop will be easier to deal with than the barn, but at this point it too is an impossibility.
So, another lesson in farming has hit us head on. Let us hope we learn something from it.
Last night Tim went fishing with a friend right after work. I actually had plans of my own, unbeknownst to him, so it all worked out fine! So I wrote this little poem for him and gave it to him tonight. He loved it. :)
Last week we called in the mobile slaughter company and had two of our heifers sent to the butcher. They came very early in the morning as I was getting ready for work Tim was outside waiting for them and I kept the dogs inside with me.
I was quite worried that I might freak out about the whole thing, but I just reminded myself that this is the reason we started this little farm in the first place. Home grown grass fed beef. This is the reason for all of our hard work and expense. And then I did fine. I did not go outside, so I never heard or saw anything which is the way it needed to be. So now we wait for the butcher to call in a couple of weeks and then we go into town and pick up our meat.
The real test will be if I can eat it! I don't think it will be a problem because somehow I seem to have separated the cows from the whole process. Mind games :)
We were also blessed to have buyers for more meat than we had. We ended up selling part of what we were going to keep so our friend Laura could get some beef. Tim's boss bought a whole beef for his family.
When we decided to sell grass fed beef we were concerned that people might not like it or might not understand how different it is from grain fed. We decided to supply each of our first time buyers with a cookbook called "Free Range Farm Girl" for grass fed. Hopefully it will help them cook great steaks!
We kept Mama and Norma, and we will probably have Mama bred so we will have another baby in the spring. I didn't want to over-winter cows again because the mud was so horrible last year. But Tim really wants to do it, so here we go again!
Going through this whole process has made me think about all the farmers past that didn't have the luxury of a mobile slaughter man to do the dirty work. Farmers past (and probably many today) have to kill and butcher the animals they raised.
When we bought our home 20 years ago, the bank insisted on the roof being replaced before they would finance the loan. The seller would have no part of it so we paid for it and bought the house. Now, 20 years later it started to leak - in 5 places actually! So last week we got the old one torn off and a new one put on. And all the rotten wood is replaced too, and Tim installed a lovely solar tube/skylight in the hallway. I've wanted one for years!
Anyway, I'm thrilled about the new roof and gutters. I think it will probably outlast us!
I read about fodder for cattle some time ago and mentioned it to Tim. He really wasn't interested. We had plenty of pasture and hay in the barn. Well, the pasture got eaten down and then winter came - the hay, long gone has been replaced several times with tons and tons. So, when I came across another blog post about fodder I sent it to Tim's email. This time he got hooked!
So he scoured the local nurseries to find the right trays, bought some barley seed at the feed store, and built a rack for the rotating system.
The seed is soaked for a certain amount of time, then drained and put into the bottom trays. Every few days new trays of soaked seeds are added and the bottom trays move up a shelf.
The whole thing is watered from the top several times a day. All of the trays have holes in them to drain into the trays below them. On the very bottom (you can see in the first picture) the clear trays catch the water and are emptied out in the driveway when they get full. The water cannot be reused because it stinks and will quickly mold your sprouts.
When the "grass" gets tall enough you take the tray out to the hen house and barn!
The hens were actually more interested in the barley seeds than the grass. They did eventually eat all of it though.
The cows were not too interested either, which totally surprised us. They did eat it, but only when there was nothing else to eat.
I think the problem was the barley. Had we used a mixture of wheat, oats, and barley, maybe it would have been more appetizing. Possibly wheat or oats by themselves would have worked.
Those questions will have to be answered some time in the future. After a couple of weeks the whole rack of fodder developed mold and we had to shut it down. We had the rack set up in our basement where it wasn't a warm enough environment to grow properly. Live and learn. Just another lesson in farming!
Another first in my life! I told Tim I would help him shovel manure out of the barn stalls because he really shouldn't be doing that - anyway, I don't feel comfortable having him do that.
Anyway, he was floored when I showed up with my boots and gloves on ready to help. He whipped out his phone to take pictures as proof because he said no one would ever believe him! Ha!
It is hard work but I got through it. This old heart was pounding pretty good though.
But what a feeling of accomplishment when it was finally done!
You might remember from an earlier post that we let the calf out into the pasture when she was very small. That only lasted a week. She was not accepted by the 12 month old Heifers and they went out of their way to be mean to her.
In no time at all the poor little thing was afraid of everything and everyone - including us. I was heart broken. So we put her and her Mama back into the barn and gave them access to a portion of the yard.
And there they stayed until last week. She is almost two months old now. When we let them back out she was hesitant to go with her Mama. Tim had to chase her out. But when she got out there she was ecstatic! I took videos of her running free and stretching her legs. She was immediately accepted by the Heifers, it was very interesting. Now they're all one big happy family.
Also, we sold the other cow to the neighbors. The one we thought was pregnant. Turns out she wasn't, but we were happy to sell her. One less mouth to feed.
Today we moved the cow and her calf out to the pasture with the rest of the herd. It was pretty scary for me because the calf is so much smaller than the others and doesn't know anything yet. There was a lot of running and heel kicking among the group but it all finally settled down and everybody seemed okay. I must admit that I was near panic most of the time. But I finally remembered that God made these magnificent animals perfectly and their instincts would take care of everything so I need not worry.
Around 8:00 pm when we were watching television and winding down after a crazy manure filled day, the thought popped into my head that the calf just might need a drink of water and I knew she couldn't reach the water trough yet. So I asked Tim if he knew how old a calf is when they need water. He didn't know for sure so I Googled it, of course, and learned that a calf drinks water between feedings from as early as one week old. It went on to say that the fastest way to kill a calf is to withhold water from it. OH NO!!!
So I got dressed and out we went to the barn where we had the water bucket set up in the manger where the calf and her mom had been living up till today. Tim turned off the water, disassembled the automatic float and emptied the bucket while I dragged the hose to the pasture.
We found some bailing twine to tie the bucket to the fence and Tim reassembled the whole thing as the cows came running. They are the most curious creatures!
Anyway, now the calf has a bucket of water that she can drink from and the automatic float will keep it full.
I don't think the mom is happy about having to sleep on the cold damp ground tonight. I think she prefers that nice bed of straw in the barn. If I had my way she would still be in there. But Tim is right, they need to get used to being back out in the field because we have another calf coming soon.
It has recently occurred to me that I have changed in ways that are not always flattering. I was the type of woman that would never be caught dead in public without full makeup and my hair curled perfectly. My appearance was of the utmost importance - seriously. I was raised that way.
Lately the most important thing is to be warm, stay dry, and remember to always have a pair of gloves in my pocket, if not on my hands. I have found myself inside of stores with my hair in a ponytail, boots on, jeans rolled up, no makeup and my dirty Carhartt jacket zipped up to keep me warm. And I was as happy as a girl could be. The freedom of simply living without that fear of rejection has been something amazing. When I find myself in public looking a fright, I just have to laugh and celebrate the moment. I think God is laughing with me. My cows, dogs, and chickens don't care what I look like, and apparently my husband thinks I look beautiful in my Bogs with manure on them. There's just something sexy about a farm girl :)
It's been a wild ride, this little farm of ours, and if it all ended tomorrow I wouldn't regret a single moment of it. I feel so blessed that we have be given this opportunity so late in life.
Now I better get back outside and help Tim with the frozen water troughs and feeding time.
And, by the way, that "other" cow that we thought might be pregnant??? She is due in about two weeks.