Friday, August 26, 2016

...And Then There Were 9...

We have tried numerous times over the past few years to have our black lab Murphy bred, without success.  As a result, although she hasn't been spayed, we were pretty unconcerned about her becoming pregnant on her own.  Well not on her own, but you know...promiscuously!

Over the past several months we have occasionally seen a male German Shorthaired Pointer roaming the neighborhood.  The last time I saw him was July 1st, which would coincide with what happened here last night...


Murphy is now the proud mama to nine adorable puppies!  Three are brown, and six are black.  They look mostly like labs at this stage, but several have some white on their bellies, and we assume they will change their looks as they get a little older.

Let the fun begin!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Preparing To Fill Silos...2016...

It's that time of year again.

Late August...school has started, the weather is s l o w l y turning cooler, and the silos are quickly getting empty.

Behind these closed doors is the silage room...


We store the feed carts in here and lock the doors so that the cows can't get in them and eat themselves sick!  Yes, they would do that!  (It happened one time, and the cow almost died.  After she recovered, she didn't have much of a desire for corn the rest of her lactation!)

Here also is access to the silos, which are almost completely empty, as you can see.  The unloader is resting on the last few inches of silage in the east silo...


This is looking up into the west silo...


This is the old tile silo at the other farm.  Several years ago, Jim put a plastic liner in the silo to make it airtight.  Each year we have to put another plastic liner over the doors.  That's the black strip that is hanging down from the top.  After the silo is full, Jim will cut the plastic off over each door from the top down, so he can open the door and toss the silage down the chute into the cart below...


This afternoon we walked through the corn field that he plans to chop, cutting samples of stalks throughout the field.  We ran them through the chopper and will have the silage moisture tested to see where we're at.  It's too green right now, we know for sure, but once we have the moisture sample back we'll have a better idea of when we might be able to fill the silos.  It can be a nerve wracking process, because we want a moisture level between 66% and 69%, and it also has to suit the custom chopper's schedule!

We bought one load of silage last week to hold us over until we can chop our own corn.  Every year is different, so we'll see how this one goes!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

4th Cutting...Already...

The summer has just been flying by...but yet the horrible heat and humidity have made it feel like it's dragging on forever!  We don't remember long stretches of weather like this for a while.  The last two days, however, have been a little better, with a breeze and lower humidity.  :) :)

Jim finished up baling fourth cutting alfalfa yesterday afternoon, stopped to help milk, and then finished wrapping around 9 pm.  I never thought about the view from this field before, but it's the highest field on our farm,and you can see for miles in all directions. The moon was gorgeous...but of course the picture doesn't do it justice...




Jim's mode of transportation to and from the field...the trusty 100...


I got to do something new last evening.  It's been so horribly hot, and we like to get the cows out of the barn in the evening as soon as possible.  Jim or Eric have been taking round bales to the meadow for the cows to munch on in the late evening and overnight.  Neither one of them was available to do it last night, so I got the honors.  I've run the skid loader before, but never moved a round bale.  Piece of cake!  I dropped it in place and removed the plastic and netting.  When Jim came by with the wrapper to wrap the hay bales, he stopped and flipped the rack over the bale and it was ready to go...


The cows know just where the rack is when they head out of the barn for the night...


They can't all fit around the rack at once, so the stragglers have to find something else to eat for a while until it's their turn.  There's always plenty, as it lasts for several days.  They come into the barn so much more content in the mornings when they've had a bale put out for them...


We're ready for the fall like weather to come any day now...the heat and humidity have taken their toll...on us and on the cows.  The milk truck driver told us this morning that milk pounds are way down this week.  All the trucks are about 4000-5000 lb down from their normal loads.  The cows hung in there for so long, but finally said "enough".

How's the weather where you are?  Is the summer flying by or dragging on?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Refrigerator Dill Pickles...

The heat and humidity are back in full force these past few days, and I have little ambition to get things done other than what's absolutely necessary.

However...my tomatoes are ripening fast, and I've picked bushels (literally!) of cucumbers, so I'd better get busy canning.  I was planning to make salsa today, but we are having to unexpectedly replace one of the pressure tanks in the basement, so that's on hold.  You can't can without water!

So...since my day has been all mixed up today, it's time for another recipe!

These were the simplest pickles to throw together...


Refrigerator Dill Pickles...

3 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp sea salt
4 cups cucumber spears
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 heads fresh dill (can substitute dill seed if fresh dill is out of season)

*Stir water, vinegar, sugar and sea salt together in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil; remove from heat and cool completely
*Combine cucumber spears, garlic cloves and fresh dill in a large glass or plastic container.  Pour cooled vinegar mixture over cucumbers.  Seal container with lid and refrigerate for at least 3 days.

I made these on Tuesday.  I know it's not been three days yet, but I cheated and tasted a dill pickle spear this morning.

They're nice and crispy, and I think we're going to enjoy them!

Friday, August 5, 2016

House Finch Family...

Little bird, little bird, what do you see?


I see a human looking at me!


This is the third family of house finches that have been hatched in the hanging baskets on our porch this summer...


Apparently they like begonias!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wrapping Up July...

It's been a busy July...and a hot one. We haven't had one like this for a while. It's been two weeks of yucky sticky weather...with a bunch of rain tossed somewhere in the middle...and then yucky and sticky again.

You know it's hot and humid when you are on your third change of clothes by lunch time...and you can hardly wait to go to the barn and stand in front of the big fans.  The barn smell clings to everything...even my glasses smell dirty.  Sorry, maybe that's TMI...but no amount of washing them in hot soapy water helps.  I guess I should be glad it's time for a stronger prescription even if it's a sign my eyes are getting old along with me.

Anyway...a lot has happened since my last post!

Let me back up to the fall of 1988 and spring of 1989.  I was a student at Ecola Hall Bible School in beautiful Cannon Beach, Oregon.  It was a wonderful experience, and I met a lot of great people that I still keep in touch with today, thanks to facebook!  One of my room mates, Cheryl, has a daughter who was interested in having a new experience...on her own...in another part of the country...on a farm!  My sister and I picked up LuAnn at the Philadelphia airport early last Tuesday morning.  Poor girl...it was the beginning of the hot humid yuck...and her first words as we walked out of the airport were "Oh wow, it's really humid here!"  But...she was a trooper!  She had flown all night from Portland Oregon to get here, but she came right out to the barn and pitched in.

She learned to prep a cow's udder for milking. She got to see a newborn calf. Over and over again, she scraped poop, hoed poop, got splattered by poop, shoveled fresh sawdust under the cows for bedding, fed calves, fed hay and balage, and fed rye to the heifers.  She even fed silage once (that's a heavy job!) helped me mow the yard, and helped to make pickles one day.

Here's LuAnn with the newborn calf...


We did get to do a few fun things too, while she was here.  Our neighbor Jake took us for a ride in his buggy.  That's Roger the horse.  Roger used to be a race horse, and had lots of energy, but Jake said that he's calm enough that an eight year old could drive him...


LuAnn got to take the reins as soon as we hit the road.  We were following another buggy, and Roger wanted to catch him!  Jake had a speedometer in the buggy, and we got up to around 15mph.  Eric and I were riding in the back seat, and I got a video of the ride.  We couldn't figure out how to transfer it here from her phone, but if you're my facebook friend you can see in on my page...


We did a few other fun things too...we rode the Strasburg Railroad and did a few local "touristy" things that I'd never done before!  LuAnn flew home on Wednesday, and I think she probably slept a long time once her head hit the pillow back in Oregon!

On Thursday, Jenna brought me a huge grocery bag of green peppers from the produce farm where she works.  My niece Bethany is staying with us this weekend, and she spent quite a while on Friday chopping them into small pieces...


We ended up with six quarts that I bagged up and froze.  When I need them, I can easily grab a handful at a time.  I like easy when it comes to cooking!

I can hardly believe that tomorrow will be August 1st!  That means both kids are headed back to school in just a few weeks.  The summer jobs will be ending, cross country practice will be officially starting soon, and unfortunately, the hot, humid weather is continuing.  On a positive note, the corn and beans are growing like crazy!

On the other hand...my yard looks like it needs a haybine and baler!

How's the weather where you are?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Save the Trees...

A couple of years ago, PPL (the electric company that has a power line and therefore a right of way through our farm) decided that it was time to do a massive tree trim.  Anything...anything at all that was within 75 feet of the center of the power line had to go.  No exceptions.

The fence line along our meadow was 69 feet from the center line, so all of our trees had to go.  That meant all of our shade for the cows was gone, with the exception of one lonely tree.  Here's the post I wrote about it.  It all turned out fine, because PPL made good on their promise to replant trees in another spot for us!

We chose four Autumn Blaze Maple trees, which they planted about 30 feet further in from the fence line.  During the hottest days of that first summer, the kids took 5 gallon buckets of water to each tree daily, to get them off to a good start and keep them alive.  They're thriving now.  Here's a picture of one of them last fall...


We've had wire fence around the trees since they've been planted, and the cows have pretty much left them alone until this summer.  Now they've decided it's entertaining to pull at the lower branches, stripping them of leaves, breaking branches and causing damage...


Enough is enough!  We're not going to have these trees damaged to the point that they die.  So...we had tree boxes put up around them last week...


They're 7 1/2' squares, made with four round corner posts and 2 x 6's.  The cows might still be able to chew on a few leaves, but shouldn't be able to break the branches in close to the trunk...


I like the way they look...in my opinion, kind of old fashioned!


Here's hoping for some huge shade trees in a few years!

I'm linking up with Good Fences today.  Thanks TexWisGirl for hosting!