Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Quick Getaway...

It's been a long, long time (10 years!) since Jim and I have been able to both be away from the cows at the same time!  Other than just a couple (4, to be exact!) of times in the last few years where we've missed a milking together for a couple of graduation parties, a wedding and my parents' sale, we've had to divide and conquer when it came to taking time off.

This weekend, while we are in between hay cuttings,and before Jenna heads back to college tomorrow we were able to take a quick trip to Ocean City NJ with Jenna and a friend.  Eric would have gone along, but already had made plans with some college friends.

We left the cows in the trusted and capable hands of our friends Ivan and Victoria, and neighbor Daniel for three milking and we skedaddled!

Ocean City NJ is a short three hour drive.  We tied up the cows in the morning, and pulled out around 6 am.  Before lunch, we were relaxing on the beach...


Within the hour, thunderstorms rolled in, and the beach had to be vacated.  We hung out at the music pier for a while...


...saw a beautiful rainbow...


...and went to an Escape Room for some entertainment.  We were paired up with another group of four, and we found the pirate's treasure before the time was up!


The beach was closed for the rest of the day, so we checked into our boarding house and cooled off, and then headed to the boardwalk for supper .

Later, Jim and the girls rode the ferris wheel...


We bought our salt water taffy and walked the boardwalk for a while before turning in for the night.

This morning was beautiful!  Jim got up early (his body clock just wouldn't let him sleep in!) and went to the boardwalk for coffee.  Later, we all took a walk on the beach...


 The water was warm!





While Jim and I packed up the car, the girls headed out to the water for a quick swim before we headed home again.  It was just a quick trip, but it felt so good to finally get away from the farm for a bit of relaxation!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Bright Spot In a Dreary Week...

Let's face it...too much of one kind of weather gets old, no matter how much you've needed said weather...

Earlier this spring we had ten days straight of rain, resulting in +-7 inches of rain and soggy fields.  Crops were planted late, first cutting of hay was late, but eventually it all worked out.

Then we had several weeks straight of hot, dry weather, resulting in stressed crops and worried farmers.

This week we've had four days or so of rain, resulting in +- 6 more inches of rain.  I don't want to be a complainer, because in the long run, all the rain is great for the water table!  Needless to say, it's been a little frustrating.  "Feast or famine, so the saying goes". 

The rain lilies, however, are quite thrilled! 

Yesterday...


Today...


Their true name is Zephyr Lilies, but we call them rain lilies because they push up shoots and bloom right after a heavy rain.  You can trick them into thinking it's rained, by dumping a bucket...yes, a whole bucket full...of water over them every few days.  In the fall, you just take them to the basement before the first hard frost and forget about them until spring!

They are a bright spot on these dreary days!


Friday, July 20, 2018

3rd Cutting...

The weather, the weather...it's all about the weather! 

We've had such a unique summer, weather wise.  A cool, wet spring got the corn and beans in late...1st cutting of hay was a little later than usual...and now we've gone about three weeks without any measurable rain.   Earlier this week we had less than 1/10th of an inch while folks almost within sight had at least 1/2" or more.  The crops are getting a little bit stressed, but the forecast is calling for rain over the next week.  We sure hope they're right!

One thing positive about having no rain, is that Jim was able to get some dry hay baled this week.  He mowed a couple of fields on Tuesday evening, and baled it this afternoon...




I never seem to time my pictures right, so that the bales are in the air between the baler and the wagon.  Oh well...



I had the easiest job...


We're very thankful for several loads of nice, dry small square bales of hay.  Yes, balage is easier and faster to bale, especially when the window of nice weather is short...but no one likes to feed it...and we liken dry hay to gold.  There's not much better than dry hay to keep a cow's rumen happy!

Now it can rain.  Please?!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Susquehannock State Park...

Yesterday afternoon, on a beautiful day, one of my "oldest"  (tee-hee) friends and I took an afternoon excursion to Susquehannock State Park.  It's a beautiful park/overlook close to where I grew up in the southern end of Lancaster County.

Disclaimer...rant ahead...

The "southern end" has lots of gems that people who live in the central or northern end of the county have never been to.  I remember as a teenager, many people would say I lived in the "boondox" or "way down there", so far away.  But they didn't know what they were missing.  Ok, enough of my rant...  :)

A bit of background...the Susquehanna River is the longest river on the east coast, and flows through Pennsylvania, draining into the Chesapeake Bay, and then the Atlantic Ocean.

Looking south, if you enlarge the photo you can see the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant on the west (right) side of the river...


looking north...


You can see Peach Bottom more clearly on this picture.  There were lots of boaters and jet skiiers enjoying the water yesterday...


We took a short "hike" ...


...to another overlook where we could see the Holtwood Hydroelectric Plant below us.  In the distance to the north is the Norman Wood Bridge, which crosses the river to York County...




The wineberries were beginning to ripen...


My friend Sue and I...


She and I grew up together  and I'm glad we've been able to keep in touch.  She's a rockin' school teacher!  I used to always remind her when we were kids, that I was "older" than her.  A whopping 4 months older, but I was a year ahead of her in school because of when our birthdays fell in the year.  Now I'm reminded that I really am older.  Ha!  Love ya, Sue!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

How the Garden Grows...

We're in a lull between hay cuttings, so I thought I'd do a post on something non farm related that's growing here.  Warning...it's a little picture heavy, but I just love seeing things grow, so I won't be offended if you breeze through quickly!  :)


I seem to be having another good tomato year.  Those plants in the middle have taken off after a poor start, surviving ten days straight of rain.  There are green tomatoes galore.  The cucumbers in the foreground are doing the same!  I put them in a cage so that they can climb up instead of sprawling out, and as a result I get straight cucumbers, rather than curly ones...


Can you find the cucumber?  It's well camouflaged.  I plant Burpless #26.  The cucumbers are long, thin and straight, and have few seeds...



I haven't grown patty pan squash for a couple of years.  This plant survived the wet weather and being nibbled on by a ground hog early on...


Sweet Heat peppers are a new addition this year.  I'll use them in my salsa.  They came in a 4-pack, so if anyone local wants some, let me know!!


Sweet Baby Girl...my favorite cherry tomato ever!  It's almost as tall as my head!


 So far so good with the zucchini, too.  I know that one morning I'll go out and it will be totally wilted, but for now we're enjoying the bounty...


I had several extra railroad ties when I lined the garden a year or so ago, so I made a small area where I like to plant sunflowers.  I have a lot of volunteers in the garden, but this patch was planted from a variety pack. I'm curious to see what all colors I have?  There's a good variety of sizes...


Speaking of volunteers...a bunch of dill came up along the south edge of the garden, so I left it grow.  I had to pick some caterpillars off of it early on, and now it's enjoying life...


Last but not least, there's a row of zinnias for picking along the edge as well.  Such cheery little flowers they are!


How does your garden grow?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

First Heat Wave of 2018...

I'm done.  I've had enough.  I think I'm ready for fall now!

This was the temperature at 5 pm, in the shade...60 % humidity...


 Call me a wimp, I don't care, but my energy level (and my attitude) goes way down when it's like this for more than a day or two. 

The barn actually felt better than I expected tonight.  With all the big fans running, it stayed pretty steady around 78 degrees during milking.  The cows are really feeling it though...milk production has dropped a bit...which is to be expected in weather like this...and a few of them needed to be cooled off with the hose this afternoon...


Today was a milk truck day, so the tank was empty when we started milking tonight.  I like to guess what the interior temperature of the tank will be when we first turn on the compressor.  I'm rarely correct, and tonight was no exception.  I guessed 94...


This is one way the dogs keep cool...


I also tried to guess what the temperature inside the house would be when we came in for supper. Oh how nice it would be to have central air, but I'm thankful for the window unit in our bedroom so that we can sleep well!


On the bright side...I had to borrow my parents' car today to go to an eye doctor appointment.  My Mom rode along, and we went to the dairy store where Jenna works for some delicious ice cream cones...


And another bright side is the breeze coming in the window beside the desk...and the shower that awaits me! 

Stay cool wherever you are!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Adventures of Kari and Whitney...

Maybe you remember a post from back in April, where I lost my chickens to a fox...

Since then, our neighbor gave us two leghorn hens that she hatched in her animal science class at CTC.  She transported them in a cat carrier, they were that small, at only 8 weeks of age...



I named them Kari and Whitney, after her mom and aunt.  :)  Just for fun!

While I tried to figure out how to fortify the chicken pen and make it fox-proof, I penned them inside the shed with screens over the doors.  They still got lots of light, ventilation, and had plenty of room to explore. 

They were quite timid at first, and hid under the nesting boxes whenever I would come around.  They learned to flutter up and climb inside the nesting boxes to sleep. Sometimes I would find them huddled together in one box...


They're now about 14 weeks old, growing fast, and becoming braver.  They've begun venturing outside in search of bugs, grass and whatever chickens find to eat.  They also enjoy the watermelon and cantelope rinds that I've been putting in their pen.  Today the two of them devoured the rind of a watermelon in just a few hours!  If they keep eating like they are, and growing, in about 6 or 7 weeks, we should find some eggs!  It's going to look kind of strange to see white eggs...we've only ever had brown chickens and brown eggs.  Hopefully later this summer, we'll add a few more chickens...



Tonight when I mowed inside the pen, they actually stayed outside, and only ran inside when Phoebe barked at them.  (She would love to eat them, so we have to be super diligent to see that she never gets inside the pen!)


I snagged a huge pile of (free!) discarded fence posts and rails from the golf course across the road that is doing a lot of renovations, and lined the inside of the fence, in hopes that it will deter unwanted  critters, aka foxes, from getting inside...


The next thing is to catch the groundhog that has dug a hole underneath the shed.  There's always something!