Thursday, July 30, 2015

Making Use of the Cistern...

Do you know what a cistern is?

It's a tank for storing water.  In our case, it's an underground tank made of concrete, which is fed by the rain spouts on two sides of the house.

Our house was built a little over 100 years ago, and I have no idea when the cistern was put in...but it's a handy thing to have.  We've been regularly putting it to use ever since we moved to the farm in 1994.  We try to use it about every 4 - 6 weeks, depending on how much rain we have.  The water is not suitable for drinking, so when we plan to use it, we fill up enough water jugs to last a few days.  If we run out, our neighbors are glad to let us fill a few jugs from their faucets. (We all have wells, so no one is paying a water bill!)

You'd never know it's there if you don't know where to look.  See the spout coming down the side of the house, angling down to the left under the window?



That spout collects rain water and runs it directly into the cistern, which is under what we call the "shop".  That corner has become a bit of a catchall for some garden tools, but you can see where the spout goes down into the concrete.  There's another spout on the north side of the house as well...


The heavy !! metal grate covers the cistern...


The lid is heavy for an adult to lift, so we had no worries about the kids removing it and falling in...


The cistern is made of concrete and is probably around 7' deep.  To be honest, I don't know the other measurements.  A few years ago it was leaking, and we had it pumped out, cleaned, and the concrete repaired and sealed.  At that time, Jim was down inside, and I looked in to get an idea of the size, but I'll suffice it to say that it's big...probably at least as big as our farmhouse bathroom, which is pretty big...


Why do we use it?

With all the water that we use on the farm, our well pump gets used hard, so using the cistern occasionally gives it a break.  It also keeps the cistern pump in good working order in case of an emergency.  I remember one very hot summer, our well pump gave out, and we had trouble with the new one not working properly.  We had a load of water brought in and dumped into the cistern, and the thirsty cows were very happy!

The water is also great for doing laundry, as it's naturally soft, so when we run the cistern I do as much laundry as I can find!

I guess the rain barrels that folks are getting these days are a similar thing, except for the size and the manner in which the water is accessed.

Do any of you still have a working cistern on your property?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Chickens...

I've been waiting for a long time to get chickens again, so I'm happy to say that today I picked up a dozen, sixteen week old pullets!

I've missed having chickens.  I love hearing their quiet clucking noises when I get near their pen, and I'm anxious to have our own fresh eggs again.

I'm not sure that they're nearly as thrilled as I am...yet...


Most of them huddled together in the back of the shed...


...except for these three brave girls who wandered outside together...


After milking tonight I checked on them, and they were picking at the grass...finding some bugs I'm sure...eating some spilled feed and doing some exploring.  It'll take them a few days to adjust to their new surroundings, as usual, and hopefully in about two weeks I'll find some fresh eggs!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shades Of Green...

Green is my absolute favoritist color.  Yes, you read it right...favoritist.

This year we're seeing more green because we've had lots and lots of rain. Last night we had another 1.5" during a thunderstorm.  The corn and beans are growing like crazy!

At a recent family reunion, I was talking to Jim's Aunt, and she mentioned how many different shades of green there are, if you just look around.  She's right, you know!  I've been paying attention, and today I took the camera and captured some of the beautiful shades of green in our neighborhood. Some are at home and some are not, but all are within a two mile radius of home.

Roadside weeds, neighbor's hay fields, corn and tobacco...


Neighbor's tobacco...



Grassy meadow at the other farm, beans, a "just baled" hay field, and corn...


Jim started mowing third cutting alfalfa today...


I think the green hay wagon counts!  Waiting for "hopefully" Saturday, to be filled with some dry hay if the weather behaves...


Headed back home again...corn, tobacco, trees, hay...so many different shades of green...


Back home, the corn behind the barn with tassels, giving it a different look...


I love all these shades in my shrub border and the garden beyond...


...and these lovely variegated coleus are my favorite...


Green really is my favoritist color!  How about you?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What's Growing In Your Garden...

It's July already, and most gardens are in full swing.

Mine is tiny this year...nothing that I have to bend over for long periods of time to pick, which means no green beans and no lima beans (sob sob) this year.

I'm loving it!

I have a generous friend who has given me some of her extra Roma beans, and I'm planning to buy some limas when the time is right.  I have been able to focus on keeping my flower beds weed free (well, almost!) and keeping my smaller garden happy. (well, almost!)

Here's my harvest today...


We have zucchini coming out the wazoo.  I'm cooking for the food co-op today, and thankfully the other family loves zucchini!  I'm giving some away, and I still have some left.  And oh yes, there will be more tomorrow!

My tomatoes are dying, all except for my cherry tomatoes, as usual.  I guess I should just give up on them, but it seems like everyone else grows huge tomato plants.  Sigh.

The cucumbers look happy, as do the cantelope, and that about does it for my garden this year!

What's growing in your garden?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Changes In the Neighborhood...

There are changes in the neighborhood...

For many years, our road has been one that the local tour guides would bring their tourists down.  They could point out the difference between Amish and English farms...curtains at the windows, cars and rubber wheeled tractors, "small" gardens...the Amish schoolhouse and no electric poles...


This week there have been some changes.  Can you see what I do?


One family has left the Amish church, and they are putting electricity in their home. They would have preferred to put the lines underground, but for some reason one property owner didn't give permission to cross his property, so a whole new line of electric poles now dots the landscape.  The poles just went up yesterday.  No electric lines have been added yet...


We are so used to seeing the road clear of poles, that it's glaringly obvious to us, although it might seem like "nothing" to someone who might not drive by every day...


There's still one stretch of road that is clear...


I would never want them to not get electricity...it'll just take some getting used to!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Finishing Hay Before the Rain...

Baling hay has been a challenge this time around!

We would love to have some nice dry, small square bales, but the weather just isn't cooperating.  All during that long stretch of dry weather that we had, second cutting wasn't ready to be mowed yet.  Once it was ready to be mowed, the clouds rolled in and the farmers have been fighting with the weather all week long.  I don't think anyone in the neighborhood got dry squares this time around.

This morning Jim finished up second cutting with twenty three more round bales.  He was baling a mile away at some rental ground, so he rented an Amish neighbor's bale transporter to make the process more efficient.  (Check out the metal wheels on the transporter, and the tracks it left on the driveway.)

My cousin took the bale transporter to the hay field and loaded up five bales at a time, bringing them back to our house.  This was the last load, with only four.  He unloaded them on the driveway...



...and Jim wrapped them and put them in place along with all the other round bales.  This video is a little long.  I've posted him wrapping bales before, but this one shows it from start to finish...picking up the bale, positioning it, wrapping it and dropping it into place.  Part way through he asks me to get some tape for the one bale that had a little tear in it.  They've got to be air tight!



Normally Jim would take the wrapper to the field...pick up two bales at a time...bring them home and wrap them...and repeat the process.  This way he saved a lot of time in transporting the bales, and could just continually wrap until he was finished.

Here's an "oops"...


The net wrap came loose while transporting.  It wrapped "ok", but we'll probably feed this one first, in case it's not air tight.  We don't want moldy hay!

This batch of bales is labelled E2.  E is for Esbenshade's (the farm where it was baled) and 2 for second cutting...


It's super hot and humid today, and thunderstorms are expected to roll through this afternoon and evening.  While we're disappointed to not have dry hay, at least it's finished and there will be about four weeks until third cutting starts.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mowing the Meadow...

There's just something about a neatly manicured lawn and freshly mowed meadow...


...that makes me feel like all's right with the world.

A freshly mopped kitchen floor has the same effect on me.  If only it got done more often!