Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When Things Don"t Go As Planned...

I've been looking forward to this week all summer long...a week of visiting with my sister's family, enjoying the last week of summer before sending the kids back to school, one of them for the last time!

All that changed on Thursday evening.  All I did was bend over to snap a cow's chain to her collar, when something "flew into" my back.  If I didn't know what that meant before, I sure do now!  By Friday morning I was unable to sit or walk at all, and on Friday evening was diagnosed with a herniated disk in my lower back, and another one bulging, pressing on a nerve that I'd rather not even know I had!

It's a helpless and humbling experience, to be laying on a mattress in the middle of the living room floor while someone else does the dishes, cooks the meals, does the laundry, gathers and washes the eggs, sweeps the floor, and basically does everything for me.

I am SO VERY THANKFUL for my family, who have been really good sports so far.  Jim has had to rely on others to help in the barn...Jenna has taken over the laundry...Eric's been getting up extra early to help before cross country practice...my sister who lives nearby spent Friday with me, cleaning, and even picked, shelled and froze my lima beans...my visiting sister's family (on their vacation) has taken over the daily tasks that we take for granted!  My Mom mopped my kitchen floor and went for groceries...my Father in law mowed the yard...my Mother in law brought us a whole lot of yummy food... (Olive Garden!!) and the list goes on.

I am SO VERY THANKFUL for all the people who have cared for us by providing meals!  My refrigerator is FULL and overflowing.

I am SO VERY THANKFUL for pain meds!

I have no idea how long this will go on, but after only five days, I'm going crazy!  I really want to just get up and go!  The earliest I could get an appointment with a specialist is next week.

I'm going to take a break from blogging until I'm on my feet again, or at least until I'm able to sit for longer periods of time.

What do you do when things don't go as planned?


Friday, August 8, 2014

Filling in the Big Hole...

Last week I posted about the new drain field aka the big hole that we had in our yard.

This week, the excavator finished his work.

Yesterday we had the old septic tank pumped out and he destroyed the old one by tapping on it with the bucket of his track hoe and smashing it to pieces...


He then dug out a larger, deeper hole for the new tank, which is three times the size of the old one.  It was fun watching him...that bucket just seemed like an extension of his hand!

Early this morning the new tank arrived on a crane truck...


It was lowered into the hole...


...and centered to line up with the existing pipe from the house and the new pipe into the drain field...
(the crane operator has a nifty remote control in his hand that he used to maneuver the tank)


Once it was in place, the excavator hooked up all the plumbing and began covering the tank. It was only a short time that we couldn't run any water from the house.  I put notes on the faucets and we put books on the toilet lids as reminders.  I'm sure it wouldn't have been fun to be hooking things up, only to have some "not so clean" water come shooting out the pipe!


Everything has now been covered up, and we have a lovely dirt yard to play in...


Jim just finished going over it with the disc to get out the large clumps, and the landscaper has already been here to take a look at it and give an estimate for reseeding!  He was only a mile or so away when he got my email that we were ready for him...how's that for quick service?

We aren't sure when all that will happen yet, because the dirt needs to settle around the tank for a while. Regardless of how long that takes, it sure is nice to be able to do laundry, take showers, wash dishes and know that we should be in good shape for many years to come!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Big Hole...

I know, I've been in a blogging slump lately.  There hasn't really been anything "exciting" happening, and I've been busy with other things, I guess. Hopefully I can shake it off soon, and get back at it!

I guess I'll start with what's happening here today...there's a big hole in our yard!  Someone was hoping it was for a swimming pool, but that's wishful thinking! :)

It looks like it could be a pool...




Any thoughts yet as to what it is going to be?


Yep...boring...a drain field / septic system...


Actually, it's rather interesting and has been fun to watch.  I learned a lot just this morning by observing and talking to the excavator.

The process began weeks ago, with digging a probe hole, doing a perk test and getting a permit. Today was step two...digging the bed and laying the pipes and stone.  Next week the tanks will come, and they can hopefully finish up.

It's mid afternoon and they're starting to close in the hole...


Check out that beautiful Lancaster County soil!  It's almost a shame to not be planting something in it...


The yard won't look the same for a long while, but it's one more thing that will be crossed off our checklist for this year!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Girls" Beach Getaway...

Ahhhh...

Doesn't this look like a relaxing place to be?





Jenna and I just got back from a quick two-day getaway to the beach with our good friends.  The weather was perfect...but a little windy, as you can see from our pictures on the boardwalk Monday evening!


The farmers' wives and farmers' daughters had a very relaxing, enjoyable time away...and now it's back to work in the morning!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fixing the House Roof...

Usually the things that I blog about are in the barn...fixing this...fixing that, but today it was time to get another project underway.  Our house has a slate roof just like the barn, and it was in need of some repair.  There were a few missing slates, missing snow catchers, and a couple of unused chimneys that did nothing but allow birds and bats into the attic.  I shudder whenever I see a bat in the house, and we've had  four of them in the house in the past week.

Early this morning, the Amish crew came to begin work on the roof.  They began by setting up all their ladders, and once they were set up, they took took down the first chimney top.  It was at the peak of the roof on the far left.  The bricks were removed and the hole was capped and covered with slate.  The guy told Jim that some bats flew out when they were working on it. We were still milking and feeding at the time, so I missed getting any pictures of the process.  The second chimney was at the peak to the right...


It amazes me how some people are so comfortable with heights.  You couldn't pay me enough to walk around up on that roof!

Near the bottom edge of the roof, you can see the row of snow catchers that they added.  This should help in the winter with all the heavy snow sliding off the roof in an avalanche...


Later in the afternoon, they worked on the north side of the house...


This man is repairing the remaining chimney...the only one that is functional in the house...


They are about finished with the house, and will need to come back and finish up some work on the barn roof on another day.

My hat's off to those who don't mind working in the hot sun on hot, humid days, and who don't mind working at those heights!

My only question now, is this...

"The bats that are now trapped in the attic...will they try to get outside by coming down through the house tonight?!"

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another New Barn Cleaner Chain...

Every so many years, it's necessary to order a new barn cleaner chain.  Time and manure take their toll, and the chain wears thin, slipping off the sprocket at the top of the elevator...usually on a Sunday morning of course!

A few weeks ago Jim ordered a new chain for the west side of the barn. (We replaced the one on the east side of the barn a few years ago)  He picked it up a few days ago. We're between 2nd and 3rd hay cuttings, so it was the perfect time to replace it.  After the cows were milked and fed this morning, the 3rd and 4th rows went out to the meadow for a few hours while Jim and his helpers replaced the chain.

First things first...there's always some discussion that needs to happen before the work starts. Harold has been ordering parts and helping with barn cleaner issues for years, and today he came again to supervise and lend a hand...


There's the new chain!  I asked Harold how much that box of chain probably weighed. He said it weighs 6.5 lbs. per foot, so if the chain is 148 ft long, that's close to 1000 lbs...


The first thing Jim did was to find the link that connected the two ends of the old chain together.  He removed it, and hooked the new chain to the old one...


Eric works away in the mornings, and our neighbor Daniel was helping this morning, so he got the honors of standing on the back of the pickup, keeping tension on the old chain as it came around the sprocket at the top of the elevator.  Harold helped by pulling the new chain out of the box and Jim made sure it was untangled, feeding it through the proper channel and into the barn...


My job was to run the barn cleaner switch.  A few feet at a time, the new chain was pulled around the barn...


...and there you have it...the new barn cleaner chain is in place...


Looking at these pictures will be the only time we see this chain clean, ever again...


They also had to replace the sprocket at the top of the elevator.  You start with the smallest size sprocket, and as the chain wears thin, you replace it with a larger one...


Here's the old chain.  It's moved tons of manure in it's life time!  I think Daniel might need to throw those jeans in the laundry, huh?


So there you have it...this was our project for this hot July day!  All in all, Jim said it went really smoothly. We like when that happens!

Update:  someone asked what we do with the old chain?  There's a place nearby that recycles such things, and Jim took it there this afternoon...hosed off, of course!



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lancaster County Summer...

Ok...it's really feeling like a Lancaster County summer now!

It sure is "close" out there today!  Have you ever heard that expression? "Close"...as in really, really, really, really humid.  The air is almost so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Well, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but I was sweating before I ever went outside the door this morning.

Murphy has the idea...


Find a place in the shade, and stay there as long as possible!  In her case, it's either in the back of the truck, or underneath it, depending on where the sun is situated.

But...I can't complain.  Really.  After the winter we had, I vowed to not whine about the heat.

I'm very thankful for the slight breeze that's coming in the window...for the ice cold coke in my hand...for the cucumbers that I'm about to turn into banana pickles...that second cutting hay is finished (!)...for the thunderstorms that are to come this afternoon and cool things off (hopefully!)...that the kids will return home this afternoon from their missions trip...

...and for the air conditioner in our bedroom window!