Wednesday, March 30, 2011

At Last...

I think it's safe to say that most of us know what it's like to have spring fever.

These past few weeks, we've seen more hours of daylight...the robins have returned...the daffodils are in full bloom...we've seen more of our neighbors than we have in months...there's a "lovely" smell in the air... and the days are just a bit warmer (at least they're supposed to be!)...

But it's not just us who have spring fever...the cows have it too!  They've been getting restless...very restless!

When we let them out in the mornings for excercise, they stand in the barnyard and look longingly over the wire into the meadow.  They kick up their heels and some of them balk at coming back into the barn.  Their behavior during milking is less than stellar, and they can't seem to ever consume enough food!

Today we left them out to graze in the rye field for the first time.  Jim left them out of the barn slowly, row by row.  I stood at the bottom of the path by a temporary wire, to "help" them figure out which way to go, and to keep them from running through wires in their excitement.  (That part didn't work!!)  Their reactions were typical of the first time out in the spring...

Here, Belle leads the first pack into the meadow...  She is ALWAYS first.  (she should know the ropes by now since at age twelve she's the oldest cow in the herd!)

Here comes a group of younger cows...the one in front just realized there's a wire in front of her, and has skidded to a stop!  I like to watch their faces...look at the second cow's ears!  She knows there's something exciting happening...she's also the one who broke throught the wires...

This cow thinks she's part race horse!  She knows the way to the rye field from last year, so there's no holding her back...

They've made the final turn and can see the rye field dead ahead!  They're closing in fast ...


At last...

A cool spring day spent in the sunshine, and a belly full of rye...who could ask for anything more?!

Linking to Farm Friend Friday and Farm Girl Friday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Farm Memories #3...The Big Pull-Off"

I just got back tonight from a refreshing weekend away...scrapbooking at the beach with friends!  We got little sleep, but got lots of memories preserved, and now it's time to think about getting back to work!

Speaking of's another story from Jim's Uncle Ray...more memories from life on the farm ...

"The Big Pull-Off"

We neighbor boys were very Patriotic to our farm tractors!

We had a Farmall Super H with big rear tires.  Our neighbors had an Allis Chalmers WC.

One time I challenged them to a pull-off to see which tractor was best...

The "H" was higher on the drawbar, so by using a short chain, I was able to lift some weight off of the "WC".  We started our pull on the road in front of our house. We hooked the tractors together with a chain back to back.  We put both tractors in low gear with one half throttle.  After the chain tightened, the "H" easily out pulled the "WC" !"

the mighty "H"

When we started farming, Jim used the "H" every day to pull the manure spreader.  However, several years into farming, we needed to purchase another spreader.  The new spreader had an end gate which was operated by hydraulics, and the hydraulic system on the "H" wouldn't operate the end gate.  So...Jim had to park the "H" and use the "M" for spreading manure instead.

Jim would have liked to keep the tractor, but in reality, we had no good place to store it.  So, regrettably, we sold the tractor several years ago.

We hope the new owner is getting enjoyment from that good old tractor!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where Did It Go?

Do you remember this picture of Slinky up in the top of the hay mow, trying to stay as far away from Murphy as possible?

That was in October.  This is the east hay mow, and today it looks like this...

Here we are, five months later, and it (the east hay mow) is all but empty of dry hay.  The mow on the west side of the barn is less than half full by now as well.  Last summer we baled less dry hay than usual...however we had about fifty large round bales of balage, which we fed the cows twice per day.  We have three round bales left, and we should have enough dry hay to last until first cutting of hay, which is usually sometime in May, but it will be cutting it closer than some years.  Those cows sure do eat a lot!

(The wooden bin at the left is the bin that holds the toasted corn.  The chute goes down through the barn floor into the stable area, where we fill the cart daily to feed to cows.)

It's hard to believe that in less than two months, we will be mowing and baling hay!  Right now the fields are just beginning to green up.  With the rain we've had, and the warm temps to come, that time will be here before we know it!

Spring is here, and it's just in time!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Farm Memories #2...Rex the Intelligent Collie...

Uncle Ray

Once again, I've enlisted some help from others who have memories of this farm...long before I ever came into the picture!

 Jim's Uncle Ray, who grew up on this farm, has lots of stories to tell of life on the farm, and has written a couple of them down for me.  This is the story of Rex, the Intelligent Collie...

"Our farm had a large Collie farm dog named Rex.  We taught him to ride on wagons and on the truck, which he enjoyed.  Our brother-in-law Ira bought a small motorcycle, and I thought we could teach Rex to ride on it with us!  He really enjoyed riding the motorcycle, and never fell off.  This picture shows him ready to go for another ride...

This is Jim's Dad Lloyd on the motorcycle with Rex, ready to go for another ride.  The picture was taken by Uncle Ray, when both he and Lloyd were still single and living at home.

We could go anywhere on the farm. 

One day, I decided to take him for a ride to Strasburg on the road.  As we were going south on Hartman Bridge Road, the people in the cars coming toward us could only see the dog, with his paws on the handle bars.  They couldn't see me sitting behind him, and they pulled over and stopped until we were past!"

What fun memories from long ago....they're even better when heard being told in person, and I'm so glad Uncle Ray found a picture of Rex on the motorcycle to go along with the story! 

Thanks, Uncle Ray for the trip down memory lane!

And by the way...for those of you who wondered what we named Lazarus' calf...her name is PATTY!    Some of you guessed Biblical names to go along with Lazarus, but we just couldn't resist...because she was born on St. Patty's day!  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Expect the Unexpected...

Some time ago,  I wrote about what I've been learning about FLEXIBILITY. and how this is a tough topic for me...

I'm a list maker, a list checker-offer, and I thrive on routine and knowing what to expect in my day.  Well...

Last night I made lists of all the things that needed to happen today, ALL of which seemed to be very important.  The lists went something like this...

* take child #1 to school early at 7am 
* take child #2 to school at 8:30 
* check on neighbor and deliver his newspaper 
* complete recipe forms for a cookbook project 
* deliver piano accompaniment to a friend from Church so she can practice before Sunday
* mail important package at post office
* get to the library to do some online things with speedy internet
* do barn laundry and hang it out
* start cleaning up the yard
* go for a run

Of course in the midst of all those IMPORTANT things, were the usual morning barn chores.  Yes, Jim could do them himself, but it's much, much nicer with two people! 

So...we began our morning...

The first three items were accomplished in short order.   On to the barn.  We had several cows to watch for heats, so all the cows went out while we gave them fresh bedding.  The hammer mill came to grind corn, and Jim headed over to the other farm to feed the heifers.

I've just started running, and this morning I decided to run to the other farm and catch a ride back with him.  Well...yes, I made it!...but when I got there, Jim had found a new addition.  Lazarus had freshened early, and had a beautiful heifer calf!

 We went home for the cow trailer, and came back over to bring Lazarus and the new baby home.  The problem is...we now have more milking cows than we have stalls.  So, we needed to move some heifers around from one farm to the other to make room for Lazarus. 

That's when the day fell apart!

You see...heifers in particular can be STUBBORN!  Both of the heifers that we took to the other farm planted their feet and   would.   not.   move.  What should have taken perhaps 30 minutes max, took over 1 1/2 hours!

In between moving heifers, I tried to hang out my laundry, and dropped clean clothes onto my muddy barn boots.  Ugh.

The package has not been mailed... the music has not yet been delivered...the recipes are not complete...the yard is still a mess with sticks and other wintry things...the laundry is still hanging on the line, and I've not been to the library to do my speedy-internet things!  I'll be honest with you...this was one of those days that we'd rather undo and start over.  Why is being flexible so difficult?  It was nobody's just happened...and tomorrow will probably be much better!  :) 

I usually try to write about the good things...the fun things that happen on the farm, but today I decided to be honest about how some days go!

But...we have a healthy heifer calf, a healthy Mama, and my daffodils bloomed today!  So maybe the day wasn't wasted, after all! 

Can you guess what we named Lazarus' new baby?

And now...if you'd like to read some more farm blogs, head over to Farm Friend Friday at Verde Farm!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dr. Seuss Was Right...

We've had chickens now for just about three years... 

We started out with some Barred Rocks...they were pretty chickens...mostly black, with white spots, and they had very nice temperaments. (Those are the Barred Rocks on my profile picture).  They loved to sit on the top of the fence...and flutter over into the garden for adventure.  However, we were not impressed with their egg laying.  We got some pretty large eggs...some doubles and even a triple yolker...but even during the longest days, they never gave us 100%.

Next, we got some Red Sex Links...they are bred to do especially well in cold weather...and we've been more pleased with the number of eggs we've been getting.  They, however, aren't especially interesting birds.  Yes, they come running whenever they see me, and follow me around like the Pied Piper, but they're just...chickens!

So...we decided to mix it up a bit.  I found an Amish farmer who was willing to sell me just three Americauna hens.  Yesterday morning I picked them up and introduced them to their new home.  There was quite a bit of squawking going on in the pen, as they established their new pecking order, but in spite of the adjustments, this is what we found...

They lay the most beautiful eggs!

Maybe Dr. Seuss was right...and we'll have green eggs and ham for breakfast tomorrow!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Homemade Kind of Day...

Spring's just hanging around the corner, tempting me to get out there and get my hands in the dirt, but Winter's still got a bit of a grip on me!  It was one of those days today where the wind had a cold, damp edge to it.  I hung out some wash, nailed it to the line, and then decided that today would be a good day to heat up the kitchen and make some homemade goodies...

But first, I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Teresa, at Eden Hills!  A month or so ago, I participated in a "Pay it Forward" on her blog, and today in the mail I received a package...of homemade goodies!  The package contained a bar of her homemade Lavender Goat's Milk Soap ( I was hoping to try it! :)   and a jar of her homemade lavender bath salts.  They smell lovely, and I can hardly wait to try them!  Thanks Teresa!

Back in the kitchen, I decided to try my second round of homemade biscotti.  I tried it for the first time last week, and it didn't last long, so I decided to make a second batch.  I tweaked a few things, and I'm pleased with the result...I don't think this batch will last very long either!  If you're hungry, stop in for a cup of coffee and a sweet treat!

The recipe is a little time consuming, but it's rather simple, and tastes delcious with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate...

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, toasted, divided
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
4 blocks white almond bark, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside
2.  Place 3/4 cup almonds in food processor and pulse until ground ( I just crushed them)
3.  In large bowl, beat butter with mixer.  Add sugar and 3/4 cup almonds.  Mix well.
4.  Add cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Beat until combined
5.  Beat in eggs and almond extract
6.  Add flour by cupfuls, mixing well after each addition.  Batter will be quite stiff.  You may need to add the last of the flour by hand
7.  Stir in remaining almonds by hand.
8.  Divide dough in half.  On waxed paper, with floured hands, shape dough into two 14" long rolls.
9.  Place on greased and floured cookie sheet, at least 5" apart.  Flatten slightly.
10.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.
11.  Cool on cookie sheet for one hour.  On a cutting board, cut each roll diagonally into 1/2" thick slices (about 24 slices from each roll)
12.  Place slices, cut side down, on the same cookie sheet you used for the first baking.  Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.
13.  Turn slices over and bake 7-9 minutes longer, or until cookies are dry and beginning to get crisp.
14.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire racks.  Cool completely.
15.  When cool, drizzle with melted almond bark.
16.  Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy with a cup of your favorite hot beverage!

And remember...spring really IS just around the corner!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cow Capacity...

What in the world is cow capacity?

Well, of's how much a cow can eat in a day!

It's difficult for you to see the actual amounts from these pictures.  If I had thrown everything together into one big pile, it would be much easier to see just how much it adds up to!  But suffice it to say, it's a lot...

A lot of farms have a mixer, in which all the forages are put together and mixed, creating a TMR, or Total Mixed Ration.  We do not use a mixer...we feed each thing separately.

Before each milking, they get a large armful of balage...

Next, they get corn silage...roughly 36 pounds per day, per cow...

After the silage, they get toasted corn, pellets and toasted soybeans...

The corn is fed three times per day...roughly 15 pounds per cow (that's three of those scoops).  A heavy milker might get a bit more, and a cow near dry - up gets very little corn.   Similarly, the amount of pellets and beans varies.  A dry - up cow gets none.  (and she looks longingly at her neighbors' !)

And we certainly can't let out the dry hay!  Each cow eats approximately five cakes, or one half bale of hay per day...

Last, but certainly not least in order of importance, is water.  A cow will drink anywhere from 30-50 gallons of water per day.  That's a lot of water!

It takes a lot to keep a cow happy, and yes, we do expect them to clean up their plates!  If they don't, there must be something wrong! 

I've linked up with Farm Friend Friday...check out some other fun farm blogs!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Farm Memories #1...the Ferguson TO 30...

This is the time of year when we're in a bit of a holding pattern on the farm.  The daily chores need to be done of course...milking, feeding, milking, feeding, milking, feeding...but nothing too exciting.  So while we're waiting for full blown spring to arrive (and it IS just around the corner), I thought I'd gather some memories from life on this farm from some guest bloggers.

A few days ago,  I asked my father in law if he would write a story for my blog about one of his old tractors.  He sounded intrigued but reluctant.  I didn't push, and figured that he would just forget about it.  Imagine my surprise and delight this morning when I walked into the barn, and he handed me a piece of paper!  Here is the first intstallment of stories from guest bloggers about life on "our" farm...

"The Ferguson TO 30"

My father in law on the old Ferguson TO 30, on the day he sold it -2010
 "This tractor was desgined in England by a man named Harry Ferguson.  He also developed the first 3-point hitch . Ford later purchased the 3-point concept.

The Ferguson that I had, my Father purchased slightly used in the early 1950's.  It had three speeds in each of it's four gears, plus three speeds in reverse.

We used the TO 30 to plant tobacco, because it went real slow in first gear, low.  I also used it to plow (with a two-bottom plow), rake hay and load manure.  It had a Sauder loader (made in New Holland) that was very quick to take on and off.

When I would plow, for entertainment, I would drive over the soft, plowed ground and let the clutch out quick.  The front end would rear up and land softly on the plowed ground.  I had alot of fun with this tractor!

The TO 30 was very fast on the road...but one humbling experience was when I got into a road race with a young Amish boy in his buggy.  To make a long story short, I simply got beat!  He had a very fast horse!

I have many memories with this tractor.  The tractor got sold locally, so I still see it from time to time!"

Thanks, Lloyd, for a trip down memory lane!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Farm Finds #1...

Welcome to a hidden corner of the barn...

This is the door to the granary in the upstairs of the barn.  It used to be used guessed it...grain storage!  Now it is simply used for storage, and if you dare to enter, be prepared to come out covered in cobwebs.  We took a broom to it for these pictures...

Hidden inside, is a collection of drawings...

We have no idea who the artist was, as they were already on the walls before Jim's grandparents purchased the farm in the 1940's.  Whoever it was, they spent a good bit of time using their creativity.  I'm sure that they had no idea that in 2011, their pictures would be on the internet for "all" to see! 

The lighting wasn't so good, so the pictures got a little dark, but hopefully you can see them well enough...

The Battleship...

The Ocean Liner ... the Titanic perhaps?  The barn was built in 1912...

The bi-plane...maybe a young boy dreaming of being a pilot...

The  Model -T.  I wonder why it is missing it's wheels...

and a Racer...

While exploring the granary, Eric left his mark as well, along with the date in 2008...a police helicopter...

Downstairs, we've left our own mark in the barn's history.  Who knows...50 + years from now, someone else may wonder who we were and what we were all about...Why in the world were we Eagles fans?!

It's been fun looking at these things; pieces of history... trying to discover who these people were and what made them tick!  We may never know for sure, but it's fun to imagine!

And now...head on over to Verde Farm for Farm Friend Friday.  You'll find lots of other farm blogs to enjoy!