Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Peanut...

I just can't help myself.

I have to show you what I get to see every day when I go out to the barn.  She is the absolutely, positively, hands down, without a doubt, sweetest, softest cat that you could ever imagine.

This is Slinky's daughter, Peanut...


If I'm upset, not feeling well, tired, or just need a kitty fix, I go find Peanut.

Her motor works overtime...


This is Slinky.  We tell them apart by the white mark on their foreheads...
 

...and their personalities.  Slinky is a true cat...cool and aloof, but friendly when she wants something!

 They don't come any sweeter than this.  I'm just sayin'...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Excavating Project...

There's no end to the projects that need done around the farm.  This mild winter has allowed us to complete some, and get started on some others...

Jim over seeded the meadow  earlier in the week, we've been working on repairing some fencing, I've been brainstorming about how to keep my renegade chickens in their pen, we had snow guards put on the barn roof (and have had no snow to speak of!!), and we've finally been able to get some excavating work started.


We have several water ways on the farm...all part of a conservation plan intended to channel water to the correct spots and avoid excess erosion and run off.  The one waterway needed some work, but it's been challenging to get it done, because the ground hasn't been able to dry out.  We've just had too much moisture!  This week, they finally had a chance to get it started...




Wouldn't it be fun to push dirt around with this...
 

There were several dump truck loads of beautiful topsoil that they dumped along the other waterway.  Jim used some of it to fill in some ruts...
 




...and we used some of the rest of it to fill in some areas in the yard that need to be reseeded.  The rest of it...I'm hoping to put on my garden!  It could use some fresh soil worked in with all those decaying leaves before I begin planting in late April!

As for the excavating project...there's still more to do.  The bottom end of the waterway needs to be cleaned out, and we need to have some tiling done.  It's still too wet, however, so it could be a while until we can finish. Hopefully this spring won't be nearly as wet as last spring, and it will happen sooner rather than later!


But...it's raining today...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Overseeding the Meadow

We've been having some beautiful spring-like weather for quite some time now, and as we get closer to "real" spring, there are some projects that need to be finished.
 
Jim worked on one of those projects today...

The meadow at the other farm, where we keep our dry cows and bred heifers has thinned out over time and needed to be over seeded.  It's a good time of year to do this, since the animals are penned out of the meadow over winter.  (If they were to be walking on the meadow while the grass isn't growing, their hooves would ruin the ground.)

He used a mixture of orchard grass, rye and some other grasses, and the no-till drill.  He was ready to make his final pass here, and is motioning me to climb on the back of the seeder to make sure all of the seed was evenly distributed...


Here you can see the lines that the drill made in the meadow as he was seeding...
 

Finishing up...
 

Our Jersey bull has to keep an eye on everything that happens.  He's anticipating grazing on that meadow once the weather gets warmer and the new growth is thick ...


Now we need just the right combination of warm weather and moisture to sprout that new grass and make it grow.  There's nothing quite like seeing animals grazing on a lush, green pasture in the spring time...it really is right around the corner!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Renegade Chickens...

Hmmph...

So much for me giving my chickens free range benefits.  They've made a mess of things, and are therefore banished back into the confines of their pen...

...Which is, by the way, plenty big enough for them to do just about anything they could ever need or want to do...

...Except...rummage through the compost pile and spread it out over a 15' + square area...peck off my tender perennial shoots, uncover roots that really need to remain covered...cover the sidewalks with debris...and cross the road, creating traffic hazards!

This used to be a big patch of bright green sedum ground cover.  Thankfully, I don't think you can easily kill sedum...


This was a patch of Black-eyed Susans...
 

There was a beautiful old fashioned Prim Rose here...luckily my friend can share another piece with me if this one doesn't make it!  Maybe I should give the chickens a broom?
 

These Bell Flowers struggle as it is where they're planted...I've got lots of roots to cover up!
 

Now that they've been banished, they're rebelling by digging holes along the fence.  In some places, the holes are big enough to squeeze through to freedom...
 



I still love my chickens, but I'm not very happy with them right now!  I might have to line the perimeter of the fence with rocks!

What would you do?!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More Beans...

Well...it's feeling a lot better out there the past few days!  After the cold snap we had over the weekend, we've been enjoying temps in the forties...and we're not complaining! 

We had a frustrating morning on Sunday, due in part to the cold, but things have thawed out again, and we're up and running.  Before we know it, spring will really be here, and we'll literally be running.  I'm kind of looking forward to it!

While we've had a bit of a break here over winter from field work, gardening, mowing, etc, some things never stop.  Just imagine if we'd tell the cows that we were taking off and they wouldn't be milked or fed.  Actually, it's not worth imagining...it would get pretty ugly...fast!  When the cows don't get fed in as timely of a manner as they think they should, we hear about it.  They complain, loudly, and we get swatted with tails and sometimes hooves in protest.  For them, it's all about food!

Some time ago, I did a post about cow capacity...how much a cow eats in a day. I showed hay, corn silage, corn, pellets and soybeans.  


Today it was time to refill our bin of soybeans.  This is the bin, upstairs in the barn, where we store the beans...



This bin holds three tons of toasted soybeans, which lasts us about three months.  Downstairs in the cow stable, the bottom of the bin...the chute...comes through the floor, and is easily accessible for refilling the feed cart...



When our soybeans are harvested in late summer/fall, we send them to be toasted and stored in a grain bank.  We fill our bin, and Jim calls to have more delivered as needed.  We go through about one ton per month.  

Not all of the cows get beans...they're used as a top dress...additional protein...for the heavy milkers.  The cows that are farther along in their lactation and aren't milking as heavy, don't get any.  They love the taste of them though, and do everything they can to steal from their neighbors!

Today we had a delivery...


The driver backs up the barn hill and gets as close as he can to our pipe, which runs from the top of the bin, down along side of the barn to near the door.  He hooks up one end of a flexible metal pipe to the permanent one...
 

...hooks the other end up to his truck, and starts the blower...
 

I didn't time him, but I'm guessing it might take about ten minutes to transfer all of the beans from his truck into our bin.  It has got to be one of the best smelling jobs a guy could have!  When the beans are freshly toasted, and even still warm, they smell wonderful!  And yes, we've tasted them...they taste just like the ones you buy to snack on, without the salt!  (I recently met the owner of the business that toasts and stores the grain at a meeting.  He told me that some people have told him that they drive out of their way to go past his place of business, just to enjoy the smell!)

Here they are, ready to be fed to a hungry cow...


Another day is done here...we're finished with milking, finished with supper, are doing homework, playing working on the computer and winding down.  

...and hopefully the cows are out there making some milk.  Especially the ones who had beans for dessert!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

After All, It IS February...

This morning we woke to a beautiful light blanket of snow covering the ground.  The temps were slightly above freezing, however, so along with the light flurries, we had dripping by mid morning.  

My rooster looked so proud, looking after his ladies...




A few brave chickens ventured out in the snow.  By mid morning, several of them had found their way outside of their pen and were scavenging in the garden.   I'm not sure how they got out...now that they know what's out there, they think they have the right to venture out whenever they can, and they're quickly outwearing their welcome in the yard.   I'm worried about some of my perennials!  Apparently I've got some strong willed chickens on my hands, and will have to keep them in line!  (I did get 18 eggs today, though...that's the most they've given me for months!)


At least they haven't scratched out or pecked the Lenten Roses to death...they looked beautiful this morning...


Things feel a little different out there tonight...

The temperature has dropped to the mid twenties, and it's to feel like zero tonight.  It's snowing again, and the winds have picked up, gusting in the 40 mph range.  Things will be a little chilly in the barn tomorrow morning!  The cows will keep the stable warm, but the cold will present a few challenges. 

Brrrr...but after all, it IS February!

(and it's to warm up into the 40's by Monday!)  :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Naming of A Cow...

If you've been reading for a while, you already know that in order for one of our cows to have a name, it must be earned.  Until we see the distinct personalities of each cow, the numbered ID tag has to do!

Watch this short video to see if you can determine what this cow's name might be...


video

Every time she sees the feed cart coming, she tosses her head around and snarls.  Eric was feeding balage tonight during milking, and she was being rather impatient...you'd think she was starving!  In eighteen years of farming, she's the only cow we've ever heard do this!  At the very end of the video, you can hear Jim saying "that was a good snarl".

I know, I know...it's such an original name...but she's earned it... 

"Snarly."



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Brand New Baby...

I just had to share this with you today!

This morning we noticed that one of our springers was about to give birth to her second calf, over at the other farm.  So Jim hooked up the cow trailer, and we went over and brought her home.  We put her in the outside pen, with some fresh bedding, and waited...


And waited...

Jim and I both had to go away, but I was only gone for a short time.  When I came home, the first thing I did was peek in on the cow.  I wish I would've had my camera in my hand right then, because she was literally in the end stages of having her calf!  I made sure she was ok, and ran and got my camera.  

Here she is...barely five minutes old, and still wet...


And in case you wondered how those calves go from being all wet and slimy, to being soft and fluffy and clean, here it is!  Make sure you turn up the volume!

video

Mom will be cleaning her baby for a while yet...and I'd bet that in about thirty minutes or so, her calf will be up tottering around.  

It's always such an incredible thing to witness!

What a beautiful day to be born!