Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Need Your Opinions...

I need your help!

It's cool and dreary outside, the kids are away,  and no one "needs" me right now, so I've been experimenting with the look of my blog.

I've always liked this Barn Board Background (say that fast 7 times in a row!), and have been trying to figure out how to make it fit with my blog, and still have it look simple and easy to read...

For those of you who are just reading this now, I had some white text, which was kind of hard for some eyes to read (including mine).  I made some changes, and like this much better!

I'd be interested to hear what your opinions are!

Thanks...and enjoy your weekend!

Alica

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We've Got Goats...

They're here...and very dear...


Isn't that the way the saying goes?

Somehow it didn't quite feel like that this afternoon when we brought Jenna's 4-H goats home...

All was going smoothly...and that's when we should have been ready for trouble!   We had goat #1 unloaded and safely inside the pen.  However...we forgot to fasten the gate securely while we retrieved goat #2 from the truck.  Big mistake!

Goat #1, from hence forth referred to as "Speckled Ears", escaped from the pen, just because he could, and took off running across the yard, with the dog in close pursuit.  Before we knew it, he had crossed the road, run across the neighbor's yard, wiggled through the fence, and took off across the open fields.  Once he tasted freedom, he couldn't get enough.  On and on he ran, for about a half mile, across two farms and into the third before he finally slowed down.  (Sorry Reuben...I didn't want to run across your newly seeded alfalfa, but I had no choice!)  A friend and I chased on foot, and my Dad hopped in the truck and met up with us down the road a piece.


Once "Speckled Ears" tired...I was huffing and puffing too...my Dad and I finally were able to grab hold of him and carry him to the truck, and back to his pen where goat #2 was patiently waiting bleating his little heart out, wondering where his friend had taken off to.

Goat #1 on the left...aka "Speckled Ears", and Goat #2 on the right... 



The rest of their day went much better, at least from our perspective.  They hid behind the big tree for a while, and then ventured out to explore their pen.  Most importantly, they found their hutch, their feed and their water. 

These guys aren't quite as tame as the does Jenna had last year, so there's a lot of work to do, taming them and handling them.  I would imagine that she will have to spend a lot of time in their pen, just letting them get used to her.

 In the next few days Jenna will also come up with some real names for them...I'm interested to see if she sticks with the original names she thought she would use..



They're here, and they really are very dear!  And they ought to sleep good tonight, after that adventure!

Linking up today to Farm Girl Friday !

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Cows...

Yesterday it was the heifers' turn to go out on the meadow at the other farm, and today it was finally time for the cows here at home!


This morning we went around the meadow fence to check for spots that needed repair.  Jim decided that we needed to redo the entire section along the road, as the wire was rusty and sagging in spots.  It ended up taking longer than expected, so we decided to let the cows out in the meadow while we were finishing up.  I went back up to the barn to let the cows out, and tried to capture a video as they headed out to pasture.  It's just a short clip because my camera wasn't cooperating with me this morning...

video

You can see their excitement!  These cows that you are watching, are mostly the young, first calf heifers, kicking up their heels.  The older cows went out first, a bit more calmly, but once these girls were released, they wasted no time!

Once they were in the meadow, they were relatively calm...they were too busy eating to care about much else.  There were a few "fights", where they pushed each other around, head to head, establishing their pecking order, but mostly their heads were down, munching away...

 
After we brought them back in around 3:00, I was in the barn cleaning up, and the atmosphere was almost an eerie quiet. Typically at that time, they're bawling for their late afternoon snack.  Today however, they were contentedly laying down, chewing their cud.


Green grass and a meadow to wander around in...what more could they want!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Heifers on Pasture...

Today was the day!  

This morning Jim finished tarping off the silo while I repaired a small section of fence around the meadow at the other farm.  Then it was time to open the wire and let the heifers, dry cows and the new bull into the meadow...

video


They were happy to be out in the meadow, finally, but not nearly as excited as I thought they would be.  Now when it comes to the cows here at home?  When we let them out in a day or so, they will literally kick up their heels for joy! 

I don't think any of them lifted their heads for very long...



 Don't they look happy?!

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Almost Time...

...to let the heifers and dry cows out on the meadow at the other farm!

Look at this luscious looking grass...



This morning, Jim walked around the meadow fence at the other farm, checking to see that it is secure and ready to contain twenty to thirty rambunctious animals.  He pounded in a few fence posts around the pond and repaired a few other spots...
 

Did you notice he's back in his coveralls and knit hat?  It felt like true March weather out there today!  The wind blew hard, and it was cold!  We were glad that the warm clothes hadn't made it to the basement yet...the shorts and T-shirts might have to wait until next week!

In the mean time, the ducks enjoyed the solitude...at least until we came around...


Once the animals are left out onto the meadow, they will spend most of their time grazing, and won't be hungry for much else.  So this evening Jim tarped off the silo, to preserve the corn silage over there until we're ready to start feeding it again.

They will be so excited!  I'm hoping to take my camera over when we let them into the meadow tomorrow...it's that much fun to watch!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

4-H Market Goats...

It's that time of year again, to pick out goat kids for 4-H!

Tonight we went to choose Jenna's two market goat projects.  There were four human kids who chose from seven goat kids for their projects.  They each picked one, and then three of them picked a second one.

Jenna thought that she would end up choosing two does, but decided on two wethers (castrated males) instead.  Here is her first choice!  I really like his coloring...

Her second kid wouldn't hold still long enough for a picture, so you'll have to wait until next week for pictures!  We'll bring them home at the end of the week after we move some calves around and prepare their pen.  We think we have it goat-proofed after last years learning experiences!


Let the fun begin!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happenings...

Sometimes I get writer's block...or blogger's block...or whatever you want to call it.  This was one of those weeks!  There was a lot happening here on the farm, but nothing that was exciting enough to warrant a post of it's own.  Or at least I didn't think so until it was too late!

...Jim took down some winter barriers on the west side of the barn and spread lots of manure...

...I mowed the yard for the first...and second time...and got my first bright red nose of the season...

...I saw the first onion top peeping through the garden soil...

...Half of the chickens were moved to another temporary pen to try to salvage what is left of the grass in their pen!  If we get the rain we're supposed to this weekend, I think it might recover...


...We vaccinated a bunch of heifers at the other farm...


...I weeded the iris bed...


...Mom's taxi was running non-stop to and from school for track practice...(I guess that's not really a farm event, but it involved the farm kids!)


In the midst of my blogger's block, Jenna went out and snapped a bunch of photos, and told me that I could post them for you to see.  She enjoys taking pictures, and has an eye for unique shots.  Enjoy!




A disgruntled hen...

When I moved the chickens, they weren't too happy with me, and didn't lay many eggs for the first two days.  Finally today, I got 32 beautiful brown eggs from 32 chickens! 


These hyacinth smell so good...




Hydrangea bud...
 

I love these shots of the Pasque flower...
 




 I hope you enjoyed some of these beautiful spring shots!  I'll have to put the photographer to work some more!


Do any of you have ideas/requests for events that you would enjoy reading about/seeing pictures of?  I would love to hear your suggestions!
 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Changing of the "Guard"...

It was time.  

The jersey bull that we had for about two years, grew.  And grew.  His job was finished.




We had purchased him as a young bull, for the sole purpose of breeding our young heifers.  He did a wonderful job of breeding the heifers that didn't settle from their AI service, and threw tiny little jersey/holstein cross calves, almost guaranteeing easy calvings.


He never showed much aggression towards people (although a bull should never be trusted!), but after almost two years, was big enough that he could have injured the younger and much smaller heifers.  So...he went to market this week...weighing in at 1525 lbs.  Even at that size, he could still kick up his heels!  




He was replaced by...


This guy. 

He's much, much smaller, and is still trying to get used to being around all those women!  I think they intimidate him a little bit, but he's going to have to get over that pretty quickly.  He's got a job to do!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Old Family Cemetery...

In the early 1700's, three brothers came to this country from Switzerland and settled on a farm nearby to where we live.  In fact, it's only about a mile away, and we drive by it every day.  They are thought to be the first of this family to immigrate here, and are responsible for most people here who carry their family name!


The small stone house in the center of this picture is the original homestead.  There is a stream running underneath the house; this is how they got their fresh water...


 

Behind the house and across the fields, under those far off trees, lies the old family cemetery...


Over the years, the cemetery has been somewhat forgotten and neglected.  Stones have been damaged...knocked over and broken by falling tree limbs and curious neighborhood children.

Recently, however, some of the descendants have taken an interest in cleaning up and restoring the graveyard.  With the permission of the current farm owner, they've begun cleaning up...cutting down trees and clearing away brush.  

Last week, Jim (also a descendant) was asked to help out a bit with clearing away some debris.  I tagged along and got a few pictures...



Some of the rows of graves are only marked by pieces of stone stuck vertically into the ground, with no markings...


Others are easy to read...
 
 
The inscription on this stone is only legible when you run your fingers over the stone itself and look very carefully...it reads 1776...


 It's a shame so many stones are broken...



...and also sad, how many people only lived to be in their thirties or forties before they died...

Here and there, you'll find these cemeteries, and they're fascinating to explore....especially when it's your own family's history that you're discovering!  I hope those who have begun the cleanup, have the time and energy to continue!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What I Love About Today...

It's a beautiful day today...more beautiful than we could ever have asked for, here in mid March!

After I folded wash for what seemed like hours, I took my camera for a walk to capture some of the things I love about today.

First and foremost, the temperature was wonderful...and so was the breeze...
 

The flowers are beginning to grow...


...and bloom...
 

This newborn heifer calf enjoyed being outside...
 


Our freshly rototilled garden (including the Renegade Chicken looking for bugs)...just waiting to be planted...
 

I always get way too anxious to wash and put away the coveralls and the quilted flannels!  But oh well...it was a nice day to get them washed and they'll smell fresh from the breeze...
 

The barley behind the barn is turning green!  And up on the hill, the freshly chiseled ground will soon be ready for seeding two new alfalfa fields...
 

...and last but not least...today we got ten new chickens!  We got these Barred Rocks from an Amish neighbor...they've just started laying, so hopefully now we'll be able to better keep up with the demand for eggs.  I think the all black one is especially pretty!
 
When we have days like this, I get a little crazy...just wondering how much fun God must have, "waking up the world " after winter.  (yes, I know...we've been known to have blizzards in March, but...)  I'm so thankful that we live in an area where we see all four seasons.  About the time we get tired of one, another one arrives!

In any case, it's a beautiful day to be alive!  I hope you're enjoying your March, wherever it might be!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tiling...

A week or so ago, we started an excavating project.  Finally, this week we were able to finish it, as the ground at the bottom of the waterway has dried out become a little less saturated.

We've long had some drainage problems in this particular area of the farm, and a bunch of years ago, had the area "tiled" to help alleviate the problem.  In recent years, however, the problem has become worse.

The first thing the guys did was dig down to the original drainage pipes, to see if they were working properly...




They found the old pipe and checked it out.  Most of the pipe seemed to be okay.,but some sections of the pipe at the low end were partially clogged.  Dirt had filtered into the pipe and was preventing the water from draining properly.  So...they replaced some sections and added a lot more.  Lots of digging...they dug one main branch north to south, with several smaller ditches branching off to the southeast and southwest.   

We took lots of pictures and measurements, so that we know exactly where the tile was laid in case it ever needs to be dug up again!

Here they are digging the final ditch...

Next, they lined the bottom of the ditch with stone, and laid the pipe on top. They used this flexible pipe that has holes in it...
The idea is that the stone filters the water...but doesn't allow the dirt to enter the pipe...and dries the ground out enough to be suitable for farming...

  
There were several places where the pipes needed to be connected at a "Y"...


The pipe was then covered completely with stone before the ditch was filled in the rest of the way with dirt...


 It's hard to see from far away, but they're finished...hopefully by mid summer, the field will be green with corn...



Water is now flowing swiftly out of the drain pipe at the low end...

 
Hopefully it will continue to drain properly, and the field will be in better condition to farm!

A dry spring would help!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday...

 Clearview Farm is celebrating 100 years this year!


  
The year 1912 has been painted at the peak of the barn roof as long as we remember...



That was the year that our house and barn were built, on fifty acres that once were part of a neighboring farm.  We don't have all the records, but we know that numerous families lived here before Jim's grandparents purchased the farm.  The original owner was a man with the last name of Weaver.


In the early 1940's, when Jim's dad Lloyd was six years old, his parents purchased and moved here to the farm.   (When we removed wallpaper in the kitchen in 2006, we found writing on the plaster wall that mentioned them buying the farm!)

When the family moved to the farm, Jim's Grandpa built the first silo.  This picture, which came from Jim's grandmother, has no date on it, but judging by the looks of the vehicles in the driveway, and the fact that there is only one silo, it must have been soon after they moved here...


This second picture, also from Jim's grandmother, was probably taken about ten years later.  Again, there is no date on the picture, but there is now a second silo at the corner of the barn.



Jim's grandparents made some structural changes to the barn...they enclosed the fore-bay to enlarge the cow stable...they added some box pens to the west side of the barn and they replaced the stalls in the cow stable.  They also built a milk house, where the milk was stored until it could be delivered to the dairy.  Those were the major structural changes that were made, and we haven't made too many more ourselves, other than add some feed bins inside the barn and put in some vents to help cool and ventilate the barn in the summer.


One major thing that has changed over the years, though, is the method in which the cows are milked, the milk stored, and how it is transported to the dairy.  I've asked Jim's Dad to write about that, so stay tuned for another story from a guest blogger...hopefully soon!



While things inside the barn haven't changed much, I do see a lot of things on these pictures outside the barn,  that have!  That white wooden fence around the garden area must have been fairly new then...it's the same fence that we just replaced with PVC a year ago!  The size of the garden is now much smaller!  and the tobacco shed below the garden is now gone...Jim remembers it blowing down in a storm when he was a boy. We've added a couple of outside storage sheds, a chicken coop, had the barn repainted two years ago, and of course there are trees in different places now...

I am fascinated by the huge beams inside the barn.  Apparently the original owner was involved in a lumber mill, had access to good quality materials, and built a solid structure.  There are a few places where you can see how wooden pegs were used instead of nails...
 


There were several ladders built into the hay mows...


I like this old latch on the granary door...


And the original barn roof is still in place...



I've written before about the barn roof...it's made with Peach Bottom Slate, a high quality slate that came from a local quarry.  A good quality roof that is kept in good repair can last a very long time!

The stories that could be told are endless...Jim's Dad grew up here...Jim has lived here almost all his life... and now our children are the fourth generation to live and work on this farm. While our farm might be "young" as compared to some in this area, I think it's fun to think about the last 100 years, hear some stories, and wonder about the stories that will remain untold..."Who lived here before?"..."Who drew those pictures in the granary?"..."What was that room in the attic used for?", etc.

Hopefully there will be many more stories to come!