Friday, November 21, 2014

A "Winter" Project is Underway...

I guess I shouldn't get ahead of's still fall, officially for another month yet.  But it sure feels like winter out there this week, and the "fall" work is finished.  Harvest...baling out heifer pens...winterizing the barn...all those things are finished, so we're considering projects for the winter.

Here's one that has been a long time coming.

The barn cleaner on the east side of the barn is in sad shape.  Can you see how it's bending in the middle? It also has holes in it where the liquidy manure trickles down through.  Manure does's corrosive, and time and the elements have taken their toll...

I've done several posts where we've replaced the barn cleaner chain here and here.  This time, we're replacing the whole elevator.

Jim ordered a new one from the manufacturer, and it came in two pieces. He picked it up this week...and next week when the weather is to be warmer :)...he's planning to put it in place...

I'll be taking pictures, I'm sure, and will do a post to show you what's involved.  It will be a day long project.  The chain will have to be completely removed....the old elevator removed, saving the motor...the new one put into place...the motor attached...and the chain replaced.

The last time we replaced an elevator (on the other side) was in March of 2009.  It was my Dad's 80th birthday weekend, and the whole family had been together on Saturday.  Sunday morning came, and in typical Murphy's Law fashion while Jim was cleaning out the gutters before Church, the chain caught on something and twisted the whole elevator, causing it to collapse. He scooped manure from behind the cows by hand for several weeks before a new elevator could be ordered and delivered.  That was a mess.  So...that's why he planned ahead for this one.  Hopefully all will go well!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Enjoying the Benefits of the Garden ...

I've enjoyed gardening almost as long as I can remember.

I take that back. When I was a girl, I did not enjoy the garden, because my job was to hoe...pull weeds...or shell peas and lima beans.  All. Summer. Long.  Or so it seemed.

However, the tide has turned, and now that it's my garden, it's mostly fun!

I've been growing herbs for the past few summers, but never seem to use them all up.  I haven't been able to find just the right spot to grow them, where they're also easily accessible on short notice.  I planted rosemary in the pig trough on our porch this year, and it did great.  In fact, it's still looking great, even though we've had several frosts, and below freezing temps the past few days.

I really enjoy the flavor of rosemary, so I decided to try "making" rosemary infused olive oil.

The first thing I did was dry some sprigs of rosemary.  I left them lay on the windowsill in the sun for several weeks to make sure they were completely dry.  (I learned quickly, after a first botched attempt, that the herbs must be thoroughly dried before doing this.  Otherwise you risk getting botulism in your oil!)

Then I looked around for just the right bottle to put it in, and finally found small bottles with different colored stoppers.  I put several sprigs of rosemary in the bottle, filled it with olive oil, and sat it on my kitchen window sill for a month or so...

This morning I took off the topper, and the rosemary smell was strong. had worked!  I thought I'd try using the oil to fry up some potatoes (from our garden)...

The potatoes smelled delicious as they fried.  The rosemary scent was just enough to make your mouth water, and the flavor was mild and not overpowering.

I think I found some great gift ideas!  What ideas do you have for using up fresh herbs?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reposting From 2010...Please, Find a Trash Can...

I've been in a bit of a blogging slump lately.

For some reason I can't get myself motivated to find something new.  Maybe that's because things are pretty routine and I feel like I've posted about all of it before?  Maybe it's because there's been a lot on my mind...thinking about potential college schedules...still dealing with chronic back pain and wondering what direction that's going to go?'s a re-post from 2010, soon after I started blogging.  I was reminded of it when I saw several groups of people walking the roads with trash bags the other week.  I don't think people realize the damage that it can do.  It's not just an eyesore...

Please...find a trash can!   

(from October 27, 2010)
I guess finding a trash can is just too much work for some people!
Yesterday as I was planting rye in the soybean field along the road, I noticed a lot of trash lying among the stubble.  This morning, I went back to pick it up.  This is what I found…

Trash like this will very easily be either chopped up with the corn silage or baled up with the hay, finding its’ way in small, sharp pieces, into the cows feed. 
One our best milking cows recently “went off feed”, began running a high fever, and dropped in milk production to almost nothing.  She hunched her back as if she was in pain.  After Jim and the vet checked her out, they determined that she is most likely suffering from “hardware”. 
When a cow ingests a foreign object, it can pierce her stomach and cause pain and infection.  In some cases, she recovers.  In some cases, however, the object can go through the wall of her stomach and pierce her heart, causing irreparable damage. That’s what they think happened to this cow; the object most likely pierced the sack around her heart and may have damaged a valve.
We do what we can to prevent hardware.  Each of our animals swallows a magnet like the one below... 
The magnet remains in her stomach in hopes that it will draw pieces of metal to it, preventing them from going through the cow’s digestive system.  But…in that small pile of trash that I found, there are glass bottles and pieces of hard plastic as well.  And…the magnet is not foolproof.
#264 is slowly beginning to make more milk again.  Her fever is down and her appetite is back, but she will not likely recover fully.  She could have a relapse at any time and will probably have to be slaughtered. 
All that said, throwing trash out the car window is not just ugly…it’s causing real problems for someone, somewhere!  But I know none of you would ever consider it… right?!  

**A note on #264.  Thankfully she made a full recovery and lived for several more years before we had to sell her because of breeding issues. Sometimes the story does have a happy ending.