Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Update...

I've been terribly negligent in keeping you up to date on our corn and soybeans, and you might be surprised at how tall they are now!  This is what happens in five weeks during a typical Pennsylvania summer.

I had to use live measuring devices, since they're so tall...especially the corn! It's well over my head now, and I'm 5' 5" ...



Phoebe is the measuring device for the soybeans.  (she was looking for a cat that disappeared into the field in front of her. This was in between bounces)...


Everything is growing like crazy right now.  We've had a lot of rain (another almost 2" today!) and hot, humid temps, which together make both miserable conditions for the humans and terrific growing conditions for the crops!

Jim just finished up third cutting of alfalfa last night before the rains came, so we're happily enjoying a small break in the craziness.

How's your summer going?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What A Summer...

What a summer it's been so far!

We've been incredibly blessed with some gorgeous weather this past week...gorgeous enough that it almost makes me forget the horrible, humid, hot days that we had a few weeks ago!  The breeze is blowing through the house, the birds are singing outside the windows and the blue sky with puffy white clouds is welcome.  When we look south out of the barn in the mornings and see the hills clearly, we know it's going to be a good day!

We've had a lot going on here, and I haven't had much time to read or write blog posts lately.  I have a few minutes today, and some pictures already on the computer, so here's a snap shot of what we've been up to.

Jim finished 2nd cutting hay on June 15th, and baled barley straw that week also.  That Saturday, June 17th was my parents' auction.  They'll be downsizing and moving in less than a month, to a house right across the road from us.  That's our big project this summer.

Here are a few pictures of the house renovations...

The original owners liked the "Bermuda" look.  It looked very nice in it's time, but we were ready to make it our own, and it was sorely in need of new paint and new flooring...


My sister and I, and Jenna started painting the second week of June. Because we knew we were replacing the carpet, it was nice to be able to not worry about dripping paint on the floor.  We chose a darker shade for the front living room, and a lighter shade for the rest of the house.  As you can see, it has a very open floor plan, so it would have been tricky to paint several different colors not in the same family...


Jim ripped out the carpet over the past several days, and the new flooring is scheduled to be installed soon!


I spent most of yesterday pulling up tack strips where we'll be putting vinyl instead of carpet.  Namely the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry area.  They were glued and nailed to the concrete floor, so it took a while.  There was a little damage to the concrete to the floor where we pulled the nails out, but shouldn't be too complicated or time consuming to repair before the vinyl goes down...


While I did that, Mom did some more painting, and she and Jenna did some clean up work.

Next we have to decide what to do in one of the bathrooms where the wallpaper is coming off, and we need to repair some loose ceramic tiles around the shower.  It's been quite a project, but it's been fun to see it coming together!  

If I'm awol from the blog for awhile, it's because I've been just a little bit distracted.  Bear with me...and stay tuned for some "finished" pictures soon!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hay, Straw and a Heat Wave...

Jim says that the week that the barley is combined is always the hottest week of the summer, and this year is no exception!

But first, there was hay to unload.  Jim's in the middle of 2nd cutting of hay this week, and with no rain in sight for several days, he was able to get several wagon loads of dry hay.  We pulled a small crew together and they got it unloaded this morning.  Oh boy, was it ever hot! I think the temperatures were close to 100% today.  Yuck.

Just a few short weeks ago, this mow was completely empty, and housed a puppy kennel for the chilly nights (which are but a distant memory)...


We'll see how full this mow gets this summer.  It's not quite at the half way mark yet.  I climbed up the elevator for a different perspective.


The crumbs left in the wagon got shoveled into the hay racks in the meadow, for an evening snack for the cows.  That's the first place they go when they're left out of the barn for the night...and if there's nothing in the racks for them, do we ever hear about it!


Then it was time to head over to the barley field.  Those windrows of straw are what was left behind by the combine...


Jim started baling around lunch time, but the straw was still a little tough, so he stopped and waited a few hours to try again. It was nicer (drier) by then, but still not as nice as he would have liked, so he left the rest lay for another day.

I'm glad today is almost over, and right now, I'm thankful for a shower, clean clothes, and for the cool breeze blowing in the window beside me.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Corn and Beans..."Episode 2"...

They're still growing  (they'd better be!!)...

A few weeks ago I posted pictures of the tiny corn and bean plants that were beginning to grow in our fields. We've had a lot of moisture, which is good...but the temps have been cooler than usual, so the growth in the fields hasn't been quite as fast as some years.

Here is the corn today, 16 days later...




And here are the beans...


The corn always seems to grow faster than the soybeans, but when you figure how much taller it has to grow than the beans do before maturity, it makes sense.  If we continue the pattern of plenty of moisture and the temps soar next week like they're calling for, everything should grow like crazy!

All in all, it's doing really well for 3 1/2 weeks.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Watching the Corn and Beans Grow...

A couple of years ago, I did a series of post throughout the growing season, following one particular corn stalk...from seed to harvest.  You can read that series of posts here...

I decided to do it again this year...but I'm going to compare the corn and soybeans.  They were both planted on the same two days...last Monday and Tuesday (May 15 and 16).  Over the weekend, I noticed a few shoots poking through the soil, and this morning you can clearly see down the rows.

Here are the soybeans...



...and the corn...



It's clear the the first time I did this (2012) that the corn was planted earlier than this year!  The weather has so much to do with it...but by Memorial Day, which is fast approaching, the corn that year was already several inches high.  We'll see though...with the rain we just had, and the warm temps to come...it's going to grow in leaps and bounds!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Update...the War On Chickweed...One Month Later...

This is a happy story...

One month ago today, I posted about  the downside of a mild winter. Chickweed had overtaken my flower bed along the meadow fence. Granted, it's at a spot where weeds from the meadow can easily creep in, but I'd never had it look this bad in the spring.  Using mushroom mulch didn't help a thing, as it not only builds up the soil and feeds the good plants, but it feeds the weeds as well.

One month later, I'm happy to show you pictures, not only because it took a lot of hard work, but because I'm flower happy this time of year!

Most of the iris came from a former neighbor who grew hundreds of varieties to sell, as did the peonies.  The roses, which are struggling a bit, came from another neighbor.  That's just one of the beauties of perennials...you can enjoy the flowers as well as the memories of friendship!

I know...the edges of this flower bed aren't straight...and that bugs me.  A lot!  Actually, the intended edge is straight...and mulched.  You can see it if you look closely. However, the chickweed also crawled into the grass.  The weed killer that I used worked quite fine...except that now I need to seed some new grass to fill in the gaps.

Here we go...







The peonies will be open any day now.  Their fragrance is wonderful! (and much nicer than what I'm smelling from the fields right now!)

Do you see who photo bombed my picture?!


Iris and peonies don't like mulch, as their roots need to be on the drier side...so I mulched around them, leaving some space around each plant.  It doesn't look as tidy as I prefer, but whatever keeps them happy!  I also used regular bark mulch this year, hoping that it well better hold back the chickweed.

My war on chickweed isn't over.  It never will be, this close to the meadow...but for now I'd say this battle has been won!



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Signs of Spring...2017...

I'll ask you to forgive me ahead of time for the picture heavy post, but SPRING is here. Completely here, and the sounds and colors make me quite happy!

I like sleeping with the windows open,  hearing the birds singing in the early morning...

I love so many flowers, I might just have to show them all to you...


Dr Ruppel, my early blooming clematis...



Coleus are some of my favorites, and they do well on my porch where they get both sun and shade...


I call this "Happy Row".  The challenge is keeping the dogs from knocking the pots off the bench...


These old fashioned Rhododendron bushes must be around forty years old, at least!


The house finches have once again built nests in my Begonia hanging baskets.  I love hearing their sweets sounds...



And yes, rain is part of spring.  The only sure way to dry running shoes without the dogs dragging them off and chewing them up...


Can you see him?  The corn planter is here!


Phoebe is loving the weather...and is loving destroying the ball that Eric gave her last week...


We'd better enjoy SPRING today, because summer is coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rye Grass 2017...

Well the spring/ summer work has officially begun...

Jim had the rye grass mowed on Thursday,  tedded it and raked it up on Friday, with plans  to bale and wrap on Saturday morning. Then...a surprise thunderstorm rolled through early Saturday morning.  Change of plans.

Saturday ended up being a good drying day, so he tedded it again so it could dry out, raked it back up, and baled over evening milking time...


Yesterday morning he used the bale hugger to stack the bales...




We have twenty eight bales of rye grass stacked up, fermenting and hopefully turning into good feed for the cows!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Murphy's Law...

You've probably heard of Murphy's Law...you know...if anything can go wrong,  it will.

Well, today being Saturday,  it would have to be the day that the barn cleaner broke.  The barn cleaner is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment in the barn. It's the only way to get the manure out of the barn, and we use it 365 days a year.

As Jim was cleaning out the east side of the barn, this piece...the one that holds the chain in place...broke...


What do you do on a Saturday morning, when most businesses are closed? It's not something that could just be fixed at home.  Jim got the piece off the elevator and eventually found an Amish business close by that could repair it. They had to do some cutting,  grinding and welding, and after about 1 1/2 hours, we were good to go again.


The bill? $13.00.

It wasn't an easy 1 1/2 hours...its never fun to be covered in manure ( Jim), and I was trying to be helpful while fighting the flu. A friend from church had just texted me to see how I was feeling, and I asked her to pray for my attitude and that Jim would be able to fix the problem. I'm very grateful to say that what looked like a day where Murphy's Law would win, it lost big time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Down-side Of a Mild Winter...

We had such a mild winter this year, and for the most part we were thrilled...hardly any water lines freezing, very little snow to deal with, etc...

THIS, however,  is quite a  problem...


The chickweed is out of control in my iris bed beside the meadow!

Jenna started tackling it on her Easter break, but it's a horrid mess...


It's going to take LOTS of dirty hands...and knees...and patience until it's finished! Maybe even some weed killer.

I'll keep you posted,  as there will be much cause for celebration when it's finished!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gotcha...the Egg Thief...

I knew he was there.  I would forget to gather the eggs one day, and the next morning there would be nothing but a few broken egg shells under the "porch", next to a suspicious looking hole under the shed...

Now the thief has been caught...


Did you know that skunks like cat food?  That's what lured him in.  No more eggs for this guy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Farmer Date...

The lazy days of summer winter are drawing to a close, and before we know it, the not-so-crazy-busy days will be gone, and our days will be filled with outside work.  I'm looking forward to some of it...gardening, mowing, opening the windows...bring it on!

We have a whole bunch of springers (cows that are about ready to calve) due in the next few weeks, and no where to go with them in the barn. So...we looked them over, and decided who might be the best option to sell at the sale barn.  We had her delivered to the barn yesterday, and today she was sold at the dairy sale.

I had to spend the morning shopping for a new dishwasher, but was finished in time to go with Jim to see her sell.  We got to the sale after she was already sold, but picked up the check (which more than paid for the new dishwasher! :) ) and watched some heifers sell.  I snapped a picture of the sale...(not our cow in the ring)...


It was a farmer date!  We stopped for lunch on the way home, and now it's just about time to head to the barn for evening milking.

I'm sitting here typing...hearing the furnace run because it's chilly inside...but hearing the birds singing out on the porch through the closed windows. They're just as glad as I am that it's SPRING!!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Winter? Or Spring?

A month.  That's how long it's been since I've posted.  I'm in a blogging slump right now, but stick around!

We've been keeping busy with regular stuff...you know, milking, feeding, cooking, cleaning, repeat.  The weather, however, has been very confused!

Two weeks ago we were running around in shorts and T-shirts...at least Jim was!...and last week we had a "blizzard".  Stella, the nor'easter paid us a visit on Monday evening and 'til she was gone, we had somewhere around a foot of snow.  We didn't know what to think!  It was pretty cold, but seemed frigid, considering the unusually warm weather we had all winter.

Here are a few pictures from the storm...

On Tuesday morning, just after I got up, and the snow wasn't too deep yet, I snapped this picture of the daffodils along the south side of the house...


The biggest concern for us was when the milk truck would come, and whether or not we would be ready for him.  He showed up just as we finished milking, and just as Jim was ready to hop on the skid loader to open the driveway.  It was pretty good timing, actually, because the snow was only about 6" deep at the time, so between the chains on his truck and Jim on the skid loader, he came and went with little trouble...


That's always a relief.

When I fed the calves in the morning, I glanced in the chicken pen, and was surprised to see these hens all huddled together outside...


I have no idea what they were thinking, but there were no tracks around them, so I'm assuming that they huddled together outside all night, with the snow coming down around them.  I carried them inside the shed, where they happily joined their friends for the duration of the storm.  They're fine...and laying eggs quite happily now that the snow is gone!

I got a new phone, and was having fun taking pictures in the snow.  This is one of the hens that was outside all night...she was intrigued by her first selfie...



Now, a week later, most of the snow is gone, except for a few big piles.  It had better be...because SPRING is officially here, and I'm happy about that! While I don't like losing an hour of sleep over the change to daylight savings time, the longer daylight hours energize me.  I feel so much more motivated to get things done when there is daylight and sunshine!

One thing I've been working on the past few weeks is something called 40 Bags in 40 Days.  You may have seen postings on face book about this, or read about it online somewhere.  I'm not following it to a "T", but I'm working on cleaning out and simplifying.  It coincides with lent, and is so satisfying to me.  I've cleaned out closets, cupboards and book shelves. (why was I keeping things in my kitchen cupboards that I never use?) When I'm done cleaning out, I'm planning to scrape wall paper in the upstairs hallway.

Enough rambling...

I hope you're seeing signs of spring wherever you are!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Balmy February...

Sometimes the farmer has to play a little, especially when February feels like springtime...


Windblown, but having fun this afternoon in the MGB...



We had almost record setting temperatures again today...73 degrees...

Is it just us, or does spring seem to be coming early everywhere?