Around the Farm

Just a reminder, for long-time friends and readers, that all family blogging takes place here, at www.armyof10.com. I think I only mentioned it once, and so if you haven’t checked that out, please do! I’m trying to get back into the habit of regular blogging, and that’s where I post all things personal. See you there!
ducks in the barn
The ducks are nesting again. Only a few survived from the first round, due to a certain new puppy with an abiding love for eggs. They nest in the barn, some on the storage side, and some in the actual barn space. I try to keep doors closed so the dog can’t get in, but sometimes other people forget. If we can get a good crop born, I’d like to put some into one of our chicken crates for the twelve weeks it takes to harvest them. I really love duckling.

chickens in crateOur chickens, on the other hand, are doing quite well. They’re growing fat and sassy on fresh yogurt, our all purpose grain ration, and damaged tomatoes from the garden. And they eat every green thing growing in their square. They are excellent weeders.

green beans in bloom
So, the green beans. I planted these back in April with the rest of the garden, and they grew so thick and lush, but with nary a blossom. I thought maybe the soil was too rich for them. Some plants favor leaves over blooms in good soil. Well, whatever their problem was, I’m pleased to say they are entirely over it! Perhaps we’ll get some beans this year after all.

hay bales lined upWe have all our winter hay in! Alfalfa, round bales and square ones, too, and, God bless Mr. Roberts for even putting most of it in the barn for us. It is extremely comforting to have that taken care of. Now we just need to acquire a supply of split firewood. I’m not sure why David isn’t splitting any this year, but he isn’t.

chuck eats his breakfastWe have one cow in to the processor who should be coming home this week in the form of ground beef, and our last steer is scheduled for departure on the 10th.

Funny story: When we dropped off the first cow, I scheduled the date for the second. “We’re pretty booked with all the fairs,” he said. “I can’t get you in until the end of August. Is that okay?”
“That’ll be fine,” I said.
“Okay. Then it’ll be Wednesday, August 29,” he said.
“Perfect,” I replied.
“That’s Wednesday, August 29,” he repeated.
“Okay. I’ll remember,” I said.
“August 29. Now remember that’s going to be a Wednesday,” he stressed.
Perplexed, I replied once more, “Okay. Wednesday, August 29. I’ll write it down as soon as I get home.”
It was the strangest encounter. He does not normally repeat himself like that. All the way home, I pondered his strange behavior.
Because I have a short memory, I went to my planner to write down the date as soon as we got in. And guess what? There is no Wednesday, August 29! It’s a Saturday! Wednesday is the 26. Did I remember the date wrong? No, I don’t think so. It seemed like the July date might fit, so I flipped back a few pages. Yup! July 29 is a Wednesday!
I called the processor back to confirm the date. “No I don’t have you down for August,” he said. “Let me check July. Yes, there you are, July 29. It’s a Wednesday.”
Actually, I’m still finding the whole conversation odd, and I ended up having to change the date because I hadn’t taken him off the green grass, yet.
But at least we have a date. I can’t wait for those ribeyes.

piglet in the lap

We have piglets!

Sorry for posting twice in one day, but this news was too exciting to hold till tomorrow. Miss Piggy had a litter of thirteen last night, and they all seem to be doing well. Dave, our resident pig-tender, is quite proud of his babies. They’re not even a day old, but they’re all walking around, hiding in the tall grass, getting under mama’s feet… You know, just like any toddler. :-)

Click on any picture to enlarge and scroll through!

A Good Life

I grew up in suburban New Jersey, and the closest I ever came to a cow in my youth was petting one through the fence at a neighboring county’s annual agricultural fair. Our people were not farmers. Our people were businessmen who commuted to the city each morning, or teachers, or, well, the sort of people who didn’t get their hands dirty.   Manual labor was frowned upon. Our high school education prepared us to go to college, and from there, we were expected to move into business or computer science.  What can I say?  It was the eighties.

I, personally, was not interested in either of those career paths. I happily married my young soldier and gave up trying to do whatever they expected of me. I settled down to raising our family and helping my man be all he could be. We were happy, and when it came time to retire, Dave fulfilled a life-long dream of mine and bought us a little farm near Fort Knox.

My dad was not pleased. He grew up on a farm with eight brothers and sisters, and he strongly associates farming with poverty. He tried mightily to discourage us, and I must admit he has a point.  Any sort of agricultural endeavor is a lot of physical labor, a lot of time spent managing and troubleshooting, and a lot of time spent trying to market your product, with very little cash coming in to make up for it. It’s really helpful to have some other kind of income.

daisy glam 3

I don’t want to discourage anybody, though. It’s some of the best work a person could choose to do. Although we dabble in many things, our bread-and-butter (well, just butter) is a small-scale dairy. We milk those cows twice a day, every single day, no matter the weather, or the importance of the holiday on the calendar, or even our health. You’d think that would get tedious, but it doesn’t. It’s just part of the routine, like morning coffee, or taking a shower, or changing the baby’s diaper. We just do it, every day, no matter what.

In exchange for our dedication, we’ve gained physical strength and improved overall health, nutritious and relatively inexpensive food, and an excuse to stay home. (I will admit, though, to occasionally longing to travel! The Army life dies hard.)

I thank God every day for this little piece of Earth, for the beautiful cows He so graciously provided at just the right moment, and for the family I live this life for and with. I wouldn’t change a thing.

But if you want to help improve our cash flow a little bit, we have herd shares available and a year-old heifer calf for sale.  I’m just saying.  😉

blog not annabelle lizzie

Portrait of Another Fence Post

chickory stem with carpenter bee holesI call this one “Fence Post with Carpenter Bee Holes and Fading Chickory”.

The Day The Tractor Got Stuck

David has been building, off and on for a couple of years, a patio with a summer kitchen.  It will probably be very nice when he’s done, and he is getting closer to done, but it is, right now, and has been for a couple of years, a giant pit of mud off the back porch looking oh-so-beautiful just about never.  Last week, it was at the very peak of the whole it-has-to-get-worse-before-it-gets-better process.  He had finally gotten all the dirt dug out and piled mostly in the middle for removal, and then, as it will in Kentucky, it rained, and it rained, and it rained.  Oh, it rained for forty days and forty nights without a-stopping, oh it rained so hard that the water stopped a-dropping, didn’t it rain, children…. Sorry.  Got a little carried away there.

Anyway, there it all was, all that dirt, loose and piled up.  Did I mention that our topsoil is clay?  Beautiful, red clay, so clean the children can sculpt with it.  So in he drove, David did, bravely determined to scoop out the mess so we could move on to the better.  But alas, before he could take out even one scoop, the tractor sunk up to her belly in rich, red, sucking clay!

We tried digging her out.  We tried jacking her up.  We tried wedging boards under the rear tires for better traction.  And then, we tried chaining the tractor to the hitch on the van.  At first, we made a tentative tug.  Nothing doing.  So we backed up and got a running start, and we pulled with a mighty heave, oh, yes we did!  But the chain broke, the steel draw bar on the tractor bent and broke, and, thanks to that whipping chain, the back doors of the van dented.  And still, the tractor was stuck.

We retreated.

Later in the day, when we’d recovered our morale, we asked the neighbor to come over with his much bigger tractor.  He gave a push, and David maneuvered quite delicately to avoid taking off the corner of the porch, and we were free.

After that, we thought we’d just let the clay dry up for a minute before we tried to dig it out anymore.

That worked much better.

Free at last!

Free at last!

An Agricultural Mystery

Our chickens stopped laying.  They went from thirty a day to four literally overnight.  We did have one quite cool day, but that couldn’t have sent them into a molt already, could it?  If not, and I think not, where are the other 26 eggs?  We were kind of counting on eggs till September, the usual molting season.  Our new ladies won’t start laying until sometime in the fall, and I’ve noticed it’s really hard to get by without eggs.

Another irrelevant photo, this time of the wheat field across the street.  It was harvested this week.

Another irrelevant photo, this time of the wheat field across the street. It was harvested this week, and the whole field has an uneven, scalped look to it.  Many other wheat fields were harvested several weeks ago. 

Portrait of a Very Old Fence Post

portrait of a very old fence post

This.  This is a fence post with character.  Don’t you think?