Shades of Ireland

Friday, April 29, 2011

Another Dead Computer

Somehow, I have managed to lose another computer. Right now, I am typing on Neil's lap top and he is worried that I might just crash it, too. I am not sure just what I am going to do--- fix the old one(s) or get a new one. Until further notice ---- I guess I am on blog vacation!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Farm Happenings

Even though I am off farm for most of the day, life still goes on with out me. I am working hard, paying some bills and looking forward to the job ending. I have enjoyed the work and I am grateful for it but I miss being home. Physically, I am still losing weight and the hard work is really shaping me up. I have always been a strong person and can walk for miles but the bending, lifting, and twisting to load up the plant trays are using muscles that I don't normally even know that I have!

This morning as I was leaving, I could see tiny corn plants just sprouting through the ground. Long green tinted lines convinced me that it actually WAS the corn coming up and not my imagination. We are farmers by proxy, again!

903 is a black heifer that we have raised. She was from one of the very old Angus cows that I bought as a Christmas present for Neil two years ago. Those three ancient girls all calved with heifers: 901, 902, and 903. We knew that 903 was getting close to calving and on Tuesday evening, she had a nice heifer. We are pretty pleased. This is the first of our home raised heifers to calve on the new farm and it is also the first calf from our new Red Poll bull, Noah. We expect to get calves from Bobby Sue, Notch, and Dumplin with in the next month.

In the goat lot, Dolce, our only Oberhasli doe, is just about to burst with kids. I have at least 3 more does to kid before we are finished for this year. I called the lamb guy and asked him to come and pickup the last 13 lambs. They were not quite up to weight but with our work schedule, we just had to lighten the chore load.

Still working on filling the raised beds, rotating compost bins, and landscaping the yards. Honestly, I can only get a few things done when I get home because I am just dragging with weariness. Women who go off to jobs every day have always amazed me. I am just hanging in there and could not bear the thought of doing this full time, year round!

The weekend is coming and we have several things planned. The younger boys will be competing in an air rifle tournament on Saturday. On Sunday, we will be making our first batches of soap for the year. Sometime in there I have to get the kitchen cleaned up and laundry washed..........

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crazy Spring Weather

Spring in the midwest is not for the faint of heart. You just never know what will happen next.

This morning, when I left for work, the fog was unbelieveable. It was so thick and heavy that visibility was down to less than 20 yards...... I am not exaggerating. I inched my way out of the driveway and on to the gravel road and when I got to the stop sign, I realized just how serious it really was. I simply could not see well enough to decide if it was safe to pull out on to the paved highway. I sat there for a few minutes trying to decide what to do---  sit there, go back home or give it a try----- when a car came hurling through the fog. It was a total surprise to see it! It was almost right in front of me before I had any clue that it was coming. I rolled down the windows and listened for oncoming traffic. I sat there for a few minutes learning to judge how close the traffic was by the sound wafting through the pea soup fog. Finally, I managed to get going on the highway and inched my way at 30 mph into town. I was going to stop and get gas for the truck and almost missed the fully lit gas station in town under street lights. It was crazy and by the time I had driven the 20 miles to work, my nerves were shot. 

Then it warmed up and was beautifully sunny and HOT. By late afternoon, the air had the thick,still feeling to it that is a sure sign that we are in for thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms in the midwest are fearsome things. My father was from Oklahoma. As a kid growing up in Georgia, I can remember him walking the floors and looking out the windows during thunderstorms. He was genuinely worried and we all thought that he was over reacting. After I spent my first spring in Kansas, I knew exactly what he was thinking.

A storm here is usually fast moving, violent and prone to producing hail and --- of course---- tornadoes. We are seven miles from town but we can hear the tornado sirens ...... in the house. This is serious business. I do not know of a single person that does not have a weather radio....... most farmers have them in their trucks.

Tonight the weather radio blared three different times warning us of severe weather. It is after midnight and the worst of it has passed. The air has cooled off, the lightening and thunder is off in the distance toward the east. Best of all, the huge tree in the front yard with the hollow center is still standing.

I love to read the historical stories of the pioneers and homesteaders of this country. I have read several books in the series called, " Covered Wagon Women". These are the diaries and journals of women who crossed the prairie on their way to Oregon. I marvel at how much courage our ancestors had..... I also cringe at their accounts of the ferocius thunderstorms. I cannot imagine enduring one of them with nothing but a canvas covering---- much less traveling throught them for the entire spring. 

At the slight rumbling of thunder, I begin to get ready. I hustle everybody to finish up what ever they are doing outside. At the first flicker of lightening, I am marshalling everybody to shelter. People look at me funny and think that I am over reacting. My kids just obey with out much grumbling. They know that I have good reason for concern and it is just the way that I am. They have had to live with me for the past ten years......

Once upon a time, about ten years ago, I went shopping for a new buck. The trip to look at this goat took almost all day to get out to western Kansas. About 30 minutes after arriving, a storm blew up. We were in the barn when a huge bolt of lightening struck nearby. It rattled the roof tin and felt as if it shook the ground....... actually, it did. The sky opened up and great chunks of hail rained down..........

This family's daughter had been struck by the lightening. It seemed like I spent an eternity doing CPR on her. It was a horrible, helpless feeling. I did my best but in the end, she did not survive.  Just when I think that I have recovered and moved on, a thunderstorm will stir up memories......... I will never quite be the same again.  For a time, if a thunderstorm woke me up at night, I would bolt straight up out of sleep........ usually yelling.

I am happy to say that I have healed enough that I don't do that anymore. I am not terrified of storms. I don't jump or cringe at the flash and noise.  I am just uneasy when I know they are coming. It is just part of the way that I am.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

Yesterday was a pretty great day. As I was leaving for work, I saw our neighbor plowing our farm ground.
This was at 7:00 am. I was wondering if he would get the corn planted later........
I went to work with the intention of coming home at lunch.  Turns out, we got everything done by 12:30 so I didn't have to leave early while there was still work to be done. As I was leaving, the boss told me that he wouldn't need me until Friday........ That will give me time to get some things caught up on farm.

I had a whole list of things that needed to be done. The big item was keeping an eye on the guys coming to haul off junk. There were several farm implements sitting under the trees and the remains of an old bulldozer cluttering up the the barnyard. I sold them to a salvage yard and they came to pick them up yesterday.

This was what was sittig in the road at the barn driveway when I got home. This stuff loaded very easily.

This didn't load as easily...... Adam has pretended to drive this thing at least a million miles in the last year.  It also weighs a lot more than the junk man expected. Seth told me that whne they treid to pick it up, it mearly tipped the loader over.  After working all afternoon on trying to cut it up, at 5:00 pm . they gave up and told me they would be back this morning.

Meanwhile, I got busy and disbudded about 10 goat kids. While Seth had been keeping an eye on the jnk man that morning, he put together a creep feeding pen.  I need more goat milk to make cheese with so I am hoping to encourage the kids to eat more grain.

Then we zipped to the store to get a gallon of gas to use in the lawn mower. Salena mowed the orchard while I spread the tick killing granuals. Even though we had a bitter winter, the ticks are already out in force. After getting sick from a tick bite last summer, I have to be more vigilant to try keep it from happening again.

As we left the farm, I saw the neighbor planting corn! What a blessing!!! He is a good farmer and a great neighbor. Hopefully, with a good crop, we can both make some much needed income. Now, I will be watching to see the sprouts.....

Salena and I did the milking chores a little early because we both will be getting up a bit earlier next week. I caught milk for the milk customer who is coming today. Everything was done by 6:00pm.

Neil came home and took me out to dinner........
I stepped on the scales this morning and I am lighter than I have been in 10 years....... Oh Happy Day!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Off Farm Work

I only had to work until 12:30 today but we worked fast and furious! I did manage to snap a few pictures.

This is a "flat filler". The conveyor belt rolls the flats in to the machine and it fills them with soild and smooths it off --- ready for plants. My job is to put the empty pakets into the tray and feed them on to the belt. Notice that I have some extras stacked up on top. This givesme a little wiggle room but mostly cuts down on the dust that comes my way. Quite franlky, it is all that I can do to keep ahead of this machine!

This is what they look like when they come out and head for the transplanter.

This gizmo automatically transplants "plugs"  into the flats. It only takes about 20 seconds to put a plant in all 36 slots.

Eventually, the flats end up on a buggy. Either it gets moved into a greenhouse or rolled in to a truck.

It is hard wok but the scenery is awfully pretty.

It is a cold windy day today and I am tired. I think that I am going to have to take a break for a couple of hours before I get to handling farm chores.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tree planting

I ordered trees from the Kansas Forestry Dept. and they showed up last week.  We have managed to get over half of them but still have some persimmons and elderberries to plant. There is a really bald spot across the pnd that looks as if that is where they scraped the soil off to make the pond dam. Seth and I are very concerned abut the erosion there and we are working to slow down the water runoff. We planted a few trees there this morning and placed logs and rocks across that area to try to start some terracing. I have a lead on a tree service that is looking for somewhere to unload their chipped up waste. I am open to taking all he will bring me. We will just let it compost and build soil. There are several places onthis farm that could use the enrichment.

On top of that, I am a bit dubious as to the strength of the dam...... I don't think that it is wide enough to hold as much water as the pond could hold...... it looks as if some of the back of the dam has actually slid off and washed downstream. Seth and I planted elderberry bushed all along the "crack"  in hopes of slowing that down, too. The way this pond and dam are situated, there really isn't a good way to get to it with machinery to add to or repair the dam. It is beautiful to look at but I am worried that it will only be a temporary view.

We have been hustling this morning to get things done because we have a full afternoon scheduled. Our 4-H club is doing a lasagna supper tonight for a fund raiser. After lunch, Adma and I will head to High Prairie UMC to spend the afternoon cooking. Salena is baking a huge cake that she will bring up later. Seth is going to stay home and get a few small tings taken care of before he comes up to help with the dinner. After it is all wrapped up, we head home to start the bonfire. Salena has invited a mob out to burn one of the many piles in the pasture. Something about kids and a fire!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day Offf....

And PLENTY to do. It is also payday and past time for some grocery shopping. We have food but essential things like toilet paper are getting in short supply. Also need to download 2 photo card thingies onto discs at the Walmart photo booth. Using this lap top is different from my little worm infested computer and I am tired of having to sort through hundreds of pictures everytime I take a new one. I found an old one of me that I thought was pretty good---- considering what we are working with.....

I am happy to say that I am 20 lbs lighter now. That was taken last year sometime before we moved. Seth and I were re-stringing the barb wire on the south side of the horse pasture. There wasn't much fence left and just beyond that row of brush was a very lush, newly sprouted, corn field. It was only a matter of time before they were out...... Adam must have taken this picture I don't remember it at all. 

I did manage to get some pictures of the new milking set up for the cows. There really isn't a good place to stand or angle to get a good picture of the whole set up.

Obviously this is from the back. To the right is a garage door that we open up to let them in and out. The head stantions have a built in feeder and solid fronts. The vacuum pump sets in front of Holly and we just have a plastic tubing line run ning loose to the bucket milker.

That small concrete block is for Salena to perch on while she is getting down to milk Holly who is quite a bit shoter than Wilma. So far, it has worked out just beautifully. The goat set up is on the left side of the barn with a small catch pen for the milkers to hang out and eat in while waiting their turn onthe milking stand. We avea smaller vaccum pump set up over there.

We put an even smaller pump on a shelf over the wash sink to use to make clean up even faster. I can well remember the days of hand milking when I dreamed of having just one vacuum pump!!

We are weighing up the cows milk but since most does still have kids nursing them, I don't bother with weighing their milk yet. My Holly is giving about 30- 32 lbs of milk from two quarters....... imagine how much she would have given if I had found her before the other 2 were ruined!! 

Time to get busy!