Shades of Ireland

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Glorious Fall....

The season is definitely changing. The mornings are just right-- not too cool but with just the right amount of "bite" in the air to need more than shorts for morning chores. I hate to complain ---- but if we had a little rain, it would be perfect! I have been enjoying my cup of coffee on the deck before rousting the boys out of bed. The dragon flies are having an end of season heyday and the fish are really jumping. Think that I may have to ease out in the canoe later today with a fishing pole......

I dug those sweet potatoes up and they are as big a footballs. I left them out yesterday to cure them a bit and plan to move them to the garage later today. I am not even going to attempt to can or freeze or what ever else to preserve them. We are going to have sweet potatoes on the menu until the dang things are gone or spoiled.

Sis is coming home this weekend and bringing a couple of kids with her. We are spending the afternoon sorting out the house so that we won't embarass her too much. Since it is getting cooler, we decided that it would be more economical for us to just move Charlie back to the house instead of heating his drafty apartment at the barn. I could not bear to make Seth go back to sharing his room. Adam ( the ornery little devil) would not survive long if we tried to put Charlie in there with him. So...... other than the garage, the only option left was to put him in the office. I have spent a couple of days rearranging the house to move my office stuff out so that I can use it during the day when Charlie is sleeping.
I cannot believe what a Chinese firedrill that turned into..... I ended up moving the piano into the office, the china cabinette to that space. Then I decided that I didn't like the idea of the computer desk out in such a public place. I keep a terribly messy desk and cringed at the idea of having to hide it all when company showed up. The master bedroom had to be re-shuffled to make room for it so I could just shut the door on my unmade bed and paperwork mess. It is done and we can live with it until spring or Charlie leaves--- which ever comes first.

In doing all of that, I discover a gazillion things that I forgot we owned. How in the world did I get so much stuff pack ratted away in just a year and a half????? It has about killed my soul but I have just gritted my teeth and tossed a bunch of it. Paper...... how can I generate sooooooo much paper trash??? My mail lady must hate me..... Most of it came through her! LEGOS!!!! Why were there leggos in my china cabinet?? We found a new set of jigsaw blades that I searched high and low for earlier this year----- INSIDE the piano lid!

Need to get started on housework..... would rather go fishing..... sigh...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Still Dragging.....

Still in a slow motion fog. I believe that it is time to go low carb for a little while. I am not diabetic but I have been beating it back for the last 10 years. I have fallen off of the low carb wagon for most of the summer. I gained only 3 lbs back but I can tell I am about to really blow it.

Mean while, farm life still rolls along. Most of my does are bred! Just got a few stragglers and waiting to see who will need to be rebred. I am still a little suspicious of the 2 does that I hauled to visit the boer buck. He was just too unenthusiastic about the whole rendezvous for my liking. I am really pushing them hard to dry off. I am just plain TIRED of milking.

The milk cows continue to put out more milk than I would like, too. Everybody is down to once a day milking and I have begun to stretch out the time between milkings. Tomorrow will be the first day to try to skip milking the cows all together. Seth is not too keen on that idea. We will keep a close watch and check them regularly but Holly MUST dry off. I do not know how she can be as huge as she is and still milk on the short grain rations and pasture grazing. She is due to calve in December and really needs more than 60 days dry but I am afraid she isn't going to do that. 

My fall chicks have arrived. Someday, I am going to find my camera so that I can show you pictures of them! I try to raise a set of chicks over the winter so that they are ready to lay in the spring. I somehow ended up with a couple of Speckled Sussex hens---- probably an impulse buy from the farm store --- and really like them. I decided to buy 25 straight run and use them for next year. I logged online and fired off my order. Meanwhile, Neil, wonderful hubby that he is, decided to surprise me with a set of Speckled Sussex chicks. He placed an order,too. His 25 arrived yesterday and mine will get here next week. I don't know whether to hope for more roosters to butcher or more hens to lay eggs...... either way it will be too much of a good thing!! LOL!!

My garden is not a thing of beauty anymore. About half of it has been plowed under and my tomatoes are a jungle mess. Tall, gangly and too heavy for their supports, they are sprawling all over the neighboring raised beds. Still getting a few tomatoes and okra. The sweet potato vines have totally run amuck and have spread over to meet the tomatoes. I try very hard not to think of all the snakes that are probably slithering around in those 4 raised beds. I have dug down to check on the sweet potatoes and they ones that I have found are as big as footballs. You are supposed to wait until the vines begin to yellow or cold weather is expected to dig them. I don't think that I can wait that long...... I am not sure what to do with mammoth sweet potatoes......
My plans are to venture over to the sheep dairy and haul home all the wheat straw bedding they have piled up. I am going to spread it out thickly over the open garden and try some "lasgna composting".

Before I can find the time to do any of that, I have to spend the next 2 weekends traveling. Seth has qualified in his shooting sports 4-H project to compete at the state matches. Next weekend is archery and muzzleloading in Topeka. The following weekend it will be shot gun in Wichita. He is a good shot and practicing alot. Some mornings it sounds like WWIII down here. By the time we get done with all of that, nearly half of October will be over and my mom is flying in for a visit.

In my spare time, I am wrapping soap and fine tuning the household budgets. The boys have taken down the TV antenna about 3 times now. It is an ordeal that takes at least 3 people and always gives me a headache. Still haven't figured out why we cannot get any reception. Football season is here and the withdrawel is painful.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Friends Are Good to Me

I got a call a few days ago from another goat breeder. I met this young man at a goat show. He was on his own so we just herded him right in with our family. We had a great time and he had a beautiful Saanen buck. I asked if he thought I could work out a deal to breed a couple of my does to this buck. Travis is a wise kid who said that he would have to talk to his mom first. It wasn't long before I got call from "mom". Toni and I hit it off right away and before long, she drove the five hours to my house and left that big buck with me for the breeding season. Since then, I have been down to spend a few days with them and we have enjoyed visiting at other goat shows. They have been very generous and I have tried my best to return the favors.

Through several twists of bad luck, I do not have an Alpine buck this year. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to handle breeding my 5 Alpine does. I had pretty good luck with AI-ing several of them last year but...... I just can't seem to stir up much enthusiasm for doing that now. Then the call came from Travis. Seems he has an extra young buck that he used last year. He kept several of his daughters so he didn't have much work for him---- did I want to keep him and use him this breeding season???? Travis bought this buck while he was in California. His pedigree was enough to drop my jaw....... Redwood Hills!!!

Guess who I went and picked up this afternoon? Neil and I drove down to Bartlesville, Ok and we met Toni and her mom at the mall. We made the big switch and headed back home. As soon as we unloaded him, he bred two does. Talk about timing!!!
So far, I have hauled 2 does to be bred to a Boer buck, bred 2 to the Saanens, and now we have 2 with the Alpine. Going to be an interesting klidding season......

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Keeping up.....

Having a hard time getting it all done these days! We slowed down to once a day milking so our evenings are not so chore filled. I simply have the "Can't help its" and the "Don't want to's"......... I have developed a wide streak of just plain LAZY! Usually this happens when I put too much on my to-do list. I get overwhelmed and just quit. Sometimes that is ok-- for a day or two. A new week starts tomorrow so it will be a good time for me to re-group and pare my list down to a more manageable length. I get so discouraged thinking about all that I haven't done that I minimize the impact of all that I DO manage to get done. I have decided to use this blog as a kind of record to keep track of what does get handled in a day. So forgive me, but in the future on some weeks this blog may not have much written value and will probably look more like a check off list. I am hoping that it will encourage me to keep posting on a more frequent basis and help me to keep my head screwed on a but straighter!
On top of this, I have lost my camera. There is no room in the budget for a new one right now so I guess I better get to cleaning up and hope I find it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Time Together

Labor Day is a bittersweet time for our family. While the rest of the country is celebrating a day off from work--- we are usually using it as a day to get some kind of special project done. It is also a day to remember for us. Tomorrow, it will be 11 years since my hubby, Neil, had a heart attack. It was a harrowing experience for all of us and a pure miracle that he survived. It changed our family dynamics forever. My children grew up a little quicker. Our faith in God and each other was sorely tested.

This weekend Neil is pretty much off from work. I think that he is going to run in and check on things and he has fielded numerous phone calls. It has been pretty great to have him home. We have gotten to discuss all kinds of things about the farm and kids that there just isn't time for during the regular week.

Yesterday, he and the boys built a holding pen for Ellie May and Craig. Since poor Ellie is in permanant quaranteen, frankly, it is always a problem of where to put her. Craig is the Saanen buck that I used last year on the "clean herd". I really want a doe kid from Ellie so instead of selling him, I put him in with Ellie to keep her company and get her bred. They have been running in the small front pasture all summer. I need that area for weaned calves and the chance of my clean herd getting in there with them is just too high to risk. So, we moved that duo over to a nice big pen across the driveway and behind the garden in the woods. As soon as I am sure that Ellie is bred, Craig will head for the sale barn. After Ellie kids, I will have to make a decision about her future.

We also enclosed the area in the big pasture reserved for the horses. We don't have a tractor and that pasture desperately needs mowing. We ran 2 more hot wires in attempt to allow the goat herd out there to work on brush clean up. Goats are notoriously hard to keep in any fence but electric fence is even tougher. The stars must have been in the right place because it is working. The girls are staying in and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for grazing. My biggest fear for grazing them on the entire 100 acres is that they will end up on the highway or wipe out the neighbor's crops. The fence is barb wire and works for the cattle and horses but that is not even a good bluff for goats. If I can convince this group of goats that an electric fence is serious business, I may be able to open up other areas and improve the pasture for grazing cattle with out going bankrupt fencing it.

Our corn crop was pretty much a failure. Only about 27 bushels to the acre. I am pretty sure that we lost a few hundred dollars on that venture. If we get a good rain, the corn that was missed or dropped ( plenty of that....) will sprout. We are planning on running a single hot wire around that 27 acres and grazing the cows. That is ALOT of fence and wire!! Luckily, 2 sides already has permanent fencing but we are still looking at a bit over 1/2 mile of fence. I am thinking that I should go ahead and invest in another solar fence charger. I LOVE those things. I have two or three that have been damaged and I am considering putting Seth on the case and combining them to get one to work......

A cold front dropped down last night and the weather this morning is absolutely wonderful. Brisk north breeze and very cool temps...... it is such a relief from the 100 degree days we have been having. That means that fall is REALLY coming and the does will be coming into heat. This afternoon, Neil would like for us to develope a breeding plan---- decide who I am going AI, who is going to visit a Boer buck and when I am going to do all this....... probably means we will need to wean those honking big doe kids that I have left on their dams all summer.

See..... Labor Day is named correctly for us!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Need to Vent and Grieve

Someday very soon, I am going to get back to posting on this blog in a timely fashion about farm life and various projects and dreams I have........... But in the meantime, you are going to just have to bear with me. I have my little computer back and physically there is no reason for me not to get back to business here. Unfortunately, I am working my way through a few things here.

It has been a time of change for our family. As close as we are, it is not easy. My babies are growing up. Our relationships are changing. For the most part, these are good changes but even so, they are hard. Like nearly everyone else in this time, we are struggling financially. I have been a bit incapacitated with painful foot injuries. We have been very busy with off farm activities---- important things that we wanted and needed to do. Pretty much we have been overwhelmed by life of late.

Today, I got word that an old friend has died. Over the last few years, we had lost touch with each other but it is still a shock to me.  She was 47. She was a tiny, fiesty little scrap of a woman who struggled to keep her weight up to 100lbs. She worked and lived in a man's world and if it hadn't been for her long braid hanging out of her Harley Davidson hat, you would have thought that she WAS a man. She was tough as nails but had lived a life that was so full of heartache, and pain. She was a wife and mother and the truest friend I have ever known. She never hesitated to encourage me in what ever I was doing but was just as quick to bust my chops if I needed it. Our lifestyles were very different...... we looked very different, and often did not see things eye-to-eye. We enjoyed each other's company and laughed alot. The emotional and physical scars and pain she endured would have broken me. Oh, how I hope that she found some peace in this life.  I don't know how she died. I just know that she is gone. I pray that I was as much of a blessing to her as she was to me.......