Shades of Ireland

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Carpentry makes me cuss.......

I am a pretty fair hand when it come to building things. But sometimes, I just don't know when to quit.

As you have all probably guessed, my kitchen is a working kitchen. Or I should say, it NEEDS to be a working kitchen. I lived in alot of places with all kinds of kitchens and I must say that I like this one the best. This is a doublewide mobile home so...... how do I put this..... it was not built or designed for a homesteading, farm wife. It is VERY pretty. Lovely open lay out with plenty of cabinets and counterspace for most housewives...... but you know me..... I have to push it! I have begun to sprawl over into what is supposed to be the dining area. It is seperated from the kitchen with a bar. I am sure that it was meant as a place for people to sit at and converse with the cook or eat a quick breakfast or snack on. I quickly hung a huge red potrack (that the kids gave me for my birthday) right over the center of that. When I hung my pots and frying pans up there, it pretty much did away with the eating space.  The rest of the cabinets are full and over flowing.
I just didn'thave enough room to put all my food processors, grinders, cheese pots, blenders, cake decorating, etc, etc..... On top of that, I need someplace for my jars. Lots and lots of mason jars......

So, I designed and area for a larger pantry and a desk top workspace with storage under it for big stuff..... think pressure canner type stuff. I am sure the space on that wall is designed for a china cabinet...... now it is built in storage. I was so pleased with how it turned out and all I need to do to finish it up is to paint.

I should have just quit there for the day........ but noooooooo!

I also had plans for that dividing bar. I decided that on the dining room side, I could extend it a whole 14 inches,with a cabinet fitting just up under the lip of the counter top. I could make it high enough for 3 shelves and store all kinds of jars in there. It would be wide enough that I could use the top as a buffet to serve big meals or slide stools up there for extra seating. I am not going to put doors on the front but I am going to put curtains and make it look very country.

After the first building project went so well, I jumped right on this one. Unfortunately, I did not guage how tired I was. I got all involved and realized that I was going to be one 2x4 short. I had already walked all over this farm checking cows and doing chores, made a trip into the grocery store and hardware store plus doing the work center carpentry project. So having to go over to the barn to scrounge for a board really got my temper stirred up. By the time I found a piece that would work ( if I put it on the back so it couldn't be seen) and got back to the house, the cordless drill battery was dead. Luckily, we had a second one charging--- somewhere. Now, I am tired and getting mad. There were a hundred other little things that popped up before I finally dragged the frame of the cabinet into the house to place it for fit. There it sits. I think that it would be best for my health, sanity and the safety of my male children for me to let it sit there until Monday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Decisions, decisions.....

I was really hoping for rain last night. I know that I sound obsessed with the weather and that is because.... I AM! So much of our lives and what we do-- or don't do--- hinges on the weather. Right now, this part of the world is dry...... scary dry...... wonder-if-it-is-ever-going-to-rain-again kind of dry.
Our corn crop was a total failure. So was most of our neighbors corn crops. We managed to buy hay early in the summer but we were very fortunate.  Soybeans are being harvested now and the results are very poor.
The pastures are pitifully short and overgrazed. Ranchers are selling cattle to reduce the grazing pressure and hoping to make the hay stretch a little further. I have never seen so many dry ponds. The big danger with these shallow ponds is that cattle get stuck in the mud trying to get a drink. It doesn't sound like it but that is a very big deal...... many times they will die of exhaustion or a heart attack while trying to get out. Rescueing them is a nighmare and often they die anyway from the stress of it all.

Even though we had a big chance of rain for last night, we only got a few drops..... looked more like a heavy dew when I went out this morning. It did not even accumulate in the rain guage. Today it has been cool, dreary, overcast skies---- and bone dry.
Next good chance according to the weatherman is next Wednesday...... seems like an eternity!

Meanwhile-- what do we do?

Seth dug out the spring and put a barrell watering trough down in it. It stays full and even has a slight overflow. He put rock all around it so that it drains and the cattle don't have to slog through mud to get to it. As long as they all don't mob it at one time, it seeps enough to give everybody a good drink. The upper pond is not quite dry. The big pond out back is getting shallower by the day. I had to go out in the canoe and fix up fence so that the cows didn't just walk across the now dry parts and graze in the yard or hang out on the deck. They still have water but the grazing is pretty much gone. We were waiting to see how much of this rain we got before begining to ration out the hay....... looks like tomorrow is the day to start.

The horse pond is bone dry and they are getting rural water...... and running up the monthly water bill. The horse market is flooded and it is almost impossible to give a horse away-- much less sell one. People are trying anyway. Craigslist, bulletin boards and newspapers are full of ads for horses.

We have the 16 weaned calves and goat herd out in the front paddocks with access to the middle pond. Shallow but the rock rim around the edges keeps everybody on firm footing. Feeding hay to them. The steers will all go to market by the first of December but what should we do with the heifers? Keep or sell? Should we build the herd since the ag economists are saying it will take 4-5 years for the American cow herd to recover from this years massive sell off? The price of replacement females is predicted to skyrocket...... sell or hang on a while longer? Either way, it is nervewracking. Take the money and run or invest in the future herd? If we keep them, can we feed them through the winter or will be just put off selling them until later?

Please Lord, when is it going to rain?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Working Girls

This afternoon's project made me break a sweat!
I have always and probably always will love chickens. I am also a free range kinda gal but..... I hate the way they just seem to tear everything up, leave me "gifts" in unwanted places and just seem to be hawk magnets.
Even though Neil built a magnificient, roomy hen house complete with a large side run for greenery as well as a large covered run, I still let the hens out to roam and eat grasshoppers every afternoon. If I go anywhere near the barn, the spoiled creatures all flock to the gate and begin begging me to turn them loose. I have hardened my heart and ignore them at least until after lunch. If I give in and let them out earlier, they lay eggs willy-nilly all over the farm. The pack of hounds just LOVES that!

Cold weather is coming and the grasshopper population has dramatically dropped. I have decided this winter, the girls are going to have to go to work a bit harder to earn their keep, My composting efforts have been pretty much a failure because I tend to forget it or procrastinate on turning it. So, I planted the outside run in wheat and closed the gate on it. If we get rain, the hens will have greenery later this winter. Then I wet down the dry inside run and began hauling my compostable stuff in there. I had opened the gate and let the hens out but they could not resist all the goodies that I was wheeling in and kept coming back into the pen. I am not done but I have had enough for today.
This is the piles of stuff from the sheep raising venture last winter and the potting soil clean up from the nursery job. Also the remains of a trash can household compost experiment that went REALLY bad..... Eventually I plan to clean out the goat barn and Holly's stall but I will need more chickens for that. Hoping the Speckled Sussex pullets will be big enough to hold their own with the older hens by then.

We sorted those chicks yesterday. I was very disappointed that out of 40 straight run chicks, I ended up with only 12 pullets. Pullets went in portable pens int he garden and the cockrels went in a moveable pen at the barn. Looks like I will be butchering chickens before Christmas.....

Need to get a shower and get ready to go in to town. I volunteer at the food bank and tonight is it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Windy in Kansas

This morning, I woke up to the sound of the wind roaring through the trees in the yard. For just a moment, I thought that it was raining but soon had my hopes dashed. The weather forcast is for a near 70% chance of rain tomorrow but they are not promising us much in accumulation. We are getting pretty desperate for rain around here. We have already started feeding hay. Yesterday afternoon, Neil, Seth and I had a big meeting over at the barn. We were trying to decide how and where to feed hay this year. Normally, we would let the livestock dictate when we fed. As soon as they cleaned up one big bale, we would replace it with another. Not going to be that way this year. I am afraid that everyone is going to be on short rations this winter.

Neil has done some research on limit feeding hay. Later today, Seth and I will have to get over there and rig up cattle panels and electric fence wire to make a paddock outside of the cow pasture but still connected to the working pens. We are going to place 2 big bales of hay in there. The horses will have access for 3 hours in the morning and then the cows will have access for 3 hours in the afternoon. We are planning on feeding hay for at least the next 20 weeks.

If we get a little rain to perk the fescue grass back up, it will give us a few more days of breathing room.

Last Sunday, we worked the 16 weaned calves. That is a record number of calves for us. Not much by ranching standards but we are proud anyway. In 2 weeks we will give them a second round of vaccinations. Then we wait until they have been weaned a minimum of 45 days. I am really anxious to get this payday! LOL! We will have 6 steers to sell. I cannot believe that we have 10 heifers! I am not sure that we will keep them all but the possibility is certainly there ----- especially if we get RAIN!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A little peace this morning

It is cool this morning and since Salena brought kids home with her for the weekend, I relented and turned up the thermostat. Usually, we shiver around until the warmth from the fireplace takes the chill off.

I knew this weekend was going to be action packed so I got busy and cooked ahead last Thursday. Roasts in the crockpot, breakfast casserole, banana bread and muffins and a big pot of chili. I had to take Mom back to Tulsa to catch a flight back to Georgia so I was gone most of the day yesterday. As soon as I got back, I had to make a run over to the Amish farms to dropoff some things that I had for them. My junk is their treasures according to Henry. Backin time to check on chores and milk Olga. One of the visiting boys wanted to learn to milk a goat and he did quite well at it. CJ also LOVES my homemade cheese so we took the fresh milk to the house and I started a batch for them to take back to school with them. As soon as they begin stirring around this morning, I'll start it draining.

As soon as itgets a bit more light outside, I am going to slip off and check cows and get in my morning power walk. At 8:30 we will head in to church. Our plans today are to work the newly weaned calves this afternoon to get them ready for the sale barn sometime in early November. Payday is coming! I also hope to drag my chicken house back over to the garden. The Speckled Sussex chicks are feathered out and getting too big for the brooder. They will get to live in the garden this winter. I am afraid that I am seeing lots of roosters in this batch......

I hear movement in the house..... sun is just peeking over the horizon. Time to go! Hope you all have a blessed day! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week of Variety

You just never know what a week will bring,do you?

My Mom flew in to Tulsa from south Georgia late last week. We haven't seen her in over a year and it was time for a visit.
We got in late on Thursday night and up early on Friday morning to make a trip to Topeka. It wasn't planned this way but as it turned out, we went up to a funeral. My aunt, my father's sister, had died. It is really bittersweet to say goodby to someone and at the same time, get a chance to visit with family that we rarely see.
Salena was home for the weekend and Seth celebrated his 18th birthday on Saturday. Sunday we weaned calves and were serenaded all night by both bawling calves and their mamas. Also that afternoon, we attended a 4-H cook out.
Monday, we made a mad dash to Caney to have a couple of those cats we adopted spayed and neutered. While they were in surgery, we zipped to Independence to do my payday shopping and errands. Home to get a few things done and then off to Elk Falls for a planning meeting for their big weekend. Nov. 18th and 19th is the annual Elk Falls Outhouse Tour and Craft Fair. I organize the craft fair and set up a booth to sell our soap and lotion there.
Tuesday morning, Neil and I left Mom in charge and headed to Ozark Beach, Mo. Neil was attending a hog meeting there and I got to go along. We stayed at a resort called Tan-Tar-A. It was old but beautiful. We got to eat a wonderful supper aboard a yacht out on Lake of the Ozarks. It was good but I had been battling car sickness on those hills all the way there. I was a bit queasy the whole time we were on the lake!! I enjoyed my quiet time there but was glad when we headed home.

Today, we worked on cleaning house, making laundry soap, stacking firewood and generally getting ready for this weekend. Salena is coming back home and bringing a couple of friends. The kids all intend to team up at a fundraiser skeet shoot on Saturday. I'll be hauling my Mom back to Tulsa to catch her flight home. I am sure she will be ready to get back! We have kept the road hot and she has been a real trooper.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sleep deprived

I had another one of my insomniac nights. Charlie didn't have to work so he was up all night, too. He worked on cleaning up the kitchen and laundry--- bless him! A little after midnight, we got the wild idea to go to Walmart--- so we did. It is a 25 mile drive and a thick fog had rolled in. He got a few things and I got a few things and by the time we got back home, I was ready to sleep.

As a result, this morning was HARD on me. I had to take the Chevy truck in to my mechanic to have the heater core replaced. They wanted it by 8:00 am. Hahaha! I had to check on the 902 heifer who turned out to be very obliging. She was standing in front of the old pole barn with her brand new heifer calf. I was dreading having to walk out into the thick fog with little visiblity to look for a new calf..... good way to surprise the new mama and get yourself stomped. I did manage to get the truck in by 8:30 and they only gave me a little grief for being late. I just told them I had to wait to find the calf and didn't mention the part about oversleeping.....

I've been very good about trying to wean myself off of my Diet Pepsi addiction. I am afraid that I am going to fall off the wagon today and indulge...... I probably need to just take a nap and get ready for this afternoon.
A storm knocked down some trees earlier this year and Seth has been working his way through them cutting firewood.  When Charlie gets up this afternoon, they both plan to tackle 2 huge pecan trees that are down across the creek. Since the creek is still dry and we expect rain tonight or tomorrow, seems like a good time to get it done. Adam and I are the pack mule pair. They cut it and we haul it to the truck. We have been taking it to the house to split but I think they may do that before we load it. Try to keep some of the mess out of the yard. Right now, we have an impressive amount of wood stacked up drying for winter. We are considering buying one of those outside wood burning furnaces. So far, the price is a bit steep for our tight budget.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday, Monday.....

It rained a bit over night. It was so gentle that even with the widow open, I never heard a thing. Rain guage had only 3/10 in it but even that little bit has sure perked up everything. The sad thing is that we are still incredibly dry. See the pond at the top of the page with the horses wading out into it? These days, it is bone dry. I have been walking out into it and picking up rocks. It is so dry that I plan to use those rocks to fill in the washed out gap in the big pond dam. Unless we get a sudden monsoon season, reapairing the dam will be our main winter project.
I had to take Neil into work this morning and it was so nice to splash through a few puddles. When I got back, Charlie had been home from work long enough to shower and was ready to take me out to breakfast. On the mornings that he doesn't have to go into work that night, we like to go into Neodesha to the Green Lantern for coffe and an omelet. It works out to be about once a week. Charlie calls this his "debriefing time".  He gets to tell me all the news that isn't "classified" and just generally vent. I get to tell him what is going on at the farm, give him a list of chores and things that I want him to handle, and catch him up on family business. It is our time. I find that I like having an adult son that picks up the check.

Seth has been playing lumber jack over the weekend. My mother's heart is getting used to the idea of my baby boy weilding a chainsaw. The EMT side of me just cringes when he drives off-- alone--- on the 4-wheeler. I admit that if I hear the saw stop for a long time, I manage to find an excuse to head off in that direction to check on him. I tell him that I came to help him haul wood back but I know that he sees right through that. If I so much as pick up the chain saw, he has a fit.