Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Black Beauty

Black Beauty at 1475 pounds

Our 3 year old Black Angus heifer returned home Monday. She has been standing at Poppie's fence bawling ever since she got back. She misses her friends at Mike Ziemba's farm. We hope we is pregnant with a offspring of "On Focus", one of the top Black Angus Bulls in the business. Mike has a young bull who is the offspring of this prestigious bull. Mike only charged us $130 to pick up Black Beauty and let her have room and board with his bulls for a month. She seems to have enjoyed herself in spite of a severe case of lice she picked up from the close encounters with her kind. The first day back she had rubbed off all the hair on top of her back. I purchased lice spray the next day but have yet to douse her with it. It sounds like a real farm again. The lowing of a lonesome heifer can be heard from morning to night. Thankfully, she stops when it gets dark.

This is Black Beauty as a calf.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Preserving Some of the Raspberries

Pa Ingalls, in the Little House on the Praire series, was fond of quoting, "There is no great loss without some small gain." I remember him saying this after the crows wiped out their entire corn crop for the year. He shot dozens of the crows and they had them for dinner that night. Well, my u-pick raspberry patch may be history, but today I salvaged some of the canes and replanted them in the garden spot. Sanford came along when I have half way through and finished digging the holes, giving me the encouragement to complete the job. I relocated 22 canes and Tom Rosette took home another 10 or 15 canes. It is a good start to fulfilling Charles Ingal's folk wisdom by preserving some good from the loss of my dream.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grandma Goat, Rest in Peace

Monday evening I put the goats away in the goat pen for the night. Grandma goat came trotting in as usual when I poured the grain into the feeding pan. She seemed fine. San found her the next morning under the barn where she likes to sleep. I am happy to report she did not die at the hands of predators, as so many of our other goats have. She apparently died in her sleep.

Putting to rest a dream

10 Years ago I convinced Sanford that we could earn income off the farm by growing raspberries. This was a key factor in winning my husband's cooperation in making the farm our home. My dad let us plow up the hay field in preparation of planting a U-pick raspberry patch. Sanford, Justin, Lynnea, and I planted 1000 raspberry starts in the muddy spring before we bought the farm in October of 2000. My dream of having a U-pick raspberry farm has been a thorny experiment ever since.

This past Saturday, we accepted the help of two high schoolers from Ashland First Baptist Church to remove the irrigation lines and fence stakes from the weedy remains of what was once my cherished raspberry patch. The hope of continuing this endeavor actually died two years ago during the time of my father's passing, but I had realized the year before that it had very little chance of surviving as long as I and Sanford both worked other jobs.

I have now accepted the passing away of this dream. Saturday was the burial, the putting to rest of that dream and the turning point to face what lies ahead for Sanford and me. Thank you, Sanford, for risking this experiment and giving me 9 years of living on this 11 acres of rock and thistle I call home. Thank you, Sanford, for trying to help me realize a dream and then helping me put it to rest.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Tall Hay Barn

This is good picture of the tall barn from the porch of the house. The floor of this barn is all log poles laid side by side with thick, rough cut planks on top. The walls of the barn are made of rough cut planks, thinner than the floor boards, with space between each to allow plenty of air to ventilate the hay. A metal hay clamp/tong still hangs from a track running the length of the barn on the inside of the roof's peak. Barn owls have raised a brood of chicks at the top of the barn for as far back as I can remember. We have more than once brought chicks who have fallen out of the nest to Wild Life Images for care.

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Some of my fondest memories of summers on the farm is when we would bring the hay into the barn. The whole family worked together to load and unload the hay, sliding the bales along the smooth floor boards to the growing stack of hay. It made me feel important and capable to be given a hay hook and be expected to do my part to accomplish this task. Smelling the cured grass while the breeze cooled the sweat along my neck and I rocked back and forth on top of the hay bales loaded on the truck redeemed summer vacation for a girl who loved school.

One summer, after San and I came to live here, a young goat went under the barn and for some bizarre reason the goat decide to stick its head up into a crack between one of the floor logs. At dusk I heard it bleating as I put the other goats away for the night, but I couldn't find it. Finally, I located it by crawling underneath the barn. When I tried to free the goat, it yelled as if I was beating it to death. By then it was dark. I called Justin. He came and together, after several unsuccessful attempts to free the goat, we figured out the only way to free the goat was to tear the floor boards up, no small task. It took two tries to find the spot where the goat's head was. Even with the floor boards up we had to hammer a wedge between the logs to separate a space wide enough to release the horns and head of the goat. The floor still bears the wound from that ill fated act by a curious goat.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The John Deere Tractor

This is the 1934 John Deere tractor my dad used all the days of his life on this farm. This is the tractor I remember driving from the old house to here. My dad showed me how to stop it, you just pulled the lever back, but he didn't show me how to slow it down. He remembers following me in the truck and watching me turn the tractor into the driveway. The tractor tipped sideways and I made the turn on two wheels. You start the engine by turning the fly wheel by hand. I remember it took many tries and occasionally my father's leather glove would get caught in the wheel. That is why it was always parked on the hill. It was easier to start by rolling it down hill with the lever pulled back and as soon as the engine spat out a couple of chug chug-a-lugs and putt putt-a-putts you push the lever forward to engage the gears.
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The Milking Barn

We called this the cow barn when I was a kid growing up because this is where my dad milked the cows. Today I call it the first barn because it is the first one you come come to when walking up from the house. I did milk the goats in the front section one summer. You can see how the gabled middle section is different from the rest of the barn. At one time, this part was a shed at the school house next door. When the school no longer had a use for it Mr. Kerby had it moved up the drive way to this location to be used as a barn. He then added on to it, making a cement floor in the front part for milking. I guess it should be called the milking barn.
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