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Archive for July, 2009

We are all set up and ready to go for our own 4-H Fair this weekend. Many months of organizing and planning have come together around the farm. The rides began to come to life earlier today as the operators made them ready for the public. Tonight the general public is able have a preview of the rides.  For the next two days the farm will be filled with people, farm activities, demonstrations, lots of yummy carnival food and so much more. It should be a lot of fun!

Our own 4-H club spent the day washing the sheep and cows. They also practiced setting their animals up for when they are infront of a judge. The rest of us put on the final touches around the farm. We stripped all the animal pens and gave them fresh bedding.  This tecnically is not far from our weekly responsibilities but generally we do not clean everything in just one day. Instead it is staggard throughout the week. But with some teamwork we were able to get most of the work done before an afternoon rain shower. Hopefully the rain will stay away throughout the rest of the weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

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4-H Fair Season

Fair Season…

This is a wonderful time of year for me. I love the annual tradition of going to the county 4-H Fair and seeing all the animals, riding the amusement rides and enjoying a funnel cake covered with powdered sugar. Of course we have our own 4-H Fair on the farm this weekend but I decided to head over to the next county to check out the competition. Both in livestock and their general setup. I have been to this other fair quite a few times and tonight seemed to have a much larger crowd than in past years. Perhaps it is the economy and everyone is staying home this summer or maybe it is due to better weather (I remember getting rained on a few times!). Either way it was nice to see the larger crowd of people and I had a great time with old friends. Of course the animals we lots of fun to see. And a handful of the bulls gave their cowboys one heck of a ride during the rodeo.

Here are some pictures I took from the fair – sorry if the quality is not so good, my camera does not do well at night. Unfortunately I was not able to get any picture worth posting of the rodeo.

Enjoy!

this young guy kept moving out of my view to look for food

two very cool, and very unique pigs amungst the duroks, chesters and blue butts

two very cool, and very unique pigs amongst the durocs, chesters and blue butts

sheep!

sheep!

how can this chicken see anything?

how can this chicken see anything?

honoring our homeland, of course we sang the national anthem before starting the rodeo

honoring our homeland, of course we sang the national anthem before starting the rodeo

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Setting Up

Our 4-H fair is this weekend so we are spending the whole week preparing for the event. That is a bit of an understatement. People have been preparing for this fair for quite some time now. But this week everything is being put in to action. The rides have been arriving all week and visitors are beginning to get excited. I have had quite a few people ask about the rides and when they will be open and what is going on. Other people are asking about our 4-H program and what farm events we will be hosting over the weekend.

Our newly weaned young steers have settled down and are not calling for their mothers anymore. In fact they seem to enjoy the activity in the barn and have become quite interested in attention from people. Much better than jumping out of the stall (which they did when we first brought them in…). Did you know a young cow can jump 4 feet? Of course their good behavior is partly because of the kids who have been working with them, walking them around the farm and grooming them. They are ready to be presented for judging.

On the other hand, our dairy cow, Dandy, has been less than impressed with some of the activity. She nearly ran me over this morning as we walked past a coworker using the weed whacker. Dandy gave a hop, skip and a buck and then we nearly trotted in to the barn for milking. Going back out Dandy and I discovered two sows had decided to tour the farm and see all the rides being set up. Thankfully our cows don’t mind the pigs. I’ve known horses who would have snorted and then promptly been in the next county before you can blink.

Hopefully I will remember my camera tomorrow and get some quick shots of everything. All of our equipment has been set out which is perfect for updating the Farm Equipment Page!

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Life on the farm has been relatively busy. At least I think it has because I have been coming home tired these past two weeks which accounts for some of my blog entries that have covered multiple topics (like this one) or are at the very least sporadic. So, here are some things that stand out in my mind about this past week…

The good:

1. Rain finally came!

2. All the animals are doing well. The baby cows and baby goat that were weaned have settled in and aren’t acting sad or calling for their mothers anymore. The steers are downright sweet when they aren’t eating my jeans or shirt. I would expect that behavior for the goats but from cows???? Who knew…

3. Pumpkins are sprouting including this unplanned plant by the garden (amazing how the unplanned ones do the best….)

4. We also have lots of cucumbers, squash and tomatoes growing rapidly in the garden! I am getting fresh produce on almost a daily basis. Not bad for a first time veggie gardener… Also, I am expecting radishes and peanuts along with two more rows of bush beans plus a bunch of sunflowers. After the recent rain they should sprout up quickly.

5. All the hay and straw have been picked up – for now, of course. And there is not much left to put in the lofts. We will have more cuttings later on but right now we are getting a quick break.

one of our horses munching on the freshly bailed straw before it went up in the loft

one of our horses munching on the freshly bailed straw before it went up in the loft

The  not so good (because none of it can be considered bad… except maybe #5):

1. When the rain came it came strong and fast. Which means we did not get a steady soak that will keep all the ground evenly moisturized. Instead we end up with dry spots and swamps. Dry where the water ran off and swamps were it puddled. But, at least it was rain! We needed it pretty badly.
2. Some awful fungus has attacked my bush beans.

All the spider web stuff is the culprit. It happened within a 24 hour timespan because on Monday everything was healthy and by Wednesday this particular plant was gone. I trimmed the icky leaves on a few of the other bush bean plants as well as some on my tomato plants. Which leads me to #2….

2. Two not-yet-ripe tomatos have gone MIA. I don’t believe it was a human since they were  still orange but I don’t know what animal it would be either. There are plenty more beginning to ripen so it isn’t a big deal. However, it is strange that the very first two tomatos, a few days from being ripe, vanished.

3. The two groundhogs have not yet been apprehended. I am a little less annoyed with them at the moment because they are leaving the pumpkin sprouts alone but I am sure this relationship will not continue once there are tasty pumpkins for the groundhogs to eat…

4. My farmer’s tan is back just in time for a wedding next weekend. (okay, that had nothing to do with the farm but I needed to have a one sentence vent about it!)

5. Being a farmgirl there are a lot of icky things I never react to anymore. But yesterday I had a true (and deserved, in my opinion!) girlie-girl moment while I was cleaning out the sheep feeder. Essentially I was getting out various crud and preventing the sheep from eating spoiled food which could make them sick. The sheep were sticking their noses in my face so I was not really looking at what I was grabbing when all of the sudden I felt something fuzzy and more “squishy” than what I had been picking out. When I looked down I saw it was a dead baby bird! Ugh…. I can STILL imagine how it felt. Of course I squealed and toss it down then shook my hand as if something was still on it (there wasn’t… that would have been nasty). I carried my hand away from my body until I could get to a sink to wash off – thankfully it did not take long. I lathered, scrubbed and rinsed at least five times. Ick. Ick. Ick!

So there is the synopsis of my week. This weekend I’ll be out at the farmer’s market and barn sitting for a friend. Have a good weekend!

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PATH is the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline. Please take a moment to read about the PATH in the following link.

http://www.notopath.org/

This is an important ordeal for the people it affects. While PATH may not be in your backyard, I think we ought to be looking out for the well being others. I am not so much against the use of land for power lines. Though I’d much rather see mountain tops with windmills. What I am against are the dirty business practices these utility companies use. They make a one time payment for use of land (forget any money if you buy the land and the company has bought “right of way” – you are just s.o.l.) and then proceed to come in and tear up the ground whenever they feel necessary. And not the ground they made the payment on! They tear down fences with promises to repair. They leave farmers with the cost of reseeding land and drag out long legal battles to avoid owning up to their responsibility to repair the damages they have caused. The land “bought” by the utility company is still taxed to the home owner. So within 5 years the original payment from the utility company has stopped covering the land taxes (which are always going up!). Again, if you are later owner you will just be paying taxes on land you do not have full rights to.

On top of that, the utility company starts out with small plans to convince everyone that the project isn’t such a big deal… then once people agree there is a landslide and the project continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger. It is one nasty mess and the utility company always comes out on top. So please, read the linked website above and help your “neighbor.” With today’s grid it it possible that anyone across the country might just be needing the help of these land owners in the future. Quite simply you could be eating the food they have cared for and grown with hard work and a lifetime of valuable knowledge. If they end up being pushed out by the bad practices of the utility companies then that will begin to limit our own choices. Less choices usually mean degradation of quality in services and products. The ripple effect is amazing… Please get involved. Say no to PATH.

Here is a direct link to the petition: http://www.notopath.org/petition.php

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We have had no rain for the past two weeks but the weeds are growing just as fast as, if not faster than, our pumpkins. So, today we tilled the pumpkin field – using an old fashioned method. It was my job to operate the machinery pictured below.

Sitting in the seat, I had one job to do… make sure the blades never went over the pumpkin plant (but as close as possible). To do this my feet pushed levers which would slightly change the direction of the wheels. The top two levers (which I operate by hand) are set at the beginning and end of each row. They lower and raise the blades so that as I am pulled along the blades cut through the ground and loosen the dirt while also cutting through the weeds to the side of your crops.

Here is a larger view…

Can you believe that in the past a farmer would not only control the depth of the blades (hands) and move the blades back and forth to keep in line with the row of crops (feet) they would also be driving this using a team of horses! I cannot imagine having the coordination to do this… I was lucky because I was being pulled along by a tractor (Farmall A for you tractor fans). We do have a pair of driving horses on the farm but they are 25 and 26 years old and enjoying retirement. Anyway, we will know just how effective our efforts were once the rain comes. Then we can see what plants take off (hopefully the pumpkins) and which ones, if any, were killed off (that should be the weeds!).

Keep your fingers crossed for rain! It is supposed to come but you know how that goes…

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Twin Jersey Calves

Twin Jersey Calves

One cute animal picture before I go to bed. I promise I did not edit a photo of one calf in to two! Here are our twin Jersey calves. They are sweet as can be and so much fun to watch.

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