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Archive for August, 2009

Dandy cooling off with a quick bath

Here is a photo I snapped last week of our dairy cow, Dandy. We have had a handful of super hot days and a mid-day shower in the shade of a big tree is a great way to cool off! Dandy is a great cow… perhaps with a “princess” attitude, but I will forgive her of that since she very rarely kicks the milk bucket. We milk her twice a day, every day. Depending on the day (and also whether it is the a.m. or p.m. milking) we get about 12 – 20 lbs of milk each time. It really isn’t a lot of milk but Jersey cows (that is her breed) produce the least amount of milk of all the dairy breeds. Dandy will also give less in the afternoon because there is more time overnight for her to produce milk for the morning milking.

The milk we get from Dandy is then divided up and fed to young animals around the farm. Sometimes we have baby goats who need milk, other times we have young cows from other farms. Right now the milk from Dandy as well as our dairy goats is being split between our young pigs who we plan on showing at the State Fair in October. With the help of the milk and a custom feed those piglets are gaining 2-3 lbs per day!

Another neat thing about Dandy is that she is pregnant. We artificially inseminated her in June and she should give birth in March.  We will not continue to milk her through next year. Instead we plan on letting her dry up after the fall harvest in October so that she has time to rest before the new baby arrives. Then milking will start all over again.

(PS…Excuse the mess in the photo! I’ve cleaned it up since the picture was taken.)

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Here is a picture of our new rooster, Elvis!

Don’t worry, the older one really did go off to live on another farm. The hens had started picking on the old guy so we found him a good home with a little less “responsibility”. Elvis has moved in to the group seamlessly. Especially for being pretty young (just barely 6 months old – most of our hens have been around for 4+ years). Elvis and I did have a disagreement on whether or not I was a good target for his claws but since then we seem to work around eachother relatively well.

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A Long Time Coming

I have been delaying this post for a while but I promised I’d write about everything on the farm. This started two weeks ago with a second trip to the market. And resurrected this week with another shipment of animals going away on Monday. It is comforting to know our animals live a good life on the farm and they always look better than any of the other creatures at the market. I can go on forever bragging about that fact. Definitely a point of pride. But this week my heart strings have been pulled. Our two young dairy steers were sent off yesterday – I thought I had kept up my barrier (the constant thought of “this animal will most likely become food for someone”). Of course they had to go. As a dairy steer there isn’t much else they could be destined for. No milk production and no ability to reproduce. Now the field they shared with Samantha (holstein heifer) feels empty. I am going to miss those two running up to the fence line when I whistled.

Does it make me a bad farmer? Not at all. I think it is good to have a heart. But it is never fun when you unknowingly become fond of an animal destined for the market.

Samson and Levi earlier this year:

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As a first time gardener I have learned quite a lot this summer. And I am still learning. A lot of what I have been doing has been based on co-workers, the internet and experimentation. One reason I’ve found for growing my own vegetables is taste. Something picked ripe from the vine tastes so much better than any of the store-bought items. That is because those fruits and vegetables found in the store have been picked too early so they stay good for transport.

Last week I experimented with all the many beans and, at least in my opinion, found a good time to pick them is right before they get too big. Too small and they are a little sour. Too big and they start to get bland. Below is a picture of some climbing beans. The bottom one has been allowed to develop too long on the vine. The top, too little. And of course the one in the middle being the best of the three.

too big, just right, too small

too big, just right, too small

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the two full rows of bush beans. They just began to flower and within a week I will be buried in fresh beans. Green bean casserole, anyone?

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Storms Are Brewing

Yesterday we had some rain rolling through the area. It was a needed break from the hot and muggy weather. I was out plowing when the first band came through and the cold rain felt really good. On my drive after work I headed straight in to another storm and took some pictures to share. I love the way the clouds come down over land.

rainbow after the storm

rainbow after the storm

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Plowing

view from the tractor

view from the tractor

I spent some time on the tractor plowing. It is a simple process but I enjoyed it. Of course I just like driving tractors so that could be part of it. Weedeating is a simple process and I absolutely hate that! Anyway, we are turning over the dirt and will disk it soon to help break it apart. Over the winter we will grow things like rye to help put nutrients back in the soil.

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On the Back Stretch

View from the back stretch of the race track.

Field Trip!

With the day off from work on the farm, a friend and I went to the local track to watch the morning workouts. The exercise riders generally start at 5am but my friend and I took it easy and arrived around 7:30 to watch the last handful of rides. Everyone there is super nice and it is fun to watch the different riders handle the different (sometimes temperamental) personalities of the horses. One rider we know worked with a few babies (two-year olds) at the starting gate. A couple other riders, two brothers and a girl, showed off and I took some fun pictures of their mini-race.

Enjoy!

First pass, all evenly matched at this point!

Girl in pink smoking the two brothers behind her!

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