We have this weekend off from barn chores! YAY! It is break time! :) Actually, dad and Derek still worked outside quite a bit but Jennilea, mom and I had an easier day. I cleaned up the cabin a little (which by the way... looks ADORABLE!), Jennilea made our picnic lunch for tomorrow (we are going to Alex Bay for the afternoon), and mom kept us all going. :)
I just walked on some of the paths over in the pasture and it brought back many memories. When all of us kids were younger we would play for hours on end over there. We would come back for meals and chores and that was it. We would play "cowboys and Indians", and "house", using the berries, leaves, bark and grass for "food". We had a special spot under a tree, among all the bushes, beside an old log, where we spent most of our time. I looked for our “house” as I was walking today, but it has changed quite a bit over there. Now there are different paths and the bushes have grown quite a bit. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was be "big" but now I kind of miss the playing over the pasture with not a worry in the world. It helps me to remember that I need to cherish each and every day...
The sky is bright blue with big white fluffy clouds floating by. The wind is blowing through the leaves, the wind chime is "chiming", and the birds are singing. It is another beautiful day on our farm. Today, dad mowed off the last two fields to get baled. (Actually, once those fields are baled all the first cutting is done but when the grass gets taller we will cut and bale it again.) So, as long as it doesn't rain we will be doing hay tomorrow and Friday.
Derek and I worked on clearing out one of the cow paths today. I got the fun job of driving the skid steer and 4-wheeler to haul out the brush. Derek used the chainsaw to cut down branches and would hook everything up for me to pull out. It was actually kind of fun to do. It was the first time I had ever driven a skid steer and I just about had a heart attack! It was like riding a rollercoaster on a see-saw and you don't know how the ride is going to end. It was fun and terrifying at the same time. Would I do it again? TOTALLY! :)
Today is the kind of day that makes you feel lazy. It is windy, cloudy and rather chilly. Actually, it is 70 degrees outside but I have been freezing all day! The wind sends a chill right through my bones. Right now, mom is taking her afternoon nap, Jennilea is at work, Ryan is at his internship, I'm "blogging" :), and dad and Derek are over clearing paths in the cow pasture. Derek has been especially productive today, he was doing some landscaping, bush-hogging, and now he is helping dad. As I like to tell him... he is a good "cookie", although he is rather nutty. ;). Jennilea has been working on crocheting an afghan off and on for the past couple of years and she is finally on her finishing touches. She had to make 6 large blocks using lots of tiny blocks. Then she had to sew them all together. Now she just finished putting the big blocks together so she just has to do an edging all around it. She is very excited to be almost done. :) It looks fantastic! She just has to decide what to do with it now. So, even though it is rather an “ugh” kind of day, quite a bit has been accomplished and there is still quite a bit more to be done. It’s just another day on the farm.
In my last post, I talked about what I was expecting all of us hay help to feel like by the time we were done yesterday. Well, I was right on all counts... plus one. It felt so good to get cleaned up. It is amazing how much dust, dirt and hay can collect on one person!
We did 7ish loads of hay yesterday which totaled about 1,100 bales. We started at 1:15 and finished at 5:45. It was a looooonnnnggg day. It went well though-- there were no break downs, no one got sick from the heat, and barn chores all went well. Our day ended with a delicious supper of meatloaf, sinful potatoes (they are super cheesy), green beans, pudding cake and ice cream. After we ate, all of us "kids" stretched out on the sofas and did nothing until bed time. :) We were tired! The good thing is... now we only have about 11,000 more bales of hay to go!
It is hot and sunny with a slight breeze… perfect weather for doing hay. Dad mowed on Tuesday for us to do hay either yesterday or today. Well, yesterday it rained so we couldn't do it then. So, today is the day. It is supposed to get super hot today (90+degrees), and when we do hay, it always ends up at being the hottest time of the day. So, that means in 90 degree weather (+humidity), we are all wearing jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, and some even wear gloves and hats, and are working fast and hard for hours on end. The good part is that after every wagon is unloaded, dad has to go get another one, so about every 25 min we get about a 5-7 min break. We all drink lots of water, and rest in the shade, or we ride out in the wagon and cool off a little by the breeze. By the end of the day, we will be hot, (probably sun burnt), sweaty, smelly, sore and VERY dirty. The good thing is that we will all sleep really well tonight!
We name our cows. It is a lot more fun, easier to remember and more personable then just relying on numbers. We get some crazy names though; like, Beezus, Jojo, and PomPom. By naming our cows it also gives a good way to keep track of the relationships between cows, since we always name the calf something that is similar (in some way) to the mother's name. For example, we have a whole family tree named after different kinds of soda. I don't know where it started, but the most recent soda addition was Fanta and her mother's name was Pepsi. We have also had Dew, Coke, Sprite (and more... who would all be related to Fanta in some way). Also, Anya just had a calf who we named Tanya. Viola had a calf we named Vronica. Minny had a calf we named Mickey and so, on and so forth. Sometimes you can track the names for several generations. Like Tickle had Giggle and Giggle had Chuckle. If you are here when a calf is born you will get to help in the fun of picking out names! Sometimes we get kind of creative.... :)
Well, actually, this probably wasn't too much of a surprise to the rest of my family, or to any of the farmers in the area... but it sure was to me. I haven't been home to help with haying in quite a few years and I was thinking that it started in mid-July and went to the end of August. When I found out that Ryan had mowed hay on Tuesday and Wednesday to be baled today, I was shocked. Maybe you are wondering “What is she talking about?! What is “haying”?!” Well, let me tell you…haying is a multi-step process. First, the hay is mowed (the mower lays it out into rows), then it is raked (the rows are fluffed up) and then it is baled (a “baler” makes it into small rectangle bales and then kicks it up into the wagon). When the wagon is full it is brought to the barn where the bales are unloaded onto an elevator which goes to a conveyor which is then dumped into the barn to be stacked in nice, tight rows.
As I was saying, today was the first day we started haying. I actually had to work at my other job, so I didn't help but I was reminded of how dirty and tiring it can be when I came home and saw all the "hay help" (my dad, mom, brothers, and two of our friends). They were covered in hay dust, talking about how many splinters they got, and a few of them complained about sore muscles. The question is... do we do this willingly? The answer is... yes. It is a necessary part of farming and one that is rewarding (in its own way). The animals need to eat in the winter, and by storing up hay... we have something else to feed them besides just silage. It also helps insulate the barn when it is cold outside.
It gives us (or at least me) a sense of pride knowing that we worked hard, we are sore, we are tired, but we got a lot done. Now... hopefully, I maintain this positive feeling after we have done it for days in 90 degree weather. :) My mom has figured out that ice cream sandwiches and soda's can be great encouragers/refreshers when we are all tired out. So, yes, it is hard, dirty work, and no, we don't all just LOVE to hay, but, yes we do it (without much complaining) because it is part of living on a farm. It is part of our life.
Every once in a while I start to feel rather philosophical. Today is one of those days. As I am sitting here drinking some delicious Meadow Tea I started to think about worms. Army Worms to be exact. The two are not directly related. Meadow Tea is one of my favorite summer drinks. The plant grows here every summer and my sister has perfected the recipe. It is refreshing, delicious, and always a treat. And right now Army Worms are destroying farmers' crops in the area. We don't have any in our fields, however, our neighbor has them... so it is a likely possibility that they will be coming here.
Now, while those two things are both important in their own ways they are (in the vast scheme of things), not that noteworthy. But, it reminded me of how at every point in life there are always "Meadow tea" and "worms" moments. Sometimes, we get to enjoy the tea more then the worms, but not always... sometimes our lives are just "wormy". It is how you handle both of these things that speak to your character. Those drinking Meadow Tea moments are wonderful, but if you have it all the time... it looses its specialness and we forget to enjoy it. When it feels like we are being destroyed by worms, we sometimes get so worried about it, so upset that it becomes all we focus on. Problems in our life are difficult, and they need to be dealt with... but don't forget to enjoy some Meadow Tea, while you’re dealing with those worms. Life is full of “Meadow Tea” and “worms”, the question is…how do you handle them?
Yesterday we had the first group of the year come to spend some time with us on the farm. The weather was perfect for the occasion, warm (actually it was HOT!) and sunny with a slight breeze. It was a blast! There were at least 16 kids and parents to go with them who arrived looking for some farm fun and education. They all seemed to enjoy exploring the haymow, milking the cows, feeding them corn and grain, having the milk calves suck on their fingers, climbing on the tractors, playing on the swing set, and seeing where milk comes from and learning about where it goes. We also played some fun games such as: wheelbarrow races (it is trickier then it sounds!), sack races, hay bale stacking contest, and tug of war. After all that fun, we had a delicious dinner and then ended the afternoon with a hayride. It was a busy day... and I'm pretty sure everyone went home, cleaned up and “hit the hay". Whenever we have people come to our farm we want them to leave with a greater understanding and appreciation of dairy farms and the farmers. However, most of all, we want them to leave feeling happy and that they were, for a little while, part of our family. Hopefully, we achieved that with this group…
The haylage silo is now full again! Dad and Ryan finished chopping this afternoon. It is nice to check one big thing off the "to do" list for this spring/summer.
We were all super busy today. Mom had a lot of running around to do again, Jennilea had to go to work, and she also had a job interview, and Derek and I were busy mowing the lawn, mulching, weed-eating, cleaning the garage, and more. We got a lot accomplished today, but I for one, am ready for a Sunday! Not only do we go to church on Sunday, but it is also our "day of rest". We only do the absolute necessary barn chores, which means that the rest of the afternoon and evening is devoted to doing "lazy things" such as reading, watching movies, and taking naps. It is a much needed and enjoyed day!
Hello, if you are a follower of this blog you will remember that Angela was doing the blogs. Well, things have gotten busy for her and so Stan, her dad, is filling in for now. I am not as techno savy as her so I am not sure how this will work but I am going to try and post on a hopefully regular basis.