It just occurred to me that I have never written (in the blog) about what we do for summer barn chores. It is such an important thing-- so I thought I had better explain! In the summer time, chores are easier. Most of the heifers are out of the barn, so there is less feeding and less scraping and bedding to do each day. That is kind of nice... especially when we have to do barn chores in between each load of hay!
Morning chores for dad start at 4:00 AM. Derek or Jennilea will also get up then to go out and get all the cows in from the pasture and put them in the barn to be milked. This is about a 45 min process. After the cows are in, whichever "kid" went out to the barn gets to go back to bed and dad milks the cows. At 6:00, mom heads out to the barn to mix feed for the cows, which she’ll then feed at about 6:45. Around 6:30, dad finishes milking and Ryan or I go out to help do everything else. This includes: cleaning off the troughs (taking the leftover food away from the cows), feeding sweep outs (feeding that leftover food to the heifers and steers), feeding milk calves (we have 3 right now), feeding the weaned calves, bedding the cows (put fresh hay under all of them), sweeping down the walkway, and feeding the cows their corn and grain. We usually get in from the barn at around 7:30.
Evening chores begin at 3:00 PM. Mom mixes feed for the cows and then feeds them, dad scrapes the walkway and behind the cows, the rest of us do the other chores. These include: feeding the milk calves, giving corn and grain to the heifers and steers, scraping out the calves' stalls, bedding the calves, and feeding corn and grain to the cows. Right now, all of that takes about 45 minutes. At 4:00 Derek will go out and milk the cows. He is usually done at about 5:45 and then the cows are all let out into the pasture for the next day.
There you have an overview of the chores we do everyday. Now, you know what I mean when I write about morning and/or afternoon chores. :)
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! :)
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!
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!
After I graduated from college I moved down to Pennsylvania for a year to "get away" from the farm. I had a job where I worked 6 AM till 3 PM. So, I had evenings and weekends to do with as I pleased. My Saturdays usually started off with sleeping in, slowly getting up and getting breakfast, eventually I would do some cleaning or shopping, and it would usually end with watching a movie, reading a book, or spending time with friends. Well, when I moved back to the farm, I was abruptly reminded of how a farmer’s work is not only done Monday-Friday. There is no sleeping in and lazily getting up whenever you feel like it.
It is 11:30 AM right now on a Saturday morning and so far, morning barn chores have been done, the house was cleaned, laundry is almost done, cookies have been baked, more pipelines have been scrubbed, calf pens have been cleaned out, trough liner has been fixed, and other odd jobs have been completed. Sometimes I wish I could go back to laying around in my PJ’s all day however, it is a great feeling to be a part of something bigger then yourself. Our hard work means that we have a beautiful and comfortable place to live, our animals are well taken care of, and we are able to sell milk that is then turned into cheese for your consumption. Our hard work means that we can take pride in our home and in our heritage.
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.