Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last day of vacation...

This is it. The last day of vacation. The weather report called for an inch of rain and lots of wind, so we moved the hens and spent the morning battening down the animals so no one would wash away.

It started raining around noon. HARD. and it's still raining and blowing. Luckily the kids aren't in the teepee tonite. Emily has gone down to be with her family for a few days and Anders has a nasty cold so he's in the house tonite. With the crazy wind I keep looking out the window to be sure the teepee is still there.

I did the unthinkable this afternoon and took a nap. Then Mom and I each started a painting. I'm working on  a picture of 2 ram lambs and mom is working on a covered bridge landscape. While waiting for paint to dry, I put a multi-meat loaf in the oven. Tonite it's lamb and beef. We'll eat it with cucumber or barbeque sauce. I like cucumber sauce. We are going up to my daughters for dinner. She's making ribs and a side. I'm bringing the meatloaf and baked potatoes. I'm hoping she's doing dessert. Her sweets are awesome.

When we get back I am going to clean my office... it looks like a family of raccoons had a party in there!!lol

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 9 continued

STOP everything.... Anders' truck wouldn't start when he got ready to come home from work. He called Brian for some phone triage. No luck. So we stopped work on the barn and headed for Bloomington. Supper ended up being Subway and we went back to work on the barn until dark.
We didn't get as much done as we wanted but the drainage ditch is in place for the big rain tomorow. Here's hoping we make more progress tomorrow.
It will be the last day of my vacation and there is a ton I want to get done.

Day 9 of vacation

Time to really scurry!! We were up at 6 this morning in order to be at the neurosurgeon's office by 8:15. Brian will be having carpal tunnel surgery next week. The Doc wanted to do it tomorrow, but we told him we had to find surrogate farm help before we could incapacitate Brian for an unknown amount of time.

I can cover the chores on Tues- Friday, but I'll need Anders and Emily to pinch hit on the weekends while I am working. It's going to be interesting for sure, but we will muddle through like we always do.

Today Brian and I are working on the sow stalls in the barn and stalls for for Bonnie and Clyde the haflingers and stalls for Hazel and her future baby.

We're going to do our best to finish up the barn before the surgery. I'm sayin' a prayer for patience, efficiency and speed in getting that done.

Well time to get back at it.

Day 5 of vacation

After chores this morning, Emily's folks arrived to help the kids put up their teepee. They are giving their new shelter a test run in our north pasture before the big move to their property. We settled Emily's mom in the house with baby Joel and my mom. {Emily's mom really wanted to help but she is under MD orders to take it easy on her foot.}
Emily's dad and Anders carried all 17 posts out to the site and carted the canvas out. Then it was time for the big event!! Much spreading of canvas, laying out of poles, reveiwing and debating the correct way to tie knots, turning diagrams this way and that to get the right orientation and much, much direction reading followed.  It took most of the afternoon for us 4 novises to get the teepee up.

By the time it was upright we were all starving so we headed to the house. Emily and I fixed whole wheat biscuits and Red Wattle sausage gravy  for a late lunch. With coffee, OJ and milk from Vogel's dairy it filled everyone up. Then Emily's folks took Joel with them for an overnite and Anders and Emily settled in to fine tune the comfort features of their little nest.

I grabbed my niece, Heather, and we went out and gathered up hog panels from various temporary pens and hauled them up to the barn so we can use them to make the new sow stalls. When that was done we put some time in on my chicken tractor improving the nest boxes. Then she helped me haul straw in to the sows and their babies so they would have warm dry beds.

After that I was getting tired and Heather had to go home. I puttered around doing laundry and loading the dishwasher. About dark-thirty I went out and closed up the hens, got the eggs and checked on Mom's baby chicks.

With Brian and Kacie gone & Emily and Anders out in the teepee it was way to quiet in the house. So I took my friend Donna's advice and slowed down a little. A hot cup of tea and the "Contrary Farmer" joined me in the recliner for some relaxing reading. Well at least until I realized I was nodding off ....then I crawled off to be.

**I'll post Teepee pics as soon as Anders downloads them off of his camera

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 6, 7, 8

Ok so I got so busy I didn't blog... somehow when Brian is home there doesn't seem to be enough time to blog!

So we have finally gotten the yellow garage cleaned and an area set up for starting seeds in flats. Seeds are ready to go into the greenhouse. Things are starting to move at spring fever pace.

And a few updates to past posts:

The cow is still hobbling but she's eating and drinking and feeding her baby. We'll just wait and watch to see if she improves.

Anders, Emily and little Joel are pretty settled in their teepee. It is causing a lot of second looks & talk amongst the neighbors.

They come up to the house to have dinner with us each evening. Sunday evening was impossible Quiche an easy egg casserole that makes it's own crust. Monday we feasted on liver & Onions, gravy, brown rice and green beans with Essie's cobbler (blackberrry) for dessert. Essie's cobbler is from a recipe my great grandmother found on a flour sack. It was her favorite cobbler recipe, my grandma's favorite cobbler recipe, my mom's favorite cobbler recipe and now it's my favorite cobbler recipe. I've posted the recipe on our website:   Today I made a nice thick potato soup and served it with flatbreads and garlic flavored olive oil.

Tomorrow Brian and I will be working on the stalls in the barn tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010


This adorable little girl needs a name. Can you help us out?

We've decided to have a name the calf contest. Just email your calf name to:

When the committee {that would be my mother- this is her favorite cow's calf} has made her decision we'll contact you via email so you can collect your prize.

What prize? Well we are offering a framed farm photo of your choosing. We'll post all of the possibilities a little later.

Contest ends March 31. {That's my moms's birthday}So send in those heifer names now!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring serenade from the frog prince

This is a "Spring Peeper". Around here the merry chorus of peepers is the surest sign of spring and warmer days. This little guy was singing his heart out trying to attract a girl "peeper" to be his bride. I hope he finds his princess.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the straw on the other side. On my way up to the garage today, I found 3 lovely brown eggs nestled under the edge of one of the huge round straw bales we've been stockpiling by the driveway.

Day 4 more and more

These are Babe's babies. This morning they discovered the joys of going "snorkeling" in the water pan. It's too bad this picture doesn't have audio!
We spent most of the morning running to Lett's Hardware to get the new belts for the bailer. Then Brian's dad arrived with another load of straw and I stole a minute for myself. I snuck off to the beauty shop for a shampoo, trim and style. The style part didn't last long since I immediately put on a hat when I got home. LOL
For lunch I tried my hand at grilling pork shoulder steaks with mesquite wood chips added to the coals. They were great with baked potatoes, and succotash on the side followed by cherry cheesecake. After lunch, I helped Brian load up the car. He and his daughter, Kacie, are going on a Daddy/Daughter road trip to Missouri this weekend. They will be interviewing our old friend Bud Nichol about his years of raising RW's. And they'll be going to check out some Soay sheep. Hopefully they'll come home with lots of video and pics. I tried to make it very clear that they are NOT to bring home a baby sheep in the back seat of the buick.

Once I kissed the DH goodbye, it was back to the never ending garage cleaning. I've already filled the dumpster. We've a rather large pile of yard sale items. There is a stack to go to the garden shed. A stack to go to the barn and a stack to go to the house. And there's a stack to go into the dumpster after they come to empty it again on Monday.
After I got overwhelmed by the garage, my niece and I went out to walk through the animals. We are expecting more calves and lambs any time now. We didn't find any new babies, but it was a good thing we went out. My mom's favorite White Park cow was down and couldn't get up!
It looked like she had laid down on a mound of hay, then when she got comfortable she rolled onto her side. When she did that she ended up with her feet up hill. It is difficult- if not down right impossible- for a cow to rise from that position. Heather and I pushed the poor old girl up onto her belly and went after hay and water for her. By the time we came back she was standing up, but not using her  right leg.
We didn't want the other cows pushing her around and we wanted to be sure she could take care of her calf and get to water without to much trouble, so we moved her slowly and painfully the 20 feet into the round pen. Then we caught her calf and put her in with her momma. Feed, hay and water came next. And now we wait. I'm hoping she will recover in the next day or so.
After that drama, I decided to tackle another adventure. Moving one of the chicken tractors to the grassy spot by the new barn. This has traditionally been Brian's job. He's better with the hydraulics on the tractor and the balancing act required to get the chicken tractor relocated. I used the tractor bucket to pick it up. Luck was with me and one of the cross pieces snagged on the bucket arm holding it fairly securely in place. I put the tractor in 4 wheel drive and hauled it to it's new location. There was one tense moment when I was trying to tip it off of the bucket so it would land risht side up and not squash me in the process, but it came out okay. Tomorrow I'll go over it and give it a spring "tune up". Then the hens come off my garden and the plants start going in!!
By the time I got done with that it was dark. Time for a shower, some leftovers and a glass of tea, and catching up on emails and my blog. Now all I'm waiting for is my good nite call from the DH.

Warm, full and sleepy

There's nothing like the comfort of a heat lamp after a nice snack of warm milk. These are 2 of Jewel's little ones. As soon as they get under the heat lamp they crash for a nap every time.

Day 3 of vacation continued...

Well so far the piglets are doing fine.
After Jewel was all settled down and making enouraging happy mommy grunts to her babies as they suckled. I came in and got a shower. Delivering piglets is sort of messy.

Then it was time for lunch. Luckily my niece was at the house and she had already made spaghetti. :) And done the dusting and sweeping. I admit housework isn't my favorite thing. So I hire her a couple of times a month to knock out the house for me.

Brian and his dad hauled huge bales of straw  and round bales of hay. Brian also almost got all the metal on the barn roof.... 3 sheets to go!! YEAH!!

Then it was up to the yellow garage for cleaning day and treasure hunting with my daughter. We spent the rest of the afternoon hauling things out of the garage. We did find some neat old vases, some dishes and quite a few mouse nests. My mom is a bit of pack rat. There were all kinds of things tucked away in that garage. Lydia found some neat old vases and the cuckoo clock my brother brought home from Germany.  Everything except the mouse nests, I'm sure my mother put there and has subsequently forgotten.

We quit just after dark. Dinner tonite was ham and eggs. It was too late to start anything fancy. Then we all fell into bed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 3 part one.... PIGLETS!!

When we went out to do the chores this morning... Jewel was having her babies. It took her all morning but she now has little piglets happily nursing at the milk bar.

And on day 2 of vacation...

I spent most of the day in doctors' offices unfortunately. But on the bright side, I volunteered - for my own selfish reasons - to babysit Joel for Anders and Emily so they could go out to dinner. :) Have to have my baby face time!! Joel is the happiest baby and he's learning so fast. I can't get enough of watching him grow.

We had our traditional corned beef cabbage and potatoes for supper to honor the Irish in us and I got some laundry done.   Pretty good for day 2.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And on the first day of my vacation...

Mom's White Park cow had her calf.
A "skunk" baby like last year, but with more white on it's legs. And this year it's a heifer, so we'll be saving her to replace her momma.

Other news from the first day of vacation:

The Wenglar sows won't cooperate with Brian's no stress moving technique. They refuse to go into the stock trailer to eat. There's just enough yummy grass and it's warm so they've been ignoring the treats in the trailer completely.

In the morning after breakfast, Emily and I started 2 loaves of bread in the bread makers. I don't like the way bread turns out when it's baked in the breadmaker. So we use the dough setting then bake in the regular oven in standard bread pans. Letting the bread maker do the kneading and raising means we can go do something else. Only this time the bread slipped our minds. God Bless my mother who noticed and got the dough out before it flowed over the pans.

Brian and I worked on the barn some more. He's just about got the roof on the south side done and I've got all the sow stalls laid out. I've got boards on the back walls and I'm starting to put up the hog panels. Each stall is 8' X 10' with a corner sectioned off in the back so the piglets have a place to get away from mom and snuggle.

We helped Anders get two loads of his things moved over here and he and Emily put them all away. They also got their teepee poles oiled with the second coat. They hope to be living in the teepee by the weekend.
It was late when we all got in from working, because we didn't want to waste any daylight. I grabbed a quick shower and threw together some dinner. Dinner was beef stroganof over whole wheat pasta, salad and brownies for dessert.

By that time my pillow was calling so the dishes got loaded into the dishwasher this morning.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mud, Mud, Mud

Welcome to the swamp. I'd like to say this is a field in a low place. It's not. This is our front yard right now.
The good news is it's supposed to stop raining now for a few days!  I can't wait to get out and get some garden prepping done.

Future Farmer

This is Joel. He's growing faster than the weeds in my garden. It won't be long before Brian decides it's time to teach him to ride a pig! lol   (Just kidding Emily, he'll only teach him to bronc ride the sheep!)

Seriously, I can't think of a better place to raise kids than a farm. Whether it's a few acres or 100's of acres. The is nothing like nature's big backyard to learn about life and living.

Friday, March 12, 2010

If I only had a roof!

Now the sides are up it is raining, but as soon as the rain stops the roof goes on. Then it's stall building time.
And once the stalls are in,  it's time to go to Illinois and bring our Hazel home. I can hardly wait!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fort Piggly Wiggly

Brian and I have been working on getting all of the boards up on the sides of the barn. We aren't cutting them to length.Brian will do that later with the chainsaw. So what we have right now is the "frontier fort" look or maybe the "Laurel and Hardy build a barn" look!

BIG Breakfast

48 hours of none-stop cooking, sleep deprivation, flour everywhere, refrigerators stuffed to bursti g, a mad 5 am scramble to get everything to the hall, buffet set up and then finally folks coming through the buffet line

Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! That is a sigh of relief.

Yesterday was the Ag Day breakfast and the largest group of people my daughter and I have ever cooked for - 100 folks or so. I stopped counting.

Everyone enjoyed the food. We had a chance to talk about our Red Wattles and what we are doing here on the farm, make some new farm to farm connections and the speaker was right on topic and very intertaining.

But the best part for me was at the end when a bunch of nice ladies pitched in and helped with the dishes!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Prep day~ Oh My!

Today, my daughter-Lydia, Anders' GF- Emily, my son-Anders, Brian and I will be prepping the food for the Ag Day Breakfast. There are hams to bake, bacon to slice, sausage to patty up, blueberry buckles to bake, fruit to be cut up and custard sauce to stir... not to mention the 8 gallons of sausage gravy and 200 biscuits....


And I'm making myself hungry. :)

Creating a biologically diverse and secure future

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to help save endangered livestock breeds. Read it, think about it, apply it.
For every breed that is lost we lose another bit of the genetic diversity that allows us to feed ourselves and the world is poorer for the loss.
The book is available from

While you are on their site, check out the animals.

Taking a vacation to get some work done

It's almost here - VACATION!!  So most folks wouldn't call what I have planned for my 10 days away from the hospital a vacation, but I'm not most folks. :<)

Starting the 16th,  I am going to: plant the greenhouse, move the hens out by the barn, set up the "piggy maternity ward" in the barn, haul sawdust and manure, make my husband at least 4 new shirts and new curtains for my mother, finish revamping our farm website, take lots of pictures, smoke some pork and make some smoked sausage, clean the yellow garage, do the general spring cleanup duties around the farm, play with the horses. Make custard with some of Anders' duck eggs, get the RWHA membership cards out, publish the spring issue of the RWHA newsletter, get some new pics on our facebook page, finish editing the farm videos and get them up on our website and facebook, empty out and clean the new chicken house and cover the floor with 8 inches of sawdust. Mount nest boxes and feeders, build fence, build stalls for the horses and Hazel the cow and her soon to be calf. Oh and take at least 2 long soaks in the tub and finish reading all 4 of the books I have started.... oh and finish pruning the fruit trees and start prepping the garden....

Oh shoot I'm sure I forgot something....