Saturday, February 28, 2009

We laughed. We cried. We ate a lot of pork.

More drama on the farm. . .

It is now a completely proven fact that I have no idea how to tell when an animal is about to give birth. Part of the problem is that we let our boys run freely with our girls, and nature takes its course. That often leaves me guessing at when breeding occurred. Changing this system is under discussion, but right now we are not really set up to keep the boys separate from the girls and from each other.  So, it is a guessing game. 

So far this season, I've had two that I've put in the nursery pen way before they've needed to be, and counting this morning, I've had two that took me by surprise. I should get the last one right though. We have one goat left to kid, and I know when she was bred. One out of five ain't bad? Geesh!

I've been watching Mini Ewe (our yearling) for a couple of weeks now. In the last couple days her udder had gotten a little larger, but was still small. Her back side was slightly swollen, but no more so than it has been for a couple weeks. There was no discharge. 

This morning Tim and I went out to feed the animals. It was the normal craziness of trying to walk through slick as snot mud on sloping ground to separate the goats, sheep, and donkey to their respective feeders while they all crowd around you begging for their feed. After they all got settled I heard a "Maaaa" that I didn't recognize. A quick glance toward the sheep revealed that all expected animals were accounted for. "Maaaa." 

Where was that coming from? Following the sound to the goat shed, "Maaaa," and there underneath the building I could see four long black legs attached to the mouth making that racket. A single lamb, that part I did expect. It's a ram. He and Mini are doing great, and are now in the nursery.  

Also today the big ram came back home. He went to service a few girls at another farm late last fall. In exchange, he stayed there over the winter. It was a good deal for the farmer. He had been paying what I think is a ridiculous price for stud service. It was a good deal for us. We did not have to feed him all winter, but more importantly, I didn't have to deal with him for several months. 

This ram does not have a name, but I refer to him as Butthead. He is huge, and he likes to butt. He has sent many of us flying down the pasture. He hasn't exactly hurt us, unless you count our pride that is, but you always have to be on your guard with him. 

In addition, he fights with all the other male animals. He has gotten beaten up by our boar. He and our buck goat would fight to the death if we left them together, and we suspect that he had a run in with a buck deer last year also. No, I wasn't real thrilled about him coming home, but he does produce nice lambs. 

All this drama happened before nine-thirty this morning. 

Afterward Kellen and I rushed out of here to make a 10:00 fair goat meeting. While we were gone, Mamaw and Ashley flipped the four wheeler while looking in the pasture for a cow that recently miscarried. Ashley has a little bruising, and I think they are both a bit sore, but no major injuries. 

Since I also flipped the darn thing last summer, (did I neglect to post that? hmm....) the men folk here have decreed that the women folk here are no longer allowed to drive it. Honestly, I have no desire too unless I'm on flat ground, and there is precious little of that here. 

The rest of the day was rather uneventful. Papaw and Tim worked on the pig barn. Mamaw took all the kids except Vivian to the movies. I worked on some things in the house. Oh, we did eat a lot of pork.

Though I recently stated elsewhere that we needed to cut back on the consumption of our homegrown pork, I realized afterwards that I have quite a bit of pork already defrosted in the refrigerator. Now, we have to use that up don't we? Wouldn't want it to go to waste now would we? Mmmmm. . . sausage gravy, biscuits and fried potatoes for lunch. Eggs, bacon and toast for dinner. 

Just another day on the farm. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For a Little Perspective

Once upon a time Tim and I were youth group leaders in our church. Those youth are now all grown up, and we have lost contact. Recently, Tim discovered the Facebook page and blog of one of the girls that we were fairly close to, Julianna. Even as a young teen, she was very confident, and level headed. What she is doing now has blown me away. See for yourself, Julianna in Uganda.  

Lately, I've been feeling very overwhelmed by the tasks and responsibilities on my plate. Will somebody define hardship? over at Hot Belly Mama's was a wonderful reminder to me to stop and enjoy what we have here. 

Hope you also enjoy these wonderful blogs. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Kids

These were not a surprise.  Poor Sally was huge. Her udder so big she could barely walk. When we went to feed yesterday afternoon, there they were, a boy and a girl. The doeling was very fresh. She is quite a bit smaller, so we will keep an eye on her, but both kids seem healthy and were nursing. Sally is a first time momma. She was busy cleaning up the kids, but we gave her a little help. 

The goats change so fast! In the picture below, the kid Kellen is holding is a month old. Lydia is holding the new doeling. 

In other farm new, most of the fat hogs have been sent to the butcher or the market. We got our fresh pork from the butcher on Tuesday (the smoked portions take a little longer.) I can't remember the last time I've had small farm raised pork. It is excellent!  

The new piglets are almost all sold as 4-H pigs. The two new gilts, including Kellen's Ashes, will be bred soon. Seedlings are started, and garden plans are being made. Chicks will soon be ordered. There will be calves, more kids and lambs this spring yet too. There is always something exciting going on! 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What you learn when the power is out.

Two weeks ago ice took the power out for more than two days. A few days later, the power was out again for the better part of the day when a car hit a pole. This week the power was out, yet again, for two days thanks to extremely high winds. While being without power that many days certainly has its inconveniences, we did learn a few things. 

1. Camping equipment is for more than camping. 
2. The dishwasher makes an excellent drying rack for hand washed dishes. 
3. Who ever invented head lamps is a genius. 
4. An ample supply of firewood, flashlights, and batteries is a household requirement. 
5. Putting the kids to bed with the sun is kind of nice. 
6. A good book is almost as distracting to me as the computer. 
7. Our kids have fantastic imaginations. 
8. Fasting electric is good for the mind, not to mention the electric bill. 
9. Hot showers are one of the most under rated pleasures on earth. 
10. Sometimes what you miss surprises you. One of the things I missed the most was my garbage disposal. 

Though we have learned some lessons, I hope that we don't have to put them into practice again anytime soon! 

Monday, February 09, 2009

Could it be?

Laundry on the clothes line.
Lunch on the back deck.
Birds singing.
Walks in the woods with out jackets.
Could it be spring?

Probably not to stay. Not yet, but we will enjoy it while we can!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

None as Scary as This

There once was a time when I had quite the reputation. I was young, fiercely independent, over confident, and inexperienced. All dangerous qualities for someone behind the wheel of a car. 

In high school and college I had many car accidents. No one ever got hurt, but I did put many a ding and bend in several cars. The accidents, though not major, were frequent enough that I spent a good deal of time on high risk insurance. I also spent several months of college without a car when my parents wisely decided that I was not responsible enough to keep my car. Yes, I had a lot of accidents a long time ago, but none were as scary as the one that happened on Wednesday. 

We've had a crazy winter here. Lots of snow, and lots of ice. Those of you who are acquainted with our driveway, may think that it is a little crazy without snow or ice. Wednesday afternoon I had an appointment. I planned to take the kids with me, and drop them off at Tim's office during the appointment. We were all ready, and loaded in the vehicle, and headed out the driveway. 

We do have an alternate driveway that we can use during bad weather. It runs through the neighbors property, and involves opening and closing two gates in the pasture. There was still snow and ice on the ground, but I didn't even think about using the alternate driveway. I had taken our driveway up to the neighbors barn earlier that day in my "farm" van. No problems. 

I headed out the drive in the "family" van.  Apparently, the farm van has much better tires, and the family van could use a couple new ones. I got to the first hill. I got about three quarters up it. My tires were spinning. My first thought was that I hadn't taken a good enough run for the hill. 
It has happened before, and I could simply back down and give it another run. That was my plan. My plan didn't work out so well. 

I put on the brake to change gears. Before I even got the gear changed the van started sliding; backward. And it was sliding to the wrong side of the driveway. The side that drops off down the hollow. 

In hindsight, I realize that had I let off the brake I may have been able to stop the slide and regain control. It happened so fast, and the kids were in the car. All I wanted to do was stop. What do you do when you want to stop? You push the brake with all your might. It was instinctive. The brain didn't have a chance to over ride with logic. 

In the rear view mirror I saw the back of the van go over the edge, and then we stopped. The van was still in drive. My foot was still firmly placed on the brake. 

The three youngest kids really didn't understand what had just happened. Kellen was scared, but he stayed calm. He told Lydia and Nolan, who were in the back seat, to stay still and not to move. He asked me if they should move up to the front of the van. In the meantime, he leaned forward. 

I didn't know what to do. I could not tell exactly how we had stopped, or how much of the van was hanging over the edge. I could not see what was below us. In my mind, I pictured a car teetering on the edge, like in the movies,  about to fall over with the slightest weight change. I asked Kellen if there were any large trees behind us. You know, to stop us in case we went over. 

I reached for my phone, and called my dad. He was here. Tim was at work. Thankfully dad was working where he had cell service. I was half hysterical trying to tell him what had happened. He said he would fire up the Ditch Witch (which doubles as a tow truck around here) and be right out. I called Tim, still half hysterical, told him what had happened, and asked him to call and cancel my appointment. 

It seemed like an eternity until I saw Papaw coming. My leg was cramping. When I did finally see something coming, it was my farm van, not the ditch witch. The ditch witch wouldn't start, and dad had hooked it up to a battery charger. 

He came and gave the situation a good look. We weren't teetering on the edge, but were firmly hung up on the side of the drive way. I put the van in park, and we all got out. I had to climb out the passenger side. 

After I was out, I could see that the van wasn't going anywhere. Though there was a good drop off initially, below there was a fairly level area, and some nice big trees. I could also see that the hill I was trying to get up was a sheet of ice. 

I called Tim's office to let him know what was going on. His co-worker informed me that Tim was already on his way home. We were back home for only a few minutes before he walked in the house. 

By that time the ditch witch was ready to go. Papaw headed out with it down our driveway. Tim and I took the farm van down the neighbors drive way. (They are almost side by side the whole way, but the neighbors is almost completely flat.) Soon the van was out. There was no damage. The spot the dog is standing is where the van had been.  

I've been involved in a lot of accidents, but none were as scary as this. It is sobering to think of other ways this could have ended. I am so very thankful for the safety of my family on that day. 

In case you are wondering, I didn't use that driveway again until yesterday when things started melting. Even then my heart was racing the entire time. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A trip to Holmes County, Ohio

Join me today at Scribbit for an online tour of my favorite places in Holmes County, Ohio. For those of you who are local, be sure to add your favorites spots in the comments.