Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life on the farm

Slideshow of recent changes around here.

We have had a lot of changes around here since I last posted.  Our daughter and son in law moved back to the Bay Area.  It is bittersweet.  The sweet - he got a wonderful job.  The bitter, they moved away.  It involved a lot of change for all of us since our daughter had become the teacher for our youngest and they both helped so much around here.  Also, they had the nerve to take one of my grandbabies out of the county.  I thought there was a rule against that! 

The next big change came when our raw milk source dried up...... well, they sold out and we no longer had access.  This was so, so sad.  However, as a small community, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and purchase our own milk cow.  We would turn our own grass and clover into milk!  We purchased Bonnie the cow and Bessie her calf.  We got a good deal because she was difficult to milk and the calf was still on her at three months.  She is a beautiful 3/4 mini jersey and 1/4 dexter and they were not kidding about being difficult to milk :)

We pressed on.  At the beginning it took three adults, a kick bar and a lot of patience to get her milked.  Then down to two adults and someone on poop patrol (we have someone catch her poop in a snow shovel if she lifts her tail).  Now one person can milk her.  We still have the poop patrol, but she often does not poop while being milked.  We started out using Bag Balm on her teats, then read the label.  Petroleum based.  Bad bad bad bad.   We are trying out the Burt's Bees Farmer's Friend Hand Salve.  It appears to be working really well.  We are happy and blessed.

My sweet hubby and brother in law converted the Taj Mahal chicken coop into a milking barn.  It has a concrete floor, a washout, lights..... then my sister spotted an old sink at my aunt's house and talked her out of it.   Her hubby went and fetched it and installed it.  Then we traded a neighbor for some of their excess hay.  The three younger kids (from both families) picked up some extra daily chores.  Our oldest son came and cut down some unproductive fruit trees to begin the process of making a better pasture and we are good to go!   Everyone has worked together in their own strengths.  We are now being rewarded by about 3 quarts of milk at each milking.  It is only a little disheartening that the milking barn is cleaner than my kitchen.  This is thanks to Farmer Joe who sweeps, washes out with vinegar water and squeegees after each milking.

We have been hit by another brutal snowstorm and are out of power again.  We are wondering if we will break our previous record of 10 days.  I worked hard on baking sourdough bread on the stovetop.  It turned out great!  Also during that time we lost our water and the boys had to snowshoe up to fix it.  All in all, a very grand adventure.  (Note, the power is back on - we were only out 7 days - we're getting ready to be hit by another storm later this week).  I have to say the Ipad, Iphone, Itouch and Laptop were helpful.  The Kindle program loaded up with books was awesome.  You can sit in the dark and read for several hours.  When we turn the generator on, we recharge everything.  It worked really well.

Shortly after they got our water fixed a ditch that runs above a part of our road got pulled out by a big cedar tree.  A massive amount of water came down and wiped out a part of our road.  The guys  drove the backhoe out and helped the local water company do some repairs. Being a part of a community is good.

I have to say, I love simple farm life.  There have been big adjustments, but they are good.  While we were out of power it was even better.  It is wonderful to always have fresh milk. A simpler way of life makes power outages a little easier to handle.

I have a bunch of pictures from the past few weeks in this slideshow.  I hope you enjoy it.