Sunday, August 28, 2016

August 28, 2016

Well, since we seemed to be successful with the two Angus cows we had purchased, we decided to try some bottle calves.  We have committed to buying six of them.  Our pasture was just too big for our two Angus to keep up with the mowing.  We ended up having to hay it, and having to mow it as the cattle seem to like the fresh tender grass.  We decided to try bottle calves as they are much less expensive than the fully weaned calves.  While we have read that they are more of a risk, we have tried to lessen that risk by buying them from a dairy farm that keeps them for five days so they get their mom's colostrum.  The first calf we got was five days old and we named him T-bone.  He has really grown on us. We have had him now for a week.  Tonight we picked up another Brown Swiss calf and have named him Sloppy Joe.  They are such individuals.  They look completely different and it is quite easy to tell them apart (unlike our black Australorp chickens.)  They are currently sharing a pen, but we will have to give them both bottles in the morning.  We will see how that goes. Our dogs, Hercules and Phoenix, are being really good sports and are watching the calves as the roam around the yard.  We are telling them that it's their job to train the new calves.  We will probably get a couple more calves on Wednesday or Thursday, as it just happens to be calving time at the dairy.

Friday, August 5, 2016

August 5th, 2016

I can't believe it has been so long since my last blog post.  The summers are just terrifically busy.  Our cows are doing great.  So much so that we need to expand in that area.  We have run across a problem with our photovoltaics.  They started not charging as well as they should and my son suggested that we needed to clean them.  Being on the top of the tractor shed roof, we didn't have very good access to them, so we used a telescoping squeegee to clean as many as we could from a ladder on the ground, without endangering ourselves (or at least my husband did).  However, we could not reach the ones at the top.  We decided that it was time to build the deck on the back of the barn for the loft access so we could use it to stand on to clean the panels.  I strongly prefer a permanent solution to a temporary one (like scaffolding).  My husband (with me as the official gopher when I am not working), is moving right along on this.  The great thing is that we are doing it with leftover materials mostly.  We had two steel columns that the inspector made us replace with larger ones in our basement and lots of wood leftover from doing the deck.

The major summer project was building a roof over our front deck.  We also decided that we were going to finally get the columns I have always wanted.  So we hired our neighbor to help us for a week, then my husband carried on to finish with a little help from me and our son to put in the columns.  We put in temporary columns to start with, then when we were finished with all the banging, jacked the roof  up slightly, took out the temporary columns and slipped in the colonial columns and caps.  It looks great.

Since he worked on it during the summer, and it has been a scorcher of a summer, he tried to work from 8 - 12, come in, shower and take a brief nap, then work in the evening for an hour or two when the temperature cooled down.  On a few of these hot afternoons, he and I found this youtube video and set about making a porch swing under the shade of the barn.  We made ours 5 feet long.  It is wonderfully comfortable!  We have already used it many times to watch the afternoon thunderstorms roll in under the cover of our new porch.  We printed out the paper templates.  In order for us to get the arms to fit right, though, we had to put the arm supports behind the front swing support instead of in front of them like in the video.  Yes, we love the drink holders, too.

In my spare time, I have been working on decorations for my daughter's upcoming Lord of the Rings wedding.  We have completed the signpost to decorate the reception.  I am working on the banners next and have done most of the painting for the banner of Rohan.  My daughter will be here this weekend and we will be working on her dress for Arwen, in velvet.  Then we will continue on with all the rest of the costumes.  Life is crazy good, isn't it?

While all this is going on, the garden harvest is coming in and we have put up gallons of italian green beans, 25 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 6 quarts of summer squash and a few gallons frozen, about 6 gallons of bell peppers (so far), and 24 quarts of corn off the cob.  The watermelon and honey dew melons are fabulous this year, we have had lots of cucumber tomato salads with vinagrette dressing, tomato sandwiches, etc.  God is good!