Friday, December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016

Tralah, tralee, today's my birthday, lucky me.  I'll give my animals a treat, for each what he likes best to eat. . .(From The Jolly Barnyard , children's book.)

So today for my birthday we got to work on a project I wanted to work on, and that is refurbishing the greenhouse.  One, I sometimes have skin problems in the winter and can get sun in the greenhouse, and two, I want to get so much better at starting our plants from seeds.  I would really like a rocket mass heater in the greenhouse, but we shall see. . .In the meantime, the plastic on the ends of the greenhouse had deteriorated to the point of not being there, so today we replaced it with UV resistant plastic (like has lasted on the body of the greenhouse.)

We had an appointment to take one of our steer to be processed.  However, we couldn't get either of them into the trailer to go.  We had bought a two horse trailer (since it will be rare that we are transporting more than one full grown steer at a time).  We had parked it in the pasture to let them get familiar with it.  We thought they would follow us onto it when we were holding a bucket, but that didn't happen.  We are now feeding them in it every night, so we will see if that helps get us to our next appointment on January 23rd.

For insurance, we bought some materials to put together to make a bud box.  While we put it together
ourselves (much cheaper than buying a sweep gate set), we seem to have so much money in cattle (with fencing, trailer, bud box, feed, etc.), we are hoping perhaps the 20th one will pay off?  Anyway, the cattle have certainly been entertaining.   They even figured out how to open the gate to the pasture.  So in the end, we were worried about the cattle letting our dogs out of the fence. . .lol

The front pasture was not looking too green this time of year, so we had to move the cattle to the back pasture where there was a lot more green from different forage (our growing area).  We were worried that they would not have enough pasture, so we expanded the fence by putting a large gate in the growing area and adding a line of solar electric fence off to one side.  It seems to work well.  We watched as the cattle received their "training", as we were worried the day before when we were building it and they ran right through it and tangled it up and broke a few of the step-in posts.

We also had to get another stock tank for the back area, as we got tired of emptying and moving just one.

As far as equipment for ourselves, our kids surprised us with some protective gear for our feet for Christmas.  They are steel toed Wolverine hiking boots.  What thoughtful presents!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 10, 2016

Sad news.  One of our calves died.  This particular calf has been a little different since we got him.  Always slow, napping all the time, and apparently when we put him in the pasture, he couldn't function on his own, even though we were feeding him every night, and there was plenty of grass to forage on during the day.  We had no warning, as he came to dinner the night before, and when he didn't come to dinner the next night, we went looking and found him laying down in the pasture, not raising his head.  By the time the vet got here, he was dead.  So very sad.  Our neighbor helped by coming over with his skidloader and digging a hole for us.  A depressing week for my husband and I, as I had fed this calf three bottles a day for about ten weeks.  Of course, when life goes away, it is depressing no matter what you have done.  I hate it when learning comes in this form.

On the positive side, we have finished the calf barn and my husband has decided that it needed some lights, as it gets so very dark so early, and when my husband arrives home from work, it is already dark.  We usually go together to feed the cows.  So he wired up the barn with DC wiring as the barn is remote from the house.  We will run it from a battery that will be charged with a photovoltaic panel.  We made the decision to put a spring wound timer for the switch, so when we go out there, we can turn on the timer which gives us enough time to fill up the bunkers and give the calves some extra time so they can see to eat, without us having to go back to shut it off.

We used a lawn and garden tractor battery due to cost, and the small light requirement we think we will need.  We have not put up the photovoltaic panel yet, but we plan to mount that on the roof of the calf barn to charge the battery.   We know we can get one from our neighbor, so it is only a matter of going over and getting one.  My husband did such a good job, it works like a charm.  After he was done, he went back and banded the wires together with zip ties to increase the neatness of the look.

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5, 2016

It seems like I haven't written in a while (which is true).  We have been so busy doing things for our daughter's wedding here at the farm.  However, that included finishing up projects here at the farm, so the farm could look good, as well as retain functionality.  For example, we finally have a two car parking pad so we don't have to drag in mud, which in turn releases us from doing that kind of clean up work and allows us more time on the farm.  At the same time, we put in a turn out which has been quite helpful for turning around the truck and tractor.  We also finished up the handrail on the back deck which was a safety issue, as well as finished the calf barn and put on the doors.  Additionally, we had to stop and get a feed bunk for the large steer, as their dancing around us while we were holding the small buckets was putting our feet in danger of getting stepped on.  Another small project was when my husband took an existing barrel and cut it in two to make a feed bunk for the smaller calves.

We ended up having to build a dance floor (which did not get used due to the cold temperature on the wedding day.  However, we put it together in such a way to leave most of the materials a full 8 foot dimension so we can use the lumber elsewhere (such as the flooring on the apartment that will eventually house farm help.)  The tables and benches were put together with two by twelves and two by tens, which we are already planning another outbuilding for the growing area to house tools where we need them.  Nothing will go to waste if we can help it.  It made more economic sense to us to buy the equipment and/or lumber for about the same price as the rental, and have something we could sell or use at the end.

The Black Angus steer and the Brown Swiss calves have sure grown.  We have an appointment for one of our steer to go to the packing plant on December 26th.  Prior to that, we have got to find a trailer. . .

Don't forget to flip over to the wedding tab "One Wedding to Rule Them All," scroll to the bottom of the page and hit the link (the word here), to get to the wedding pictures.