Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm in North Carolina for the weekend

Anne and I decided on making a quick trip to North Carolina to visit her siblings. We didn't get to go for Thanksgiving last year. It's become a yearly tradition for all five siblings and their associated families to get together for Thanksgiving and Ruth and Harvey's house. Last year, for various reasons, we were unable to attend, and we missed everyone. So, earlier in the week, we decided to make the trip.

We're staying at Ruth's house, and Anne's other siblings will come over on Sunday. They all live within 2 or 3 hours of Ruth's house. We'll be heading back home on Tuesday.

Mom and Dad are taking care of things at home while we're gone. There are many advantages to having a homesteading community. One of these is that it provides built-in help. Dad's been helping me a lot during the last week or so with cutting and skidding cedar logs out of the woods. These will be for the house. While we're gone, he's taking care of the bovines and the turkeys.

Although he's nine months old, Chucky Joe still believes that he needs to nurse, and Josey continues to let him do so. He went a week or two without nursing. I think that Josey kicked him off during that time because he had made her teats sore. But, since they've healed (mostly), she's let him back at it. The calf weaner didn't seem to make a whole lot of difference for him. So, I took it off the other evening.

Actually, with him nursing, it makes chores a little easier. Chucky gets locked up separately at night, and I milk in the morning. This also gives Dad the option of not milking while we're gone -- just leave Chucky with Josey to do the job.

There's a lot of work to be done once we return home. It'll soon be gardening time, and there's a lot I want to do on the house. Taking this trip now is good because it's before the really busy time gets going. It's nice to see everyone. Anne is out enjoying they day treasure hunting with Ruth.

Friday, February 13, 2009

General goings-on

008Spring is approaching. Or, at least it sure has felt like it. We’ve enjoyed some nice, warm temperatures during the last couple of weeks. This winter has been different (they all are, though) in that we’ve had some frigid weather with temperatures near zero and some warm weather with temperatures over 70. I had planned on tapping some maple trees and making syrup, but the weather hasn’t cooperated to make that really doable. We’ve made syrup the last two years. Maybe next year will provide cooperative weather.

Wednesday of this week we had a windy day. The storms that moved through the central part of the country mostly missed us, except for the wind. Other places got it worse than we did, though. We only received about three tenths of an inch of rain, and all of that seemed to come within 15 minutes. That’s alright, though, since the ground is still plenty soft from the previous rains. Winter time is like that though; around here it seems that the ground doesn’t dry out until summer. It does somewhat, but it sure seems like we have mud from November to May.

Anne and mom took the opportunity to run off to Glasgow on Wednesday to do some treasure hunting. They both enjoy spending time looking for bargains in thrift shops and antique shops. Dad came over so that he and I could go over our garden plans for this summer, mainly determining if there are any seeds we need to order. There are only a few like onion seeds and some seeds for winter squash. We saved a lot of seeds from last season’s gardening, including tomato, corn, squash, okra, green bean, pepper, arugula, and basil seeds along with some others. We grow open-pollinated and heirloom varieties so that we can save seeds. We also have potatoes to plant and will start some sweet potato slips.

086Yesterday, dad and I worked on pulling some cedar logs out of the woods. He wrote a post about it on his blog and I wrote one on my Cedar Ridge Farm blog. It was a great day for working outside, and the previous day’s rain didn’t make things 081too wet and sloppy to get the job done. I’ll have some more logs to cut and skid out of the woods.

With the nice weather, I’ve been able to work on some house projects. It’s kind of nice to be able to focus some attention on it. I’ve actually been motivated to spend some time thinking about the project and planning for different aspects of it. So, I’ve posted a few times to Cedar Ridge Farm, and I expect there’ll be a lot more posts on that blog in the coming weeks and months. It is my hope to get a great deal of the house project completed this year. So, keep an eye on my other blog, too. 

Spring and summer are busy times of the year, but there is such a richness in living the life we do. We count it a blessing every day that we have opportunities to work together, to grow good food and not be completely dependent on that which is called food but really isn’t (standard grocery/restaurant fair), and to be surrounded by such fabulous beauty as can only be found in God’s glorious creation!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More fresh winter-time salad

The greens in the greenhouse have been fairing well. They keep growing and are providing us with some wonderful and tasty salads. The wood stove inside the greenhouse has made it possible to keep from losing much of the tender greens to the cold. We’ve had several nights in the low teens or in the single digits. With the stove loaded with wood and the dampers closed down, I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to put more wood in. I’ll load it a little before 10:00 p.m. and then put more wood in around 6:30 in the morning. On the coldest mornings, the thermometer in the greenhouse registered a temperature of about 25 degrees. I think it was a little warmer at ground level near the plants. However, it’s been warm enough inside that we’ve not lost any of our greens due to freezing. I don’t keep a fire going if the overnight temperature is not going to be less than the middle or upper twenties. During the day when the sun is shining, it is usually 80 degrees even if it’s only 20 degrees outside.

So far, I rate the wood stove in the greenhouse a success, and I’m very pleased with how it’s worked out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chucky Joe is home

On Monday, January 26, we brought Chucky Joe home. Chucky is our 8-month old calf. Josey had become lonely during Chucky’s absence. The week prior to Thanksgiving, I took him to a friend’s farm to stay for a while. I wanted him weaned, but he had a problem recognizing the fact that he wasn’t supposed to climb over the fence. Granted, he only went over the fence in one place where I needed to fix it, but all the same, we didn’t want him getting to momma and taking all the milk. It was becoming more difficult with how we have things set up here to keep him separate from Josey. So, we packed him up and took him away.

Two months later I figured he ought to be well weaned and would no longer try to nurse. That, and Josey was lonely. She needed a companion. So, the children and I headed over to bring him home. He led out of our friend’s pasture just fine and loaded on the trailer with no problems. When I unloaded him near our barn, he recognized where he was and seemed excited to be home. He called out, and his momma answered him right away. As I took him around the barn, Josey excitedly came out of the barn with a special skip in her step. I let Chucky go and stayed to watch the reunion.

They were happy to see one another. They sniffed each other, and, then, Chucky decided he needed to nurse. Two months wasn’t long enough after all. I dissuaded him from nursing, but he continued to try. So, I locked him in a separate stall, not wanting to sacrifice the evening’s milking to a calf too old to need to nurse but too young to know better.
I went into town and bought a calf weaner from the feed store. It attaches to the calf’s nose and is supposed to make it difficult for him to get to his momma’s teats. It also has some tabs that are meant to poke the momma a little bit so that she will kick the calf off when he tries to nurse. Well, when I put it on Chucky and put him with Josey, he still figured a way to nurse. Figuring that the one I bought may have been too small, I returned to the feed store and bought the larger one. It seemed to work when I first put it on him. But, later in the evening, it was clear that he had figured out how to nurse with it on anyway.

In some ways, this worked out well. Anne and I made our trip to Michigan, and while we were gone, I left the weaner off of Chucky and just let him nurse. This meant that Dad didn’t have to do the milking. He wasn’t disappointed in this deprivation, either. Once we returned, I reattached the weaner to Chucky’s nose, figuring maybe it would at least slow him down. I was just going to separate him at night so that I would have the morning’s milk until I could get another weaner of a different design. However, somewhere in the first day or two after we returned, he decided it just wasn’t worth his trouble. He no longer tries to nurse. I’ve left the weaner on him, though, but it’s nice that we’re still able to milk twice a day as we really appreciate the cream, the milk, and the yogurt we make on a regular basis.

Josey and Chucky seem happy together. Contentment has returned to the barn now that Josey has the companion she needs.

Ice in Kentucky

In my last post I mentioned that Anne and I were heading to Michigan to deliver a vehicle. Well, we sold the Suburban to a really nice individual who lives near Flint, Michigan. It was a 550 mile trip there (and about the same coming back). We put our car on a 021 U-Haul trailer so that we could drive it home. We left on Thursday, January 29, 2009, the day after the major winter storm moved on east. We were going to leave on Wednesday, but we were concerned about the snow and ice and how they were affecting road conditions.

You may have heard about how many people in Kentucky were affected by this storm. In our neck of the woods, it didn’t cause any problems. However, we didn’t drive very far after we left before we saw evidence of much greater ice accumulation. Driving north on I-65, there was lots of ice all the way from Cave City, KY, where we got on the interstate, to about Columbus, Indiana. From that point on, there was plenty of snow. The roads were fine, though.

We took a few photos as we were driving north on that Thursday, and then we took some more on our return trip on Friday. The ice was still hanging tenaciously to the trees Friday afternoon (January 30, 2009). I thought I’d share a few of our photos so you can see some of what it looked like along the interstate as we traveled. The first two were taken in Kentucky as we were headed north on Thursday morning. We took several others on the following afternoon, mostly in Kentucky with a few in Indiana a little north of Louisville. I don’t remember exactly where the ones I’ve shared below were taken, except that they were along I-65 (I think these were all in KY).

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