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Oh Babies!

The 2011 Calving Season is in the books and it was a SUCCESS! We ended up with 12 calves (out of 13 cows) and didn't lose a single one. We also didn't assist at all. We fretted about the the first one and a little about the second. But after that we knew they could take care of themselves. We ended up with 9 bulls, which was less than ideal since we are focused on growing the herd right now. We're still trying to decide when and how to castrate and whether or not to dehorn. It would be nice to not castrate and leave the horns on but it greatly increases our workload and the potential for injury. We'll see...

Here's Marty. He was the first calf born on our farm. He's about two months old now.

Here's Pepe (he has a white stripe down his back), he was the last calf born for the 2011 season. Note he is on the wrong side of the fence...

Here's a shot of some of the calves. They were trying to figure out what the creature was on the other side of the fence and why it kept running after that stick and bringing it back.

The Guinea Hogs are almost done with farrowing. Three of the four mommas have had their piglets but the biggest one of them all hasn't had any yet. And she doesn't look like she will in the next couple weeks. I'll probably give her a second chance either way but I sure hope she's going to have some piglets this go around. We are up to 16 so far but that's after we lost three. And I do mean lost. In the evening they are there but by morning one is gone with NO TRACE! Totally bizarre. I have my hunch as to what's happening to them and I don't think it's outside predators.

Momma pig with her piglets. She saw me coming and decided that nursing time was over and it was time (for her) to EAT!

It's exhausting being this cute

Curious Little Pigs

 A few sniffs and licks for good measure

One our newest residents, Nermal (the farm cat), who made the trip from Belvidere, NE (thanks Grandma) is pregnant AGAIN and should be having kittens in the next month or two. Poor Spunky was the only one to make it. But he is doing well, putting up with Max treating him like a play toy.

And of course, we're still waiting on THE most important arrival to the farm. But that's the way we want it. We hope she waits until December before she shows her pretty little face.


Farm Report

First off, WE HAVE EGGS! Not exactly sure who's laying them but we've had about one every morning for the last four days. Of course, they are in the yard in front of the chicken coop rather than the nest boxes but we'll work on that...

Here's the view from our front porch. It was time to move the cattle off of the warm season grasses and back onto the cool season. So I moved them across the farm to start the next round of grazing. Of course, moving them across the farm turned into a five hour event - I had to trim and/or cut down cedar trees, pull up old barbwire and other junk, create a gate in my existing electric fence, put up posts and polywire to create an alley and then set up a water tank. All I need to do now is put up posts and hi-tensile wire and I will have a new permanent alley to move cattle around the farm.

I had to snap a pic to show our critters living together so well, with the ducks in the cow pen and the chickens in the pig pen.

I aspire to take pictures as great as Jamie's but, for now, they are a work in progress... I hope you can still enjoy them.


It's been a busy week around the farm.

There's been lots of this...

And this...

Lots of wallpapering scraping and birthing of pigs.  Speaking of birthing pigs...see that Americauna chicken up at the top?  I call that the guardian chicken, because there is ALWAYS one near where the little piggies are.  For some reason they like to hang out with the pigs and eat when they do too.  Sometimes they even get a ride on the pigs backs!


Things I've learned after six months of being on the farm.

1.  Do NOT every buy white sheets, towels, clothes...ANYTHING!  There is something about living out on a farm that equals dirt.  Those lovely white sheets that every home magazine has a bed clad in will not work on a farm.  You will curse your bleach, your Oxiclean and the sun, because nothing is getting the dirt and sweat out of those sheets. 

2.  My husband has managed to find a way to injure himself daily.  Some are big injuries and some are small.  Have I told you the one where he cut his leg with a chainsaw?  Another day....

3.  Good medical insurance is a must...see item 2 above.

4.  It's not the heat that will kill you, it's the humidity.

5.  Spray bottles and walking around in your underwear are key to surviving the humidity.  (Call before you come to the farm, please!)

6.  Cleaning has become my life.  I can sweep and sweep and vacuum, but there is going to be dirt somewhere.  And this is coming from a girl who used to sweep or Swiffer in town about once every 3 weeks.  That was usually when company was coming over.

7.  Vinegar is my new best friend.  Need to scrap off old wall paper?  Vinegar and water to the rescue?  Need a good fabric softener?  Vinegar again!  Need to clean a floor, vinegar and water and a good mop!  Want to kill little fruit flies?  Homemade cider vinegar trap is on its way!  Want to deodorize a room...vinegar....ahhh you get the point!

8.  Listening to a rooster try to imitate his rooster friend is enough to through you into a fit of giggles.  While the one rooster has got the Ra-ra-ra-ra-roooooooo sound going, the little rooster can only manage to croak out a few notes.  But darned if he doesn't try every single time!  Don't worry little buddy, every animal goes through puberty!

9.  Clotheslines make me very happy.

10.  Farming is hard work, but at the end of the day I'm so happy Jon and I decided to take this leap of faith.  And I can't wait to show our little Farm Girl the farming life! 


Banana bread with chocolate chips...yum!

Man, I had a craving so bad for pumpkin bread with chocolate chips today!  I like to use fresh pumpkin so I'm holding off for a couple months.  The alternative was banana bread with chocolate chips..everything is better with choc chips, right?

Soooo yummy!

Anyone else have one of these?  If not, you should.  It's the best way to keep butter that I've found.  My friend, Liz had one at her house and I had to get one as soon as I saw it.  Just make sure to change out the water regularly.


Meet my new little knitted friend...Elijah.

He's pretty darn cute, right?  I've been meaning to post about him for a little bit.  I saw this knit pattern on ravelry.com.  If you haven't been over there, it's a great place to look for patterns and see what other knitters are doing. 

About half way through the first trimester of pregnancy, I got the itch to knit.  I love knitting and had been too sick to do anything but lay on the couch.  So, I found this little guy.  At that time, I thought I was for sure having a boy, so of course the little guy would be blue!  My friend, Liz, actually made Elijah in hot pink for her little girl and it's super cute.  Since then we've found out we are having a girl, but I think it's still okay to have a light blue elephant for a girl. 

The pattern is from Ysolda patterns.  It's a pretty fast knit, although I did have to teach myself how to knit with five double point needles.  I've been avoiding learning that because I pretty much always knit with two circular needles if I need to make something round.  But it worked out! 

I love handmade toys for kids.  I think it just makes them a little bit more special than buying something plastic that requires batteries at the store.  Not that there is anything wrong with plastic toys, but I definitely prefer handmade, wooden or soft toys.  Just a personal preference!


Cheesy zucchini....FAIL!

I've been on a quest lately to get more veggies in our diet.  I do great with fruit, I probably eat 1-2 pieces of fruit a day.  But veggies are a little harder.  Sure I can just heat up some frozen corn or green beans, but I'm looking for something more.  So, I decided to try a cheesy zucchini recipe from my fav cookbook.

This is one big zucchini! 

It looked so nice after being cut up and weighed.

Even the piggies liked the ends and the peels.  You should have heard that little babies squeal!

And what couldn't turn out right with this much cheese...right?

Looking good!

I had high hopes and they were dashed when I bit into one.  Too much garlic, the zucchini was too soft and the cheese did nothing for the zucchini.  The flavors just didn't meld together at all.  I was very disappointed and actually only ate a couple bites.  Oh well, you win some...you lose some!  Maybe I need to find a vegetarian cookbook for some good side dishes...


whooeeee...that was a storm!

So, I'm not very good at knowing when the weather changes.  I don't watch the news or read about the weather in the paper.  So, I was a little surprised by the storm that came up last night.  Although I shouldn't be, because EVERY STINKING TIME I hang up clothes to dry on the clothesline...it rains.  Trust me, I should be a Rain Maker or something.

Anyway, I was sitting outside watching the storm come up, which is the best part about living in the country.  You should try it sometime!  The wind came up very quickly and was very strong.  Come to find out later they were 50-60 mph winds and at certain gusts in Iowa up to 70 mph, which is hurricane strength. 

This is when it started to get a little squirrely...one window in the kitchen broke out with bang!  As Jon and I were trying to fix that one, we heard another BANG from upstairs.  He raced up the stairs and immediately started cussing.  (Something we need to work on before the baby comes....)  Our door in the master bedroom hasn't been shutting the past couple weeks due to humidity.  And it had flung open with a vengeance.  It took all of my strength to keep that door shut, while Jon went to find a hammer and nail to shut it.  Here's a little reenactment for you.

Granted it's daytime and the wind isn't actually blowing, but you get the picture.  And yes, those are bras on my dresser...I'm working on a very special project.  And yes are walls are disgusting, you can see where I still need to rip off the rest of the wallpaper.  But it's a huge improvement!

Here's Jon using whatever he could find to pound in a screw.  Namely a 15 pound dumbbell...

And here he is shimmying up the wall to get to the attic to stop the water from pouring in.  And again with the wallpaper...we're working on it! 

And let's not forget the three rounds of hail throughout the night = no sleep for either of us.  Apparently our neighbors were without power for about 12 hours...not us!  Ahhh...the power of living of the grid!

And all the animals are accounted for.  We will also have plenty of firewood for a bon fire this fall with all the downed tree branches.  And the highlight of my morning was listening to our rooster try to croak out a "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"  I actually thought it was Jon imitating the sound of a rooster it sounded so pathetic.  The rooster is technically only a teenager and we all know what happens when animals and people go through puberty! 


Things NOT to do on the farm...

Farming is inherently dangerous.  You are working around large animals that stress easily and also with lots and lots of sharp things.  So accidents happen.  Jon and I have visited the local hospital about three times this year between the two of us.  Jon would say I'm the more expensive of the two, because at least he has the decency to get hurt during regular clinic hours and not have to go to the ER

Reason # 5,463 to be careful when you farm...

Riding your bike through the field to check on cows sounds like a lovely idea!  At a nice leisurely pace, you can check out all the new vegetation and enjoy the morning sky.  Until you notice that it starts to get bumpier and then WHAM...there's a two foot drop off and suddenly you are laying on your back in the middle of a field.  True story.  I have pictures to prove it.

Jon was riding his bike out to check on the cows to get some exercise.  At the last minute he couldn't avoid a two foot drop off, which caused him to go head first over his bike and onto his back.  And then I'm told.... it happened again!  I'm gonna make this guy wear a helmet ALL the time!


This is exactly how I feel...

Droopy....saturated with heat...pining for water and a little reprieve from the heat...

The heat and humidity here for the past couple weeks have been pretty brutal here.  The fact that we don't have air conditioning compounds the heat and humidity.  We've employed all sorts of tricks to keeping cool.  My trick is to lay as still as possible under a fan.  It usually works pretty well, except when the humidity in the house gets over 70% and then nothing will make you feel better. 

As few clothes as possible always helps...so just call before you come to the farm...okay?

I also carry around a little spray bottle full of cold water to soak myself.  We bought a little portable air conditioner that we can run at night when we can't sleep in the humidity.  The heat isn't the problem...it's the humidity.  Of course, when we run the air conditioner we have to run the generator as well.

I just keep telling myself that fall is coming...it has to be.

Even though I may complain and curse the sun while shaking my fist at the sky, we are pretty lucky.  We are lucky in that this is our choice.  We don't have to live in a house without air conditioning, but this is what we chose to do.  We have the means to buy a portable air conditioner, pay for gas to run the generator at night or hop into our car and spend the night with family.  Other people aren't so lucky.  Whenever I think I have it bad, I just think about those people who are homeless or down on their luck, that don't have the options that we have.  Jon and I are very lucky, indeed.


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