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Greetings from the land of poop and breastmilk!

This is how things have been going on the farm lately...

Eat, sleep, poop...repeat!  And of course, pose for Momarazzi pictures that show off one of Clara's better hair days...

It's so true what they say that they grow up before your eyes.  I can't believe our little farm girl is around 2.5 weeks old!  And it's also true what they say, that nothing prepares you for parenthood.  I've worked with kids and babies since I graduated nursing school, but that was cakewalk compared to the last 2.5 weeks!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we may have finally found a new normal and that we are getting into a routine.  It's been difficult to get into a routine due to the holidays and difficulties with breastfeeding.  Thank goodness that Lincoln has such a great resource in Milkworks.  I'm really hoping that we've crossed over the hump with breastfeeding and are on our way to smooth sailing.

And yes, this post was being written and posted around 1:00 in the AM.  I can hear little Miss Clara in the next room grunting around, waking up for her next feeding.  Like I said...this is a new normal for us!

I'm really hoping that soon I can delve back into helping out more with the farm.  I've been getting seed catalogs in the mail, which make me really excited for the spring!  We've got big plans for our little farm, but sometimes it's difficult to stay on track when life gets in the way.  I just keep telling myself that we will get there...baby steps...



Fencing has been the word lately. When Jamie started going into labor, we were actually at a farm supply store picking up fencing supplies. The electric fence has been lacking and many of the cattle have lost respect for it. Which has resulted in the polywire being knocked down everyday.

When we got home from the hospital, we were greeted by all the cattle being out and in the yard. The power was out in the house and the generator was out of gas... So now that things have settled down a bit, I have gone about checking the fence with my new Fence Compass. And it is AWESOME! It tells me the voltage of the lines and helps to identify faults that are grounding out the system. With the help of compass, I believe I confirmed an earlier suspicion that the connection from the battery to the charger was not a good one. I messed with it for a while and was able to almost double the voltage of the system getting up to 9500 volts. Taking the advice of my fence distributor, i put peanut butter on some pieces of tin foil and hung them on the electric fence. The intent being that will investigate the peanut butter and get hit hard with shock which will help to re-educate the cattle on electric fence. It's been over a week and no cattle have gotten out. (Correction, I just watched a heifer walk through a one wire fence. I haven't checked the fence yet this morning so I need to see if the battery connection is off again). It's doubly important to get this corrected now as it will be harder to contain them as their winter coats come in and the ground freezes, as they won't feel much of a shock.

 Here is the new Fence Compass. As you can see my voltage is at 9.5kV and I have 8 amps of resistance coming from a small fault somewhere to the right of the compass.

Here is our fence charger setup. This was put in right before we put the cattle out in late February. Since we weren't sure what the power situation was going to be, we opted for a solar setup. 

I also threw together a rig to hold my step-in posts and other tools. This is just a prototype. I already have a bunch of changes I need to make when I take the time to build a final product.


Sorry we've been away but we have a good reason:

Our little farm girl was born over the weekend!



The hurdler turned hamburger turned escapee...

So, as a follow up post to Jon's about the livestock-go-round, I thought I would talk about the other night.  As you may or may not know, I'm nine months pregnant.  And yesterday was my due date.  We really thought that I might actually go into labor yesterday due to the events that took place the night before...

The escapee/hurdler cow, who I neglected to take a picture of, had been penned up for a couple days in our corral.  And let me tell you, my heart hurt for the poor old gal.  She bawled and bawled for her calf, which we had tried to get to come to her.  Neither Jon nor I cared if they were together, but we just couldn't get him to come to her.  He is just too skittish.  So, we had to listen to her bawl for about a day and a half, in which time I hadn't been sleeping the best.  Not only did I have to listen to her bawl during the day, I had to listen to her bawl during the night.  And as someone who's about to give birth to her first child, it was all I could do not to go out there and let her out so she could find her baby.  She just wanted her baby!

But life on a farm requires some tough decisions and we were both confident that the best decision was to get rid of her and turn her into hamburger.  She was not only hurdling four foot high barb wire fences, but she was starting to take the herd with her.  Not cool...  So, she stayed penned up in our corral and I tried not to listen to her bawling.

We came home around five two days ago and Jon started to do chores.  Max was starting to bark as if something was in the farmyard.  And it was...the whole darn herd!  Somehow the calf had found his mother, taking ALL the calves and some cows with him.  And darned if they weren't just hanging out in the farmyard and around the house.  Thankfully Jon had taken the Low-Stress Animal Handling class and they were pretty well trained to go where Jon wanted them to go.  Except for that dang calf!  He wanted in with his mother, she wanted out with him and we COULD NOT get them in together.  Keep in mind, it's also getting dark and very cold.  There is nothing more infuriating than working with an animal who is skittish.  They are just very unpredictable.  I also vowed right then and there that I am going to learn how to rope if it kills me.  Never mind how the heck I thought I would be able to drag a 5 month old bull calf into a corral...

Jon sent me into the house to warm up, while he chased the cows that had now wandered over to the east side of our property that doesn't have fencing.  We tried one more time to get them together and said screw it.  It was dark, cold and I was one day away from my due date...not exactly the best helper in the world!  Now mama and baby were reunited, but we still had to get them back into a fenced area.  Again, so glad Jon took that class, because he was able to get them through a gate they had never been through before and it was dark.  I was pretty impressed.  My job was to bring up the rear and keep the strays from getting too far.  Did I mention I was carrying a sledgehammer the whole time and two flashlights?  We needed to break water for the cattle and I apparently didn't think to drop the sledgehammer and at least one of the flashlights.

Finally Jon got them were they needed to go and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  There is nothing more stressful than having animals out, especially at night and in the winter.  Remember what happened when we first got the cattle?  We have learned so much since then and I credit Jon's working with the cattle and the techniques he learned in the Low-Stress Animal handling class to making this night go a little smoother.  And we were able to make it into town for our "Last Supper".  I had been craving steak and one last nice supper before the baby got here was just what I wanted.  Thanks for the delicious steak Mistys!

How I haven't had this baby yet is beyond me...  One would have thought that being nine months pregnant, chasing cows in the dark, while carrying a sledgehammer would have put me into labor.  I'm still patiently waiting!

Oh and by the way, the hurdler cow will still be turned into hamburger.  Now we just need to catch her again....



or Musical Livestock, if you prefer. No matter how you say it, there has been a lot of moving of animals in the past week. The first of which was to separate the sows from the piglets. I managed to separate and move them fairly easily. Then came the hair sheep and combining the rams and ewes. That was easy, all I did was open up the fence panel between their pens. Next came the cattle, I setup poly-wire around some of the alfalfa and moved the cowherd onto that. I even managed to get a boar moved from the garden into the sow pen and a sow into the garden with the other boar. A few delays but nothing unexpected. So far, so good right?

Well, then that sow got out and I chased her around the farm and got her back in. While I was looking for tools to repair the fence, she proceeded to run right back out the other side (this pen just has one electric fence wire). By that time it was dark and I had no idea where she was. So I fixed the  fence and called it a night. Later that night, Jamie was concerned that something would happen to her so I went back out with the spotlight and found her. I proceeded to chase her around the farm yard again and I almost had her but I ended up losing her and decided to wait until morning. The next morning Jamie and I chased her around again (ok so I chased her around but Jamie helped stage blockades) and eventually got her in the pen with the piglets. We decided that was good enough and would bring the boar to her. After some coaxing with the feed bucket, we managed to get the boar in too.

Then came the cow. Cow #27 is the "Escapee cow". I have seen her go under, over, through most fences on our farm. And I'm tired of it! This weekend was the last straw when I found her and a bunch of heifers out and some of my poly-wire down. We decided then and there that she was not going back with the herd; although she did not get the memo. I've been working with the cattle using the animal handling techniques I learned but there's not much you can do in that particular situation. So I ended up chasing her around the farm on a four wheeler. Throughout the course of the day she jumped over (and temporarily got stuck in) a barbed wire fence and three electric fences. I did get her into the corral up towards the house though and that's where she'll have to stay since she'll get out of any other sort of fencing that I have on the farm. Of course, she has a four month old calf too but he was with the herd at the time so I was only able to move her. They are both bauling but I can't get the calf to leave the herd so I'm not sure what to do. He's definitely old enough to wean but I prefer to keep him on through the winter to help him gain weight faster. I'm thinking that he will make his way to her but we'll see.

I thought I would draw it up on the board for you to help clear things up...



Just because it's recognized as a national holiday, doesn't meant I can only give thanks on the fourth Thursday of November.

Jamie and I would like to give thanks to our friends and family. The support we have received has been amazing and unexpected. We are so very grateful for all of you and we are very aware of how lucky we are to be surrounded by such loving people.

We are not in-your-face religious, by any means, but this year has been a particularly spiritual one for us. So we would like to also take this moment to thank God for all that he has given us. I wish everyone would take an opportunity to step back and appreciate all that we have. The world would be a better place if we did.



Behold the power of the sun! What an amazing thing the sun is. Until this year, I had never really thought about all the sun does. It impacts everything we do on the farm. I'm tempted to start explaining the many different roles that solar has on our farm but I could spend quite a while writing about that and I have to get to work. So it'll have to wait for another day. Until then, here are a few snippets.

757 kilowatt hours produced by our solar panels in the first 5 days. Yippee!

This is something I had been wanting to try and Jamie thought I was crazy. It's basically a mini-greenhouse on the south side of the house. It's purpose is to absorb heat with the black plastic and trap it with the clear plastic. In theory, that heat will warm that portion of the house or, at the very least, keep cold air from getting in. During the middle of the day, that thing really gets toasty. I need to get a thermometer in there to see how much warmer. I would guess 20+ degrees warmer than the outside, when the sun is shining bright.

Of course, three days after having the solar panels up and running the wind turbine quit working... Whether it's a coincidence or something I did when hooking up the solar has yet to be determined. 
It's always somethin'!


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