When Things Break Down

 

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Repairing the Combine

Yesterday it was the Combine, today it was a silo. I spent half an hour just turning the silo on and off while the guys worked on leveling feed out and making sure the unloader was working correctly. (I only blew the fuse twice).

At 10:30am the concrete truck showed up…two and a half hours earlier than was expected. Thanks to the rain, we weren’t able to get out in the fields to continue harvesting corn, but it freed up the concrete plant’s schedule and they were able to fit us in first thing. That’s what happens when your concrete job takes place inside a silo with a pitted concrete floor that needs to be replaced before you can fill it up with corn.

So armed with trowels, gloves, and shovels the guys all entered the ‘tower’ and took on the massive amounts of concrete that slid through the tiny door. I attempted to take pictures, but got corralled into ‘working’. I found buckets for the extra concrete, an extra trowel and fixed parts of the manger in the steer barn. Now at least their feed bunk isn’t so rough and they can eat off a clean plate.  My dinner was a little late; but that is typical on a farm, there is always going to be something that is going to need to be fixed; that’s why we love winter… we have a whole season to catch up on repairs.

 

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A Combine

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Combining Corn

October date nights are synonymous with Combines. If you want to spend some quality time with your husband during harvest be prepared to do it sitting on the little pop down seat located to the left of the main. Your job while along will be to activate the auger as needed. The beautiful kernels of perfectly dried corn in waterfall rivaling rivulets filling the empty gravity boxes waiting at either end of the expansive field of corn.

As you mosey along at speeds rivaling a turtle’s, you are blessed with beautiful scenery you might otherwise miss. The six point buck attempting to take down as many corn stalks and ears of corn as he can before you. The rabbits darting between the rows of corn. The occasional field mouse scurrying to pick the kernels that have fallen for its winter food stores. Top that all off with the beautiful scenery of the woods around you turning to the colors of Autumn. All the leaves a riot of red, orange, and yellow.

Bring along a camera to capture the moments, a thermos of ‘tea’  (in my case), and time. Enjoy the slower pace of life that occurs only while riding in a combine with the love of your life. Plan your next date and make it a ‘Combine Night’ to remember.

Harvesting Hay

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The Merger

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The Chopper and Forage Wagon

Living on a dairy requires a lot more than just working with cows. You also have to make sure that the cows you are milking have enough to eat throughout the seasons, especially in the winter when nothing grows.

Dairy farmers can grow or buy feed for their cows. On our farm we raise our own feed. We grow hay and corn. The hay is chopped three or four times a year just as it begins to flower. The hay is first mowed down. (Think of it as a very large yard and a very large riding lawn mower). Then we let the hay dry for a few hours, or few days depending on heat and humidity levels. The hay is then merged. Two flat rows combined into one big puffy row of sweet-smelling goodness. (I love, I mean ABSOLUTELY love, the smell of fresh mown hay!) Then the Chopper comes by and grabs the big row and chops the mowed hay into smaller more digestible pieces for the cows.  The hay is then brought to a silo and stored for the year. The farmer takes as much as the cows need each day out of the silo and adds vitamins and minerals, (which we buy), and corn,  to make a healthy ration that the cows love to eat.

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The Mower…I love this thing! It’s why I shared it last…a lasting impression 🙂

Do You Believe in Fairies?

 

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I have read J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’ numerous times during the course of my childhood and now into adulthood, but there is something so poignant about reading it to three little girls and one little boy.

Many of us have probably come across Peter Pan and his little fairy side-kick, Tink, in movie adaptations of this popular and timeless book, but I think we as parents need to read this book in its entirety to our children, and share with them the ‘golden’ moments that so many producers fail to portray in their imagination-searing remakes.

I read this book aloud to my children ages, 6, 4, 2, and 10 months a few weeks ago, and managed to keep myself from weeping, as I have occasion to do whenever  I read this book. My 6-year-old turned to look at me as I finished reading the last sentence, and I noted the tears in her eyes. With wisdom of the sages brimming from her mind, she voiced her thoughts: “Mommy, that was so sad, that little boy never got to grow up…the windows to his home were barred.”

We as parents need to allow our children to be children, to find the enjoyment in imagination, to nurture the imagination in right ways, and in ‘the pretend’ play, but when they want to grow up, like Wendy, we need to let, and help them. We need to let the next generation find good uses for their imagination and pass it on to the next, and the next, like Wendy did with Jane and Jane with hers, and so on. Mr. Darling forgot about imaginative play until he realized he was losing his children to it by denying it existed.  Peter Pan’s parent’s wanted to deny childhood by dwelling on the when’s and will be’s in their son’s life instead…and they lost Peter Pan because of it. (When Peter finally had enough of play, he wasn’t allowed to grow up, those windows and dreams had been barred from him). Thus to Never Land where children never grow up, and live ‘their biggest pretend’.

So put away the mind-numbing and imagination altering fantasies of media and technology that deviates from parent/child relationships. Grab a good book and read it with your children; then let your imagination soar.

“I do believe in fairies, I do, I do”.

‘Fall’-ing into Summer

Hello, Summer,

So you finally decided to arrive? What took you all summer? Do you realize that according to the calendar fall arrived the same day you did? I had already started packing away the children’s summer clothes since the temperatures were becoming more autumnal like and I didn’t want them to be cold when we stepped outside to feed the calves in the barn. Even I was starting to wear my Carhart jacket during the early morning feedings.

The garden had already been frosted once before you arrived. Did you get the memo that September hit exactly twenty-five days ago? We had to go find a fan when temps rocketed to 96 degrees. We just couldn’t make ourselves to pull the window air conditioner out of storage. (It had been there all summer).

We were glad that bathing suits were on clearance at the mall. We actually had a chance to use them this week. First time all summer. (Not counting the pool at the YMCA).

We had started harvesting the corn. Usually we are quite comfortable in the tractors. Not this year. The AC quit in the combine and chopper. We couldn’t. The corn would have been too dry. So we sweated buckets and drank buckets just to survive your arrival while bringing in the hay, and corn, and very tired husbands.

Thank you for at least helping the tomatoes ripen and the pumpkins too. I am looking forward to having Pumpkin pie…when you leave. It’s rather hot to leave the oven on too long. Especially with temperatures you have been bringing along. We did have a lovely breeze one day. It filled the barn with dust so that I couldn’t see. And blew all my empty pots and bench around. It also took out my last lilac tree. (The Farmer thanks you for that. I do not.)

Next year could you arrive on time? And leave when September 22 comes by. I would like to have a nice fall before winter lifts its hoary head and turns the fields to white. Fall seems to get a week up here and that’s about it. I’d like a month and a half of it at least.

Thanks,

The Farmer’s Wife

It’s All About Those Calves…

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It’s about time you got here with my feed!

Welcome to my dairy farm. I am a three-month old Holstein heifer. I live here with one hundred other heifers of varying age as well as with our Dams. Our farmer also raises Holstein bulls for reproduction and sells many to different dairy farms in the state. He also raises Holstein steers for selling at our weekly livestock sale and to individuals interested in a nice slab of steak.

I am fed colostrum (my mother’s milk) for two and a half days. Then I go on regular milk and some grain along with all the other calves my age until we reach weaning. At that time we get water and are moved to a new location where we receive hay and a larger percentage of grain.

When I reach a year of age I am moved back to a barn built specifically for heifers…we’re pretty important…There we stay until we are breeding age. Say twenty-one months and onward. At that time we are old enough to have calves of our own and become milk cows. We are bred to bulls either through insemination with a real bull or through Artificial Insemination…sperm in a straw in short terms. The rate of pregnancy is better through A.I. which is what we want as we like to make milk. It’s what we were created for. Producing a delicious product that can be made into cheese, ice cream (my fave.). yogurt, sour cream, etc.

When I finally calve I am no longer considered a heifer, but am now called a MILK COW. Hurray, The world has just opened new possibilities for me. Now to see if I can produce more milk than say, 2045?

2045? That is another cow’s number, we also are given names, but it is so difficult to keep track of all those that we go by numbers….except for a few extra special ones whose names are rather memorable…like: Antebellum, Runaway, Chocolate, and so on.

Well I’ve enjoyed sharing a dairy moment with you and I hope you come back for more.

2320 signing off. MOO

There’s No Place Like Home

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Windows of Gold

You may have heard the story of the a little boy who lived at the bottom of a hill in a rather ordinary house, and of the little girl who lived on top of the hill; also in a ordinary house, but to each of them the house where the other lived had windows of gold and that’s where they wanted to live. One day they happen to meet each other and realize that while they have been gazing on what they believe they desire, they already own it. Each sees the sun reflecting on the windows and creating a warm glow that speaks of home, hearth, and happiness.

I love that story because it isn’t the house itself that makes a home. It is the people within that create the sphere where love dwells and happiness is found.

I love it because my house is not a new house in a newly built sub-division, my house is not a castle with stone walls and buttresses, and my house is not the prettiest on the block. It is what it was always meant to be: a white-sided 1950 circa. Farmhouse. It has real wood floors with cracks that speak of age and miles trodden by differing feet, it boasts no air conditioning, but numerous windows that send those soothing summer breezes throughout the house. It has had renovations and repairs in attempts to make room for expanding family, and it boasts a kitchen with one counter. During canning season I find myself envying those women with large kitchens that include: two sinks, two ovens, an island, and all that room for spreading out the workload and still have space that is neat and clean.

Yes, my house sometimes seems to be bursting at the seams, but there are also those who aren’t as fortunate to have a house as big,  one that speaks character, is timeless in its simplicity, and that has a family within who love each other, and where happiness is found not in stuff we think we need, but in little things, like the sun casting gold on windows.

Sweet ‘Corn’ Dreams

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‘Tryptophan’ -a.k.a sleep producer

Finally. The farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and Mommy’s garden have produced a teething wonder…and chances are it’s cheaper than those plastic water filled things retailers call ‘teething rings’. What is it that causes parents hearts to sing, and infants’ cries to cease? None other than ‘SWEET CORN’. How does it work, pray tell?

First, remove all the kernels if your infant does not have any teeth or has just a little nubbin. Next, give the fussy, inconsolable, teething love of your life the corn cob. The dripping milky residue left on the cob will satiate the tiny one’s tummy while the soft bristly cob will soothe the swollen gums. If all goes well your little one’s head will begin to nod and the tiny eyelids flicker as sleep takes over. A warning to the wise. Do not remove the cob from a sleeping child’s fist. Havoc will ensue. The corn cob has just become that special toy, blanket, or book that one needs before sleep ensues.  (This has worked on all four of my children. I have all the pictures to prove it.)

Just so everyone is aware. Corn does not contain Tryptophan, but it sure is a sleep producer for tired, teething little boys. For more information on Tryptophan and what it is besides a sleep agent read: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan.

 

Eating A Rainbow…Unintentionally

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“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

Ours grew well this summer with fruits and vegetables in varying hues of monochromatic colors and in the assorted colors of the rainbow. So much so that for dinner today we had to forego the beef just so that nothing we picked would go to waste; and as Mother always said, “fresh is best”. We had Goldenrod Green Beans, Tomatoes w/Provolone and Basil, Sweet Corn, and Carrot/Raisin Salad; to top it all of we had Cinnamon Chip/Butterscotch Bars with a tall glass of milk fresh from the cow.

Recipe for Goldenrod Green Beans

2 hardboiled eggs, peeled. Dice the whites and set aside the yolks for topping

1 pint cut green beans, steamed.

Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in saucepan. Add 1 Tbsp. flour. stir until smooth. Add 1/2 cup milk slowly to pan and stir until the rue starts to bubble. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. Add diced eggs and mix together.

Put steamed beans in an 8×8 serving dish. Top with rue. Shred the egg yolks on top. Either through a cheese shredder or tines of a fork.

Enjoy. Serves 4-6

 

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

 

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Bring on the ‘Domesticated’ Barn Cats

No one knows how the gallon pitcher of milk happened to be setting so close to the table’s edge, but we all knew when the unsuspecting elbow hit it. Chaos ensued. Julia was drenched. Just a happy, chatty girl one moment to a wailing and soaked one the next. Mommy ran to grab as many towels as possible and had the milk spill corralled within a designated area before it could soak into the carpet. Our quiet, Sunday afternoon dinner was brought to a standstill as we proceeded to clean up the mess. One towel was completely sopped before Daddy remembered that milk and cats go hand in hand. So without further ado, the girls all ran for the door and called in the  barn cat brigade to clean up the mess. What could have been a more traumatic experience became a humorous one as the girls all sat down on the living room floor to watch the milk spill slowly disappear down with each kitty’s tiny laps; and as Jethro tried to crawl towards the milk and splash his little hands in it, splattering the milk even farther across the floor.

 

Yes, there was a mess, and Yes, it was not the ideal day or time for it to occur, but what we learned from the experience is to not cry over the spilled milk, but enjoy the moments that come from spilled milk. (Not talking the extra load of laundry or floor mopping that came with the territory.) And take a picture. Sometimes a picture can capture the chaos and create a snapshot of the joy found within that chaotic sphere.