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Archive for February, 2009

Tuesday Tests

February 15th, 2009 Comments off

This morning we were up at 6:00 AM to deliver Chris to the orthopedic clinic where she was scheduled to get a cortisone shot to alleviate her back distress.  We took the truck with trencher in tow, and after delivering her at the clinic, I returned the trencher while I was waiting for her procedure and recovery.  Surprisingly,  she was done by 9:30 and we were back home by 10:00AM.  Most of the rest of the day was spent balancing electrical work and hospital time with the new babies.

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Monday Marathon

February 9th, 2009 Comments off

Coffee was early this morning so I could get underway to the Orange County Ag Summit meeting at 8:30.  I managed to arrive almost on time.  Chris and I were both planning on attending, but her back problems and hospitality instincts (not leaving Pete and Patti to fend for themselves) persuaded her to stay at home.  The Ag Summit was well-structured and informative, but three speakers need follow-up on our part:

  1. Dr. Alice Kimmleman from the UNC Gillings school talked about her research linking local foods to health (primarily diabetes and obesity).  Its no secret “locavores” are healthier, but I have assumed that the relationship is correlative, not implicative.  In other words, people interested in staying healthy eat locally grown food (probably organic), but they also exercise, watch their weight, etc.  Dr. Kimmleman has data that suggests the stuff is really healthier: its hard to get fat and diabetic eating a diet of local foods.  I tend to believe this is because a local foods diet is sort of a natural weight-watchers program, but I would love to learn that the nutritional values of local foods are so dramatically higher than “production” food that it makes a difference.  Anyway, interesting stuff.
  2. Kenny Haines talked about his organic grain operation.  The only grain we will grow is corn, but his weed-control program is amazing, and may be applicable to our corn operation.  Kenny cultivates, period.  He uses no plastic mulch, and of course, no chemicals, and his fields are weed-free.  The trick is intense cultivation, and Kenny has several innovative cultivators for each stage of the crop.
  3. A. Fullwood taked about the Rural Energy Alternatives Program – REAP.  If I can come up with a design for solar or geothermal energy production it appears that we could probably borrow the installation costs and pay it off with tax credits or savings.

While I was soaking up Ag Summit input Pete was busily designing plumbing and electrical solutions.  On the way home, I  rented a trencher and picked up the parts to run an electrical line out to the hog pen.  By 7:00 PM, Pete and I had dug the trench, laid the line, wired up a temporary heat lamp for the baby pigs, and reloaded the trencher for return on Tuesday.  So, like it or not, Woodcrest Farm now has a farrowing operation!

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Sunday Surprise

February 8th, 2009 Comments off

With a busy morning ahead there was no sleeping in today.  My agenda was make coffee, feed the woodstove, get a haircut, finish my sermon, and get to choir practice by 10:00.  I don’t know what the congregation felt about my “Treasurer’s Report” but coming after yesterday’s news, it was pretty emotional for me.  That done, we got back home for lunch with Gretchen, interrupted by Dewey’s news that we had 5 new piglets (actually 6 as it turned out) running around in the pen.  (I was reminded that a few days ago I had intended to tell Chris that one of the female pigs appeared to be developing swollen teats – “What did that mean?” but had forgotten to.)  Well now I knew.  OK, what now?  Seriously try to raise them, or just let them run around and probably get eaten by the 2 unrelated adults, or freeze or starve to death?  I decided that at least we could separate the sow and her litter from the other two.  Since we had to be at the hospital soon, I quickly threw together a makeshift sow-house and fenced it off from the rest of the pen with hog-panel.  The new family seemed safe enough and off the the hospital we went.

We were able to see both newborns up close today.  Eli is in his mother’s room, and we watched while she and Tim took turns feeding him.  Later, we got to visit Elayna in the NICU.  She is so tiny, but perfectly formed.  I touched her little foot and pronounced a grandpa’s blessing over her:  I ask You, Lord, to continue the miracle of her life by letting her grow quickly, and develop normally, and let her become the delight of her father  and the reward of her mother.  Most of all, Lord, let her know you in the fullness of your love.  I am still overwhelmed by all of this.

We were about to leave when Jaimie’s dad, Pete, called to see how soon we would be back, and casually reported that the little pigs seemed cold, and should he do anything about it.  I would have written them off, but was overruled.  Chris reminded me that if we could get these piglets to feeder size, the would be worth $40 apiece, but I think she just wants to raise baby pigs.  Whatever, Pete and I kicked around ways to get heat out there and hit upon the temporary solution of moving my generator out there and plugging in a heat lamp.   With a project in hand, Pete was off and running.  By the time we returned he had the litter quite toasty. We’ll have to think up something else tomorrow, but for the moment we are officially in the farrowing business!

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Saturday Celebration

February 7th, 2009 Comments off

Eli Kinsley Green and Elayna Katherine Green were born this morning at 11:08 and 11:10 respectively to our son Tim and his wife Jaimie.  Eli was 5 lb 14 oz; Elayna was 4 lb 2 oz.  At last report, Jaimie was also doing fine, but expects to be very sore over the next few days.  The twins are doing fine. Elayna is in the neo-natal ICU and Eli is being watched very carefully because they were so early.

Chris and I are rejoicing that God has given Tim and Jaimie two miracles to love and cherish, but especially that Elayna, while small, is fine as far as we know. She is a special miracle.  Tim requests that we all keep praying that both children can go home with Jaimie, which would be yet another miracle, but with God, all things are possible, as we have seen today.

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Thursday Thaw

February 5th, 2009 Comments off

Awoke this morning to find that our pipes had frozen at the pressure switch.  The bulb I had in the pump house had burned out and the wind and temperature did the rest.  No coffee today!   I bundled up, hooked up my heat gun and went to work.  It took only about 10 minutes to free the pipes, but longer to unfreeze the tank.  In the meantime, the switch was going crazy and I’m sure it wasn’t doing the pump any good.  I have moved replacing the pressure tank for that well up much closer to the top of my to-do list.
Next on the agenda was Dewey’s Saturn, still on my flatbed waiting for surgery.  Our mechanic-neighbor Steve, who had already repaired the clutch – twice – was understandably reluctant to have the thing in his shop, but either his professionalism or our friendship won out and he agreed to take a look at it.  Once the Saturn was transferred from my flatbed to Steve’s garage I was faced with a tough choice: assuming the problem was fixable, what should Dewey drive to classes in the coming weeks and months, and more imminent, how was he going to get to class today?  I could solve both by reluctantly letting him drive the Dodge Dynasty slated for Christopher, but State Farm takes a dim view of young, high-premium drivers using low-premium family vehicles.  The best solution, it seemed to me, was to swap the boys vehicles: Dewey gets the Dynasty, Christopher the Saturn if and when it gets repaired.  A call to our friendly agent sealed the deal, and I made plans to pick up new insurance cards on the way to the gym.  All I had to do was tell Dewey he would be driving the Dynasty from now on, and Christopher that, if it could be repaired, he would get the Saturn.  Neither was happy about it, but they could see the logic in it.  And that’s the way it worked out – except for one little problem.   At the end of the day, Steve called to tell me that the Saturn was fixed. The problem was all due to the wrong part having been delivered for the last repair, and that since he had not caught it before installing it, there would be no charge for this repair.  He was very apologetic, but I was so relieved that it was fixed I couldn’t be upset.  Breaking the news to Dewey was a little harder.  Predictably, when he found out that he hadn’t broken the car he felt cheated out of his snappy little Saturn and wanted it back.  He has since decided that the Dynasty is really the best vehicle for him, but it took some very mature movement on his part.

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Wednesday Wrecks

February 4th, 2009 Comments off

The farm news is pretty sparse today – most of the day was spent indoors with endless administrative work and taking care of vehicles.  We got underway very early – no coffee today!  Dewey had left his Saturn at the McDonald’s in Hillsborough with unknown problems yesterday.  This meant that he needed transportation to Durham by 8:00AM; coincidentally Chris’ Aveo was due at the body shop for its post-collision makeover.  Once Dewey was safely delivered to school we stopped for a diagnostic visit at McDonald’s and I quickly realized that whatever problem the Saturn was having – again – it wasn’t moving.  I scheduled a return visit for this evening and we went home.

Katherine and her children were here and we drafted them to “help socialize” the new puppy – a tough job, but somebody has to do it.  They reported that the missing lamb turned up, dead, of course, but it was near the goat equipment stacked on the south end of the barn.  My theory is that the lamb might have gotten in there, got stuck, died, and was dragged out by some predator last night.  Not good on several fronts.  We need to get Rose in there.

When farmers are grandparents they have to attend IEP sessions for their live-in grandchildren, which we did in the late afternoon, then workout, then church supper, then into the towing business.  We hooked up the flatbed, loaded ramps, jacks, and the come-along and went to rescue the Saturn at McDonald’s.  With two teens pushing and me steering we got the car loaded, strapped down, and home, thank God.  On the way home I was thinking that in addition to being vets, horticulturists, butchers, mechanics, blacksmiths, apiarists, masons, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, managers, and accountants, farmers also have to be riggers and truckers.

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Tuesday Travel

February 3rd, 2009 Comments off

This morning we had coffee, wrapped up the delivery commitments for lamb, did chores, and got on the road by noon to pick up Chris’ new Border Collie puppy in Lots Bluff, SC.  The trip was uneventful, thank God, because we had a very narrow window to meet the owner between her class and work schedule.  We arrived comfortably early and were able to pick up the puppy (Gillian? Jill? Pip?) and get on the road again by 6:00.  The trip home was also uneventful and the boys were surprised to see us shortly after 10:00PM.

The puppy was scared and lonely, and cried piteously much of the trip home, but once home and reassured by Emma and people, she settled down.   So, life goes on.  New dog, new line, new opportunities, new problems.

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Monday Market

February 2nd, 2009 Comments off

After coffee and chores I set out this morning for Siler City to repossess our lambs (suitable transformed!).  Doing business with Chaudhry Halal Meats is akin to a stopover in a foreign airport – its recognizable, but you definitely know you are in a foreign culture, in this case, Pakistani, with undertones of Mexico City.  The office area is decorated with signs in Persian or Pakistani. Family members, particularly the women, prefer traditional dress. Depending on when you arrive the person you need to see may be absent because “he is praying”.  The trade language is English, but the business operates with a mix of Pakistani (among the family) and Spanish (the workers) with English the common denominator.   Typically customers place their orders in English, the order is discussed and delegated in Pakistani, translated back to English when directing the foreman, and translated into Spanish for the majority of the workers.  And whether its because the business day revolves around the Muslim prayer schedule or it is simply a characteristic of the culture, the American expectation of “service now!” is unknown.  Accustomed by habit and temperament to immediate attention, I have to take a deep breath and remember that these good people will get to my order all in good time.  In good time today our order was brought out, but it was – unfrozen!  The departure from the norm remains unexplained, but on the trip home I had a brainstorm: many of our beef and pork customers have expressed a preference for fresh meat which is usually impractical, but here I had 100 lbs of fresh lamb.  Maybe we could sell it fresh!  A quick call to Nancy set things in motion, and by the time I got home we had several potential orders.  By the end of the day we had sold almost everything except some ground lamb.   We were left with perhaps 25 lbs to freeze.  It looks like we need to replenish our sheep herd.

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