Archive for September, 2012

Sunday Sept. 30, 2012

September 30th, 2012 Comments off

Our morning was typical for a Sunday: get up, milk, snatch breakfast, and get to choir and church. except that this week it only applied to me. Chris was feeling queasy and didn’t make it to church. After church, Chris, Miriam, and I went wine tasting with Erin Huntington to select wines for our Gala. The winery we visited was Autumn Creek Vineyards in Mayodan, NC which is about 2 hours away. It was a beautiful ride, and we had a fine time tasting wines. We got back home at around 6:00, milked, ate a great dinner of cottage pie and kale, and spent a quiet evening.
It is impossible not to be a little sad that Miriam will be leaving us tomorrow for England. She has been a wonderful asset to the farm during the past three weeks, but more importantly, she has become a dear friend as well. We will miss her quiet but constant help, her good cheer, and her willingness to pitch in even when the work isn’t too pleasant. She has been a joy to have here and will always be welcome. With that, good night.

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Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012

September 30th, 2012 Comments off

It was a busy day with lots of visitors today. Milking at 8, a bit of breakfast, then Gretchen Hurley arrived to catch up on life and get her hoe sharpened. As always, she ended up helping out with one thing or another, in this case, rounding up two of our heifers and a calf for possible sale at 12:30. We managed to get the right two into the corral, went in for lunch, and Tom Roth… and family arrived to choose their cow, which was soon loaded into their trailer and off they went. Shortly thereafter, Wilson … arrived, a local student who is interested in working a few days at the farm. We got her off to a good start – bushhogging the big pasture and learning to drive a tractor. While Miriam and Chris were doing some shopping in Carrboro. Al and Elaine dropped in with their friends John and Susan to decide what cuts of pork they want from our bulk pork sales. By the time that was done and Chris got home with Miriam, it was time to milk. Diane had sent over a nice dinner which we enjoyed, watched a movie, and that was our day.

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Friday, Sept. 28th, 2012

September 28th, 2012 Comments off

I was off to do a blacksmithing demonstration for the Emerson-Waldorf school this morning, so I missed the job of milking. Chris and Noah got up and at it early and had the cows done by the time she had to take him to school. Miriam and Annie finished up the goats and cleaned up, so the job got done without me. The rest of the morning, Miriam and Annie, along with Skylar (Annie’s friend), worked on sweet potatoes, feeding calves, and other animal chores, rejoicing that THE PIGS ARE GONE! I got back around 1:30, and after some lunch, we took off for Breeze. We had errands in Hillsborough, so it wasn’t until about 2:30 when we actually arrived and got to work. Today that was pulling up plastic mulch – a hard, dirty, dusty job, but we made a lot of progress. Home again by 5:00 for evening milking, and an evening out in Chapel Hill for our dedicated staff. It has been a busy week. I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend, but probably will not get it. 10-4

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THursday, Sept. 27th, 2012

September 27th, 2012 Comments off

With hogs from Wed. in the trailer, I had to make the trip to the processor and be back by 11 for my Pioneers class. I left a few minutes before 7, dropped off the pigs, and was back by 9:15. I needed the time, because there was still prep I needed to make for the kids and our Occonneechi hike. This week was 1st aid and hygiene week, i.e., band-aids, camp soap, and handi-wipes in a plastic bag. Everybody trooped up the mountain; we lunched at a scenic overlook; and started back down. But, as fate would have it, there were some hands on lessons. Two of the boys needed first-aid! One had been running down the trail and tripped; another had gotten a bad sliver. So, we had a field lesson in what to do, and the kids were prepared!
Meanwhile back at the farm Miriam and Annie had tackled the horrible job of cleaning out the stock trailer. I did some preparation for my demo at the Emerson-Waldorf school tomorrow, and then it was milking time again. That’s the day at Woodcrest. 10-4

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Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012

September 27th, 2012 Comments off

Hog day at Woodcrest today. After morning chores, we took on the big project for the day, namely, loading our 8 hogs to take to the processing plant. The abattoir. The beauty parlor. Or in simple English, the slaughterhouse. For assistance, I had Chris, Miriam, and Annie, none of whom has much prior experience loading hogs. The fun began getting the stock trailer positioned at the door of the pig pen. I yelled at everybody and generally was pretty unpleasant about that. First we tried using a cattle panel in the pen to keep reducing the hogs space until – surely – they would chose to walk into the spacious trailer. No deal. They weren’t having any of it. Probably 8 times we had them crammed at the entrance, and 8 times they all just lifted the cattle panel and escaped. We tried food in the trailer. We tried everything except roping them and hauling them into the trailer one by one. I have done this before, but it takes two men – one to haul, and one to take up the slack, and the women are just not strong enough to hold them. By 2:30, we had been at this for almost 3 hours, and I had run out of time to get them to to our processor. Chris had a class at 4:00, so she needed to quit soon anyway.
What to do? Today was a lost cause for delivering them, but I needed to get them loaded at least. I decided to bring in reinforcements: Noah, and a cattle prod. Having procured both, he and I took on our recalcitrant piggies. We resumed my previous strategy, only with the cattle prod, with no success. I suppose I felt a little better in a retributive way, but the pigs were not buying it. I finally won the battle by sacrificing two 4×8 sheets of perfectly good sub-flooring, hinging them to make a 4×16 folding barrier, and putting that in the pen. The prod helped convince them to move to the trailer side of our barrier, and since they couldn’t get their piggy snouts under it, they were trapped. At this point, the prod did become effective. Caught between me (with prod) and the nice empty trailer, one, then two, then 5 were suddenly in. The last three were the toughest, but they joined the group and it was all over. 8 little piggies, sitting in the trailer, waiting for the morning and their date with the nailer.
Meanwhile, Miriam and Annie went to Carrboro with Chris, and had a nice walkabout on Franklin street. Miriam used her time wisely to buy a plum tart for desert. It was the one bright spot in the day.

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Tuesday, Sept. 25th, 2012

September 25th, 2012 Comments off

Today was Daren’s last day with us, and while we are glad he is on his way to his next adventure, we will miss him greatly. He has been a blessing to this farm since February, and we wish him God speed, with our blessings. We are glad that his long odyssey to leave here riding his own running, titled, and tagged bike with a valid motorcycle endorsement on his license was a reality. How far he gets down the road remains to be seen, but he met his goal.
After chores, Miriam and Annie spent their day in the garden planting. I’m told it looks great, and I will add a picture to this post when I can. I spent the day at Breeze, pulling up the sweet potato vines, the plastic mulch, and then digging and loading our year’s crop of sweet potatoes. They are some of the biggest SP’s we have ever grown; unfortunately, something has been eating them underground and many are only fit for animal food. But we will have plenty for the gala.
That’s all for today.

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Monday, Sept. 24, 2012

September 24th, 2012 Comments off

I’m pleased to record that we have a new member of our farm family, Annie Rodriguez, a young lady wwoofer from Chatham county to the south. Annie will be with us until November, we think, and perhaps she can partially mitigate our sadness at Daren’s departure tomorrow.
After milking, we had our little meeting and planned out the day. Miriam tackled the basil, Daren and Annie assembled a new round bale feeder and put it out for the dairy cows. I worked on pulling up the remaining tomatoes, i.e., getting the stakes, wires, and mulch up so the area could be tilled which Daren did once I was done. Miriam, Daren, and Annie did some planting, but we now have a lot of space to fill in the next week.
At 3:30 the vet came to look at Genna. The diagnosis wasn’t encouraging; not terrible, but not great. Bottom line, we can return her to active production, but the rash and scabs she has on her udder are very communicable and we will have to be scrupulous about how we handle her so as not to infect the other cows. The vets recommendation is to get her out of the herd asap, and since she is a marginal producer, I agree. So, we will be taking her to the auction before too long. After dinner at Diane’s, Chris and I met with Erin to plan Gala details. Our crew is watching “The worlds fastest Indian”. 10-4.


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Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012

September 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Surprisingly, we were not up at 6:30 with Eli and Elayna, who both slept in until 8:00. With Genna still requiring special treatment, we didn’t finish milking until 10. Chris decided that trying to take the kids to Sunday School would be a stretch, so I headed out for church alone at 11:00. Following church Chris and I headed to Tim and Jaimie’s to return their little munchkins, and Miriam went off to Bennett Place with Michelle Lewis, one of our farm friends. Bennett Place is a local civil war site and was holding a reenactment show today.

Bennet Place

Everybody got home around 4:30, and we had about an hour before milking again, after which we all went to dinner at a very nice Chinese restaurant in Chapel Hill as a Goodbye dinner for Daren, who plans on leaving Tuesday.. And that’s it! Not a lot of farming went on, but a good day nevertheless.

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Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012

September 22nd, 2012 Comments off

I found myself wondering this morning as I was choreographing the Woodcrest milking dance whether any dairy farmer anyplace ever has a week where all the cows are healthy and productive and the process is blessedly routine. Genna just calved and we are reserving her milk for the time being, and Dot had some mastitis so we are doing the same with her milk, and all of this adds at least 30 minutes to the overall job. So, I never got breakfast by the time my blacksmithing student showed up at 10. We worked until about 12:30, when the Nicholas School students showed up. They stayed until almost 2:00.
Eli and Elayna arrived around 4:30 and we played inside until 5:30 when we all went out to milk. With their help, I wasn’t finished until about 7:00 when Chris and Miriam got home from the mountains. They had a good time and a good rest. We got the grandkids fed and bedded down by 8:30, and finally had punched out. Chris went to bed at 8:30 with the kids.

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Friday, Sept. 21, 2012

September 21st, 2012 Comments off

Our new calf, Red Penny, is doing fine and Genna is getting used to being in the milking parlor again. It hasn’t made milking any easier, because she seems to have some scabbiness on her teats which requires extreme care and cleanliness lest it is something communicable. I am wearing rubber gloves when I milk her just to guard against infecting the other cows. Or goats, for that matter.
When we finally finished milking, Chris and Miriam left for the mountains with Jenny Bryant. Apparently they had a good trip and stopped at the Appalachian Folk center off the Blue Ridge parkway.

Folk Art Center

Tonight they are staying in Hendersonville, and I think they are having a good time.
As for me, I spent several hours at Breeze digging sweet potatoes for the Mickens, mowing for the Kahns, and getting supplies from Hurdle Mills. Daren was at the DMV trying to get his motor cycle license and succeeded, at least in part. He is legal, finally, with a permit. He still has to pass a road test next week, but this is a big milestone. After evening milking I had dinner with the David Green’s in honor of Mykah’s 8th birthday coming up on Sunday. Bandido’s makes a fuss and gives the birthday celebrant fried ice cream, which Mykah really enjoyed. That’s the news for today!

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