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Archive for October, 2012

Tuesday, Oct. 30th, 2012

October 30th, 2012 Comments off

Farming today was limited to milking (the pulsator is working again – I used a hair dryer to warm it up this morning and it worked fine. Coincidence?), chores, and framing out the pump house. We used up all the 2×4’s and Ryan had to run to town for more. Chris had sewing class and home-school class. Wild children.

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Sunday, Oct. 28, Monday, Oct. 29th, 2012

October 29th, 2012 Comments off

The news all over the US East coast has been about Hurricane Sandy. Yesterday, Sunday, was supposed to be the worst day for NC, but here in the center of the state we had sporadic rain. Work on the farm was minimal. We spent the day indoors.
Today was much colder and rainier. Other than feeding livestock and milking, we didn’t do much. Milking has been made more difficult by the cold, and by persnickety pulsators on the milking machine. I have tried to service them without much success. I am having to “assist” them manually, which slows everything down. Dairying is never easy, but cold, dark mornings and evenings, and dickey equipment really build character. Most of the afternoon was devoted to taking Noah on a college tour while Tonya and Ryan held the fort. .

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Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012

October 28th, 2012 Comments off

Our weekend days start out like every other day with morning milking, but seem less pressured – almost a vacation. I held Open Forge this morning and had 3 students. Chase, Joe, and Michael. Joe’s dad Scott and Ryan assisted and we had a good session. The kids made hooks, mostly, and did very well and seemed proud of themselves.
After the kids left, Ryan and I continued to work with personal projects. I finished up a spoon I had begun at the fair, worked on a new concept for a forged dragon’s head, and most importantly, finished Miriam’s little mouse. I was going to send her one I made last week, but its tail was unbalanced and I wasn’t completely happy with it, so I made a new one. Miriam's Mouse

Ryan decided to forge the family name in steel letters, and the result was quite good considering he had about 10 minutes of instruction.

About 5pm Tonya came out to remind me that the hot water pressure needed attention. My suspicion was that the domestic hot water coil in the woodstove was probably corroded and clogged, and since I don’t have a replacement, I used a workaround to bypass the coil, and sure enough, pressure is better. We still have some anomalies with the water pressure, but I’ll tackle that some other day.
Dinner was a wonderful gift provided by Diane and Tonya. Diane brought over chicken pot pie and butternut squash soup. Tonya made a pumpkin pie from scratch, remarkable young woman. Everything was delicious and much appreciated. I include this last to offset the feelings some readers may have of “these poor people – do they ever have a day when everything goes right?” Well, today was pretty close.

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Friday, Oct. 26th, 2012

October 26th, 2012 Comments off

Besides the usual milking and other chores, our day was spent on three projects:

  1. Processing 7 sick chickens to at least save the meat
  2. Getting product ready for 4 CSA’s to be picked up on Saturday
  3. Pouring the slab for the pump house for the Breeze West project

All of us worked on the chickens. It was Ryan and Tonya’s first experience with slaughtering, and they took it in stride. I don’t think I will ever get used to it, but I do it. Chris has the worst job – actually cleaning the birds but she is quick at it. Tonya and Chris did the CSA prep, and Ryan and I went up to Breeze to take delivery of the cement. We finished pretty quickly with it, and I’m pleased with the result, especially because we got it done before it rains this weekend.
Pump House Slab at Breeze West Well
After evening milking, we celebrated a hard week completed at Banditos.

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Thursday, Oct. 25th, 2012

October 25th, 2012 Comments off

Wilson arrived bright and early to help with the milking, and we got that done pretty quickly. We are milking 3 cows and 2 goats in the morning, so the time is beginning to stretch out. I had a few minutes to get breakfast and then set out with Mykah and Jaryn for the Pioneers activity on the Haw River trail in Burlington. We hiked a beautiful section of the trail along the Haw, and I was very proud of all the kids – they really did well.
After Pioneers, I set out for Breeze to form up the slab for the pump house I am building. Ryan and Daren had already been working on mulch-lifting by the time I arrived around 2:00. Ryan and I spent the next 3 hours building and leveling the slab forms while Daren worked on the mulch. We were glad to head for home around 5:00.
We have good news and bad news about our chickens. The good news is that they don’t have the most contagious disease; the bad news is that we have to keep them quarantined for 45 days. This means no selling chickens, which we don’t do anyway, but we also have to practice good bio-hygiene and keep contact to a minimum.
Milking was a little disappointing because Starshine has evidently been snacking on Fiona and we got nothing from her. Star has been banished to the upper pasture until she learns that big girls don’t nurse from Mom when they are a year old. And that’s our day.

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Wednesday Oct. 24th, 2012

October 25th, 2012 Comments off

This is a belated entry, short, because the last two days have been somewhat of a blur and nobody can remember all that went on. Wed. morning I had to take our sick chicken specimens to Rollins lab in Raleigh to find out what disease they had or have. Tonya, Ryan, and Chris all took over the morning milking and it was done by the time I got home. Most of the rest of my day was consumed in administrative work and getting together a pork order. Chris had a sewing class to teach; Tonya and Ryan spent a lot of time beautifying the garden. That was pretty much it as far as we can remember.

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Tuesday, Oct. 23d, 2012

October 24th, 2012 Comments off

The Ecstasy and the Agony of farming! Today we started out with a long list of items to fix, calls to make, and projects to move along, but the day was re-programmed when Ryan, who was fixing loose boards on the garden fence, heard a THUMP behind him, and when he turned around there was a brand new calf on the ground. Never having seen (or heard) this before, he was a little excited and ran up to get Chris who took charge, had Ryan bring the calf up to the barn, had me milk colostrum to feed it, and get the little Jer-Dex heifer started along the right path. Since it was Tuesday (sewing day) there were lots of little girls around the farm and they were delighted. Then Michelle, Kristen, and Chase Lewis showed up, so we had quite a receiving party for the new arrival. Little Dexey
We all spent time in the garden – Tonya and Ryan were cultivating, and Chase and I were lifting mulch and taking out the Okra. Chase on the DeereI have found a use for one of our old plows: by pulling it with the tractor instead of a team of horses I found I could nicely lift one edge of the mulch and then pull out the other edge. With a number of rows up at Breeze yet to do, I’m kind of excited.
The agony came late in the afternoon when chickens started dieing. Within the space of about an hour, we found 4 dead chickens with more sick and seemingly not long for this world. It was really discouraging, and with her love for chickens, particularly hard on Kristen. We called the vet, the state lab, and the word was “get the sick or dean birds to the lab and put tetracycline in the water”. So, we did, but we also know that we could lose the whole flock. Tomorrow we will take the specimens to the lab for necropsy to find out for sure.
Lastly, Ryan and I bought most of the supplies to finish Breeze West – Phase 1. We have to re-group a little tomorrow, but hope to get something done there as well.

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Friday, Oct. 19th – Monday, Oct. 22d, 2012

October 22nd, 2012 Comments off

This is a multi-day entry due to the frantic pace of the last few days. Friday and Sunday I spent the whole day at the state fair in the Heritage Forge demonstrating blacksmithing to all and sundry. I put in lots of hours on the forge, picked up some interesting ideas, and in general feel I did credit to the craft. This year I decided to do more forge welding and I think it was a hit. Somehow, all the welds took the first time, which was amazing. I made roped-handled spoons, basket handles, bracelets, hooks, and several G-clef chimes which were very popular.
Also, Friday I rode my bike to the fair and back. It was my first trip on the interstate, and my first long trip in the dark. The ride to the fair went fine, but the trip home, in the dark, at 65mph, was scary.
Saturday we did various chores, and then in the afternoon, Ryan, Tonya, and I went exploring the planned Pioneer’s hike for Thursday at Glencoe in Burlington. I rode my bike for this, too, and it was much better than riding in the dark. The Haw River Trail is neat, and when it gets all connected, it will be great.
Today we had a long day. Chris and I started milking around 7:30; at 8:45 I left for my banjo lesson; back home, Ryan and I loaded the tractor, bedder, and tiller onto the truck/trailer, packed some additional tools, and left for Breeze to meet Daren and Eddie Harris, the Breeze West Project pump contractor. Daren was there, but Eddie was not, so we continued on to Waterdog farm near Hurdle Mills where we had a tilling/bedding job to do. Ryan and I left Daren and all the equipment there and got back to Breeze to meet Eddie, who had arrived by this time. We discussed the pump house plans, and he started digging. Meanwhile, Ryan and I started digging up the water line for the hoop-houses across the road to fix a leak that had developed. We worked on various maintenance items until 5:00, when we picked up Daren and headed for home, with all the jobs done that we needed to get done.
Back at the ranch, Chris and Tonya were making applesauce and dinner, perhaps not as physical as Ryan and my day, but very much appreciated.

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Thursday, Oct. 18th, 2012

October 18th, 2012 Comments off

Today started with milking as usual, then quickly shifted to the Pioneers visit at 11:00. This week’s activity was to make camp soup over an open fire from one of our chickens (conveniently from the freezer). Chris had cooked it yesterday and it was ready for the kids to pick. We added potatoes, carrots, rice, and some greens “foraged” from the garden and let it cook for an hour. It was delicious and every bit got eaten. We also had “campfire apple pies” made from bread, apple pie filling, and toasted in our pie maker. They were all eaten too. Everybody had fun.
This afternoon I worked in the forge while Tonya continued gardening and Ryan finished the second rabbit cage. Dinner was delicious leftovers from the past few days.

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Wednesday, Oct. 17th, 2012

October 17th, 2012 Comments off

It was a busy day, but thank God, there were no deadlines hanging over us. We had a little “red alert” during milking because Dottie seemed listless and off her feed, and milk was a little lumpy. I hand-milked her just for safety’s sake, and then milked her again at 6:00, and she seemed fine. Ryan had a dental emergency and got an appointment with Dr. Davis in Hillsborough this morning, so Tonya had to take over as my helper getting round bales from Charles’ barn. We were in the process of putting them all away when Ryan got back and we finished the job.
After lunch Tonya worked in the garden while Ryan and I started on the hoop house footprint. We pulled up the old grape arbor posts, dug up all the debris in the intended perimeter, and then Ryan tilled up the whole area. Tomorrow we will try to get our corner posts located. Dinner was delicious beef burgers and potato/sage hash.
A long day, but productive.

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