Archive for August, 2014

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

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Sundays are supposed to be laid back and sleepy.  We tried, we really did, but I didn’t get to choir until 10:30 and Chris never made it to church at all.  Skylar wanted to milk something “all by herself” so she did both Starshine and Dottie    I think Demian got a video of it which we’ll hope to see someday.  They were  still here when I got home so we got to say a very heart-felt goodbye.  They were a blessing.

This afternoon I tried out the new lawnmower and it made short work of the overgrown yard.  So far, so good.

Tuesday we have about a ton of pork to get into the freezer so I started up the old Pine State freezer to see if it works.   It will turn into our surplus milk freezer if it does.   For dinner tonight we had BLT’s with our own bacon and tomatoes.  Delicious.   And that’s today on the farm!



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Saturday, August 30th, 2014

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This morning Chris and I decided to  a bit lazy because the milking was covered but at 7:50 we got a phone call in the bedroom from a young couple who had come to help out and found a new calf in the pasture, escaped bunnies all over the place, and no milkers in the kitchen.  All true.  Up and at ’em – we found Bonnie with her newborn little heifer in the pasture, carried the calf into the barn, milked Bonnie, corralled the escaped rabbits, got Chris and Dillan up – all before breakfast.

The rest of the day was more normal.  We had quite a few visitors and customers.  The bees got fed again, and the tomato trellises in the garden got put away.  This afternoon I finally “solved” the lawnmower problem by buying a zero-turn from Tractor Supply.   We’ll hope it was a good decision.

This evening Demian and Skylar cooked us a meal worthy of a high-class restaurant.  We had linguini with clam-sauce, a kale salad with Demian’s signature dressing, garlic bread, and green beans al dente with almonds.  Dessert was gourmet popsicles, and then we watched a great movie.

That’s Woodcrest Farm today, and we are heading for bed.

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Friday, August 29th, 2014

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Milking started the day as usual, and when we finished, I expected to have to go pick up all our pork.  But, the beef wasn’t done yet, so that was rescheduled for Tuesday.  Demian and Skylar worked cleaning up the barn, which resulted in a close encounter with a rusty nail and a trip to urgent care for him to get a tetanus booster. 

Chris and I took a break from farm tasks to go visit our new great-granddaughter Ava.  She is a cutie and likes sleeping on her great-grand pa’s tummy.

Beth cooked her signature squash lasagna for dinner tonight.  It is good enough to go in a cook book.

And that’s it for today on the farm!

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Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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I didn’t finish the blog last night so this will have to cover two days.  Yesterday is sort of a blur, but two events stand out.  Damien, Skylar, and I managed to get another 200 feet of fence posts in at Woodcrest East.  It was more work than our 1st 200 feet with 3 more men on hand, but we got ‘er done!  although it took until almost 7:00pm.   Later in the evening, Bob Carter got out his violin; I got out my guitar and we had a song-fest.  Demian and Skylar got an earful of some bluegrass and camp songs.  Skylar surprised her Dad with the news that she is taking up violin in the fall (maybe Mom knows this?) but she couldn’t have had a better intro than watching Bob effortlessly playing anything that was suggested.

Today farm life began, as usual, with milking, but this morning we also had romance.  Romance, that is, between Ranger and Fiona.  Its too soon, in my opinion for him – or her – to be thinking along those lines: her calf is only a month old.  But, Chris is all for it, so we left them together in the sweet Elysian fields.   I neglected to mention that yesterday at Woodcrest East I discovered that the pressure tank had sprung a leak.  Milking finished, at 10 AM today the plumbing folk responded to my call and arranged to install a new tank.

Most of the rest of the day I spent building the wedding platform with Demian and Skylar.  Here is the finished product, big enough to launch something wonderful on the 20th.

Beth made bacon today.  We are definitely going to be doing more bacon in the next few weeks.  And probably curing hams as well.  And that’s Woodcrest Farm Today!

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Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

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Milking this morning was a real community affair.  In addition to Joe and myself as the designated milkers, Damien and Skylar assisted in the milking parlor, and Bob and Hope Carter were on hand to get some pointers on home dairying.  They are associated with Moffatt Bible College in Kinjabwe, Kenya, and the school is planning to begin a dairy as a source of revenue, employment for students, and to improve the local diet.   Skylar is really into this stuff – she wants to try everything and pretty much can do most of the process herself, particularly with the goats.

Christopher and Dillan were on the job today.  They reassembled and delivered Keith Trollinger’s field roller which is finally fixed.  Next they loaded firewood at Woodcrest East and brought that home, and pulled up plastic and tomato stakes from the main garden.
Beth was directing garden efforts, as well as weeding, seeding, watering, and so forth.

I spent most of the morning with Chris developing the pork cut sheet directions for our 8 hogs.  It is always a bigger job than I think it is going to be.   With that done, Christopher, Dillan, Damien, Skylar, and I went to Woodcrest East to begin the fence project.    We completed the posts for the north side of pasture 2 – diagram included (left) for posterity.   Then we hurried home for our evening event – a pork rib BBQ provided by Diane, and a dessert for the church meeting with the Carters.  Dinner and dessert were in abundant supply, and the Carter’s had an interested audience for their stories about the mission field.

One last even of note:  Kona, a 7-week old female Red Border collie puppy came to live at the farm today all the way from Idaho. Chris is delighted with her to say the least.  I think that’s it for today on the farm

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Monday, August 25th, 2014

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After taking the weekend off, I’m back on the blog job.  Things were hopping on the farm today.  Beth was busy with weeding, planting, and all nature of produce-growing activities.  Joe cleaned out the stock trailer from its recent use carrying hogs, and then cleaned up the dairy feed area into the soil bank pile.  As for me, Beth and I milked, with the assistance of Damien and Skylar, who jumped right in and actually milked Dot and Beryl.

Our next job was to feed the bees and add a “food super” to one of our bee hives.  Damien and I donned headgear but nothing else, got a smoker working, and went at it.  Skylar was a safe distance away but I am pretty sure if I had a child-size bee suit she would have been right in the middle of it.  As far as we know, the bees are happy, well-fed, and didn’t mind our intervention.

Next we tackled the wood stove circulating pump.  We changed out the pump, replacing it with a new one.  Then I installed a new relay and got a fire going.  By late afternoon it was hot enough to circulate, and  when I turned the heat on, Voila!  So, we are all set for cold weather (although it is still hopefully some months away).  While Damien and Skylar fed calves, rabbits, and chickens, I moved on to the lawnmower.  The battery was replaced in a few minutes, but putting a tube in the rear tire was more challenging – and left me with a gash on my forehead from a tire iron.  Fortunately, Bob and Hope Carter showed up and I got expert medical treatment at the new Woodcrest clinic.

Chris made a delicious spaghetti dinner with our own tomatoes supplying the sauce.  Bob and Hope brought us up to date on their family and we reciprocated.   And that’s Woodcrest Farm Today!

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Thursday, August 21st, 2014

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This post will have to cover Tuesday – Thursday of this week.  Time must pass more quickly for me than for Julia – she packed a lot more into a day than I seem able to.  Oh well.

I cannot remember what we all did on Tuesday.  So that’s that.  Yesterday after milking, Joe and I got the stock trailer down into the pasture lined up with the hog pen in the hope that they would get used to it and load up easily for today’s trip to the beauty parlor.  Next we switched trailers and I set off for Sanford to pick up two bundles of 60 fence posts for the fence at WC East.  It won’t be the full number we need, but will go a long way.  I bought them from General Timber, a timber company in the middle of nowhere, and when I called around 3:30 to tell them I was on my way, I learned that they closed at 3:30.  But, bless their hearts, they stayed open until 4:00 when I got there.  It hadn’t helped that I got lost in the process.  Anyway, they loaded the trailer, and I had to drive out their gate to tie down my load so that they could close.  Which I did in the pouring rain.  But, we have our posts.

This morning I had urgent admin work to do while the guys milked, then we started with hog loading.  Leaving the trailer at their door was somewhat successful, but loading hogs is never easy (at least with our setup), and today was no exception.  5 went right in, 2 ambled in after awhile, but one porker was stubborn.  But, all 8 got loaded.   Next we loaded our three dwarf cows, and off I went to Piedmont Quality Meats, the new owners of Matkins.  We have a lot of pork coming.

Beth is pickled.  All the time.  Squash pickles, tomato pickles, kosher brine pickles, bean pickles, and probably a dozen I don’t know about.  She has recruited Amanda, so she is pickled too.

That’s it from Woodcrest Farm today!


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Monday, August 18th, 2014

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My day started with milking wet cows, actually, not all that bad – at least they aren’t muddy.   I went to bed last night with some sort of stomach bug and it hasn’t cleared through, so i am having to stick pretty close to the loo.  My day was spent mostly in the office and doing errands.

Beth, Amanda, and Shea worked in the gardens and kitchen preserving tomatoes; Joe was busy with pasture maintenance.

Today was Shea’s last day, and we will miss her.  She has been energetic, proactive, resourceful, and responsible.  That’s saying a lot.  We wish her well in her next endeavor.

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Saturday, August 16th, 2014

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It’s a lazy weekend day.  Dillan and Shea milked and then left with Shea’s aunt and uncle who came for a visit.  I had a leisurely breakfast and spent the morning talking to a WWOOFing prospect (Jen) and writing letters.   Beth, Joe, and Amanda were off on their own.  Young Logan came over to do a hive inspection and both hives are thriving.  We added a deep super to #1 and a food super to #2.

I still have not figured out why the lower barn lights aren’t working, but I am one step closer.   Well, that’s all for today.


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Friday, August 15th, 2014

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This morning began with a trip down to Siler City with 6 goats we no longer need or want – 5 of this year’s kids + Onyx.  Carolina Stockyards will auction them off and send us the proceeds, hopefully enough to justify raising them all these months.  Its not a lucrative  undertaking in any sense, but lets say we gross $350.00   What has it cost us in time + goat feed to raise them?   Probably as much or more, but then we would not have enriched the lives of countless little girls.

For Beth, Amanda, and Shea the rest of the day was primarily devoted to harvesting and canning.  I seem to recall some discussion of seeds, but the main evidence of activity was tomatoes cooking, jars boiling, and lids popping as they sealed.  We also sold a lot of beef and some pork, pretty much wiping out our inventory.

As for me – I made progress trouble-shooting on our wood stove circulating pump and started on the barn stall lights which Ryan and I were working on before he left.  I thought I had it licked when I found a broken connection in the line, but there is still something mis-wired, I’m embarrassed to say.

It should be obvious that I am a poor substitute for Julia, but will keep soldering on as best I can.

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