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Archive for July, 2015

Friday, July 24th, 2015

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It has been a hectic, harrowing, but productive week at Woodcrest Farm.  We have been short-handed all week, so Keegan Huntington and Ori Awai have been helping out for morning milking, and Stephen has been doing the evening milking mostly single-handed.   In between, we have been trying to keep up with the livestock chores, harvesting and maintaining the gardens, and working on the new pasture at East.  I’m relieved to report major progress there – the beef herd is now in new quarters on the west side of Woodcrest Farm Lane, having moved across the street around 4:00 on Wednesday.  There is lots to do yet with the pastures, but the immediate job of getting the pasture fenced, electrified, and a water line put in has been finished.

Last weekend David finished up the catwalk in the barn so people about 5′ tall can walk from one loft to the other – or just sit up there and observe things.  I don’t know what we were thinking when we designed it for small-ish people to walk across – who in the world is going to use it?  Cats, perhaps.  But, its impressive, and thanks to David, safe.

Wednesday and Thursday we had the excitement of seeing David and Sandi’s new house arrive in two HUGE halves (72′ x 16′) and towed up their hill and set on the foundation.  Glory to God!  It really is happening.  Its going to be a beautiful house.

Wednesday afternoon Eli and Elayna arrived at RDU with Jaimie to spend a few days and get transported to Assateague.   Eli helped milk Thursday, and both of them got reacquainted with all of their farm friends, most notably Tucker.

Casey King is now officially on the farm.  She has been learning the ropes with Stephen and Beth tutoring in livestock and garden jobs, and there’s nothing like getting thrown in at the deep end to facilitate learning.   That’s because Chris and I are off (as of today) to Assateague island with our family for the next week.   It hasn’t been an auspicious beginning to a vacation.   Chris has been suffering from a broken shoulder which has been (too) slowly healing, and then for the past several days has developed pain in her knee.   A visit to the orthopedist yesterday resulted in a diagnosis of arthritis, and after a bad night last night she opted to get a cortizone shot before leaving town – and access to medical care.  So, we got underway at noon instead of 10am as planned.  We still would have been OK, but we stopped in South Hills VA (about 1.5 hrs up the road) to for supplies and snacks at Walmart, and at the checkout counter I handed her the car key and told her I would meet her at the car; then headed for the rest room.  Back at the van we got the kids back in their car seat, and I asked her for the key.  No key.  Thus started a 2 hour ordeal.  We looked every place, but no key.  We began calling locksmiths, car dealers, and even 911.  No key.  By 5:15, with all the locksmiths unavailable, car dealers useless, and no key turned it to the “courtesy” counter, our only option left was to ask David and Sandi to drive up with the truck and one of their vehicles, transfer everything to the truck, get to Assateague to meet Tim and Jaimie, and then somehow get the van towed to a dealer who could make one of the “secure” programmed keys sometime next week.  Not a great prospect.  That’s when Chris had the thought that somehow she might have dropped the key in the trash while throwing away some toothbrush packaging.   So, off I went to Walmart’s trash room to pick through the last 2 hours of lobby trash.  It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and just before I gave up the job as hopeless I spotted something black and plastic in the melange of detritus at the bottom of the bag I was exploring and – unbelievably,  there it was.  Thank you Lord!

Back on the road, we couldn’t make up that delay so we are now safe and sound in a Budget Inn on Rt. 13, about an hour south of Assateague.  We chose this because trying to set up at 10:30 with two sleepy children was more than Chris could stomach, and more than I wanted to do by myself.  Enough, already.

So, that’s the day on and off the farm.  We hope the folks at home had an easier time, but they missed the thrill of finding that key when all hope was lost.   We find it easy to be grateful to God when things like this happen.

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Thursday, July 16th, 2015

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To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.  This week we have had to adjust to several changes, some good, some hard.  Most significantly, Sydney decided to end her stay with us for personal reasons and took her leave yesterday.  She really loved the goats and cattle and was a great help while she was here.   All the best, Syd!

Simultaneously, our grandson, Noah, left for military service with the Army National Guard on Monday.  Noah was interim livestock intern while waiting for Darcy Deaton (due 8/24).   To top it off, we were expecting another WWOOFer last week who never showed up, so we are pretty short-handed.  I am milking every morning with Mykah or Jaryn doing a lot of the bottling, and Stephen is taking the evening shift.

There is good news:  Casey King, a recent NC state grad, is going to join us next week (along with George) as Marketing Intern.   Maybe we will get our website and marketing info updated and broadcast where it needs to go.

The push for this next week is to get our lawns and borders trimmed and the cows sorted out up at East.   We have to (a) get equipment fixed (b) finish the pasture at East and (c) corral the bulls we are taking to the beauty parlor next Monday.

After milking this morning  I played hookey from farm work and went hiking with my daughter Amy.  We hiked an 11-mile section of the Eno River trail, a nice easy jaunt.   And that’s today at Woodcrest Farm.

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Friday, July 10th, 2015

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It has been a sad day here at the farm.  We got milking underway in good time with lots of help from volunteers, and were finishing up around 9:30.  Our last task was to milk Bonnie for colostrum for her newborn calf, but she was nowhere in sight.  I did a tour of the pastures, but didn’t find her, and then Stephen, Syd, and I did a more thorough tour.  Tragically, Stephen found her, dead, down in the weeds in goat land.   It was most likely toxemia – calcium deficiency – which occurs post-partum and can kill in a few hours.  We should have kept  her in a upper pasture where we could keep an eye on her, at the very least.  But that’s just hind-sight.  She was a sweet cow and I am sad to lose her.

And then the disposal had to be addressed.   In the old days farmers would drag the carcass out into the woods and let nature take its course.    There’s no place on our acreage where I want to do that, so it meant loading the remains into the truck and driving up to Person county to a landfill.  Its a long way, and I spent most of the afternoon doing it.

For dinner, the household went to Bandido’s for Noah’s going away party.  It was a good meal, and it was a good note to end the day on.  So, that was today on Woodcrest Farm.

 

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Thursday, July 9th, 2015

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A lot was happening at Woodcrest Farm today!  Noah, Jaryn, and I were milking and ripped through it in pretty short order.  Jaryn (8) is actually a good help in the setup and gets to work on time better than some, ahem, more mature workers.  I got buried in the office for a couple of hours completing paperwork for Woodcrest East, doing email, and the like.  Syd, Noah,  and Stephen were working on chores and spiffing up the farm.  We also had a bunch of visitors, and around 2:30,  and I was waiting for the Wood-Maxx delivery by 3:00.  I was setting up the tractor to unload the delivery when Chris noticed that Bonnie had just had her calf!  So, right around 3:00 we had a new calf to take care of, a freight delivery, and a few other complications, like I had errands to run that needed to be done by 5:00.  But, we got everything all sorted out eventually, and we had a good evening.   I’ll get a picture of the new calf in tomorrow.  Bonnie’s calf’s  tentative name is Ocean.  I think it has the grand-daughter imprimatur but we’ll find out.

And that’s the day at Woodcrest Farm!  Whew.

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Monday, July 6th, 2015

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Today on the farm was, for me, pretty much milking and then drowned in the office.  Others had more fun.  After chores, Syd, Stephen, and Noah worked on pasture maintenance (mostly bush-hogging) and snake wrangling.  That’s right folks.   Stephen arrested a black racer (like a common black snake except that it is thinner and faster) in the barn and was preparing to dispatch it, when Syd – evidently opposed to capital punishment even for snakes – intervened and ran madly down to the woods to release it.  At that point Chris – who has no love for chick and baby rabbit eating snakes – convinced Syd to bring the snake to justice, and it was summarily executed by machete and thrown to the hogs.  This place is better than Blue Bloods.

Meanwhile,  I had been in conference with the Duke Engineer about the new power line easements at East.   Apparently we are going to be applying for a building permit sooner than we thought.   Also, another time consuming task was submitting last year’s W2’s for the farm, which I had evidently prepared and sent out to our employees, but hadn’t actually submitted to SSA.  Busted.

Every day is exciting here at Woodcrest Farm.

 

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Sunday, July 5th, 2015

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Welcome back if you have been FullSizeRenderlooking for posts for the past week+.  I have been attending to Grandpa duties in NY for much of that time, and swamped since our return. So, my grandpa report is shown =>=>, son Benjamin and grandson Sawyer.  Ben looks pretty happy, and he should be.  His son is beautiful, and Ben is going to be a wonderful dad.

Back on the farm, things went along pretty well with no real crises.  A huge storm felled several trees nearby, but nothing hit our fences.  There still is a lot of mud and debris to clean up, but nothing we can’t handle.  Chris predicted that as soon as we left, our Border Collie female, Amber, would whelp, and she did – we have 5 little B&W male puppies, and one little red female.   Bonnie and Sunshine are still holding out on calving, but Bonnie is very close – any day now.

As promised, we finally have a picture of Syd on the tractor – she is bush-hogging the maternity ward – too bad I couldn’t get Bonnie into the picture too.   This was yesterday, July 4th, and we weren’t really working much other than on essential chores, but I had just fixed the bush hog so she decided it was a good chance to confirm to everyone that she really can drive the tractor.  Beside the bush hog, I spent a little time hooking up the new water line at East, and we now have water to the new pasture we were working on.  Lots of tidy up work to do, but progress is being made.   Last evening, Stephen took Syd along for an evening flight, and rumor has it that she got to fly the plane for a little bit.  Hopefully, it wasn’t when they were buzzing the farm!  There also was a bonfire down at the pond for the under 30-set; Chris and I decided to go see Jurassic World – good fun, implausible to say the least, but nicely done.

Today we are mostly relaxing.  Milking and chores are getting done, but other than that, we are all resting up for the women’s FIFA match tonight, when there will be a FIFA-Championship party here.  Its a tough life here on Woodcrest Farm Today.

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