Tuesday, Aug. 25th, 2015

August 25th, 2015 Comments off

Progress was made today on several fronts.   Milking was uneventful and pretty quick due to Jaryn’s great help before she had to start school.  Darci and I were out of there by 9:30.  We (at least, I) ate a leisurely breakfast and headed for the office, only to find that our broadband connection was down.  Good old AT&T – when I called in the problem, the only information I could get was that it was going to be fixed within 24 hours, helping neither David or Brett, both of whom had work-at-home to do.  David bailed out and went to his office; Brett decided to do something else, namely get his Metro in somebody’s queue to be fixed.  Casey couldn’t work on the website so she helped Stephen in the barn and at East; I worked on offline stuff in the office for awhile and then tackled the seeder again.  With one thing and another we all kept pretty busy.  The Metro is at Sturdivant’s for diagnosis and – hopefully – repair; the seeder is working, although it still needs some “tweaking”; the pond area got mowed and cleaned up; the fence at East got tightened and debrided; Chris sold a puppy; Beth smoked a chicken and some bacon; and when the our broadband connection was restored everybody cheered.  That’s pretty much it for  Woodcrest Farm today.

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Monday, Aug. 24th, 2015

August 24th, 2015 Comments off

Today was Brett’s 1st official day at his new job and he was long gone by the time I joined Darci in the milking parlor.  Fiona is on maternity leave waiting for her calf, so it was Heidi, Tyra, Sunshine, and Starshine.  They are all in high gear at the moment so we have plenty of milk.  Due to Dot’s retirement, we only have 4 goats to milk, which is a relief.  Casey got back while we were still milking.  Welcome back, Casey! Beth is starting her fall CSA, and was working on veggies in the hoop house.  I did admin work in the AM, and then brought the seeder home from East and worked on restoring it to use.  It will be a miracle if we ever plant anything with it, but I’m trying.  We finally got some rain today, so Darci and Casey were working on various stages of marketing.  Other than that, I don’t have much else to report.  We definitely need pictures in this blog, so that will be a priority for tomorrow.  That’s the day’s highlights here at Woodcrest Farm.

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Saturday, Aug. 22d, 2015

August 22nd, 2015 Comments off

Just a brief weekend entry for today – Darci and Brett took the morning milking shift and the only news to report is that Fiona went into the maternity ward for observation.  I refilled the John Deere with oil and it seems to work fine; fixed the barn sink; remounted the seeder tire, and finished the bush-hogging up at East.  We had visitors all day and actually had time to spend talking and showing people around.  But, in general, a quiet day here at Woodcrest.

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Friday, Aug. 20th, 2015

August 21st, 2015 Comments off

We were all up early this morning to load goats for the auction at Siler City.  Last night Darci had penned up the candidates and I had the trailer ready to go, so this morning around 8:00 AM we loaded 7 of them into the little trailer and Jaryn and I set off for the auction.

We arrived around 8:45 and got our 7 unloaded, tagged, and ready to sell, then went for breakfast at the Stockyard restaurant.  After that we wandered around the stockyard walkways for an hour  seeing all the livestock for sale, and around 10 went into the auction auditorium to wait for it to start.  My plan, BTW, had been to drop the goats off and come home, but Jaryn wanted to see the actual auction, and I’m glad we did.  The sale got underway around 11 with a group of about 30 goats – none of them ours –  which took about 45 minutes to auction.  The prices were very good, and I’m hoping ours did as well.  Our goats came in with the second group around noon, and we were able to stay long enough to see two sold at good prices.  Jaryn had an afternoon activity that we had to get back for.

The most interesting(!) thing that happened this afternoon was that the oil drain plug fell out of the John Deere while Stephen was bushhogging up at East and 12 quarts of oil drained out.  He didn’t know it until the oil light came on and the tractor quit.  I went up with Big Orange to tow him home, and against all odds, found the plug in the long grass where the first spill had occurred.  I bought oil for it, and will refill it tomorrow, and am just praying that it quit because it knew it should, not because it seized up.

Beth is still pickling things.  Brett wired some outlets in the barn in their “living room”.  Stephen was bushhogging.  I was fixing things.  Keegan was – well, I don’t know.  Chris was making calls and lining up a gym membership.  But we were all busy.  I’m tired.  It has been a long day here at Woodcrest Farm.

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Wednesday, Aug. 19th, 2015

August 19th, 2015 Comments off

Morning broke today with milking as usual, with Jaryn and myself in the parlor and Darci doing the bottling.  The cows are settling down a little, particularly since we are keeping Old Ranger down in the south pasture while the ladies come up to be milked.  He is not very happy with that, but tough.  New mothers deserve at least 6 weeks off.   Sunshine emerged from quarantine, passing her mastitis test with flying colors, or more accurately, no significant color from the CMT  (California mastitis test).  That’s a relief – she has had a life-long problem with that particular quarter and it always is a worry.  Tyra is still producing some colostrum which her baby is getting 2d hand via Darci, but she should be back online in the next few days.  Bottom line:  we will have A LOT of surplus milk.  There is going to be a lot of cheese and yogurt getting made.

The rest of the day had its share of problems, but no disasters that we know of.  The Deaton’s new Geo Metro got cranky and quit on the way to town, and I don’t know if Brett has trouble-shot(?) the problem.  Yet to come.  We got a feed order.  We had a calf escape up at Woodcrest East, so I energized the bottom wire – we’ll try that for a few days.   A tip for non-farmers:  typically,  the bottom wire doesn’t need to be energized because at 10 inches off the ground, nothing important is going to go under it, and it is most susceptible to shorts from weeds.  But this little calf had evidently discovered it wasn’t hot, and was popping himself right under.   At least I’ve given him something to think about.

Beth is pickling everything in sight.  We are going to have Okra, tomatoes, and cucumber pickles of various varieties.  I love pickles.

Great dinner tonight – some sort of ground-beef stroganoff, courtesy of Darci and Brett.  And that’s today at Woodcrest Farm.


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Tuesday, Aug. 18th, 2015

August 18th, 2015 Comments off

It was a lo-o-o-n-g day today at Woodcrest.   We started milking, as usual, around 8:00 AM, with Heidi, Fiona, and Starshine in and out in short order.  Next up: Sunshine, complicated by the fact that she is still in our “maternity ward” due to her mastitis treatment and also our bull’s amorous and relentless attentions due to her recent delivery.  Darci brought her ove r (accompanied closely by a randy Ranger) but there were no real problems.  Sunshine in and out, with the only complication being using a dedicated pail and the quarter-milker.  Exit Sunshine.   Then Darci invited Tyra to keep her appointment with the Milkman.  Tyra decided instead to join her colleagues in the lower pasture.  Rounding up Tyra took young, agile, and speedy Brett and Keegan and old and slow yours truly to get her back up top to Darci and a bucket of food.  Even then, she was distracted by her calf in the barn stall and took a lot of convincing to come into the parlor.  Once milked, I let her out expecting to lead her back to the maternity ward with a lead rope and she took me on a Nantucket sleigh ride up and down the pasture.  Well, to make a long story short, we finally got her back where she belonged.

All was quiet until afternoon milking.  This time we were better prepared, but Tyra was not much happier – just had less options.  We were all glad of the delicious supper Chris cooked, and had a good evening.

I spent a lot of the afternoon trouble-shooting our milking machine pump.  It has been losing vacuum, but after a call to the mfg. I serviced it and it seemed to work better tonight.

Darci and Brett made progress with their transportation needs: they found a little Geo Metro that should be pretty economical for Brett’s trips back and forth to NCSU this fall.  It will be better than a motorcycle.

Other things got done, but mostly pretty much the standard chore list.  That’s the day here on Woodcrest Farm!

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Monday, Aug. 17th, 2015

August 17th, 2015 Comments off

As usual, it was a busy AND eventful day at the farm.  First, some background info since my last post (much too long ago, I know).  Chris and I went to the Maryland shore from July 24 – Aug. 3d, so not much got noted in our absence.  We have had some personnel changes:  Darci and Brett Deaton arrived on August 2d, Darci to assume livestock intern duties, and Brett to keep Darci happy.  Brett is working this year at NCSU while Darci tends cows, goats, etc.  Casey King has come aboard to assume Marketing and Comm. intern duties, a position that we hope will become permanent.  When I mention them in future posts, they will not be strangers.

It was a busy weekend – we have beef again, not a lot, but it was selling well.  I had 3 for my blacksmithing class, and many other visitors.  Today we got started on milking, with Sunshine still recovering from post-partum mastitis.  We are reserving her milk, so we don’t have a lot of surplus.  At 11 Chris, Casey, and I met with the OC Ag Econ. Devl agent to discuss our WIP application for an Ag Econ.  Devl.  grant.   Darci and Brett spent all afternoon with the NC DMV (Ouch!), while I made calls, and so forth until about 3:3o when multiple balloons went up.  Beth called from East to tell me that cows out of hay, were outside the fence and the fence was off; Keegan came in with the news that the freezer alarm was going off; and time was getting short to get to the bank.  Keegan and took a quick look at the freezer, enough to realize that the problem was probably transient, and he headed back to East along with Stephen to round up cows.  By the time I arrived with the tractor, the escapees were back inside, so I fed them, fixed the charging problem, and came back home to get to the bank.  So, everything ended well, and in the midst of all this, Tyra had her calf, making the second one delivered this week.  We haven’t had time to get the calf into the barn yet, so it will be one of our challenges tomorrow.

Whew!  This is not an atypical day, just sort of a normal Woodcrest Farm today.


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Friday, July 24th, 2015

July 24th, 2015 Comments off

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

July 16th, 2015 Comments off

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

July 10th, 2015 Comments off

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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