Painting the Gate

It’s been five years since we first moved to the farm. A lot has changed since we arrived. You may recall, I had cows coming home and no fence to keep them in about the same time I had chickens ordered and no coop. Yep, that happened. (It seems to be a recurring theme for me and started long before the farm.) Mike and my dad were there to save the day once again!

One rainy night that first summer Mike and my dad went up to Grandma’s farm to pick up some old fence posts and barb wire that she said was in the back of the barn. When they were heading back my husband called and said “Boy do we have a surprise for you!”

After I got home from work we walked through the dark and rolling thunder to our barn. There against the wall was an old gate. He didn’t have to say a word. I knew exactly where that gate came from. I was so excited to be able to use it!

The gate was blackened with years of motor oil that had been painted on for weather proofing. I remember being allowed to swing on Grandma’s garden gate but we weren’t to touch the corral gate because the oil would ruin our clothes. By that time the animals were gone as far as I can remember. When the fence line was finally taken down nothing went to waste and the gate, still in good shape, was stored in the barn.

The old gate has been keeping the cows in our pasture and now it’s my turn to paint the gate.

I put the little Miss in some old clothes and we set out to the barn. She carried the paint brushes while I carried the jug of used oil. She was pretty excited to be able to help with a “big girl” job. I filled us each a small container of oil and gave her a warning “do not get any on your clothes.” –you can laugh its ok. I knew as well that was going to be a joke. There was no way that she was going to make it more than one brush stroke before it would be on her clothes. But, in trying to be a good mama I needed to at least say the words.

She worked at her eye-level for a while, then over by me and then it happened.

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Lining Up the Ducks

Really?! Ducks?! -Clyde

My last attempt to ready a spot for wintering the ducks. I spent my time this weekend installing a duck fence around the bottom of the goat pen. This summer the ducks made a sloppy mess of the south chicken run, the rain was no help in the matter either. Unfortunately their water loving habits don’t let up just because it snows and I won’t have then ruin the floor of the coop this winter.

As much as I like eating duck I was really hoping for eggs from these guys and don’t want to eat the birds. I was going to keep Henrietta and Lucky and let the rest go. I put them up for sale or free online. One found a new home and the gal who said she wanted the rest was a no-call/no-show. This seems to be the way a lot of online deals go. A little common courtesy would be nice. That’s ok though, I didn’t really want to give them up.

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You $*@+=%!# Cow!

Lucy in the pasture
Lucy in the pasture

Agh! I have had it! Between the never ending fence and the lack of cow milking going on around here, I could just scream. I have decided I am going to build an actual milking stanchion. No more of this dancing around the barn and chasing cows in or out to where ever they are supposed to be.

I had Lucy trained so well I could have milked her just loosely tied to the fence rail with no problem. It was determined that I was too pregnant to milk at the time, so no pen was set up to separate Elvis and Lucy. I am quite positive I could have sat on the barn floor and milked her just fine. Getting up would have been a sight, but I was always alone in the barn anyway.

After the little Miss was born and I was back to doing chores, we got a pen together for Elvis. I started working with Lucy again. She walked on a lead rope just fine but anything else… nope. She was not having any of it. The other two were no help in the matter either. Every time I step into the pen they start to play musical feeders; horn to rump pushing each other out of the way. It makes it very difficult to accomplish much. I did shut the other two outside a time or two. That worked okay but I spent more of the time I had, chasing cows rather then working with Lucy.

I know it’s not all Lucy’s fault, I should have kept up working with her through the last couple weeks of pregnancy and maternity leave. I whimped out, it was cold, my coveralls didn’t fit and I was tired. All poor excuses but that’s all I’ve got. She didn’t need to go and forget everything we worked so hard on up to that point though either!

As far as the fence goes, we have been almost done for quite some time now. I might as well sing the song that never ends when I am out working on it.

“This is the fence that never ends. Yes it goes on and on my friend. Someone started stringing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue stringing it forever just because…” (repeat) Ahhh!
My fencing rendition of the 1988 “Song that never ends” by Norman Martin.

We got the wood posts in and started stringing the barbed wire. Then decided we need a couple more gates, added a couple more posts to support those. Next the steel posts went in. Insulators on those and started stringing the hot wire. Added more insulators to the wood posts. Reworked how the electric would run to adjust for the new gates. Almost had everything strung and ready to turn on when we realized all five wire gates need to be redone so they don’t short out the whole thing when unhooked.

In the mean time the cows have been allowed into the first paddock to graze while I am home. Chest high grass and alfalfa for them to eat and Elvis has to climb through my temporary gate to eat what’s one the other side (it’s the same thing!). At this point I don’t need a rope and halter to take him for a walk. We go for an evening walk quite regularly lately.

This weekend, that fence is going to be finished. It has to be.

Wheezy and Elvis
Wheezy and Elvis
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Fencing Again

“Hang on. Hang on.” Little boy was saying, with his arms outstretched standing behind me; his words for a piggy back ride. We were standing in the middle of the pasture and he was tired. Tired of walking and tired in general. A day of fencing in the sun with mama can wear a little boy out. We put up most of the barbed wire on the wood posts lining the perimeter earlier. Now it’s time to put in the steel posts to divide the pasture into five paddocks for rational grazing.

His snack in hand, I pulled him onto my back and on we went. Boy on back, post pounder in one hand and roll of bailer twine in the other. Packed up like a mule, up the hill we went. We paced the pasture, pounding corner posts (little boy had to stand for that. He “helped” hold the post.), then stringing the twine between them. This is a very important step for me when it comes to fencing for a few reasons. The first day I went out to set the steel posts I had a perfectly straight line of posts. When I had finished that run, I stood back to admire my work only to realize I angled it in the wrong direction. On the bright side the ground is still soft, so the posts are a little easier to pull.

As you saw last year when we were setting posts with my dad and brother it had to be precise. If dad came to visit and saw I put in rows of crooked posts I run the risk of driving him nuts and possibly trying to fix them. If he is going to come up here and work I’d rather him help with something that hasn’t already been done. No sense in doing something twice. Actually half those posts I have put in at least twice already. I tell yah…
Fencing in 2014

Over the next few days, I spent nap times putting in the posts and let the little boy “help” dig the sod out of the new flower bed. Even the little miss gets in on the fencing. I’d hate to leave someone out of the fun.

Lunch time for the little miss.

One more good day of work and this project will finally be done. Hopefully.


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A Mid-Summer Update

Wildflowerfarm.orgSummer is a very busy season around here and sitting down to the computer is just not something I like to make time for. On the rainy days I usually have so much house work backed up that that is what needs to be done. Writing is better done in the winter, when I can cozy up to a hot cup of coffee and stay warm by the fire.

So far this summer we have planted the garden, very late. Between the late planting and cool wet weather everything is very behind. Except the weeds, they are doing very well! I did spread a thick layer of straw between the rows and that has helped quite a lot.

The wire around the corral is up and ready for the cows to come home. No, they are not here yet. Like I said things have been busy here and everybody has day jobs too. The husband and my dad have been putting in long hours working up here though.

We were able to get our first cutting of hay baled yesterday. By “we” I mean, the husband, my dad and the neighbor. Unlike everyone else, I have a night job. I was quite disappointed to miss the haying. Aside from allergies, I really enjoy throwing bales. It’s a very satisfying job and at the end of the day feels like a good accomplishment. There will be plenty of other opportunities though.

The chickens are living in the coop! It’s not totally finished yet either. But they have a place to live anyway and seem to enjoy it. Which is good, because Stinks at 2 more guinea hens. I was not happy with her!

The dandelion wine is still happily fermenting as well as a batch of columbine flower wine too!

I’ve been taking stock of the flowers in each bed so next year I will know what I want to keep and move and what can go. There isn’t much but what there is, is a nice variety.

The basement has dried out for now too!

Our fox is back too! He’s pretty cute, but could be a problem with the chickens. I haven’t decided if I should “take care” of him before or after he eats the chickens. I’d like to do it before, on the other hand, I’d like to think the best of him and think he will leave them alone. There are plenty of mice for him to eat instead. We will see about this.

That’s the quick summery of what’s been going on around here.

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