Monthly Archives: January 2013

There are times…

when you just want to cry

Yep, and this week was one of them. Oh things were going well. As well as they get on a farm. We had huge plans and they were going great. I am still really depressed about this but yeah, it happened on our farm and I need to record it some way, right? So on Saturday we went and drove three and a half hours to pick up some goats. Not just any goats, angora goats. A fiber goat. We were picking up seven for us and one for Joan. Got the trailer all hooked up, got things all settled for them. It was great. The weather looked alright. We drove and drove, got a little lost, but that is alright. I realized that my children have not been lost often. I, however, have been lost many times over. It really is nothing to be scared of. We got to drive through an amazing forest, and those are the kinds of things that happen when you are lost. Anyway, we went and picked up the goats. On our way back we talked about our plans for them. It was all very exciting. Since the drive was so long, adding in our lost part, when we got back we only had an hour of light left. The girls went on quickly doing their chores. I went and heated up milk so we could bottle feed the baby cows. Jack started to unload the goats. Thinking back on this we have decided that if we only have an hour and one person to unload any animal we will wait until morning. We were all still dressed in town clothes, so not very warm. In fact I was wearing a pretty light weight skirt, we were going to be in the car most of the day and it was hot. Not outside though, it was fricking freezing outside. So we were all running around trying to get things done in the remaining light we had. The goats were freaked out. It wasn’t a good situation. Two decided that they could go through the fence. The rest followed. That begun a two hour, into the dark night, run after goats. They first went over to Joan’s. I joked with her at the time, you know when I thought we had the situation under control, that we decided to parade the goats over so she could see them. We have had animals get out before, it is no biggie. Grant and Joan joined us in trying to herd the goats back to the fence. Unfortunately, these goats seem to be speed demons. They could RUN. They run faster than any of us. They got out a gate on our land and out onto the road. Which they started following to town. We chased them for almost two miles, in the cold, in the dark, not wearing appropriate clothes for doing so. Natalie, Layla and I managed to separate one and caught her eventually. This is in thanks to Natalie’s ability to jump and grab a goat. We then each grabbed a horn and wrestled up and down hills for a half mile to get the goat back. The rest were lost. It was dark, most of them were dark colored goats. We lost them.

The next morning when we were hoping to go out and look we had an ice storm. Jack went out anyway and got stuck a few times. He actually came back and said that it was too dangerous to be driving. The times I have heard Jack say that, only once, right there. Seriously. So we waited hoping the roads would get better. He went out again but again got stuck. You know, goat tracks and goat poop? Very similar to deer tracks and deer poop. We had no way of knowing if we were even looking at tracks made from the goats. There was nothing to go on. Then Monday came and the fog was so thick we couldn’t see anything. If I thought goats could do it I would say that they planned the horrible weather so as to disappear without a trace. So we have one goat, who isn’t pregnant. To say that I am upset and depressed is a real understatement. We have one very expensive goat.

There are other things that have happened on the farm this week, and I will try and remember them. We have been getting eggs again. This is exciting. Of course we need to check for the often so they don’t freeze. We have had some really odd weather, we saw 60 some degrees this week. Of course right now we have snow again and the windchill is somewhere around 5. The animals seem to be handling the weather just fine though. I really cannot think of anything else that has happened. Isn’t that sad? Jack and I did get an insane amount of wood in yesterday before the storm. I guess the point of this post is that anything that may have happened in the past week was completely and totally forgotten in the crappiness that was losing seven goats. Maybe they will turn up. We have things out there. But really, I don’t know. They were pretty wild and crazy. I am trying to still have hope. Trying. Trying to figure out the why of this. I am not succeeding very well though.

forgot some things

You know sometimes I get to talking about animals I forget that there is something else. These are small things but as I was just washing the dishes, my time for reflection I realized that while small, they really affect my life.

One of them is it is cold. I know that many people have to deal with the cold, it is cold. It isn’t like it is just our cabin that is cold. I have been really proud of myself in my ability to be comfortable in a 60 degree cabin. Yes, I am wearing a lot of clothes, but truly I am comfortable. If the sun is shining I can even handle 50. For those of you who know me and my fear of the cold, this is a big deal. Yesterday however was cold and cloudy. We were struggling to hit 50 in the cabin. In fact we didn’t really leave the couch. I was building fire after fire and it was barely doing anything. We didn’t eat much, no one wanted to move. I couldn’t do dishes. Hey, get your house down to 45, turn off your hot water and run just above freezing water over your hands and you will know what I mean. Your hands HURT. Clean dishes aren’t worth it.

Yesterday was fun, I think you are seeing that now, right? We finally hit 60 at around 6:00 p.m. So I started making some dinner. Five minutes in my bacon stops sizzling. We ran out of propane. I had asked Jack to get some more, or at least make sure our other tank was full, but things have been crazy, it wasn’t done. So, we ended up building up a huge bed of coals in the firebox and sticking the pot in there. Our wood stove is not big and it really isn’t set up to cook food. We have tried but it just doesn’t get hot enough or stay hot enough. It took about an hour and a half to cook up some bacon and rice and we were done. We also had to heat up milk to bottle feed the bulls. That took a long time too. It is little adventures like these that remind me that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

And if adventures like that weren’t enough the fact that all of us have chilblains would do it. If you have never had chilblains, count yourself lucky. It is so frustrating. I am constantly on the girls to wear socks, and lots of them. There is no one to get on me to wear socks though. It seems like it wouldn’t be hard, but you have to realize that all of us prefer to be barefoot. So it is something we really have to think about. It isn’t just, oh my feet are a little cold. The floor, while insulated, is still cold enough to make your feet hurt, really hurt. You stick your feet by the fire and you have chilblains. That is it. Sigh.

Jack will probably tell me that I am complaining and making it sound bad. That isn’t what I am going for. Really, while these things were enough to make me want to pull my hair out while they are/were happening, they aren’t bad. Just a part of our life that we now have. A part that is different from most people’s lives. And a part that I feel needs to be shared. The not quite so pretty part. I try to be positive a lot, but if I never talk about the insane feeling of chilblains, or the not so real joy of trying to cook on our inefficient wood stove, would I really be telling the truth about our life?

No, I wouldn’t be. But I won’t lie to you. Wouldn’t change it for the world.

three stooges

Now, am I talking about my children or our new bulls? I will leave that up to you to decide.

I didn’t blog last week, mostly because I was in a slightly womanly induced bad mood. I am better this week. That is a good thing. Still, we are in the middle of winter and unless you just want to hear about how cold it is, well, not much is happening.

We did get some super exciting news. After pretty much figuring that Veeona, the missing cow, had disappeared into someone else’s herd, we ended up hearing about her. This was all due to Frank and his insanely brilliant idea to put up a missing poster in our local store. A neighbor called us up not even a day later. He said that he had just taken his cows to auction the week before. He had one extra. Not only that, the cow was bigger and a beauty(we heard this about Veeona from a few of the local cow people, she was a keeper for sure). He originally thought that she was one of his keeper cows that had somehow gotten in with his sale barn cows. Until he saw the missing poster that is. What an amazing honest man. He called us up and apologized. He wanted to make it right. At first he was going to give us a new cow, but, again honestly, he admitted that he uses growth hormone implants in his cows. Knowing a little bit about us, he thought that we might have a problem with that. Again, another reason not to eat meat that you didn’t know. I actually didn’t know it was legal to use growth hormones, it is in beef, just not in dairy anymore. Uggg. So instead, he is going to give us the price that he sold Veeona for, minus the amount of feed he put in her. So we started shopping for new cows…

And we found them. Actually, we found three for the price that he sold Veeona for. They are small, bottle babies even. I believe though that they will be great. We got three Jersey bulls. How great is that? We are figuring that we will keep them intact until we decide which one will be the lucky guy to breed our cows. Of course this is still up in the air, but still, now we have back up plan instead of A.I.ing. They are separate right now. They are super sweet. There is just something about a Jersey’s big brown eyes. I so love Jerseys. The girls are super excited also because they are planning on trying their hands at training them. Even in the super cold of yesterday they were outside working on our cart trying to get it moving again so they could hook the cows up to it. Jack is also excited and has been looking at buggies and such. Okay, I am excited also. This was a very bad, sad thing that happened on our farm. While I am sorry that Veeona was sold, maybe the person she was sold to will see that she is a keeper also and she will live out a good life somewhere. I’m hopeful.

There is something also. We seem to have really wonderful luck with finding not only animals but really nice people while looking for animals. Jack called the lady with the cows and they ended up talking for well almost an hour. She invited us to come and pick up the cows early in the morning so we would have time to sit around and talk. We spent a couple of hours at their place talking about farm life, animals and intentional communities. It is so amazing to meet like minded people. They are hoping to make it up here for a visit and see not only our farm but the communities around us. It was a really nice morning. I love meeting people like that.

Our goats are looking like they are ready to pop. In fact, Megan has had a goopy butt a couple of times these past two weeks. Her ligaments are still hard, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. We are keeping an eye on her since we never saw her go into heat. We have plans to set up a maternity yard here soon. There are a few others that we aren’t completely sure on. They are all weathering this insane cold we have been having just fine though. I worried a lot until I saw how well they were doing.

Because it has been cold, really cold. Yesterday, the girls and I barely got off the couch. Our cabin is great if we have sun, we barely need a fire. However, if it is cloudy we can’t really get it warm in here. Today is looking like another sunny day and I am glad because yesterday was horrible.

One last thing to leave you with I have opened up a facebook page for the farm, if you want slightly more updating that this blog, along with pictures, it is easier to upload pictures there than here, go like it. https://www.facebook.com/YarrowHillFarms Still getting used to it, and there is the, it is winter and not much happening…but still, I expect it to become hopping once it starts to get warmer and babies start popping.

Sadness on our farm

And I am still not over it. In fact, I am still playing it over in my mind a bit and it happened on Saturday. We lost Astrid. Not only did we lose Astrid, but we lost her twins as well. It was a hay bale incident. Those things are dangerous. I am thinking that the reason I have such an issue with this is for two reasons. One, I was raised a city girl. Two, I actually didn’t have any pets until I was older, unless you count hamsters which I don’t. I don’t seem to have the distance between our stock and our pets as much as Jack and the girls do. I just don’t. Also, I milked Astrid for a decently long time. She was so sweet and wonderful. She was the best goat I have ever milked. She was also very beautiful. We were really excited to see her babies that came from her and Billy, two insanely beautifully marked goats. I will be okay eventually, but as of right now, I am still sad.

Not much has happened this week besides that. The girls are super into school right now. Something about winter makes me want to do more internet things with them. So they are so enjoying it. In fact, the past two days the girls have wanted to do nothing but school. I had to tell Natalie that she could not bring her work up with her to bed. I love this enthusiasm but really, I do have to draw a line somewhere, right?

The animals are doing fine. Oddly, we have some warm weather starting up. It isn’t going to last long, but it is here now and we might as well enjoy it. Our snow is melting slowly. A lot slower than I had thought. Of course each night it has refrozen. However, the next few nights we are supposed to stay above freezing. That is something. I told the girls to enjoy not having to deal with frozen water for awhile. They have still been taking the puppies on perimeter runs. Huck has actually been following along. How weird is that? Like, really. Huck, as far as we can tell, is somewhere around fifteen years old. He isn’t a small dog. Winter really agrees with him also. I have yet to see him so active. Of course, most of the time he is yelling at the puppies and they look at him like he is some demented old man, but that is life, right?

I do have one things that I had thought was crazy and now seeing is not so much. We have been cold, oh not super cold, but cold. I had decided that I was going to stash bust and knit up socks like a mad woman. I thought I would make a pair a week. So far in the last week I have made three pairs and I should finish a fourth today. These are super thick socks, but that is what we need right now. I have also been very painstakingly customizing these socks to fit the girls and mine feet. Some of us have very high arches, others have some flat feet. So that is going well. I need to be better about knitting year round for these things. I will get there I am sure.

That is our farm this week. A little bit of sadness, ugly melting snow. A brief respite from bitter temperatures before we all start to freeze again. Life. Again.

Oh January!

What do you have in store for me?

The girls have been writing poetry and it is kind of getting to me. I used to write. Not just write in this blog but write write. Poems, short stories, long stories. Write. It is a part of me that is kind of dead right now but maybe one day again. I am totally loving pulling out all my favorite poems and reading them to the girls to illustrate what makes a poem. Last week we didn’t do school, we are still in the land of crazy here. I did not want to take another week off so we are doing school this week, but it hasn’t been easy. They love it so much though that I feel bad when we are all crazy and busy.

Besides the loving of the poetry this week we have the sickies. Or well Jack is sick. Sometimes him working at the hospital is not fun. He brings home more sick than he did when he was in a metal tube working with a hundred some other sick people. It is amazing. The poor guy has had it rough this year. He has been mostly good about taking all the stuff I am making him take to get him better. He is moving around a bit better though. His ankle is completely better and his back is now hurting him, but he is able to do a lot more than he has been able to since November and it makes a big difference.

The animals are doing alright. Well, except the ducks. We took in a lonely duck. Well, the duck was sick. So all of our ducks got sick and died, except one. I am wondering if she is going to be alright? Sadly, we do need to get more ducks, she can’t just stay all by herself. Soon maybe. The other animals are doing alright, surviving this cold snowy weather just fine. It has been COLD. We also got two more inches of snow on Monday. We have many layers of ice in between our snow also. If the weather forecast is correct I am predicting that all of our snow will be gone by this time next week. It is crazy that above freezing feels so warm now. I am thinking that when it gets up to 40 we will all be wearing shorts. 🙂

We did move some big bales of hay in with the stock yesterday. It seems like most of the time working with stock is a comedy of errors. It is funny, yet stressful. It is one of those moments when after it is done and everyone is safe and sound, you laugh. Our fence is buried in snow and we obviously need to let it down so Jack could get the tractor in. Well, I was there holding it up until he comes to drive the tractor in. I was hoping that the animals would see the tractor and just stay inside, not wanting to get in the way. I was wrong. They have gotten hay I guess enough times that they see the tractor as sign of food. They all rushed outside and started eating off the bale. Then some of them decided to go after the grass that the tractor had been over, there was no snow there. Then some of them decided to go check out the trees that had some uncovered grass under them. Then when Jack went up to get the other bale, which was on the side of the street, they all followed the tractor up. So I ran to get the girls. They all should be firefighters. They all ran downstairs and got their snow pants, boots and coats on in record time. We went out to herd animals through the snow. yea. We did finally get them all in. It was a lot of work, but it was done. They are all amazingly happy. I am happy. I was really worried about how the winter would be on them. We have been getting a few eggs every so often from our chickens. It is kind of amazing. I was not expecting anything just yet. I won’t complain though.

The girls have been taking the puppies out for perimeter runs. It is going well. They are so freakin well behaved, as long as the neighbor doesn’t have deer parts all over his yard… Anyway, it was all going well, but Bridget really hurt her paw. It wasn’t while they were walking, we woke up a couple of mornings ago and her paw was bleeding. Her pad is sliced down to the meat. It is deep and looks bad. We are taking care of it and she is inside for awhile. She needs to heal and not have it wet and cold all day. I am afraid to write this but she does so well as an inside dog. I hope she heals well though because Conner is missing her.

I have started a new way of keeping track of things. It isn’t so much a resolution as I have taken over our eco auditing. Our community does an eco audit each year. We keep track of how much garbage and recycling we produce, how much money we spend on different things, how much we drive and pretty much everything. So I have started a notebook, as of yesterday, that all that information will be going into. A calendar was too small to get all that into. We are also setting monthly goals. We are hoping that this helps us get things done more regularly. We only really have two more months of slow time. I am sure that starting in March things are going to get busy again. Really, it feels busy now, but that is only because we have so little light.

And to leave off, I have to say I feel old. I am not sure if we have stayed up to ring in the new year since having kids. There really doesn’t seem to be any point. I remember loving New year’s eve, but I have to say that now, if I can get sleep, I get sleep. So, I must be getting old. Oh well though. I don’t mind too much. In some ways our life is more hectic than others and in other ways we are much slower. Much slower. So that is how our last week of the old year went for us. I am sure January has much of the same in store for us. Oh, and I will let you all know Jack’s resolution, he is hoping not to break any more bones nor injure himself this year. I totally approve of this.