Day 181 – dingdong

181This bell has been at the farm as long as I can remember.  Bells like this were used to be able to call in the workers for meals – with 185 acres, it’s the easiest way to make sure everyone knows when it’s lunch or supper time.  I’ve been told that it rung at noon and 6, and if it rang at any other time, it better be an emergency, because everyone would come running.

 

Day 180 – kid-n-goats

180Our niece spent the weekend with us, and I’m pretty sure she spent more time with the goats than anything else.  They look well fed to me, but her main activity was pulling up grass/weeds to feed them, either through the panels or in the pen.  Of course, the goats were not going to turn down food that they didn’t have to bend down and get!

 

Day 177 – baling days

177If you want it to rain, make hay.  At least that’s how it seems around here.  Denny got this field mowed and raked. Then it rained.  Next day (or was it 2 days later?) I went out with the tedder, spread out the hay, then re-raked it.  He finished raking so I could go to Troy and started baling.  About 5 rows from being finished with baling, the skies opened. It’s not fun baling wet hay, although this isn’t the first time we’ve done so – sometimes you just need to finish the job.

As they dry, we’ll keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t start molding or getting funky.  Then off to the barn they’ll go, to be stored for winter.  It’s interesting to watch the bales dry if they’ve been rained on – by watching the ends of the bales, we can see the progression of green changing to yellow/brown when dry, kind of like a bulls-eye.  We make them loose enough that they will dry all the way through to the center.

Without good grass (and hay), we don’t have good animals, so this pictures really sums up what Innisfree is about – grass farming!

 

Day 176 – fresh from the garden

176a

I wasn’t expecting much from the peas this year, but first harvest wasn’t too bad.  Enough to make some egg and pea salad (hard boiled eggs, peas, salt/pepper, mayo – you can add cheese and bacon as well) for lunch.

Peas are deceptive – it looks like you’re going to get an entire giant bowl full when you’re looking at the peas still in the pod.  I had already shelled about 1/4 of the total when I took this picture, and it may have been enough for one serving!

Day 174 – resting

Running a farm is working at breakneck speed, slowing down, then back to breakneck.  “Medium speed” doesn’t happen very often.

This past week was week 1 of hay.  Get out the equipment, go to the farm service store to buy needed supplies, perform routine maintenance on the tractor and equipment, mow grass down, rake into windrows, discover that you don’t have the proper tools to complete a critical fluid change on the baler, go to Menard’s to purchase said tools, have a plumbing mini-disaster, finish maintenance, bale hay.  Still have to move it to the barn, but that’s for another day.

Add in 4 farmer’s markets, gardens, daily chores, and other commitments, and it’s a long week.  Depending on what else may be going on, it can turn into 10+ straight days of work.  That takes a toll on body and mind.

Today we knew we had to move the goats to their new section of grass, and the animals need their daily care, but that’s it.  We’re taking the day off.  The most effort I’m exerting today is hanging laundry on the clothesline to dry.  No weeding, no tractor work, no washing dishes.  I’m reading, watching some baseball, and sitting in front of the fan.

Not even a picture for today.  We’re resting.

Day 173 – how to make hay, part 2

173After mowing the grass, letting it dry, and raking it into windrows, out comes the baler.  There are round balers, like the one we have, and there are square balers – both kinds come in all sizes.  We can actually make up to almost 5 foot tall round bales, but choose to make 3.5 foot round bales – they’re easier to move around and store.  Everyone has a different set up – this is what works for us.

(A round baler like ours)

Basically, the baler is pulled behind the tractor and has tines that sweep the hay into the baler.  It rolls up to make the bale, then when the sensor goes off to tell us that it’s large enough, we start the wrapping process.  Two rolls of baling twine are on each side of the baler, then fed through to the inside of the baler, the wrapped around the hay, and cut off at the end of the process (it’s all mechanized – we just push a few buttons to start each process).  When that part is done, another button opens the back of the baler and the bale is pushed out.  Bale rolls to the ground, the back comes back into place and the process starts all over again.

And “just like that” we have winter grass for our animals.  The last step is to get it into the barn where it will be out of the elements and ready to go come winter.

The pasture, with all of the tall grass gone, is now ready to start regrowing.  We’ll let it rest for a while, then open it back up for the cows to graze.  And because we let the grasses go to seed before we mow, we’ll hopefully have an even better pasture next year.

 

Day 172 – innisfree chicken incubator

172We have 2 new little nuggets running around the farm – they were just born a couple of days ago, thanks to the 2 hens that have been brooding in the “dog” house.  This makes the second batch of chicks born this year on the farm, and the 2 hens are still setting the nest.  I checked a few of the eggs with the ovascope, and they are viable, so in the next 21 days we may have some more little chicks.

I’m very thankful that the hens decided to brood a nest in a dry place that is protected from the elements.  Not fun to have chicks born in the rain or other bad weather – if we don’t know they are there, it can end badly.

But not today.  We have 3 healthy, lively chicks and good mother hens.