Day 258 – laptops and plumbing

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times. My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology […]

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times.

My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology that was purchased in 2006, I’m told that this is a good long life. Off to our computer boneyard it goes, probably to be resucitated at a later date as a robot or something. We do have the “family computer” for me to use when the tablet or phone just won’t do the job. At this point, the only thing I really need it for is making presentations for my humanities class. I’ve figured out how to do everything else on the tablet. Yay, me.

It’s been a relatively calm week on the farm – it was too stinkin’ hot for a few days to do much of anything except stay inside and drink lots of water. So I got some studio time in – mostly glazing. I went to Cornell Studio Supply in Dayton for their “Clay Day” festivities. Nothing like a bunch of clay artists getting together for food, beverages and clay games. I was the left hand in a pair throwing contest, and made a 30 degree bowl – while blindfolded! Saw some friends, made some new friends, and generally had a good time.

My friend Erin (who owns Cornell Studio Supply) – she was part of the 13 pound challenge, which was to form the tallest/widest work from 13 pounds of clay.
2013-09-14 17.13.00

The highlight of the week came today – plumbing! Our kitchen sink has needed a new faucet for a while, so a trip to Menards netted a nice faucet/sprayer combo. That was about 4 months ago. I guess I needed time to work into it. Or something! My problem is I want/need a whole day for this stuff in case I screw it up and need to make trips somewhere to get, well, something to fix the mess.

As expected, it took awhile to complete – the cold water hose was cemented onto the threaded pipe under the sink (we have really hard water). Denny suggested the Dremel tool and diamond blade for some plastic wingnut demolition. It worked.

Here’s the remains of the wingnut, and the new faucet assembly:

2013-09-15 15.55.06

2013-09-15 14.53.09

Something I now know how to do, although it’s ok if I don’t have to do it for awhile!

Food for thought – we were discussing how people view animals and food. Example – at one of the farmer’s markets, a lady was very upset that the veg seller would be taking his unsold produce home at the end of the market and feeding it to his chickens. He and I weren’t quite sure why she was upset – the chicken eats the produce, gets big and strong, and is butchered for meat to feed the human. Seems like a pretty good cycle to me. Moving along to our own garden. We decided that we had canned enough tomatoes for our future needs, and have been picking tomatoes to eat fresh. This picture from last week shows that we still have a lot of tomatoes on the vine:
IMG_0361

And after the mini heat wave, they are going bad very quickly. What to do? Pull the vines and feed them to the chickens, who pull off the leaves and tomatoes for a nice feast. We humans will still get the benefit of the tomatoes down the road when we eat the chickens. So have the tomatoes (or the leftover produce of my farmer’s market friend) been wasted?

Day 258 – laptops and plumbing

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times.

My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology that was purchased in 2006, I’m told that this is a good long life. Off to our computer boneyard it goes, probably to be resucitated at a later date as a robot or something. We do have the “family computer” for me to use when the tablet or phone just won’t do the job. At this point, the only thing I really need it for is making presentations for my humanities class. I’ve figured out how to do everything else on the tablet. Yay, me.

It’s been a relatively calm week on the farm – it was too stinkin’ hot for a few days to do much of anything except stay inside and drink lots of water. So I got some studio time in – mostly glazing. I went to Cornell Studio Supply in Dayton for their “Clay Day” festivities. Nothing like a bunch of clay artists getting together for food, beverages and clay games. I was the left hand in a pair throwing contest, and made a 30 degree bowl – while blindfolded! Saw some friends, made some new friends, and generally had a good time.

My friend Erin (who owns Cornell Studio Supply) – she was part of the 13 pound challenge, which was to form the tallest/widest work from 13 pounds of clay.
2013-09-14 17.13.00

The highlight of the week came today – plumbing! Our kitchen sink has needed a new faucet for a while, so a trip to Menards netted a nice faucet/sprayer combo. That was about 4 months ago. I guess I needed time to work into it. Or something! My problem is I want/need a whole day for this stuff in case I screw it up and need to make trips somewhere to get, well, something to fix the mess.

As expected, it took awhile to complete – the cold water hose was cemented onto the threaded pipe under the sink (we have really hard water). Denny suggested the Dremel tool and diamond blade for some plastic wingnut demolition. It worked.

Here’s the remains of the wingnut, and the new faucet assembly:

2013-09-15 15.55.06

2013-09-15 14.53.09

Something I now know how to do, although it’s ok if I don’t have to do it for awhile!

Food for thought – we were discussing how people view animals and food. Example – at one of the farmer’s markets, a lady was very upset that the veg seller would be taking his unsold produce home at the end of the market and feeding it to his chickens. He and I weren’t quite sure why she was upset – the chicken eats the produce, gets big and strong, and is butchered for meat to feed the human. Seems like a pretty good cycle to me. Moving along to our own garden. We decided that we had canned enough tomatoes for our future needs, and have been picking tomatoes to eat fresh. This picture from last week shows that we still have a lot of tomatoes on the vine:
IMG_0361

And after the mini heat wave, they are going bad very quickly. What to do? Pull the vines and feed them to the chickens, who pull off the leaves and tomatoes for a nice feast. We humans will still get the benefit of the tomatoes down the road when we eat the chickens. So have the tomatoes (or the leftover produce of my farmer’s market friend) been wasted?

Day 198 – garden pests

(photo from http://colostate.edu – we already smooshed the ones in our garden this evening)

This is a tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta).  We’re not growing tobacco (at least not this year), but they also eat tomato plants, usually starting at the top with the most tender leaves and working their way down the plant.  We’ve been out for the last 3 nights after I discovered a GIANT one on a blade of grass next to the tomato row.  Tried to feed them to the chickens, who wanted nothing to do with them.  Turns out that they are concentrated little tomato toxin bombs and can kill chickens, especially smaller/younger ones.  So we pull them off and smoosh them.

I’m reading that a good tilling of the area after harvest will destroy any of the little beasties pupating in the soil.  Or you can spray chemicals all over, but that definitely defeats the purpose of how we’re doing things.

Parasitic wasps also like them and will lay eggs on the hornworm.  You’re supposed to leave those hornworms along because when the wasps hatch, they will then go after other worms.  I’m not going to post a picture of that because it’s grossing me out.  You’re on your own for that picture.  If you need to buy parasitic wasps (which also eat cutworms, cabbage loopers and many other nasties), Planet Natural is a great place to check out – we buy fly parasites from them to keep down the fly population in the barn.

This is the not fun part of growing our own food, but we’re in the garden getting up close with the food we’re producing (and the critters trying to eat it before we get it).  Can’t get more local than that.

Day 185 – Independence Day

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah BartlettWilliam WhippleMatthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John HancockSamuel AdamsJohn AdamsRobert Treat PaineElbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen HopkinsWilliam Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger ShermanSamuel HuntingtonWilliam WilliamsOliver Wolcott

New York:
William FloydPhilip LivingstonFrancis LewisLewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard StocktonJohn WitherspoonFrancis HopkinsonJohn HartAbraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert MorrisBenjamin RushBenjamin FranklinJohn MortonGeorge ClymerJames SmithGeorge TaylorJames WilsonGeorge Ross

Delaware:
Caesar RodneyGeorge ReadThomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel ChaseWilliam PacaThomas StoneCharles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George WytheRichard Henry LeeThomas JeffersonBenjamin HarrisonThomas Nelson, Jr.Francis Lightfoot LeeCarter Braxton

North Carolina:
William HooperJoseph HewesJohn Penn

South Carolina:
Edward RutledgeThomas Heyward, Jr.Thomas Lynch, Jr.Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button GwinnettLyman HallGeorge Walton

Day 96 – calf sorting

Once a year, we sort out the 5-8 month old calves to band for steers and pen up to sell to people who want ot have a cow for their own herd or want to feed a steer out for beef.

There is a process: pen all the herd in the barn, sort out the cows that stay, run the calves into a pen, run them out one at a time to be weighed, then ear tagged and banded (if it’s a bull calf). Of course, that’s a simplified version of the process. And there are so many variables – weather, number of people helping, and not least, the calves themselves. Some are calm, some are feisty, some can be downright mean.

This year, we got them penned up and the first few got through the process with minimal fuss, for calves. We have some new tools that make the process safer and more efficient, and those tools were working.

Then the wheels fell off. Long story short, we stopped the process because someone was going to get hurt. The 8 calves for sale are still penned up with all the hay they can eat, and have calmed down a lot since this afternoon.

angusIn the end, we’re all a little bruised and a lot sore.  We’ll take what happened this year, make adjustments for next year, and do it all over again.  Cattle (heck, running a farm in general) keep us on our toes in more ways than one, because there are always things we can’t control, from birth to sale.

It’s pretty quiet out there now.  Some of the momma cows are a little uncomfortable, if they were still nursing one of these calves, and the calves themselves aren’t sure what just happened.  But they have a load of hay, so eating will keep them busy.  And we’ll see what it all looks like in the morning.

And a giant thanks for our family and friends who came over to help – it does take a village!

 

It’s all fun and games until the wheel falls off

Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s hard to feed cattle when the only tractor we have that can move bales develops a flat tire–probably a broken bead due to the unforgiving frozen terrain of the barnyard. Of course, that whole event started because our bale wagon has been frozen to the ground […]

Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s hard to feed cattle when the only tractor we have that can move bales develops a flat tire–probably a broken bead due to the unforgiving frozen terrain of the barnyard. Of course, that whole event started because our bale wagon has been frozen to the ground for two weeks.

The flat tire event precipitated two hours of breaking apart round bales stored in the barn by hand and throwing them down into the mangers I repaired over the summer. Let me tell you how much fun 3000 pounds of hay is…

There is a moral to this story, though, that is more than complaining about things going wrong.

First, there is the moral of always be ready to improvise. Contrary to the popular idea, improvisation is more than just figuring a solution on the fly. Sometimes, it means having a plan ahead of time (like having hay in the barn and mangers that can hold it) and thinking about what could go wrong.

Second, there is the moral of learning from one’s mistakes. Having gotten the bale wagon stuck, I now have a whole new plan for how to place said wagon in the coming year so that it doesn’t get stuck.

Third, there is the moral of having the right equipment for the job. Our little Kubota is an amazing tractor, but we’re beating her up moving 7,500 pounds of hay every three or four days. It’s good to do things as inexpensively as possible, but don’t incapacitate yourself by underdoing what needs to be done.

Adapt, improvise, overcome: the morals of the sustainable farm.

DLH