Day 210 – the next generation

After spending the afternoon picking and canning green beans and some dill pickles, I had the pleasure of spending the evening with the teen-aged daughter of a friend.  She’s turning 16 this year, and her mom wanted her to spend some time with some ladies who could be considered, well, good role models for her.  Not sure how I got on that short list, which includes the commander of WPAFB!

We had an enjoyable supper at TGI Fridays and simply talked about her plans for the future, what I wished I had known/done at her age, how it’s ok to not know what you want to do (I mean seriously, you’re asking a 16 year old what she wants to do with the *rest of her life*???  Silliness, in my opinion), how it’s ok to change your mind on what you want to do.

She’s a good kid – smart, funny, adventurous, not afraid to “go it alone”, and I’m glad I was able to spend that time with her.  Too many kids don’t have anyone looking out for them and wanting them to explore and find out about who they are and what they want to do.2013-07-29 20.38.53This was the sunset Monday evening.


Day 185 – Independence Day

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

John HancockSamuel AdamsJohn AdamsRobert Treat PaineElbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen HopkinsWilliam Ellery

Roger ShermanSamuel HuntingtonWilliam WilliamsOliver Wolcott

New York:
William FloydPhilip LivingstonFrancis LewisLewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard StocktonJohn WitherspoonFrancis HopkinsonJohn HartAbraham Clark

Robert MorrisBenjamin RushBenjamin FranklinJohn MortonGeorge ClymerJames SmithGeorge TaylorJames WilsonGeorge Ross

Caesar RodneyGeorge ReadThomas McKean

Samuel ChaseWilliam PacaThomas StoneCharles Carroll of Carrollton

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

Button GwinnettLyman HallGeorge Walton

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 164 – true story

WARNING: what you are about to read is a TRUE EVENT. This really happened, and although there are no pictures, those of you who know our goats will know that it’s true!!

The main player in this story, besides the goats and the Pyr, is this style of dog house (Suncast Deluxe Dog House, 29″x37″x31″ – made for large dogs, it says):

My morning animal routine is pretty much the same every day.  Get up, throw on the work clothes, open the hen house door and check in the hen house.  Go to the barn to check on cows and horses, feed the barn cats.  Walk out to the rooster yard, open the door, look them over.  Go through the test garden/pasture gate to check on the 5 goats and Minnie.

That’s where things got interesting.  All I could see was goats and Minnie huddled at the north end of their current pasture, near her dog house (you’ll only find her feed dish in there – she doesn’t like going in it).  Great – what’s going on now, because this is not normal goats-and-dog-in-the-morning behavior.

I want to cut through the alley that leads from the back pasture to the front pasture, forgetting that it rained the night before and everything is a soggy, hoof-printed mess.  Oh, did I mention it’s starting to rain as I’m doing this?  It is.  One soaked foot later, I get to the gate, get in the pasture and see the back end of a goat sticking out of the dog house.  Niiiice.  Is she hurt? Is she dead?  It’s Skittles, and she’s having a nap, which apparently concerns the rest of the herd.

She hears me and stands up, still in the dog house.  She’s taller than the dog house, by the way, so it starts to fail at the seams.  She can’t see, starts to panic.  Then Molly decides the best thing for her to do is – wait for it – get in the dog house with Skittles.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or both at this point in the circus.

By now, there’s no way either of them are going to be able to get out, so I do the only thing I can think of, standing in a goat pasture, just having woke up 20 minutes prior, no coffee, and getting wetter by the minute.  I pull the roof off the dog house.  Skittles tries to jump out, fails, does the “Kool-aid man” through the back of the dog house, and all the goats go running to the other side of the pasture and hide in their real goat hut (a proper goat sized Suncast building).  Except Minnie, who is looking for her food bowl in the wreckage.

I’m cold, wet, and trying to snap a deluxe dog house back together while the dog is searching for kibble.  I finally give up, prop the roof over the dog dish (yeah, I know that’s not going to stay up for very long!), make sure Minnie can get to it, check to see that all the goats are upright and grazing, and leave.

This last bit was obviously not the correct response, because when I went to check them this evening, the dog house was completely knocked down and strewn about the area.  But it wasn’t raining, which made proper repairs much easier to make.

I can’t make this stuff up – this is my real life.

Day 129 – escape artist

009 - CopyRocket (shown in this picture from last summer) managed to get out of the goat pasture today by pushing a piece of cattle panel out of place.  Of course, once out, she has no idea what to do, and just stood there looking at the goats on the correct side of the fence.

Bribery of animals with food gets the job done.  I rattle a bucket of oats (which is goat crack) while Denny holds the panel out for her to run back in.  All the goats are now back together, knocking each other (and the Pyr – yes, she eats oats) around to get the oats on the ground.  We then re-attach the panel to the gate and make sure everything is tightly wrapped and chained.

This is the same goat who got stuck between the cattle panel and the line fence.  It’s always the ginger.


Day 53 – hard day

This has been a plain old rotten day.  It started off reasonably well, with a calamity day from my teaching job due to the ice storm that came through overnight.  It pretty much went downhill after my morning cup of coffee.  If you’ll allow me to ramble on a bit…

Several of our cows decided that a day or two before an ice storm was a great time to calve.  As you can imagine, little newborn calves and ice don’t mix well.  We lost a few, and one is still iffy.  Part of the morning was spent moving the iffy one to a warm place and trying to get it to drink some milk replacer.  We put it back out with momma cow later in the day – we’ll see what the morning brings.

During afternoon feedings, I heard banging and discovered that one of our older girls had fallen down in the barn and couldn’t get her feet back under her to get up.  After much wrangling, we got her moved to a better location and I gave her some hay to munch. We’ll see what the morning brings.

This is the part of farming that isn’t shown on the organic milk carton – the manure covered animals, people and clothes (I’ve done 3 loads of laundry today, and have another couple of loads to go…some of them clothes I washed this morning), the anguish that there’s nothing more we can do for the critter and if it can’t get up on its own, well, that’s what will happen, the soreness and exhaustion of carrying calves and pushing against cows to get their leg unstuck, the wondering if it’s worth the anguish, soreness and exhaustion.

It is worth it.  I can sleep knowing I did all I could to keep my animals comfortable – at the end of it, farming takes a lot of faith.  This calf didn’t make it, but I have 5 more cows due to birth.  That old girl died, but she had a life filled with good grass, fresh water, and she didn’t get shipped to the auction barn when she had stopped calving. We care for every animal on this farm, and grieve when their time comes – they are part of us and part of what makes this farm what it is.

It’s been a long, trying day.  We’ll see what the morning brings.



Some thoughts on Punxsutawney Phil

So yesterday was Groundhog Day, complete with its requisite trotting out of the rodent and an internet full of mocking said rodent and the people who flock to him once per year. Now, I will grant you that the whole show surrounding Groundhog Day is ridiculous and proves nothing except that people like to have […] Continue reading

So yesterday was Groundhog Day, complete with its requisite trotting out of the rodent and an internet full of mocking said rodent and the people who flock to him once per year.

Now, I will grant you that the whole show surrounding Groundhog Day is ridiculous and proves nothing except that people like to have a good time, yet I can’t help but notice that the day also points toward something we’ve forgotten over the past century in our rush to scientize everything: animals, particularly rodents, are a great way to predict the weather wherever you are.

This fact points to a larger failing on the part of our modern selves. We’re so busy analyzing, categorizing, and objectifying nature that we’re no longer a part of it. Nature is something out there, just beyond our sterile, lifeless environs we’ve created to flee it and all its weather-predicting rodent glory.

There was a time when people, farmers and hunter-gatherers alike, knew exactly what weather was coming because the animals, and to a certain extent the plants, told them so. They knew that when the groundhogs started coming out of their dens only to return to them without seeking mates or food that more winter was coming, at least where they lived. They knew that when the spring birds arrived early they could expect a mild late winter. They knew this because they paid attention to what nature told them.

Now, we pay attention to what the meteorologist tells us, and he’s wrong as often as Punxsutawney Phil in my opinion. The fact is I can tell as much about what the weather’s going to do in a week from how my cows eat hay or what my chickens are up to than I can from a sterile forecast of temperature and precipitation.

And together, I can tell a lot more. My argument here is not to abandon science in favor of nature. What does that idea even mean. If science is real science, it’s an observation of nature anyway, and the best observations happen in the environment instead of removed from it. Together, the meteorologist and the groundhog can tell us more than either one can alone.

So, maybe we should give the groundhog a chance. Take a look outside and see what’s happening. It might tell you a lot.


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