Thursday, January 31, 2013

Keeping warm

Now is the time when we are burning all that wood we cut in the fall. We've had some cold weather and were really plowing through the wood last weekend. This is the current state of the woodshed:

One of the daily chores these days in bringing in wood. This is usually the last chore that Farmer John does in the afternoon. First he will chop the chunks into smaller pieces and load them into the wheelbarrow. 

Next he rolls the load down to the house...

and opens up the backdoor. 

He passes me chunks of wood...

and I fill up the woodbox. 

A full woodbox keeps the fire going throughout the evening, overnight, and throughout the next day. 

It also keeps visiting hounds cozy during their naps. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Ellie is "Uncle" John's big dog. She was having a hard weekend, but able to come out to the farm for a visit on Saturday. She laid in the back of the truck while Uncle John and Farmer John worked on the old bridge. She sat up from time to time, and was happy to get some pats on the head. She passed away early this week. 

Ellie was a steadfast companion whenever Uncle John was working around the farm. Early on, she was happy to romp around the garden and find good (or horrible) things to smell. Then one fateful day, she got "bit" by the electric fence. Poor thing was so scared by that experience, that she wouldn't come out of the truck. She still tagged along on trips to the garden, and was happy to stretch out in the backseat. 

Eventually she got some courage back, and would bound around when Uncle John and Farmer John were far away from the garden and working on a project near the house. I remember hearing a different "clomp, clomp, clomp" on the porch. When I went to the door, there was Ellie, happy to be hanging out on the porches - out of the truck and away from that awful fence. Sometimes she and Coco would play, but being the old dogs that they are, were usually content to just do their own thing. 

We will miss seeing Ellie in the truck and around the house. And I know Uncle John will really miss his buddy in the backseat. You're joining a new pack of farm-dogs now Ellie. We'll think of you running the hills where there are no electric fences to slow you down. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Calendar

Several years ago Farmer John and I saw a fantastic calendar on the rack at Tractor Supply. There were plenty of calendars with barns, tractors, horses and various farm scenes. The one that caught my eye was the hilariously-titled "Goats In Trees". 

Well, look what arrived in the mail last week. Thanks Farmer John!

July is probably my favorite photo from the calendar, although they all made me laugh. The only problem with this calendar is that I'm now dreaming about having real goats on the farm, in hopes that they too will climb the trees!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter feeding

Over the past few winters Farmer John has fed the cattle in the barn. We did a lot of work to get the barn ready for cattle since it hadn't been used in years. This included cleaning out a lot of junk, fixing the hay bunks, and building a door. 

Feeding in the barn had advantages - it was close to the house, the hay didn't have to be moved very far, and we had good source of manure to compost. But, it had some major disadvantages - our cattle were destructive to parts of the barn, they figured out ways to get out, and sometimes the calves weren't able to eat. 

This year Farmer John has been feeding them up in one of the pastures. It's more work for him, as you'll see, but better for the cattle. 

First, he takes the four-wheeler down to the barn, and loads up six bales of hay. 

Then, he drives it up the lane behind the house and to the top of hill. This lane can get pretty icy because the sun doesn't get to it. Eventually, depending on the weather, he may not be able to get up the hill. 

Once he's in the pasture he finds a spot to spread the bales. Spreading the bales out makes it easier for the cattle to eat, and the calves can get to some of the hay. At this point the cattle know what's going on and they come running. 

Whoever gets there first gets their choice of the hay. Although, there is quite a pecking order with our herd, and the young ones often get pushed out of the way. 

I really miss hearing cattle eating in the barn, it's one of the most peaceful sounds I know. But, this way of feeding is really better for them. With those big shaggy coats, they don't seem to mind being out in the cold. I'm not sure I can say the same for Farmer John!

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