Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Now That the Fields Are Bare...

Now that the fields are bare...


...I kind of like the look.  

Once again, it's that change of seasons.  Just about the time we get used to the way things look, the scenery changes.

This morning Daniel and Jim fenced off the two alfalfa fields you can see here. Those fields were baled several weeks ago, and have enough new growth on them to keep the cows happy.

They were happy enough that they paid no mind to the temporary electric fences...their heads were down and they were too busy eating...


...and they came back in the barn happy and content for milking this evening...


...which we certainly won't complain about!

You better believe they'll be itching to get out there again tomorrow morning!

Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Harvest...

When we woke up on Saturday morning, there were over 30 acres of beans still standing, and a bunch of acres of corn.

When we went to the barn for evening milking, the fields were bare.

Here are a few pictures of the corn and bean harvest, courtesy of our friend and neighbor Steve Emerson. His pictures turned out way better than mine did!  Thanks Steve!

First, they harvested the corn at the two locations where we rent ground...


The combine can hold a lot of shelled corn, but when it was possible, the grain cart drove along beside the combine...


When he was full, he would go and empty his load into the grain truck. These next pictures are ones that I took here at home) ...


This truck wasn't full yet, but it sure didn't take long to fill it...


I got a kick out of watching the cows watch the combine.  This is Patty, mesmerized or perhaps confused about what's going on.  Wouldn't she love to hop the fence and get into that corn field?!  She'll have to wait for that corn later.  It will be dried, toasted and brought back to the farm as we need it.  There goes one of the full grain trucks up the road behind her...


When the corn was finished, they switched headers on the combine and harvested the beans.  (one more picture courtesy of Steve)  It was a windy, but beautiful day.  I'm sure glad all that dust wasn't blowing in my windows!


The corn yields were great this year!  I don't know exact numbers, but I heard talk of over 200 bushels per acre.  It was a little wet though, so between low grain prices and being docked a bit for drying, the final numbers won't be so high.  The beans were plenty dry, and yielded okay.

It's a great feeling to be finished with harvest for the year.  It's not time to rest, though! Right now Jim's wrapping the last of the hay for the year, and then it'll be time to bale corn fodder and haul manure.

The leaves are beautiful about now, and have only begun to fall.  We've been having absolutely beautiful weather, and once again I am reminded of how thankful I am to be able to experience the change in seasons every year!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Replacing Cow Mats...

Did you know that cows have the privilege of laying on mats in their stalls? They're not actually mattresses (although some barns do use mattresses of a sort), but they're thick, rubber mats that give them a softer base than concrete to stand on, and better traction as they get up from lying down. This helps to prevent leg issues in the cows, and also helps prevent tramped teats as the cows get up and down.

We put cow mats in all of our stalls a while ago.  Over the years they need to be trimmed as they stretch, secured back down as the bedding works it way underneath,  and eventually they need to be replaced.  It was a good job to get started on, on this rainy day.

Here are some of the old ones, with a small sample of the new one laying on the right side.  It's the clean, black piece.  Look how much thicker it is...


Yesterday morning while Jim ran to pick up new mats, Daniel tore out the old ones and cleaned off the concrete base underneath.  Then it was time to put the new mats in place.  They had to cut around the posts to make them fit.  Jim drilled through the mat into the concrete with his hammer drill...


...and Daniel anchored the mat in place with concrete anchors...


Putting the next mat in place, measuring and cutting around the post...


This is a time consuming job, so they only get a few mats done each morning.

I wonder if the cows will figure it out and fight over the stalls with the new mats? I would!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Refill..Finally...

Wow...it's been a really unusual year here.  Never, ever before, have we refilled our silos so late in the year!

Spring planting was late because of the cool spring.  Initial silo filling was late because spring planting was late...and so refilling silo was pushed back as well!

Jim had some "late corn"...or "short season corn" that was planted into an old hay field this spring after second cutting of hay.  One purpose of planting "late corn" is so that there is still some corn green enough to chop when it's time to refill...or "top off" the silos before winter.

Last week's 4" of rain held things up a bit, but when the weather is cool like it has been here, the corn doesn't dry down too quickly.  Monday morning, bright and early, Jim and Daniel raised the last silo unloader, and the chopper pulled in just after breakfast.

The field they chopped was at our neighbors' farm.  Here comes one of the full loads, heading for home. The guys tried hard to stay out of the yard, because of how soft the ground was, so they cut across a small corner of the bean field...  (isn't their house beautiful?!  I think it was built in 1863)


The chopper is waiting for one of the two wagons to unload at home, and return.  Our farm is behind those trees you see in the distance.  The silos aren't quite tall enough to stick out over the top...


Just a different perspective of the wagons unloading at the silos.  This load is going into the silo at the west...see the gooseneck at the top of the pipe?



And as usual...when the silos get almost full, Jim climbs to the top to signal to the tractor driver when to shut off the hydraulics on his wagon.  He then swings the gooseneck into the other silo and they fill that one up...


Now both silo unloaders have been set up, and it's on to the rest of the fall work.  Today it's raining, so Jim and Daniel are replacing some cow mats in the stable.  When it dries off, Jim will mow and bale the rest of 5th cutting hay, have the beans and corn combined, and bale corn fodder.  Oh...and haul manure.  There's still a lot of fall work to do.  It's the busiest time of the year here!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Planning Ahead...

I never, ever thought I'd be considering this...at least not for a very long time, but this is what I'm thinking...

You may remember seeing pictures of my big perennial border.  This was taken earlier this spring.  I love the way it looks when everything has turned green, the mulch is fresh, and the weeds are virtually non-existent!



Some of my favorites, in full bloom...



It's been an eye-opening summer.

I'm getting "too old" for all the work that it takes...beautiful as it may be. I've had some very, very kind friends and family who have come and cared for my garden and perennials this late summer and fall...and I'm very thankful for them.  However, I need to make some changes in the expectations that I put on myself. The thought of spreading six to eight scoops of mulch next spring seems overwhelming, if not impossible.  

We'll see...maybe I'll have a huge perennial giveaway in the spring.  Put in your orders!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jolyn...

Farm cats could be categorized as "a dime a dozen", and over the years they come and go.  Some are more forgettable than others.

Jolyn fits into the not so forgettable category.

I'm not typically a huge fan of calico cats.  She, however, has wormed her way into my heart.

She's afraid of the other cats, especially Peanut, and understandably so (even though Peanut is her mother!!)  Peanut thinks she is Queen.  If anyone appears to be infringing on her territory...feline or canine...she makes sure that they stand corrected.

So, Jolyn has her own spot in the barn where no one bothers her.  It's high above the calf pens, on the far side of the barn from where everyone else hangs out...


I took the camera out to the barn after milking this morning and snuck up on her.  She woke from her nap pretty quickly but immediately saw Murphy. Hmmm...not sure if she wants to venture out of her secure spot...


Still not sure...


If it's not safe to come down this way, why not try this way, on the opposite side of the beam...


It's the perfect sized hole, just for her.

She's a great hunter, and loves to roam around in the fields.  I'm sure she's tasted all kinds of birds, mice and other creatures, but she's usually in "her spot" every morning, waiting for me to bring her food while the other cats share the kitty bowls on the other side of the barn.

She had been missing for about a week, and I was so happy to hear her distinctive MEOW yesterday afternoon again.

Welcome home Jolyn!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Raspberries!

I've always loved raspberries, and to have my own is so much fun, although getting enough to do anything with has been a long time coming!

In April of 2012, I bought 3 tiny plants off of a wagon at a farm supply store for $2 each.  I planted them behind my garden shed.

The dogs dug them up.  Three.  Times.

Thus, the fancy barrier around the bushes, in hopes of preventing more digging under the shed.  Who knows what they were looking for...


I think this picture was taken the next spring.

They grew.  A lot...

Now they overhang into the chicken pen, and the chickens love them!  For a while, they were fluttering up onto the top of the fence and now I know why.  They were eating all the berries they could find...


I was thrilled to find out that these raspberry bushes are ever bearing.  I'd never even heard of that!  Once they start to ripen, the plants produce until frost!

This summer the Japanese Beetles did a number on the bushes, and I sprayed them. I had to wait a week before harvesting any more, but thankfully, they made a full recovery, and are once again doing their thing. I don't get a lot at once, but every two or three days I go down and gather the ripe ones...about two cups at a time, and put them into the freezer.

This is my stash from the past month...


So...guess what I'm doing this afternoon?!

I'm thinking jelly.  Mmmm...on hot buttered toast.  My mouth is watering!

And oh yeah... shopping for a new dishwasher too.  Ours has flooded this morning for the last time.