Officially doing nothing…..ish.

Every morning I get up at an obscenely early hour, grab a coffee, grab my phone and quickly check my favorite blogs.  It’s nice to see what everybody else is  up to, how their gardens are going, their livestock rearing, their canning production, their foray into off grid and so on…. and of course, think to myself – I really should get back to a regular post. 

Easier said than done for sure. This last year was hectic – which I find odd because every year we are here, we make an effort to find ways to do things that decrease the work load, not increase it – and yet there seems to be less free time than ever.  Mind you, for every free hour we find, we manage to fill it with ‘things that should have been done years ago’ things to do.  Work on the house, more garden beds – and last year I decided to take a University course (Equine Functional Anatomy) that easily swallowed up about fifteen hours a week that I didn’t really have, but found – as your grades end up on your permanent record and who wants lousy grades on your permanent record? There are a total of ten courses one needs to get your Equine Science Certificate.  Nine more to go…..I would have loved to roll right into the next one but things were getting ignored around here so I let the idea go for now. 

Farming updates….I stopped milking the Jersey (and making the cheese, cheese, butter, butter) in March. I considered continuing to milk her…..but honest – I hit the wall.  Ten months was enough.  My carpal tunnel pain subsided, I took a much needed break from the place – my daughter caught up with me, we headed off to the big city to spend time with my mom which is always a good time.  And as always, she chauffeurs me around to the soap making supply place, the wood working supply place (for carving tools), book stores – I always have a list a mile long of places I want to go and things I need to get.  Honestly I don’t know how she puts up with it, if I were her I’d probably hand me a transit pass 🙂

Last year we stuck rigidly to our plan to raise food only for ourselves with some spare for family.  So only two pigs, only fifteen meat birds, and only the one calf (which is as of last week off to the slaughter house as a two year old).  Last year we also timed everything so that the chickens and the pigs were in the freezer early – no huge fall/almost winter rush to get everything done in less than optimal conditions. We ordered only fifteen layers to replace the old layers – still too  many layers if you ask me, but we still get a lot of requests for eggs so it’s not that I’m stuck with them.

The gardens did well, lots of beans, carrots, potatoes, kale, dry beans…..beets…..don’t know what I was thinking planting so many beets.  The kids came up and took beets, my mom took beets, my neighbor took beets…..still, I was buried in beets.

We finally managed to replace the windows in the house, the bathroom, the bedroom and the large front room window that has had a large crack in it from the day we moved in – loving the new view – that be the view without the large crack running through it.

We didn’t have much winter to speak of really, only half the snow as usual, and not enough really cold days to actually light up the wood furnace – I’m okay with that, it’s not every year I’m inclined to do battle with blizzard winds and minus forty temperatures. Of course when the new calf was born, it happened to be twenty four below – and four or so in the morning when Daisy decided ‘good enough, time to drop a calf in the snow’…… it was a bit of a gong show.  She managed to stand on his tail whilst madly licking him to ‘get up’ – which he did, so yes, he’s missing a portion of his tail.  Ultimately I brought him into the barn and put him by the wood furnace on a pile of hay to dry off, and thaw his ears.  That was January fifth – he’s a big bruising brat now – and we’re sharing the glut of milk momma is making with him. 

Milking…..ah yes.  Back to it.  I hemmed and hawed and tried to work myself up to it, knowing my hands were going to fail me again but also knowing like all farmers – you gotta do what you gotta do.  Then very oddly – Bruce grabbed the bucket one morning and decided he’d give it another try.  Very oddly – he figured it out!  Returned with a large pail and about two cups of milk :D! I was impressed.  I dutifully strained the milk, got it into the fridge and thought maybe, just maybe….I might not have to struggle through the milking season again. Well, the man is on a roll now….I haven’t had to march out with the bucket even once, which is awesome considering the time it takes to simply deal with the milk (strain, skim, butter, cheese, washing jars and buckets) don’t know how I did it last year to be honest. Honestly – for those who don’t know the whole story….we had discussed off and on over the years whether or not we wanted a milk cow.  We had decided on these occasions that no we weren’t going to get a milk cow until at least one of us was home full time. When Bruce arrived home one day to inform me that he’d gone ahead and purchased a Jersey heifer….the first words out of my mouth were ‘I ain’t milking no damn cow!’  The first words out of his mouth were ‘No honey – I’ll milk the cow!’

Bruce has never milked a cow in his life, or a goat for that matter (though he did try when we had goats)……and of course it was as much a disaster as I had been thinking it was going to be.  So I milked.  Milking a cow is not the same as milking goats – my hands functioned reasonably well when we had goats to milk.  Less volume mainly…..therefore less time on the milk stool….less milk to deal with.  A cow gives a lot of milk. And there isn’t anything quick about it.  My hands complained every minute of every day, I could barely make them function at work, and though I love my husband to bits – there wasn’t a day I didn’t want to whack him upside the head with that milk bucket.  The thing is – he knew it – and he felt, well, bad.  Angry with himself – it hadn’t occurred to him that he wouldn’t be able to get milk out of a cow.  This year, for whatever reason…..he suddenly got the hang of it.  I think it made a difference that it’s the cows second term and seriously, the milk was literally pouring on the ground every time she took a step.  Much easier to learn I think, when you don’t have to work so hard at it. 🙂

So, we’ve settled into a rhythm again…that ‘farming, spring, milking, getting ready for gardening, pigs, ,meat birds, layers, projects’ rhythm that dictates how each day starts and ends.  We’re both still working off farm and at this point I don’t see that changing any time soon no matter how much we wish it. 

I would like to say I’m going to get my arse in gear and try to blog more often, rather than just leaving everybody hanging without warning – but I’m not going to commit to that.  My hours in my day are full, full, full.  Although last year my intentions were to at least attempt a regular post – I found  that by the time I sat down at night, it was all I could do not to fall asleep with my head in the dinner plate. Mental exhaustion I’m guessing – my work load at work doubled in a heartbeat last spring when the only other large transmission shop in town, closed it’s doors.  Not for lack of business, rather the owner returned from vacation, wandered around his shop for a few hours and decided – enough.  Two weeks later the place was no more.  Crazy.

So – on that note, my day isn’t done yet – and I best get back at it. Hope to post again soon. 🙂


About valbjerke

Farmer, Transmission Rebuilder, Self Sufficiency Nut. Like the old school way of doing things. "Fast is fine - accuracy is final" (quote by some way back famous gun-slinger - likely just before he got shot dead)
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13 Responses to Officially doing nothing…..ish.

  1. avwalters says:

    Post when you can. There isn’t a blogger out here who doesn’t get overwhelmed from time to time. Our first obligation is to live our lives as fully as we can. Doing that only enriches our blogs–when we find the time to write.

  2. You know that I know how this blog updating thing goes – or doesn’t 🙂
    Honestly, you guys sound crazy busy, so I’m not surprised. Don’t sweat – it you’ve got other stuff to do. Though I do like reading your updates when your time, energy and enthusiasm for writing all converge :).

    Congrats on the milking success and completing the Equine Anatomy course – do you have plans in that direction?

    • valbjerke says:

      Not specific plans as of yet – ultimately I would like to get my farriers license. As I was (a few years ago) plowing through ‘The Principles of Horseshoeing’ I realized one couldn’t hope to be a decent farrier without a thorough understanding of functional anatomy (digestion, cardio, skeletal etc). Horses are remarkable creatures – and much of their health presents itself in the condition of the hoof. 🙂

  3. Carrie says:

    Welcome back – ish 🙂 Post when the muse takes you – or disaster strikes and you want to rant. Your tales of disasters or projects that go awry are always very entertaining. No pressure then!

  4. you are always ‘officially’ amazing! love all that you do and don’t do!

  5. Pat says:

    Whatever ‘you’re on’ that gives you so much energy and drive, I want some. And if you are not on anything (which of course I know you’re not) if you ever can figure out how to bottle that stuff, you’d make a bloody fortune and could hire staff to do all your work. Sigh. In a perfect world. Always good to hear what you two are up to. Don’t sweat about how frequently you can update us, your followers will always be there. 🙂

  6. Bill says:

    I admire what you are doing there. Not just the homesteading–that it plenty amazing by itself–but doing it in such cold weather. I can’t imagine.

    I think our plates are pretty full here, but it doesn’t compare to yours. For what it’s worth, I say pace yourself.

    We’ve decided to scale back here. Back to our original plan. Our objective is to feed ourselves. If we have extra we’ll sell it at the farmers market. No more kidding myself about that. We may even take a vacation this fall, for the first time in 12 years.

    Hoping you settle into a sweet spot. I greatly enjoy your posts and will take them when you feel like offering them.

    • valbjerke says:

      Thankyou – I’ve been trying for years to figure out a ‘pace’ that works well. Hard habit to break though, that light speed I seem to function best at.
      Glad to see you’ve taken some of the pressure of supplying food to others off your shoulders – you’ll be happier for it – and I hope you both get your vacation. We’ve never been able to be off the farm at the same time – seems nobody wants to jump at the chance to ‘farm sit’ 😄

  7. Totally understand. Same here.

  8. DM says:

    We grew up with a Jersey house cow. We took turns milking it by hand as I recall. Then dad, decided to get another 20 Holstein’s so we invested in 2 milk machines..yep, now that we have an old acreage ourselves, I could have room for a house cow…but can’t bring myself to go down that road again…loved this post. May have to write one myself about growing up milking…I have a picture of my dad milking that first cow by hand…it is a keepsake.

    • valbjerke says:

      There being only two of us, it seems daft to have a cow….but as we try to raise/grow/make as close to 100 % of our own food – the butter and cheese alone make it well worth the investment.
      My grandparents had a dairy way back, used to deliver milk and cream door to door. Oddly, I just found out last year, that my great grandparents also had a large dairy in another province – Holsteins as well I believe. 😊

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