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. 🙂