Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekly update

I lost my camera the other day and I’ve felt naked ever since. I usually have an old Canon camera in my pocket so I can take pictures at any given time.

To my surprise today, Maddox asked if I’d like my camera back. I guess he was tearing around the river bottom and saw this old camera on the trail. He immediately had this joyful exuberance come over him because he was going to finally find out who was sneaking onto his land when there is quite clearly No Trespassing signs posted all over. Much to his dismay, the first picture he saw was of Ringo’s blue eyes. No photo shop needed.July 002

I tested out the camera on Pretty Petunia and Ringo. Looks like it still works.

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Petunia is photo genic but was grumpy at me for taking pictures of her. It’s awesome I can blackmail someone by saying “be nice to me or I’m going to put this on my blog.”

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“You wouldn’t dare!”

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I guess I must be the mean uncle not the cool one.

We had a chicken die on us yesterday. Milly was emotional. I was sad. It’s hard to see animals die. We’ve had a few casualties over the past few months but usually they are caused by predators. This one just stopped responding and was dead within a few hours. We aren’t versed enough in animal husbandry yet to know what to do. This was an older bird so hopefully it was just her time to go. At least it happened quickly.

We got temporary power into our basement so we can start putting up the subfloor on the basement walls. That is if we can ever finish our floor plan. We have gone about as far as we can without a completed plan. Even I have to agree we have to finish the plan before we can proceed. We'll, I think we are going to get our pit less adapter in on the well so that can be filled back in. That will get us water in the place as well. And if we don’t hurry with the plan I’m going to start on the subfloor anyways. I have power so there’s not much stopping me other than…not having a plan.

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As you can see, the garden is still scraggily. We’ve got some peas off of it but I’ll be surprised if anything else amounts to much. That’s what you get when you break up the soil and don’t condition it at all. And rely on hand watering as well. At least there wasn’t too many weeds as we did the planting in a square foot format. We like this way of planting and it lets you get a lot more out of a smaller space.

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This next week is going to be big on planning and getting ready for all out house building.

Hopefully the farm doesn’t fall apart as we turn our attention to building rather than caring for everything.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Farm fashion

Milly is always very distraught with my sense of fashion. I can’t really tell what matches nor really care how I look especially when I’m working.

Take these pictures for example. I was out helping to pour the footings in our basement with our basement contractor.

Milly isn’t very fond of my bright orange shirts I picked up at my last conference but Ringo thinks they are cool and the concrete guy didn’t make any comments.

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My shirt matches the concrete drivers gloves and vests. I’m sure he coordinated his outfit with mine.summer 078

Pouring footings for our basement. I was surprised to see my basement guy in shorts. I bet his wife didn’t check his outfit when he went out the door either. He actually figured out his shirt was on backwards after we were done pouring.

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I didn’t know that “Ask me about hosting” saying showed up so well. When I was at my last conference and I was wearing this shirt and someone came up and said “What about hosting?”. I didn’t know what he meant until I took off the shirt and looked at the back.

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Footings filling up with concrete.

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The forms for footings were made out of 2 x 6 boards held up by metal stakes.

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Here’s the concrete footing we are going to put our masonry stove supports on. Another 4 inches of concrete go on top when the basement is slab is poured.

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View of the completed footings job.

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Ringo was the concrete wheel barrow guy. Amazing how much work I can get out of one kid.

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I guess I put these pictures in a little mixed up. Here’s me looking tough throwing in cement wherever I was told to.

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We are less than precise at this point. We did have a fancy tool telling us if we were close to the 8 inches we wanted the footing to be.

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More precision work.

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After many years of complaints and constant pressure I’ve learned to always check with my professional wardrobe consultant to make sure I am properly suited to be seen in public. I even check to make sure my potential choice of outfits will work out when I’m away at conferences.

Too bad for Milly there is hardly any public places where we live. Nine times out of ten I’m in my bright orange shirts and old man blue jeans I got for $7 at Costco.

I’m glad I’m already married and don’t need to worry about fashion anymore. I’d be in real trouble if I had to convince Milly to marry me again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another reason why dad shouldn’t dress the kids

Ringo wasn’t too happy about my choice of clothes for him.

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Pink and red go together all right doesn’t it?

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The best example is little Polly. She doesn’t care what she looks like yet and has no idea I’m going to blackmail her with these pictures when she’s older.

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I’m sure the neighbors think we are the worse parents letting our kids roam the streets looking like this.

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In our defense, we at least have photo proof we weren’t neglecting the kids. Just taking advantage of a great photo opportunity.

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OK, here’s a nice one of the poor little dear.

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I shouldn’t be allowed to have a blog. At least for my kids sake.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Milly is cussing my name right now

I suppose I deserve to be cussed out every now and then.

Last week we were given the opportunity to acquire another 20 chickens. (I told you 30 total may be a good place to end up.) By acquire I mean we have a good friend that is getting rid of a bunch of roosters and told us if we’d take the chicks she’d throw in a couple of Americana hens. We (meaning me) jumped at the chance. My thought process was the following:

  1. We already have 13 birds what’s a few more
  2. We could use the roosters as meat birds if they don’t attack our kids first making us have to get rid of them sooner rather than later
  3. They are free
  4. We already have a chicken coop and would only need to expand our current setup just slightly. And when we move out to our land full time we’ll have room for a lot more

Well, I told Milly today was the day she needed to pick the birds up. It just so happens that tomorrow is her scheduled “Outdoor cooking class”. You know the one that was cancelled that we did all this preparation for. The one the she has to get ready for all today.

I’ve been cautiously looking out the door the past 4 hours as Milly, Ringo, Polly, Molly and Greybeard chase down 20 chicks that just seem to instinctively know how to find all the escape routes on our chicken coop. I guess there are a few holes in my clucking Castle enclosement and the slight modifications theory may be an understatement.

I suppose I should head out and help with the process. Milly will really be whooping when she finds out I was inside writing a blog as she was out attending to my mess.

Ya, I suppose I do deserve a good cussing at every now and again.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anyone need any horse hay?

I just love seeing bales on the open field. We decided to get some small square bales done up this year just so we could take pictures of them.

I guess we also wanted them for Rosebud this winter. In ages past we’ve only ever sold the hay on the stump (the farmer comes in and buys the hay still standing then they cut and bale and haul off).

We’ve had no need for feed but now that we have a cow it kind of comes in handy to have a hay field.

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Not too many people do small square bales anymore as they are really labor intensive. If all goes right (big if) you can get more money for them than the more common large round and large square bales.

The higher cost will hopefully make up for all the added inputs involved in cutting, baling, collecting,  stacking, tarping, storing and selling in potentially smaller quantities which comes with small square bales.

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We got a local farmer to come and cut and bale but now we are stuck with 950 bales.

So if you know anyone that needs about 800 small square bales for their horses or goats (or whatever other animal eats hay) let them know you know of  a secret supply of super duper completely organic and extra tasty hay.

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Here’s a video of a bale wagon doing it’s thing.

It’s pretty fun watching this thing go around the field picking up all these bales. It’s way better than what I had to do as a kid when an old farmer used to drag me around the back of the tracker stouking hay (triangle stacks you used to see in the fields in the country). We’d then take a bale wagon and load everything by hand then unload them into a barn. Itchy, scratchy, tiresome work for a sixteen year old.

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This beautiful tractor is a 1963 Allis Chalmers version. It works great with the open cab to run the fairly well used bale wagon. For those of you wondering if you’ve entered a time warp I’ll set your mind at ease. It is 2011 and this machinery is still working. Rather amazing really.

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Using equipment like this decreases costs for a small time farmer and allows lower overhead. It also increases headaches in broken down equipment but that’s a small cost considering a new tractor can cost more than a good sized house.

After all the headache and risks are overcome I am really glad we did the small squares. It provided for great photo’s and Rosebud will have a lot of tasty feed for the winter. Win, win.

I have never felt like such a city slicker in my whole life

Meet Maverick and Charley and family (New additions to Who’s Who.) Maverick is one of my favorite cousins from my childhood along with his twin brother Molar. Maverick and his family were visiting our neck of the woods and delighted us with a drive by visit.

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California to Canada is about a 24 hour drive. They headed 6 hours north so can only imagine the amount of screaming and yelling that occurred in this trip.

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We showed these top gun characters around the place. Ringo even climbed to the top of the dirt pile to see what he could see.

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If Ringo wasn’t already properly named I’d probably rename him Goose.

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Why the post about a long lost cousin?

I think this picture will forever remain in my memory as I hauled the crew around the farm. Charlie was relegated to the back of the Yota and crammed among all the refuse and waste. You can see her stylish appearance and obligatory smile as she burst forth her real feelings: I’ve never felt like such a city slicker in my whole life.

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I remember the exact feelings of coming home to the country after being immersed in the bright lights and manicured lawns of the big city. How odd and out of place it feels to visit a place like this.

Funny enough I had the exact opposite experience last week. I had to take an extended business trip to California and felt like a country bumpkin for the first week or so. Who am I kidding? I was a fish out of water the whole 10 days I was gone.

You know you are a country kid when you itch to milk a cow every day you are away from the farm.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Milking cows in Los Angeles

I just wanted Milly to know I milked my share of cows while I was in LA.

It was kind of funny. They had two pretty milk maids there with the cow and I asked if I could take a picture and I think they were used to being in the photo with all the geeky techies gawking at them. I asked if they’d back away as I wanted a clear shot of this bovine darling.

The milk maids looked stunned and speechless as I grabbed onto the appropriate appendages and started squeezing.

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You can take the boy off the farm but not the farm out of the boy.

Travels of a lonely wanderer

The past ten days have been very challenging. I have been away on business and have had to deal with the lonely far away feelings that come from being separated from the people I like most in life. Being a wanderer isn’t so bad when the family wanders with me but heading off to the cruel cold world (OK, San Diego and LA aren’t all that cold) alone is never a satisfying experience for me.

Luckily Ringo committed my temporary cell phone number to memory and sneakily called me from his bedroom multiple times a day when no one else was around so he didn’t have to share the conversation time. I also got to talk with the rest of the gang frequently although every time I called Milly was out milking the cow.

I’m not sure how anyone does this sort of thing on a full time basis. Usually any business trip follows a very similar pattern for me.

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Day 1 – Say good bye to family. Kind of excited about a full nights sleep without kids waking up in the middle of night and being able to eat out at fancy restaurants and interact with people in person. Bowels regular and sleep pattern normal. Going to miss family but trip has to be done.

Day 2 – Meet everyone at new location and have lots of chit chat with old acquaintances. Family still remembers what dad looks like and have lots to say on phone. Watch all the sporting events possible from hotel room. Eat a ton of meat and unhealthy restaurant food. Going to bed later than usual due to time change, jet lag and business obligations so sleep patterns get way out of whack. Bowels still normal even if guts start to solidify.

Day 3- Business meetings are in full swing. Starting to feel tired and lonely. Still eating lots of unhealthy food. Still cramming in ESPN and various activities at travel destination. Would love to come home and get back to real life. Searching for fruit and any fiber to help with bowel situation. Guts about at a stand still.

Day 4 through end of trip – Super lonely. ESPN seems to repeat everything about 20 times a day. Food is a burden. Body is rebelling from the deprivation of healthy food especially bowels.  Everyone I talk to gets on my nerves and I have self affirmation why I work from home and live where I do.

Would love to talk to family all day but immersed in reason for the business trip. Youngest kid reaches some milestone such as walking for the first time or talking in full sentences on the phone (Polly said “I want the tap turned on” clear as day so says Milly.)

Homecoming day 1– Head home on the plane. Since we live in the middle of nowhere it takes all day to get home. Kids are in bed when I arrive so can only sneak in and hug and kiss kids while they are asleep.  Wife is frazzled from managing the affairs of the house alone for the past several days. Debriefing on activities with wife usually ends with tears of relief and joy.

Disgusted at the thought of ever leaving again. Check the scale to see the damage done on body weight and composition. Appalled that anyone can gain X number of LBS in such a short time. For me it’s about a pound a day due to congealed intestines.

Homecoming day 2 – Kids are so excited to have another parent to interact with most of the time screaming and yelling is involved. After being away from kid noise and body being worn down to a base survival level nerves are touchy and much distress is involved for both children and parents.

Start trying to eat and sleep normally again. Wife wants to go out to eat to get a break from the woes of being a single parent. Just the thought of eating out prompts heaving and gagging reflex and I try to convince Milly to settle for a home cooked meal after putting the kids to bed at 5pm for the night.

Homecoming day 3 through 5 – Almost back to normal. Body is semi recovered. Find out when the next trip from home is and dread the time I have to say goodbye again. Start to lose about a pound a day after getting back into regular activities.

Get back to normal work and try to catch up on being away as things have just piled up knee deep.

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Thankfully I only have to do this 3 or 4 times a year.

I tried to convince Milly to come with me this last trip for the first few days but she was much too responsible as she pointed out someone needed to milk the cow and build our house. I suppose that’s important although if it was me I’d have been irresponsible and jumped at the chance.

I’m one flight away from being back home. I feel the lonely feelings subsiding and excitement is continually building to see my loved ones again. Be home tonight guys. Maybe Ringo will sneakily stay awake so I can tuck him in for bed.

Did I miss anything about the challenges of traveling for business?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Who would actually read these silly blog posts

Milly is amazed that I’d be willing to maintain a blog. I’m usually a very private person and hate revealing anything about myself. “How can you publish our dirty laundry to the world?”

I usually counter by saying “who in the world is going to actually read these posts?” Maybe a few close friends and acquaintances will spend a few obligatory minutes to see what is going on with us.

Well, I’m almost changing my mind regarding the widespread readership this blog has.

Don’t get me wrong. The Simple Farm blog is not one of the top 10 blogs of all time. But increasingly more often than not I have people say to me “I love your blog.”

It’s surprising that I have any readership at all seeing that I’m a guy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the applaud, incredulous, snicker “A dude blogger?”

I am also usually surprised that anyone would actually find my random thoughts entertaining. But none the less thanks everyone for the support.

Comments are always appreciated and I love to hear when a long lost friend has followed us from afar. I’ve even heard Milly occasionally give out the link to The Simple Farm.

Maybe this isn’t one of the top 10 blogs of all time but I would guess we must have cracked the top 10 homestead/farming blogs written by a dude.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What to do with a Jersey steer?

Rosebud is a beautiful Jersey cow. Look at those skinny hip bones and big head. Just the type of body that produces a large amount of milk on a daily basis. One thing about Jersey cows however is is when they have a steer what in the world do you do with it. It’s mostly skin and bones. That’s why the dairy farms mostly just give away the male offspring.

When we bought Rosebud sunshine and lightning said they had a steer that they’d throw it in on the deal.

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We were told the calf will grow to around a 1000 pounds and we’ll get about 500 lbs of meat when we butcher. If you are a beef rancher that is a lot of loss. For us 500 lbs will last us about five to ten years.

Our calf was dubbed Monkey and we put him out on the range with some real beef cows. Hopefully the association will be good for his disposition.

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You ain’t that big son!

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Who can beat the view.

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Grow baby Grow.

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I’m hoping this grass fed beef will be nice and tasty come this fall or next summer. You can see this calf is not pure jersey. This is a Jersey/Speckle Park (SP?) mix.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Papi and Mami Tomato

Just got back from one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had in a long time. I was invited over to dinner with a good friend and his wife who love to cook and entertain. After a couple of days of hotel and fast food, a homemade meal by a couple of gourmet chefs was incredible.

Papi is a master gardener. His tomato plants are taller than me and he has such plants like avocado, lemon, and orange trees. I watched Papi cut the tomatoes off of the tomato vines and make fresh tomato sauce for a wonderful pasta dinner. I felt like I needed to offer him $100 for such a wonderful meal. No way I could have bought that good of food at any restaurant.

Part of our long conversation centered on priorities. Having raised three beautiful girls and working a hundred hours a week during his younger days Papi warned me about working too long and ignoring the family. Sage advice from a wily old veteran.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This is why dad doesn’t dress the kids

I really don’t think it’s such a bad outfit. I like the shirt.

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Our chicks are a hit with all the little kiddies. Molly is surprisingly hands on with the birds. She usually is scared stiff of living, breathing creatures but she’ll grab hold of these creatures.

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The footings are poured in the basement and it’s already haying season. If any one needs 50 tons of hay let me know.