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Operation Hoop House

Posted by Judi F Radel on December 3, 2013 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The following was supposed to be the Yeehaw Farm October newsletter which never was distributed to our members. Sorry about that. As promised in the November newsletter, here it is. A bit late.

 

Howdy!                                                                                                      October 24, 2013

     Every time that sit down to write this monthly newsletter, I can’t believe that another month has come and gone since the last newsletter. I guess when you are having a ball in life, it flies by. And I am. Life freakin’ rocks on Yeehaw Farm. Not sure that my family, especially my punk kids would agree with that statement but I don’t care. I am having a grand ole time and that’s all that matters! Ha.

     BIG news to report this month. Our cold weather vegetable growing hoop house is finally finished. Five years after we bought it. Yep, that’s right, Cranky (that would be Tommy, for those of you who don’t follow the infamous muscled arms of my husband on Facebook ) finally finished the hoop house just this week! I am so excited that I could puke. Seriously. I wasn’t being my normal sarcastic self with that last statement.

     The hoop house is a great story. I think I will share how our 60 foot hoop house came to finally be after all these years. Once upon a time, in the year 2008, I had a vision for our farm to be more self sustaining. Cranky, on the other hand, did not share this plan for our farm because all he ever knew was to be a conventional farmer. Conventional farming and fishing. I had dreams of having year round vegetables to complete our farming operation. I kept bugging, begging, pleading and very annoyingly demanding a hoop house but Cranky just ignored my desires for winter food production. In May of 2008, Cranky had taken his annual weekend fishing/drinking trip with his buddies to West Virginia. This annual rite of passage fishing trip annoyed the hell out of me every year because it was always taken at the busiest time of the spring planting season. Which ticked me off. Staying home with our four punks, milking cows and trying to keep up with the farm always left me with a very piss poor attitude. And a bit of spitefulness. The first evening that Cranky was away, I was perusing the Farm and Garden section on Craig’s list. And there it was. My hoop house. My dream. Just waiting for me to answer the ad. I thought to myself, “Self, if you can handle this farm by yourself for four days, you can handle purchasing and dragging home a hoop house by yourself.” (A side note- I really need to have a mediator when I start a conversation with myself.)

     I set up a time to look at the hoop house and took the checkbook. I need to be honest with you and myself. I had no idea what I was looking at when I finally arrived at the Craig’s list hoop house location but I pretended like I did. Disassembled, it just looked like a junk pile of pipe, plastic and metal fittings to which I had no idea how they went together but I didn’t care. I was gaining some serious spite on my dear husband drinking, err…um, fishing in West Virginia. So, I bought it because at the time, it seemed like a really great idea. The hoop house was priced extremely cheap because it needed to be removed off the premises in three days. No problem, I thought to myself again (which always gets me in trouble). The guy selling it kept repeating to me, “Seriously, it has to be removed by Sunday. No later.” Again….No problem. I wrote the check, shook hands and told the dude that I would return on Saturday to pick the hoop house up. I drove the 26 miles on Saturday to pick up the hoop house, only to realize the removal of the hoop house was a pretty big job and one that I could not handle myself. I promised to return on Sunday with assistance from Cranky when he returned from West Virginia. Maybe, I couldn’t handle all the farm stuff completely all by myself after all but I had sufficiently satisfied my yearning to spite my husband. Waiting patiently all day Sunday for Cranky to return home from his fishing trip, he finally arrived home in the late afternoon and boy, was he ever cranky. And hung over. I hadn’t even told him about the hoop house yet. In fact, I couldn’t bring myself to mention the hoop house because he was in such a bad mood.

     So…resort to plan B. Problem was, I didn’t have a plan B. I resolved to myself to figure a way out of this hoop house mess so I drove back to the hoop house location yet again. Another 26 miles, one way. By this time, it was getting dark when I once again pulled up in our farm truck and still didn’t have any help to move the pile of hoop house debris. I tried pulling, twisting, shoving and cursing the 16 feet curved metal poles to somehow fit them in our truck bed. They just wouldn’t fit. By this time, it was 11:30pm and time was running out. At midnight, I thought for sure that my hoop house would turn into a pumpkin since it was not removed by Sunday. Almost to the point of tears, I sat down on my pile of metal rubble, buried my head into my hands only to be startled by the guy who I purchased the hoop house from gently tapping me on the shoulder asking me to “Please, go home.” He would give me another day to try to retrieve my hoop house. Yes! My pitiful self came through yet again. I drove the 26 miles back home, crawled into bed and began planning my assault on the damn hoop house for the next day. I needed to come up with the ultimate plan. I called it, “Operation Hoop House Home”. A sleepless night yielded nothing and by the next morning, I still didn’t have a productive plan of hoop house assault. Retreating with my white flag, I finally broke down and confided in Cranky. I spoke the words so fast, slurred with a hint of stutter that he couldn’t even understand me. “IIIbottttahooooophousetospiteyoouuuuandandandandnowIIIIcan’tgettttithome.Whaaaa.”After which, I commenced sucking my thumb in between sobbing for breath.

     Boy. I sure showed Cranky that I could handle things myself, didn’t I?

     Surprisingly, Cranky wasn’t upset that I had drained our bank account for a pile of metal poles and plastic. He simply said, “Alright, here’s the deal. The farm truck isn’t inspected, nor is the trailer that we will need to pick up the hoop house. If you think we can get there today without the cops seeing us, let’s go for it.” Wait. The farm truck that I had been driving back and forth 26 miles each way wasn’t inspected?

     Ever the optimist, I figured if the po po hadn’t caught me in the three previous round trips, I was sure that I could make it one more time traveling 52 miles without the cops catching up with our illegal truck and trailer. So, we set off on Operation Hoop House Home with a rusty, two tone red and white, 24 year old Dodge farm truck pulling an illegal homemade farm trailer. Surely, no one would notice us.

     Our trip to pick up the hoop house was uneventful and we didn’t see one cop on the way there. We didn’t see any cops because basically, we couldn’t see much at all. It was pouring down buckets of rain and the windshield wipers on the old truck broke on our trip. Being the ever ingenious farmers that we are, we found baling twine behind the seat of the truck, in which we tied onto each wiper blade. Cranky with his arm out his side of the truck and me on the other side with my one arm out of my side window pulled the wind shield wipers back and forth across the glass to keep the rain off the windows so that Cranky could see. “Pull!” yelled Cranky as he would finish pulling the wipers towards him. “Pull!” I would yell as the wipers were ready to go Cranky’s way. It was almost hypnotic with the wipers swirling back and forth. Surely…no one noticed us hanging out both sides of that old, two tone farm truck pulling an ugly farm trailer in the pouring rain.

     Regardless, Cranky kept repeating, in between the word, “Pull!”, that I was to keep on the look out for cops. Even though we never saw one cop on the trip, I wondered what we would do if we did see one. What was my genius husband’s plan? To hide the old Dodge truck and trailer behind a stop sign, hold our breath and hope that the cop doesn’t see us? I still wonder what his plan was but I never bothered to ask. I was too caught up in pulling my side of the windshield wipers so that I could keep up. And I think I might have been temporarily hypnotized with the back and forth motion of the wipers. You keep your eyes on the swaying of windshield wipers for a 26 mile trip and see if you can remain un-hypnotized.

     Finally at our designation, we loaded up the hoop house on the trailer and strapped on the plastic and all the extra fittings in the pouring rain. After the windshield wiper ordeal, loading the hoop house was a piece of cake. Cranky and I didn’t say much to each other except a few cuss words to the pouring rain. Obviously, the rain was to fault for this whole fiasco.

     However, things were looking up. Traveling back up the road on our return trip, the rain subsided a bit so that we only had to swish the wipers on an intermittent basis. Even so, Cranky still reminded me to keep an eye out for the enemy…the police. Again, I wondered what he was going to do if I actually spotted a cop but then decided that Cranky is a twit and that was enough of a conclusion for me.

     About three miles from our farm, Cranky and I were both feeling a bit triumphant from Operation Hoop House Home and our evasion of the ever present police. So much so that we decided to stop at the local convenience store to pick up coffees to warm our drenched bodies. Paying for our coffees, we quickly ran back to our illegal vehicle parked next to the curb. I had both coffees in my hands and was trying to open my door while Cranky was stepping over the trailer hitch. I remember hearing a crash, and then tires squealing. Next thing I knew, I was laying on the parking lot, still holding the coffees in the air, trying to avoid spilling them. I heard Cranky bitching and yelling, “What the hell is going on?”

     Coming to my senses and still holding the coffees up in the air (because we had just paid for the damn caffeine, I certainly did not want to spill any) I realized as I was rolling around on the parking lot floor that some dude had side swiped our farm truck and then driven off. A hit and run. On my Operation Hoop House Home. Well, the nerve.

     When the hit and run driver backed into and then side swiped our truck, Cranky was stepping over the trailer hitch. The collision moved our truck and trailer about four feet taking Cranky down with it. As Cranky was rolling around behind the truck, bitching and moaning, I became pissed that the hit and run driver had, indeed, run off. I got up, still holding the coffee and chased the hit and run driver down the highway, yelling and screaming for him to stop. He drove off, spinning his wheels and burning rubber but…the dofus couldn’t escape the eagle eyesight that I possess. I kept repeating his license number as I ran back to the truck (still holding the coffees, mind you) to find Cranky sitting in the front seat, brushing himself off and still asking, “What the hell happened?” My boy is clueless and always will be.

     The very first thing that Cranky did after I told him that I remembered the hit and run driver’s license plate is pull out his cell phone and called the police.

     Yes. Really.

      After a three hour trip of trying to avoid the police at all costs, my twit husband simply whips out his cell phone and calls the po po to report a hit and run accident to our illegal farm truck and trailer. Yes. Really.

     Sitting there in the front seat of the farm truck (still holding the coffees), feeling smug with ourselves for our detective work, realization finally clicked as we looked over at each other.

     Cranky asked, “Did I just call the police on our own illegal truck and trailer?”

     “Yep” I answered.

     And that is how “Operation Hoop House Home” went down.

 

 

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Posted by Judi F Radel on February 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (2)

What's this? Another post in a two day period? You will have to forgive me. I have had a cold/flu for several days now and I am deliriously bored. I have tried sleeping (tired of that, yes, pun intended) and watching tv (one can only watch so much iceskating and motorcross before that's gets really old.)  I started  to read a couple different books but haven't found a book that keeps my attention for long. I have found that I can occupy my time spent resting in bed by writing a few blog posts and downloading a few photos. So, that's what I am doing. Deal with it.  I am also a bit testy.

Yesterday's blog post got me thinking about just how my grandparents have influenced us in the way we farm today. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Yeehaw Farm was my grandfather's farm.  Back in the day, my grandfather used horses. My daddy has even used horses until the first tractor came around.  After that, he couldn't wait to get rid of those horses. He never liked farming with horses and was none to sorry to see them go.  Although, he will concede that horses do a much better job at cultivating than tractors do.  That's about all he will concede to horses. "Hayburners" is his nice terminology for horses. I was never allowed to have a horse while growing up because my daddy hated horses so much.  He did however, buy me a cow, which I could ride.  You see the cow was multi purpose; she could be milked, provide us with calves and I could also ride her. The hay would not be wasted with her.

Here I am riding my cow, Surprise. Check out the ten gallon cowboy hat. Life was good back then, riding off into the sunset with my faithful dog by my side on my cow.  Actually riding a cow puts a new spin on the word, "cowgirl"!

This is my grandfather with his team of horses.

 

I doubt that we will ever go back to farming with horses but I have been giving careful consideration into farming with a team of oxen. I think my daddy would be okay with it since he is the one who steered me towards cows from the beginning.  I don't think Cranky is crazy about the idea of oxen but he will get used to it!  I am looking at ways to not be so dependent on fossil fuels while farming our land and oxen seem like the perfect fit.  Oxen also seem like the happy medium link to my grandparents way of farming and ours. My grandparents were never dependent on fossil fuels when farming with horses. Hopefully, it will be the same way with oxen.

Here is a photo of Tommy combining last year's wheat crop. Trust me, this combine is not fossil fuel friendly. But my point is that much hasn't changed with how we plant, grow, and harvest wheat since my grandparents did it back in the day.  While looking at other photos from that day of this year's wheat harvest, I stumbled across Tommy mooning the camera from inside the combine cab. Seriously. Please quit squinting your eyes towards the combine cab.  P-pleeze!  I did not use that photo. Come on!  This is a family oriented blog. I would never show you my husband's ass on this blog. But I will show you...

My grandmother combining wheat in her bra! Yes, the more that things change, the more things stay the same. Evidently, our family has a fetish for exposing themselves while combining wheat. Nice. And this trait will surely be passed down to our punks. God bless them.

Some things do change however. Here is a photo of my momma with her 4H pigs that she raised.  When it got time to sell them at the auction, she couldn't do it. She cried so hard that my grandfather told her she didn't have to sell her pigs.

And here is a photo of my son, Boo with his 4H pig from last summer. He couldn't wait to sell that darn pig! No tears were shed fom my boy when that pig went on the auction block. However, I can't say that I didn't cry a tear or two!

Don't mind Boo's blue lips and smile. We decided to take a photo after he had just eaten a blue snow cone.  4Her's are given free snow cones at our county fair and if it anythings says "Free", my punks are first in line.  Plus, their momma would never, ever buy them a snow cone so they jump on any chance they can to eat the forbidden junk food!

More old photos and commentary to follow in upcoming blog posts about my farming heritage.  Keep an eye out.  

A dimwit bully no more.

Posted by Judi F Radel on February 6, 2012 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (1)

Remember Mennie from the last blog post? This is Mennie all grown up, with baling twine, corn cobs, cob webs and blood running down her head. What the heck did we do to her? No, it wasn't some type of satanic ritual.  We cut Mennie's horns off.

When Tommy bought Mennie as a little heifer calf, it was a bit hectic on the farm that summer. Fast forward over two years, I can report that our lives haven't eased up much. The rest of that summer would have been the perfect time to remove Mennie's horns when she was a calf. It just never got done. Unfortunately, that's how we roll around here...projects evenually get done- we just don't know when?  Months, years, decades? Who knows with our family?

We try to keep up with dehorning calves, goats and anything else with horns on this farm. We don't like horns on our animals. It's a safety issue for us as well as our other animals. When an animal has horns, you can bet your buttered biscuits that that animal knows how to use their horns to get what they want. Although Mennie was fairly gentle around us with her horns, she wasn't so nice to the other cows and little calves. She would butt the other dairy cows with her horns to eat all the grain at the feeder.  Basically, she was a bully. With the exception of our old family milkcow, "Milkcow" (original name, aye?) who doesn't let anyone or anything tell her what to do, Mennie was our version of the bully kid at school who steals the little kids lunch money, makes snide, derogatory comments and acts like a dimwit. Yep, that was our Mennie, the dimwit.

We kept putting off dehorning Mennie because first, it was summer, then she was pregnant with her calf, then she had such a hard delivery that we wanted to make sure she was healthy before we added anymore stress to her body. Fast forward to this past week; it's winter, she is recovered from delivery and she was becoming an even bigger bully with the other cows. Milkcow was the only one who could keep her straight but Milkcow couldn't settle all the disputes all the time. You know, Milkcow does have to take time for herself once in a while.  Chewing her cud, basking in the sun and relaxing are how Milkcow likes to spend her days. If I would allow her to get a pedicure, she would be all over it.

Being the dimwit that Mennie is, she put her head and horns in a hayrack that she shouldn't have and got her head stuck.  This is another valid reason not to have horns on animals; getting their horns stuck in fences, hayracks, etc. can often lead to death or other damage.  We have a momma goat that got her horns stuck in a fence, laid in the hot sun for a few hours and until we found her, was on death's door. The goat survived but she definitely has brain damage. It's hard to tell when goats have brain damage because they are so goofy anyway but this girl has never fully recovered.  Since Mennie was already stuck and wasn't going anywhere, it was the perfect opportunity for Cranky to cut those horns off.

When cutting off horns, there are a few items that you need to round up from around the farm first.

  • cattle dehorners
  • baling twine
  • corn cobs
  • Blu kote antiseptic spray
  • cob webs 

Here are the cattle dehorners. These are really old and are normally found hanging in our barn. (Duh!  This is where we would need them so they should be kept in the barn but there was that one time that the dehorners couldn't be found anywhere on the farm so my daddy used a chainsaw to cut the horns off of a cow. Yeah. No kidding. Don't mess with my daddy, man.  My daddy has always danced to the beat of his own drum his whole life.)

The dehorners look like some type of medieval contraptions, don't they? This particular dehorner is probably from the early 1900's so it's a possibility that they are over a hundred years old. And they still work just as good as they did hundred years ago. I know they are old because on this farm, we don't throw anything a way...EVER. We keep things forever. This can be seen as a good thing, if you like family history, sentimental items and never having to purchase things at the store because..."oh, there is one of those things laying around the farm, somewhere. It was your grandfather's." Oh my God, I have heard those words uttered a time or two in my lifetime. 

If I ever thought about really getting into homesteading and taking up blacksmithing? My great grandfather's anvil is on the farm somewhere. Milking cows with a vacuum pump? Milker buckets from when my parents gave up milking cows are in the crawl space above a shed somewhere on the farm. Fixing up a Model T Ford? The steering wheel column is laying on a pile of stones...somewhere on the farm. There is also an old firetruck sitting in our pasture and an United States mailtruck in another pasture. Not sure what I could do with those but everyone needs a firetruck and a mailtruck, right?  One never knows. Are you getting the picture, that whatever I need to pursue whatever tickles my fancy is probably here...somewhere on our farm.

But I digress. Back to the dehorning Mennie story.

After gathering up all the necessary items, Cranky whipped those horns off Mennie's head in a flash. It was a pretty simple process actually.  First, he tied baling twine around the top of her head, acting like a tourniquet. He then placed corn cobs under the baling twine so that the twine didn't dig into her head. Next, he fanangled the dehorners around her horn, used his massive bulging forearm muscles (swooning here...please ignore this wife as she embellishes the story with adjectives to describe her hottie husband) and ever so quickly clipped off her horn. He did the same thing to her other horn, sprayed the Blu kote on both horn nubs, and then patted each nub with cobwebs to stop the bleeding. Why cobwebs?  Because that's how my daddy did it when he dehorned cows, that's how my grandfather did it when he dehorned cows, that's how my great grandfather did it when he dehorned cows...are you seeing a pattern here? Wait...to be honest, I never knew my great grandfathers so I have no idea if they dehorned cows this way or not.  I'm assuming they did...where else would my grandfather learned this method from? Maybe a sustainable agriculture conference in 1922? Regardless, not only do we keep many material things from my grandfathers', we honor their spirit by using the same farming techniques that they used .  And yes, our punk children were helping  with dehorning cows so I'm sure that they will dehorn their own cows the way their grandfather's did before them, if cattle are in their future. In fact, their job was to gather the cob webs and pat it down on the horn nub.  So, again, why the cob webs?  Cob webs very effectively stop the bleeding on the horn nub. You don't believe me?  Ask any old time cattle farmer and I'm sure they will tell you the same method. Or better yet, next time you get a hemoraging gash on your body, put some cobwebs on it to stop the bleeding.

No worries, Mennie is fine. She didn't tell me if it hurt or not (unfortunately, I am not a cow whisperer and I don't speak fluent cow) but she didn't seem to mind as she continued eating out of the hayrack. She did seem a little ticked at me at milking time that evening but she is probably just mad that she can't be the dimwit bully on the farm anymore.

A future dairy cow, indeed.

Posted by Judi F Radel on January 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (1)

Remember this girl?  I have a photo of her in our farm photos that I posted two years ago.  I believe the caption says something like, "A future dairy cow?"  Well, guess what?  Two years later...she is a milk producing cow on Yeehaw Farm.  Her name is Mennie.   Yeah...I know...that's an odd name for a cow.  Do you honestly expect anything less than a weird name for our animals?  My punks named her and of course, there is a reason behind her odd name.  (Read no farther, unless you want to hear the story of how Mennie got her name.) Otherwise, have a nice day and maybe next time, I will post something that you want  to read about.

Back to Mennie.  Over two years ago,  I tested positive for Lyme disease.  It was during the summer; farmer's markets were in full swing, our CSA was in it's inaugural season and our butts were hopping on the farm trying to keep up with summer and all it's growing.  My doctor called with the results and asked me to stop by the hospital to have another test done as I had some especially high levels of some medical jargin (that I have never been able to remember).  I said, "Sure, I will stop after farmer's market today."  My doctor hestitated a bit but then, remembering that I am indeed a knothead, figured that he might as well be happy with that concession on my part.  So, after farmer's market,  I drove myself to the hospital, walked into the emergency room and there began my nightmare.  I was strapped down, told that I would only feel a pinch and that I would have to remain laying down for the next 6 hours after the white coated dudes preformed a spinal tap. What?  I agreed to come in for a test, not mini vacation on my back. And that pinch?  "Just a pinch", my ass!  That freakin' needle hurt like...well, you know?!  Six hours later, the dudes in the white coats decided my fate that I was staying at the hospital for a few days hooked up to intervenous fluid.  Feel good drugs? Really? Normally, I would say, "Yeehaw! Let's do it!" because, you know, I am game for a good time almost anytime but not so much that time of year when we are so busy on the farm.  They still had me strapped down so I really couldn't get out of there without some nurse catching me and a major incident.  I had visions of nurses chasing me out of the hospital, me still attached to my IV, dressed in my hospital gown, with my back side exposed.  Now, that's a visual most of you would like to shake off right now, aye?  "Alright, I'll stay, you talked me into it with your scare tactics." I conceded.  Plus, the feel good drugs were making me really happy and feel really special. 

The doctor's said that I had the early on set of Lyme disease meningitis but with continuous intervenous drugs, I should be good to go in a few days.  Okay.  

But let's think this scenario through a bit more.  I was going to be staying in the hospital, away from my farm for a week.  Away from my babies for a week?  Away from my husband, my elderly parents, my blind brother for a week? No cooking?  Cleaning? Baling hay? Pulling weeds? The blasted laundry?  I was totally cool about all of this until...I realized that my husband would have to milk all of the goats and our one family milkcow.  Crap.  This is the man who NEVER wanted to milk anything if we were going to farm together? The man who said that I could keep a family milk cow on the farm but I always had to be the one who milked her. Oh. Crap.

I called Tommy and told him that I had to stay in the hospital.  Would he be able to manage without me?  He must have been reading my mind because he said, "Yeah, I'll manage but...what about the milking?" 

So, began my long hospital days of laying in bed, nurses waiting on me, bringing me food on a platter, 105 television stations and lots of time on my hands.  Seriously, who needs 105 television stations?  But honestly, I was enjoying myself.  Who wouldn't?  Until I got a phone call from Tommy.  He was at the barn with all four of our kids, trying to finish up the evening barn chores.  And trying to milk.  He had managed to milk the goats but the family milk cow was giving him a bit of a hard time.  I heard kids screaming, cows mooing, pigs squealing, goats, cats, dogs, and my husband cursing...all in the background cell noise.  It was nice to hear home.  Then my husband said, "If I put the phone up to the milk cow's ear, will tell her to leave her milk down for me?"  (Yeah, I know...I am still laughing 2 1/2 years later!)  Bless his heart...my husband was trying to milk the family cow.

That whole week, Tommy never visited me in the hospital.  Nor the kids, or my other immediate family.  I know the nurses didn't believe me that I had a husband or kids because they never saw them...not once.  I suppose this may be hard to understand to those of you who don't live on a farm but my farming friends will totally understand why no one came to see me in the hospital. Days are long on a farm, especially in the summer time but they are never long enough to get everything done.  Hospital visiting hours aren't exactly condusive with farmer's hours.  Until Tommy got everything done on the farm for the day, it was time to put the kids to bed and call it a night.  I know Tommy felt bad about not visiting but I understood.  I really did. (But you can bet your butt that I bring it up in every fight we have had since that time! "Well, remember that time when I was in the hospital?...You NEVER came to see me!" It's pathetic how low I will go to win a fight.)

As promised at the end of the week, I was allowed to return home, free of that pesky needle, plastic tubing and bag of happy juice.  I drove myself home to our farm. (Seriously, don't be that impressed with my independence.  Aside from 105 television stations, three meals a day, and the private room, most of my time in the hospital was spent curled up in the fetal position, sobbing, sucking my thumb and missing home.)

I was greeted with hugs, kisses and happiness that their momma, wife, daughter, sister was home and alive.  I'm still wondering what exactly Tommy told our kids about my absence because they sure did have a hard time believing that I was still alive.  Upon my arrival, Tommy told me that he was sorry that he didn't visit me in the hospital or bring me get well flowers.  But he did have something for me in the barn.  I walked to the barn to find a little Jersey/ Holstein heifer calf. Seriously?   Get well flowers?...p-pleeze!  A future milk cow is way better than flowers anyday!  This could only mean one thing.  Tommy was conceeding that I could have more than one milk cow on the farm. Yay!  And as much as I would love for all of you to say, "awww, isn't Tommy sweet?"  Truth is...he bought the calf to suck the milk cow dry so that he wouldn't have to milk while I was in the hospital.  And the only calf that he could find in quick order was a heifer calf.

I still got another diary calf and that's all that mattered.  I left our punks name the calf and they came up with Mennie to always remember the week that their momma was in the hospital with meningitis.  Evidently, it wasn't traumatic enough for them to remember that week without the help of a future dairy cow's name.

And that, my friends is how Mennie got her name and how a short story gets turned into a really long one. 

If you have livestock, evenually you have dead stock.

Posted by Judi F Radel on October 13, 2011 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (1)

I usually try to keep my blog posts upbeat and positive but this one? I will be upfront about it; it's a bummer post.

So, everyone knows the story that Cranky always said that if we had to milk cows to keep farming, well, we weren't going to farm.  I just love reminding him of that now false statement...every chance that I can. That's why I bring it up so often.

Who is Cranky, you ask? Cranky is my husband, my partner in this marriage, the man that I started dating I was 16 years old and married way too young, the father of my four punks or what's the new term, their "baby daddy"? The man that still makes me swoon and weak in the knees like he did when I was 16.  The man who makes me so mad; furious is more like it with his stupid ideas, religious and political views. Oh, don't get me started on his political opinions.  I only go to the voting polls to cancel out his vote. Someone has to do it...it's one of my many jobs. He is the man who has been opposed to many of my well thought out and ingenious ideas. (Okay, granted, over the years, a few, err...I mean a lot of my ideas have been pretty lame.)  So, Cranky is my soul mate. Whoa. That's a pretty strong word. How about "my life mate"? So, contrary to his nickname, he is pretty great guy, except that he can get really cranky.  Thus the name. Especially when he needs a chew. Yes...he has that disgusting habit too.  Now that we have established who Cranky is and his preferred tobacco habits, I will go on with this blog post.

So, back to this milking cows thing. Cranky NEVER wanted to milk cows or goats or sheep and especially not water buffalo. I'm not milking water buffalo...yet. But we do have milk cows, dairy goats and milking sheep on the farm now which is pretty funny considering how much he NEVER wanted to milk any animal.

But I had this idea to start our Whole Diet CSA, which would involve providing our members with?...you got it, milk.  Our one family milk cow wasn't going to cut it to provide 5 families with enough milk so I talked him into getting two more dairy cows. That was all well and good until we had to dry one up to calve and then, the other had to be dried up. For my non farming readers, cows should be "dried up" or not milked to give them a rest before they calf again.  The dried up time period is usually 60 days.  That's a long time to rely on one cow again to feed all those mouths but not enough time for the cow, if you ask me. I know as I nursed my babes to my breasts and if I only had 60 days in between those little milk sucking monsters, I would have gone nuts. Off track again. Back to the milk cow story. So, I talked him into purchasing yet another cow. Problem was, until I finally got him talked into it and we scraped up the money for another cow, (Geez...milk cows are expensive!)  we had a hard time locating a cow within our price range. When we went milk cow shopping (that's a term that not many people will ever get a chance to use!), the price of milk was up which meant that the dairy farmers that we knew weren't dumping any of their cows because they needed all the milk that they could get in their milk tank.  We finally found one dairy farmer who felt sorry for us and said, "yes, I will sell you one of my cows."  When we went to his farm to pick up a cow, he gave us the choice of one of four cows. A two year old Jersey who wasn't milking that great and was a little skittish...ah, I don't think so. We need milk. That was the point of the new cow. Duh. Two of the other allotted Jerseys were three teaters but were bred back (Non farmer readers; it means they were preggers again), which also meant that they were more expensive. And the last cow...she had hip problems. Her hip made a clicking noise but she was milking good and all of her teats were in working order. And she was cheap. That also translates into, "We'll take her, let's get her loaded on the trailer before my wife talks me into yet another dairy cow." 

So, we bought Lala and brought her home to Yeehaw.  She worked out well for about...oh, I don't know...two weeks?  Then the hip problem really became a major issue.  We thought if she was out on pasture, in the sunshine and not on concrete barn floors all the time, her hip would get better.  That seems logical, right?  As many of you know, shoot, the sun didn't show it's face for weeks on end around these parts in Pennsylvania. And I guess making her walk a 1/4 mile two times a day just didn't cut it for that already sore hip.

We penned Lala up in the barn hoping to bring her back to health. Evidently, the taste of green grass was too much for her and sore hip or not, she busted out of barn and made her way back to the pastures.   New plan; instead of making her walk back and forth to the barn, I handmilked her in the pasture.  The hip issue must have caused more problems than we thought because she developed mastitus (non farming readers, you must learn more about farming from someone other than me but I will tell you what mastitus is; an infection in the teats) and became weaker and weaker.  It was getting that we would go down to the field, with a couple extra sets of muscles from our workforce, (Um, yeah, that would be our punk kids.) and physically pull, pry, shove and lift her up as she couldn't even get up anymore. 

Farming realization #1. Lala's quality of life really sucked.

Farming realization #2. Lala was never going to get better.

Farming realization #3. As the new caretakers of Lala, (the registration papers prove it), it was our humane and ethical responsibility to make sure she wasn't miserable anymore.

This is the part that is a bummer.  So, Lala is no longer with us...only in spirit. Even though, she was only with our family and farm for a few, short months, we became attached to her in that short amount of time. She provided our family and other families with nutrition, freely giving of her milk to share with others.  She was a good ol' cow. 

There is a saying that most farmers I know use. "You have livestock? You have dead stock."  I hate that saying. I also hate all the other euphamisms to explain our time here on this Earth and the correlation between all living things and life.

My mother has always shared, "Oh, tomorrow's a better day." That one is okay but I don't know that it really explains how I feel about losing Lala.

My farming language...plain and simple. It just sucks.

Rest in peace, Lala or in green pastures.

 

My 2012 New Year'sResolution

Posted by Judi F Radel on October 7, 2011 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Since I am such an unbelievably organized person, I have already decided on my 2012 New Year's Resolution. (Cough, gag, sputter...what? Organized? Me? Hardy har, har! Obviously, my true calling is a comedian, instead of a farmer.) So, anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Right. My New Year's Resolution.

Keep in mind that I don't normally make New Year's Resolution because 1. I don't keep them. 2. I think they are silly. Why wait until the start of a new year to begin this supposed new phase in your life? Start right away. Start the day that you decide that you are going to do something different with your life. That said, I am planning on starting my 2012 New's Resolution early...like today. 

Drum roll, please...my 2012 New Year's Resolution is to keep up with this farm blog on a more regular basis.  Except in the spring and summer when I am off grid. And too busy to report on all the farm happenings. For six months out of the year, I plan to be more accessible and ready to roll out the presses for the farm releases. 

So, you say, what is happening on Yeehaw Farm these days?

Hmmm. Well. Hmmm. Not much. It's pretty boring on the farm lately.  Well, okay, I lie. Actually, we aren't as busy this time of year as we were over this past spring and summer but things have calmed down a little.  I can now resume breathing. Ahhh, air in my lungs, oh how I have missed you! 

With fall finally in the air, the last few days have been a blessing compared to the extremely wet, recording breaking precipitation filled year. I love fall on the farm. I love the harvest and getting ready to bunker down for the winter.  Even though, we haven't finished the vegetable season for 2011, I am looking forward to the 2012 growing season.  I am considering different ways to do things in crop production that could make things easier and more efficient.

Want to read something funny?  I started this blog entry last Friday and it's now...what day of the week?   Um...yeah, I think it's Wednesday.  So much for my resolution. Thank goodness that I started in October, two months before the actual resolution has to be taken seriously. 

I just hope that when it's time for my final days on this Earth, that I still lack time management skills and miss my own funeral.  This is the only time that I can think of that my lacking skill will be beneficial.

Until then...I will do better with this blog. Promise. (With my fingers crossed!)  

I can't believe it's been that long since I blogged!?

Posted by Judi F Radel on December 15, 2010 at 12:24 PM Comments comments (0)

 

As I sit here at my computer keyboard, I have a million other tasks that need to be started, or completed.  Like my Christmas tree as it sits in my living room, undecorated, leaning cock eyed in old stainless steel milker bucket.  I really should take the time to at least string some lights on it.  Maybe I will get to it...maybe I won't.  Or my mountain of laundry that never ends. I should really take the time to try to wash, fold and put some of it away. Inevitably, it ends on up on a pile on our pool table, unsorted, unfolded, strewn together like interwoven basket of choas. At least, it's clean laundry. I can usually manage to get it washed and dried. It's the sorting, folding and putting away that always snags me up.  I have a million of these excuses as to why I haven't blogged in coon's age. I have a New's Year's resolution to keep up with my blogging but that's not until New Year's so I still have some time to goof off.  I better go. That Christmas tree of ours really needs decorated.

Once again...a deferment. Two actually.

Posted by Judi F Radel on January 28, 2010 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (1)

And here I am, deferring you to my other personal blog because...well...I don't really have a good reason. Check out http://cheesychick.wordpress.com for my latest blog entry.

 

I'm not sure exactly what I have been doing that I don't have time to post a blog on here but it seems that I just don't have time. Truth is, I don't use my time wisely. I would much rather sit on my bum and eat my bon-bons. (My favorite thing to do in life!)

 

No, really, we have been working on our newest endeavor more so than anything lately. Remember the Cool Beans CSA that my farmer's market partner and myself are starting this year? It is officially open for members. If interested in our CSA membership or finding out what a CSA is, please check out www.coolbeanscsa.com/home/.  It's a good read as Katie, my partner in crime writes the blog for that website.

 

It's almost the end of January. I find myself longing for spring when in plain words, "All hell breaks loose on the farm!"  Spring is a time for new babies, getting fields ready to begin the season, and trying to play catch up on all the projects we should have completed over the winter (but just couldn't get done because of all the time spent eating bon-bons!). It's a time for rebirth and new birth. Our greatest new birth this year will most definitely be the CSA. I must admit that I am a bit nervous, anxious and most definitely excited. Katie and I have grand plans for our CSA.

 

Another new birth on our farm this spring will be the opening of our farm stand. The farm stand will serve two purposes. It will be a place for our CSA members to pick up their goodies as well as place for us to sell more of our farm products, right on the farm. Just a head's up to any potential visitors to the farm stand.  We live 2 miles off of a main highway and back a long lane but the scenery is beautiful. It is a beautiful drive to pick up some farm fresh products. (Especially, if you drive up on one of the days that our hottie neighbor is mowing her lawn in her bikini! Ha ha he he.)

 

So, that's what is keeping me busy these days...dreams of spring and all the new happenings here on Yeehaw. 

 

Oh, and that box of bon-bons too.  

Another blog? I can't handle the one I have.

Posted by Judi F Radel on January 11, 2010 at 9:58 AM Comments comments (0)

So, here I am at a crossroads, so to speak. I need to blog on this website to keep it fresh and so you know what's going on at Yeehaw Farm.  But I already have another personal blog which I updated yesterday (1/10/10). I can't think of any new material to blog about today. You see, my brain is mush.  I'm tired and I have a lot to do today...half of which is not going to get done anyway.

So, what do I do? Do I continue my personal blog, do I try to maintain both or do I put all emphasis on this one? I'm confused. Today, just for the sake of getting something on this farm blog, I am going to link you to my personal blog which is really about the farm anyway. So, check it out and in the future, I hope to have some fresh material on both blogs.

The other blog is http://cheesychick.wordpress.com.  If you check it out, it will explain the dead fish photo at the top of this blog. 

Until later, my friends.

January 2014 Newsletter

Posted by Judi F Radel on Comments comments (0)

Twin lambs born on Yeehaw Farm (1/22/14)

Howdy!

As you can see from the photo, lambing season has started on Yeehaw Farm. As I type this, only three ewes have lambed but we are patiently waiting for the rest of the girls to get busy and push those babies out. Also expected to make appearances soon are kid goats. We haven’t had baby goats on Yeehaw Farm in almost two years as we didn’t get one goat last kidding season. The previous fall, our buck goat developed a hernia making him unable to perform his duties. Goats and sheep are seasonal breeders, meaning that they only come into heat a couple months out of the year, usually in the fall so that babies can be born in the spring. It makes perfect sense, really. The lambs and kids are born in the early spring and get a solid start by nursing off of the mother’ milk until they learn to eat on their own. By that time, the grass turns green and when released out to pasture, they hit the ground knowing exactly what to do to replenish their bodies. Some farmers will give hormone shots to bring the goats and sheep into heat so that babies can be born throughout the year but we feel that is seriously messing with nature. Rest assured, the lamb and goat meat that you eat from Yeehaw Farm will NEVER have hormone shots tainted in the meat.

Oh, and about that buck goat that couldn’t do his job? He was quickly replaced by a super stud who could!

This week, there is whole smoked chicken in the freezer. We hope that you enjoy the flavor and smokiness of the chicken. In my opinion, it tastes a similar to ham. The chicken is almost fully cooked so to prepare, we usually place it in a pan of water and bake (on low heat) until really tender. Just like one would roast a regular chicken. Our own family enjoyed a meal of smoked chicken one night and the next night, I picked off the chicken, threw some potatoes and green beans into the broth and served a meal much like ham and green beans. Two quick meals out of one chicken.

The chicken just came out of the smoke house this week and for some reason, I had a difficult time vacuum sealing them. So, rest assured, if the bag is not fully sealed, it has only been frozen since Tuesday. We will have more smoked chicken this winter but for this first batch out of the smoker, we asked that you only took one chicken to start.

Another item that it is in short supply this time of year is eggs. The chickens do not lay as many eggs these cold days so we are asking our members to bear with us. We have enough eggs for each family to get one dozen eggs a week so we are limiting eggs until production goes back up. Thanks for understanding.

This coming week, we have marked our calendars to process two pigs, one goat, two beefs, a couple veal calves and more chickens. Next week, we hope to have fresh chicken and we will put more chicken in the brine for more smoked chicken. Hopefully, the freezer will be fully stocked with a nice meat selection next weekend. With the exception of beef, as it will have to dry age and hang for at least three weeks so it will be a bit longer for beef. If anyone would like a fresh beef heart, liver or tongue, please let us know and we will have it ready for you next weekend.

How about this cold Pennsylvania weather this year? Not to rub it in but just last week, I returned from a week long trip to warm, sunny Florida! It wasn’t exactly a vacation as I attended the National Farmer’s Union Women’s Conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida. It was a conference for national farm policies and training sessions, which will definitely help us in the future. It was an honor to be in the company of women farmers from all over the United States who share the same passion and work ethic of preserving America’s family farms. I also had the privilege of meeting the current Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Krysta Harden who spoke at the conference and shared dinner with us. Although our days were packed to the gills, I did get a chance to slip my toes into the Gulf of Mexico more than a few times as our hotel was located directly on the beach. (Sorry, I just had to rub it in a little.) Alas, don’t be too jealous, my trip to Florida included riding in a passenger van with ten women for 20 hours each way! Need I say more? Ha.

Don’t forget our pond is frozen and ready for ice fishing. There is a bit too much snow for ice skating but you are welcome to try it if you like. Just call or email to let us know if you would like to try any of those winter activities! If we are stuck with this cold weather, we might as well enjoy some fun winter activities.

Until next newsletter-

Your Yeehaw farmers,

Tom, Judi, and the rest of the gang.

 


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