Yeehaw Farm

One bucking thing after another.

The nitty gritty dirt

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.