Is it Gray, or is it just Winter?

 

We’ve been lucky with fairly mild weather so far.  But now it seems to be turning colder.  And wetter.  Cold and wet are like friends who egg each other on to be a bit more extreme.  One by itself is ok.  Both together — they go way further than they’d independently dare.  And with the sun not being as high in the sky . . . it’s as if the supervisor has turned their back so that Cold and Wet can be even bolder.  It makes for a bit of melancholy.  Or does it?  Some people enjoy the long evenings.  Time by the fire.  The  opportunity to do crafts, or read a good book.  Or watch movies and play games together.  It’s like permission to NOT farm. 

 

But the problem comes when farming HAS to be done.  Then it’s cold and wet and dark, and you still have to get out there and put wood in the fire and feed the cows (do they even feel the cold?  It doesn’t look like it.) and chickens.  Chickens definitely feel the cold.  They all snuggle on the porch by the front door – collecting the heat that slides through the crack that was supposed to be fixed three years ago.  I can tell they’re there, because a collection of “chicken dust” always blows through in a certain pattern when the heat from the house isn’t strong enough to push against the cold air from the outside.  And chickens don’t lay many eggs in the winter time.  I wouldn’t want to either. 

 

And when there are evening things to be done (as there invariably are – like school board, and the other school board, and Pathfinders), it just seems like it’s way too late to be going out in the wet and the cold and the dark. 

 

I wonder how people do it where it’s perpetually dark, like for months on end.  I can’t imagine it’s just dark.  I think that cousin Dark is the worst influence on Cold and Wet.  Send in the sunshine!!  I’m not cut out for this.

 

You can join me in seeing all sorts of skies here. You might even see some sunshine!

 

 

The Attack of the Dead Rooster

 

There once was a happy family of chickens. Among those chickens there were two beautiful roosters.

 

One of the roosters was mild-mannered and happy.  The other one was . . . well – he wasn’t mild-mannered.  Or happy.  He thought he was the boss-rooster and did his best to make his dominance known.  The hens suffered much under his authority.

 

This rooster was so mean, that even the neighbor’s dogs (who have had many tasty chicken dinners at our expense) decided that this guy was just good for nothing.  He did teach the rooster a lesson, however.

 

Despite this scuffle, the rooster survived, albeit with a reduced ego.

 

(By the way . . . the dog who attacked this rooster is dead.  And it wasn’t by my hand, even though I threatened repeatedly to run over him with my car, and would have had I not worried about the damage that would have happened to my bumper and to significant family relationships)

But one day, very recently (yesterday), this rooster made a fatal error.  When I let the chickens out of their coop for a break from  the mud that is their home (with all the rain this week and last), the rooster challenged me to a cock fight.  Now, this has happened in the past and he has received quite the beating.  I’ve witnessed him flying backwards by 10 feet (with help from my foot) he’s met with a broom, and a shoe, a hand, and various other implements of torture by various other people.  But this time, he made his lucky fatal strike.  He spurred my ankle.  With a vengeance.  Had I not been in a hurry, I think I might have sat down and cried.  I didn’t realize the extent of the damage till I got to my destination.  This is the "cleaned up" version . . . I was actually leaving a trail without knowing it)

Now, trust me . . those little puncture wounds (did you see them on BOTH sides of my ankle!?) didn’t hurt very badly.  They didn’t want to stop bleeding, but they didn’t hurt very much.  But my ankle ACHED.  Like BONE-ache.  It was as if poison had been injected into my joint or something (that’s how it felt – it’s not actually what happened).  As the day progressed, the pain increased.  A day later, my ankle looks like this:

Red, swollen, itchy, and . . . not as sore as yesterday, but definitely tender.  And a bit cripple.

 

I called Prince Farming at the office part way through the day yesterday to make sure I didn’t need an amputation or anything.  I could almost hear him laughing at me and I was sure he didn’t understand my pain.  But last night, under the cover of the moon and clouds, that darn rooster mysteriously disappeared.  I asked Prince Farming where he’d been, but he didn’t want to talk about it.  Nor did I.  But my relief is great.  Now guests and family can come and go without my having to chase chickens out of their paths. 

 

- – - – - – - – -

Several Hours Later – - My ankle is more swollen, and more sore than it was last night this time . . . it’s hot to the touch, but there is currently no streaking (indication of infection).  I walked without much of a limp for most of the day, but by this evening I can’t put any weight on it .  Must be time for bed.  I have a presentation to do tomorrow – hope I can refrain from hobbling.

Japie – the transport

 

So we know that Japie arrived for the price of a pie.  But WHO do you imagine might be the broker for this donkey deal?  A shy guy?  Or maybe someone who has a questionable background and knows that a face on the internet might alert the appropriate authorities to his where-abouts.  We know that he definitely did NOT want is picture taken.  His motives for avoiding the camera are still under investigation – I’ll keep you posted.   Here’s what we got:

 

Whatever he’s hiding from, he is obviously kind enough to have found my very cute donkey, accepted a pie in payment, and transported Japie to our farm (I might owe an additional pie for the transport – but don’t tell anyone). 

Blackie was able to coral the donkey before we arrived.  Then he expertly moved the donkey to his horse trailer and off again at our farm.

Here I am trying to get Japie to eat a carrot – but he’s a bit distrustful.  Maybe he learned that habit of distrustfulness from the people he was associated with before moving to Gredemeer.

Critters of Gredemeer – continued

 

Several of you know about my yearning for a donkey.  Prince Farming was not as eager to add another creature, but was willing to acquiesce (look it up) if the price was right.  I’ve been talking to people and spreading word about my need desire for a donkey, and I finally found one.  For the right price.  I’ll share that in another post.

Here’s my new little friend.  His name is "Japie" – named after my grandmother’s donkey.  She used to tell me stories about how she rode to school on a donkey.  The word is pronounced  "Yah-ppy" – where the vowel sound is a little longer than in the word "yuppy".

Isn’t he cute!?  I love his markings. 

 

He’s exploring his new field – all by himself for the moment.  No cows in that field yet – he owns it for the moment.  But I think he’s lonely.

It’s time to make friends . . . it’s going to take time because no one has really been interacting with him, but I know it will happen.

He’s curious enough.  I just need to remember to bring sweet treats down with me.  I’m loving looking out of my window and seeing Japie.

You can read about more critters of Gredemeer here and here.

Three Signs of a Compromised Fence

You have to be able to read the signs on a farm.  I’m getting better at it, and now I’m going to help you too. 

Cows are herd animals.  They like to hang out together, and it amazes me how they unanimously decide to migrate across the field to eat, or drink, or whatever. 

The first sign of a compromised fence is when you look over to their field and see just a few cows.  SOMEthing is up.

 

Sign #2 is when you examine the herd more closely and you see this:

Now to regular folks, this would not be an issue.  But I know it’s a sign of a problem because we don’t own a horse.  Nor have we invited one over for a barn party.  The presence  of this horse means that it was able to come over somewhere from next door without too much trouble.

Sign # 3, and fail-proof evidence of a significant problem is when going on a fun ride with my visiting city-slicker friend, we came across this – about a mile away. . .

These cows are in an unfenced field.  They are black.  And they are ours.  So it’s time to gather the neighbors and do a bit of herding.  It’s always most adventurous to herd the cows when it’s almost dark.  It’s inevitable.  When it’s time to herd cows, it’s on it’s way to being night time.

Time to check on the fences.  Again.

 

Hazards of Farming

 

Last summer I spent quite a bit of time telling you about the process of doing hay.   For city people, it’s quite an education.  I am still learning – in fact every time I get on the tractor, it’s like learning all over again.  Well, this year I learned something new.  It’s a bit embarrassing, these lessons of mine.  But I feel like you need to know.  I mean, if you ever get thrown onto a farm (willingly or reluctantly) I want you to have the knowledge that I wish I’d have had before this process.  It’s like the parent who wishes their kids would learn from their mistakes and not let their kids learn from personal experience.  It doesn’t always happen that way, but at least I’m doing my part. 

One day I was in a store – can’t remember which store.  I saw this, and thought it was a sort of gag item.  Something that might have been sold around April Fool’s day or maybe Halloween.

Doing research for this post, I happily stumbled across this:

Let me ‘splain.  It’s been hay time again.  And while I’ve helped fairly extensively in past years, there’s always been reprieve.  Prince Farming’s dad and his help have come over, and Prince Farming has done at least one of the processes himself, so my time on the tractor was broken up.  But this time I had to mow, fluff, and rake three huge fields.   Normally I mow with a tractor that has an air-conditioned cab.  But on my way down the hill when I tried to raise the mower arm, there was a hydraulic hose in just a wrong spot, and the hose got pinched and broke, rendering the hydraulic system useless.  With very little time to spare (rain in the forecast), I parked that tractor, and rode over to Prince Farming’s dad’s farm and borrowed their mower, which was already conveniently attached to their tractor.  An open cab with a canopy.  No worries, I can handle an open cab.  Never mind that this tractor has to be started, not with a key, but with a loose wire that you hold to two spots and it kicks on.  That’s another post though.  So I got started mowing, and only an hour later than I’d hoped.  The shade of the canopy was good, but it was still hot.  I was in shorts and flip-flops, and figured I’d probably get a bit of sun, which couldn’t be a bad thing.  First day – all the mowing was done. 

Second day – on to fluffing (or teddering, for those of you who can’t stay on the farm when the word fluffer is used).  This time I could use our own tractor – but not the air-conditioned cab one.  The little cub cadet – also with a canopy – was the vehicle of use (not choice).  I don’t love this process because I can’t see where I’ve been as clearly as when I mow or rake, but it’s a necessary process to help in the drying of the hay.  I got all the fields teddered, and went to bed exahausted.  Spending 6-8 hours on a tractor might sound like a lazy day, but my body was sore and my mind numb.  I woke with a start at 2am.  It was POURING RAIN on my freshly cut and teddered hay.  That means that instead of raking first thing in the morning, I had to go over and fluff all over again.  So there I was – on the open tractor.  Let me paint a little word picture for you.  It’s HOT.  The fields are BUMPY.  On the sides of hills, you can barely keep yourself from sliding off the seat. And you’re SWEATING.  The combination of wet, sweaty shorts, very bumpy, slidey riding . . . well.  Here.  This might give you a better idea.

This is what spending endless days on a tractor leaves you feeling like.  I’m not kidding.  Prince Farming came  home from work when I was just done with the teddering and suggested I take a break.  I was SO relieved.  I really didn’t want him on the tractor much – especially on the bumpiest of fields because he hurt his back a  few weeks ago, and I didn’t want him to aggravate the injury.  His dad came over to help bale.  I’m not sure how the conversation went between them, but Prince Farming made it known that I needed a break from the tractor seat for a while.  He finished raking and his dad did the baling.  And my butt got a break. 

It took a couple of days to feel totally better, but I was able to go back out and load the hay bales onto the trailer and bring them to the barn before too much more time went by.  And I wasn’t on the open tractor for long enough to aggravate my injury.

There.  Consider yourselves educated.  And warned.

 

Chicken School

 

I have really enjoyed watching our chickens grow and develop.  I’ll fill you in on some of their happenings in a post soon, but thought I’d share things I never knew before this chicken experience (which started in September)

1)  Chickens stand on 1 leg a lot of the time

2)  Roosters can only crow with both feet on the ground

3)  Roosters can crow while walking/running

4)  Hens need their egg shells back (ground up in their food) OR oyster shells so that they can continue to lay eggs

5)  Green eggs (the shells, not the innards) have lower cholesterol than brown or white eggs. 

6)  Roosters don’t only crow in the very early morning – they crow all day long

7)  Crowing is the way a rooster greets you – they’re great "watch dogs" because they let you know when people arrive, or when surroundings change

8)  Chickens will eat ANYthing . . . food scraps, banana peels, slop, you name it . . . I think they’re pigs with beaks

9)  Chickens are social, and prefer to hang around people.  They will also wonder (in a "herd") quite far away from their coop, but will come back at roosting time

10)  Roosters don’t crow at sun-up.  They crow well before the sun even thinks about rising – as early as 3am.  Jennifer suggested they do this so I’d know where to aim a gun.  I’ve been tempted.

Blogging the Past

 

Here’s something that should have been blogged, but missed it’s time. . . and alas there are no photos.  It was a photo-worthy and bloggable thing for sure. 

We’ve been having some amazing weather.  The contrast between hot and cold on two different days is crazy.  And the wind!!  It’s been so cool to watch and hear.  We were home on a day off (President’s day or another day when the teachers had inservice) and the forecast predicted strong weather.  With the radio on, the "weather alert" was going nuts – every few minutes that disturbing, belching and mechanical "beep, beep, beep . . . we interrupt this broadcast with a special weather update . . . " with tornado warnings and watches and strong wind advisaries.  Living on a hill with a panoramic view is awesome at times like this – you can see the wind, but can’t feel it.  I love that!  And when it rains, it feels like you’re sitting right in the rain, but you don’t get wet.  It’s the coolest thing.  Anyway – we were home, and the winds were picking up speed.  We kept saying "the trampoline is going to fly" and we watched it – and it lifted and lowered, but didn’t move.  Until one huge blast of wind picked it up and threw it down the hill and across the drive way.  It was like the thing weighed less than a feather – it was so effortless.  The rain was coming down in torrents and so some of our visibiiity was obstructed.  When it cleared enough for us to see, the trampoline was upright against the neighbor’s fence.  Upon closer inspection (after the storm) we saw that part of it was over the fence.  There were trampoline parts all the way down the hill (mostly springs).

A couple of weeks after the storm, we had a house-full of guests.  Prince Farming suggested we use the man-power to bring the trampoline back up the hill (makes a person want to stop in for a cup of tea, doesn’t it?).  It wasn’t too difficult with all of us – and we had the kids do a sweep of the hill for missing parts.  Almost half the springs were "sprung" all over the place.  We dragged the trampoline up and put it back where it had started, but it wasn’t "jumpable" yet – two of the legs had been ripped right off.

Last week Prince Farming got home from work "early" (still daylight).  He went down and got the welder from the shed and I found all the extension cords I could in the garage.  We figured out which leg parts went where and did the necessary repair.  We had to bend some of the net-braces up and fenangle a few other parts to fit – but we finally got the trampline looking almost like it used to.  There is a significant bend on one edge which gives the trampoline an almost egg-like appearance, and the kids say it doesn’t have as much bounce – but at least it’s useable for getting rid of the extra energy and craziness that periodically occurs in smallish people.

Isn’t it great to have someone around who can fix things!?  In a former life, that trampoline would have sat there, on it’s end, till it naturally deteriorated.  Or it would have been dragged to some trampline graveyard heap.  Prince Farming can mostly fix anything!!

iPhone Flood – Skywatch

 


On Wednesday I went for a walk (for exercise and wellness) with some of my relatives – they walk a lot, and sometimes I join them.  It had rained really hard all night.  REALLY hard.  I mean, a LOT of rain came down.  Ad being in a mountain/valley area, the water patterns make for interesting living.  You’d think that after the rain the water would be mostly gone.  But that’s just when the water starts appearing with a vengeance.  All the run-off fills every conceivable dip in the ground – the path of least resistance.  I took some iPhone shots again to share.  This is becoming a habit, maybe.  As long as the pictures turn out okay, I’m fine with it.  Don’t ask me to zoom in or anything though.  It’s less functional than the original PHD camera (Push Here Dummy).

 

Here’s a picture of the corn field.  Obviously the corn is long gone – but here it looks more like a rice paddy might look.

 

Here’s another one -

That flow of water at the top of the picture is normally there – but it’s not looking so normal in this shot.  "Normally" you can’t see water from this perspective.  The stream is WAY high.  With much more rain it will be covering one of the bridges to get onto our road.

 

This is the road to my parent’s-in-law’s house.  The stream flowed over the lane for a long time – but a year ago they put a culvert in.  But this rain is stretching the culvert’s capacity just a bit.  Here they were finding their way over the stream without getting wet.  Sorry it’s so blurry . . . the iPhone is only as good as its operator.

 

When I was leaving from the walk I saw these images that I thought you’d enjoy:

This barn was originally on my parent’s-in-law property – before they moved or built.  That means it’s more than 40 years old – and Prince Farming says it looked old then too – so maybe it’s close to 100 years old.  How can you tell?  Anyway – it looked quaint with the misty fog.  Just down from the barn is the entrance to their place – this is with me exiting their farm:

Obviously they’ve been farming for way longer than we have.  Their fences are all solid.  And, well – THERE.  They HAVE fences.  The exterior fences around our place are still waiting to be put up – and they probably will not look like this at all.  Hmmmm. 

Coming to our farm, here’s what our vegetable patch looked like:

Yep – the space to the left of the barbed wire fence across to where the grass begins is where Prince Farming planted tomatoes and potatoes. (The summer before last)   It’s a bit overgrown and neglected – and maybe that’s a good thing, considering what happens when the rain comes down!

And here’s the same field you saw in my haying pictures:

This picture is looking up towards the pond -it’s right near the top left of this shot.  Looing down from my kitchen window right now there are multiple pond-looking spots.  All equally muddy.  The rain just keeps coming.  And tonight is supposed to be Prince Farming’s office Christmas party.  And I’m supposed to wear something other than cover-alls and a hat.  Ugh.  Can’t we just stay near a fire with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate?  I guess today this farm chik isn’t all the reluctant, huh?

 

You can find more views of sky and places from around the world here at Skywatch Friday.

iPhone Cloudwatch


 

It was farm day again yesterday.  I know – it was Wednesday, and farm day is supposed to be on Thursday.  BUT Prince Farming got done at the office early, and my plans postponed, and the weather forecast predicted rain for today, so we decided to farm.  Out of necessity, I assure you.  See, the cows (the post of which you’re STILL waiting for) keep escaping from their lovely TWO fields.  They have two huge and glorious fields in which they  have free roam.  But NO – they want to go into ANOTHER field.  So they keep escaping.  It is too cold, wet, busy, and inconvenient to chase cows this month.  They need another field.  We seem to accomplish the fencing of fields in spurts – I suppose as needed.  This time the barn field fence needed to be completed.  It was mostly done, but . . . I won’t go into those details here.  It’s a skywatch post afterall.  I didn’t bring my regular camera with me.  I did have my iPhone, and couldn’t resist these shots.

I know planes fly over us frequently, but I’ve never seen the traffic in such a grid pattern before.  It was really cool.  I couldn’t capture the smallest contrails – they added a unique dimension.  But that’s okay.  Here’s a different view:

It seems like no matter what direction I looked, there were contrails.  It was amazing.  BTW – the gate in the foreground – right at the bottom left half of the picture is one we just hung – temporarily – till we can buy new gates.  This gate is too short – it is supposed to be able to open across this lane and touch the fence on the right – and the gate from that field opens and touches this fence – creating a passage through which the cows can pass from one field to the other.  Pretty nifty, huh?  I would not have thought of that – which is why I’m just the apprentice in this set up.

The day before yesterday (that would make it Tuesday, I suppose) the sky was amazing.  Again – no camera.  This is another iPhone shot – which just blows me away.  It was snowing on and off – nothing of note stuck, but the clouds and sky seemed very restless.

You can’t see as much of the orange as was present, but still – the differences in color in this small window were truly inspiring.  It reminded me of the verse: 

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handiwork"   

                                                                                    -Psalm 19 : 1

You can see more amazing evidence of God’s handiwork by visiting the Skywatch site here, where hundreds of people share pictures of their skies every week.

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