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.


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.

Fall Skywatch


It’s hard to believe this is my 12th Skywatch post!  In some ways I feel like I’ve been watching the sky for way longer than a few months.  In other ways I still feel like such a newbie/amateur.  But skywatching is in my blood now.  Not a day goes by without some sky observation – whether out loud, or just an internal conversation (you know – with the voices).

I was heading out the door on Sunday and Prince Farming said "if you want a cool sky picture, you should take it now" (or something along those lines).  My arms were full of stuff – so I handed him the camera, and this is what he got.  I always enjoy how the mist hangs around here in the mornings – but these layers were particularly interesting and appealing and mysterious.


Last weekend we were driving into an amazing sunset.  By the time we could pull over for a shot it was too late to see the fantastic display, but I got this picture.  I love silhouette shots (probably because with this kind of light and my kind of camera – and my kind of skill – that’s all I can get).  This isn’t stellar – just a sort of "happy spot" for me – so thanks for obliging me.


This one didn’t turn out too badly – still silhouette-ish though.


The light in the late afternoons has been stunning – really highlighting the awesome colors.  I keep threatening to go for a "walk-about" to get some different fall shots.  But here is a familiar view – the light makes the place look less like a farm and more like a park.  Or it would, if I knew how to take this shot differently.  How blessed are we!?


That pile of something near the tree is where Prince Farming is digging out a tree stump.  Aren’t you glad that tree isn’t there anymore?  You wouldn’t see much of the pond if it were.  The stump was a bit hazardous to the equipment.  Prince Farming had borrowed a little excavator (you remember – for the barn plumbing job) and tried to dig around the stump enough to get it out.  No luck.  He’ll have to wait his turn with the dozer to get it out the rest of the way.  And the cows have moved to the far field – those black specks in front of the far tree-line is part of the herd.  They seem to be loving life.   Last week I saw them run – just for the sake of it.  Don’t know if it was to warm up a bit, or because something spooked them.  I looked for dogs, but saw none.  They just sort of took off.  Too funny.  The herd is going to double some time this month – our farmer friend "Uncle Robert" has been holding on to a small herd for us.  When it’s convenient he’ll load them up and bring them over.  I hope their introduction to our farm is less blog-worthy than the current herd.  You were spared the details because they came during my pre-blogging life.  But they inspired me to start blogging because of all the adventures (and mis-adventures) they created.


You can see more amazing sky pictures from all around the world by visiting here.


Critters of Gredemeer I

This has been a detail long in coming – - so I can refer to my life in the terms I generally use.  We live on a farm that borders the family farm.  Prince Farming’s parents, sister, and one brother all live within sight (almost – depending on how many leaves are on the trees) of our farm.  Because I have a high value around independence/autonomy, I wanted to be able to differentiate between here and there;  between theirs and ours.  So we created this name "Gredemeer".  It is made up of the first 2 or 3 letters of each of our first names.  We were just lucky that it worked.  Some other families end up with names like "Ranch Joke" (for Randy, Charlotte, Jonathan and Kevin) which actually is fairly appropriate from my perspective because we’ve shared many great times and belly laughs together.  During the building process (of our home), someone suggested we have a stone tablet set in with the bricks with our name.  So we did.  It makes me happy.  I’d love to hear what title your family names create.  Let me know in a comment.

Now I can move on to the "Critters" part.  It’s hard to know where to start. . . so my sharing of the cows right now doesn’t make them the most important – just probably the shortest entry because I notice that my blog entries are veritible epistles, and I don’t want to take you away from your life (or other blog reading) for an inordinate amount of time.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about cows in another post.  There have been several frustrating days that involve cows, but I’m certain they pale in comparison to the days I’ll use as "blog fodder" in the future.

Right now the cows are young.  We got them near the beginning of the summer as yearlings (around 500 lbs).  I only know these details because I over-heard a discussion about the cows.  Once when I was picking up salt licks from the co-op, the lady behind the counter asked me what kind of cows we had.  Because I’m such an expert on the topic, I told her we have black ones that go "moooo."  She decided that she wasn’t in my same league to continue the discussion.  Here are some pictures (the bottom two are from my kitchen window) of our cute little herd.



One day I hope to have a donkey wandering in the field with the cows.  Local farmers tell me that donkeys are very good about keeping wild dogs away from the cows, which seems like a necessity to me.  Prince Farming assures me that his dad has never needed the services of a donkey.  But I think donkeys are cute.  And necessary on a farm.  I’ll just wait and see – maybe that will be my Christmas present.  I wonder if a donkey would be in the same class as coal?

Digging in my heels

 For those who know me, I don’t have to explain why I use “reluctant” in my blog name.  Or maybe I do.    Does it mean I’m reluctant to live on a farm?  Or that I don’t enjoy my environment?  Or . . . ?  Where does this reluctance come from? 

 Actually, if you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be living on a farm and doing farm chores, I would have snickered a whimpy little “yeah, right!”  But here I am, on a farm, and when the need arises, I do farm chores.  Yeah!  Right!  It’s me.  When I think about it beyond the “I should be painting my toe-nails and eating bon-bons” scenario, I believe my reluctance isn’t so much what you all might think it is.  Let me work it through on this live journal page.

Prince Farming works at the office most of the week.  His day off is Thursday (which isn’t “off” at all – it just means he works very hard at a different place on Thursday) and weekends.  He also gets home at varying times on other days, which allows him to work on the farm on most afternoons – especially in the summer time when the office isn’t so busy and the days are longer.   He is a work-a-holic and loves to get things done.  He is very project oriented, and he ALWAYS finishes the projects he starts.  That just amazes me, even after all these years.  I admire it in him.  That might also be part of my reluctance.  The farm is a project. . . and do farms ever “get done”?  Nope.  Always a fence to mend; barn to repair; hay to mow, rake, bale, and haul;  fields to clear; rocks to pick; cows to work; equipment to fix; etc. etc. etc.  

I like to mentally prepare for what I’m going to do.  And the farm doesn’t always allow one to plan or schedule work.  If the cows are getting out, they need to be herded back and the fence needs to be mended NOW, not when I have an open time-slot next week.  If I’m in the middle of a school project or have a scheduled work-bee, for example, but hay is ready NOW and it’s going to rain the next three days . . .  you get the picture.  So farming kind of ties one to the farm.  Maybe that’s my reluctance.  I’ve never lived anywhere for longer than 5 years – EVER .  (Well, except till now).  I love diversity.  It might be a character flaw, but after I’ve lived in a place for a while, it’s easy to just move away, because it’s like a fresh start.  A clean page.  I miss friends from places past, but then I have a great collection of kindred-spirits all over, and an excuse and destination to travel.  How lucky can a girl be?  And I love to travel.  But the more you do on a farm, the less you can get away.

Then comes the part about not failing.  If I do something, I don’t want it to be a disappointment to someone else.  So if I’m bush-hogging and an unsuspecting rock jumps out of the ground and kills the blade. . .I feel like I create more work than I save / do (very clumsy sentence).  Or if I’m mowing hay and snag the fence row, there’s wire to be run again.  I know that’s the cost of farming, and it happens to everyone.  I just take it personally.  And the learning curve for me on a farm is huge.  This is my first experience – while Prince Farming has been doing everything I do since he was 10 or 11 years old.  So he does it completely effortlessly.  I learn something one year (like mowing hay with that crazy off-to-the-side mowing arm thingy) and the next year (or at the end of the summer) I have to learn it again – (how do you turn on the PTO?  How to you raise the mower?  {No – DON’T raise it this year, it gets stuck and requires all sorts of repair if you do.  I’ll fix that this winter}  How fast should I go and in what gear? Where the heck are those holes that were so obvious 3 weeks ago, but now could kill the tractor and the mower (and me) if not avoided? etc. etc. )  And maybe it’s my age – or this stuff just doesn’t come naturally to me – I can’t even remember all the things I should ask!

Because of my farming inexperience, my jobs are often the most mundane.   I end up doing what I feel is “not much” (lots of standing around) because Prince Farming needs me to hold something in place, or hand him a tool, or go get something from the shed.  I know that my help is invaluable.  I just feel like in between times there are sixty loads of laundry I could be doing, or washing windows (what a joke – but it goes through my mind in times like these) or stamping, or reading, or painting my nails and eating bon-bons, or . . . anything but this!!   Aunt Ruth, who lives with her farmer husband Uncle Robert, was smiling at me when I told her about the stuff I sometimes do on the farm.  I asked her if she ever had to do that stuff on their farm.  Her response was “I like helping him about as much as he likes me to help him.”  So funny.  They have an agreement.  You do your farm thing, and I’ll be here to watch.  Not my Prince Farming, though.  He loves me to be right there, even if I’m doing nothing at all for most of it.

So the reluctance doesn’t mean I don’t love the farm.  I just wasn’t anticipating this being my life.  There is a lot that I love about being here.  And there is a certain amount of satisfaction when local farmers (or not) drive past and watch with admiration as they see me hauling the rocks, or pulling the hay from the (formerly) open drive-shaft on the cub cadet.   And then there’s the opportunity for character development and personal growth.  I’ll share that as I’m aware of it.  For right now – here I am.  ReluctantFarmChik.  Could have been InexperiencedAndWannaPlanTravelFarmChik.  But that would sound like I’m an idiot itinerant farmer. . . not quite my message. 

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