Monday, December 12, 2005

After a little mathematical calculation I came to the conclusion that I don't have nearly enough hay to feed those dairy steers through the winter, and with the drought we had this summer hay is going to be hard to come by. There is a feeder sale at Middleburg Livestock Auction on Friday, so I have arranged to borrow Drake's truck. The weather looks bad for Friday morning so I may have to take them on Thursday. I guess I will have to borrow my neighbor Dick's tractor to get the trailer up onto the lane after its loaded. My tractor doesn't have chains on it and there is nothing as helpless a tractor without chains on a snow/ice/frozen ground combo. I got some welding done on the snowplow so that is ready to go. The truck has been running pretty rough though. I think its wet gas. Our local gas station is famous for their wet gas, as well as their courteous service and low prices.

I spent some time out in the blacksmith shop on Sunday making a pair of strap hinges for a new customer. Actually he is a chicken customer that we have known for years. I never knew that he was a cabinet maker and he never knew I was a blacksmith. Sometimes I think we should all spend more time learning about the people we deal with all the time. You never know when you will be able to solve each others problems. Rural people in particular need to become more interconnected. Anybody want to have a barnraising?

I also went on Sunday to look at some black locust trees that are on the next hill to the northeast of me. I have been watching them die for the last two years. They started out by turning brown in august of 2003, then again last year. Now they are quite dead. There are probably 100 of them. They will make good fence posts, but I am a little concerned about what is killing all these trees. If the winter isn't too rough I will probably skid them out with the horses.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Saturday my friend Drake and I worked on a construction job he is doing in the morning. The house owners are raising their house up about 12 feet so that it will take a bigger flood next time to ruin their sofa. After noon we hooked his truck onto the stock trailer and went after the heifers I have been trying to get home for the last month. I ended up buying 10 of them and they all look pretty good. That will give us 18 to breed next summer. We are going to need to build another cowshed onto the barn for next winter. I would also like to build some sort of shed for the horses to use in the winter to eliminate having to clean out the old bank barn all winter with a pitchfork and wheelbarrow. We have all the other livestock onto a deep bedding system that only needs to be cleaned out once a year with the front end loader tractor. The bank barn is too low to let the bedding pack build up much or the horses start rubbing their backs on the ceiling. Its also too low to clean out with a machine. The plan for that barn is to put a cattle handling chute and short term holding pens into it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

30 degrees, snow flurries

Now that we are past the turkey butchering it's time to start getting the farm tucked in for the winter. I've got all the chicken field pens moved out of the field and just to the east of where the snow fence goes up. I am hoping the snowfence will help to keep the pens from blowing away.

For the most part the livestock that we carry over the winter will just hang out and wait for the return of pasture. The cows are in the cowshed eating hay, although I do have 10 beef heifers I need to go pick up on Saturday from Elmira, NY. I got my new to me cattle trailer inspected last week. I need to decide if I have enough hay to carry the 8 or so dairy steers I have through the winter, or if I should sell them. There are 7 pigs going to the butcher in January. After that the boar, who is living in the lower barn now, can join the 3 gilts I am saving to breed. They are living in the "calf barn" which is a barn I built a few years back to raise dairy replacement heifers in. It has 6 foot high side walls and a greenhouse plastic roof. It is the nicest building to be in in the wintertime. It warms up in the daytime with the greenhouse effect, and there is plenty of light. I also have my 60 or 70 laying hens in there.

Today is the kind of day that makes you think about firewood, snowplows and snowfence, all of which are going to need some work. Last year I put up a high tensile electric fence on the line where I put up the snowfence, so putting that up is just a matter of unrolling the snowfence and tying it to the electric fence. Our lane that runs from the house to the barn is about 400 feet long and runs from north to south. To the west is an open field, with the closest windbreak about 40 miles away, so the snow continuously drifts the lane shut. We have had 3 foot drifts resulting from 1 inch of snow falling on earlier crusted over snow. Even with the snowfence I end up leaving the plow on the truck all winter and plowing down and back from the barn. The funny thing is, there is a ridge about 30 feet east of the lane which is almost always windswept bare, so I guess the lane is in the wrong spot, or needs to be built up about 2 feet.

This is all I have time for now,