Monday, April 5, 2010

Big Days for the Farm Animals!

I awoke yesterday late (which in my world means about 8 am.) I am still recovering from this stupid cold, which caused me to sleep through my alarm, again. So Pineapple was seriously ready to be milked. My routine goes like this:

Alarm clock rings.

I get out of bed, look around the room for the pair of jeans and sweatshirt that I set out the night before as though they were somewhere else.

Head downstairs and take the dogs out.

Wash my hands and prep the milk bucket by putting a freezer pack in it.

Fight with the cellophane to try to put a "lid" on the bucket.

Wash my hands.

Head down to the barn, flick on the lights.

Get Pineapple out of the stall, and onto the milking stand while simultaneously fending off cats and trying to ignore everyone else complaining that I'm not feeding them yet.

Milk while attempting to continue waking up, trying not to get milk everywhere (I still sometimes squirt it up my sleeve or miss the bucket completely and hit my pants).

Return Pineapple to her babies, throw hay and more grain, let them out.

Take bucket to house, strain milk into clean and waiting jar, then refrigerate.

Needless to say, I then feed all the other animals while still trying to wake up. Typically I've never been the type to wake up fully until AFTER I've showered. Now I'm being forced to be more awake before then, which is truly a trick.

Pineapple gave 3/4 of a quart of milk yesterday! This is really good news, because the more milk that she gives, the more I will have for yummy things, like cheese. Banana has a little bit of diarrhea, I think because he's starting to explore more foods, so I started the babies on the medicated feeds last night. Not sure how that will work out.

We ate the last of the cheese yesterday on lovely sandwiches with the leftover roast chicken from the previous night, and apple slices. I'm actually really happy with how that all turned out. Next up is some neufchatel...we'll see how I do.

Yesterday was the first time that the chickens got to leave the brooder for a little while. I expect that I was decidedly more excited about it than they were, given that chickens think little about the future. We don't have the actual coop ready for them yet, as they are supposed to stay in the brooder for another month, but a little bit of sunshine was perfect for them. They are almost ready to leave the brooder boxes as they are partially feathered, and really quite large. I'm not ready for my babies to leave the boxes yet though, they still look so vulnerable.

We hauled the three brooder boxes out to the fenced in area where last year we had a garden. It will be perfect for them, as it's fenced in with chicken wire and close to the house. We put bird netting over the top to keep the hawks from getting any ideas. Then it was time to release them. So, putting my hand into the squawking, squibbling, flapping box, I grabbed chicken after chicken, and despite their protests, released them into the garden.

At first, they didn't know what to do, and stood in a clustered mess stepping all over each other, scared out of their wits. Then I scattered some of their feed on the ground, and they got busy scratching at that. One enterprising chicken discovered a bug...and then it was all over. They loved being outside, and after a few hours, were scattered all through the garden looking for bugs and other yummies that had been left there. They were SO happy.

RF was working on my new goat shed for Banana when he gets big. Right now he's still very little, but in about a month is going to start working, and we don't want him to breed his sister. Once that happens, he needs to move out to the buck pen, which isn't constructed yet either. So, RF is constructing it out of pallets. While that initially sounds like a terrible idea, it's really not. RF is making it so that it is virtually indestructible. He took the pallets, ripped out boards from the off side, and put them on the other side to form solid walls. Then he has carriage bolted the whole thing together (so that it's modular and movable) into this totally solid shed thing.

Then we took the long drive to McVeytown to pick up some metal roofing that the guy had who had sold the Johnny boat to my Dad upon his retirement. Since we don't have a truck, we pulled the trailer with a 1994 Honda Civic. While this may not be funny to anyone who can't visualize it, the civic is about 4' in length, and the trailer has a 5' the 3' hitch. It looks darned ridiculous, but it works.

We drove over the mountain to Belleville. Belleville is a mostly Amish town in the Kishacoquillas Valley. I've been there to the market before, but had never really driven through as we did yesterday. It is an amazingly gorgeous valley. I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful place. I couldn't put my finger on what made it so gorgeous until we were on our way back through, until I finally realized that they were all dairy farms, with white-painted fences, traditional red barns...and they were all SO clean. If you ever have a chance to drive through that area in the spring, do, it's absolutely amazing to see.

We had to continue over the mountain to McVeytown, and on the way there is this AMAZING overlook. And I do mean amazing - I think it's higher in elevation than some little puddle jumpers that I've been on. The cows look like itty bitty little specks from up there.

We picked up the metal roofing, which was approximately 12' long. So picture this, a 4' honda civic, pulling a ~8' trailer, with 4' sticking up off of the back of it. I'm not completely sure it was a legal amount to pull. We had it angled so that it didn't catch any wind, but it was still a very scary, and very slow drive back. On the way back through the valleys we found some free windows, which will be nice additions to the chicken coop, so we picked those up as well. I love free stuff. :)

As we were driving home, the temperatures were dropping and I started to get worried about the chickens. They are still young enough that cold weather will make them sick. So once we got home, priority one was to get them back into their brooder boxes. This, however, was easier said and done. The difficulty catching them when they were in the roughly 3' box was amplified by the fact that they were now in a space roughly 8x the length, 8x the width, with additional vertical space.

I managed to catch them all. I am the chicken whisperer, oh yea.

We ate at 8:30 pm, incredibly late for us, but that was the time it took to take the ham out of the oven (slow cooked bbq ham), make some bbq beans, and yams. Usually I would have a fresh salad with that, but I didn't have any lettuce and we were all too exhausted to really think about it. So, it was a very orange meal. After dinner, the kids all went to bed, and RF and I stayed up for about 15 minutes longer before collapsing.

The type of exhaustion that you have on a farm or farmette is such a beautiful type of exhaustion. It's not the headachy nasty type that I get from working full time, where I'm "head-tired". No, it's a satisfying body exhaustion, and when you get into bed, you simply sink down into the pillows and's a gorgeous feeling. There isn't a battle for me with my brain, trying to get it to slow down enough to sleep. I fall blissfully into sleep, my body aching but getting to finally rest, my mind at peace.

I love living on a farmette. Without a doubt in my mind, this is what I am happiest doing...