I was finally able to get The Princess over to the farm store the other day and turn her loose with chalk and a blank space. The egg fridge looked a little sad with all that open blank space. As soon as she walked in a saw it, she started hopping up and down and asking if she could draw on the chalkboard. Of course, I answered. I prepared that space just for you.
I handed her the chalk and left her alone with no instruction other than to have fun. Thirty minutes later I came back to this. We have a chicken laying an egg in the nesting box. We have a baby chick on the ground peeping and walking around. And we have a snake going into the nesting box stealing eggs. All of these things are things she’s seen on the farm. I’d forgotten about the snake stealing eggs but she obviously hadn’t. It’s so cool to see what your kids remember.
Stop by the farm and see our newly outfitted store and our freezers that are overflowing with goodies. And of course, see the artwork and compliment the artist if she’s around.
This little calf was only a few hours old when this picture was taken on November 21st.
He was born to #12 who is one of our long time moms here on the farm. She is a great mom and always raising nice kids. She was a little late this time as her last calf, #44, was born in August of last year. Her calf before that was born in February of the previous year. It looks like it’s taking her a few tries to get pregnant each year which may mean it is time to retire her and bring in a replacement mom.
We will see. We aren’t exactly high production around here so as long as she can get pregnant I think she can stay. At least until some of our replacement heifers get bigger than they are now.
November 17th we finally were able to get #11 back into the head gate to remove her trocar. You can leave a trocar in permanently but it’s not something I like to do. We decided that since we had all hands on deck, we’d go ahead and weigh all the cows and update their records again. This would give us a chance to see what has happened to their weights since coming back to the farm.
We’d just started processing cows when Miguel noticed that #3, whom we’d just run through the head gate, was having trouble. Maybe she’d eaten something that was bad while in the barn yard, a piece of plastic or something? We quickly isolated her and put her back into the corral to run through again. We got her back into the head gate and looked into her mouth and down her throat. Yes that’s as difficult and messy as it sounds. No plastic or obstruction that we could see. Weird. It’s almost like she’s bloated or something….
A quick check on her rumen and yes indeed, she had begun to bloat. Conveniently right there while we were already working the cows. What are the odds? We already had my vet bag on hand so it was a simple matter of shaving her down and inserting a trocar. However this was Makayla’s first time inserting a trocar so this was a special time for her. She has aspirations of being a large animal vet so a little home surgery was right up her alley. At one point she was taking selfies with the cow when I walked back up. That was a first.
The trocar went in fine and we quickly had a big rush of gas blowing out, along with some grass and whatnot that she’d eaten. Since she was coughing a bit occasionally we also had showers of gas and goo occasionally which covered both myself and Makayla. Makayla was laughing and thought it was great, I was trying to stay out of the line of fire.
We did eventually get the trocar out of #11 and she is doing fine. But now we need to bring the cows back again in a few days and take #3 back through the head gate to get this new trocar out of her. It’s always something.
Now for the weights. I’m trying out a Google Docs spreadsheet to see if it works well for publishing these weights. I have lots of experience with spreadsheets, and decent experience with WordPress. Bringing the two together, not so much. We’ll see how it goes.
This is the view from the tractor on Sunday. You can see the cows, who were already lying down ruminating from what they’d already eaten, up and crowding around the lettuce to get another meal.
What you might not notice immediately is that Spork is standing right in the middle of the cows trying to pull the plastic back for them. He and the cows are both completely comfortable with each other and this is just one more job for an eleven year old on our farm. Nothing big deal and nothing special.
But it is special to me. I get to work with my son on Sundays. He is with me all day, my shadow and my partner. Always handing me what I dropped, joking about what I did wrong, and generally improving my day. We get to spend the day together, just us boys, and it really is a treat for dad.
Farming doesn’t pay well. Heck, as far as I can tell so far it doesn’t pay at all. But the rewards are there, bigger than any paycheck.
This morning I picked up our eggs and chicken from our friends at Brittany Ridge Farm, finally restocking the fridge and freezer. Sorry to all the folks who came by this weekend and couldn’t get eggs but we do have them now. As I told everybody this weekend, we even went to the store and bought eggs this weekend! Haven’t done that in years. But that is over now, eggs are back, as is all the cuts of beef, pork, and chicken you could want. And don’t forget the honey, soap, jam, etc from Buck Naked Farm either.
Just email or text if you want to stop by. I’m around all week.
The next day the sinks have drained all by themselves, with the help of lots of lye. So yeah! Success!
Then I get word that nope, things have not improved. Sigh.
A call back to the plumber and he’s talking about getting a guy in with a camera and doing some sort of geo-locating or something or other. I’m already two plumbers calls and two septic tank calls into this deal and we are no better off. I can hear the cash register sound in my head adding up more and more expense, plus we are literally going to go bumping around in the dark with this next plan.
Back into the rain we go. Vicente and this time Felix dig out the entire septic tank and find the line coming from the house to the tank. I get the plumbers back out and we cut the line and install a clean out. We find that the line is completely full of crud, backed up from the previously full septic tank. It is mostly grease and gunk. After snaking the line from the septic tank end for about 10 minutes via our shiny new clean out, water starts to flow. After a few minutes of running water in the house, the line starts to run clear. Success!
It only took three plumbers calls, two septic tank calls, about five hours of hand digging, and two hours of probing, to get it fixed. All in the never ending rain. What does this have to do with farming? Well I’ll tell you. When you have an emergency, and if you’re poo doesn’t magically flow away, I promise you it is an emergency. You have to drop what you are doing and handle it, now. However when you are farming, you have to handle that too. Animals have to eat. Every day. So now you are doing double duty and things get tense. In addition to dealing with this septic tank, which took about a week from start to finish we also had the following going on concurrently.
We had visitors in town, staying with us for two days from New York. I barely saw them.
I had beef ready at the processor, and people waiting on me to pick it up. It is about three hours total to get the meat and put it away. I was two days late picking up the meat.
My back is still messed up from the wreck. I had a Doctors appointment that I had to get to.
We are on week three of our kitchen remodel. We have COMPLETELY demoed our kitchen. No walls, no floors, no ceiling. It’s like the kitchen was never there. So we are entertaining out of town guests without a kitchen, not to mention home cooking every meal without a kitchen.
SWMBO wrecked her Suburban. One of the kids left her door open and SWMBO didn’t realize it and sprung the door backwards as she backed out of the garage. The suburban was locked in the garage by the now ruined door, awaiting a body man to come and fix it during this time.
We had a new employee start with us, who on her second day I had to take to the hospital with appendicitis and stay with her till she was released.
While hauling pumpkins from Dunn, NC (that Spork and I hand loaded, 18 pallets), I blew a tire on the trailer and had to go get it replaced. This involved driving to the airport with a 32 foot long trailer and waiting two hours while the tires were replaced with new ones.
I’d already committed to the wife that I’d watch the kids while she went somewhere with Spork. That had to be done.
All this was ongoing and in progress, along with farming, in the middle of the week that this septic tank was clogged.
Things got a little tense around here. Miguel had his own issues on the farm he was dealing with and food has started to really flow from the market again so we are getting multiple loads per day.
It was a really hectic week for everyone involved but if you are a farmer you just put your head down and get it done. Septic systems, sick animals, bad weather, they all happen and are part of life. No sense whining, just figure it out and get it done.
Last week was busy, and not just because of farming.
One of the houses on our farm had a septic tank problem. I didn’t think it was time to have the tank pumped yet but who knows. When to pump a tank is more art than science when you don’t have easy access to check the tank.
So I call my septic tank guy. Turns out he has stopped doing tanks. But he knew a guy he said did a great job.
A couple of quick phone calls and we were able to get same day service, which was awesome. Having lived here for most of my life, I actually knew where the cleanout was so with a little digging, we were able to get to the lid and get things pumped out. It was pouring rain, as it had been for days but crisis averted.
The next day, I get a message from the folks living in the house. Things are backing up again. Oddly, it was only from certain drains. I called the plumber this time, thinking it was probably a line in the house. They showed up and started asking questions. In discussion I remembered that we actually had two septic tanks on this house. They were plumbed back to back as I recalled. The old original tank was just extended to go into the new tank, then everything went into one drain field via the new tank.And we’d only pumped one of them, the new tank.
Well duh, said the plumber, you didn’t pump out the old tank which is where all the solids would be. That’s your problem. Oops. A quick call back to the septic tank guy and yes, they would indeed come back out again and only charge me slightly more this time.
So once more we go out in the rain, this time trying to find the tank I didn’t remember. Vicente and I probed the ground which sounds fancy but it’s just sticking a metal rod into the dirt hoping to hit concrete. We probed around the tank we knew was there. Nope. We probed up to and around the deck. Nope. We took the steps off of the deck and probed. Nope. We started taking random boards off the deck and probed. Nope. We probed the landscaping. Nope.
All in all, we probably probed over 100 spots, in the rain, for several hours, and didn’t hit anything. I’d officially given up. Vicente, for some strange reason, decided to probe a random spot in the landscaping right beside the tank we’d already found while he was listening to me explain why I was giving up. Clink! What the heck is that? Some more probes. Clink! Clink! We’d hit the tank. Just then the septic tank guys pulled up and we had them dig out the lid and pump the newly found very old tank. Yeah! Success. Back again to the house to dry off and do farmy stuff.
The next day I get a message from my tenants. Yeah, it’s not working.
So the plumber comes back out, and this time decides to snake the line. Snaking the line starts about 4pm and goes to about 8pm. After that much time the drains have improved exactly this much.
So after watching them snake the line for four hours, I finally convince them to let me put lye drain cleaner in the line and see if it will clean things out. I do so and we all go home. The results of enough lye to clean out Manhattan? That’s in the next post.
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