Time: 10 am – 4 pm
*Parking $5, No Dogs Allowed,No Smoking, we encourage carpooling & to come later in the day*
Time: 10 am – 4 pm
*Parking $5, No Dogs Allowed,No Smoking, we encourage carpooling & to come later in the day*
Yesterday was year end testing day for our home school year. There was of course some tension as tests were taken, questions were questioned (I couldn’t figure them out either, who writes these things?) and overall it was a head down, stay busy kind of morning. I was at the house, post lunch, doing a bit of work on the laptop while the kids were doing kid stuff. I was basically waiting for Spork to finish his testing so we could work together the rest of the afternoon on the plane.
As I sit there quietly, I hear a very slight knock on the front door. Must be a kid who walked up I guess. I head over to open the door it is our lovely beekeeper from Buck Naked Farm, Jennifer. She’s holding two combs of honey in her hand, dripping honey. While working the bee hives she ended up needing to remove two partial combs and hey, Mr. Farmer, would you like some? Boy would I!
I thanked Jennifer and quickly made my way over to grab a plate to set the honey comb onto so they honey didn’t drip on the floor.
I used to bring this kind of thing to the kids back when I was the beekeeper. You just take a slice of the honey comb and shove it in your face and chew. The wax acts like chewing gum and the honey gushes out as you chew. It is a short lived experience, which makes it all the better. I quickly grabbed the kids from all over the house and very soon they were fighting over the last scraps and licking the plate, the stress of testing day quickly forgotten.
What a nice surprise to just show up at the door. Thank you Jennifer!
Wednesday of this week cow #72 had a new little bull calf, #128.
The calf had weak tendons in his back legs, something we’ve seen before on our farm. It isn’t very common and something we don’t normally want to see. It usually goes away after a couple of days, as the calf gets his feet under him and gains some strength. If #72 has another calf with weak tendons, then that will end her career as a mom here. Since #128 is a bull, he will not be used for breeding anyway so he can stay and be part of our program.
Update from Lucy. #72 is a cow that she had to bottle feed because when she was born she had, wait for it, weak tendons in her legs. #72 definitely has to go. She is passing bad genetics down to her offspring at this point and that cannot be allowed. Once this calf is 6 months old, which will be this fall, #72 will be heading to either the market or the processor.
With the cold spring we had this year, we were late in moving our momma cows to our other farm. Normally during grazing season, we separate the moms/babies and the cows we are raising to eat. The eating cows stay here and are intensively managed, moving to fresh grass every day, and handled and inspected multiple times per day.
The momma cows, who are smarter than the average cow, are left to go to another farm where they have the ability to roam freely. They have ponds, trees, and grass aplenty. It is the cow equivalent of going to the spa.
Step one of taking the cows to another farm is to get everyone into our corral. Miguel and Vicente took care of this for us. Then we back the truck and trailer up to the loading ramp and Miguel goes into the corral to begin sorting out who is who. Little calves are easy enough. Big beef cows are easy enough. But what about that 6 month old calf? Is that a male or female? Male? Ok, let’s cut him out and he stays here. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made on the fly, all while 1000 lb cows are pushing and shoving going in circles in the sorting pen.
As we are sorting out cows in the corral lane to walk through our corral, we are again sorting out who is going on the trailer and who is staying. We try to send groups of cows who match. If a batch of moms and calves get sent together, good, just open the cut gate and the trailer gate, and let them walk onto the trailer. But then a beef cow gets into a group of moms, or that 6 month old calf mentioned earlier. Now we have to cut them out again as they walk, trying to hold the beef cow up while we get the moms to walk forward. Except now they don’t want to walk so everyone bunches up. Heaven help you if a calf gets in the mix because they get beside or under larger cows and are next to impossible to get untangled. This doesn’t count for the fact that you get 5 cows on the trailer, then have a pause while another group gets sorted, or a cow who doesn’t want to walk stops. The cows on the trailer are like ripples in a pond. They walk onto the trailer, walk all the way to the front, then bounce off the front and walk all the way to the back where they hang out. That is fine, except there is a six foot gap at the front and the cows now finally walking onto the trailer are met with a wall of cows who don’t want to move. It takes some pushing and cursing to get enough cows on the trailer to call it a load.
Of course this doesn’t take into account the little calves, just born. They can get hurt jammed into to trailer with big cows. So we try to load them on their own load with just a few moms so there is plenty of room for everyone.
It takes three of us to do the job. Miguel doing the cutting and sorting in the sorting pen, Vicente encouraging the cows to keep walking forward through the corral lane, and myself controlling the trailer gate and the head gate, which is our final safety stop for the cattle should the wrong cow get to the wrong section. This is where if the wrong cow goes the wrong direction I can run and slam the head gate closed and keep them in the corral until we can get everyone sorted out where they need to be.
It isn’t anyone’s first time doing this job (except for some of the cows) and it only takes a few hours to get everyone moved. All the moms and babies are at their remote home for the grazing season, already lounging and enjoying their freedom. With the now warmer weather, and this weeks rain, we finally have enough grass on our farm. We also now have half the mouths chowing down on said grass. This means we can finally get ahead on grass and not be running on the ragged edge like we’ve been all spring. That is important because summer is coming.
Grass growth will slow, drought could hit us, any number of grazing issues could crop up. It is important that we have a good stand of grass in place to be ready to weather whatever comes. Now we can finally start growing some grass.
Jeanette & I were discussing the values of roasts today. We are on our summer cut sheet schedule of using our chuck for more steaks and ground chuck for tasty tasty burgers.
She kept asking me what cut makes a fall aart cut like the chuck. I kept telling her brisket and she was all ” But its so expensive!” And I was all teenage Groot attitude saying ” No it’s not”. It is in fact 50 cents a pound more. With a 5 lb roast that is $2.50. But guys there is no bone unlike the chuck & the roast is bigger. HELLO LEFTOVERVILLE … Maybe I shouldn’t write blog posts after hanging out with Jeanette.
Our Briskets are amazing and this summer I will put my not so famous not so secret K.C. Style Smoked Brisket recipe up this summer. I hope life’s a bit nuts at the moment so I’m not cooking anything other than basics lately.
While our NCF Chuck roasts are $8.75 per lb our Brisket is $9.25 per lb. We have used this recipe for parties. Shred and place out buns, tostadas , tacos, salads, on mashed potatoes and just as a dinner roast. And I’m really craving it after writing this. As we run low on Chuck roasts this summer please give this tasty recipe a try.
Anyone who visits regularly knows that we deal with a lot of wood chips here on the farm. We are a dump site for the tree service companies in town, where they can dump their wood chips rather than taking them to the land fill. This saves the environment, the tree service company some money, and gives us fresh organic mulch to use wherever we need on the farm. It has been a great system for the past several years and we have tens of thousands of yards of wood chips here to work with wherever we need. We’ve only ever had two problems. One guy backed into our gate, smashing the gate and the expensive controller. We fixed that and all has been well, until this week.
I’m in my office and hear one of the chip trucks rumble by. Then several minutes later I hear a horn blowing, beep, beep, beep. There is no good reason for the horn to be blowing, especially at 7:30 in the morning, unless something is wrong. I jump up and head out to see what is wrong and discover this.
Well not exactly this. There were no tractors with chains, keeping the truck from falling over on its side. We quickly grabbed both the backhoe and the farm tractor and hooked them to the truck to secure it from rolling. This allowed the two guys inside to carefully slide out as prior to that they were afraid to move or change the weight in case it might tip. Based on how it was wobbling, they’d made a good choice.
Once we had the chains secure, and the tractors well in place, we tried giving the truck a tug forward to see if we could get it headed back uphill. It only slid farther. I looked at the hapless driver and explained a few things:
The two guys started slowly shoveling the chips out of the truck. Vicente tried to jump in to help, but we were already down one man with Miguel sick that day. We don’t get paid to shovel chips so as harsh as it seems, I needed him doing farm work. The chip guys could handle their own chips.
Eventually another crew showed up, along with the Jefe who seemed a great guy. By this point I did have Vicente back because we brought another tractor down, our full complement. The tree guys dug all the chips out of the truck, then dug the tires down to somewhat level the truck, digging out the high side tires. During this time, SWMBO called me and asked if I was ready to go? I was supposed to take her plant shopping for her Mothers’s day present. It went like this.
“Hi Honey. Are you ready to take me shopping?” she said happily.
“Look out the front window.”
“Look out the front window, into the pasture. What do you see?”
“Um….A truck. It is falling over.”
“Does that answer your question?”
“Um, ok. So are we going or not?”
“Yeah, but it is going to be another hour.”
Sorry, even moms have to wait for stuff like this.
Eventually we had all three tractors, with chains attached to the truck. We used the green tractor to apply upward pressure to the front end so it wouldn’t slide off. The backhoe was used to keep the truck from rolling, and the skid steer was used to pull backwards and hopefully uphill.
It didn’t work.
The skid steer just couldn’t get enough traction in the wood chips. We tried several ways and it was a no go.
By this point there were about 8 Mexicans working around the truck and the Jefe was doing all the directing. I was simply running the backhoe. Not my circus, not my monkeys. After some more digging, and some conversation in Spanish that I didn’t follow (I can order a taco or a beer, that is about it) the entire group decided that we were instead pulling the truck forward with the green tractor. That was a great idea, except nobody told the gringo in the backhoe. I quickly figured it out and was able to follow along as we pulled the truck back onto level ground so it could continue on its way.
Vicente did some quick work with the skid steer to dress the road back into a level path and I took mom out for Mother’s Day shopping, only about an hour late.
It was so busy on the farm yesterday that this picture isn’t even the correct one. This one is from our last YMCA tour earlier in the year. I never had time to take any pictures yesterday.
We started off the day with payroll and a bit of office work. Just a normal start to the day on Wednesday, the same as every Wednesday.
Then I left the office to take an empty grain box to Mule City Feed for a refill. I only do this every few months, as we only give the milk cows a scoop of grain in the morning for a treat. But the box was empty so off I went to Benson and back. That took 1.5 hours.
While I was in Benson, waiting on the box to be filled with our custom blend, SWMBO called me and casually mentioned that the house was on fire. Well, not quite on fire but there was smoke coming from an electrical outlet in the floor. The wooden floor. Wood burns. Uh oh. Unable to diagnose the problem from the phone, I had her turn off every breaker in the house till I could get there. That entailed explaining where the load centers were in the house and telling her how to turn off breakers.
When I returned, the bus you see above pulled up and disgorged a full load of kids eager for their tour of the farm. The power would have to stay off a bit longer.
Tours take about an hour, and large groups take a bit longer so this group took me to around lunch time. During this time, I received a phone call from my friend Dale with Wake County Soil and Water. Apparently I’d been randomly selected as a spot check of our processes, and she was letting me know that she and some board members would be stopping by around lunch time.
Our processes set the standard so having a surprise inspection is no big deal. In fact, I was glad she was coming because I was doing some new things she hadn’t seen and I was glad for a chance to show her and her board members around.
I retrieved the Gator from where the kids had left it last and took everyone around to see the farm. With Dale taken care of, I went back to the house to find the Mrs. eating lunch and all the power turned back on. However the problem receptacle had not been addressed.
I located the proper breaker for the receptacle and turned it off. Then addressed the fact that the internet didn’t come back online after having the power off. Sigh, of course it didn’t. Some rework and changeover of hardware and Wildflower had her computer going again.
You see, today is Spork’s birthday and Wildflower needed her computer to make art for his special day. “Daddy, can you please fix my computer?” Sure honey.
With the power on, the fire out, and the internet restored, the house was in decent shape. I headed back to the barn after grabbing a piece of cheese for lunch (I’d skipped breakfast). That is when the first of two Exploris tour groups showed up. I wasn’t sure how big these groups were, but as the cars kept coming I grew concerned. There are two types of groups that are hard to give tours to. Kids groups. And groups larger than 20 people. This was a kids group much larger than 20 people. Uh oh.
Generally we limit our tour groups to 20 people max, but this time I had not. The first group had 34 people, the second group had more I think. I didn’t count. And they were kids. I like kids, I have a few of my own. But kids are hard to settle down and get quiet. And with large groups it is hard enough to talk loud enough for everyone to hear. Add kids that are scampering about, talking, laughing, and cracking jokes, times nearly 40 people, and it makes for a tough tour. Couple in the fact that I’m getting over one cold, and beginning a second one (thanks SWMBO for sharing) and I started loosing voice part way through the second tour. We had about 100 people come through on tours today. Since my typical Wednesday average is about 2, this was a busy day for tours.
During all of this day, and for some reason especially during the tours, my phone was blowing up. I had 30 inbound calls yesterday. That isn’t counting the outbound calls I made which were probably another 10 or so. Some were just a quick minute. Some were rather in depth as a few were to and from my lawyer going over some important details. I had to take these calls in spare moments when I could. The other spare moments were spent answering my approximately 100 emails I receive a day.
Sound like I’m complaining? Nope. It was 80 degrees and there was not a cloud in sight. It was a stunningly perfect day and everyone was happy and laughing. I was “at work” in the sunshine making people happy for a living. The milk cows were hand fed two cases of bananas, for which they were very thankful. Lots of kids went home telling stories of the cool farm where they saw animals. And hopefully they learned a bit about where food comes from.
Once I was done with the last tour, I hopped in the truck to head to the airport. A new plane (to us) had shown up after being rescued from the back of a hanger where it sat unused and unable to be flown. A group of us at the airport had gotten involved and gotten a ferry permit to get it over to our airport to breath some life back into it.
It is a 1976 Citabria. It is about as basic of an airplane as I will ever fly. No navigation source, two seats, one in front, one in back. It is aerobatic but I have no experience in aerobatics and no real interest at this point.
We spent some time washing the years of dirt and bugs off of it and then wedged it into the maintenance hanger to get it ready for the mechanic to go over it since it hadn’t been annualed in a couple of years. That will be for another day. For now at least it is clean and safely put away.
Once I finished at the airport, I headed back home where the Mrs. was waiting on the front porch watching the sun go down with dinner already made. We sat in Lucy’s borrowed chairs in front of our house and talked while the sun went down.
It was a glorious end to a busy day.