Monday, July 26, 2010

Pigs doing better

The pigs are doing much better. They still hide in the barn a lot of the time, but they will come out to the wallow and pen sometimes. It is hot! 95 degrees in the shade. I'm pretty new at pigs, but I can imagine they don't like the sun too much.

They've been eating and drinking plenty. They like most scraps. They are growing fast. I guess I'm only a little worried.

It's been almost impossible to get out into the garden to weed and harvest. The sun has just been blazing. I harvested some beets tonight after the sun went down. I plan to do some weeding in the morning after I get the goats milked and the critters set up for the day. I've been checking on all the critters every few hours to make sure they are OK in the heat.

Sunday's sermon was on "ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, and knock and the door shall be opened." It was a good sermon and a good theme for me to think about this week. I need to humbly admit I need help and then ask for it. God will provide if I only ask.

It's weird to be all alone in this big old farmhouse. I've been reaching out socially to my friends. It's been great to spend so much time with others recently. I went to a BBQ last night. And I've been able to reach out to others in need too. Being of service to others helps me keep my mind off of my own troubles. Life is good. I am truly blessed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Making hay part 2

Well, the sun has certainly been shining and I got my hay baled the other day. The neighbor did the actual baling. He'll be coming to pick up his share soon I'm guessing. That'll still leave me with plenty for the goats. Grass hay prices are so low it's hardly worth selling. I'd like to get it up into the loft, but I have yet to think of an easy way to do that. Besides hiring teenagers. Teenagers are the easiest way, but I don't think I can afford it. I haven't completed the great barn clean-out, so I can't really leave it on the first floor. Plus I worry about mice getting into it. I need some barn cats, but I still have this owl problem. The owls seem to prefer rabbits and my chickens when dining.

I mucked out the goat section of the barn today. It was actually dirtier than I expected. Goats must pee a lot. Gross. The goats were whipping through the alfalfa and spreading half of it on the ground, so I gave them some grass hay today. They seem to make a little bit less of a mess with that. I think the alfalfa has more calcium, so I'm going to keep giving them both.

I met some friends in town around lunchtime, and I will be getting together with some other friends tonight. It is a blessing to have so many and such good friends. Living out in the country makes me appreciate being around people all the more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

weaner pig adventures

I picked up the two weaner pigs last night. I was exhausted from a case of insomnia and had to drive 70 miles to get them. I got them home in the back of my pickup. Grabbing them out of the truck and getting them into the barn was a dusty, squealing, squirming battle. I got them settled for the night though.

This morning I went to check on them and they promptly bolted out the gate, down the hay field and into the overgrown creek. I looked and looked but couldn't find them. Eventually I gave up, hoping they would come back on their own. Eventually they did and I got them settled in again before I had to go teach. I think I probably smelled like pig, goat, and hay as I didn't have time to shower before going to teach.

All is peaceful on the homestead. The goats are put away, the chickens are safe, and the pigs are in a corner of the barn. I'm making goat's milk cheddar cheese. What a glorious life. Tomorrow will dawn a new and beautiful day. I am indeed blessed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rogue Chickens

This group of Rhode Island Reds has decided not to live in the coop any more. I'm pretty sure they are roosting in the plum orchard. A couple of them have been using the nest boxes in the coop to lay. I don't know if the rest are laying in bushes or what.

It has been extremely hot and dry here. It's great for the plants as long as I irrigate.

A friend of mine is coming over tomorrow to help build hog fencing. I tried to do it alone, but I could see that it would take me five times as long to do it alone as it would with just one other person. We should be able to get it done in an hour or two.

It is so comforting to have a routine of farm chores. I spend an hour each morning on the animals, then another couple of hours weeding, fertilizing, fixing stuff, and whatever else needs to be done. The routine of doing hard work each morning until it gets too hot is keeping my head screwed on straight.

I am feeling much better than I have been in the last few weeks. Things are going well. I'm spending lots of time with some really good friends and meeting new friends along the way. I am looking forward to going to Mass early tomorrow morning and then to a breakfast for the new priest. I am truly, truly blessed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict is particularly apropos.

Before all things and above all things,
care must be taken of the sick,
so that they will be served as if they were Christ in person;
for He Himself said, "I was sick, and you visited Me" (Matt 25:36),
and, "What you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me" (Matt.25:40).

I am consulting and teaching a child and family that is in great need today. I have been blessed with the gift of being able to serve children with disabilities. Not that children with disabilities are "sick", but they are in need. It is incumbent upon me to use the gifts God has given me to be of maximum service to God and my fellow man.

But that is not all. By being of service to others I am able to find peace and grace myself. I am able transcend my pride and ego and let go of my problems for a little while. I have been going through a particularly tumultuous time lately. When I am helping others, I am able to find some serenity, at least for a little while.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Making goat cheese

I made some Feta cheese with the goat's milk over the weekend and it turned out perfectly. Excellent flavor, excellent texture, not too salty. I am pleased.

The goats are doing great. I just hung a rope mesh hanging feeder. I'm a little nervous because the kids were playing with it like a pinata. I don't want them to get tangled. The original feeder was made of hog wire and it was getting twisted and developing sharp edges. If the hanging feeder doesn't work, I'll buy a cattle panel and cut and bend it into a feeder.

I'm getting about a quart and a half to two quarts of milk every morning. Then I'm letting the kids feed on mama. The kids are eating hay and grain too. They will probably be starting to wean fairly soon.

I took care of goat, chicken, and dog chores this morning. I took a brief siesta and then went out and weeded the garden. There is lots of weeding to do and I just am not motivated to do it all. I will be trying various methods, including a cover crop, to try to decrease the weeds before next year.

Well, a few more hours around the farm and then I'll be going into town to deliver some eggs and meet with some friends. The big truck is broken in a parking lot in town and I need to tow it with a friends truck over to the shop. If the repair is too much I might just junk it. We'll see. Either way, I feel blessed to have a second vehicle. In fact, I feel blessed in so many ways I just want to share it with all the world. Life is good.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Making hay while the sun shines

Well the sun finally came out and that means it's time to make hay. My tractor is too small to pull a swather and a baler, so I had a neighbor come and cut my hay. He will be coming back when it dries to bale it. We'll split the hay. It's good Timothy grass hay, but the goats really prefer alfalfa. I think alfalfa has more calcium for the milk too. I'll probably end up selling most of the grass hay and buying alfalfa from someone.

It's been hot here, as I hear it has been in the rest of the country. Too hot to spend much time in the garden weeding. Most of my veggies are surviving, although they need a lot of water. I'm thinking it'll take a couple of years of working the soil to get the weeds tamed down.

I'm excited! I'm going to Mass today. I haven't been to Mass in a couple of years, so I will also go to Confession this afternoon. I'm a very spiritual person and certainly am very Catholic in my beliefs and world view. I just haven't been to Mass in a while. I've missed it. I'll be going with a good friend. He also hasn't been to Mass in a while. I'm sure we'll make an odd couple.

Life is good. I feel hope and faith in my heart and in my gut. It's a good day to be alive. I have been so blessed to live here among such great friends and in such a beautiful place. I am truly blessed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Surfacing from deep water

Coming out of a depression is like surfacing from deep water after holding your breath too long. Sometimes what brings me to the surface is major change, spiritual change, a sea-change.

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange - The Tempest, Shakespeare

Coming to the surface spluttering and gasping I see the world in a whole bright, new light. Where will this new day bring me? I smile and am filled with a glowing warmth. The past drips off my shoulders as I pull myself up to shore.

What has God got in store for me today? Something rich and strange, to be sure.

Blessed be!

Friday, July 2, 2010

chicken found a new coop

This chicken has taken up residence in the back of my truck. There's some straw and hay in there that she has built a nest in. She likes to hang around the truck during the day too. I don't know where she's laying her eggs.

I got some needed rain today. Just gentle showers all day. I spent a good chunk of the day hanging out with friends. Was feeling a little lonely so I called friends and family and talked on the phone.

Spent some quality time with the goats, the kitties, and the dog too.

I've just had an attitude of gratitude all day. Just so blessed to have all these wonderful people in my life. Wonderful animals, wonderful farm, wonderful job. I've never had it so good.