All posts by Barrows Farm

Travelling down the bumpy and twisted path of life learning more everyday about how much I enjoy the simple things in life, hard work and standing up for what is right. I am proud of my heritage (fourth generation farmer) and mutt mix of English, Native American Indian and Irish. I have worked hard over the past years to develop my farm, an ag-based biomass business and ag-mentoring. I don't have much more than a passion for the farming life...and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world!

Winter Blizzards

Well, yet again the weatherman sucks. Just once I wish they could get the forecast right for this area. We were due for a big storm to hit us over the past couple of days…the perfect storm for snow. HA! I beg to differ. We got five inches of snow yesterday and about another two inches overnight. Then today it is actually warm enough to start melting it all already.
I remember growing up when we would get feet, not inches, of snow in one blast. We just don’t get that kind of snow anymore and I have to say that I honestly miss those storms. I used to love getting buried under a foot and a half of snow. That was when our family would sit around the wood stove and play games all day long.
These days we get snow and all it means it more work for me to get done. Plowing and shoveling aren’t an issue with me. I actually love the exercise. I just wish if it was going to snow, it would snow enough to make it worthwhile!
I have been doing too much thinking lately about some things in my life. Maybe that is the biggest reason why I would actually enjoy the extra work load. I seem to have too much time on my hands to think about those people that I have cut out of my life, but still miss. I don’t regret the decisions that I made to get me to wear I am today…I just miss what I once had with my dad and my kids. All the rest, I am glad is behind me and not part of my life anymore. Just a fancy dream of wishing that I still had my daddy around. My daddy who was my best friend for the majority of my life. My daddy that I miss dearly but, I have faith that he knows how much I love him. I know that my children know just how much their momma loves them. It doesn’t make the situation any easier, but just knowing that when they lay down at night and think of me, it’s happy thoughts like those that I have of my dad..That’s how I know that someday everything will change and that broken road will be repaved.
I need about four feet of snow, just to wipe out these sad and lonely thoughts from my head. Maybe another animal or maybe another “project” is in order!

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Born Country

Clear creeks and cool mountain mornings. Honest work out in the fields. Corn bread in my mama’s kitchen. Daddy saying grace before a meal. Family ties run deep in this home and I am never very far from where I am.
I was born country and that’s what I’ll always be. Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free. I got a hundred years of down home running through my blood. I was born country and this country’s what I love.
Moonlight and you here beside me. Crickets sarinade in the yard. What more could two people ask for? Laying here in love beneath the stars. Now this is where I want to raise my kids. Just the way my mom and daddy did.
I was born country and that’s what I’ll always be. Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free. I got a hundred years of down home running through my blood. I was born country and this country’s what I love.
I was born country and that’s what I’ll always be. Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free. I got a hundred years of down home running through my blood. I was born country and this country’s what I love. I was born country……

Those are the lyrics to an old Alabama song. No song has ever fit my life better than that individual song. The country life, no matter how much hard work involved, is the life I am meant to live. Some people ask why…my only response is that it is the only place I have ever been that I feel safe and secure. Safe with who I am and with what I do. Secure knowing that my neighboors are there for me if I ever do need them. Country is where people don’t get wrapped up in the loss of common sense. Where people, for the most part, are still honest. There is no where else on this earth that I would rather be than out in the country where the green grass grows and the sky is still blue, where the trees are green and the fields grow strong. I can honestly say that it doesn’t matter what area I live in, though I do love it where I am right now.
Hard work and staying busy keep me from going out of my mind. I really do enjoy every second of caring for our animals, including moving manure. πŸ™‚
To some, it probably doesn’t make any sense but to me it is the only thing that does. I can walk out the front door in my night gown if I want to watch the sun come up, cup of coffee in my hand and no one thinks twice about it. I think my biggest reason for loving the country life is that somehow it makes me feel closer to family that has long since left this earth. The country life is like a warm hug and a pat on the head. With every chirp of a wild bird, every blade of grass reminds me of the most precious time in my life…the days when I got to be with my grandparent’s on their farm. I miss them dearly. I remember all of the good times that I had there. Times with my uncles and the dogs, times with my gramps in the barn, times with my gram in the kitchen while she was making butter or cooking a meal, times with my daddy learning how to drive a tractor and ultimately the place where I was safe from the spiteful words of my mother.
Memories constantly surround me like a blanket and a fire on a cold winters day. I feel a connection with the people that I love the most, even if they aren’t around.
To those who have gone on to Heaven….thank you for everything you ever did for me, trying to make my life a better one; for showing me that it is better to treat people with respect; and for showing me that God will provide even when we don’t think he will. I am so blessed for having you guide my early years in life, for your protection back then…and for the guardian angels that I know watch over me even now. I will always love you with my whole heart and soul…and I know that someday I will get to see you again someday.
As for those that I have left behind when I needed to take back the right way of what my life was suppose to be…I feel sorry for you for not knowing just how peaceful and blessed your life could be if you just let that thing you call control slip out of your fingers. I am sorry that I didn’t turn into the daughter that you so desperately wanted me to become, but I am happy with my simple life and that is what truely matters. I am blessed with great friends and family members who love me for who I am under all the “fluff”. I am sincerely sorry that you will never understand what true love and friendship really are, it may have helped you during your struggles in life to have someone to lean on. I am sorry that your life was so miserable that you didn’t know right from wrong when it came to parenting. I am sorry that the one person you ever truely loved got sick and went to Heaven, leaving you here without her. I miss her too, but she no longer suffers and you know…she does watch over everything you do. She is up there in Heaven with God in a rose garden, with sweet peas growing up the side of the porch where she sits in the shade with her crazy hat on. I think that she would feel sorry that you have locked yourself away from those that could have loved you and someday she will give you the lessons again…but until then, know that you are prayed for everyday. Prayed for so that you will expel satan from your life and get the help from someone. I pray that someday, you will be able to find peace in your life.
I need to move on, enjoy my country life and do the best I can for myself because that is the only thing I have left. I will do just fine, because I know that all I have to do is knock on the door and ask for guidance and I will have my hand held and walk toward the right direction.
I pray for all of you out there to just discover the blessed item of self love through Jesus Christ, my saviour and light in my world. Faith in the unseen is difficult, but believing just means that you are already half way there. God bless you all…and to those who need prays, just look toward the heavens and say what you need to say. He is always listening.

Perspectives

Sometimes, all we need in our lives is just a little bit of a different perspective. Maybe we need to stop looking at situations face to face and stand above the situation or off to the side.
This has happened with me more and more lately. Two years ago, I set out to figure out exactly who I was, what my values and principles are. On that path, I had to side step to take a close look at what my life had consisted of up until that point. I stepped back to the right and started viewing the sequence of my life. I decided that many things needed to change and that I needed to start incorporating some of my early years into my adult life.
So, I got my first steer. I discovered that I enjoyed spending time caring for him, feeding him and just giving him a good life. I enjoyed having other people come to visit and comment on how well behaved he was, how friendly is more like it. Then Mr. Farmer and I held discussions on other animals to get. I wanted chickens. I have had them around most of my life. I enjoy spending time with them too. They provide eggs and meat for food on the table, enjoyment as they are out running around in the grass for bugs or scratching up the yard to pick worms. So, on one of our trips to the feed store, we were informed that they had some extra chicks that someone had ordered that spring and they had failed to come pick them up. We ended up getting the last of the one’s they had left. Seven Rhode Island Reds, which turned out to actually be New Hampshires, and 15 Barred Rocks. All of those chickens have provided almost enough money to cover for all of the feed of our current roster of animals through the sale of eggs. After we set up housing and got the chickens up to a fairly good size so that they could go out and run around through the pasture and field…we set of in purchase of 12 Broad Breasted White turkeys. Mr. Farmer and I had compromised. He wanted turkeys, I wanted chickens. The turkeys stayed with us from June until November that year. The birds were so big by that time, they barely fit into the roaster for Thanksgiving Dinner. That was 2009.
In 2010, when we sat down to figure out what we wanted to do with the farm for the year. We decided that we wanted to get some Heritage Breed turkeys. One’s that are not genetically altered. Traditional birds with beautiful, distinctive plummage. So in January, Mr. Farmer ordered a mixed batch of 30 birds for delivery in the spring. They arrived in mid-May. Around that same time, we had gone to the local auction barn and picked up a young jersey bull. By the time he had been here for just about a day, he became very weak and needed 24 hour nursing care. For two days straight, I didn’t sleep as I cared for him. He had to be picked up to get him on his feet several times a day. Slowly he began to get stronger, but it took weeks before he was healthy enough to walk around the pasture for any distance. He is now our biggest and most handsome steer. He went from a beautiful chocolate brown to jet black!
In the first part of the year, it was brought to our attention that a woman in the area had been raising jersey cows and money had grown tight. She wasn’t caring for her animals the way they should have been. They had very little food and were nothing but skin and bones. We rescued one of her cows in April. The day she arrived here, she was so weak that she actually fell getting out of the hauler. I teared up as the two calves that came along with her stepped out of the trailer behind her. Being ever protective of her young one’s, she gently ushered them into a grassy patch about 75 feet from where we stood. She began munching on the grasses and for several weeks, it seemed that was all she did. Over the summer months, she gained weight steadily and is now almost as big around as a 4 foot hay bale!
Every animal is now healthy, happy and extremely well feed. They get attention multiple times a day.
Looking back now, over my right shoulder, I see that I have incorporated part of my youth by installing animals here on the farm. Every time I look at the photographs I have taken of the animals, I can almost hear my grandparent’s, my uncles and my dad talking in my ear. When I am on my hands and knees in the garden harvesting crops for the fridge and pantry, I can almost feel my grandmother’s hand on my should. Gently patting as if to say job well done.
Five years ago, I would have told you that having a farm was a dream that I would never have the opportunity to have. Maybe someday when I retire and get to do something that I really enjoy. Three years ago, I would have said that maybe just a few animals would be alright. Today, I can say, my perspective has changed 180 degrees. I took a couple of right turns along the way. This coming year will bring two more adventures for me. One is the expansion of our farm into beef cattle and the second is the biomass business!
Going further in depth with the change of perspective…I realized just how much agriculture means to me and our communities. Without agriculture, we have no food. Farmers not only provide us with milk and other dairy products but with every chicken or turkey we buy. Every egg we eat for breakfast. Every carrot, potato, onion, cucumber, pepper, strawberry we see at the grocery store. Every jar of jelly is based from fruits that come from a farm. Every can of soup has meat and vegetables that are grown on a farm. Every loaf of bread made from flour that was milled from wheat or corn grown and harvested by a farm.
I have a plan for you today. The next time you are in the grocery store, looking at produce…find out which one’s are provided by a local farmer or atleast one within the state. They may be slightly more expensive but atleast you are helping to keep a community in business. You are keeping a farm in production. If your grocery doesn’t provide local sourced items, pay attention to the labels and please buy from a US packaging plant. Most of those packaging plants buy from farms local to their location.
If we all do this, our small part in this cycle will mess with that of others…creating a demand for local sources food products. Remember, buying local keeps money from sales local. What a great way to contribute to your town, your county and your state, hell, even your country.
God Bless…and make a farmer happy today by ensuring his/her future in farming!

Blistering Cold

The bittercold has definitely got me bundling up with about two more layers. The thermometer tipped in a minus 10 this morning. Not as cold as the temperature was in Northern NY but still bitterly cold. It is enough to make a person want to crawl under a blanket in front of a roaring fire and just read a book all day.
Too bad there are still chores that need to get done. Animals that need to be fed and watered. Fires that need to be filled. Otherwise, the fireplace, a comfy chair and a good book would be in order. Today is going to be a great day to bake! I think an apple pie sounds yummy and delicious right now.
The animals faired out alright in the brutal cold. Thank heavens for heaters for the water jug in the cow stalls! It would have been a blast trying to beat a frozen 50 gallon ice cube out of the tub this morning. Heat lamps are helping to keep all of the birds warm, not hot but warm. I think it was about 45 in the poultry barn this morning…not too bad considering how cold it is outside. The furnace is full enough to last until later today, so atleast the house will stay warm all day long.
I have a list about a mile long of things that need to get done for the business today. The list includes reading, editing and even some graphic design work. I also want to get some video editing done as sort of a portfolio of some of the photographs I have taken. Needless to say, this is going to be a long day of nothing much to get just a few results. I hate days like these…but I will be toast warm in my home office! That is a plus!
One thing I did want to share is something from a magazine article I read. It is called 5 Things Little Kids Can Teach You.
Lesson #1: Let Things Go – Listen, don’t waste the rest of your life sulking about some unfair thing that happened to you. Get yourself off your mind…and simplify. Be as forgiving as a child who one minute can be fighting over a toy and the next be hugging.
Lesson #2: Be A Dreamer – Children make their lives simple by being an easy believer. Children believe in magic and fairytales. They have no problem coming up with imaginary playmates or imagining life to be amazing and fantastic.
Lesson #3: Pick Up Your Toys – Keep the stuff you use and the stuff you love, but give away what you’re holding on to for “someday”.
Lesson #4: Focus Your Attention – Practice doing one thing at a time. Give your mind over to what you are doing.
Lesson #5: Ask Your Father – Trust that God (or your higher power) loves you and hears your prayers. If it’s right, it will be given. If it’s not, just know that there is something better for you!
Five simple things to simplify your life. I have done them. Do you dare to try?
God bless! Have a wonderful day!

Snow, Ice and Cold

I will tell you right now…I may love winter but I hate dealing with frozen water! When buckets freeze it makes everything difficult. I have been having a difficult time lately with all of the water freezing for the animals…of course with zero degree temperatures, even the water heaters struggle to keep everything from freezing. It was horrible out there yesterday, when at 9 am, the temperature was actually a balmy negative four! I have no idea how the folks that live in Alaska do it. I mean, you walk out the door and your breath crystalizes right before your eyes. Your nose hairs freeze and what ever you do, don’t sneeze!

Other than struggling with frozen water…everything is going good. We do have one sickly calf, but he seems to be pepped back up again with just one dose of antibiotics. He was lathargic yesterday morning and most of the day yesterday, so I called the vet in to check him out. This cold is hard on everyone…animals included. I am very glad that we decided to put heat lamps in to keep the chickens and turkeys warm. It was about 50 degrees in with them yesterday. Not very warm but it sure was a whole lot warmer than what it could have been. The cows were doing alright until it snowed so hard last week and they went out into the pasture…can’t teach animals anything! πŸ™‚ The cold just seemed to digs it’s ugly heels in yesterday. Thankfully it is warmer out this morning…but now we are going to be getting rain and freezing rain sometime this morning.
Mr. Farmer made the 30 mile trek to work this morning take almost 20 minutes longer than normal. All of the local schools are closed. Which in my opinion was a smart move, I wouldn’t want my kids on a bus bumping down back country roads covered in ice.
I have a bunch of things to prepare today for several upcoming meetings. I am also having an official business phone installed this morning! No more dealing with other people listening to messages and then not forwarding them along. No more late hour phone calls ringing in my ear when I am trying to relax. It means official business hours for the phone! I love it! I really can’t wait!
I have been working on our website for the business too. Trying to keep everyone updated on the new EPA rulings and such. If you want to read more, you can find it under my blogger profile under the biomass heading.

Staying busy…

Well, this last weekend was packed full of one chore after another. There just never seems to be a day when I get to take time off to just relax.
Saturday we spent the majority of the day running here and there picking up animal feed. A trip to Berkshire to the feed store to get cow feed; Willet to get chicken feed; Killowog to pick up another bale for the cows. The swing into Killowog was pointless because no one was around to load the bale…so that meant going back on Sunday. We came home to store the feed, clean the stove pipe, load the furnace, plow the drives and finally inside to cook dinner. Sunday, I slept in. Rich took care of the morning chores for me (thank heavens) so I could grab a few minutes extra sleep. We had a load of firewood delivered before 9am…so I didn’t get too much extra sleep. After cooking breakfast, I did manage to sit down for about a half hour to work on a blanket that should have been done last week…running a bit behind on that one! Then it was off to Killowog to help do heifer chores and pick up a hay bale for our cows.
I sit here this morning, dreading going out that front door….Folks, the temperature here is ZERO. I am in no rush! The starter on the tractor is bad so it doesn’t start. At some point this week, I need to get that off to have it fixed. Just wish the weather would warm up a bit! We need to cut up these logs for firewood. Most of them will be longer pieces and then split for the furnace…but since we are due to have some extremely cold weather over the next week, we are also going to cut and split some for the fireplace as well. No way am I going to freeze.
I have been having an extremely difficult time with getting the “chills” lately. I go outside, get cold and then for some reason get chilled right to the bone. I have never had this kind of problem before. Maybe it is because I haven’t been feeling very well lately. I just don’t know. It reminds me of when you go swimming in the pool and your core temperature drops, giving you the shakes and jitters. The only way I can seem to get rid of them once they start is to climb into bed and sleep them off. Which is driving me crazy because it seems like the last three days, I have slept half of my days away.
I will be working on a couple of projects today…one for some information on why our government needs to reconsider subsidies for ethanol production and another for a local college course program on biomass. Seems to be an ever expanding list of things to do…but I wouldn’t change it. It makes me feel like I am contributing back to this world I live in. When I was growing up, I always said that I wanted to be a teacher…maybe I wasn’t too far off. These projects keep leading me into an education sector. Educating the public, educating the educators. Interesting for me to say the least.
I have decided that I don’t get paid enough for everything I do…I would ask for a percentage raise but it’s kind of hard to get a 25% raise when you don’t get paid anything to begin with! Just to explain to everyone why I don’t think I will ever get paid enough…here are my job titles: Research and business development; Personal Assistant; Chief Executive Office of a start up company; Sales and Marketing Manager for two seperate businesses (Biomass and Farm); Marketing and Sales Specialist (Biomass Industry); Farm Hand; Housekeeper; Bookkeeper; Cook and a few additional ones that I will be kind enough to not list πŸ™‚
My days are full. Up at 5:30 to bed around 11:00 and zero time for me in between. When I get sick, I still work. There is no time to get depressed over certain things in my life, no time to ponder what could or should have been. One foot in front of the other, every hour on the hour.
So, to boil it all down…I don’t get paid for even half of what I do, but sometimes the joy of doing all I do out weighs any amount of money in the world!
May you all find peace and joy in your days! God Bless!

Too much activity!

Things have gotten really busy around here lately. I made a comment on facebook yesterday about all this. I feel like someone taught me how to juggle with three pins and now they just threw six more into the mix.

Pin 1: My normal life. Not that I really have time for one, but I try. Normal things include everything here on the farm. Morning and afternoon chores, keeping the snow plowed and the driveway clear, keeping my tush warm by loading wood into our outdoor boiler, cleaning the house, cooking the meals, doing laundry, washing dishes and all the rest of the household chores, and still managing to do some crocheting projects here and there. I have no issues with the outside work like taking care of the animals and keeping the driveway plowed (or mowing the lawn in the summer) but, I would love to have a maid/housekeeper for the rest!

Pin 2: Biomass. I am working on getting this project lifted off the ground and things are slowly managing to work together. It is like a door that has locks, little one’s too, that line the whole side. One tiny key is given to me every so often to help me get that door open. I have all but a few of them unlock now. I can flex the door by pushing on the bottom and get peeks to what is on the other side but, I can’t get it all the way open to walk in there yet! And that is just the first pin..one project!

Pin 3: Agriculture activism: This is a pin all on it’s own because it is very time consuming. I have to follow what is going on in Washington, DC and with groups such as the USDA. I do my best to help where I can with any farm who asks for assistance. I know that small, family farms are the heart and soul of our country. Too many people have forgotten that! Milk prices paid to farmers are the same as they were in the late 80’s. Yet, mind you, we all know that fuel prices have gone way up. Seed prices are higher. Grain prices seem to be raising by the day right now too (I will talk about this in a very detailed upcoming blog). Machinery prices are high. Fuel surcharge prices for milk pickup are higher than ever. So many small things that cut into the profit of every farm! It sickens me when I listen people complain about the price of milk, cheese and other dairy goods in the store…which are also high, I do agree…but, your local dairy farmer sure isn’t getting that extra money! I could go on and on with this one..but I will stop it here and save up what I have to say for another day!

On to the rest of the pins!
Pin 4: Expansions. Yes, in a way this does follow up under the biomass but, it has become a bigger thing in the past six months. Now it is the same size as the biomass project we are working on. Two seperate counties in other areas of the state are agressively pursuing this type of venture to come into their area. Unfortunately, each new area has it’s own requirements. It isn’t as simple as saying, look I have a plan to produce that will utilize the areas grasses. You still need buyers and raw materials. This takes talking with people in the area, finding out the raw material base acreage. It takes finding a source that can use the finished product. Both steps really aren’t difficult when you know what your up against, but it isn’t just a snap of your fingers either. It still takes time!

Pin 5: Seminars/Conferences. Unfortunately, these things should come with a warning tag! Prepare, prepare, prepare some more! Making sure you cover the topic in detail is the best thing to do…but usually you are limited on time..so it is write the speech, tweek the speech and edit more!

Pin 6: Mentoring. This is the one pin I wish I had more time to take care of. I love helping people. It feels good to work with people who want to make themselves better individuals. I am a noble ambassador now, found out this week actually, for assisting people with leadership and interpersonal skills. The comments that were made to me, “You are a great inspiration. Your words are always kind and you show great compassion toward the issues of others. Your work has shown your true dedication and optimism for life.” The title is just a title but one that I will always cherish. I will be the first one to admit, I did shed a couple of tears (of joy) for being able to pay forward what others have done for me!

Pin 7: Social life. Yeah, this one is down near the bottom of the pins. I wish I could take time to go hang out and visit more with my friends and family. Unfortunately, right now, time just isn’t on my side! It is hard on me sometimes. I have two people that I really wish I could go visit with more often. Just to tell them face to face who much they mean in my life. One I chat on the phone with over coffee almost every morning. The other, I talk with on chat as much as possible. These two woman have been loyal and have earned my trust more than anyone else ever has. Girls, I love you both more than you will ever be able to comprehend!

Pin 8: Photography. Something that means a great deal to me. For little reasons. I see things differently through the camera lens. When I look through the view finder, I see a smaller section of the world. One that shows me the little things. Like the blooming flowers of spring, dew drops on spider webs, robins that follow me around, a look in an eye, so many little things! I could spend the rest of my life with my camera lift to my eye! It is such a beautiful world out there. You just have to remember to take it one frame at a time. Those frames make the world come down to size, to make you notice everything around you, everything that we have been blessed to recieve!

Alright…so there aren’t six extra pins, just five. Still a lot to juggle. There are days that I miss the old way of life. Where I got out of bed every morning, got dressed and left for a normal job. But, I am not going to pull any punches…I love my life just the way it is. I don’t care if some days I work so hard on so many things. I don’t care if I don’t dress in the current fashions. I don’t care that I don’t to have a new car or truck. I don’t care that my clothes are usually all rumpled and stained, ripped and torn. I am doing something productive with my life…I am learning who I am and what I can give to others! I love where God has led me in my life! I am blessed with so much…..I just wish that God had provided me with a secretary and a housekeeper during this difficult transition period in my life! I pray everyday that he reconsiders that thought. I bet he sits in Heaven laughing when I sit here praying for that…saying, remember young lady, I won’t give you more than you can handle!
So, no matter how many pins I juggle, I know that I have got it all under control, that I will find the strength and patience to do it all! Some how, some way…housekeeper, secretary or not!