I don’t feel good today and I am battling through some sinus infection, sore ears and just a general overall feeling of blah. Being sick gets me thinking though about 40-hour per week jobs, calling in sick and being able to lay in bed all day. Something that farmers don’t have the luxury of doing. Who should I call when I don’t feel like braving the elements with a pounding head, ringing ears and snot running out of my nose? I don’t think the calves, cows or chickens are going to care. They want their food!
Living the farm life isn’t for everyone. We farm through broken ribs, flu season, broken toes, dislocated bones and everything in between. I’ve cared for animals in casts and splints. I’ve cared for animals through pounding heads and aching backs. Farmers who deal with livestock are care givers. When you get sick, you still have kids who need caring for or a dog that needs to go for a walk…it’s really not that much different for us. It would be much more convenient if the cattle were in the house so I wouldn’t have so far to go…but it doesn’t work that way.
Being a farmer takes grit. I’m sure you’ve heard that before but it’s true. We have to push ourselves to work through an illness or injury to get the job done. We don’t get sick days, we don’t get days off. It doesn’t matter, 365 days a year you will find me in the barn caring for calves and feeding the animals.
I’ve learned a lot about pushing myself to get the job done since I have been diagnosed with MS. You need to push but not overdue things. Even if a chore takes you ten times long than it normally would, do it anyway. When it gets done, you can sit down with satisfaction knowing that you accomplished the job. Besides, if your dealing with livestock they will find a way to make you smile.
Now, since it’s raining outside and more extreme cold weather is coming…I think I’ll tackle some paperwork and housework! Wish me luck in finalizing my plans for 2014 and getting my entire life better organized!
I know my answer, right off the top of my head with every beat of my heart. I know I have talked about this before and shared with you but I have to do it again. It’s that important to me.
You would be amazed at how something as simple as a grainy, blurry old scanned photograph can bring up so many emotions and memories. Yesterday, my cousin Corina shared an old photo of my Grandmother Liddington. I think it was probably taken from around the time I was born because her hair is still dark, not grayed like the later years of my youth.
There are no singular words to describe her. She was the community cook, rural doctor of sorts, farmer’s wife and so much more. She was a tough women who raised six kids and never, ever took any back lip from anyone but she would give you her last loaf of bread if you needed it. She was the type of person I have always been inspired to be.
I can’t even begin to tell you all the things she did for so many people. And OHHHH the food that lady could make on her wood fired cook stove!
She has been gone from us since the early 1990’s but her memories live and breath every day through those of us left behind. There aren’t many photos of her to share but the imprint she left on us was without a doubt a legacy for years to come. To best sum up her legacy, I will make a list of impressions and words to that I live by handed down through her actions.
Take no lip. You know what’s right, so do it. Never cook a meal without extra, you never know who may need the extra plate. Never waste food. It’s valuable and expensive. Provide for yourself. Don’t rely on others but don’t hesitate to give. Pass on what you know to your children and grandchildren. Work hard, expect nothing. Treat everyone as family. Trust no one, love everyone. Stand your ground and let know one push you around. You don’t need a whole lot of nothing to be special, lead with your heart. No one cares about your clothes, car or bank account. It’s the love in your heart that really counts. No one is going to hold your hand forever and treat you like a child. You need to dry your tears, get off your butt and learn to be better.
Yup, that about sums up my Grandma. Treated everyone as equal. Money and status never mattered. There was always extra food and a place at the table in her house. If you need mending from a cut, scrape or sickness, you saw my Gran.
In closing, I hope that somehow my words get to Heaven because I know that’s where she’s at:
Gran, I still love you with all my heart! Thank you for taking a child with a broken wing under yours and teaching me so much. I never knew just how much you would impact my life as an adult. With every meal, every trip to the barn, every second spent weeding the garden, at nearly every point in my life…you are still here with me. You were a special lady, unique and one of a kind. No one will ever be able to take your place to so many people but thank you for everything, every moment that impacted so many more lives that just mine. I pray that someday when people look back on my life…they can easily say, “yup, that was Martha’s granddaughter!” I will forever keep this place in my heart and I hope that someday, we can sit under the lilac trees in Heaven together. My one request…please don’t make me pick a switch! I promise to live my life from this day and every day so you won’t have to.
Every year, during the time when the local kids have spring break…we start getting visitors. Friends and family members bring their youngsters out to play with the cattle, chickens and turkeys. This is always the time of year that reminds me of the biggest reasons why I raise, care and tend for animals the way I do.
Two days, two families. Smiles and laughter shared that no amount of money can buy.
Our first visitor that came this week was Sue and Ava. If you follow this blog on and off, you will know that Ava came out last year and the year before. Ava is a favorite, loyal visitor.
Last year, one of the calves kept trying to eat her hair. So this year…she was worried about her hair and kept telling them all “Please don’t eat my hair.” It is really amazing to watch kids with the animals though. This is what makes my job working with the cattle so important.
Not only with the kids…but with the adults it’s important too. You have no idea how many adults want to get “cow kisses”! It’s strange…but I get it. It’s that moment when you feel special with an animal. It’s that much greater because it’s a cow!
The following day after Ava came, we had new visitor for this year. A father (Pat) and his two sons (Logan and Connor). I didn’t know who was more excited when they pulled in…Dad or boys.
I haven’t seen smiles so big and so full of joy as when the calves started licking fingers and trying to get rubs on the head.
To those that don’t know me…this is the most important thing about what I do. Yes, I love raising our own beef, dairy and poultry. But, I LOVE sharing my passion for farm animals with KIDS! It’s an experience that I feel every kid should have.
There are really moments sometimes that almost bring a tear to my eye when I watch animals that are fearful of everything, nose up to a child. It’s one of those things for me.
To anyone in our area reading this…you are more than welcome to come visit, anytime. We love to have people stop by, young or old.
In the meantime, I will be out working (more like playing) with the cows…gotta get that next generation trained for cow kisses!
I thought life was crazy before! I have changed my mind. Currently, we have added in the woes of fence construction, new seeding, grazing management, frost seeding, and relocating temporary fences.
Let’s start with the temporary fence. A great deal of our fence areas are set in with step in posts and braided wire. I hasn’t been a problem until now. The issues that have come up now are long-haired animals (see photo below) just walking through the fence. Hair seems to NOT conduct the electricity within the energized wire. Needless to say, about two to six times a day…I am putting cattle back inside the fence or getting a phone call while I run errands because the cows are out.
It really doesn’t make much sense. As you can see, the grass is very low to the ground in that area. Inside the area fenced in, some of the grass under the laid over hay is several inches long. In this case, the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence!
Now let’s talk about this photo a little more. This is part of our pre-spring grazing management. We have an area fenced in that needed some “work”. The area gets very steep and doesn’t allow for any type of tractor work. So we are using the cattle to do the work for us. As you can see in the photo, the old forage growth within the paddock has provided a sort of blanket for the new grasses underneath to sprout and grow quicker than the worked up field areas that we grazed last fall.
The standing stalks of weeds will get eaten, trampled and the ground develops as the cattle hooves dig into the ground. We have already seen improvements…in 2 days! Take a look!
I will be posting follow-up photos with before, during and after shots. We are trying this as part of an experiment for land reclaiming. They are eating the briars and the weeds! Proof in these next two photos.
The next stage for us will be fencing in the 90 acres we will be using for rotational grazing this year and for many years to come. It’s a big job with over 14,500 linear feet of fencing, posts, wires, etc to have put up! Once it’s all completed we will have enough area to grazing 45 animals. To someone like me with an obsession with cattle…it means I can buy more cattle! (Reminder: I like to buy cattle like most women like to buy shoes!)
We also have 30 acres to get seeded for another grazing area too. Rich has been researching, reading and learning what types of grasses and legumes will be best suited for both the soil and the cattle. He thinks he has finally figured out which blend (a custom mix with lots of plant diversity) he wants to go with. In the meantime, we will be frost seeding clover on last years pastures to start building nitrogen in the ground. Did you know that clovers are nature’s way of providing nitrogen? I didn’t…but it’s very cool! No more synthetic fertilizer for nitrogen!!!
Saturday, we will be headed to a grazing seminar that will help us learn how to become more adapt at managing our grazing plan. I am super excited to go and I will make sure I take LOTS of pictures!
For now…it’s back to chasing cattle, taking more photos and reading more books! Thanks for stopping in to read about my adventures and sharing our little piece of Heaven!
Well, this morning was the last morning of farm camp for the visitors from Texas. I am so proud of how much change I have seen in these two young ladies from Monday morning until today!
The first day they arrived, they were scared of all of the animals. “The cows are big, the calves are going to bite, the chickens would peck and the turkeys would attack” were just a few of the statements made by these two ladies. It almost made me think that the whole experience was going to be tough because their mom MADE them come up for morning chores at SIX am. What kid wants to get up that early during summer vacation? Most adults don’t…at any time of year!
By Wednesday, they were actually asking to come up to assist with nightly chores, letting the calves suck their fingers and were not afraid to gather the eggs! I feel blessed to be able to share the farm with them! They have come so far in such a short time! I have to say…I will miss them now during my morning routine.
I have some of the photos up on our facebook page…and will get some up here soon but I need to wait. They will actually be included into a special post that they will be the contributors for!!!!! You will get to hear from them all about the experience. I can’t wait to see what they have to share and I promise to share, no matter what they have to say.
And…since they don’t actually read the blog, I will share now what I have done for them. During one of the conversations this week with Mr. Farmer, it was decided that we would do something special for them. So, I sat down and designed up a logo for the back of a shirt! Much like an event T-shirt! Here is the design.
We will have them all ready for them when they return on the 29th of this month. I still need to do some adjustments but this will be close to what the back will look like. I will get photos of the finished products once they are completed and in hand. Oh and by the way…on the front it will say “Farmer Ashley” and “Farmer Autumn”. Kind of like getting a certificate of completion! If anyone else has some ideas on things we could do for them…send a shout out and let me know! These are all ideas that we will start incorporating for all of the kids that come to visit! Farm camp will be reserved for kids who come 2 or more consecutive days for a whole experience type of thing. But since we do have visitors and repeat visitors, I would love to be able to come up with something for them to take home with them as a reminder for the whole experience.
Any ways, I must run and go do errands today…so I need to get my butt in gear or I won’t have the time to finish it all!
After working to get the planting all done on Saturday…we figured that Sunday would be a good day to relax a little. Mr. Farmer slept in until about 9 am or so while I got up and did morning chores.
My morning started right off with issues…not ones that normally happen and I am used to be with calves escaping from their own little paddock area. Two of them (Tommy and Del) knocked the top barrier right down and into the main part of the barn they came! After finishing up milking. I put them back into their own area and fixed the barrier…got their milk feed and boomed…here they come into the large portion of the barn again.
This time I let them run around while I turned the cows out to pasture, let the chickens out and finished all the feeding for everyone. Then I put them back into their paddock and went to sit on the picnic table so they would calm down some. AND oh yes…you did read that right: We have a picnic table in the calf pen. It’s there because we try to spend some extra time with the calves getting them used to us and it always works great for when farm visitors come to spend time with the animals. If I had my choice, each one would be located next to a big old tree…maybe someday!
Now that I had chores done, I went into the house, had my coffee and relaxed until Mr. Farmer rolled out of bed. After that, we delivered the wood splitter to his Uncle’s house and picked up the cattle trailer. It was time to relocate the service bull to their farm to breed their first calf holstein heifers. We came home, backed up to the main gate and went to get him out of his paddock. In the meantime, the calves that are just under a year old decided to bust down the gate and go outside the fence for a fast paced run in 80 degree weather! All three of them were running all over the place kicking up their heels and going as fast as their legs were carry them.
As I was chasing them through the new seeding field of alfalfa…they heard Mr. Farmer rattle the gate and they went shooting down the hill and right into the paddock. UGGGG I was glad they were in but after chasing them up the hill in the heat while wearing jeans, I was not a happy camper!
Needless to say we backed inside the pasture to the next gate that divides the paddocks between young stock and cows. We managed to get the bull up to the trailer and then coaxed him in with a heifer in the side door looking on as he loaded up. Finally! The bull was loaded, the young stock was out roaming with the cows in the rotational pasture and we were on the road. The easiest thing was unloading him. He took off across the tall grass scoping things out and completely ignoring us. Around 3 pm, we dropped the trailer off and headed home.
Since we had relocated the cows and heifers to the new paddock yesterday, Mr. Farmer decided he would mow down the first field so that it wouldn’t over grow. So off he went with the mower while I wandered the fields looking for the perfect moments to capture with my camera. All the girls and the one young steer were all getting along great. Which seemed like a major blessing for us. I managed to finally get Mr. Farmer’s parents up to see the new calf while he was up and running around. Mr. Farmer’s Mom, Kate, who shares a birthday with our Katie-girl (and who Katie is named after) loves the Dexters. So she was thrilled to finally get to see the little bugger, who by the way zips over and under these fences like he is completely immune to the electric jolt he gets when he touches the hot wire…he has calmed down on that now that the bull is gone. Hopefully that means he will start growing and we won’t have to add in another strand of fencing to keep his butt inside the fence!
Mr. Farmer got done mowing around 5 pm and we decided to come into the house, out of the hot sun and relax with a cup of ice water to cool down. I don’t think we sat for more than five minutes when the phone rang. The voice on the other end says, “Feel like coming to chase that bull. He escaped from the pasture and is headed down the road the last time we saw him.” UGGGG….here we go again! Off we go, five miles down the road to chase the bull.
After searching for a 1/2 hour, he was finally found out walking back toward home!!! The lure of a bucket of grain led him back to the heifer barn. Once inside the heifer barn, it took five of us to corner the little bugger to get a collar and lead rope on him. Once we had him fastened up so he couldn’t escape, we started checking the fence (which we were told was working fine) and behold two or three wires that were broke and no power was flowing through the lines. They are going to work on the lines today (Monday) and hopefully get everything all fixed so that he can head back out to pasture and roam with some girls.
By the time we got home, we had to go look up our cows out to pasture and bring them back up to the barns for feeding and milking. Needless to say…by 7 pm I was more than ready to sit down…and for the first time in two years, I had a beer! I am so glad that yesterday isn’t the normal routine. I wouldn’t be able to stand it.
Now that you know the stressful day from yesterday…I will leave with a few photos and the highlights of my day! My tiny little blessing and miracles that occurred during the midst of too much other stuff gone wrong.
After a long and very stressful week, I decided to take a break this morning doing two things I really love to do! Taking photos and spending time with the cows!!!!
After having an unexpected visit this morning at chore time that actually helped me get morning chores done a little bit faster, I came inside and sat down in front of the computer…my fingers hovering over the keyboard trying to wrap my head about what I wanted to write for the upcoming article I need to get together on a farm I went to an interview for yesterday. My head just wanted in it. I couldn’t focus on the topic at hand…so I decided I just needed to go clear my head and what better place for me to do it than out in the pastures.
I just start walking slowly, noticing different things that are all around me…from a protective mothers to the smallest of plants. It reminds me of the big, wide world we live in and how small our lives are in the big scheme of life. All we can do is to take each moment as it comes, enjoy the little things and keep a good spirit about the next step, the next moment instead of looking at too much at once.
So, now I will leave you with a few photos as a glimpse into my little world…….