Friday, May 10, 2013

Catch up

Well, it's been a few!

Unfortunately, the weather is much like it was last year with one or two exceptions of course. Like the freak snow storm that hit the country just things looked promising. I find it interesting that the global warmers decided to change their semantics and say "more extreme weather" instead of "We'll over heat and die!!"

There is no chance of over heating, as the pressure systems of the air have changed. I fear it is the effect of the volcano in Iceland that shut most of Europe down two years ago. Volcanic particles take years to clear out of the upper layers! We may have to rethink our farming system. Until the jet stream can follow its usual course, we can only expect our weather to be weird.

But let us not get too hung up on trials. The good news is I just got back from talk kitchens with the contractor. It's looking up, as I can instal a very durable one that may well last till bump evicts us.

Oh, we didn't tell you about Bump? Hee hee hee...

Well, the even better news is we expect the arrival of a baby some where around June 16th. :D Fancy that!

I'm currently at the Blimp stage of pregnancy. The feet are diner rolls, I only glimpse them occasionally, and every so often I have the strange sensation of being squeezed like a tube of toothpaste. In this condition, life continues at a slower rate, but no matter. The TB test for the cows was clear!

Naturally, people here ask if I've the nursery ready. "Ready" is such a relative term. I felt really energetic a few times, only to be defeated by circumstance. G has decided we shall have a guy come and do the painting, so at least it's a step? Sure, the baby can stay in a laundry basket in my room for a while. Then it can graduate a suitcase and maybe, if it's a good little baby, its very own dresser drawer.* But mom and daddy's bed is not a good idea. I find we are very active sleepers. Having gotten an elbow to the face, given a knee to the guts, been pushed off the very edge, and nearly freeze when someone rolls up in the duvet, having a wee 'un in the middle is just dangerous. But ironically enough, having grown up in my own bed and all that, the other night I did something I've never done. Had a bad dream and climbed in bed with "daddy." (I had bailed to the guest room, as I was too fidgety and G was snoring.)

Maybe I felt safe enough as a child because my sister and I shared a room. Who knows. But I suppose we shall just have to cross the many bridges of parenting as we come to them. Bump will be an individual.

* For those without a sense of humour, I can assure you the baby won't be kept in an unsafe sleeping arrangement.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The winds of autumn blow... So does the cooker.

After the wettest summer in the history of recorded weather, our fine land has decided to up the ante. Wet Fall Too!

In the past three days we got 38 mil of rain in the gauge  I've been sneaking out to do the readings before G, as I fear it would only depress him further. The poor thing had no kind of summer at all. But the girls are all back in the house, so life has settled down a lot.

We are now trying to make a farm Plahn. What a plan for a farm looks like is purely a matter of conjecture. Is it a year calender, with things haphazardly pencilled in? Is it a clever spread sheet, all done out in fancy colours and gimmicks filled with minutiae of agricultural enterprise. Maybe it might look more like this:

I figured it covered all the relevant points. However, G thinks we need to be more specific. We need to know who's responsible for getting everything done. Cheers to the future, more organized and seamless! 

On the domestic front, that old enemy Polly and I have come to an arrangement. I have something worth complaining about, he makes my life miserable. Everyone is happy! G and Mum, however, think the time has come to let the axe fall. 

"You'd best go out and get a new cooker while you're good and annoyed with it." Sage advice. The reason I am so very put out with Polly is that he has yet again foiled my attempts at manufacturing the greatest culinary discovery known to man (aside from Steak.) 

The beauteous dutch pancake. Dun dun dun....... (ie,  crepe on steroids and capable of feeding people for the whole day.) The burning thing within the beasts belly needs cleaned out once in a while. Is it any coincidence that it goes kaput on the day, the hour, the morning my Aunt from Holland is making pannecooken???? No, I hold it is not. 

So, until next time, Cheerio and keep the 'brolly in the boot. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer in the Great Indoors

Here it is, the end of June.

It's wet.

Not just a light sprinkle here and there, as the fragrant summer shower pitter patter on hot black top.
No, here we have the water standing in fields nearly 2' deep, silage going to waste as it rots in muddy fields, and to top it all off, the jet stream decided to shift a few miles south.

It is bustling just over the top of our area creating unstable weather eddies. The farmers look out their windows and grit their teeth.The gnashing is startlingly audible each morning, as they collectively grind away with the old gnoshers.

It wouldn't be so bad if it was just a golf course or a shopping center. This weather means the cows have to stay inside and the ground conditions will not be good for machinery. Wasted grass, ruined swards, poor silage quality and most of all, more work.

On a brighter note here you see the girls enjoying their rawhides, the wash, and the newly assembled grill cohabiting with the washer and dryer. The washer and dryer are also having a trying year, as I washed and dried some clothes which were soaked in diesel.

G apparently saved the world from a toxic spill by rolling in a puddle of the stinky stuff. Why he had to roll in the puddle, one might never know. I'm now washing all the barn clothes one by one, to see if it will wear off. Hopefully the dryer doesn't explode....

 No matter, we remain undaunted. With the advent of the warmer-ish weather, Polly and I have come to a wary truce. To be sure, those burgers are going to be fabulous.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ahh, spring.

Just kidding! While the Pickerings besport themselves in tropical heat, team Egg is slogging through a wet and wintry year.

G came back from his grass walk two days ago and mournfully held out a drooping weed. "See this? This only grows in wet years." A Dun DUN duNNN moment if ever there was one.

 Last year we had a beautiful warm, dry (for this area dry means only a light shower) spring, and got our first cut of silage in early. The cows got out early and stayed that way. But oh, woe to thee blithe spirit, we are still scraping cubicles and feeding silage. On the bright side, we still have some first cut from last year.

On the bright side, we have a new addition to the farm: 

Meisje! (Or just "May") She came from a farmer pal we met at the Positive Farmer's conference.

She is settling in well, aside from getting in Gina's face and annoying the poor dog to the point of aggravated barking. Gina is 13yrs old. In dog terms, that's old as dirt!

When May settles down, the saintly Gina gives May some on the job training.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Green Thumbed Monster Lurks

Farmers are the guys who wrestle with nature, grappling for their living from the dirt. While their enterprises can range from an exotic bird petting zoo to hydroponically grown produce, they all have one thing in common. Land envy.

This morning G and I were munching through our generic brand musli and wheatabix and we got to the topic of spring grazing. These days, grass growing is quite a scientific thing. You must needs measure it all weekly and plan the "Grass wedge."

The grass wedge is a graph showing all your fields, and the "cover" of grass in them. When a field reaches so many tonnes per hectare you put the cows in. Ideally the fields are grazed systematically, using the wedge data, so you never run out of grass or let a good field go to seed. The big idea here is the more free grass your cattle they eat, the more money you make on your milk or beef or sheep.

Well, things don't just always go according to plan. Swans can land in your field and eat it all, your cows can churn your beautiful grass to mud (i.e. "poach" it), punk teenagers can crash their expensive sports cars right through the hedge and destroy most of your field, but most of all the elements are against you. No rain, too much rain, no sun, too much sun, mudslides, low calcium.... no wonder farmers are so negative. Thusly Gregg and I were haggling about getting sheep to graze 1/3 of the grass before the end of march.

"But Gregg, meal price is crazy! we need to get the grass going." Says I, the zealous newbie, who swallows all the latest research.

"Nah, I think we'll just leave that plan for next year. I would like the cows to eat it, but the weather report says the rain will stay till the End of March. I think I should be looking for land in the Ard region...munch munch... poaching in the autumn causes a 30% loss in grazing and poaching in the spring causes 20% loss. Our ground is just too wet." (Ard is district a few miles away, where the ground is perfectly dry according to Gregg.)

"Ha! Thou shalt not covet thine neighbors dirt!" I quipped in my Rachel Lynde voice.

"Och no, I'm perfectly happy to buy it off him." says Gregg with a contented smile. "I didn't say I wanted it for free!"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Me, of the country side.

Ah, the sight of men toiling...

Here we find G and R "Improving" the old dish cart they got from the dump. They are making it into a serviceable medical cart for the vet when he comes to test the herd. And why do they direct their attention to this humble task?

It is nearly time to PD (Pregnancy Detect) all the Girls. Poor things....
For people, this is actually kind of fun until the Doc insists that you need an amniocentesis. I won't go into detail about that particular procedure, but I can assure you, I turned out ok without mom doing one so hang it all, should it ever come down to having kids neither shall I.

The beeming mother gets to see the little guy or gal with it's tiny hands and bulging head, swooshing and oozing about, and at the end you get a picture print out. So Cute!

Look, there's the bump that will become its... uh... head??

In the veterinary world, you get to have the ultrasound thingy shoved where the sun don't shine and the vet looks at the real-time footage on a wee screen or a cool pair of video sunglasses. No pictures for us!In Gregg's barn, there is what you call a "herring bone crush". The girls are ushered in a row of 17 standing side by side, after milking when they aren't suspecting any funny business. They usually walk through the separating gate as a matter of course. The ones to the back must wonder why Fiona is holding them up.

Dexter the Vet thinks they do better in such a crush because they can be comforted by their sisters and can't see what the vet is up to. Needless to say there is a general hysteria amongst the cows marked by worried looks or a surprised "Moo??". Before they know what's happened the vet is onto the next cow. To be fair, they must be quite used to the sensation of things being rammed where the sun don't shine, but Let us think on more edifying things.

Having been smitten with a strange strain of Flu, I took the opportunity to read through "Anne of Green Gables". What an enchanting book! All these years I had dismissed it as girly nonsense with much mooning about and talking. No explosions, jail breaks, or spies... What is there to be interesting?? Mind, now that I've found my own most beloved, romance and moonlit nights are Very interesting. I look forward to finishing Anne of Avonlea and will ban my children (Should I be so blessed as to have them) from doing so until they are well over 20. Such enchanting nonsense would no doubt play havoc with their perception of reality. Now I am fully grown, with the ability to distinguish nonsense from truth, a bit of "sweetening" is probably in order.

I stand ready to defend myself! I will face all comers, who would not have me "deprive them". I staunchly hold to the idea that novels are bad for impressionable young ladies and their reading should be in the vein of the Greek dramas, The Black Stallion series, and the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ahhh, the smell of money.

It's spring! Frogs are popping out of strange places, the daffodils are blooming, and the wee birdies are singing.

The other way you know it's past February 5th is the smell of slurry, which reeks its mighty stench from once verdant fields. The farmers finally have clearance to get rid of their poo. Mind, it's not their idea to do it all at once. It's the brain child of some guy who farms a desk for the government and wants to get credit for decreasing nitrates in the water.

Because all the farmers pour nitrates into our crystalline water, and oh my! The fish and the molluscs are dead! I didn't know there were any molluscs in the creeks they want to call rivers.

So, now Gregg is looking at the weather reports, sucking air through his teeth and as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He's got to get the slurry out, or it will overflow, and there are precious few breaks in the weather to do it in! The other farmers have all been keeping an eye on eachother's silage ground, suspicious that someone might break the rules. If one does it, well, why not just spread the whole district and agree not to rat on each other?

I read a funny little tale in the Irish Farmer's journal, about how one little farmer was "sticking it to the man". He had a slurry tank on his truck, and decided to drive around town as he didn't have time to take it off. Then it occured to him that his obnoxious townie neighbor was always watching. So, he innocently continued to drive past the guys house with the tanker. What do you know, but the inspectors came! A few times in fact, until they rang up the farmer. "Look," said the irritated inspector,"We know you aren't spreading, would you quit driving around with the tanker? our phone has been ringing off the hook." Apparently he did not.