Friday, February 28, 2014

While The Sun Shines

I think we have all heard the expression, "make hay while the sun shines."  Well, I'm gonna add to that.  Haul hay while the sun shines!  Yesterday was a gorgeous day for February in Montana.  Somewhere around 30 degrees and not a breath of wind.  But that has changed.  It's 3 degrees now and snowing.  There's a storm heading our way that is supposed to bring more snow, high winds and temperatures back down to -20 or so.  The wind chills will even be worse than that!

I never used to pay any attention to the weather.  Not much any way.  Boy, has that changed!  Now I have learned that watching the weather reports can mean being prepared for nasty storms or being caught out in a blizzard.  Kind of a big deal out here on the prairie.

So in preparation for this storm, I decided to haul hay all around to the different parts of the farm where I feed each bunch of critters.  I normally load a few bales each day, off of the stack and deliver them around the farm.  Now I have bales stacked up near each bunch of critters.  Some near the goat/lamb pen, some near the horses and calves pasture gate and some up in the alpaca barn. Now I won't be hauling hay when it's -20 below and the wind is trying to blow me off of the haystack!  Instead I was hauling hay in the sunshine, in shirtsleeves no less! 

Shirt sleeves and overalls. In February!

The alpacas were out frolicking and hoping all that hay was for them!  They love their groceries!!

"No really, you can just leave all that here." ~ Cricket

I also got some things cleaned up around the farm, fueled up the tractor and trimmed the pony's hooves.  The snow kept balling up under his feet, making it very hard for him to walk.  I'm hoping a hoof trim helps a bit.  A good brushing made him a happy boy too.

All of us seemed to be soaking up the sunshine while we could.... I'll let you know what tomorrow brings.

 "Paris" the barn cat.

Bye for now,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter Bliss

People in the city often think small town, rural living is "boring".

"What do you do for fun?", they ask....

They wonder if my kids are too "sheltered"....
I think the folks that have asked me that need to get out more!


What do you think??

I think.... I wouldn't trade this for the world.

Bye for now,

Monday, February 24, 2014

Being Followed

This is the start of a new week, thank goodness!!  Last week was a tough one.  There are times when we all have more on our plates than we think we can handle.  Days that almost shatter us.  I'm sure that all of you have had times like that too.
But now I'm just feeling grateful.  Saturday the weather was still quite chilly, but nice enough for my big boy and I to actually talk a stroll around the farm while doing chores.  Most of these winter days we have had to take a pickup, for heat and also to haul hay.  That little walk with my kid and my critters was just what I needed. 

As we stepped out the front door, the calves perked up, bawled at us and began to follow us along the fence. 

The little black mare took a break from grazing and came over to the road to say hello and joined the parade along the road towards the barn.  She thought I should definitely show off how hard she works to get good and dirty!

The alpacas met us at the gate and made a little marching formation, following behind us as we made our way up to their little barn and the feed room. This is Genesis making her, "feed me now!" face.

The chickens all swarmed around me, clucking contentedly and following behind as I went around straightening up their pen.  Even though they had a fresh meal in their house!  Happy little hens just hanging out to see what I was up to....

That was the moment.  The moment I looked up and took my first deep breath in a week.  The moment I realized everything really is going to be okay.  Even on my weakest days I have these happy little children and happy little critters to help me "pull focus" and remind me what's important. I felt like all of them had been following me around the farm, just to say "Hey! Don't forget! Life is good!"  Sometimes being followed is a good thing....

Bye for now,

Friday, February 7, 2014

So You Wanna Be A Farmer?

Lately there is quite a movement happening.  At least it looks that way to me.  There are more and more people, men and women alike, that are craving a more organic, agricultural lifestyle.  To put it simply, they want to be farmers. On websites like Pinterest there are oodles of boards named, "My Dream Farm" or something similar.  All of this is such a great thing!  The world needs a lot more people devoted to farming and feeding the world!

The images we see of small farms and homesteads are all pretty idyllic.  Happy little chickens, adorable baby goats, perfect cottage gardens with flowers every where.   A lot of that is truth!  The baby critters we have in the spring are precious!  The chickens are truly a joy to watch scratching in the dirt.  Sometimes there is time to tend a flower bed or two....
It can seem like a perfect life....
All the sunshine and fresh air a person could need for a happy soul.  The rewards of growing the food your family consumes....

But today, on yet another sub-zero day in north central Montana, I have to ask the people with the dream of farming dancing in their heads; "Are you sure you wanna be a farmer?"  I have a little list of things for you to consider before you jump into an agricultural life with both feet.
The day when the automatic waterer, frost free water spigots and hoses are all frozen.  Water gets hauled by hand, in 5 gallon buckets for whatever distance it take to keep the critters alive.  Of course it's usually -30 below when we're out hauling water. 
The day when the wind blows so hard it literally blows the doors off the barn and your sheep scatter into the wind on a grand adventure.  So then they have to be rounded up in the 100 mile an hour wind.  By a person, aka. you.
The day the both of your livestock guardian dogs do a great job of defending your farm from a porcupine and end up with faces full of quills.  Off the vet for enough drugs to keep them from biting your hand off when you yank the quills out one by one.
The day when you find yourself giving an alpaca an enema and helping him extract the blockage that is giving him colic and threatening his life.
The day when a hail storm comes and completely wipes out your entire garden just as it's starting to look so promising.
The day that your out riding your horse for some actual fun and relaxation and it's interrupted by a not-so-lovely rattlesnake that crosses your path and spooks your horse. You instantly envision getting bucked off right there on top of that rattler!
The day a coyote gets a hold of one or more of your chickens.  The ones you nursed along for two months in your garage to keep them safe.... I could go on.
I have had each and every one of those days sometime during the year.  I am not sharing this to discourage anyone from chasing their farming dreams!  But yesterday, as I hauled that water 300 yards, through 18 inches of snow, in -20 below temperatures, I was questioning my sanity just a little bit!  Then I thought of others with this dream and had to ask, "So you think you wanna be a farmer?"  I hope you do!  But be careful what you wish for because it just might come true!
Bye for now,


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Freeze

It's a pretty regular thing for us to get our most bitterly cold weather in the beginning of February.  We can almost count on it. December really threw us for a loop this year with some of the lowest temperatures we'd seen in over fifteen years.  There was a week that the thermometer was stuck at around -30 below zero.  Then we had some serious wind chill at around -65 or so. Wicked.

So now it is February.  As predicted we are having another cold snap.  It was -25 when I got up this morning.  Thankfully there isn't much for wind.

The sunrise always looks a little different at sub zero temperatures....
Judge and I think it's just too dang cold!  We're gonna hang out here for a while and drink hot coffee.  Well, I'll have the coffee.... Judge is good with keeping his spot on the floor held down.

Stay warm everyone,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Prairie Chickens

This morning the rugrats looked out the window and told me the chickens were out.  That's not good!  We have to keep them in their fenced area so the "guard dog", Jury doesn't eat them!  But when I looked out the picture window, I just smiled.  It wasn't the chickens.... it was the prairie chickens.  Also known as female, Ring Necked Pheasants. Lots of 'em!

These girls have been hanging out in our little, scrubby trees.  Most likely to get themselves up and out of the 8 inches of fresh snow we have.  The pheasants usually are found scurrying around in tall grass and the ditches along the highway.  Taking to the trees isn't something we see them do every day....

One of their very favorite tricks to pull on us humans is to try to get us bucked off of our horses!  It never fails that we'll be riding along, minding our own business and WHOOSH!  A pheasant or two will explode out of the grass right under our horses noses or bellies!  Even the best of horses will have a minor heart attack when that happens!  Heck, even I have a heart attack when that happens!! The pheasants laugh at us... I know they do.

But today there will be no riding.  We'll just watch them bounce around in the branches as we all wait for Spring....

Bye for now,