Thursday, June 30, 2011

Save This Farm

Saint Peter don't you

call me 'cause I can't come...

My father loved to hear Tennessee Ernie Ford sing, I didn't really care for that genre of music. I was a fan of The Rolling Stones; needless to say my father wasn't. My father was a dairy farmer; I was going to be a teacher. I thought women should have equal rights; my father felt women shouldn't do manual labor. My father loved his farm; I loved his farm.

Today we signed the loan and deed documents making our ownership of that farm final. My father always said "Hard work didn't bother him, stress bothered him." Well, I think we are up to the hard labor part; I am concerned about the stress. The debt is stressful, building fences is hard work. While signing all the paperwork the old song "Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store" kept playing in my head. We do owe, but somehow we couldn't do otherwise.


1) Truths change with age

2) Jake doesn't have any rich relatives who will send us money

3) We believe we can do this

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Save This Farm

They sell these in stores, right?

You are looking at the ingredients for home made pickles (southern sweet pickles, at that). Obviously today is a slow day on the farm and I have been wanting to learn how to do this for a while. We even planted pickling cucumbers this year for just such entertainment. I hunted down my Nanny Bethune's recipe, purchased all the ingredients, harvested the cucumbers and began the process.

I should have read the recipe first. It takes two days of lime soaking, pickle juice soaking, cooking and canning before you have sweet pickles. But, nothing as simple as time is going to slow me down. (The recipe also said overnight or six hours; I chose six hours). I soaked, rinsed, iced and cooked cucumbers all day. The smell of the pickles processing filled the house. The sound of lids "popping" to seal the deal and the pride in having learned a new skill brought back memories of childhood. At a young age you are proud of a finished product and having mastered even simple skills .

Thing learned:

1) you are never too old to learn

2) even Jake is learning new things

3) you are never too young to learn

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Save This Farm

Well, it looks as if nap time couldn't come soon enough!

After changing the tract of land we are purchasing the title search went well. The lawyer will have everything ready for the closing on Thursday. We will be the proud owners of more acreage, but not exactly the acres we wanted. Sometimes you just have to compromise. Today actually has been a calm one, thank goodness. We were really ready for no excitement. (stress is so over rated)

In fact today was so calm Jake and I managed to fit in a good, long nap. Life just seems to go more smoothly when you are well rested.


1) sometimes they are a necessary evil

2) Jake doesn't compromise well

3) sometimes you shouldn't compromise (you must decide for yourself what is and isn't open to compromise)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Save This Farm

Jake, come on out I
need to talk with you.

Yep, it's confession time again. You know that thing about doting "i"s and crossing "t"s, well today our lawyer found some problems with the title search for the farm loan. It seems the land we had surveyed is already pledged against a loan for my brother. This means we can't buy that land without paying off his mortgage, not gonna happen. There are two choices; buy another tract of land on the farm or just pay the existing loan payment each month. Neither choice is ideal.

After much discussion (Jake is still hiding) Bob and I decided to purchase the other acreage with the understanding we will access to all the farm and work together with my brother. This means the survey we have already paid for is no good. But, fingers crossed, we can still close on the land Thursday.


1) never assume anything

2) Jake is getting tired of our little talks

3) plan "B" isn't always bad (I hope)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Save This Farm

I know, I know,
I am late, but it's Sunday

You would think I could catch a break. Sunday is my day to slow down and enjoy the coffee. Obviously nobody told the cows I might not be as prompt today as I usually am. When I arrived at the barn this afternoon to give them their "sweet feed" fix they were all waiting in the pen giving me the evil eye. Two weeks ago I couldn't get close to them, now they are on more of a schedule than me.

I never thought of cows as individuals; but now each seems to have something unique about their personalities. The largest bull (#69, and no I didn't give him that number) is very, very, hard headed. Two of the girls (#71 and #81) were the first to come when called and are now my best friends (as far as cows go). Last week's run aways have calmed down and can now be touched. But my all time favorite is a small steer who runs up the hill to me whenever he sees me come out to the field. (he just reminds me so much of my lab).

New discoveries:

1) I can now recognize cows by their behavior

2) Jake is jealous of the cows and is not allowed to go to the barn

3) everything has something unique about it

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Save this farm

Today's blog is coming to you from Bob's IPad. It's a long story that has to do with wireless routers. I have been without e-mail for two days and didn't realize I was so hooked. My cell phone has been on the blitz lately, too! I am debating going without one, but am afraid I might go into withdrawals! You would not think going back to basic would require so many techno toys. The cows records are managed using excell spreadsheets. The farm receipts are managed using a neat receipt. The cell phone is now a business line. Craigslist is a marketing tool. My blog keeps me sane, sort of.

Simplicity is not simple without the use of technology! I don't think we can go back to the good old days without some good new days help.

Things I can't go back to:

1) graph charts

2) keeping track of Jake's appointments without an outlook calendar

3) yelling for Bob when he is outside (now I just call him on his cell phone)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Save This Farm

Happy Birthday

Today is Bob's 61st birthday! We never imagined he would be a farmer, but here we are. He has held several positions in his life. He has been a draftsman, project engineer, director of public works for the county, carpenter (he designed and built our home) and an IT geek.

The best story from Bob's building the house days is when our great-nephew believed he was "Bob the Builder". The child just knew he was the actual character. The only problem with this was he also truly believed I was "Bob the Builder's Mother". Every time he visited his grandfather he needed to see "Bob the Builder" and his mother. (some people thought this was funny....)
So, now Bob is "Bob the Farmer"; and if it's okay I'll just be "Bob the Farmer's Wife".

Birthday wishes:

1) It's okay to change

2) Jake loves cake

3) I love cake

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Save This Farm

Confessions I usually only tell Jake

You know the saying,"God looks after fools and small children". Well, my standard comeback to that is, "I know which category I am in". So here is the confession: Last Friday we purchased three new calves. We off loaded them at 11:30 Friday morning, we lost them before 7:00 Saturday morning. We walked the farm for the rest of the day Saturday, no calves. Sunday morning the Sheriff's deputy came by and told our nephew and my brother someone had reported seeing calves on the highway. All day Sunday we drove around the north portion of our county, no calves. We were very concerned about the safety of drivers and calves. The money wasn't helping, but mostly we were worried about someone getting hurt.

We gave up. Sunday night at 9:30 I checked my e-mails to see if anyone had ordered something from my etsy shop. There was an e-mail from a local farmer asking me to call him about my cows. He had replied to a craigslist ad I had run a week ago, so I assumed that was what the e-mail was about. I almost didn't call him because of the time. Something about the wording of his e-mail made me reconsider and make the call. The gentleman answered the phone and asked if I was missing three calves. Someone had assumed the cows were his and had put them in his corral while he was out of town Sunday. He remembered my calves had green ear tags from the picture on craigslist and found his old e-mail to me and sent the request for me to phone him.


1) I don't like admitting I am a fool

2) Jake gets tired of hearing my confessions

3) God looks after fools and small children (and I know which category I am in)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Save This Farm

Oh What a Difference a Week Makes

Yes, these are the same cows we chased for three hours last Tuesday. I have worked with them twice a day for the last seven days. Each day gets a little easier. Today four of the twenty-three cows we have came running to meet me (I know, I know). They almost followed me into the corral. The object is to get all 23 of them to follow that green bucket filled with "sweet feed" into the corral.

I realize there is more work to be done. I am just amazed that they could be so afraid of us last week and now we have them eating out of our hands; sort of. We are also looking into selling the bulls on craigslist for butchering. They are grass fed and Angus. This is supposed to be two positive points in our favor. Wish us luck.

Things to celebrate:

1) I only have 23 cows to train; for now

2) my dog has learned to stay out of the way of this training; he is no help

3) someone invented "sweet feed"; way to go

Monday, June 20, 2011

Save This Farm

Money well spent

Yes, my feet are professionally pedicured. The price for having them soaked, clipped, massaged and polished is minimal. It is also non-negotiable. It is in the budget right beside the electricity and water bills. The time spent being pampered is not subtracted against my total.

(I believe this, so it must be so) The main reason I have my feet professionally done is red toenails are a trademark of mine. People who know me realize my fingernails are never polished, toenails are always red.

Last week when this really sweet five year old little girl looked up at me with big blue eyes and asked, "Are those your husband's shoes?", I answered, "No, these are my work shoes." I could answer that question without throwing up because I knew inside those ugly shoes I had ten perfectly polished red toes.

Things to remember:

1) your shoes should be appropriate for the job

2) dogs don't worry about such things

3) stay true to your style no matter what the job

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Save This Farm

Sunday, finally

After a long, hard week I didn't think Sunday would ever get here. I am just exhausted from all the cow chasing, figuring out the sale barn, and keeping up with paperwork. I was beginning to think I wouldn't find anything good to reflect upon. But, just when I was about to put this week down as a loser, I found not one, but two ripe tomatoes.

When you can find one good thing, others come to mind. I recalled Tuesday's cow chase and remembered my dog Jake had been left in the house "5" hours without supervision. Nothing was destroyed and nothing needed cleaning up. Then today when I went to train the calves on the "sweet feed" one actually saw me coming and ran up happy to see me. (yeah I know it's not really me, but the sweet feed)

Things to be thankful for this week:

1) two tomatoes; so Bob and I do not have to fight over them

2) a house trained dog

3) a calf being happy to see you (sweet feed)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Save This Farm

The Check is in the mail

True to their word the cattle auction sent the check right on time. Two of the three calves I sold did very well...which means one of the calves did not. Actually, one of them did really badly. I know I have a lot to learn, but this was a disappointment. But the glass half full concept says I should be glad only one did badly and two did well. I only hope I don't drown in that half of glass of whatever.

And, drum roll please, to add insult to injury the bank on which the check was drawn was closed Friday by the FDIC. I hope this is not my sign. Thankfully for me another bank assumed the assets, which means the check is going to honored by the new owners. In "the big picture" I have little to be down about because one calf didn't sell for what I hoped. The closure of a bank is such a bigger deal. The stock holders loose, employees are without jobs and a void is always left in the community.

Lessons learned:

1) things don't always go as planned

2) dogs don't make plans

3) you are not alone in things not going as planned

Friday, June 17, 2011

Save This Farm


Yep, you see that cow and you see that fence. The cow is clearly on the wrong side. The dreaded cow escape has occurred. Several people have warned of this phenomenon. It seems buying calves and relocating them makes them want to return home. (not the new home) I did not understand the degree to which cows felt home sickness. I now have a better grasp on this illness.

The cow was set on returning to its original grazing ground and we were just as set on it returning to the right side of the fence. What happened next was "America's Funniest Home Videos" worthy. The gate was opened to chase the cow in, the cow mowed, two of its closest friends joined him on the wrong side of the fence, and we spent another hour getting three cows back on the right side.

What home sickness will make you do:

1) give you the power to walk through fences

2) dogs will walk miles and talk to another dog and a cat

3) talk your friends into doing bad things

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Save This Farm

Whoopee!!! 1/2 an inch!!!

I am truly excited by an increase of 1/2 an inch...and no it is not what you think. We finally got rain last night, and in the middle of a drought every drop counts. We didn't even mind the electricity being out. You know you are getting a good work out when the lights go out at 9:00 pm and all you do is bathe and go to sleep without even thinking about how early it is.
The power was restored sometime around 2:00 am; I know because the ceiling fan came on and cooled the room enough to need a blanket, but I was too tired to find one. I am waiting for my energy level to catch up with that of the cows'. (I hope it happens soon!)

Times when 1/2 an inch is cause for celebration:

1) your hips measure that much less

2) your dog's tail misses a family heirloom by that much

3) rain in the gauge shows that much in a drought

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Save This Farm

The "Sweet Feed" drop is made

On the advice of my cow hauler and one of my best friend's husband; his sister refers to "sweet feed" as "cow cocaine", a purchase was made. The training (addiction) has begun. Two containers were placed near the water troughs so the cows can become accustomed to having the treat in the corral. The plan is they will come every evening to get their fix. This is the first step in getting the cows to want to come to a certain area when WE want them to, not us going to them and begging them to go where we want them.

I have high hopes for this plan. The first day of every month is heart worm treatment day. I do not know what is put into these pills, but my dog thinks they are a little bite of heaven. If cows get as excited about the "sweet feed" as my dog Jake does about heart worm pills (drooling on the floor is involved) this plan can not fail!

Info for training animals:

1) consistency counts

2) dogs go for flavor, not sure what flavor?

3) remember you are being trained too

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Save This Farm

Head'em up/move'em out

Much, much easier said than done. The newest weight lose program I am on is the "chase cows for three hours wonder diet". (you wonder what were you thinking) I have never seen such hard headed cows. My brother and I tried for one hour alone, then the guy with the trailer arrived and helped us for another hour. We finally got them in the trailer after reinforcements arrived. (8 people and another hour)

The trailer guy did give me a lot of advice on how to train the cows so next time won't be THIS much fun. It has a lot to do with "sweet feed" (cows must think it's a treat). The rumor is they will come to you if you just rattle the sack after they have been given it on a regular basis. (sounds a lot like me and chocolate)

Things learned about rounding up cows:

1) don't let them win

2) leave the dog in the air conditioned house-he does less damage there

3) real friends will chase cows with you

Monday, June 13, 2011

Save This Farm

Money, Money, Mon ey.

(no piggy banks were injured in the making of this photo)

Well, unless there is a legal world wide pyramid scheme with my name at the top I need to make some money from my cows. There are several schools of thought on the proper time to sell. I have tried to listen to all the advice I have received with an open mind. There are a lot of smart people in the cow raising business. The final decision to start selling has come down to the need for an immediate cash flow. So today the first three calves are going to market....

My grand plan is to sell three calves and purchase four younger ones every two weeks for the next three months. Hopefully some money will be left over from this selling and buying merry-go-round session and I will be gradually increasing my herd. I am holding my breath that this won't be a "what we need is a bigger truck" story.

Some things you need to know about money:

1) buy low, sell high

2) dogs don't care how much money you have, to a point

3) pyramid schemes and merry-go-rounds are not terms usually found in financial plans

Save This Farm

Do these shoes look too big for my feet?

Reality is beginning to set in, and just like that very unsure child in Mrs. King's first year French class I am unsure of the language being spoken. Hanging weight, on the hoof, grass fed, grain fed, animal byproducts, humane treatment, butcher orders, fat content, etc..... One thing I am thankful for is the gender doesn't have to be figured out for each item and the verbs do not need to be conjugated.

The thing I am sure of is I do want to raise the calves in the best possible environment . I grew up on a farm and I know where steaks come from. The number of calves to the acre will be low, the water will always be plentiful and fresh, and I will try not to name them.

Three points to remember when learning a new language:

1) you don't know everything

2) dogs don't care what language you speak

3) there are people who do know the language, so ask them

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Save This Farm

Ahhh, Sunday. No matter what your beliefs everyone needs to take time to slow down. My day is Sunday. It is a day to spend a little longer in the sun on the deck enjoying coffee, trying not to count the bruises on my leg from a long hard week. (5). A day to reflect on the past week and gather some perspective. We know we can't change the world in a week, but maybe a dent has been made.

It is amazing how quickly your world and your prioritizes can change. Two weeks ago rain was something that interfered with a picnic, now it is something so necessary prayers are being said on its behalf. Farmers have always been at the mercy of the weather and this year it seems especially true. Floods, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes and late freezes have caused hardship for farmers across the country. As you take the time this week to enjoy your day of rest, take a minute to send up thanks for the people working the farms (they need it).

Some items of interest:

1) Thunder does not equal rain

2) Dogs can sleep anywhere

3) Things that keep you up at night can change in a heartbeat

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Save This Farm

If someone had asked me six months ago what I would be doing in June I would never have answered raising grass fed beef cattle. That saying about life is what happens while you are making plans bit me in the butt. I was planning to continue my very slow life style, knitting, quilting and reading....but the farm I grew up on was being foreclosed on (I am soooo tired of this slow economy). My mind said no way, but my heart and soul said otherwise.

Now we are entering the next stage of our lives as farmers. (Que the "Green Acres" theme song)

Bob and I both grew up on farms, but that is not the same as owning the farm. The farm had grass, fences and water. We have purchased 21 calves and are patiently (sort of) waiting for them to eat the grass and gain weight. The idea is they will sell for more than we paid for them. This all looks good on paper, but refer to the second sentence in the first paragraph.

I have learned a few things the first couple of days as a cow farmer:

1) you can not herd cows in flip-flops

2)my yellow lab is not a good cow dog - he is a good sleeping dog

3)there is such a thing as cow language - it has something to do with profanity