Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Short Post - Chickens and frozen eggs

HI, this one's pretty short for me but here it goes, speed blogging!
Chickens have settled in, and have continued laying. The tricky part is getting the eggs BEFORE they freeze solid. We've managed to get 1 in the house so far, but you've got to remember that our high for the past 3 days was yesterday's 10 above. The windchills have been anywhere from 20 to 40 BELOW zero.

Speaking of cold, we had a calf jump in the water tank on Sunday. We tried to warm him up but were unsuccessful. We tried, but it still sucks to loose one.

The cows and horses are doing well in this icy tundra. The mares haven't come up to eat any hay. They enjoy digging and foraging, or they must, because there is good hay for them up by the barn.

Well, off to go shopping and see santa. My sister's going to watch the munchkins while I finish up with the stocking stuffers.

Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chickens!!! and Ice Storm

Chickens!! Yes, I said chickens. WE are getting some laying hens this weekend. I say "WE" Lichtly. Meaning that we as a family are getting them, but I will be caring for them. Beau wants nothing to do with them. I know that the first time one of 'em poops on a tool aro piece of tack, it will be the end of tolerance.

Anyway, I'm really excited!! I have wanted chickens since I knew we were getting this farm in April. For now they are going to go in the dog kennel in the barn. I have to get one of the books on making a coop that I've been eyeing online. That or I'll have to ask someone like Sugar Creek that I know from DMCD. (I haven't been to a meeting in months and I'm a lurker in the yahoo group.)

Ice Storm - Yes, it hit us. This morning I couldn't hardly walk to the barn. The entire road is a sheet of ice!! Don't know how myLove made it to town to go to work in one piece... School was cancelled, so I didn't have to wory about the girls riding the bus to school.

All of you ranch wives out there remember the days of choring with the kids. Well, Squeak is too tiny to come outside yet, so I waited until morning nap time, and had the girls play upstairs and listen for him. I ran (SKATED) to the barn and chored the calves and colts. Enjoying the quiet and work. I know it sounds crazy, but I do enjoy it. If I didn't have a barn and chores to do, I would BE crazy!!

While checking the colts, I noticed that 7-up was on 3 legs..... 7-up is our Shetland pony. I cleaned out his feet, felt his hock and hip (very hard to do under all that fur) and nothing notable. HMMMMM, don't know but he is still running on 3 legs. Yes, he can run when he didn't want to get caught. I moved him from the stud pen to with the colts, and gave him a little grain. I hope it is just a stone bruise from the hard ground, but I don't think so.

The calves are all eating at the bunk good and starting to grow. They didn't seem to be affected by all the ice and weather at all!

Then there is the "baby" pen. Most Ranch/Farm wives I know have "their" cow or horse. This animal is usually the bain of their husband. "MY" cow is Lacey. She is the first cow we bought as a couple. Lacey is truly my baby. "53" is in this pen too. She is MyLove's show cow from his senior year in High School. She hates me! Anyway, Lacey is impatient! Today, I made the mistake of feeding the calves first. Lacey was MAD!! Most people say that cows "MOOOOO" well they have other words too. Today it was "eeerrrEEEERRRR" (hard to describe in letters) but she was saying "FEEEEEDDDDD MEEEEEEE" FEEEDDD MEEEE NOOW!!! She bellerd at me the entire time I was filling buckets, and feeding calves. I finally walked in her pen, and she was in my back pocket on the walk to the bunk. She also takes up more than her share of the space at the bunk. Her calf is learning to be just like her. BTW, she is in a pen because one of the girls will get to show her calf this summer and we want to teach it to lead.

Well, that's my wierd rambling for the day. You can blame it on the ice and snow today. Now, we're going to start baking cookies to decorate this afternoon!!! Yeah girls!!! And, we put up the tree last night.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Long weekend and Coming home

First, we had a long, but productive weekend. We cleaned up the barn, and got a TON of work done!!! (Thanks Mom and Dad for helping!!) For Christmas, I'm sooo excited, my parents bought me an..............................Electrical Box!! Yes, I am excited. Dad got it all ready and installed it in our barn!! The electric company is supposed to come on Thursday to install it. Then, we'll have electricity IN the barn. Right now, we have over 200 ft of extension cord so that we can plug in the trucks.

Then, we moved the cows across the road. Those cows!!! They didn't want to move into the alley and we fought them for 20 minutes. So, finally I put some buckets the flatbed of the pickup, backed down the alley and honked em into following me. The pigs were on the truck first and drug the rest of the cows with them. After they finally started moving, the followed me right across the road and into the new pasture. They sure enjoyed themselves! This is 120 acres that only had the mares on it this summer. Today they were enjoying digging thru the snow and eating the grass.

We moved the calves to a new pen in the barn and moved the colts and Kenneth into the barn. They were so happy when it was sooo cold on monday.

Speaking of Monday, Monday afternoon I flew out to Dallas, TX. I was hoping to enjoy a heat wave. Well, compared to -45degree windchill, 20 degreees was a heatwave. But those Texans can't drive. Then, add some ice, IT WAS A MESS!!! They were playing bumper cars all over the highway!!
On Tuesday, I endured 4 hours of a rookie Lawyer questioning me in a deposition. Thank god it wasn't an experienced lawyer!! Then, I tried to fly home!! My flight was delayed 2 times, and then on the runway for another hour and in the air for over 2 hours. It's supposed to be 1 hr and 15 min flight. It was longer cause they closed the DSM airport for 45 min, just as we were approaching.

But, in the end, they let us land and I made it home by 9pm.

Today, I got to chore and feed the cows. I am now set to enter all of the cattle for the Beef Expo sale. Check it out at www.iowamaineanjou.com When I get the catalog finished, I'll let you know and you can look at all the calves for sale this Febuary.

I got the mail today, and the sale catalog I have been waiting MONTHS for finally arrived. (Juli had tons of problems with it) Check it out at http://www.incrediblefemalesale.com/. I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BUY SOME!!!!

Stay warm and enjoy life!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Love being mom, but I love being Shanen too!

I love being a mom, but I also love to be Shanen. Now what do I mean by this?? I mean that when I take time from the kids, I enjoy working! I love Ranching and all the work that it entails.
Take today for example, I took Squeak to a new daycare and I went home and WORKED OUTSIDE!!! AHHH. I moved the Chute, fed 4 pens of calves, fed the cows, fed the horses, and fixed fence. It was a ton of work, but I did enjoy myself.

A little work does a body good!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cloth Diapering, Its Easy

I haven't been on a Green theme lately, so I thought I would bring it up again. Cloth Diapers - GASP!!! No, not really, they're great!!! I love it. As y'all know we live out in the sticks. We live about an hour from the nearest Wal-Mart (try to avoid em like the plague) and 1.5 hrs from Des Moines. I initally started the Cloth Diapers this summer because of the Green Factor. Then I remembered, realized the Cost Benefit, and last but not least the convenience!

I know the convenience thing sounds wierd, but its not. Think about it, I don't live just around the corner from a mega mart, and small town grocery store quality and prices are CRAZY. I never have to worry about running out of diapers. I own about 20 pocket diapers, and ~5 covers and half a dozen prefolds. So, its pretty hard for me to run out of diapers. I have enough diapers for 2 full loads in the washer.

As you can imagine, I really have saved tons with Cloth over "paper"(disposable) diapers. I bought most of my pocket diapers used (slightly & some not used at all) and averaged under $10.00. I go thru an average of 6 changes per day. If you figure on the easy side (hopefully) and say Squeak is potty trained by 28 months, I would be paying $.0019 per diaper change. Paper diapers at costco are $.197 per diaper, at Wal-Mart they average $.25 per diaper, and much higher if I have to buy them here in small town Iowa.

Then you have to figure in the trash factor and the stink. Diapers can not sit in the trash for 2 days and not stink! We usually take out our trash every 2 to 3 days, so if there is a stinky paper diaper in there, it is grossly smelly! We don't have half the trash that we did when we used all paper diapers on the girls.

Don't read this part if you're squeamish........ Some may get grossed out by the poop issue in a cloth diaper, but we have come up with some very easy solutions. Liners, Cloth Diapering stores may sell disposable liners, but I have found some easy recycling way to have my own liners. Old stained, torn or otherwise trashed t-shirts. I cut them up into roughly the size of the diaper and lay them in. When there is only pee, they are just washed with the diaper. In the event there is poo, i just roll it up and throw it in the trash can. Just as easy as a disposable. I have also used wet wipes that go thru the washer (with the diapers) and lay them in like a liner. Finally, I must note that most of my pocket diapers have felt lining and, now that Squeak is eating people food, if you just roll the diaper back the poo will just roll off and I plop it in the toilet and flush.

The Green Factor is also great. I am not creating more petrolium use in creating the disposables. I am not creating tons of waste that will be around for 500 more years. I did buy most of my pocket diapers used, or from a local WAHM (WallyPop) so there was the least possible impact in making my diapers. And, I'm teaching the girls that it isn't so hard to be gentle to our environment.

Now, I must add my disclaimer...... I do use some paper diapers. I go thru a little less than 1 pack a month. That should last the average baby, one WEEK. I use them for in the mornings that I haul pigs, and sometimes when I will be out of the house all day. I'm getting better about using them outside of the house since I have figured out the liner thing.

There, that's my green reminder and contribution for the day. I'm done, 'cause I'm running to the breadmaker that just beeped and said my new loaf of Whole Wheat with Sunflower Seeds bread is done. YUUUUMMMMM!!!!!

Oh yeah, Cloth diapers are easy. It's not the pins and plastic pants you are imagining. They are velcro or snap just like a paper diaper.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Do farmers and Ranchers DO?? Shameless cross-post.

I was wondering what everyone here thinks that Farmers and Ranchers Do? I posted this at my Local Harvest site, so its geared more towards farmers and ranchers, but please chime in!

Is there something you would like others to know about your world and job?? Is there something that you were supprised to hear about others??

First, I have to give credit where credit is due. This post is inspired by The Beginning Farmer. Her blog post inspired me to ask y'all the same question. "What is the main thing you would like people to know about your agricultural word?"

I have run itno the same problems as she has. You would be (or maybe not) amazed by the amount of people that think that Ranchers and Farmers are hurting our environment and the earth.

I am amazed that people say that it is wrong to raise cattle for beef. So, if you aren't supposed to make that steer into beef, what are you supposed to do with it?? Beef cattle were put on this earth for exactly that reason. I might even argue that dairy cattle are supposed to become our food once their useful life has run out.

I believe that we aren't doing Gods work if we don't utilize all of the beef that was put on this earth. I also believe that most Ranchers and Farmers improve their environment. We do this for many reasons, most of them profitable, and some for our future generations.

I would like the general public to really understand all of the precautions we go thru to care for our land.

1 - Personally, we make sure that we leave timber areas tall grass areas. We leave these areas so that our cows will have sheltered areas to lay in, and calve in, during the winter.

2 - We don't tear up the land and we don't overfertilize the ground creating run-off to the streams and rivers. We need those streams for our cows to drink, so why would we pollute them? We need that topsoil to grow great grass and feed for our cows, so why would we damage it? We go to great lengths to preserve the earth and improve the dirt so we can improve the grass and grow more beef.

3 - If beef is grown and harvested carefully, it doesn't hurt the animal in ANY way. That may sound wierd, but its true. If you raise your beef cattle in a clean and dry environment, they are comfortable and eat, and grow very healty. If you move them to the harvesting location slowly and smoothly, and you then restrain them properly, they won't feel the pain. It will (and should be) done smoothly and instantly, to prevent suffering. In addition, a facility that is so careful with the live animal will (and should) take those same precautions to handle the meat carefully and cleanly, thus preventing harm to the people that eat it.

I know that this may seem a little off, from my usual stories, but I was inspired. I hope y'all will chime in and tell us what you want people outside of agriculture to know about what you do. I look forward to hearing from everyone!

Remember, high quality beef is GOOD for you! And its good for the cattle and our earth.

We still have 2 shares of Grass-Fed beef and 2 shares of Corn-Fed beef. Send me a note to reserve your shares today and set up your pay-as-it-grows plan. Shanen : )

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time Out!!!

Momma needs a TIME OUT!!! Can I do that?? Well, I need to. I think that if tomarrow is nasty like they say, I will do just that. Today was both an AWFUL day and a great day.
First the Awful -
Squeak had a Dr apt. His 1 yr checkup. So, he is back on track for weight (23#) and Height (29.5 in) and his head is huge 90% (Daddy has a huge melon). He had to get shots!!! EEEEKKKK!!! Since his stitches in September, he HATES!! to be held still. So he pretty much didn't breath during the 5 pokes in the leg for his shots. I would be supprised if his ankles aren't bruised from where their hands were. He was kicking so hard they had to hold really tight. Then, we had to do the lead testing!!! They had to draw a WHOLE VIAL of blood from his little bitty arm! As soon as she took his arm he was mad, no PISSED that he was gonna get it again. I was holding him facing away from me in a chair. His left arm was under mine, across his chest. One lady was holding his arm, while the other drew the blood. He was kicking and screaming and trying to BITE them. My baby is severely traumatized!!! I was crying and he was crying and I am SOOOO thankful my kids are healthy!!! I can't imagine having to do this to my baby all the time!!!

The good part -
Tonight was the girls' Christmas Concert. They did great!!!! Grandma and A went shopping this weekend and picked out some pretty special and Festive Dresses. The girls loved them!! They were sooooo cute! They both sang great, and I could even hear them!!!!

Now can I whine again?? No, I think I'll just go to bed and put my COLD feet on my husband and warm them up.