Well it is Labor Day weekend and a holiday that includes time off. Did you go to the beach? Have a BBQ? Visit family or friends? Not us- not on our farm, but we could if we wanted to. On this early Saturday morning as the sun rises, I am off to stock and open our store in town. The men are milking, and feeding. They will conclude by eating their own breakfast only after all the other animals have been tended to. So by about 9 am they will have finished eating and can start their day. I wish I could say its a BBQ. We are however working on our corn silage. The corn is ready to be chopped and put in the silo. I wish we could choose that date, but mother nature does that. Corn is technically a grass. Stored in the silo and fed during the winter is one way to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need. They will also get hay and the cows that are milking will also get ground grain that we harvested earlier this year.
How has it been going so far. Well we got the blower hooked up to the silo. Then well we ran a few test runs and boom.
Things have started off slow. The rim on the rear right tire broke. We unloaded the silage from the wagon to fix the tire and hooked it back up. It looks worse than it was cause he had just come from the field and crossing the driveway as it broke. That entire field behind the tractor will be chopped and put in the silo. We will be working on this for the better part of next week or until the silo is full. Once fixed, on we go just need to come back and clean up the silage we unloaded from the wagon to make it a little lighter as we fixed the tire.
Enjoy Labor Day, but please remember from now into late fall, tractors will be on the roads. Our load can only go so fast and we can’t stop on a dime. We have mirrors, but if your to close you will be in our blind spot. We have the same right to be on the roads, and most farmers try to move equipment during off peak hours when possible.
I think our “Labor Day” will happen when all field work is done and equipment has been put away for the winter. Then it will be just milking and caring for our Guernseys, and all fix it items on our agenda.
Tomorrow isn’t promised so enjoy today. It is a beautiful as we choose to make it.
I wish I could say these geese are a sign of fall, but I’m afraid not. They never went home. Resident geese can be a problem, and these guys are big and fat. There is a resident season for geese and so in just a few weeks, and then with the full moon in September we usually see the first migratory geese.
With the sun shinning we are cutting and bailing hay. We wont dry this down. We really don’t have the time, and it probably wont dry right. There is just to much fall grass in it so we will wrap it in white plastic. So we will have lots of giant looking marshmallows. They are wrapped tight so there is no oxygen to spoil the hay. Just like the vacuum sealer we use in the kitchen but on a bigger scale.
We will jump from hay right into corn silage. The corn is drying down faster than we think, and we only have so much time to chop. The nutrients drop if it is to dry, and too wet or green isn’t good either. I know I have said before this is not a favorite time of year on the farm for me. I constantly worry about the safety of the men. It’s Crunch time and not much sleep. I pray for their safety constantly. I am usually showing cows with the boys at our local State Fair the week before and during Labor Day, and its like out of site out of mind. I will just take it one step at a time, and we will get it done.
When the work seems like a mountain, just take little steps, and don’t look at the pile. We will finish before we know it.
I love living on the farm. I love the open space, fresh air, and I love putting food up. What scares me the most is using a pressure canner. My mother in-law past away before she really had a chance to show me. I’m a hands on learner, so I really needed someone to be there. Its just the way I learn. Well, this year I took the plunge and told myself, have faith and to just do it. So I bought a brand new canner. All my putting up has been via hot water bath, or freezing, so this is another option. There is only so much freezer space, and we are down one freezer.
So what did I choose to start with. Sweet potatoes! I know this is a root harvested this time of year and has a long shelf life if stored properly, so it seems odd to do this. I had read everything I could find on canning sweet potatoes. Then I found a recipe from someone that canned theirs in a honey syrup. PERFECT!!!!! I had local honey from a friend, and some sweet potatoes.
One meal we love is having over the winter is candied sweet potatoes. I would only make this when I had plenty of time to cook and prep. By canning them ahead of time, I now have a jump in my prep for dinner.
So when all was said and done I have added 7 jars of sweet potatoes to the pantry (those other 3 jars are peach jam that I made while waiting on the canner). However, that’s 4 meals. Its not a lot but if I purchased these already canned from the local super market each can is about $3-4.00. Plus the local honey. Is it a good trade off, maybe but I at least know what is exactly in my jar of sweet potatoes – sweet potatoes, water, and honey. Best part is that I tried something new. The door has opened for more ideas and options.
Let your Faith be bigger than your Fear, and try something new.
Sunday has been the day I take to slow down and rest. However there is always something we can do. I love to can and put up food for future meals. I don’t always have time to shop or make meals completely from scratch everyday. So over the years we have developed our favorites and comfort foods that have become a part of our routine. From that point I work to can and freeze. Today is tomato sauce, and string beans. I’m blanching the string beans and freezing them, and canning the tomato sauce. This may seem like a lot of sauce, but this is actually the second batch. I don’t add any meat. I’ll do that when we are preparing the meal.
For the tomato sauce I use a hot water bath to seal the jars, and the string beans need a pressure canner. So it was easier to freeze what I had in string beans. There wasn’t enough room on my stove for both pots.
I keep the jars covered as they cool over night. I was always told if they cool to fast the glass can crack. Since I have a fan in the kitchen, I figured it wont hurt. I pulled the dish towel off and checked the seals, and took the rings off this morning. I’ll store them with out the rings. I reuse the rings multiple times, but the lid seal is always new. If one didn’t seal properly I could always try to reseal it, I however usually just put it in the refrigerator and use it right away. These will be labeled later today with the date, and contents before they are added to the pantry.
Tomorrow may not be promised, but we can always at least prepare for it.
It may be August, but the signs of fall are here. The corn is beginning to get that look at it begins to dry down. As we were mowing the yard we noticed the fall grasses starting to grow. The sunrise may still be showing us how hot the day will be, but there is the slightest change. I really see it in the sunsets though. The sky, the haze, maybe the slightest color change in the trees.
So what will this mean for us. Well its time to fill the silo. We will chop as much corn as we can to prepare for winter. In reality it needs to last until this time next year. We feed it year round. We need to, if not the top will mold and spoil. They will eat more pasture in the summer, but always have the choice of silage. Personally this is the one time of the harvest season I dislike the most. Corn will dry down fast, and there is a small window in which to get it put up. To wet the silo will fall, to dry and the nutrients will be gone from the corn. We will run with very little sleep, and nerves on edge. The equipment is dangerous, and accidents happen. I seem to constantly pray to make it threw with the silo still standing, and all our lives intact.
Ever see the inside of a silo. We this is it. We had just finished filling it in the picture above. It still isn’t ready to feed. We need to level it off. This means we do it manually. climb up the shoot and crawl into the silo. Using pitch forks we literally spread the silage around until it is flat. Its not as easy as it sounds. It’s heavy. Nitrogen dioxide, and carbon dioxide gasses build in the silo. While leveling this we use the blower to constantly to push fresh air threw the silo. Once leveled out, we turn the blower off and store it until the next time we use it. We lower the unloader and test it out.
We need to climb the silo. There are many reasons for it as we raise and lower the silo unloader. The silage is unloaded from the wagon and into the blower, and it is blown up the pipe work and falls back down on to a plie. We have some control of where it blows in the silo. However we still need to level it out.
There are lots of moving parts to this whole process, and in the end this is where my dislike comes from. There are other options for storing silage, but this is our choice.
Stay safe, and please be mindful of the farmers over the next few months as they bring in their harvest.
As we are constantly working to provide for our animals it sometimes means we need more land for their needs. We are always working to put up as much feed as we can for them. As urban sprawl moves closer to the country the cost of renting is just too high. So, About 25 years ago we acquired a second farm. We live in an area where waterfowl hunting is a big economic business for those in our county. Because of this we were able secure this new property. It came with an old farm house. We have fixed it up several times in the past and rented it several times. Some renters were better than others, and some I don’t want to even remember. However, there were some projects that never really were completed to our liking. So, as this last tenant moved out, we decided it was time to finish the renovations. This old house has a story, but for now we will just work to restore it again. The story will come when its all done.
The renovations are out of love for its history, and will take time. No there isn’t any extra money in our pockets and we still have the farm work to consider for our cows. So this will take a while. What we do have are great friends, and a bunch of gadgets to help us take this journey with this house.
This is one of the down stairs rooms. We just pulled the carpet up and the floor is nice and solid. This is our starting point.
With the last tropical storm that blew threw, there was a lot of damage or loss to vegetable plants. Out door gardens flooded and the wind knocked down lots of plants. So to say the least the idea is to pick as much as you can before the storm.
Tomatoes seem to be in abundance in our home. Before the storm we were able to make mostly tomato sauce. We use tomato sauce for many different types of meals. Everything from a parmesan dish to spaggitti, to meatball subs. My husband loves stewed tomatoes, so I’ll can a hand full of cut tomatoes for him. This year im trying somthing new, ketchup. The men on this farm love their ketchup. So why not. I think honestly with covid 19 in the air, if I can stay away from the big markets that would make me very happy. Any ways, I made my first batch last night. Its still cooling and will until this evening when I check the seals and label the jars. Tomato Salsa is next, but I still have a few jars left from earlier this year, so can really wait. I think next will be string beans. With all the rain, fields are flooded, some farmers have opened up random fields for the public to just come and pick. Some places it just to muddy, and tractors will get stuck. By the time it dries out the crop will be to mature to harvest. Crops are lost and I give kudos to farmers that will share before calling it a total loss and plowing it under.
With all the cooking inside, my son sent me this picture while he was outside doing his chores. Our little babies are growing. They are so sweet, and so spoiled. It wouldn’t be out of the normal to see one being carried around while we are doing chores, and when milking is done they know it’s “foodie time”.
Remember to enjoy today, because, tomorrow isn’t promised.
As the storm rolled on by we were hit with a lot of water. Over 7+ inches in fact. The amount of rain always important. It is always the one thing we do after a storm is to call the neighbor and ask how much rain they got. I think it is also an indirect way to check on one another with out saying so. This picture above is one of our cow pastures. It is usually filled with cows grazing, but not today. When I took this picture they were up getting milked and checked over for any issues they may have had from the storm. After that they are allowed back out into their shed and pasture. You would be surprised some don’t mind the rain and will stay out. However this storm was an exception. The picture below is what it normally looks like.
You know when they get close cause you can hear them as they gather their mouths full of green grass and chew. You can hear them sniffing too. If you sit really still they will come check you out. Pop their ears up, sniff, and sometimes lick you. Other times they will sniff you and touch you accidentally, then jump a mile. Sometimes if they sniff you and recognize the smell then they will almost knock you down rubbing on you.
As the tropical storm moved north, clear skies moved in. The corn still standing, and the soy beans adding new growth as they reach for the sun. The barn is drying out, and the cows have resumed to their place of grazing. We were blessed that our corn is still standing, and the wind didn’t cause to much damage to the buildings and sheds. Many around us lost their homes to short lived tornados that pop up in tropical storms. For us, its moving on after the storm. For others they are still living the reality of storms.