Busy week

I suppose every week is busy on a farm but this week seemed particularly busy! My brother and sister-in-law were gone all week at music camp. That left Ben and I and Ben’s parents to run the farm. It really does take all six of us for everything to run smoothly. Throw in that Ben and I started milking a new cow this week who is a first time milker that isn’t used to people and you have yourself an exhausting week! Also, it seems all animals have gone crazy this week. Naturally, our new milking cow seems crazy but that’s normal for her.

Monday night after we had milked all the animals and gone to settle down at our various houses, ALL the goats got out of their pasture. It was 9:30pm…We first had to run to our bottom ground garden to make sure the goats weren’t down there eating all our veggies. Thankfully, they weren’t down there. But then we still had to find all of them and get them back in the fence! In the dark…

Tuesday was pretty normal. I did my weekly milk deliveries to Cookeville and ran errands. Things didn’t get stressful until the drive home. I usually get a hay bail for the cows on my way through Sparta on Tuesdays. Well it so happens that the boys we get our brewer’s mash from also called and said they had six barrels of mash ready to be picked up. The brewery is pretty much just down the road from where I get the hay so we decided that I should grab both on my way home. For those who don’t know, most round bails of hay weigh 800lbs+. (usually more like 1000lbs) And the barrels of brewers mash we get are about 200lbs each. So here I am with my little trailer and “petite” Ranger truck (as a friend once called it) and I’m supposed to pull somewhere around 1,600lbs of weight up “Boil Over Hill”. If you’re not familiar with the hill that goes up into Spencer, it’s steep. We’ve had our vehicles overheat on it many times over the years. My truck is a stick shift (so for all you manual drivers out there) and I generally downshift to 4th gear to get up the hill. When I’m pulling a hay bail, I have to shift to 3rd…I had to downshift all the way to 2nd pulling all that! I really wasn’t sure if my truck would make it. Pulling a trailer with that much weight stresses me out a bit, as you may imagine. So I was pretty beat when I got home…And I still had to milk our crazy cow…To put it in perspective, we named this cow The Shining after the movie because she’s so completely insane. We call her Shiny most of the time though. 🙂

Wednesday was perhaps the most exhausting day. It is our biggest market day and we had our first CSA delivery that day too. (meaning even more produce had to be harvested) Ben helped me milk and then went to help his mom harvest at our three gardens. (one garden close to our houses, one in our lower pasture area, and one garden at my father-in-law’s mother’s house next door.) All the produce has to then be processes. Beets have to be washed and put into bunches, lettuce has to be washed and bagged, spinach has to be washed and bagged, cabbage leaves have to be pulled off, etc. In addition to all our lovely produce, we also sell free range chicken eggs. Just so you know, eggs are not beautiful, clean, oval-shaped white things. Whether or not they are clean depends on where the chicken lays and how long the egg sits there during the day before we can get to it. We gather eggs about 4 or 5 times a day, trying to get them as soon as they’re laid. But nonetheless, we don’t always get them in time. We have several chickens that have decided the mineral feeder for our cows is a laying box so all those lovely, dusty, (sometimes sticky) minerals must we washed off the eggs before they can be sent out. I cleaned….33 DOZEN eggs that morning. For those of you who are counting, that’s nearly 400 eggs. It took probably two and a half hours. Meanwhile all the produce was being packed up and getting ready to be taken to market. It was rather stressful and exhausting. After the in-laws left, Ben and I just collapsed and watched an episode of something on Netflix before we started working again.

Thursday is another market day as well as a few CSA deliveries. I am the designated Thursday market girl so I’m used to this. Ben went with me this week since Molly (my wonderful helper…Sometimes I feel like I’m  the helper!) was away at camp. It went pretty well but we were all so very tired afterwards! Thursday also happens to be weekly dinner at my mother-in-law’s parents house. (CONFUSING! …Normally I’d just say grandma…) It’s wonderful because we’re all usually really tired by this point in the week and we don’t have to cook dinner. 🙂 Well most weeks I don’t get home until 7pm from market. Dinner is at 7:30. Cows are supposed to be milked between 5 and 7 each night. Usually my sweet brother-in-law, Byron, helps me out by either doing all the milking chores or at least starting them for me on Thursdays so we can make it to dinner by 7:30. Since he wasn’t here this week, it just had to wait. This was sort of the beginning of animals gone crazy. Sometimes the cows just don’t want to come into the barn for milking. And of course when we are running late, they really don’t want to come in! I managed to get one in and start milking her while Ben and his dad tried to get the others in. I got halfway done with the second cow (who does not normally get milked second) and Dana came in and said they needed me outside to help immediately because something bad happened. Ben doesn’t have great ankles. He’s sprained, twisted and rolled them many times and that just makes for weak ankles. He had just twisted his ankle last week and we thought he was doing better but when I came outside, he had twisted it again and it was worse this time. We managed to get the crazy cow into the loafing shed (the “waiting room” before milking) but then we had to get her into the milking room which she HATES doing. So Ben’s hobbling around trying to get her in, I’m trying to tempt her with grain and Brad has a rope clipped to her halter which he is pulling on to get her in. This is typical of milking a first year cow. I don’t really know what all happened but I ended up with a huge rope burn on my right arm. But we eventually got everyone milked and were only 45 minutes late for dinner. (Which is really impressive)

Friday. Got up, milked, worked on house, awesome stuff happened with the house! We have lights on the ceiling now! FINALLY!! They look lovely! Byron and Molly got back from camp, yay. Pretty average day. Ben had just finished installing the lights and we were standing back to admire the general splendor of our new pendant lights when Molly came running down to tell us that our cows which we keep a mile down the road on a neighbors land were in our bottom ground! We rush down there and tried to get them to go back the way they came. That took about a half hour or more. More tired. We got them semi-secured in Brad’s mom’s field and left them to do evening chores. So here I am milking the cows and I get a call from Byron who came home a bit later than Molly. He says our cows are out on the road walking towards our driveway. Oh good. Finish milking cow, let her out, run up driveway, frantically wave arms at oncoming cows, herd cows into pasture with tempting buckets of grain, slam gate shut on cows, return to milking…Milk crazy pants cow. More market packing, dinner at our house (pork roast, mashed taters, Precious, Asian green beans and snap peas with peanuts), BED.

It’s Saturday morning, I just finished chores and I’m quite tired. But hey, just another typical week on the farm.

~JoAnna

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