Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yikes!!!

Has is really been three months since I posted?! So much has happened this summer and I can't believe I didn't blog about it! Oh well, here's what has happened.

When we last checked in on the Arndt farm we had taken Ripple home and were anxiously waiting for Bonnie to miss a heat cycle. Well, she did and then nine days later she got into horsetail (which stimulates uterine contractions) and lost the calf. I wasn't sure that it had happened since she wasn't here at that stage of her pregnancy with Cody. I marked it on the calendar and twenty days later she tried to jump Cody, bled off two days later and I was sure she had slipped the calf. Well, Mom pulled rank and called the neighbors before I could get Ripple's owners on the phone and we brought a little Dexter/Jersey cross bull over to try again. I was not told he was a cross or I might have gotten my way with Ripple but it is what it is. His name is Lou Lou and he is so LITTLE!! Cody, 400 lbs, is just a little smaller than Lou Lou and they spent Monday night pushing and shoving and being boys. Lou Lou won the test and was able to guard his new woman until she was in heat Tuesday night. Since she started standing for him about 7 pm Tuesday night I'm not sure if he ever got the job done but we'll know for sure in 21 days. I've heard that, if the size difference isn't too great, they will find a way. Just to be sure I am going to bring Ripple back on October 11-14. If she doesn't settle to Lou Lou then Ripple will be there to take care of business, and if she does settle to Lou Lou then I can be sure of it, based on Ripple's behavior. If she settles to Lou Lou and has a heifer then I have a plan in place for sending her to a happy future as someone's milk cow. If it's a bull then he will be castrated and eaten. I am not going to try and breed a mongrel bull to anyone's cows.Lou Lou, Cody and Bonnie

Cody is still growing like a weed on his mama's milk. We are still getting 1/2 gallon, milking once a day and that is still fine for us. It gets a little on the skimpy side sometimes but then we milk and we have milk again!! I'm getting closer and closer to being settled on his future. By the time he is big enough to butcher I'll be more than happy to see him go I'm thinking, especially when I walk the store aisles looking at grain-fed beef selling for $5 per lb. We can raise Cody for less than that!!

Next summer I will be buying some meat chickens early in the spring and we'll butcher in the fall. I refuse to buy the hybridized excuses for chicken that they call the Cornish X, but I might try Freedom Rangers. They are hybridized for faster growth as well, but not at the expense of their hearts, lungs and legs like the Cornish X. I've heard good things about them so we'll see. A hatchery in Sterling has many heritage breeds so I might get some and compare the two for flavor and vigor. Mom wants a laying flock but I'm not sure how feasible that will be next year. I've discovered that introducing one new project a year is perfect for my family. Trying more than that and something ends up being neglected or just plain forgotten.
The south side of the barn

The barn is getting there. Charlie came down for two weeks to help put the walls up but had to leave before they were completely leveled and in their permanent positions. Being around them when nothing but ropes were holding them up was freaking me out. I hate moving them with the handiman jack cause I can see it slipping, shooting into me or Dad, the wall falling and squishing me, a family member, a pet or all three. Thankfully they are in their permanent positions, balanced on concrete blocks, more concrete blocks and wood blocks. One wall ended up about 2 feet off the ground, just to be level but that's what we get for living on a hill. Dad has the corral door framed and we're just waiting on PFD's to be able to finish it off. When the floor is in the hay loft then Dad will be up there building trusses and we're hoping Charlie can come down for a couple days to help set them and get the tin on. Dad wants to be able to store this year's hay up there but I might end up buying the 1,200 lb round bales and those will be hard to get up there! We'll see what happens.

Mom is nearly at her breaking point at work. Her supervisor is addled and not really up to doing the job anymore. Unfortunately, she's union so there's nothing that can be done. We're just hoping Mom can outlast her.

Dad may have a part-time job as a jack-of-all-trades at the neighbor's. The gentleman has three businesses going and needs consistent help that's also reliable. Dad fits both criteria. They attend church at the Baptist church a few miles away so our schedules are the same as well. I have a job there for the winter at least, helping the wife while she homeschools the three older children. I'll be riding herd on the three little ones, 4, 2ish and 5 months. I'm kind of looking forward to it. They do things different than I do and she is a different kind of mother than I will be but she's nice and she's willing to let me handle the babies as I need to. I'll also be doing chores outside as needed, which is great since they own Lou Lou and his Dexter lady, Daisy. I think Daisy is bred and due this spring. I need to get my hands on her to know, but she's not that docile right now. They've only had her since early summer so she's not entirely comfortable with them yet. I am really excited to work with their cows and maybe see their calf hit the ground. The wife is very "into" farming. She was raised up north so this is her first opportunity to be a farm wife and she is like a sponge!

The turkey front is not looking good. Marathon Oil Company brush hogged the pipeline, ten feet from our turkey coop. The excitement and stress of protecting his ladies from the attack was too much for poor Tom and his heart gave out. He left no offspring to comfort his widows. He died a hero's death and will be honored at Thanksgiving... with a roast.
The hatchery in Sterling also carries Bourbon Red Turkeys, which are an heritage breed. I'm going to buy six or so this spring and keep a tom to breed my Standard Bronze girls. I think the cross would be much more marketable than a straight Bronze. Tom, dressed, weighs about 50 lbs and not very many people need a turkey that big. I'd love for them to be profitable.

Okay, you are all caught up and I make no promises that you will hear from me again before Christmas!!

~Pam

About Me

We're a family that came to Alaska in shifts. We've been here since 1995 and don't plan to leave any time soon.

For Jaime

Comment from a SMART President

" The government that is big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."

Thomas Jefferson President 1801-1809
Died on JULY 4th, 1826

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