Monday, July 29, 2013

Family, 4-H, farm

This past week the irrigation broke, but the company was able to fix it in just a few days!  Kris is currently working on a different issue with the irrigation right now - at 10:00 p.m.  I'm sure he'd rather be doing this: 
Yep, that's my sister Tracy and her family - plus my kids - checking out the freestall mattresses for themselves in the unfinished half of the barn.  (We have more visitors, yay!)  They all agreed that they were very comfortable.  They all had dirty shirts when they stood up.
We also checked this out: 
The lagoon is almost ready for manure to be poured into it.  The cement around it is done too.  Tracy said she was so tempted to run down the incline into the bottom because she'd never have the chance to do it again.  She resisted. 

We went to the 4-H Fair today.  It was wonderful - we all got to see animals we rarely see.  Even though we live on a dairy we don't see pigs, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, goats ... I even held a tarantula.  (Even though all of my self-preservation instincts were telling me it was a bad idea.)

When we were seeing the sheep, Tracy pointed out something else ...

This sheep and I have the same hair.  Color, style, and cut. 

Isn't it great having a sister around to question whether or not you're part sheep?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family fun on the farm

My brother, sister and their families - plus other family members - have been visiting!  So there's a lot of this:


And this:

...while Kris and the team are doing all the regular work.  The builders are still building, the cement pourers are still pouring, and it rained a half of an inch - so the crops are still growing.  Kris has been stopping in during his meal breaks to see all the little kids and family members. 

So it's as busy as ever around here - maybe just a little cuter than normal.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

All mooved in (I can't help it)

They're in! 

They went in the barn to eat their supplemental feed and lie down in the shade after the morning milking.  We went to see them enjoying themselves. 

It was great!  What a perfect, super-hot day for them to get a new place to hang out.

Checking out the new digs

Eating some brunch

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ready to go

Tomorrow we're going to put the cattle in the barn!  Half of it, anyway.  Today in this blistering heat - over 90 degrees - the crews worked really hard to finish up half the barn.  (Really, they work hard every day.  They're impressive to watch.  And I'm not just saying that to get them to do a good job on our barn, because I'm 99% sure they don't read my little farm blog.)

Max pointed at the four different pieces of equipment and repeated each time, "That's my favorite."

The mattresses are in, the sawdust is ready for them to lie on, the water tanks are full, the curtains are open, and the fans are in place.  They're really going to enjoy coming in from the heat for some shade and air circulation.

Speaking of lying down, I loved your comments.  Yes, they're freestalls.  All piled up.  Farmers put freestalls in barns so each cow can have her own place to lie down.  It's raised, so they step up on it and lie down on the mattresses between the stalls.  When they relieve themselves, it doesn't mess up where they're lying.  Instead it goes to a lower level where it can be scraped out with a skid steer.

But they made some good art in the meantime.
Here's the barn, empty for the last time ...


Fans up high, freestalls down low

Functional freestalls, sawdust, mattresses

Plastic curtains

The unfinished side ... to be continued

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Irrigate and guess

We haven't had a year where we didn't need to turn on the irrigation the entire month of June.  But now it's July, it's hot, and it's already dry.  We started irrigating our pasture so that our cattle can eat well-watered pasture grass.

It's also super fun for our kids ... and looks fun in general.  As our boys and niece were running through the giant sprinkler, a neighbor yelled from his car, "Where do I get in line?"

It's surprising how an irrigation system feels.  Not like a rain, or even a downpour.  It's hard, like unpleasantly so.  The cattle like it though - they stand under it when they can.

My mom took this picture and sent it to her friends.  Her subject was 'sculpture at the barn.'  They had some good guesses ... anyone here?  You know, besides our own art park. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Everybody's at the party

Today every contractor we had was on the job. 

Two excavators were going.  There were dump trucks.  There were lots of people around - some working on the lagoon, some installing mattresses, others making a driveway, and one doing something with cement I had to ask him about - because I wasn't even sure what part of the project he was doing!

It's a beehive of activity.  We can hear the sounds of machinery from our house and we like to go over and check out what's going on. 

1. They took out the foundation of one of the silos we knocked down.  It was an amazing amount of concrete.  We had no idea how deep that concrete ran into the ground.  Kris said they hit it with a wrecking ball ... and nothing happened.  They had to really work at it.

2. It rained again yesterday.  We're so happy!  The crops love it!  On the opposite side - this lagoon was started last winter and it will never be finished! 

3. The cows don't care.  Everything looks different in one direction ...

... and then all the same the other way.

Well, all the same except for that new duck.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Kris told me that there was a duck hanging around the barn yesterday.

This morning I was running and saw it for myself.  On my way back, it was in the road.  As I was running, it started ... running alongside me.  For about 30 seconds, I was running WITH A DUCK.

I was really regretting not bringing along my camera.   

I called around, and no one is missing a duck.  (My friend thought it was funny that more than one neighbor had ducks.  I didn't even register this as being a curiosity.  Sure!  Lots of room.)

The kids and I went back and fed it some bread.  Later it made its way down to the creek, thankfully.  I'm pretty sure it's not going to find the kind of aquatic nutrition it needs from whole wheat bread. 

I found out it's called a muscovy duck.  It doesn't say anything in the description about them being good running partners.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


We had our mattresses delivered for our new barn. 

The way it works is the mattresses are put on the concrete.  Then we cover them with foam - it looks like what you put under carpet.  Then a giant top cover goes over that.  Then we put sawdust on it continually to help keep it clean. 

We were visiting today and Kris was testing them out. We all joined him. 

They were really comfortable. Of course, I fell asleep on cement yesterday, so I'm no princess and the pea.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Do you find tiling interesting?  How about bulk tanks?  Walls and cement?

That's what we talk about around here.  We find it all terribly exciting.

A friend asked me the other day, "What's tiling?"  I shouldn't assume that anyone knows what tiling is, because I learned myself just a few years ago when we moved here.  (Again, I was not paying attention when my parents were the farmer and I was the child.  What was I doing?  Listening to guitar solos, I think.)

Many fields with crops in the Midwest are tiled, which means they have big plastic pipes underground that drain the excess water out of the field. This way, the field doesn't get too wet and kill the crops. If you're selling land, it's worth more tiled than not tiled.

These amazing machines called tile plows cut into the ground, lay tile, and cover up the tile again.  They're fun to watch.  And fun to harvest since it makes our crops so much better.  (Or this year, possible at all.)

And bulk tanks!  The excitement! 

We have a new bulk tank that has double the capacity of the old tank.  We needed more room for the more milk from the more cows.

This morning this building had no front - this afternoon it did!  Can you feel the electricity in the air?

Kris had to get into the bulk tank the other day to fix something.  It has a little round opening at the top.  Kris said he could pull himself up, but then he was totally stuck because the opening was just as wide as his arms and shoulders.  So before he went in he enlisted the milk truck driver to help pull him out.  He was pretty scraped up. 

Last, walls and cement!  The barn continues to be more and more finished.  The faster, the better.  I was standing looking at it all - the barn, the lagoon, the builders - in the pouring rain today.

I can't speak for the soaking wet builders, but it didn't dampen my excitement.