springs and stars

Monday, October 24:

   Okay, sometimes we’re not frugal.  This part of Ohio gets cold in the winter, and people who do a lot of farm chores need warm feet.  Muck boots are the best tool we know for keeping feet warm and dry in winter, but warm feet are running $100 a pair now, and there are nine pair of feet on our farm.  We bought two pair for the growing feet which had none, but we are darned tootin’ going to figure out how to patch Muck boots, because we don’t spend that much on our complete wardrobe in a year.  Ouch.

   Ouch number two would be the cost of all the PVC fittings we just bought for the spring development, but it is easier to see that as a capital investment, because God willing we won’t have to do it again in our lifetimes.  Tomorrow we plan to take a bunch of pictures of the ditching, and more as we lay in the pipe, gravel, and geotextile fabric.  If this project means we have running water in the barn all year, or even almost all the year, it will be worth whatever it costs.

   Isabel is down in her production today, and skittish.  This makes us nervous that she may have failed to conceive to the artificial  insemination in August.  A cow not bred will not be dropping a calf in the spring, so her milk yield will not go up; in fact, it will probably go down.  Many years ago we had a failed AI breeding, and in the spring there was no calf.  That time, we didn’t dry her off  as we normally would  before calving, and she continued to give us about five gallons a day for the second year.  We bred her back in the late summer and got a little heifer the next spring, so all was not lost; but she’s not going to miss calving this year if we can help it.  The only way we can be sure whether she’s bred or not is to palpate her, which is to make a rectal examination, feeling her uterus through the rectal wall to see if there is a calf inside.  We can picture this, in theory, but are a little uncertain that we’ll know for sure what we are feeling when we are actually inside.  Don’t expect pictures of this one.

   The threatened frost of last Saturday failed to materialize, saving the green beans for another picking.  The beans are beautiful this year.  We will get all we can off of them in the next few days, but we are pulling three or four plants a day to feed to the pigs, who love them.  We’d like to feed all one hundred row feet to them before they freeze and are worthless as pig food. 

   The pigs are too fat.  They have to go on a diet, which is all to the good, because it means the dairy waste and slops will go even farther.  We would like to reduce their bought in grain feed to the smallest possible number.  To date they have had about one hundred seventy-five pounds of feed since they were bought in early August.  Just for comparison, the four pigs we raise on commercial feed with our wonderful neighbors have eaten over a thousand pounds.  As we get  a firmer grasp on the rate of feed for milk waste, we expect we will be able to make the process even more economical.

   Rain much of today, but the clouds have passed off, and a few bright stars stand out in the misty sky like lamps in far-off windows.  Tomorrow is supposed to be clear, and we hope to move the spring project a long way toward completion.

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