Good news (and a bit of bad)

Buffalo Girl and her happy calf

Buffalo Girl and her happy calf

Good news! Buffalo Girl delivered a healthy, long-legged heifer calf last week! I was concerned she might struggle to nurse…and we believe she did…but she is looking good now. She, along with the rest of the babies, is running her mama crazy. We love watching them frolic across the fields.

Speaking of fields, the good news is that we had 3 1/2 inches of rain in 3 days. The bad news is that we haven’t had any rain since. So, our rather sparse pastures are a bit greener but still sparse! We have 4 bales of hay left. Hopefully that will be enough.

Speaking of enough, we finally made the sad trip down to the blueberry fields. Georgia lost 80% of their blueberry crop to the cold snap. We lost about the same. But we should have enough to refill the freezer and share a bit with friends.

Much sadder is the serious damage done to the persimmon trees because we lost two years of growth and this years crop. The mulberry and mayhaw crops are also a complete loss but we may have some pears and some citrus. As John says, thank goodness our future does not depend on this year’s harvest! If it did, things would look bad indeed.

I forgot to mention that John bought me a little house for Christmas. I have moved out of the Avion and into my new digs. It is definitely a splurge–the Avion worked just fine–but I struggled to keep it organized since everything had to be stowed away. What is shocking is how much stuff was stowed! I had no real idea of how much storage I had until I took all my materials out from their various nooks and crannies. So, now the Avion is on Craigslist. I hope a really good new owner finds it! http://lakecity.craigslist.org/rvs/6090817213.html

So, life goes on. The sun shines and the weather is beautiful (though not as beautiful as rain!) The watermelon and bean seeds have sprouted. The bees are beginning to find some flowers. We are all healthy. The lark’s on the wing, the morning dew’s pearled; God’s in His heaven and all’s right with the world. 😉

Oh my…

…how time does pass!  The thing is, this blog is an integral part of our farm records. It is the place I look when I have forgotten to post the date of birth of a calf or important information on crop losses. So, it is finally on my shortlist of items to DO!

First, most recently, we are in the middle of a drought that began last September. It is odd but even when areas around us get rain, it seems to skip over us so we are always a bit drier than White Springs and WAY drier than Lake City. However, even Lake City is beginning to suffer this year. It is getting increasingly difficult to find way. It is crazy to be buying hay this time of the year when pastures should be lush and green but John just got back from spending $250 to get the cows through (hopefully) to the end of the month.

Speaking of cows, Mama had another bull calf last month. Her poor udder is so blown out, her calves must be helped until they get enough finesse and a big enough mouth to feed themselves. So, 3 times a day I make the trip out to the field. Buffalo Girl may have a similar challenge this term when sh (FINALLY) delivers. She lost an udder during her last pregnancy because her calf couldn’t use it and it get infected. The girls are getting older so this happens. But, we don’t have the heart to make hamburger out of these faithful retainers! In other cow news, sweet Cocoa (our half Lowline Angus/half Murray Grey) was by some miracle of nature impregnated by Winston who is SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than she. She delivered a beautiful large and well-developed calf but sometime between the time John left for work and I got home, it was born and died. Stepped on?  Squeezed to death during birth? We will never know but my heart went out to her. Cocoa has always been treated like the oddling she is so I was excited she would finally have a calf of her own. Also, Calfie had her calf in January so we were looking forward to watching them play together.

And, speaking of tragedy, Midge had an extremely painful miscarriage in the fall. The calf was just a puddle with hooves but she was not dilated so the contractions just tore her up. I was afraid she might never have another but she is currently pregnant and should deliver this summer. Mama’s Boy from last year, Calfie’s extremely small heifer, and Buffalo Girl’s heifer are still with the herd.

The other recent news that needs to be recorded was the weather. The winter was very mild and January and February were unseasonably warm so the plants got way too excited. The blueberries, mulberries, persimmons, pomegranates, mayhaws citrus, pears, and blackberries were all in full leave and bloom. So, when we had our annual March last-gasp-of-winter (which, unfortunately, this year was particularly cold and long), we lost a LOT! I’ve taken lots of pictures of small fruit, buds, and early leaves all brown and shriveled but I simply don’t have the heart to post them. It is a good thing John and I are both working off-farm because our poor little farm won’t be providing much this year!

I’ve got to run now but will try to get back on this week to finish updating. (Yeah, sure!) I’ll really try!

Mama’s Boy

Two weeks ago we had an amazing birth on the farm. Our dear sweet “Mama” who cast her withers two years ago delivered a healthy (and LARGE) baby boy. We have had to help him nurse because Mama has a blown out udder but he is doing well. We are very thankful since we had resigned ourselves to thinking that this pregnancy might kill her.

We are making progress on the tiny house but this past week we have slowed to a crawl as we are all struggling with the flu. So, no picture this time. I will try to post several when I am feeling more the thing.

Update

I know I’ve said it before (ad nauseum!) but I can’t believe how quickly time passes. It is nearly March so I have plenty to report!

  1. The windows and insulation are in, the wiring complete, the tiny house is moved and we are ready for drywall in the tiny room. So the promised celebratory party will be happening within the month. I will post pictures then.
  2. We have an apprentice/helper/collaborator named Lyndsay who is an AWESOME addition to the farm. She is interested and interesting, a self-starter, and smart. With her help we have nearly finished weeding/mowing/mulching the blackberries and blueberries, pruned the grapes, and planted the potatoes. It has been a joy to have her help.
  3. Amanda continues to make us proud with her schoolwork. She is also becoming helpful on the farm. We appreciate her willingness to let us teach her stuff.
  4. Thanks to my mom’s help we have finished this year’s farm taxes. WooHoo!!
  5. Although we are STILL awaiting Mama’s calf, we do have two new baby chicks. Spring is definitely happening!

So, that’s the news. I checked to see if I have any recent pictures downloaded from the camera but I do not so this is all I am posting today.  As usual there is WAY too much to get done in a day. But as our 80+ year-old neighbor and farmer Mr. Milton will tell you, it will still be here tomorrow so, no worries. 🙂

Tiny House, cont.

It’s been a crazy month since the last blog. We have been steadily working on the tiny house/room as we also button things up for the cPicture of painted and roofed tiny room.oming winter. Now the blueberry fields are mowed (NOT forever) and we have started the annual weeding. The citrus is covered with shade cloth and the lights are out. The nativity scene is set up and the Christmas tree decorated. AND, the exterior of the tiny room is completed (except for the windows and door which will be installed after we move it into place.)

Amanda, John, and I have done the painting. The roof and trim turned out to be a MUCHtrimroof bigger project than we thought it would be but it is also finished. And, overall, we have been very lucky (blessed!) Though windy weather kept us off the roof for a week, when it died down we had a perfectly cool and slightly overcast day to install that shiny metal. And, we have had many things work out so nicely that could easily have been a problem. For example, John finished the base for the outside shower (cypress walls to be added lshowerater.) He used some old bleacher metal we had and it fit perfectly in the space.

Now that we are done with the exterior, our attention turns to the inside. As soon as the (inside) half-bath walls are up, we are moving the tiny room to its permanent home next to the screenroom. And then, when we finish, we will have our tinyhousewarming party. YEAH!!

Tiny House Raising

Yesterday was an absolutely glorious day! The temperature and humidity were perfect for working and there was a nice breeze. Even better, a wonderful group of people came out to help us raise the walls on our tiny room–the “bunkhouse” we are building here on the farm.

We started the day putting the final touches on preparations. I baked the cinnamon rolls and biscuits, John double checked supplies and uncovered everything. Amanda carried things out to the screen room.The wall comes up. At 9, Eric arrived and by 9:30 Brian, Mike, Randy, and Eric were ready to see a wall go up. The plan was to wait for a full complement of folks–in case something went “south”–but there was no holding all that energy back. By 9:45, one wall wwallraise4as already up.

It was great to see and we were very lucky but I must admit that I struggled to let go of the juggernaut. I wanted group pictures, and order, and control. I wanted to doublecheck and verify and plan each move. What I got was weeks worth of labor and effort in one fell swoop! It was terrifying and absolutely wonderful. Thank you Wayne for the cosmic 2×4 upside the head! As usual, you were right.wallraiseb

I appreciate everyone who participated: Eric, Randy, Mike, and Brian for taking the lead. Walter and Tom for being willing to step back and spearhead preparation of the vapor barrier. Nancy and Dale for jumping in and seeing potential issues and solutions. Wayne and Lei Lani for the literal and figurative foundation (and the gWaiting in the wingsreat snacks!)  Thank you David for taking time  from little Philip to support our efforts. All our best wishes for his speedy recovery. Amanda, thanks for the pictures though I admit to struggling to get on board with the au courant but dangerously odd angles. Deb and Khrys for being the first folks to volunteer and Carol, Julie, and Maddie for being there in the wings ready and waiting to jump in as you were needed. Sometimes that is the hardest job of all.the cars

By 2 pm, it was over.

Several times as John and Amanda and I were cleaning up, I looked out at what a half day had wrought. It is so wonderful to have this little building that is imbued with love and community. You guys are the best!!  And this is where I would have put the group picture–if I had one!! 😉

Randy Madison being an angel

…..An angel?!

Still here…

October. It is our first cool day–50’s last night and a high in the 70’s today. It is truly a glorious day to be outside!

So, the news. First, we have a new calf. Her name is Autumn and she was born a week and a half ago to Buffalo Girl. It has been good for the herd..they missed having a “young-un.”  Buffalo Girl is extremely leery of us. She has definitely implicated us in the loss of her “baby” which we sold in August. We know that her heifer, along with Midge’s bull calf, went to a family who wanted a pet that eats grass but they could have just as easily gone to the slaughterhouse so we can’t take credit for the happy ending.

Our big project now is a “tiny room.” We decided to build it rather than the tiny house for  trailer for our tiny house several reasons..not the least of which is that it is quicker and cheaper. Our tiny room is 7.5 feet by 17.5 feet and is a bedroom and 1/2 bath. We will use it for guest quarters and breathing space. We are using salvaged materials whenever possible. The trailer is a home-made one bought from Wayne Davis. It is not beautiful but IS sound. (In subsequent pictures, note how well the decking cleaned up.) The wood for the walls was milled here on the farm. The windows were given to us by the gentleman who bought my mom’s park model RV. The door was salvaged from our river place. We have to wood cut and labeled for the two long walls and have built the window sections. John Lacefield working on tiny house roomWe are finishing up the decking. It is our hope to have a work session on December 31 when we will lift the walls into place.

We had hoped to interest Amanda in our project..partly because she will be benefiting from it but mostly because there are many useful skills that can be learned when building something. She has told us she prefers hands-on learning so we had hoped to give her an opportunity to use math, physics, biology, and problem-solving skills. Amanda Lacefield and Pooh BearHowever, so far she prefers not to be involved. We must be satisfied with the participation of her kitten, Pooh Bear.Pooh Bear helps on Lacefield Farms

I will try to post pictures as the project continues but I make no promises! I do not have a good track record when it comes to diaries and blogs. 🙂

Farming Life

I have been thinking a lot about philosophies of farming–the spiritual aspect of the choices we make when we farm.

In corporate farming, the philosophy seems to be to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible. On a small farm where abandoning the land is not an option, that philosophy makes no sense. However, that does not mean all small farms have the same philosophy but it does mean small farms “get” each other and have a common bond."Agriculture is our wisest pursuit..."

Our philosophy on our farm is an evolving thing but now, after over 20 years in the biz, I think our philosophy has a bit more form and shape. First, we acknowledge that most of the work we do will not benefit us. John says quite often, “We are making a darn nice farm for some young couple.” And there is nothing wrong with that. As a boomer myself, I am well aware how my generation has taken and taken without giving much back. This is a way to give back.

Second, for us farming is about having faith. It is about believing that there is a reason and a plan. It is about trusting that each “plague” has a cure. It is about waiting that extra day, despite the temptation to throw chemicals and money at the problem, and being visited by dragonflies (they are called “mosquito hawks” for a reason!) and by bugs that love a weed and a rain that turns parched plants into nutrition-rich healthy foods.

Third (and finally) it is about the joy and satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work and an honest sweat. It is about staying connected to the cycle of nature. It is about finding yourself and figuring out what really matters.

So, I thank God for the life I am blessed to live and the farm for helping me believe in abundance instead of scarcity. May the life you are living bring you equal joy.

No “Brr” now!

Well, it isn’t February any more! It is HOT and DRY; we need rain. We have about 50 tomato plants (brandywine, amish paste, beefsteak, black Japanese, and some saved seeds from last season that will go into the ground this week. All farming is a leap of faith–planting these ripe mayhaw fruittomatoes is a part of that. And, we were lucky to have a good amount of rain in March that brought us our best mayhaw crop yet! One tree was loaded–I got 3 pickings off of it and made 6 pints of jam–and two others had a first crop. The blueberries are coming along nicely and should be ready at the end of May. The roses have been absolutely beautiful but I have been too busy to make jam from them! Besides, between the marmalade from our oranges, last year’s blueberry, and this year’s mayhaw, we really don’t need more jam so our energies are going toward more pressing needs.

Brrrr!

Boys staying warm

three cat night!

It’s cold out so I am using the weather as an excuse to get caught up on indoor chores! Speaking of the weather, the poor blueberry farmers north of us in S. GA may lose their crop. This is the challenge of trying to be first-to-market–these early varieties cannot deal with the cold snaps we occasionally get.

Amanda staying warm So, what are we up to these days? Well, with me working off-farm and time taken out for the care and feeding of Amanda’s, a lot of farm opportunities are on the back burner. But John is excited to be working on our tiny house.

Tiny House Frame

Tiny House Step 1!

He has put together the frame he bought from Matt and the wheels he was able to scavenge for a total of $300. Not too bad for an 8×24 foundation. I will try to give periodic updates but now more than ever, time gets away from me.

State of the farm…well, we are hoping our hay will last until the warm weather and grass are here but it is going to be close. John is adding a line fence to increase our pasture. Several hens are roosting–this cold may kill some of the embryos but we expect to get a few. About 2/3’s of the pears are in FULL bloom so our pear crop may be iffy. However, the late varieties should be fine. Only the climax blueberries are blooming (the heritage varieties have the sense to wait!) Wood cut on farm Meanwhile, John was using the cooler (but not COLD) weather to do projects like cutting lumber on his sawmill. He has quite a stash now! As we often say around here, things could be worse.:-)