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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. 🙂

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.

Quick Post!

This is just a quick post because I just found out I need to help Amanda study for her history final. She tells me the final is tomorrow and she is not ready. So, my plan to update the blog has been thwarted. Ah well, I guess this quick post tells you all you need to know about where we are with the farm. 😉

Update (at last)

How life has changed in a few short months! But, isn’t that the essence of life?! And, logically I understand the need for change but, oh my, it is still hard!

We had a great year for fruit this year. Our blueberry crop was our largest yet. The pears were very good. And, the raccoons left the grapes (mostly)  alone. (Apparently they ate Dottie and Dennis’s instead!)  While it is true that life got in the way (in a major way) this summer so that we didn’t benefit from a good year as much as we would have liked, the productive year is a nice affirmation–we think we might be on the right road.

We had a VERY hot August which meant a big drop in egg production but it is back up and we have some roosters for the pot. We lost a lot of baby chicks to predators but our tough little mamas are still willing to try. We have a heifer to sell and two cows still to deliver their babies.  Our farm is still not self-sustaining but we are closer–and that is all we can ask. Life is good.

Peace

Today was one of those days when I seriously wonder why we don’t sell the farm and go live in the ‘burbs like normal folk. But, now the day is over and I remember. We live here for the deep abiding sense of peace.

It happened like this: my favorite cow, sweet Mama, delivered a big healthy bull calf. It’s head was quite large so I had to help her a bit. She didn’t deliver her afterbirth that night. The next morning, it was still there. This morning, same story and it was starting to look way too much like a side of rare beef. So, I called for advice. First, Ellen. I sent her some pictures and she agreed, it didn’t look good. She recommended several vets–Mayo, High Springs, nobody nearby. The state of the nation in regards to large animal vets is a whole other story.

So, next I called Walker of Sweet Lil Wee Farms.  He confirmed that it looked like a prolapsed uterus. He told me to buy several tubes of preparation H and get her to the squeeze chute. My neighbors, the Meltons, helped me get everything set up. Walker and Lisa, working as an efficient team, got her uterus back where it belonged and the afterbirth out.

After doing the afternoon chores, I went out to check on her. It was just getting to dusk. She was covered by these absolutely horrid swarms of blood-sucking yellow cow flies and HUGE horse flies. I swatted about 20 of them until my hands were covered in blood and they still kept coming. It was driving her nuts. I ran for the OFF and diatomaceous earth hoping to at least keep them at bay.

So, are you wondering yet where the peace is in all of this?

When I returned, the dragonflies (or angelflies–as I think of them) were busy flitting all about her. They were huge and they quietly and efficiently picked off those awful flies. It was the most beatiful sight. As I watched, I thought about the wonderful friends we have–without whom we simply couldn’t keep going–and all the blessing that are there in even the most awful of days. I felt peace.