Sunday, July 31, 2011

A blur of firsts

Like the photo below, July turned out to be a blur of a month. But even though it didn't quite turn out like I thought it would, it still turned out to be a remarkable month — one with lots of firsts.

For the first time since we've been farming, we took the 4th of July weekend off and did what the rest of our society seems to do that weekend — spent it at the lake. We swam, we boated, we kayaked, and we grilled. It was a blast. And we all have the tan lines to prove it. (No photos provided. Sorry. I forgot my camera at home in the rush to hit the road.)

We came home from our mini-vacation and jumped right into second crop. (And I swear it feels like we haven't sat down since.) We decided to try making individually wrapping bales. It was a good decision. Everything went remarkably smooth and we now have a pile of marshmallows stored right next to the farm, separated by field — a luxury we've never had.

We finished hauling the marshmallows off the fields a mere three hours before the worst storm of the summer (to date) blew in. We lost power for 16 hours and had to use our generator for the first time. Between the pastures and the yard, we had 17-some trees damaged or uprooted, including our apple tree which was severed near the ground and landed in the ditch across the road.

On a brighter note, Dan found the first litter of kittens of the year, living under the silo blower in the machine shed. For as old as they were when he found them, and for how wild the mama kitty is, the kittens were remarkably tame.

Another highlight of the month was having our friends from up north come stay with us for a couple days. They entertained the kids and helped outside so I could get our balance sheet and cash flow statement updated, a task that needed to be completed before we could start our heifer yard project. (There might not be anything more maddening than being stuck in the house doing bookwork on some of the nicest days of the summer.) One of the afternoons, Sammy and Jennifer helped Dan and Monika make cupcakes for the first time.

The morning after Sammy and Jennifer went home, Mother Nature dropped four inches of rain on the farm in less than three hours. There was water everywhere. The photo below is of the lake that formed near the inlet that drains to the pond. The inlet simply couldn't keep up. I think it was Mother Nature's way of telling us we shouldn't have tried to re-route that waterway when we built our lagoon.

After the rain, came the heat. And all the extra work that went into keeping everyone (animals and people) as cool and hydrated as possible. We went through gallons of Gatorade, chocolate milk and electrolytes (we added a mid-day feeding of electrolytes for all of the baby calves to make sure they got enough fluids).

One night, Monika decided she needed more than fluids to keep cool. She took the milk house hose, filled a pail half-full and climbed in. It wasn't long before Dan wanted a pail of his own. They spent the better part of chores that night sitting in those buckets.

My reward for all of the time I spent doing bookwork was the start of our heifer yard project. My second post when I started this blog was about someday pouring concrete for our heifers. That was back in the fall of 2008. After nearly four years of putting up with the muck, we're finally pouring concrete in the heifer yard. The excavators spent two days last week prepping the yard and the concrete crew started pouring last Friday. I teared up when the first cement hit the ground.

It looks like the blur will spill over into August; third crop is due on Tuesday and we'll probably test milk on Wednesday. Hopefully, they'll finish pouring the concrete early this week. Then we'll have to put the yard back together and move the heifers back. It'll be a crazy-busy blur, but, by the end of August, we'll look back and say that it, too, was a remarkable month.