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Archive for December, 2006

Construction continues

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Construction continues here on the farm. We almost have a roof over our addition again now. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. That, plus I’m getting excited about starting the land clearing and building the small lake. First order of business after the addition will be decks on the doublewide. I’ve taken some pictures of the doublewide and the views from the front and back doors. I am convinced it will be amazing when everything is done. It may take me another year to get everything the way we want it.

Garett has been helping me put water line in the trenches we dug. Honestly he’s not a lot of help, but hopefully he will feel like he’s a part of the success of the farm and he’s learning some work ethic. If there is one thing I want my kids to have besides good morals, it’s work ethic.

We really haven’t done much on the farm this week other than set hay in to the horses and feed and water everything once a day. The weather has been great, but I’ve been stuck at work from daylight to dark. In the winter it is really hard to get anything done. I usually don’t get home until after 4 and it’s dark by 5:30 so I have to go straight to what I need to do. That’s going to change now though. I traded shifts with a guy at work so now I should have a couple hours on Monday and Tuesday, until 2 PM on Wednesday and Thursday, and pretty much all day Friday to work on the farm. Friday and Saturday nights I have to pull the hoot owl shift so I probably won’t get much done on Saturday except sleep. The kicker is I have to work an entire extra shift once a week. No true days off except 24 hour periods between shifts. I thought I’d try it and if it doesn’t work out I’ll use my seniority to get back to days.

I used the 6000 4WD to bury two calves for a neighbor this week. You really take a chance buying animals at market. The animals I bought seem to be doing fine. I know they sure are eating a lot. I may just hang on to all the pigs. Several people have expressed intrest in buying a whole hog or part of one already processed.

I’ve moved the goats back into the pasture across the road. I had to take down part of the fence to dig the trench for a water spicket and that prevented me from letting them get to the barn. Across the road they can get in the barn. My friend and neighbor John Bryant helped me add some boards to the stall we plan to put the colt in to start the long process of breaking him. First step is going to be getting him away from his mom. I have to be careful here because if he can find a way he will break out and go to her. We caught him in the corrall and put his halter on a few days ago. He was none too happy. For about a half day he tried throwing it off. Now he doesn’t seem to mind it. The kids have been trying to get him to eat apples form their hands, but he is still scared so he nudges the apple out of their hands and eats them from the ground.

The children are anxious for Santa to come. I think everyone is excited about Christmas but me. I don’t care much for birthday’s or holidays. I do like to see the kids with their new things though. We always try to get them a few things that they can use on the farm or that lets everyone know they are farm kids. This year they are getting t-shirts from Vermeer that say “Dad Says A Little Dirt Don’t Hurt”. We plan to get some more Combs Farms t-shirts and sweatshirts for them too. Last year we had a pumpkin cart embroidered along with our farm name. This year we’re doing either a black bull or a Boer goat.

Well lots to do so I better go…I’ve put up some more pics to see here….I’ll post more later.

Enjoying the Madness

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Yet another week has come and gone here in KY. What a crazy week it’s been too. I can never remember it being so warm in December. Forecasts call for 60 degree temps all week. Don’t take me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’ll take these temps over the single digits we had for a couple nights last week.

The contractor we ended up hiring for our project has almost demolished the addition my uncle had built on the house. As with almost any project you start, this one has opened our eyes to other problems we have here. In particular the electricity. It’s a mess. I knew it was nowhere near code, but I didn’t think it was as bad as it is. Lots of the circuits have double 30 and double 60 amp breakers for simple 110 volt plugs and lights. There’s no way they could trip if they needed to. I guess they used what they had laying around. That or the right breakers were tripping so they just put in bigger breakers. At any rate we are going to try to correct the problem if we can. The first night the contractor started his tear down we kept smelling something burning, but couldn’t find anything until 1 in the morning. A baseboard heater in the addition had caught some insulation and carpet on fire. Luckily my mother was here and just happened to see it. I ran out and grabbed a hose I had stretched to the corrall to put it out. Wasn’t very much of a fire, but any fire around the house is too big.

With my mom spending more and more time with us and my dad talking of retiring for the second time, we decided to buy a new double wide mobile home. This will give everybody the space they need and should help Garett with his asthma. We went small, but nice. We ended up with a Giles 28 x 52. It’s a little over 1200 square feet. We’ll have the best of all worlds. We still have the house and will have my family close some of the time. Now we can convert the upstairs to a farm office. My great uncle left us about 100 books on agriculture and I buy more all the time, so now we’ll have plenty of space for the books. The patio room and deck will still be available to us anytime we want plus we’ll have a big deck on the back of our mobile home. I got out voted on using the big window in the patio room we are building. The rest of the family wants to opt for 4 vinyl windows instead of the big window. I gave in easy, so they figured I had to be up to something to give up so easy. That coupled with the fact that I’ve been going around saving every piece of lumber I can salvage… gave me away. I’m building a small cabin in the woods.

We’ve made arrangements with a friend of ours to rent the equipment for clearing the land and have him do the work. We want to put a dam in one of the hollers and create a small lake. If everything works out I’ll put the cabin by the lake.

Just my luck, Thursday when it was cold and snowy they brought the doublewide. It was too big to go down the drive so they had to go through the field. Well, the trucks weren’t made to go off road- so one got stuck. I was out putting hay in to the horses, so I took the 6000 over and pulled the truck and half the doublewide up where they needed to go.

I got quite a scare one day last week too. Went to start the 6000 and nothing. Just a click. Of course I thought the worst. Turned out to be a dead battery. I’d left the key on and the brake lights ran it down. I just knew it would be shot but after a few hours on charge it’s working again. Keep your fingers crossed that it lasts.

My cows and pigs are doing okay. Eating a lot, but that’s to be expected for growing pigs. I’ve given each of the cows a round of penicillin just in case. I also moved them over to the other field where they can get into the barn and gave them hay and grain.

Monday and Tuesday my friend John Bryant and I spent all day trenching. We dug trenches for water spickets all over the place. As soon as I can get the water line in we’ll have water at both barns, where we plan to build the pig lot, and at the corrall. We’ll also have direct burial wire to the barn for electricity. We had been using extension cords.

It’s crazy here, but I know it will be so much better when everything is finished. That’s what keeps me plugging along. well I’m sure there is some work that needs to be done around here so I better go……….check back soon.

Peddling pigs

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

This week I finally made it to the livestock market. I’ve been wanting to go for a while but something always comes up. I’m amazed at how low prices have gotten. I can’t figure if it’s because it’s close to Christmas or the price of feed that has the price low. I had only planned to buy 2 or 3 pigs and a calf. My budget allowed $800 for this purchase. A few months ago that’s what it would have cost to buy what I was looking for. With prices surpressed like they are my $800 got me 13 40-50 lb pigs and 3 calves that weighed a respectable 250#, 515#, and 550#. The guys at work were kind of making fun of me for buying all those pigs, but I just couldn’t pass up such a deal. I only want 4, so I’ll need to unload some on somebody. I talked with my grandfather Delbert Gay at the sale for a while. I’m amazed at how well he gets around for his age. He made me promise that I’d be bringing those children to see him soon. Madison and Garett were very disappointed that they didn’t get to go. Garett made me promise next time he can go to try and find some rabbits. Madison says next time she gets a new billygoat. This time they had to settle for a bushel of apples.

Tonight I worked until after dark getting everything situated. I almost always give the cattle that I buy at a sale a shot of penicillin and worm them. It’s a lot easier to deal with cattle since we built a pen to work them in. I’ll worm the pigs tomorrow and get some turpentine so we can castrate the males. Then I’ll set out some more rolls for the horses with the 6000. It’s time to worm the goats again too. Of course with all this needing to be done, it will be turning bitter cold. Forecasts for tonight show lows of teens and snow tomorrow. Today’s high was 54. I still have not managed to get my wood splitter back together, but I do have the parts. I have so much to do and the days are short, that I have been thinking of switching shifts to swing shift or nights so I would have more daylight hours to work on the farm. I’d hate to though, I finally have the seniority to have a decent job on day shift.

Today I did a little comparison shopping. I was already in Somerset for a meeting with some union guys on a problem we are experiencing so I stopped at the John Deere dealer. I am particularly interested in a 70 to 80 hp cab tractor. I’ve driven the Mahindra 7010 Cab around the parking lot, and had been told by other folks that the Deere cab was pretty nice, so I thought I’d see. I looked at 2 different cab models and I can’t see how they are any nicer than the Mahindra. I did not get a price on the Deere models, but have seen comparable used tractors with 1000 hours in that lineup priced at more than a new Mahindra 7010 Cab. That’s with no warranty. Throw in the fact that I’ve done business with my Mahindra Dealer for about 10 years… and the reliabilty of my 6000 4wd… I just could not justify going green.

Well tons to do so I better scoot………… Check back I’ll be adding some more soon.

Home Improvement

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

The cold is once again on us here in Ky. Tonight’s lows are forecasted into the low 20s. What a change from earlier this week when temps were in the 70s. At 6am this morning the temperature was 69 degrees, by afternoon it was 34 degrees. The warm weather earlier in the week got us out and about. We took advantage and cleaned out the chickenhouses and finished blowing and burning the leaves. The kids suckered me into an evening of pushing them in the swings too. When we moved some things in the barn we found two very old windows that are in pretty good shape. One of them is over 8 ft wide. I am assuming these were in the covered back porch that used to be on the house. Sometime in the 70′s my great uncle decided to tear off the porch and build on 2 rooms. Unfortunately, he didn’t do a very good job and the rooms are starting to get in bad shape. We plan to tear them off and put a covered porch and deck in the back.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week talking to contractors and excavating folks about improvements around the farm. We want a 10 x 14 room with the old windows, a 10 x 22 deck, and a metal roof on the house. The plan is to have room for our books and plants and a place to go look out through the huge window into the pasture and read. We’ll have the deck for grilling and sitting in the fresh air. We also plan to clear about 40 more acres for pasture. Hopefully we’ll have enough money left to add a shed on the side of the chickenhouse for keeping my Mahindra 6000 in the dry.

We plan to move forward with the pumpkin patch idea too. I am looking for a good set of plows and a heavy disc for the 6000. We’ll also be building or buying a few picnic tables, hay wagons, and some more animals for the petting zoo. The neighbor (Joe Phillips) and I have penciled in a trip to the sale barn this coming Tuesday. Hopefully nothing will come up and we can get a few pigs, a new billy goat, and some calves. Depending on the price I may try to pick up a couple bottle babies. They are a whole lot of trouble, but well worth it as they get bigger and come bouncing and slobbering for the bottle.

On a sad note a good friend of mine was critically injured in an ATV accident. All your prayers are needed as he is still in critical condition almost a week later.

Lots to do so I better run…………. until next time………..stay safe!

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