Life of a Farm Blog

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Archive for July, 2011

Maiden Voyage

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

A few weeks back we picked up a cheap 1982 Chevrolet litter spreader truck. After towing the truck 3 hours we (mostly my dad) have worked almost every day trying to get it ready for the upcoming house cleanouts. We’ve replaced the back brake shoes, brake lines, master cylinder, plugs, wires, and coil. We also cleaned the carburetor, took a couple links out of the drive chain, and swapped out the seat. We’re a long way from done, but we did get a chance to see how it was going to work out. Our first attempt went pretty well aside from my major concern. I had pushed for a buggy type spreader to be pulled behind one of the tractors because I was concerned a truck wouldn’t navigate our hilly terrain very well. The truck spreads great, but with just a little spinning of the tires it buried itself to the axle. After a couple chains and tethering the 7010 and the 6000 to the truck we finally got it unstuck. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my day, but now we all know what we are up against. Looks like our next step is some more agressive tires. It did make for a lot of laughing at ourselves and some interesting pictures and video!

One to go

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I finally got my goats in to the processor. I’d forgotten how much I like the goat burger with egg noodles and cream of mushroom soup. It will be nice to have my warm goat concoction for lunches this winter. The pigs are growing fast. They are big enough now that they make a pretty good mess so I’ve been hosing out their pen everyday. They seem to appreciate it. It’s been miserable hot lately. We, like alot of the rest of the country, are getting cooked. Everyday when I hose out the pig mansion and they run and squeel through the water I notice the cows all taking a dip in the pond. Unless I decide to buy more cows we only have one left to calve this year. Sheep cow, as she is affectionately called here, had her calf this week. A beautiful little heifer calf. Momma has been keeping her hidden away for the most part, but Madison wouldn’t go another day without venturing into the field to sneak a peek and some pics. Turns out momma isn’t upset about that at all. The calf isn’t a bit shy either. Most calves don’t take kindly to being bothered, but this little one is different. Maybe Madison is just working her charm.

We narrowly averted total disaster with the chickens at Combs 2 this week. During the hottest weather of the year, at the hottest point in the day, a crew of state workers mowing right of ways, broke the county water main. We got very little water from them for the majority of the afternoon. Luckily we have the well and the 5000 gallon resevoir and a pump for just these occasions. It wouldn’t have taken long at all with no cool cells for the birds to die from the heat. Our service tech came by with our scheduled sell dates for both farms this week too. Looks like September 18th will be the day for Farm 1 and Janurary 1st for Farm 2. Good news is it looks as though we will get 500 FF chicks back for our next flocks. I’ve had alot better luck with these than some other breeds. The down time for Farm 1 this year will be anything but slow. We have already purchased the equipment to do some upgrades. We’ll be adding stir fans and attic inlets as well as a 36″ fan to minimum ventilate with. Farm 2 already has the stir fans and attic inlets, but we will be adding the 36″ minimum vent fan there too. We have been approved for state cost share assistance on a litter shed for this year. There are so many hoops to jump through I wonder if it’s worth it. We’re currently being held up by the litter management plan. There’s very few people available to do these. We have been waiting almost 3 months. I’m beginning to wonder if we will make it by December. Especially given how busy we will be in September.

Looks like we will be taking the 3316 HST to the doctor soon. The dif lock has stopped engaging. I’ve already talked to the dealer and we’ve decided to put off the repair until after hay season. I’m still kicking tires on square balers. I really like the Massey Ferguson 1837, but even at a 4% interest rate it’s hard to justify spending $16000. I’ve found a used New Holland 570 in Alabama that’s in excellent shape for $7500. It will cost me about $500 to go pick it up. Most likely if it’s still available toward the end of the week I’ll head south to pick it up. While I was shopping square balers I had the opportunity to spend a little time looking over the new offerings Mahindra is bringing to the game. I’m really impressed with the 35 series. The 8560 cab still has my heart though. I can definately see this tractor in my future. It was really neat to see my kids crawling all over the tractors. We had my friend Amanda along for the ride and it made me proud as they explained to her what the pieces of equipment on the dealers lot were and how they worked.

Well I better get back at it! Lots to do! As always thanks for reading and be sure to check out the pics I’ve added!

One to go

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I finally got my goats in to the processor. I’d forgotten how much I like the goat burger with egg noodles and cream of mushroom soup. It will be nice to have my warm goat concoction for lunches this winter. The pigs are growing fast. They are big enough now that they make a pretty good mess so I’ve been hosing out their pen everyday. They seem to appreciate it. It’s been miserable hot lately. We, like alot of the rest of the country, are getting cooked. Everyday when I hose out the pig mansion and they run and squeel through the water I notice the cows all taking a dip in the pond. Unless I decide to buy more cows we only have one left to calve this year. Sheep cow, as she is affectionately called here, had her calf this week. A beautiful little heifer calf. Momma has been keeping her hidden away for the most part, but Madison wouldn’t go another day without venturing into the field to sneak a peek and some pics. Turns out momma isn’t upset about that at all. The calf isn’t a bit shy either. Most calves don’t take kindly to being bothered, but this little one is different. Maybe Madison is just working her charm.

We narrowly averted total disaster with the chickens at Combs 2 this week. During the hottest weather of the year, at the hottest point in the day, a crew of state workers mowing right of ways, broke the county water main. We got very little water from them for the majority of the afternoon. Luckily we have the well and the 5000 gallon resevoir and a pump for just these occasions. It wouldn’t have taken long at all with no cool cells for the birds to die from the heat. Our service tech came by with our scheduled sell dates for both farms this week too. Looks like September 18th will be the day for Farm 1 and Janurary 1st for Farm 2. Good news is it looks as though we will get 500 FF chicks back for our next flocks. I’ve had alot better luck with these than some other breeds. The down time for Farm 1 this year will be anything but slow. We have already purchased the equipment to do some upgrades. We’ll be adding stir fans and attic inlets as well as a 36″ fan to minimum ventilate with. Farm 2 already has the stir fans and attic inlets, but we will be adding the 36″ minimum vent fan there too. We have been approved for state cost share assistance on a litter shed for this year. There are so many hoops to jump through I wonder if it’s worth it. We’re currently being held up by the litter management plan. There’s very few people available to do these. We have been waiting almost 3 months. I’m beginning to wonder if we will make it by December. Especially given how busy we will be in September.

Looks like we will be taking the 3316 HST to the doctor soon. The dif lock has stopped engaging. I’ve already talked to the dealer and we’ve decided to put off the repair until after hay season. I’m still kicking tires on square balers. I really like the Massey Ferguson 1837, but even at a 4% interest rate it’s hard to justify spending $16000. I’ve found a used New Holland 570 in Alabama that’s in excellent shape for $7500. It will cost me about $500 to go pick it up. Most likely if it’s still available toward the end of the week I’ll head south to pick it up. While I was shopping square balers I had the opportunity to spend a little time looking over the new offerings Mahindra is bringing to the game. I’m really impressed with the 35 series. The 8560 cab still has my heart though. I can definately see this tractor in my future. It was really neat to see my kids crawling all over the tractors. We had my friend Amanda along for the ride and it made me proud as they explained to her what the pieces of equipment on the dealers lot were and how they worked.

Well I better get back at it! Lots to do! As always thanks for reading and be sure to check out the pics I’ve added!

Struck

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Things are still clucking right along on the farm. Production at Farm 1 has been good and seems like it will hold on until the end of the flock in September. Farm 2 on the other hand just never produced like we had hoped. That’s the tough part of this occupation. You are at the mercy of all those that come before you. The flock at Farm 2 came in as wild as any I’ve ever seen. We couldn’t even go in the houses without chickens flying in every direction. A chicken that’s that upset just never lays up to it’s potential. It’s also a sign of a pullet grower spending very little time with the birds. The biggest complaint I have with Cobb is that they make no effort to instill an internal customer supplier relationship within their growers. If I get birds that are healthy and even tempered, but don’t produce I’ll not complain one bit. On the other hand when folks before me make no effort to make it the best it can be for us all, I want to cry fowl.

Enough of my complaints…the kids are doing fine. Madison has been at basketball camp at The University of The Cumberlands this week. There’s been some discussion about holding her back a grade before middle school to give her time to develop her skills more. She’s really serious about basketball and I’m not particularly against holding her back simply because I think it would give her more time to mature before heading out into the world. Of course it doesn’t hurt that we’re Kentuckians and basketball is awfully important to us here in the bluegrass state. Garett has been in the summer enrichment program at school this year. It’s been a really cool program. The kids have taken trips to Mammoth Cave State Park, The Louisville Slugger Museum, The Belle of Louisville, Fort Harrod State Park, and Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.  It’s so hard to believe he’ll be heading off to middle school next year. Kaylee has a summer job babysitting my brother Johnny’s son JT. She’s kind of been off the radar lately. She heads to the high school next year to join Katie. I’m disappointed that Katie didn’t attend upward bound this year. It’s such a great program and it gets kids out of their comfort zone and ready for moving on to college.

The farm is bustling with its usual summer work. Haying is wrapped up til fall. Now we’ve started mowing the weeds in the pastures. We’ve also added a new bred cow to our herd. The rabbits have about 15 little ones that are not so little any more. It will soon be time to decide which road to take with them. I imagine some will go to the freezer, some will sell, and some will be kept for future breeding stock. I’m still looking for more mature rabbits. I have a goat ready to go to the processor, but his wife has fallen ill and it appears it may be a couple weeks before we can get him in. I sold all my male goats right out of the pasture this year. That’s encouraging and I have more goat friendly places fenced so I’m really enthusiastic about adding more goats to the herd. We have also tackled the baby calves again. Although this time around we have had horrible luck. I was able to pick up 6 calves for almost nothing. Now I know why they were so cheap. Doesn’t seem any of them got colostrum. Out of 6 I have only been able to save 2. I never had that kind of luck before. I did try one thing different that I won’t do again. I tried the community pen theory. In my opinion that’s a bad idea. Whatever one calf has they all get. We like the bottle babies so I’ve started building a place to keep 3 at a time. I’m also adding on to the rabbit hutch. When I’m done I’ll have accomidations for 27 rabbits.

As if life isn’t hectic enough around here, the past week and a half has been a real struggle. We had a severe thunderstorm with horendous lightning one evening last week. After it was over we discovered the loud pop we heard during the storm was the well house being hit. Evidently the voltage from the strike ran through the phone lines too. When all was said and done we were out a display board on one controller, an egg belt speed control, the office computer and print/copy/scan/fax machine, the control for the well water treatment pump, and the phones. I know it could have been much worse, but it never makes you happy to see a couple thousand dollars worth of equipment get toasted. The most aggravating part has been finding parts for the Pro Terra Intelligro controller. The local poultry supply folks can’t get Pro Terra parts. I finally found a dealer almost 300 miles away. After over a weeks wait the display board finally arrived yesterday and I installed it. This is the first time I have regretted not using local people to install my equipment. I saved some money by using out of town folks, but it seems parts and shipping are going to be an issue.

Well I’ve got a ton of work to do so I’ll get at it! Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed a peek into farm life! As always check out the pics I’ve added to the Flickr site and Facebook. If you Facebook be sure to add us…just look for Combs Farms! God Bless!

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