Saturday, June 25, 2011

Electric Fence Installation for the Wives

This isn't a primer on how to install electric fence. It is a suggestion to the Wives and Family of the fence installer for what farm gadgets should be included in the budget. There are two things that have become essential to the happiness of our home in regards to the pain that can be inflicted by the process of installing electric fence.
This is the first of them. It is called a High Tensile Wire Roller.
We bought this one at FabHub's new favorite Amish farm store on Hess Road in Pennsylvania. It cost about $45. We have seen similar, but less sturdy looking items at big box stores for more so shop around. The big roll of wire is installed and then the farmer picks up the end of the wire and walks away. The roller sits right there on the back of the truck (or on the ground) and spins as the wire unspools. It does not work to just lay the wire down on the ground without the gadget and walk away. It becomes a really big mess. Ever try something like that with coiled wire or garden hose? Ugh. The other option, without the gadget is to tie off one end of the wire and Carry the big roll all the way to the end of the fence. High tensile wire is heavy and unruly. 
If your installer has distances like this to cover help them out and insist on the gadget.
Remember too, that trip has to be made at least twice.
And if they are dealing with trees, hillsides, or swamps...
...well, let's just say pulling a piece of wire in that situation makes the troubles, like stepping in a mud hole, easier to deal with than if a big roll of wire had to be handled.

The second gadget is this little tool.
It is called a Twist Tool or Wire Wrap Tool.
This one came from a big box store and cost $2.38.
 It could easily be made in a farm shop. 
It seems like such a minor thing, but has such a big impact.
The post below shows the difference between using the tool, top wire, and not using the tool, bottom wire. 
There is a benefit beyond making it look nice, since remember this is about helping the installer avoid pain. High Tensile Wire is pretty thick and tough to twist. Doing that by hand caused some pretty sore fingers. The twist tool has become an essential in the work box. 

That is it.
About $50 worth of tools to go along with all the wire and stretchers and insulators and tubing and rubber gate handles. Just to keep a few goats from escaping. Oh, and that doesn't count the gates, posts, woven wire, and barbed wire that is already in place to keep the cows from wandering around. 
I can't wait to see them in here though. 
The goats will not only clean up the underbrush they will also allow new grass to grow in places that have been overgrown for years. And they are so cute!
Come back for updates!

What a Difference a Week Makes

Last week I took a picture of my little metal scarecrow and the Sunflower and Corn bed. 
Hmmm. I also got a new camera this week.
Old pictures above.
New pictures below.
I think I need to look at the settings.
Until then...
Look at what happened in the last week!
They exploded out of the ground. I can't wait until next week's update!

The marigolds and tomatoes are pretty happy too.
There are more plants out there.
Some cucumbers, peppers, and squash.
They will be taking off soon I think.
In the mean time I have Poochy.

She loves me.
And it isn't just because of the snacks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Garden 2011

My garden is coming along nicely this year.
This is my pea bed. I haven't tried them before. The vines are pretty well loaded.

I had beans crawling up string in here last year.
Now I have horizontal lines running between the end poles to give the peas something to hang onto while keeping them off the ground. 
This is the first real mess of peas I picked.
I need to figure out the best time to pick them.
If the pods are too full the peas are tough.
Too small and the peas pop when you eat them and are sweet and tasty, but that isn't right either.
Chewy or sweet, there was enough to make dinner for FabHub and me.
I used wavy noodles and cooked up some pulled pork.
Then made a sauce and put the peas in it for a couple minutes before adding the noodles and pork in.
Very tasty.
I have another pile in the kitchen right now.
Dinner is going to be good!
Schnitzel (ok, it is beef, so really country fried steak with schnitzel coating), homemade spaetzel, and mushrooms with peas. Oh and a nice German Riesling Spatlese.
We are living the good life today!
The rest of the garden is doing fine.
If we could eat marigolds we would be doing awesome!
All those plants from last year left behind seeds - EVERYWHERE - in the beds and in the mulch between the beds. That is okay, they make a nice cover crop to keep the dirt from being completely exposed. I need to add some mulch to help with that though.
The butterflies are enjoying the marigolds too.
I don't know if this is a good butterfly or a bad one.
But it is pretty.
On the other end the scarecrow is keeping an eye on the corn and sunflowers.
I haven't grown either of them successfully in the past either.
I keep the rows covered in mowed grass mulch though and if I hadn't pulled some of the corn up as weeds, (hey corn is a grass and looks like grass, OK?), anyway, the corn would probably be thicker. 
Crows might have gotten some of it too. They ate up every bit of corn Nephew #1 planted up by the potato patch. Nobody was pulling weeds in those rows so it wasn't that, there wasn't any corn growing after two weeks. Something ate it.
That is the garden this year. Let's see what happens.
We are looking forward to some good homegrown dinners.

Putting up the Hay

Our of the six pastures we have available for the cows to graze four of them are saved during the spring for hay. To feed the cows through the winter we need about 500 round bales. We also need a bunch of square bales for the goats and other various reasons that don't require full round bales sometimes.
The BIL owns four of the fields and we borrow another from a neighbor.
This ridge is part of FabHub and my pasture. Yes that is a good thick cut.
We obviously have been supporting a deer herd.
This doe is looking for her baby.
The next morning we saw the baby looking for its mama.

That afternoon FabHub raked it into windrows and then BIL ran the baler.
It was so thick he had to stop in some places for the pickup teeth to catch up.
While he was finishing that FabHub and Nephew #3 picked up the bales.
That trailer is the same one I showed you a couple of years ago. It is made out of an old mobile home frame.
The truck is FabHub's old reliable '91 Dodge. 
It rides like a beast on square wheels and starts when the key is turned.
Knock on Wood!
They can get 11 round bales on that trailer.
Of course if the ground was flat they could probably get more.
But where they are hauling too is down the hill and up to the next ridge.
You can see the truck over by the power pole in the middle of the picture.
Or I can zoom in for you.
Nothing fell off! Still moving.
Pick them up and move them in. 
With one more field to go they have collected about 360 bales so far.
That is hay season. The cows can have their fields back now.
Unless the guys want a second cutting.
More fence work is next.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jaffa Cakes

One of the guys at work mentioned Jaffa Cakes.
They sounded pretty good so I decided to make some.
The recipe is really easy.
Sponge cake (eggs, sugar, flour - and a lot of whipping)
Orange Marmalade
How could that get messed up?
It didn't. Very tasty indeed.
 Though I could do better.
Lessons learned.
The cakes could be thinner.
I made three different batches, but was only considering the cake, not the thickness of it.
The marmalade was fine.
Unfortunately, the chocolate got overheated while I was melting it.
It turned out to thick and wouldn't pour well.
Could have been worse, but they still turned out good.
Easy enough to try again.
I am looking for new ideas of things to cook everyday.
Summer picnics are upon us.
Anyone have any unique ideas?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Cop in Town

Last weekend FabHub and I made a road trip up to PA to see his nephew graduate. 
He has wanted to do this for a long time and now he is going to be a police officer.
He didn't know we were coming so that made it even more fun.

We met his parents at their house and then road with them, his Grandma, and an Aunt to the ceremony.

The whole ceremony was pretty good, lots of inside jokes about the things they went through during training, but the speakers did a good job. Except for that one anyway.

After the ceremony there was one proud little girl waiting for her Daddy.

And then she went running in the dirt with her cousin.

No, I don't have any pictures of her Mom chasing her in high heels.

The couple's other little girl had been commandeered by FabHub.
She seems to have something on her mind. I think we won't guess.

Saturday they had a party for the graduate.
Check out the party animals here.

This is the part of the party were the guys were telling training stories that didn't make it into the ceremony.

Then the kids discovered the pool.
Big girl seems to be thinking this could be fun.
Mom knows it is inevitable so why fight it.
If you notice, the Cousin is already wet. 

It is fun!

Cousin was having fun, but he wacked himself good a couple of times.

The boys and adults did well to watch out for Big Girl.
She loved it, but the water was cold.

And then decided to dive in just like Cousin.
Luckily she is too short to do much more than flop.

In the house there were other things happening.
FabHub was promoting development.
I think she wants to get to that bottle.

Sweet Success!!
Only one nap was taken that afternoon.

Mom enjoyed her time of freedom.
By going crazy in the bounce house.

After snagging some lunch snacks from people and finding a piece of ignored cake on a plate...
Cylo spent the rest of the afternoon in the basement, sort of anyway.

We had a great time and can't wait for them to come down and visit the goats.
Yes, we told Big Girl all about them and made sure she wants to come see them.
And we know she will.