Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Midwest Lifestyle Living - day by day and loving it

They call this Midwest Lifestyle Living - and I couldn't ask for a better lifestyle to love.

This post marks a change for me. I'll be posting here daily (except for days I'm too tired from farming, but then you'll hear about it the next).

Reason being is that this was the real reason for this blog.

As I can, I'll be moving it to my own server and this address will hold the summaries. But that isn't particularly for some time, unless something breaks loose.

If you've followed this very long - or if you check into the archives - you'll see that my original work in this blog went over into my other two occupations, philosophy and marketing. I write and edit books for a living, and that living requires marketing.

But I don't have to bore you with all that here. I've got two other blogs, Online Millionaire Plan and Online Millionaire Plan Notes which cover all my work with online marketing. A third blog, A Modern View, covers all the philosophy and research I do. All of these are going to expand quite a bit shortly, since I've just about gotten all I need to get my marketing going - and this means I will be blogging quite a bit more.

This particular blog will remain as it was originally intended, to tell interested readers about life on the farm and what that entails. There are tons of stories here - and in the retelling them, I'll hopefully entertain, educate, and enlighten you all at the same time. I certainly get all three daily, here on my farm.

- - - -

The day started out with me rising late (7am) and my mother calling to me that my sister was on the phone - there were two calves out.

I had only a t-shirt on, so wasn't ready to get to the phone. I yelled back, "Are they in the Alfalfa?" I heard, yes - she'd seen them from her porch and the mother cow was on the other side of the fence lowing for them. I told Mother that I'd be right over to get them back in once I'd had breakfast.

In the course of this, I heard it was a white-faced cow, so this meant the culprit was more than likely a calf we call Waggles and probably his twin sister. Waggles got that name because we had to bottle-feed them both at the beginning, since she didn't have enough milk for both. Waggles would wag his tail almost like a dog when he was drinking.

With all that attention, Waggles had become a bit of a nuisance. He'd always come up for petting when I was out in the field, but also had no fear of fences or anything human. So he had a propensity for getting out on a regular basis.

I got dressed, came in for breakfast (oatmeal, microwaved, with a sliced banana and milk - plus a cup of coffee with honey. I'm currently out of honey, so brown sugar fits the bill until I can get into town and stock up...). Halfway through that coffee, the phone rang. As Mother was out feednig her chickens, llamas and our geese - I picked it up.

It was my sister, on her cel phone, next to Waggles and his sister and the reception was bad. While Mother had told her she didn't need to bother (as her work has her on 12-hour shifts right now), she had gone ahead and walked across the field (about 1/8 mile) to those calves. She told me she had found a loose wire in the fence and was going to get those two back through to their mother - that all I had to do was bring wire to put it back together.

So I gulped down the rest, got my bucket of wire and fencing pliers, let the dogs into the truck and headed down the road. The dogs went off hunting while I took the bucket with implements of construction in the general direction my sister was.

She'd gotten them both back in and was trying to call again - I hollered out that she wasn't getting good reception where she was and would have to talk louder before I could hear her - with my free hand to my head like I had a cel-phone instead of those pliers.

The calves were both nursing on their mother and each looked up at me as I came closer - snouts white with milk foam on both. All were contented, now that Nature had been answered.

Sister and I talked a bit while I re-wired that fence. She seems happy to have come out and done this - since her schedule doesn't allow her to get out much, in her two hours off daily. Thankfully, she's got that new guy in training so that she should be able to go back to 8-hour shifts next week... or at least that's the plan.

She went back to her house - a honest-to-Gawd log cabin, but just the size one person (and her poodle-cross dog) could use.

I went back down the fence-line on my side and was stopped by two of our latest saved-back heifers (and both mothers on their own, twice over). Seems they saw the white plastic bucket I had the wire in and figured it was food for them. After they smelled it and found nothing, they just stood there. So I gave them both some scratching and petting. (Cows - and our bull - like it right between the shoulder blades and on both sides of their neck. Sometimes the hide between their eyes or around where they would have horns likes a good scratch, too. Depends.)

Now, my Mother is having a local meeting today, so I cross through that fence and go over to see if any of the sunflowers I'd planted were still in bloom. Some were - just enough. I also got some nice heads to save back for seed. Note to self: see if you don't want to come back and get the rest for either seed or cattle food - they love them.

On the way back to the truck, I spotted some more wild flowers, some buck-brush with berrys, and later some black-eyed susan's. As I was driving down the road, I also noticed some red on a fence post - wild grape vine. So Mother got a nice little bouquet which she loved.

Now, I'd planned to be out of the house (I don't need to get in the way of her hen-party...) and discing up some fall ground to plant rye for the fall - ahead of corn next year. So I got out the old 4010 John Deere and fueled it up, then headed down the road.

Over at the field, across the creek from our house, I had to first harrow the wheat I'd broadcast-planted the day before so that it would sprout this fall. A lot of this seems late, but I'd sown wheat about this time last year and it turned out fine. Just five acres, anyway.

That done, it was nearly 10:00 already and so I dropped the harrow where I could load it up later and hooked up to the disk.

This particular ground had ended up lying fallow all year, as it had some great rye (over 6 ft tall) and clover (over 3 ft tall) - but has been so darned wet this year I couldn't get to hay it in time, and too thick to harvest the rye off of it. So I'm discing it under now.

It was still pretty wet underneath, but turned easily. Nothing like a lot of organic matter to hold the moisture and improve the tilth.

Didn't get it done, but most of it is. Tomorrow, I'll go and pick up some logs which had floated into that field from the creek getting out, and then finish up that field and start/finish another on the other creek side (same creek got out on both sides of the bank - figures.)

Now, I keep to my late Dad's schedule of just farming in the morning. This gives me time to do other work in the afternoon - which is where I make any income. Farming pays my room and board, plus it's a constant challenge and puzzle to solve. I'm making it slowly become more profitable by questioning every basis we'd been running it on before. Seems that it was a lifestyle choice for my Dad, but he was keeping it going with his pension.

But we'll save some of that for another day.

You can't imagine how pleasurable it is to see the soil turn over so easily and become ready for it winter cover. Dark and rich, even though the land had been farmed down to clay in some spots years before my Dad got it. The creek doesn't help, since it just brings in fine silt (and logs), which holds water and no crop grows well in until you mix some organic matter into it, somehow.

And that's my morning.

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