Monday, July 18, 2016

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

...well, almost.

Usually, we are returning to normal life after harvest in the middle of August, not the middle of July!

We finished picking last Friday, the earliest finish ever. Monday the 11th was our last day of picking into flats for the processing plant. We were fortunate to make arrangements for picking for juice (into barrels) for the final time over the field. When it came to Friday, we only had a half day of picking left -- and after the kids had worked 4 hours for 4 barrels, Randy said, "It looks like we were done yesterday."

Oh well, we were close.

And could be certain that we had not left too many berries out in the field -- a good way to end.

Now we are back to normal living, still plenty of work to do, but not the pressure, or the unceasing schedule. No kids laughing on the deck at lunchtime. Not so many back rubs for Daisie. No more reminders about food safety rules, No more visiting with great kids, who are funny and clever, and kind. No more Otter Pop or ice cream bar breaks.

But it's all good. The crop quantity was good. The quality was great in spite of all the showery days that we picked through. There was very little mold. No breakdowns. The crew were troupers, working in showers for twelve of the thirty-one days the machines were in the field. That's a lot! No complaints, and good attitudes.

Our harvest spanned 5 weeks -- 35 days, picking on 31 days, rained out 3 days, off for one.

Inevitably, after being together day after day, and doing the exact same things day after day, we are all eager for the final day to arrive.

But when it does, it always seems like an abrupt end. There's just a touch of sadness that you won't be seeing these people who have been your whole world for the last 35 days daily anymore.

We all decided that we should have one more get-together with everyone there...a Turn In Your Hours Party. But already, the crew is busy with new things. Some can make it one day, others can't make it til another, some are already out of town...It usually goes that way. We want to, but it's hard to work it out.

Everyone goes back to their regularly scheduled programming...with good memories of another summer on a job that seemed like it would go on forever, but is already in the rear view mirror.

It's a nice view. Now onward...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Abner & Dexter...

Abner and Dexter left home today…

Ten weeks have already passed since that eventful May evening they were born.

In the meantime, I pondered whether to keep all the babies but realizing how overnight I went from a pair of goats, to a HERD of 6, I thought it the better part of valor, to part with two.

As God would arrange it, my friend, Jamie – whom I mentored in prayer group when she was in high school – was quite interested in becoming a goat farmer. She saw my baby goat posts on Facebook and she with her animal lover youngest son, Lincoln, came to visit.

And they were bit by the goat-lover bug. Perrrrfect!

Soon she brought Kyla and Bennett, her other animal lover kiddos. Eventually, her husband, Eric, who was not completely immune to the goat-lover sickness, came too, and acquiesced to the majority of goat fanatics in his family, saying YES, the goats could be added to their little farm.

In my opinion, this was indeed, perfect!!

Before the babies were born, I had decided I would keep any girls, so Clementine was a keeper, no question. After that it was very difficult to decide…I love Dexter’s coloring the best, speckles are my favorite. Abner has the symmetrical markings, though not the coloring of his momma, and he is the most laid back. Bo is striking with his bovine markings, and he is the friendliest of all…

After much, agonizing, I decided that Bo was the boy that was going to stay. If Jamie and her family wanted them, Abner and Dexter were theirs.

They spent the next few weeks coming often to visit, winning the skittish Dexter and shy Abner over with their quiet attention, and well-placed raisin treats. Eventually, Dexter was coming up to them without coaxing. Abner was a relaxed heap in their arms. I was privileged to hear the giggles and see the excitement of the kids – human ones, playing and snuggling the caprine ones. And don’t think that Jamie wasn’t in on it…She was as excited – maybe more so – than her daughter and sons!

I loved their visits, and they were wise to invest the time, because by today, Abner and Dexter knew them well, and trusted them. They knew their smell and that they always brought treats and fun. So without much ado, Abner and Dexter went into the crate on their way to a new home.

Jamie and I had expected a bit more drama – desperate bleating at the separation of mom and babies. There was some noise-making when they left the pen, but then it was mostly a non-event. Imogene did not cry like she has when I had taken the kids to the vet. Clementine was unfazed. Bo looked around for someone to play with, and eventually decided that Barnaby would do. They butted heads for a while and rammed each other off the teeter totter. Then it was business as usual.

Jamie reported that on her end of the transaction, Abner and Dexter were a bit cautious but very curious about their new home but soon were eating, playing on their new table, and napping.

It seems we had our timing right, and Jamie’s visits made a nice easy transition for the boys. I couldn’t be happier about the home they have! Jamie and I are peas in a pod when it comes to loving our animals. They will get the proper care, and lots of love – and I can still visit them now and then! Part of my goat farm dream was that I might be able to provide animals to others who would enjoy them. Already that has come true, in a better way than I could have imagined.

So I am not sad tonight. I am thankful, and happy. If Imogene was crying, I admit that then I might be too. But if she knows that the time is right, and it’s all good, I think I can handle it too.

Best wishes Little Cheerful Abner & Dexter! We’ll always love you. Go bring good cheer like you were raised up to do.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Garden Grumblings...

I'm drinking coffee, and looking out my west window where a big dark bank of clouds is hanging. Not encouraging. But -- I am thankful for a good breeze that's drying the bushes, and brief sun breaks. Should be a better day than yesterday was.

Because we picked for a LONG day on Wednesday, we were able to let the kids go home after a half day yesterday. We had covered all the fields that were a day late on being picked because of our July 4th holiday. Of course, it stopped raining when we stopped working...

But it was okay. The kids were troupers, once again. Oh, I appreciate them! We'll pick it up today where we left off, not really behind on our rotation, and not under great pressure to cover ground.

I was planning to work on my garden, and clean the goat pen today. One thing I like, and one, I don't. Rain may keep me from doing the one I don't like (the garden); but it won't keep me from cleaning the goat pen. I love doing that! For a person who is not really into details, it's much easier to get a goat pen clean than a house!

My flowerbeds are reaching a stage where I do enjoy them as they are yielding bouquets for my table. Don't the zinnias look good in the old milk glass vase? :)

The garden? Not yielding much but aggravation despite the early start. I wish the Farmer had more time to give to the garden crops, though maybe after our early harvest, he will. My plantings are looking puny. I'm not sure why I keep planting more garden...What is the big compulsion for me to add work I don't enjoy for results that are barely profitable to my summer? Somehow I have defined this as "responsible", and heaven forbid that I should be IRresponsible!!!

The amount of veggies I harvest really does not justify the compost problem I create by growing them... The cost of seed and plants outpaces the value of the yield, especially when you consider that the veggies I am growing are at their cheapest in the store at the same time. If garden yields are good, you need to can. Canning {anguished face}-- I look forward to the day when I can retire from canning. You always need to can on the sunniest, hottest days of the summer, when you could be sitting in the Not Hot Tub reading a book, or when you want to go to the Fair.

And yet, every spring, I feel hopeful and enthusiastic and plant the boxes full. This year I even added 20, count them, 20 dahlias!

Spring fever is real, folks. I am perennially delusional when it comes to spring planting...and am paying for it now. I can only hope that August brings renewed enthusiasm because of a sufficient harvest...But it won't be until after the beans are canned and in the pantry. I can guarantee that.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Another Rainy Harvest Day...

It’s another rainy day in this harvest season, which is 4 weeks old as of today. We’ve endured a lot of showers this harvest, which is quite a contrast to last year’s endless summer. When it was so warm in May, I expected another endless summer – but now I’m wondering if that was it. Hope you enjoyed it.

Rain during harvest just makes me sad. I hate sending the kids out in it. And it creates a lot of questions and decisions to make… Pick or not? Will the quality be good enough for the product we are packing? How much mold will come as a result? What can we do to minimize the impact?

However, we are at the tail end of harvest, and these issues are less pressured since most of the fruit has already been picked.

I’m thankful for all the excellent resources we have to assess the weather of the day. I have several sites that I visit, and try to average out the info to predict when the rain will come during the day. Looks like today we will start with rain, then have a break until late afternoon. Predictions are not for rain steadily.

So the kids will go out in the field…and I will watch from the house while drinking coffee, and feeling badly for them.

It’s tough being the boss.

Yesterday we learned that the company which receives raspberries for juice will not be taking any more fruit this year. We usually finish out our season with a few days of picking berries into barrels for juice. The last week of harvest there is not enough fruit to justify running the processing plant, but still enough to pick, so we pick into barrels for juice. Not sure what we will do now. And we are fortunate that we do not pick most of our crop into barrels. There are others for whom this is a greater blow.

Oh, Farming! You grow your crop, pick your fruit – the expenses are all the same, even if you don’t have a place to sell it! But as I’ve said before, no one is forcing us to farm.

In other news, the all goaties are still present on my Little Cheerful Farm. It seems I was wrong about when you can wean kids and send them away from their momma. Not 8 weeks – 10 -12 weeks is the preferred age. So Dexter and Abner are still with us, and their delightful new family comes to visit them and add fun to my day! Yesterday we attempted to take them all out of the pen on leashes…EXCEPT Momma Imogene did not think this was a good idea and would not budge a step toward the gate. She was calling out alerts to the kids so they were not keen on stepping outside either. We only succeeded in creating a rodeo with a swarm of little goats flying around the pen. I know when I’m licked, so the leashes came off, and we tried to regain our preferred status by generously passing out the raisins. The Foursome all have their collars on now – which basically acts as a goat handle – and they look so cute!

And I am, officially, the owner of Little Cheerful Farm as I have become a bona fide member of the American Dairy Goat Association. I have a registered herd name, and can register any babies that have registered parents. I will be registering Little Cheerful Clementine. Doesn’t that sound good? And it’s true besides!

I think I’ll hang out with Clemmie and her brothers today. I could use a Little Cheerful.

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (