NOW I feel like a farmwife!

September 16, 2011

I’ve been a farmwife for two years. But I’ve been driving this…altima sm

…and it’s just hard to feel like a farmwife when you’re driving an Altima named “Chip.” Don’t get me wrong. That car has surely done it’s duty. I bought it in 2002 with 18,0000 miles, and now it has 165,000 miles. It has gone the distance, and been very loyal.

But it was time for an upgrade.

So we did.

And now I drive this…expedition sm

Yippie! This week we bought a Ford Expedition! This is quite a bit different than the Altima, and I love it so much!

It has a sunroof (which I open every chance I get).sunroof sm

There’s a rear entertainment center. Which won’t do me much good when I’m driving by myself. But someone has already asked if they could watch dirty movies in the back. My answer was NO.dvd player sm

Not only does it have heated leather seats, it has air-conditioned leather seats! Who knew that you needed air-conditioned seats? I never knew it, but I totally need them!air conditioned seats sm

The third row seat is actually quite roomy, and there is plenty of room for storage with the seats up.rear seats sm

And the third row seats fold flat (with just the push of a button!) for a ton of storage! The second row also folds flat, just in case you need to haul a boat. Or a house.rear storage sm

It has a trailer hitch, too, so that might be the better way to haul the boat. But it would fit inside!

Good bye, Chip… I will miss you. You have done well, and I will always remember you.

It will make me a little sad to sell you, but just a little.


Used equipment lot?

August 17, 2011

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m at a used equipment lot…barn lot 1 sm

(Don’t forget that trailer over there!)trailer sm

Or if I am at home…barn lot 2 sm

Yep! That’s our house in the background!house sm


Here, birdie-birdie-birdie!

August 1, 2011

I have seen a hummingbird or two flitting around my holly bushes. (Really? Holly? Something good to eat there? Huh.) And I had been thinking about getting a hummingbird feeder to put up in the yard. So when I got this opportunity from The Real Farmwives of America & Friends and Perky Pet to review a feeder from their website, I jumped at the chance!

I got the double-decker top fill hummingbird feeder.

I will admit that I had a little bit of trouble figuring out how to take it apart, and how to put it back together again. I emailed with customer service, got fantastic help from them in record time, and had the feeder up and functional within an hour of opening the box. (even with my technical difficulties!)

When the double-decker feeder arrived, it was in its final assembly form. But it does come apart into two separate feeders.

The lid of the bottom feeder (the one on the right) snaps into the base of the top feeder (on the left). Gently pull them apart for two smaller feeders.two pieces

Underneath each of the lids is an o-ring. This o-ring looks pretty simple and boring. It is not. It is essential. Whatever you do, do not lose these o-rings!!o-ring

The feeder itself did not come with instructions, but the website has some “Care and Instructions” information. I ignored this the first time I tried to fill my feeder. Do not ignore this information!

The most important thing, ever, is to grease the o-rings. I used olive oil, because that is what I had handy, but any kind of vegetable oil will work, too. This is so important to form a vacuum seal inside the feeder. oiled o-ring

The first time I filled the feeders, I did not grease the o-rings. And I had a hummingbird fountain instead of a feeder. Seriously. The nectar just came pouring out of the holes in the pretty white flowers. All over my counter, sink, shoes, and floor. Ick – sticky.

But, a quick email to customer service, a check of the website, and a grease of the o-rings, and it was like magic!!

So… after your o-rings are good and greased, slip them back over the necks of the containers, fill your feeders with nectar (this was store-bought pre-made nectar – I have also used the powder mix, but haven’t made my own yet), and put the tops back on. Carefully.filled feeders

If you get any kind of leakage out of the flowers, take the tops right back off again and re-grease your o-rings. Seriously. Then gently snap the top of the bottom feeder into the base of the top feeder.stacked feeders

One other piece of advice. No tipping of the feeders once they are full. This will also make the nectar leak out of the flowers.

Then hang your feeder outside!!outside

I will admit, I have not had much luck with my feeders yet. I think I may have them in a place that gets too much sun. I think I will move them back by the holly bushes closer to the house where they will get more shade.

But I did see two hummingbirds getting a snack the night of our last big storm. (Believe it or not, these pictures were taken an hour and a half after this video of that storm!)

Here he comes…hbird 1

For a quick snack…hbird 2

They traded off – back and forth from the feeder to the tree that is back behind the feeder pole a bit.hbird 3

hbird 4

I guess the gold finches got hungry after the storm, too!hbird 5

I switched to the red nectar the second time I filled the feeder (a lot of the nectar was spilled during the storm). I have heard that the red is better than the clear for attracting hummingbirds in the first place, but once they know where the feeders are it doesn’t make much difference.

Either way, I haven’t seen much hummingbird action recently. Hopefully, a move into a more shaded area will do the trick.

If you would like to win a Hummingbird Feeder of your own, please head over to the Real Farmwives of America & Friends Blog (www.realfarmwivesofamerica.com) and sign up for the giveaway!

Perky Pet did provide me with this product to review, however the thoughts and opinions shared about this product on this blog are my own.


Buckets of fun on the farm

July 1, 2011

Red Hill General Store was very generous to supply the Real Farmwives of America & Friends with some buckets to try out! (Check out the rest of the girls today to see what they did with their buckets on the farm, too.)

On Monday, I shared with you the many uses I found for a 4-quart galvanized bucket in our Home and Garden. Today, I’ll tell you about using the bucket on the Farm!

We have a pretty small farm here at the house. We raise cattle (no more than 10 cows on the pastures at our house) and hay, so our farm is usually pretty low-maintenance. Lucky for me!

But there are some things that I used my 4 quart galvanized bucket for around the farm.

The handle was just perfect for hanging over the water hydrant to fill.hydrant 1

Doesn’t that look refreshing on a hot hot summer day?hydrant 2

I used the bucket to water the tulip poplar tree we transplanted…tulip poplar 

And our transplanted pecan tree.pecan tree

I also used it to fill up the dogs’ water bowls. Hubby Doc likes to use a 5-gallon bucket for this, but that is just too heavy for me to carry very far. This 4-quart works just perfect!dog water

Speaking of 5-gallon buckets, this is what we feed our calves every day (there are seven calves this year). They get a 5-gallon bucket full of creep feed to share. calf bucket

I wasn’t going to make the trip from the feed storage out to the creep feeder that many times, but I did use the little bucket as a scoop to fill the big bucket!scoop

Then the big bucket into the creep feeder for the little guys. What is a creep feeder you may ask? Well, that is a post for another day…big bucket

We always seem to be in the middle of a construction project around here. Right now, we’re adding on to the barn, because it wasn’t big enough before. Or so I’m told.construction

With any construction project, there are always lots of little pieces that need to be kept together. Hubby Doc said he would rather use my galvanized bucket than this plastic pail. He gets a lot of used plastic coffee containers, but he doesn’t like them because they don’t have handles.little pieces

He mentioned stealing my bucket to keep greasy tractor parts in when he is doing maintenance… I may have to get him a bucket of his own…  

Like the bucket? The Real Farmwives of America & Friends are having a giveaway this week! Be sure to stop by and enter to win a Galvanized Embossed Tub from Red Hill General Store on the Real Farmwives’ blog. Also check out Red Hill General Store – they have lots of buckets, tubs, bottles, and so much more!!

Thanks, Red Hill, this bucket fits right in around my Farm!

While Red Hill General Store did provide me with a bucket to blog about for this post, the pictures, ideas, and opinions shared here are my own.


Dirty jobs: Breeding cows

June 24, 2011
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Welcome to a joint Real Farmwives of America & Friends post!RFOAbadge The theme for this post is…

Dirty Jobs.

There is no shortage of dirty jobs on the farm.

Every spring, we breed our certified Angus cows to bulls that we select for their genetic potential. We are looking for things like a relatively low birth weight with a relatively high weaning weight (born small so they are easy for the cow to give birth to, but they grow quickly), rate of gain (growth), and meat quality. There is great data on these (and more) characteristics on many registered bulls. We have the luxury of being able to choose the bulls that we breed our cows to, and we can select different bulls for different cows.

How?

We artificially inseminate our cows every year.

Some of this is going to sound a little odd. But, believe it or not, this is pretty similar to what women go through with hormone therapy and in vitro fertilization when they are having trouble getting pregnant. Read on, and keep an open mind!

First, we bring the cows into the barn and run them, one at a time, in the head gate.head gate

Before we can breed them, we need to synchronize their heat cycles so they are all ready to get pregnant at the same time. Otherwise, we would need to spend a lot of time watching each individual cow to see when she was most likely to get pregnant. This way, we can work with all the cows at once, and not have to stress them out by handling them too many times.

These are called CIDRs (Controlled Intrauterine Drug Release). They contain a synthetic progesterone. This is what we use to synchronize the heat cycles in our cows. You know how women living together will synchronize their periods? We’re doing this for them. CIDR bag

Look familiar? Have you seen the commercials for Mirena on TV? Those are a much smaller version than this. The hormone is even similar, but it is slightly different. Mirena are intrauterine birth control devices for women. CIDRs for cattle (stays in the vagina) and Mirena for women (stays in the uterus) accomplish essentially the same thing – they slowly release hormones, and keep the ovaries from cycling.CIDR

We insert the CIDR into each cow’s uterus with an applicator.insert CIDR

And 7 days later, we take the CIDRs back out (that’s what the blue string is for). With the CIDR out, the cow’s progesterone level falls, and she starts to cycle again. We have a pretty short window here, and we need to make sure we plan ahead. 60-66 hours after the CIDRs are removed, every cow should be ready to ovulate. This is when we breed them to have the highest chance of conceiving.

We get catalogs with pictures and statistics of the bulls. Before we start this whole process, we look through the catalog and choose the bulls we want to breed our cows to. We order the semen, and it is delivered to us, frozen, in a tank full of liquid nitrogen.LN2 tank 1

The liquid nitrogen tank has a Styrofoam insulator, and there are 5 different mini-canisters down inside the tank. This tank can actually hold 6 – the silver sticks poking out of the opening are the handles to each of the mini-canisters. Each mini-canister can hold up to 12 samples of semen. The semen is stored in small tubes, called straws.LN2 tank 2

We take out one straw at a time, and place it in this heated water bath. It is important to warm the semen up at just the right rate – if you warm it up too slowly or too quickly, the sperm will die and the cows won’t get pregnant. If it gets too warm or not warm enough, the sperm won’t be as active as they should be, and the cow’s won’t get pregnant. It’s a bit tricky.water bath

After the semen is thawed, we cut the end off the straw.cut strawThe straw is loaded into the artificial insemination pipette. (That’s my father-in-law. He’s a veterinarian, too.)insemination pipette  Then, using the pipette, the semen is put into the cow’s uterus.inseminateCan you see the shiny stuff hanging down from the back end of this cow? This is mucus from her vagina. Kind of gross, I know, but this is a good sign for us. When cows are in heat, and ready to get pregnant, they produce a lot of stretchy mucus. We’d like to see this stretching all the way down to the ground. Then we know she’s really ready to conceive.in heatThree weeks after the artificial insemination, we turn a bull out in the pasture with the cows. We call him the “clean up” bull. His only job is to get any cows who aren’t pregnant yet, pregnant. He has a pretty cushy life – eat, sleep, and, well, play.

Around 45 days after the artificial insemination date, we will check to see if the cows are pregnant. This is done by a rectal examination – we palpate the cows uterus and can tell by the amount of fluid and any “lumps and bumps” (little bitty babies) in the uterus if the cow is pregnant or not. Forth-five days is one of the earliest times that a veterinarian can tell if a cow is pregnant or not; before then there is not much difference in the feel of the uterus. Vets who have been doing this for years can get quite good, and can often tell earlier.

When the cow is confirmed pregnant, we are done, and all she has to do is eat and grow a baby. If she is not pregnant, we will check her again 45 days after the bull leaves. Hopefully, the bull will “clean up” the rest of the herd.

Dirty job? Yes. Absolutely. But we sure do love the calves we get nine months later!

Don’t forget to check out the other Dirty Jobs posts from the Real Farmwives of America & Friends today!


Flying in the wind

May 30, 2011

Ever since I moved into our house, I wanted a clothesline. What is better than sheets and towels line dried in a gentle breeze? Nothing, right?

A few weeks ago, I finally got my clothesline. And I was so excited!clothesline 2

The posts were a little more substantial than I had expected. clothesline 3

But I forgot that we don’t get gentle breezes on top of our hill.clothesline 4

We get wind. clothesline 5

Lake-effect wind.clothesline 6

Seriously? Lake-effect wind? There is not a lake anywhere near us! clothesline 9

Recently, we have also had some big thunderstorm warnings.clothesline 11

And some tornado warnings.clothesline 13

Perhaps I should not have put the towels out on this particular day…?clothesline 15

But they smelled really great when I brought them in!   clothesline 12


Storm damage

May 26, 2011

Last night, we had a tornado watch in our area. We were very lucky in that there was no actual tornado and we had no damage to our home or property. But we had a few tense minutes!

I was out of town on Monday night (once I finally got out of the house!). When I talked to Hubby Doc Tuesday morning, he told me that there were strong winds on Monday night and we had a limb down in the backyard.

This is what I expected to find when I got home on Tuesday afternoon.little limbSomething small and manageable, no big drama.

I found that. I found this, too.big limb 2

Um, that’s not a limb. That’s a tree.big limb

The mommy tree was far enough away from the house that it was not in any serious danger from the falling baby tree. That is one heck of a bird falling out of a nest!

The same tree had some damage in a storm last year, and part of the top was already knocked out. Now it really looks silly.no top tree 2

(Psst… See the clothes line in that picture? That’s the topic for the next post…)

Poor tree. Poor yard. I wonder what we will do with this giant “limb” laying in the backyard? Eventually Hubby Doc will need to mow the lawn again…no top tree