I guess I should start by saying that yesterday we celebrated my 16th birthday! I opened a few gifts in the morning and I had a good day overall. I thought Jonathan came up with a neat way for me to have to search for one of the presents from him and my other two brothers. He gave me a box with a little piece of paper in it that said:
"Thou must do what thou art told. Even if thou must be in the cold. Search a brother's boot!"
And then when I found a slip of paper in one of the boots in the entry way the note said:
"Smart though thou must be, even now thou dost not see. What dost now give thee light?"
There was a piece of paper on the light fixture above me that read:
"Oh man, how thou wilt proceed? You can only go where'er I lead. Advance to a lonely quad of wheels."
There was another note in the cab of the truck:
"I give thee heat, but I am cold. I eat what'er you feed me. To guess my nature may be bold, But it is I who holds the key! Delve into the midst of my belly.
I found the note in the barrel stove in the shop:
"Ha! Ha! Though now you art at my side, I still will not disclose. But search the dust to find a guide, it is there where you will learn to follow your nose.
There was a note in the sawdust under the table saw that read:
"Follow your nose, follow your nose. I really do mean what I say! Are you impatient? Do you be weary? Well don't wet this last bit put you down.
I am part of a circle. I make things better that take me. Into one end, out the other. It's really quite simple, you see. 1/4 of this. 3/4s of that, maybe a 1/2 cup of some ______ When it's all together, a taste good (to some). Look in my plastic white soft container! (dig below the surface now...)"
On each of the notes there was a letter and when they were all put together it read, "GRAIN." So I ended up finding my present buried under a layer of grain in one of the grain totes in the farm building! Thank you Jonathan, Andrew and David!
We had extra special meal of pizza for supper last night too. There is a lot of work that went into it but here's a few of the points that made it special. It was made with mostly organic (at least as far as we can tell) ingredients, whole wheat, homegrown tomato sauce, cheese (lots of it!) made from our milk, delicious pork sausage from our pig and even a few of the spices were grown right out in our garden! When you wash it down with a glass of milk you wonder how we were able to like eating store bought pizza! Thank you to the Grandparents too for their gifts to me as well!
Now I guess I'll write what came in the mail today... My Uncle sent me a present and said on the note I'd better update my blog! So I tell you about what I got. It's something I've wanted/needed for making chores easier. When I go out to milk, at least right now, it is dark out so I need light. I've been using a very inexpensive 5-bulb LED headlight, that only one of the bulbs works, when I go down to the barn to milk. Well now I have upgraded! My uncle gave me a very nice super bright LED head light that has all sorts of different settings on it for brightness.
I tried it out tonight and it worked really well. It has a sliding light diffuser on it, that spreads out the beam of the light to illuminate a wider area, besides having 4 different light options. Normal brightness, medium brightness, and a low setting. It also has a flashing setting plus a booster light button that is brighter than the normal one! I really like it. Thank you Uncle Mark! It also tells you how much battery is left by a small blinking light that changes to orange and eventually red when it's getting low. It is supposed to last 120 hours on the lowest light setting (perfect for milking) and it runs on three AAA batteries.
I will probably put a few pictures of it on here later...
This will be a short post because I've been staring at a screen so much lately I can't stand to be on the computer much longer!
You'll have to check out the new website, bartlettfarm.us to see all the products we have available. Dad and I have been working on it mostly. There are some things that will be made easier to understand later, but the basic idea is there. To order, people will have to print out the order form and send it to us through the mail because we won't have a online shopping cart for a while yet.
I thought I should write now so you wouldn't think I quit!
We have been getting a little over 5 gallons of milk each day now and I'm getting pretty quick at it too! I strip her out in a little more than 20 minutes.
We made two churns of butter this morning. We got a old electric butter churn from someone and it is made not to use paddles. The butter is churned by a little metal tube with four holes at the top that spins at the speed of the motor, it is not geared down at all. We put three quarts of cream in and had a little over two pounds of butter in 8-10 minutes. It sure beats shaking it in jars!
We are starting to see the beginning of a storm that is supposed to hit us tomorrow. It is pretty windy and foggy out right now.
This is me playing a guitar tune called "Song for Emily". I learned it from a instructional dvd by a guitar player Kenny Smith. There are a bunch more complicated songs I have yet to learn because they are a lot harder. I would like to learn them all before spring comes.
I took these pictures of Samson today...
I thought the second one was cute! He is trying to get me to throw his deflated basket ball!
This afternoon I went down the hill to spread some fresh straw in the barn for the cow and goats to bed down in. It is supposed to get cold with a big snow storm so the animals will be inside more.
Our barn we built with a few new ideas we had to make cleaning it out easier. We made some of the walls removable so we can customize the layout of the barn. We had the back corner divided off for the cow to be in but it was only 10x10 feet and she didn't have enough room to do much moving around. This afternoon we just un-nailed a few boards and moved the divider wall so now she has a 10x20 foot area where we will keep her when it gets colder out.
The snow by the house was good for snowballs so me and David practiced our snowballing skills this afternoon. I started out pretty bad and couldn't hit a five gallon bucket at 10 yards (David said I hit ten times out of a hundred) but I increased my accuracy and hit it a little better later on.
Dad and Mom went to town for a home school gathering with some other people and were gone most of the afternoon.
I guess it has already been a few days since I wrote last! The weather has been really nice so we've been outside.
A few days ago I went down to the barn and found John (the goat) with his horns all wound up in the carpet hanging on the door of the barn. I had to use my gerber to cut part of the carpet that was wedged between his horns in order to get him untangled. He was wound up pretty tight.
Sandy is doing well. When it got really cold her teats got a little scabbed on the tips because it they got cold (-60 with the wind chill) but now they have healed up and are fine. Last night and a few nights before I only took about 30 minutes to milk. That included walking to the barn and back and washing and dipping the teats before and after milking and drying everything off after that. I was noticing how shiny and healthy her coat looks and that is due to the mineral mix and copper that we've been giving her. I'll post more about our experiences with copper sulfate in another blog post sometime.
Samson likes to ride in the truck with us and watch out the windows. He doesn't like the car as much because he can't sit up and look around but he loves going for a ride in the truck. In the picture we were going down the road a ways to dump the leftover goat skins and heads on the back road for the coyotes.
In case you're wondering why my blog got messed up it was because I tried to upload a different template and lost the old one and now I can't get the header to come back. Sometimes blogger is frustrating....
We went out after lunch and cut up a few of the goat kids that were born this spring. It went pretty quick and we were done with five of them in a little over an hour. I gutted two of them and Jonathan did the other three. We carried them up from the barnyard and hung them on the gambrel beside the house to skin them. Our friend Steve came over yesterday and sharpened a bunch of our knives for us on his electric sharpener and then came over here to help us with the goats today also.
Four of the goats were young bucks that we had wanted to get rid of for a while but we were waiting for a nice day to do it. I don't think we could have asked for a nicer day! It was around 35 degrees this afternoon so our hands and feet didn't feel too cold. The other goat was a little doe that we kept for us in the freezer. The bucks weren't castrated so we didn't want to keep the meat.
We "dispatched" the goats with the .22 in the back of the head and then slit the throat to let them bleed out. After the animal is dead it doesn't seem to me that it is any different than a pile of meat with the hair on. We have a handy little saw we use for cutting the bone between the rear legs and sawing through the rib cage that makes gutting really easy. It has a plastic end on the tip so that there is very little chance of puncturing the intestines.
Speaking of gutting, this summer while we were butchering chickens Jonathan and I timed ourselves to see how fast we could gut a chicken and do a fairly good job. I think my fastest was a minute and a half and Jonathan got one done in a minute and 20 seconds. We had quite a few to practice on!
Well, today turned out to be a pretty nice day. We don't have a thermometer outside that works so I'm not sure how warm it got but it felt nice! We spent this morning singing some songs and did a Bible study focused on 1Peter chapter two. We have been working together on 1Peter chapter one to memorize it but I think I've only gotten 12 verses down.
I was thinking of what to write about and decided I'd say a few things about our goats.
Everybody seems to think that all billy goats butt. None of the bucks we've ever had have even tried to butt any of us! We have had quite a few different ones and they are all either really friendly, or they keep away from us (I prefer they stay away!).
Also, everyone seems to think that all goats are hard to keep in. This is only true for unhappy goats! (in our experience). We have had goats that will stay in a pen that the bedding has built up so high that there is only a 18 inch fence keeping them in and they don't jump over. I guess that when they have got plenty of water and food they don't feel like going anywhere.
Through all of this summer, we had the dairy goats held in by one strand of electric wire (that was not electrified!) and only had a few times where one (the same one every time) would lead the rest back to the barn when it started raining. Goats don't like rain.
I guess we did have one little billy goat that wouldn't respect the electric fence (even with 7000 volts) and would get out pretty frequently but he will be butchered soon.
We have pretty friendly goats. They have all got theirpersonalities too. It is funny so see how they all react differently to things. Some get mad, some get curious, and some run away!
The goats have their pecking order just like any other animal. The bosses get the first of everything and the rest have to wait. It seems that the low end goats aren't allowed to fight back when they are banged around and just have to get out of the way.
John (the big buck) is the highest ranking goat and gets his way with everything. He has got a set of horns on him that are probably about 30 or so inches across and he rubs them on anything he can get his hooves on! OSB sheathing doesn't last long when they are constantly scraped on with sharp horns.
I just came in from outside to warm up my feet. It was warmer today but still not really warm so Andrew and I were out in the shop. Yesterday we were out there too and started the wood stove that Andrew and Jonathan put in. That warmed up the shop pretty well. It is made of a 30 gallon oil drum with legs and a door that my Grandpa welded together. I think is supposed to get warmer for the next few days. I hope so!
A few days ago I came in from milking in the morning and I couldn't feel the ends of my fingers! It wasn't seriously frozen but just cold so I let them warm up by the wood stove.
We've been doing a little more practicing music together lately, getting ready for a few places we will be playing at in February.
Mom has been making cheese today to use up some of the leftover milk that is in the refrigerator. After making one type of cheese (we call it pizza cheese because it melts) she uses the whey and boils it down and makes another type of cheese called mysost. It is a brown cheese that can be made with cows milk or goats milk. There are a lot of Norwegian people around here that like it because it was originated in Norway and the only place to buy it is mail order from Norway! I guess they charge a dollar an ounce for it if you buy it. I like it on toast for breakfast with a little raspberry jam on top of it and it goes down real well with a bowl of fresh yogurt!
The light from above bounces off a shiny object. It is sitting quietly on the floor to my left, a dark shadow covering the side close to the box of potatoes next to it. It is comprised of mostly a cylinder, fitted with various attachments clinging to the outside in a useful arrangement. On the straight sides of the cylinder, close to the floor, there is a depression in it's surface that continues all the way around and smoothly slopes back to the surface of the object. Approximately eighteen inches off the floor the sides of this curious object make a sudden bend inward, forming a sloping cone for a distance of about three inches, and then continues upward.
From the floor to its top, this metallic object measures about twenty inches, including a dome shaped piece made of the same material that can be fitted into the wide opening on the top of this object. Attached to this inverted dome is a pipe, bent to form an arc reaching from one side to the other which makes the placement of the dome onto the main compartment quick and easy.
There are two solid bars attached firmly to the edge of the main compartment, lined up directly across from each other and two hinged latches located near the rim of the opening.
The interior of this object is similar to the outside except that the finish is not as reflective. There is no seam in the construction of the main compartment and it is very clean.
What is it?
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think it is.
I guess it's been a while since I wrote last so I will sit down and write now.
I'm in the middle of a desperate game of Risk right now. I guess I'm not doing too bad though, I have conquered all of north and south America and am moving east through northern Africa. I have fortified my continents pretty well too and now I just captured all of Africa! Now everyone else (Jonathan, Andrew and David) are starting to conspire against me to wipe my army off the board. Next time it is David's turn he will be trading in his set of three cards for 45 additional armies and will attempt to re-take the land I conquered. We don't play Risk too often but when we do it can take a few days to finish it. We have been working on this game for five days now!
The weather is supposed to get a lot colder now starting tonight so we will keep most of the animals inside the barn for now. We don't want frozen teats. We started using a homemade teat dip for sanitizing the cow's udder and teats before and after milking. We found the recipe at http://www.fiascofarm.com/. There is a lot of helpful information on there and it is more focused on goats but the information is similar for cows.
We had some trouble with the wood stove pipe rusting (because it was cheap galvanized tin stuff) but this afternoon dad set up some triple wall pipe and got the wood stove running again which is nice because the floor heat was costing us quite a bit to run. With floor heat there isn't any place for you to warm up when you come in from outside because all the heat is the same through the whole house.
Just now as the sun is going down I can see "sun dogs" on each side of the sun so it must be getting colder out.