Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hump Day Highlight Reel

Hump Day Highlight Reel:

I have had a lot of "help" with desk work on these very cold days.
When this photo was taken Louie thought I was still working on the computer. 
Gotcha Louie!

(In case anyone is wondering, the purple collar my male cat is wearing is a "calming collar". 
Apparently his life of sleeping on the couch and eating treats is stressful. Hmmm.)

I dashed to the hilltop on Monday morning to document the building supplies arriving at the site of the new barn. When looking at the photos later, the rays of sun beaming down made my heart smile.

Later on Monday the building crew was already hard at work digging the holes to set the posts. I managed to snap this photo of Scott on the phone while he wasn't looking. It might be one of my favorite photos ever taken.

While the men have been working on the barn, I had my usual things to keep up with. Bandit has been helping of course. He loves the calves!

Well, mostly he loves them.
 I have a hunch he is using them to get to the milk.
Don't worry, he's has never harmed a fly. It's all for show.

Got a little something in your teeth there Bandit.

One our sweet girls has been ill lately and lost too much weight.
The cold temps have been hard on her so we had to take extreme measures and outfit her with a horse blanket. She's all the rage in the world of cow fashion.

The calf barn is getting closer to completion! 
What do you think of the red?

My new buddy is too wiggly to photograph at the moment. It's a work in progress.

By Wednesday morning the barn is starting to take shape! And this is only one half! 

Beams of lumber have never seemed so special. 
I might have smelled them I was so excited.
Shh, don't tell!

The little ones are staying warm in the sunshine and the straw. 
I wish I could curl up with them!

Here's a panoramic shot from today, day 3 of construction.

And just like that it's already Wednesday!

Wishing everyone a fantastic end of the week!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Beat Goes On

"If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." 
-Martin Luther King Jr.

When I sat down to write today, I intended to give you a report on how our week has been at the farm. I sat at my small desk in the upstairs of my house where I could see the snow falling outside.  As I sat there pondering the week, I realized I didn't know where one week had ended and another begin. I couldn't recall the usual routine of the week because there isn't one. I remember the chores and events and meetings in clear detail, but they all seem to be in one endless week. One endless month. One endless year. Constantly moving, going, doing, working.

This morning during my routine of "coffee in the quiet", I realized I was sad that I had not had time to look up any inspiration in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday. I had heard a few quotes during Sundays sermon, but I needed to find the right one for me that would help me remember the life of such an inspiring person. I was a little jealous of those who had been off yesterday. In my mind it seemed like I was the only one who had not had time to reflect on the life of such a wonderful and inspiring person. I had just spent yesterday what felt like fighting to keep my head above water, much less trying to be a better person.

Then I saw a series of words that summed up the past few weeks of my life in such a complete way that it almost brought tears to my eyes.

"Can't fly, run.
 Can't run, walk.
 Can't walk, crawl.
 Just. Keep. Moving."

Oh how it feels like I have done all those things lately. Sometimes things have been moving so quickly I can't keep up. Other times I feel like I am the steam engine pulling a loaded train up the mountain.

For those of you who don't know, our family is in the process of building a new facility for our dairy herd.
Up to this point, it has been the most fun, terrifying, longest, hardest, rewarding thing I have ever worked towards accomplishing in my life. And there aren't even any trusses up yet.

We are currently in the process of turning our plans into a reality and we've only run into one snafu.

There are only blueprints for the buildings.

There are none for what to do when the weather is bad and the crew has already been rescheduled once.

There are none for what to do when you have more calves than will fit in the old barn when the new one isn't done yet.

There are none for what to do when you don't know what to do next.

So below I have written an update from the past week.
There were days when things were moving forward and smiles were abundant.
There were days when to keep moving at all felt like it took every last drop of energy we had.

But keep moving we did and keep moving we will.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thursday Thaw Out

Well friends, I won't bore you with the details. The past few days were...cold. To put it mildly.

The low here was 4 below on Tuesday morning with a windchill of 27 below. While not the most fun day to work outside, we all toughed it out and made it through just fine. 

Here's a little update on how we faired through the arctic cold front:

Some of us spent the day trying to thaw out our nose

Some spent it snuggled down in the straw

Some of us put on an extra 15 or 20 pounds of clothes

Some spent the day trying to keep the buckets full of water instead of ice

And some of us ummm...supervised??

Thank goodness the polar vortex didn't stick around very long. Today we are all appreciating a little sunshine and seeing two digits on the thermometer. Hope you all are thawing out too! Happy Thursday!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Ordinary Beautiful

The lights have been taken down, the New Year has been rung in. It seems that for this farm girl the season has turned into just plain, old, winter. As I confessed in the last post, I do love the Christmas season, so I am always sad to see it come and go. Today we took down our tree and I do believe my cats are much sadder than I am. I'm sure they'll find something else to destruct soon.

Last week was a bit colder than average for us here in Southwest Virginia. I should have learned by now not to check the temperature on my phone before I get up. Ten degrees is not what I would call an ideal temperature for working outside.

I put on every piece of under armour I own, my insulated coat, and a tobogan. I squeeze my feet that have been outfitted with two pair of socks into my Muck boots and grab my Nine West purse. Good thing the "girls" at work won't judge me on my style.

 As I was scanning through my photos to share my week with you, it seems I didn't have many to choose from. None of them were of a beautiful sunset, or a tiny new baby calf. None of them had stunning colors and some weren't even in focus. The beauty seems to have blown away with the leaves. I feel a twinge of longing to see those cows grazing on the hillside with the gentle breeze blowing. Spring seems like a million miles away.  I felt disappointed. And cold. The wind seems to never stop blowing these days. As I was looking around for something stunning to photograph I got distracted by this...

And then this...

This particular day I had a few minutes to spare while waiting on the vet to come. We had to call for one that morning because "Bugsey", one of the milk cows, had a sore foot. I had planned on taking some photos of that to share with you. Wrong. 

You see Bugsey doesn't really like to have her feet touched. Ticklish I guess. 
So instead of being at the back where I could take an informative photo, I was at the front, scratching Bug's head. I did manage to capture these one handed while keeping my sweet girl appeased. 

A little treat for being a good girl

Curious about the camera

Gentle eyes

F.Y.I. For those of you who are wondering, we work on a cows foot while she is standing upright in a hoof trimming chute. Her head is restrained so that she can't hurt herself or those working on her, and support bands are placed under her in case she loses her balance so that she will not fall down. We pick up one foot at a time and check for issues or do maintenance work. Think of it as a pedicure :) 

It stayed cold for the next few days and I still didn't have any beautiful sunsets to capture. But I did have my buddy, always found walking by my side (or riding in the back seat of my car).

And I did take a moment to be silly

And I did have a cup of coffee with pie at lunch time

And another cup that night

And I did have healthy calves that drank their bottles

Made a new friend

Found an old friend

I was entertained by the barn cats - 
Some with big green eyes

Some that huddled to stay warm

Some that have a lot of trust

I did have help from my love

And a laugh or two

So as I bundle up for this week, I'll keep looking for the beauty to share with you. 
But I think I might have to start looking for it somewhere different.
Right in the middle of my ordinary life.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!