Archive for the ‘winter’ Category

Fitbits and Farming

For Christmas I requested a Fitbit. Not because I have a fear that I am not stepping enough every day, but for the reason that I had heard they have a sleep part to them. Christmas morning I received my requested gift, a Fitbit Charge 2.  Holy Santa, not only does this bad boy track my steps and sleep it also checks my heart rate.

First day, needs to be charged…5,347 steps.  Not bad for Christmas day.  Day two, starts out ripping it, 8,276 steps…frigging thing needs to be charged again…guess it did not receive a full charge on day one.    Day 3 and a drive to Orono and back, 10,982 steps not bad for sitting on my ass for 4 hours.

These things become obsessive…I mean really obsessive. I check it all day long to make sure I am….walking, you know the simplest of exercises.  Well, the simplest when you farm.  But did you know that this little piece of technology does not factor the difference between a step empty handed or one in which you are throwing a pitch fork full of heavy goat shitty bedding into a wheelbarrow or when you are carrying in an back arching load of fire wood.  Nope, that is just a step.  Same step one could take walking up to the counter at McDonald’s to order a supersized meal.

But for some reason these steps become important.  I mean really like crazy important. Today after work I made soap. Soap is not step intensive. So the effing Fitbit stayed at 11,292.  It should only matter that I made a batch of soap.  That is how I have always defined productivity, what I completed.  But oh no, now I am actually standing in front of the crock pot, stick blender going full bore…stepping in place to the tunes blaring out of the radio.

13,741 today, so far….






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Today’s morning was to be devoted to getting the middle son back to college.  Orono is a little less than a two hour drive from our house.  FH dropped youngest son off at work at seven a.m. Then came back home to load the car for the trip.  FH, myself and middle son left home, car loaded with clean laundry, groceries, a box of bonsai plants, and another filled with kumbucha, kefir and other fermented wonders.

Our road was a bit slick.  It is tree lined so the sun has limited opportunity to melt any snow or ice.  The icy ruts were throwing the car around but we are used to that.  We proceeded to the Interstate.  The Interstate that was a bit more slick.  The speed was reduced from 65 to 45; not that anyone seemed to be paying any mind to that.  The sun was out, temps were almost in the 40’s, surely the ice was melted.  Yeah, no.  FH, mind you he drove milk tanker during the Ice Storm of ’98 when no one else was on the roads, was cursing and creeping along.  The road was covered with black ice.   We saw three or four cars off in the median at various intervals.  There was one 20 mile stretch that was so ice rutted that it made our road seem like dry hot top.  Remember this is the Interstate.  I have honestly never seen it like that.  We finally made it and dropped the boy off with all of this stuff and promptly headed South.  On the way back, we saw four semi trucks in the ditches laying on their sides.  Two of them were heading in the opposite direction.  There were two others that were off the road but still upright.  We made it home just in time to pick up the youngest from work.

We decided to clean out the goats and chickens in the sun and warmth.  FH took the chicken house to clean. Youngest and I worked on the goat pen.  He had to deal with Miss Olive our Nubian bitch in charge.  She does not really like anyone other than me and FH.  She gets all up in the youngest’s face and challenges him. She will rear up and grunt at him.  I laugh.  Youngest swears.  Olive continues to torment.  We pitch dirty bedding.

Much to Olive’s chagrin the girls were cleaned out and their dirty hay was thrown to the pigs.  Sorry that I am not a camera toter, so I could have snapped a few pictures, because those pigs were in Nirvana.  They were rooting and laying in that dirty hay like they were digging for gold.  They would lay down, stretch all out and just wiggle and snort.

Since we had the pens all cleaned out I decided to rearrange the milking area in the barn.  I like to rearrange things, a lot.

So one boy is back to school, the animals are all cleaned out, the milking area is rearranged and everyone is happy.  FH is especially happy.  If I rearrange the barn things then he does not have to turn the light on in the bedroom to make sure the bed is where it was when he awoke.

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The weather has been crazy this winter.  We had an ice storm a few weeks ago. The temperature dropped and the rain fell and froze on everything. There were power outages, many power outages.  We have two generators.  One to connect a multitude of extension cords to in order to keep the freezers and refrigerators cold and a second to power the well pump in the barnyard to water the animals.  We burn wood to heat our house so there are never any worries there.   As I had posted earlier it was cold, booger freezing cold and it was beautiful.


The Grape Arbor


My tractor


Climbing Hydrangea


Not a hog in sight,all snuggled in their hay filled house.


Too cold to haul poop.

      This morning it was raining and freezing and the roads were treacherous.  By this afternoon the rain had stopped and it was 50 glorious degrees. So today we basked in the warmth. The warmth that uncovered all of the ice storm tree breakage on the lawns and made paths to any animal area a potential tail bone breaking fall.  But it was glorious!

      Overnight the mercury is once again going to plunge.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a cold 19° with gusty winds.

     I wonder, what next…

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It has been cold, terribly cold.  The snow squeaks under foot.  Your nostrils freeze together. It is booger freezing cold.

Anyone who has entered the goat barn and left the door open longer than it takes to get their butt through has heard me scream at them to shut the damn thing.  But, the girls are warm with their layers of hay.  James is snuggly in his little barn.  The pigs have grown very thick hairy coats and their house is filled to the brim with hay.  Their area actually steams when they are all pig piled in, ready for bed.  The eggs are freezing in the nests, so middle son (home for holiday break from college) is gathering frequently during the day.

Coffee is not cutting it when temps are 30° with the wind chill.  I am thinking this might be what I need before heading out to the barn…


     Just kidding!

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Here in the Central Maine we are experiencing an ice storm.  Ice storms can be nasty.  Everyone from here remembers the ICE STORM of ’98.  The storm as predicted started last night.  However, this morning was not near as slippery as yesterday morning.  The driveway, the path to the barn, was covered with a glass like sheet of ice.  The steps to every out building was coated with a treacherous layer.

The hog area is slightly sloped and in the excitement of impending slop two hogs went down.  Hooves slid and thud, down they went.  They are somewhat like Bumbles and bounced right back up.

In comparison, yesterday was a 2 pig down on the iciness scale where today was a 0 pig down.  But, I am betting the traveling is worse.

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So usually I write in the third person but I am finding that difficult.  It is difficult to express my true feelings when I am using the farmer this and the farmer that.  So you all get it….I, me, the woman, is the farmer.  I AM the driving force behind this journey we are on.  I am also very thankful for the FH (Farmer’s Husband).  He is a handy man, he is an intelligent man, he is a resourceful man and he is a brave man.  Two of those traits will be depicted in this post.   You can choose which two….Here on Butting Heads Farm we are expecting babies. Goat babies from four does.  That is a lot of babies and if you are new to the birthing scene it is scary as hell.  Okay, so as a woman I have been there, done that.  Had three bucks of my own, big ‘uns, too.  But I have never, never, never seen anything being born.  So being part of the nether end of the process is scary as HELL.  This is where FH comes in.  He has been there.  No, I am not talking about the births of his bucks. Although, he was there for that…, he worked on a farm for many years and has seen many a calf born.  Phew, someone with some experience on the other end.  Three of the girls are due within the next ten days.  The baby monitor is in the bedroom set to the loudest setting.  That way I can hear a mouse fart and run to the barn thinking it is a doe in labor.

Sooo, around 2:30 this morning I hear a loud keening sound. It was loud, I thought it was coming over the monitor.   Well, maybe it was not quite a keening sound as a yip.  See I want every sound to be a keening sound.  Keening sounds lead to goat babies.  Anyway, I ran to the window and listened.  Damn, that is a fox.  I yelled, “Hey!!” in my most intimidating voice and the fox, the sassy little shit, yipped back.  I ran down the stairs, grabbed a flashlight, put on my boots and headed out the door.  As I was running down the walk, a buck naked, somewhat overweight man ran past me barking like a dog.   The naked man runs across the road down the driveway, the motion sensor light on the barn kicks on….there in full glory is the FH barking like a dog.  The barking is supposed to chase off a fox.  Honestly, I do not think fox are that foolish and it is truly the sight not the sound that scares them off.  Gotta love a man that will run naked through snow, in 20 degree weather to protect the goats that are his wife’s dream.  Of course, you have to laugh really, really loud first.

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Glitter and Ruby Red Shoes

Here it is snowing again.  It is not supposed to amount to much, but the farmer is sick to death of it.  It does make things look pretty and sparkly kind of like glitter and just like glitter a little goes a long way.

A friend of the farmer posted this on Facebook:


This was the farmer’s response:

Damn, it is spring in the farmer’s  head. It is one of those days when if she tries hard enough, closes her eyes, clicks her bare heels together and repeats this three times “There is no place like garden soil, there is no peace like weeding alone, there is no thing more satisfying than home grown”  it would be May.  So readers close your eyes, breathe deep, do you smell soil and green things.  If not repeat the above and believe, just believe.

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