Recycling Tires and Growing Flowers

Things are really growing around here.  Finally.  What a long spring that was.  Joe just finished planting beans last week.  I do not have any witnesses or photos, but if you saw a man doing backflips as he left a soybean field south of town, that was my husband celebrating being finally finished planting soybeans.  Don’t tell him I said that.

Other things growing.  My son’s legs:

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We love John Deere boots. Not so in love with the ‘flood-ready’ look going on. Good thing there is a kid’s clothing store in my family.

Our kitties:

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The tamest kitten of the four. He looks a lot like his mama.

Our calves:

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We’ve been leading them around with halters so they will be ready for the fair.

We’ve also got a special flower project that is growing.  I set a goal for myself to clean all of our outbuildings this summer.  Huge undertaking.  Joe and I aren’t pack-rats, and I do clean in them every now and then but it is still tough.  My reward for finishing cleaning out our hoghouse which includes sorting through all the kid’s outdoor toys, was to take the time to upcycle these:

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We kept these 3 tires as they were still in great shape. The fourth tire became junk by just one of those fluke-type things while cleaning the heifer yard. We have since traded skidloaders so now these really aren’t of any value.

The first job was to clean the tires and I won’t swear on here, but it was a manure-y type of job.  No photos of that….I like my camera way too much.  Then, we painted the treads red with a brush.  This took a lot of motherly patience as Vince and Liv wanted to use SO MUCH paint.  No pictures of that step either.

I had some potting soil left over from my other flower pots and found some compost (if you will) while cleaning corners and crannies in the old hoghouse.

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My neighbor gave me some bulbs 3 or 4 years ago.  Wow, do they multiply!  Canna lilies grow to be huge, usually over my head.  I had a beautiful row in my vegetable garden last year that I was hoping to take a photo of…but the frost beat me to it.

Here’s a link if you aren’t sure what they are.

Each fall, the tubers need to be dug up and stored inside.  Here is what they look like.

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I cut this one into 4 or 5 pieces. One green little sprout per piece.

Next, Liv cut out a circle of weed-stopper fabric to lay in the bottom of the tire.  I thought it would be a good idea to keep the soil inside in case we need to move them for some strange reason.  Then, we needed to fill them with soil and I realized I didn’t have nearly enough.  So Vince took some gravel that had accumulated in the granary and  put that on the bottom.  We then put some dried manure in as well.  I was a little leery if this concoction would allow anything to grow but…

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You can just barely make out the green growth coming up!  We planted them on June 15 and this photo is from June 25.

The fantastic part of this location was it’s proximity to a water hydrant.  Bonus!  I also walk right past it to push up heifer feed every morning, so no forgetting to water it.

My next thought would be to put a rod of some sort with hanging flower baskets over those 2 poles that protect the hydrant.  I think Joe could weld something for me for my birthday, right?

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Photo taken this morning, June 27.  I just love my 2-year-old’s chubby little hand in there. I can’t believe how much the plants have grown in 2 days. So neat for the kids to watch.

I hope I didn’t put way too many bulbs in each tire.  I guess we’ll find out!

Lastly, one little tidbit, I did a video blog!  It is of me standing in front of our dairy talking about giving tours to the public:  http://youtu.be/B9aVe5dHFhY.  Huge thanks to AgStar for pushing me out of my comfort zone with a video blog!

Hay in a Day

I loved hay-making as a girl.  We put thousands of small square bales in our haybarn in order to feed our 50 cows, as well as the youngstock, all winter long.  Things have changed some since I was a girl, but I can certainly say that my children share the same love of making hay that I did at that age.

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Vince thinks that making haylage or corn silage is the best job on the farm.  The kids would ride in semis and in the chopper all day long if I let them.

If you interviewed 10 farmers about how they make hay, you’d get 10 different answers.  There isn’t necessarily a best way, it is just that every farm finds what fits best for them.  Small square bales, round bales, custom bales, baleage, haylage…..whatever you call it….everybody is just trying to store hay to be fed all year long.  This is how we do it at Ocheda Dairy.

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This is my father-in-law mowing the hay. He is using a tractor that has the ability to mow in front, as well as on the sides. In this field, he has already mowed to the left and to the right, and is finishing this pass.

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Close-up of the mower.

Then, we let it dry.  The term “Hay in a Day” refers to being able to mow a field one day, let it dry for about 4-24 hours and then come back to merge and chop that hay.  It is a great way to be able to plan harvest and avoid rain showers.  We have been using this method for a few years.

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This is the merger. It picks up all the hay and puts it together in what we call a windrow. The merger is either waiting or hurrying depending on the moisture of the hay. On a hot and windy day, the hay will dry very quickly until it is merged, and it is critical to get the moisture correct to ensure that the hay stores well.

We just bought a new chopper!  It was made in Germany, but unfortunately we weren’t invited to watch it being made at the factory.  A girl can dream.

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My husband usually drives the chopper. Depending on how close the the field is to our feed storage area, 2-5 more people will drive semis. Add onto that one person mowing, one merging, and one driving a huge four-wheel drive tractor to pack and shape the pile of hay. It takes a lot of cooperation and planning!

There is some super-neat technology on the chopper.  One of them is a metal detector.  The chopper immediately stops chopping if it detects metal because we obviously can’t feed that to our cows.

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It can sense approximately where the metal is on the head of the chopper, and then the semi driver hops out to try to find it. This time it was a hook of some sort. It can take seemingly forever to go across an area where a fenceline used to be.

Some of the best farm memories!

Being a Mom is not easy

Yesterday, we were dreaming big.  My daughter that turned 2 years old in March had her first gymnastics class.  It was offered through community education as a “mommy & me” class for kids ages 18-36 months.

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She looks ready!

I promise you Ava was the only child in the class that didn’t start walking until 20 months.  She was the only child there that couldn’t jump.  Watching all the other kids hopping and galloping  and skipping around, it is hard not to feel like a terrible mom.

Her pediatrician tells me she is the “most spoiled child ever”.   At her well-child visits throughout her  years, we have discussed her being late to sit up, late to crawl, late to walk, late to speak, and on and on.  His explanation each time was “too much love”.  He says that he can see it in the way that I hold her and treat her.  She has always been  perfectly content to sit on my lap and watch the world go by.

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Her absolute favorite part was chasing this ball.

She is my snuggler.  My thumb-sucker.  She brings more joy and laughter to our family than you can imagine.

I do know, however, that she needs to grow.  A few months ago, she finally started to want to walk on her own across a parking lot.  In the last 2 weeks, she does a little bit of running.  Spoken words are still very hard to come by, but she understands what is being said perfectly well.

In her shoes, he wears a basic orthotic insert that helps her stand more squarely.  You can kinda see in the photo below that her right foot pronates quite a bit.  She had x-rays done about 5 months ago, but the recommendation was just to wait.  My husband and I are still undecided whether to pursue more ‘treatment’ or not.

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My dream for her is not to compete in the Olympics as the next great gymnast, but to be able to chase and keep up on a playground.  So, we will keep going to gymnastics on Wednesday nights.  We will continue to search for the rooster around our farm and do any any other exciting physical activity that I can think of.  Lastly, yes, I will continue to spoil her and love her ‘too much’, because I believe that is part of who I am as a mom, and I don’t feel guilty about that.