Today’s Farming Update comes from Ben.
Should be warming up by the time you’re reading this. My mom’s mother’s birthday is February 8, 1899. (She died on February 8, 1990.) and mom always said, by her mom’s birthday you could tell spring was coming and the days are getting longer.
But boy, the wind on Thursday. Blowing out of the North and it’s COLD, yet the sunshine is so nice.
15° but there’s mud on the south side of the shed, and that’s what’s so cool about the weather. The sun sure is getting powerful as we move toward spring and April showers and it will be here before you know it.
We were at supper with friends the other night and comfort food came up. I hadn’t thought of an actual food to call comfort food and I was kinda stumped. Popcorn was a big one though. Lately I’ve been making coleslaw at home. Met a friend at the grocery store one day and he had a bag of cabbage mix in his cart, and I thought that sounded good. A little vinegar, sour cream, mayo, pinch of sugar, some salt and pepper, garlic and onion, and Kelly and I are really enjoying it. I can’t figure out why. I think it’s such a good mix of crunchy, creamy, with just a little ‘zing’ too it. Some of you that know your way around the kitchen better than us; should we replace the bay leave that’s been in our flour container since 1997??
Egg production is down a bit with these temps, but everyone is surviving. I’ve got my new hooded jacket, zak-traks for my new insulated boots, and wearing nitrile gloves under my regular gloves and were doing fine.
This cold weather has me thinking of watering calves when I was growing up. Baby calves were kept in the barn with the cows. (Which is frowned upon but now; too many germs spread from cows to the calves that the calves are not old enough to handle yet.) They were warm and I had a simple float on a bucket for their water. When they were about 3 months old, I moved them up to the other barn. They’d be about 300 pounds and boy, that was a rodeo. It’s only 50 feet from here to there, but they didn’t know where they were going, and after burning the horn buds off they were all riled up and it was all I could do to get them up there. It was uphill. Both ways. I just hung on for the ride and tried to head them in that direction. Course once in that barn, I still had to get the rope halter off them. I was younger then thank goodness.
And in this barn was an old metal water tank. 400 gallons or something. One of those galvanized oval metal tanks you’ve all seen. In the summer it was outside with a hose and a float to keep it full of water. In the winter, it was inside. Dad didn’t believe in electric waterers nor was there an outlet in the barn and the calves would have gotten into it and that would be a whole big thing.
Sometimes I would use a hose to fill the tank. And then drain the hose and it hang inside the feed room door, so it was on the warm barn side. But if I didn’t want to use the hose, I used 5 gallon buckets. Carrying those buckets of water built muscle and character. Carrying 2 did it even faster. Remember it was uphill. Depending on the weather, it might take 4 or 6 buckets to fill it. When it was this cold it all froze solid except maybe a depression in the middle so it would only hold 5 gallons. Eventually I’d have to knock out the ice to make more room. The calves, like any outdoor animal, is fine in the cold as long as they can get out of the wind, and they have enough food and water to keep their energy up. When it got to the point they couldn’t drink I could bang on the outside using the backside of an old axe, then chop out a bunch inside, then pound some more on the outside. Mind you, eventually I’d cut a hole in the metal. Sooner if I forgot to turn the axe around. Then it held less water…
As the weather got warmer, eventually Id be able to get the water tank out of the frozen manure, and flipped over all ALL the ice knocked out of it and those ice chunks would last a long time.
So now in winter I haul water in 8 quart buckets to the chickens. It’s downhill all the way to their pen. And a longer walk of 150 feet. (summer we use a hose and multiple buckets) I can carry two buckets in one hand, and corn and water in the other. I have strong fingers. Maybe from all those 5 gallon buckets?
Chickens don’t like bread crust either. But they didn’t eat the cantaloupe, which is weird. We’ve always said we have fussy chickens.
I’ve mentioned we have electric heat. When its below zero, it might cost us $12 / day and I have to think, how much is heat worth to me? Do I want to be cold or do I want to pay the $12.
Good thing this cold spell didn’t last too long.
What Is your favorite cabbage recipe? What is the longest cold spell you remember? What is your ice removal strategy? What do you do with old spices?