This morning over coffee, I thought it might be prudent to (gently) point out to my sweetie that we are in trouble! I delicately mentioned that Blessing is due to kid in exactly 13 days (and we have 8 others shortly behind her) and we have a barn that lacks some of the basic necessities needed for milking—like a milking platform, stanchions, sinks, water and in some places walls and light switches. True to my husband’s optimistic form, he just looked at me and said, “Oh, don’t worry Lor, we do our best work under pressure.” Sadly, I have to admit he is right and even worse; I have to admit this isn’t the worst pressure situation we have been in. The question remains, why? Why, why why, does it have to be that way in our world. Why can’t (just once) we get done with a project in advance of when we need it? Silly me; I had some illusion that we would be able to take advantage of not milking and go away on a trip. Our real desire was Cuba, but more realistically, we would have been happy with nice weekend at the beach. Good grief—no rest for the weary.
It isn’t as if we have let grass grow under our feet or anything. We are a great working team and we work well together. After years of construction, we don’t even have to talk to one another, we just do what we do an magically it all happens. We have worked diligently every weekend on this project since mid-November, but that is kind of the problem. Projects take a lot longer when you only have the weekends to work on them. Truth is, we have actually only worked on this about 18 days total. (It would have been 19 if I had let Shaun rent the compactor on Christmas Eve so he could have worked on Christmas day after church, but I put my foot down!) When I think of it that way, we haven’t done too badly.
I have come to grips with the fact that our milking system will not be set up and working by the time our does begin to freshen. Frankly, I am kind of okay with that. I am reluctantly giving up hand-milking, so maybe a slow transition is best for us (and by ‘us’, I mean the girls and I). In the meantime, our living room is a sea of lovely stainless steel and vacuum systems. Good thing we don’t use that room much! (And just so everyone in the world knows, diamonds don’t do much for me, but stainless steel milk buckets and sinks…now THAT rocks my world!)
Last weekend Shaun pulled wires and sorted out wiring while I finished putting in the epoxy floor in the cheese kitchen. I can now proudly add ‘skilled concrete abrader’ to my resume and I have the bruises on my knees to prove it. Whoever said anyone can do skilled labor clearly hasn’t tried.
On tap for this weekend is finishing walls in the milking parlor, painting the cheese kitchen, mud room, wash room and parlor, wiring in the bulk tank room and hopefully start on plumbing. I suppose this is where I should point out that Shaun and I wired our whole house in just 4 days and it took us a full 7 weeks to plumb it! Right up with concrete work, plumbing is one of our least favorite things to do. But, as Blessing’s bloomy little udder and burgeoning sides are telling us, regardless of whether we like it or not, we better get it in gear and get it done!
The rest of the farm has suffered our neglect while we have focused on the barn project. Moles are rampant in the lower field, barns need to be cleaned, and the greenhouse (that should be housing new little seedlings) is still filled with lumber! I haven’t even placed a seed order, but that is just not the priority right now. We just keep ignoring all those things while we forge ahead on the project at hand and as Shaun said, we do our best work under pressure! Somehow, when we get to July, this will all be a distant memory as things will be clicking along in perfect order—I hope.
We did adopt three new barn kitties this past month. Having a baby vet in the family is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous. One of these little guys needed to have his eye removed so Amber felt like Helen (you all remember Helen? She is our dog that was born without eyes), anyway Amber felt like Helen needed a seeing-eye (singular) kitten! And with Bart (aforementioned one-eyed kitten) came Barnaby and Buford. They are hysterical, they love Helen and the goats, and we look forward to many years of rodent control from our new furry friends! (Just gotta say, the three barn kittens she brought this time have adapted much better to farm life than the worthless cat she brought last year that ended up as a house cat!)
My last farm post was a bit of a Debby-downer, and somehow in the wake of losing Abby, I still can’t bring myself to post all the chirpy things I had to say about 2016. The fact remains that the order of our barn is still disrupted. That is what happens when you lose one of the matriarchal old girls. The girls in the barn will sort it out and I will come to some type of acceptance that this new normal is normal, but in the meantime, I am still grieving the loss of my old lady and 2016 just doesn’t seem as bright without her. I can only hope that she and all our special old ladies are looking on with approval as we work on improving our farm for our girls.
I noticed this evening when I went out to grab an armload of firewood that it was still light out at 5:15—do you know what that means? That means, spring is on the way, friends!!! So with that happy thought, I hope you all go find your seed catalogs and order to your heart’s content. I hope you take advantage of those random blasts of warm air that find their way to our faces this time of the year remind us that spring is on its way. If you are livestock producers, we wish you a trouble free calving, kidding and lambing season with good birth percentages and no losses. And for us, we hope ‘working well under pressure’ gets us to where we need to be before Blessing starts off the kidding season!
Peace+ Shaun & Lorrie