Summer may be full of balmy temperatures, but it never fails that fair week brings to most intense heat of the summer.
Last year the heat was almost unbearable. The barn was full of animals, but you were hard pressed to find a human under that hot roof.
As farmer's, it is our responsibility to make sure that our animals are as comfortable as possible.
With barn temperatures over 100 degrees, we were getting desperate. If we were hot and sweaty, can you imagine how hot a large hairy animal is?
We offered water at least once an hour, but we knew we needed to do something more.
Daniel came up with an easy and affordable solution.
He made his very own hillbilly misting fan.
Fifteen years ago, yesterday, Daniel and I became parents.
In some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in other ways it feels like I have been a mom for forever.
As I did with Walker just a few weeks ago, I decided to ask Isaac a few questions about life.
Insert teenage attitude (he really isn't that bad...just has his moments)...
The middle of July...
How did that happen?
The summer has gone so quickly...
And it will be over before we know it.
All lot has been accomplished.
Land of the Free...
Not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes.
This is a big week for me.
I have a momentous birthday.
I won't tell you which one...
But, I thought I would share 40 things you might not know about me.
The heat and humidity of summer is here, signalling the start of hay season.
We finished up our first cutting this past week. Hay season is a community event around here. There are 4 families that work together to get everyone's hay done before the rain comes. Some of us need equipment and some need man power, but we all work together to make a pretty mean hay team.
Each of us has different needs for our hay supplies and different storage options. Some need square bales, some need round bales, and we need both. Some make dry hay and some make wet hay. Some store all of their hay in the barn, some store all of it outside, and we store it both in the barn and outside. It can be a complicated game getting everyone and everything where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
Add in the constant threat of pop-up thunderstorms and cranky machinery (everyone had at least one piece of equipment break down) and you have some pretty stressed out and sleep deprived people.
Between the four farms, a lot of hay was made and a lot of cows and horses will be fed this winter.
We ran out of hay this year and we are not about to let that happen again. We ended up wintering more cows than we had anticipated and by the middle of winter we were in major conservation mode. This year we are keeping at least 25 more bales than last year, just to be safe.
We only have a small portion of our barn space that is available for hay storage. With so much hay, most of it has to be stored outside.
Our solution...bales sleeves.
Walker celebrated a birthday this past week and I thought it would be fun to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about his life.
As we are sitting on the back patio...
Walker eating out of a box of vanilla wafers....
Summer is finally here!
The school year is officially over.
The backpacks are put away.
The assignment sheets are all complete.
Who are we kidding?
Our kids just trade assignment sheets for summer chore sheets.
The fans have all been hung in the barn.
Today all the show girls get pulled out of the field and put back in their show stalls.
It is time to get them back on show feed and give them daily baths and workouts.
There is no rest in the summer.
Today the boys will start with washing and blow drying 2 cows.
Shortly, they will be up to washing, drying and working 6 cows each day.
Don't blame the parents (Mom tried really hard to talk them out of all of this)...
Isaac and Walker chose this many cows.
The plan is for each boy to take a beef feeder and a Miniature Hereford heifer to the county fair.
The week after county fair, we are headed to The Ohio State Fair where we will be showing the 2 heifers and a cow-calf pair (or two).
All of these cows will get a daily bath, conditioners blown in, and either a tractor walk around the hay field or individual ground work in the barn yard.
This alone is a full time job. We figure about an hour per cow, which will mean about 6 hours per day of cow work.
Add a little bit of kid procrastination, dilly-dallying, fighting, snacking and "resting", and the day is pretty much gone.
The list goes on.
We do ask them to do some things around the house/farm to help out Mom and Dad.
Put your dishes in the dishwasher.
Pick up after yourself.
Mow the grass and weed eat.
And the occasional miscellaneous project.
And to top it all off...
We have an almost 15 year old boy with farm boy muscles.
He is in hot demand with all the neighbors this year.
I guess that gives him some motivation to cut out some procrastination, dilly-dallying, fighting and "resting" so that he can move on to the paying jobs.
And we all know that it is way more fun to do the same work at someone else's house than it is to do it at your own house.
He keeps seeing a truck in his 16 year old future.
He had better be throwing a lot of hay bales this summer!!!
But do not fear...
It is not all work and no play around here.
Both of the boys will be attending a week of church camp this summer.
And they have already told us that they are spending 2 weeks (we say 1 week) with one grandma and going to North Carolina with the other grandma and grandpa.
They finished school last Wednesday and we let them do whatever they wanted on Thursday and Friday.
Freedom can turn into an interesting adventure.
They decided to raid the trash pile and found an old hose.
They zip tied it to the trampoline and poked more holes into it to make their own soaker hose.
Turned on the water...
And they had their very own country boy water park.
Summer will go too quickly and before we know it we will be once again packing lunches and backpacks.
For now, they are enjoying the freedom from school, sunshine, sleeping in (just a little bit), working with their beloved animals and machinery (green of course), building those farm boy muscles and working so hard they can't wait to crash into bed each night.
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This week marks the unofficial start to summer.
There is nothing I like to do better than find a quiet spot and read a book.
Warm, sunny days make the back patio so inviting.
A good book, the back patio and a view of cattle grazing is my idea of a perfect summer afternoon. It is my motivation to get the work done quickly, so that I can move on to the relaxation.
Not everyone loves to read.
Especially, if you are a male with the last name Wiley.
It can be difficult to get my men to read a book, but once started, a good book will keep them captivated.
Grass is a funny thing.
There is either too much...
Or not enough of it.
Many cattle farmers actually consider themselves grass farmers. While we are raising cattle to either breed or butcher, we wouldn't have these cattle if we didn't have grass to feed them.
Grass farming is one of the biggest challenges we face. We have to balance having enough grass to feed our animals, but not so much that we have to mow it down with a tractor.
On top of the spring and summer grazing, we have to prepare for the winter months. Some fields have to grow in order for us to harvest hay for the non-growing season.
It is a constant juggling act.
Each year is different due to constantly changing weather conditions and different numbers of cattle. Some people are better at managing it than others.
But, for all of us, the goal is to put in the least amount of effort to gain the most amount of feed.
Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.