A Different Kind of Summer
This week marks the end of summer for our family as the boys head back to school later this week.
We are thankful that the boys will get to resume a normal school schedule except for one day a week. I has been so long since we have known "normal" and it feels good...even though I am not ready for summer to be over.
This summer has been far different for us in many ways, but it has been such a refreshing time. In so many ways, it reminds me of summers when I grew up. Granted, I didn't live on a farm, but we had a slower pace and time to just enjoy the sunshine and do things kids should do in the summer.
For starters, this has been the driest summer we have had in years. We didn't have to deal with the constant rain. There were actually a few times in July that we were praying for rain because the ground was dry and dusty and the hay was not growing.
We never went in to a drought, but received nice small rainfalls just when we needed them. The last several years have been a great challenge baling hay because it was rare that we ever had 3 days in a row without rain. We didn't even have to consider wet wrapping any of our hay this year. It has really been perfect hay weather.
Isaac planned on working this summer, but when COVID-19 hit, those projects were delayed and he wasn't able to start working right away.
However, it did enable him to spend two weeks in June with my brother in North Carolina. My brother sustained an injury and asked Isaac to come help drive and keep the business going while he recovered. It was good experience for him...even if he did learn what he doesn't want to do for a living.
When he returned home he found out the projects on the other job were released and he was offered a full time job. He is a grunt man on an HVAC team, but he is learning a lot. Several of the guys have taken him under their wings and he is learning basic HVAC work, plumbing (like repairing sewer lines...yuck!) and some basic electrical work.
Again, he is searching out what he wants to do and doesn't want to do after graduation.
One thing the boys are not doing is washing cows.
Normally, they wash between five and seven cows a day preparing for the county and state fairs. The state fair was cancelled and then our county fair limited those that could attend.
We decided early on in the pandemic not to take market projects to the county fair. The boys have to buy their feeders and by the time of the deadline, we didn't even know if we were going to have a fair. It didn't make sense to spend the money if they couldn't show. They decided to just take the Miniature Hereford heifers as breeding projects. But, a couple of weeks before the fair, the decision was made to allow market animals to show, but not the breeding animals. That meant that our kids could not participate in the fair. Isaac has been attending the county fair since he was two weeks old, so it was weird for all of us not to be a part of the experience.
That doesn't mean we haven't been busy.
Earlier this year we bought a new to us tractor and some brand new hay equipment. We have been at this hay venture for almost 20 years and we are gradually replacing and upgrading our equipment.
With these upgrades, we have taken on some custom baling jobs. We more than quadrupled the amount of hay we made this year.
With Daniel and now Isaac working full time, it is impossible to do this quantity of hay after work.
Thankfully, we have Walker.
Walker has really stepped up and has learned to run every piece of equipment. He now does most of the work while everyone else is at their day jobs, and then they come home to help finish up and let him take a break from the sun.
He is doing a great job and Daniel even admitted that Walker does a better job raking than anyone else.
Now don't think for one minute that it has all run like clock work.
That wouldn't be farming after all...
We were so excited for the new to us tractor with an air conditioned cab...until it refused to start. We had to baby it through first cutting and once it was started...couldn't shut it off.
It made for a long couple of weeks and I would sit in my office with one ear listening all day for a running tractor.
We barely made it through first cutting and then sent the tractor off to the mechanic for a few weeks for what turned out to be major repairs. But, as we are learning, the first year of owning a piece of equipment is all about learning the quirks and problems.
We have half of a new tractor, so maybe we will be lucky for the next couple of years.
We also bought a new hay mower and tedder. We were excited for brand new equipment that would make our hay jobs so much easier.
Until....the mower broke within the first 30 minutes and the tedder was broken when we unloaded it off the trailer. Thankfully, we have a great local dealer who helped us jerry rig one machine to get us through and fought to get the other machine replaced by the factory.
Needless to say, first cutting was a trial...but we got her done. I am so glad, this was a much better weather year or we would not have made it through.
While we missed showing cattle, it has been nice to really be able to enjoy summer. We have worked hard, but we have also had those evenings without any pressing to do list. We can just sit on the back patio and talk about our days. We find ourselves tinkering with 4-wheelers that constantly need repair and maintenance, talking about plans for the future, doing light yard work and making spontaneous plans. And some days, we look at all those things and decide to do absolutely nothing.
We are just living life.
That may sound stupid, but so many times our schedule is packed so full that we are on the merry-go-round of life with no thoughts of jumping off.
None of us are ready for summer to end. Isaac is enjoying his paychecks and is hoping to continue working some throughout the school year. He has a harder schedule this year, so we will see how things go. Walker has been spending his days with a mix of completing our to do lists and doing what he wants to do.
But, like it or not, they spent the weekend gathering school supplies and packing their backpacks.
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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.