Run Between the Raindrops!

We Virginians that live here in the northern Shenandoah Valley should all be a little lighter in body weight this summer.  The spring rains have yet to end in our part of the world.  Looks like rain again today as well.

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Looks like rain again today.

Our summer has been spent running between the raindrops, mowing and weeding the gardens between storms.  And storms they have been!  Torrential rains, thunder, magnificent lighting all across the skies.  Flash floods, roads washed out, downed trees, broken fences from fallen limbs, and piles of cut grass have kept us occupied all summer.  One would think a few pounds would surely be lost in the busyness of this yard work!

 

A few of we hardy gardeners have thrown in the towel on our gardens.  Tomatoes are plentiful—just green, green.  The crabgrass seems to be the main item happily taking over every space not even previously known to us,  where does it come from?  Though the field corn has faired well.  There may be some fall planting, though no commitments as yet.  Given the choice though, this wet weather seems better than drought.  Sure wish we could give some to California.

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We have had rain all summer.

We Shenandoah Valley folk take what we get as far as weather goes.  Try to see the best in it, and smile at the start of another fine day, rain or not.  There is always something worthy of our attention and good to do everyday.

 

There have been few summers that have stayed this wet with grass so lush and beautiful into August.  Well, this too shall pass, as the old adage says.  So, in the meantime, keep your mower blades sharp, fuel tanks full and good humor running full blast.  Oh, and do not forget a good, tall glass of lemonade!

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The field corn has faired well.

The old-timers say, “Make hay while the sun shines!”  Well, guess what?  The sun is shining right now.  Time for this PFO to get out there with the weed eater!

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As we old-timers say, “Make hay while the sun shines.”

Know the farmer.  Know the farm.

Homemade is best.

 

 

You are not a Cow-Poke! What do you know about raising Beef?

It was apparent there was some reason family members were not purchasing the good beef that has been raised here on the farm.  A Bible verse came to mind that helped explain it, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”  Mark 6:4.

 

That explained it.  Really, it was a good question though.  Growing up on a cow/calf operation on a farm as a youth did not teach much about growing good beef cows.  Or did it?  The training of our minds has been such that if one does not have a degree in a subject, or years of work in it, how could anything be known on any subject?  Years ago that learning was called the ‘school of hard knocks’.  Learn by doing, by asking good questions, and reading good material.  Learning from those who have walked the long path we newbies have just started on.  Learning from trial and error.

 

Reading, asking questions, visiting other farmers, going to feed stores and touring a processing plant  was begun months before the steers arrived.  We toured Joel Salatin’s farm, Polyface Farm,  in Swoope, Virginia.  Purchased several of his books:  Folks, this ain’t normal ,  Salad Bar Beef; and The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs  to name a few.  We toured T & E Meats in Harrisonburg, VA.  We visited farms and spoke with beef farmers.  We spoke with feed store owners about types of feed and how much to give.  Finally, we purchased quality miniature beef from a reputable farm and breeder, Bryan Hill Farm in Broadway, VA.  That maiden year then became trial and error as the first steers were unloaded onto our green pastures.

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The steers were quality miniature Herefords purchased from a reputable breeder.

There were buyers for all the beef, and it was exciting hearing the feed back come in.  We knew it was good, and now so did our customers!  We are now finishing our second round of hand-raised beef.  These, we feel, will finish out as nicely as the first ones.  It is satisfying work.

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These steers are finishing out very nicely.

 

So it was exciting when the inquiry came from a family member for a roast.  The freezer is cooling a lot of empty space right now because thirteen months have passed since those first beef cows were processed.  Yet, there was a nice-looking bone-in roast remaining, weighing around three pounds.

 

With bated breath we awaited the remarks from this tough family customer.  A text came through with this photo and remarks:

 

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The flavor not only was good.  It was the meat, it was tender, creamy, almost buttery.

We consider this compliment better than one that could be given from the Queen of England herself!  (No offense to the Queen, please.)

Some of our previous blog posts you are sure to enjoy about the cows:  “Meet the Farmer & the Farm”, Aug 14, 2016;  “The Steers are Gone”, Jan 4, 2017;  “Feedback has Come”, Mar 5, 2017.

We all have begun as a newbie at some point or another.  Keep on keeping on, do the due diligence, follow your gut and heart, and love what you do!  Happy farming to you!

 

 

 

Know the farm, know the farmer.

Homemade is best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning the Barn

Cobwebs happily flutter in the gentle breeze in all the corners of the doors, stalls, and rafters;  dust seriously collects in and on every available space;  hay and straw are strewn all over the floor like children’s lego blocks;  and surely not to forget all the poo deposited in the four corners of each stall.  Why would anyone want to clean one of these messy, dusty ‘ole places?

 

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Cobwebs hang and happily flutter in every corner!

 

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Hay and straw cover the floor like children’s lego blocks.

 

Suppose it is confession time for this PFO.  There is no time like time spent out in the barn.  It does not favor any season of the year nor time of day.  Anytime of the year is a wonderful time to be out in it, and every hour has it’s own specialness.  The smells, temperatures, and critters all vary during a day.  Several of the critters were put there by this PFO.  Others appropriated it for themselves, seeing it very fit for raising and feeding their family.  One must be very still and quiet to catch a glimpse of those that have adopted it as their  home, for they keep to themselves, and come out only when all is either dark or quiet.  As God would have it, they are a benefit to the ecosystem of the barn.  The barn swallows eat pesky, biting flies, as do the spiders.  The black snakes eat the mice.  They also add to the overall mess!  But it is nothing a hot cup of coffee and pre-breakfast homemade biscuit cannot handle.

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A hot cup of coffee and buttered homemade biscuit can handle any mess in the barn.

Certain sounds and smells are unique only to barns, and a well-kept barn always has the sweet smell of fresh hay wafting in the air.  Horses stamp their feet impatient for feed, cows moo softly as they saunter in, the chuckles are busy working in the manure piles (good Chuckles!), the baby birds are chirping high up in the rafters for more, more food from busy parents.

 

It is a dusty, dirty satisfying job.  Being a good steward is important.  Visitors to the farm go away with a good or bad idea of farming and how this farm is run.  The goal is to send them off with a smile, knowing these animals (and farm) are well cared for.

 

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Oh! The sight of a neat and tidy barn!