April 2011


For those who don’t know I live on the area of North Carolina which was just devastated by a series of tornadoes. . . . Don’t feel badly for us though! oh, no, we did lose power for about 22 hours. . . but we were among the luckiest. . . we did not have damage at all.  The storms that crossed the state went south of us and north of us. . . . I just don’t know how we got that lucky…..
However living for a day like this was almost a study in how one would manage if we had to in a real catastrophe. . .  Without power life seemed to slow down a bit.   There was not the sense of impending doom if I didn’t get to the latest Face Book message. . . or watch a specific television show. . .   Funny how technology has gotten a hold of me.  Power has a power of its own!  I didn’t realize that I was addicted to it like I am.   Perhaps that is saying something…..Hhhhmmmm.

I discovered that I really did miss at least having a radio in the house.  I may have to invest in one of those wind up ones.  Maybe I’ll order one on-line (because I can now!). . . .    

We slept with the windows opened over night.   I can’t remember the last time I did that.  Troy doesn’t like to sleep in cooler temperatures so I was concerned.  But he did alright.  I love the fresh air that flows into the house when windows are open.  You can hear the sounds of the cattle as they low or crickets and peepers in the distance.   I enjoy falling asleep to those sounds much better than a blaring television.  It’s more natural.  Also you can wake up to birds cheerfully searching for their breakfast and the cattle talking to each other. . . actually its’ mostly the bulls; they just have to tell each other how great they are!

In the morning I awoke to a less than pleasant sounds however.   Troy brought the generator up to the house on the Gator and proceeded to start it up for coffee.  He needed power!  Nothing says “get out of bed, woman!” than a generator in your ear!   That is okay it was almost 6 am!  That is “sleeping in” for me on weekends.   So we began the day plugging in the refrigerator and coffee pot to the generator and also charging our cell phones.  We had temporary power

Since I’m not a coffee drinker, I heated water for tea.   Since we have a gas range, it wasn’t going to be a problem. . . . however, isn’t it funny how your mind has a reflex . . . I forgot about power when I tried to start the stove.    Electricity (power) normally lights the individual burners.  So I had to find the “clicker” to light it.  But it was much easier than starting a wood fire with a match!  

The day before I purchased the first strawberries of the season.  Yummmmm.  I had not done anything with them since we didn’t have power.   I wanted to make jam but I wanted to sanitize the jars better than I could hand washing them.   I “needed” that power again.  It was beginning to bother me.  Did I really need it?  So I put water on the stove in the biggest pot I had.  And yes I used the “clicker” or lighter to light the stove; this time it didn’t bother me.   I washed dishes in shifts since I didn’t have enough hot water to do them all at once.  You see I had left some in that dang old dishwasher and they were waiting for power!   Power we didn’t have.  So I washed and dried and then did it again.  It was a good reminder that I can do things without that danged old power I kept reaching for. 

Oh, no!  I realized I had not gone to the local college to water the garden.  The local community college had begun a sustainable agriculture program.  The hoop house does not have an automatic watering system.   So someone must go there to water the potted plants and trays of seedlings every day.  I have been doing this for several months now. . . .on a volunteer basis.  Anyway, while I was up that way I wanted to see if I could what happened in Sanford.  I tried but the police had most of the critical parts blocked off.  No power!   Stores were closed and there wasn’t much traffic.  And lots of clean up that they didn’t want people gawking and causing more traffic problems. . .  Okay I wanted to be a gawker but they wouldn’t let me. .. . .I drove home.

So  I came back home where I knew there were things which needed done.  If you are like me you can allow things to distract. . . I walked by the garden (which desperately needs planted) and started pulling weeds and grass.  No need for anything but people power!  

We drove south into town to see if we could get propane for the grill since we ran out during dinner the night before.  The closest grocery store was out so we drove further on.  We needed gasoline too for that generator. . . . At least we could have power to keep the beef in the freezers frozen.    While we were out we stopped at the Sonic and got a couple of BLTS.   By the time we got home. . . guess what? 

                WE HAD POWER!   Yay!  it was amazing!  Lights, Television. . . . oh the race is on!  No more starting the stove with a lighter,  we can use the grill when we want not because we have to!  And oh, the Internet is back!    I did learn that there are things I can still do and survive without. . . . . But I missed having Power!

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Since we first came to the farm our herd has grown and changed plenty.   Our first heifers have babies of thier own.  We now have several bulls, plenty of ladies and five unweaned darlings 

Saturday we spent about an hour moving all the animals from the pastures they were in to other places and then some back to where they first were. . . . Troy had a plan written up for me so I wouldn’t get confused.  I didn’t really need it, but I think he was making sure he had the easiest way figured out.  And he did!  

A bit of background:  We have three pastures; one in front of the house and two in back.  The two in back are about the same size as the front but they are split.  We have one 70 X 70 weaning pen with a shelter.  The swing gate and head gate are attached to the weaning pen. 

 1.     Boys all move from the right back pasture to the left back pasture.                          

 2.     Move remaining animals into the weaning pen.                                                               

 3.     Move Lowline females to the right back pasture.                                                

 4.     Move the Lowline females to the front pasture.                                                   

5.     Move Buzz the Lowline bull into the front pasture with the ladies!  

6.     Separate the Dexter females and move them to the right back pasture.     

7.     Leave the babies in the weaning pen! 

      In case you think it was a struggle. . . .believe me, it wasn’t so bad for the two of us to accomplish.  These animals are food motivated and love the feed that they are given.  It took 2 bages of feed and about an hour to accomplish.   Okay, okay . . . .he already had steps 1 and 2 completed before I got out there. . . but I had to put the dishwasher on and get a load of laundry into the dryer before I left the house. ..   (He does worry about that because it’s done for him! We won’t go there today)

So the most difficult part of that was getting Buzz to the front pasture.  He didn’t know he was going to get a harum out of the deal!  I think he was not happy about initially being separated from his “boys” even though he and Mack agree that Mack is The Man!   It took waht seemed like a half hour to get him to willingly walk to the front pasture.  We didn’t put anyone on a halter to do this. . .

And I did not get pictures. . . .bummer huh?  It’s hard enough to manage gates and the Gator and feed without dealing with an extra item. . . .  Another time perhaps!

     Here on the Smiling J we have started to use round feeding bins which are really no more than an aluminum fenced area which we put the hay in.  It keeps the hay in one place and the cattle do not soil it as they eat it.  They eat more of and less goes to waste.  

          But one of the draw-backs of these things is that they are just the right size for the heifers and baby bulls to step inside. ..   We’ve caught them a number of times eating from inside the bin! ! ! !  Silly babies! 

Watchu lookin’ at?

Just yesterday we found this.  I don’t know if you can see it, but this baby is up on two legs with its head inside the bin!  Silly Moo! ! ! !