Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Grandson soon !

  We are excited to meet Caleb in about 3 weeks!  The 3 grand-kids are now 16, 13 and 9 so a baby will be fun ! Here is daughter-in-law Katie at the shower a week ago.  The John Deere camo onesy was a surprise from this old Grandpa, who is not known for such things! Note the fancy manila envelope packaging!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Chicks at 2 Weeks

  I moved the peepers from the water tank in the garage out to the enclosed area of the new chicken coop today.  They have grown and were stinkin' the garage up! And I needed to suspend the feeder and waterer as they really muck it up fast when it is sitting at ground level.
  The chicks are in the upper portion of the new coop I built last Fall.  You can see the nest boxes on the left.  I took cardboard and blocked off the opening to the ramp that goes down to the enclosed pen.
  There is a door on the right hand side that folds down so I can clean out the floor space. This door on the back accesses the nests. Looking forward to some good farm fresh brown eggs by the 4th of July!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Memories - Homesteading

  More memories and looking back today. Homesteading....not me, my Grand-Dad.
  Dewena, over at Across the Way, mentioned the author Hal Borland in her fine series of posts called February faces. That rang a bell with me and I remembered my Dad "encouraging" me to read a book when I was a lad.  So I researched a little and found the book, by Hal Borland.

  Good ole' Amazon.  I was able to locate an old battered copy of High, Wide and Lonesome for only $10.  Hal Borland moved with his family to the High Plains of Eastern Colorado at the age of 8 or 9 in about 1908. They homesteaded south of Brush, Colorado and the book recounts the tough times they experienced proving up on the homestead.  In 1915, his father returned to his trade of printing by buying the newspaper  further south in Flagler.
  So the hook is that my Grand-Dad homesteaded in 1908 just 20 miles from Flagler; my great-grand parents (Grandma's parents) had homesteaded there in 1907. My Dad, born in 1918, was raised on the homestead place and my cousin still lives there today. Dad wanted me to read the book because it closely paralleled his childhood. The book must have kindled something in me, because as a boy, I devoured all books about wagon trains, moving west, etc.
  I really enjoyed reading this book again, some 55-60 years after the first reading. And I also really appreciate that I have family still living there. Most of my living cousins live in the small town there...one on the old farm and another in the house in town to which my grandparents moved in retirement.
  According to my Dad's memoirs, Grandpa built this barn in 1919; quite remarkable for that time, as it had concrete lower walls.  Here are some pictures taken in 2008.
  And this pump house, pictured in 2008, dates back nearly 100 years.

    I appreciate the fact that so much has been left mostly untouched. There is not much left of my home place in Idaho, as it has been developed. Here are stanchions my Dad milked in as a boy.
And a milk can from an early era.

  A saddle from days gone by.
Here is a shot of the countryside in the High Plains, showing the vastness and flatness of the land.
And here is the road leading to the homestead in 2008. Dad wrote many stories about going to town, to school and church on this road in the buggy and later in old cars.

  Thanks, Dewena, for the reminder about this author. I enjoyed rekindling these memories.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jeepers Peepers !!

  It's chick days! Spring can't be far away. Here's what we brought home Monday.
  We had 5 Barred Rock hens for 2 1/2 years...kept them in a chicken tractor which I moved about the garden and barnyard.  But when they started another molt last Fall, I didn't want to fool with them all winter with little to show for it, so plans changed.  I wasn't interested in stewed hen; besides, they were elegant ladies who deserved better!
  So....they were "donated" to Wendy and Steve's free range flock where they are now happily residing. These little Rhode Island Reds are the replacements. The two little black ones are Black Australorps...one of them hopefully a rooster since Wendy's flock is currently all female. If we get a rooster from those 2 he will be relocated over there.
  I am going to sell the chicken tractor; just seemed like it was too much work, too small, just kinda relocated the mess around the yard! I built a coop and run last Fall.  I'll picture that in the blog when these peepers move into it in a few weeks. Right now, they are happy in the water tank in the garage, kept company by the farm boy on a tractor on the Farmall thermometer!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Memories - Teen Years

  Today is 40, cloudy, damp with a 15 mph breeze.  Not too comfortable for finishing my rose pruning, so I will take the time for another trip down memory lane.
  I want to reminisce about the outside jobs I held as a teenager, in addition to all the work on our own farm. In searching for a photo to headline this post, I decided on this one from 1964....my cousin Bruce and I clowning around in 1964. Bruce passed away last year and I miss him dearly. We were both baseball fans and both Seattle Mariner fans, as he spent his career teaching in Alaska until moving back to Colorado after retirement, and I spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest. With Spring Training starting next week and the Mariners making some significant signings this week, we would have been tearing up the email lines with discussions.

  I'm sorry this picture is so small, but I'm glad I have it. Bruce lost his dad in a farming accident as a boy. He came out to Idaho 2 summers in 1963 and 1964 and worked in the potato fields changing sprinkler pipe. In 1964 I worked with him as well as working at home.  That was the summer after our high school graduation.  I earned about $1000 that summer, which was huge to me at that time.  I bought my first car, a 1955 Dodge Royal. Put 4 new tires on it and paid for a years insurance. I bought a few clothes, saved the rest for tuition and was ready for my freshman year at Boise Junior College. In 1964 BJC had about 1200 students (now Boise State University, the mighty Broncos boast over 23,000 students.) Greg, if you are reading this post, you will remember this, since you attended the U of Idaho.  U of I students called BJC " a high school with ash trays". Nevertheless, I got a good start there for 2 years before transferring to Oregon State.
  The sprinkler changing job was hard work and at the end of that summer I was 6'2" and a rock hard 190#. It's been downhill ever since !!!
  I once calculated that I had worked for 25 different farmers during my teen years, either milking cows or bucking bales.  Most of it was for $1.00 to $1.25 per hour. And of course I still worked at home all I could. I didn't have a need for much spending money and times were tough, so much of what I made went to Mom for grocery money. I didn't mind at all; that's just the way it was back then.
  Here are some specific memories from that time. I once milked for 3 neighbors at the same time during hunting season. Bob J had asked first and he only had 5 cows.  Then Kenny B asked and it was no problem to add his 15 or 20.  Then Harold D asked and I told him I was already committed for 2 others.  He said he didn't care what time I milked his 15 or 20 Jerseys as long as I got it done twice a day! So that's what we did.
  I liked to milk for Ed M up the road.  He had a Guernsey herd and a pretty nice barn.  And he left his newer pickup for me to drive to school after milking!  Cool !  One funny thing I remember about that job...the neighbors across the road from Ed had Banty chickens running loose and every morning when I came, a little rooster came out in the road and attacked the car.  I had to swerve to miss him.  Well, the 3rd morning, I heard a thump....his luck had run out.
  Ed field chopped his alfalfa hay. One summer he hired me and a boy from town to stack.  But the other kid didn't show and I ended up doing it all.  What a hard, dusty job. Since he didn't have to pay 2 boys, he paid me $1.50.  Wow! Bonus !
  I am going to make a somewhat embarrassing confession here. When I milked for Ron M, I had to go into their house and fill pails with hot water in the bathtub to carry to the barn.  While waiting for the pails to fill, I noticed a bottle of Mennens Skin Bracer sitting on the vanity.  Dad didn't use much cologne or after shave..I think he had some Old Spice that I occasionally sampled.  But I dabbed some of Ron's skin bracer on and liked the scent!  I think maybe I purchased a bottle with some of my earnings!
  One summer I worked with my good friend Don D at his dad's Jersey dairy stacking baled hay in the big hay loft. It was very hot and the loft was almost full; we were stacking right up around the rafters.  Allen came up and hollered, "How you boys doing?" We said we were ok, but he took one look and told us to come down and go lay in the shade for awhile. He said we were as white as ghosts. My recollection is that it was over 120 degrees, but when I Google record temps in Boise, it looks like about 117 is an all time high. Nevertheless, it was very hot!
  When I stacked hay for Gideon B, he used a Mormon derrick, like the one in this picture.

I have often thought how OSHA and who knows how many other government agencies would not allow a kid to do that today.  We would haul the bales in on a hay wagon, One person, the stacker, would be on the haystack, the driver was on a tractor which was attached to a rope that raised or lowered the fork, and one person was on the wagon.  You would stab the forks into 4 bales and latch it, grab the trip rope and give a thumbs up to the tractor operator. He would back up which raised the fork up and over the stack.  The stacker would grab the fork and guide it where he wanted it and yell "Trip!" The loader would yank on the trip rope which dumped the bales.  Then he would start hauling in the rope, as the forks would be a lethal weapon swinging away up there. You had to pull in the rope as the driver drove forward to lower the fork back to the wagon. When 3 people worked well in concert, it was a very efficient operation.  But very dangerous if one didn't pay attention.
  It was all hard work but makes for good memories 50+ years later.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Memories - Dairying in the 50's & 60's

  Today is another snowy day, so what better to do than to reminisce, as promised, about growing up on a dairy farm. This is a picture of the Holstein model cow Dad bought some 50+ years ago.  She graced our book shelf at home throughout my young years and now, somewhat faded, sits on a table in my office/den.

  My Dad always milked a few cows and when I was almost 4 years old, my parents bought their first farm in the Boise Valley of Idaho, after renting for the first 9 years of their married life. This was just 20 acres and Dad had about 10 cows, so he worked off the farm as well.  When I was 10, some friends started a 4H club which I joined.  Dad had purchased his first registered Holstein cow, Ida, and she presented him with a heifer calf which he named Joy. He loved that cow more than any other he ever owned.  Ida's second calf was a heifer which Dad gave to me as my 4H project.  I named her Delight; registered name Delight Segis Rainbow. When I was 11 almost 12, in 1957, Dad traded the 20 acre farm on a 80 acre farm just 1/2 mile up the road.  It came with about 15 Holstein cows, a bull, and some old machinery. This was a fulfillment of a dream for Dad to farm full time. But the soil was very sandy; good potato ground but difficult to grow alfalfa or grass. The cows were poor quality, several were sold off for beef right away and a few years later the herd had no descendants of any of the "Wynn" cows. The only piece of usable machinery was a good 12 foot Minneapolis-Moline grain drill. However, on the brighter side, the farm was Grade A and came with a Grade A quota to sell to Meadow Gold in Boise, as well as a bulk tank and a 3 stall Surge side opening milking parlor. And the cows Dad already had were a very good herd.
  We moved onto that farm in May 1957 and I remember well Dad pronouncing that he thought I was old enough now to arise with him every morning to go to the barn for chores. And so I did and for the next 12 years or so of my life, I milked cows twice a day with few exceptions.

  This picture is a cover of The Business of Farming magazine from 1949.  We found it in an antique shop and Rita framed it for me.  The parlor we had was basically identical to this one. Except that we used De Laval milkers.  Dad had many unconventional biases I guess you could say.  Surge, John Deere and fleetside pickups were popular....Dad preferred De Laval, Farmall and stepside trucks!  So he sold the Surge milkers and converted the De Laval we already had to use in this parlor.
  The young man in the magazine cover could very well have been me in about 1960 except for the engineer style cap.  I would have had a baseball style cap or a cap with earmuffs in colder weather and a straw hat in the summer.

  While many folks who grew up milking cows could not get away from it fast enough, I enjoyed it and have many fond memories of all the hours in that barn. We didn't have a pipeline milker, so buckets like the one shown had to be lifted up and dumped into the stainless steel container that fed through the strainer and into the tank. We also bucketed grain from the grain room, so these tasks led Dad to believe that milking was a 2 person chore. This meant that if I couldn't be there, one of my sisters had to take over for me. It also meant that I was not allowed to play high school sports, as the activity bus would not get me home until milking was nearly done. I regretted that sorely for many years; of course in retrospect, it is not such a big deal any more. In my later teen years, Dad was having a lot of back pain from recurring disc problems, so I was in the barn alone more often, and I found that I could make it a one man job without too much difficulty. But I was young and "full of it" while Dad was much more deliberate.
  Milking in pleasant sunny weather was a pleasure.  Mom had a bed of moss rose flowers in front of the barn, there were 3 or 4 old Italian prune trees nearby to provide tasty snacks in season. The barn sat right out near the county road, so waving at neighbors passing by was common, as was visiting with Kenny, the neighbor across the road who was often changing irrigation water right there.
  The barn had a hallway right in the center with a door on each of the 4 walls; 1 to the milking parlor, 1 to the milk room, 1 to the feed room and 1 to the 'compressor' room, where the bulk tank cooling compressor sat. The hallway was about 4 feet on each side.  When I became a strapping teenager, Dad and I would have shoving contests.  We would push shoulder to shoulder, trying to push the other through one of the doors.  There was lots of shouting and laughing and grunting as we contested.  I remember more than once, Mom coming into the barn and witnessing this with a smiling "tsk tsk, you guys!"
  Once, after one of these episodes, which I think I won, Dad had the water hose as he was washing down, and he said jokingly, " I should just stick this in your pocket!"  So I held my levis pocket open and said "Sure, go ahead!" Well, he did!  He loved to tell that story years later....he said I just stood there, mouth agape, and watched my pocket fill up and run over into my rubber boots!
  There are many more stories for another day.  After attending Boise Junior College for 2 years (while living at home and continuing to milk and farm), I went to Oregon State University for my BS in Animal Science (of course!). I was privileged to be part of the dairy cattle judging team that won the national collegiate contest in 1967. I am the second dude from the left in this picture.
After graduation in 1968 (and being married in 1967), I stayed on at OSU and began work on a Masters degree.  This picture is me holding #710, the only cow at the OSU dairy at that time to classify Excellent.
These pictures are part of my memory wall in my office/den.  Pleasant reminders of days gone by.

  Well, this was fun!  I'll do it again one of these days.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Snow Day !!

  No school today....finally, a long anticipated snow day.  The grand-kids and daughter/teacher Wendy are happy.  They have all been yearning for a snow day all winter.  And it is on a Friday to boot....3 day weekend!

  Only an inch or so but it was icy and the roads had some ice. It is now 3 PM and it's almost all melted.  There is a chance of a repeat Saturday night, I hear.
  I put another round bale out for the cattle earlier today.  I am still forcing some cleanup duty from them.  I am not too happy with the 2 bales I got at Eagleville.  So far the farm at Christiana has the best hay, but I still have 1 or 2 growers I might "audition" before settling on next years supplier.
  Alica over at happilymarriedtothecows.blogspot.com has a post by her father-in-law about dairying in the 1950's.  It has inspired me to reminisce about my days growing up on a dairy farm in the 50's and 60's.  I'll be posting soon with some good memories.