Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Day With Katie

Well I thought it would be fun to follow Katie through her day. So here goes.

6:50 a.m.

I catch her napping which I usually do. I have to halter her to take her to milk and often I actually have to make her get up. She has become very relaxed.

7:05 a.m.
Cold Hands!

7:25 a.m.
The mornings milk, I feed the cats and Ben strips her but I take a gallon and a half or more to the house each morning. I am monitoring her production with the changes we have made. Different feed, letting the calf suck and running him with her during the day. Her production remains at about 4.5 gallons and has not changed from that for three weeks. With the calf with her during the day we do not milk at night.
7:35 a.m.
Ben's stripping her and getting his breakfast, Katie often licks him while he sucks but this morning I think she was still sleepy!

Did you know a cows nose print is like a human finger print? Each is totally unique!
7:50 a.m.
Ben has nursed, Katie has had her grain and we let them out in the south garden or where we think they will enjoy the grass. Today was cold and blustery so we put them where they could get shelter under the lean to. Katie likes the chickens and often watches them. Its quite odd to see.

8:00 am.
It was trying to snow!
Most of the day is spent eating or 'ruminating'. Its nice to see them make use of the grass. The chickens enjoy the manure piles and the grass disturbance of bugs. The cats often hunt mice the cows scare into movement.

 Yes a lot of grazing and they do seem very content, our little herd.

We get them in for the night at about 6 pm. This will be adjusted to summer hours and weather conditions.

5:45 p.m.
Katie's stall. Fresh bedded with wheat straw. Past the open gate is Mischiefs stall. She goes in first, then Katie, Ben gets held back to go to his stall away from Katie for the night.
 Katie gets her evening grain at this time. We have cut her back a lot from her dairy ration but we still feed her more than we really like. We have decided to go slowly, she has been fed heavily all her life and it really is a huge adjustment. This ration is a 12% beef ration that we like, non-gmo. We supplement it with alfalfa pellets that are supposed to be non-gmo. They will be taken out of the ration as the grass quality improves.

6:03 p.m.
Ben makes a break for it and heads for the chicken food which he simply LOVES! Darned Calf.

6:25 p.m.
After her grain Katie has a drink. [She drinks about 18 gallons a day] I do love muck tubs. We seem to use our for everything! While she drinks I break up a flake of hay for her. Orchard grass/Alfalfa mix. We feed it in the grain trough.

6:30 p.m.
Of course,despite having licked the trough totally clean of any trace of grain, Katie has to check the bottom of the trough. This is the time I say goodnight to our wonderful Jersey. She is chewing on hay like we have not fed her all day! Mischief sighs as she lays down in her stall. I check Ben and he is chewing his cud happily.
Shutting the chickens in and locking the barn door, we head to the house and our supper.

Goodnight Katie! Goodnight Mischief! Good Night Benny Boy! Goodnight Chickens!

God Bless Everyone and count the good things all around you.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Grape Trellis

We found out not long after we bought this farm that there used to be both well established Blackberry bushes and grape vines here. They had been torn out for some reason and Mrs. Glass [The original owner] was tearful when she found out. She told us the grapes were the best eating grapes and the blackberries produced superb berries that she had always loved to get her husband to pick.

We found the site of the old grape vines and trellising for them. They must have been  beautiful but all that was left were posts cut off at the ground and the rotted ruins of sawed off grape vines.

So now we are starting again. The first grape vines were planted in the fall of 2016 and are looking good. We looked at a lot of trellis designed and we wanted something strong and simple.

When we met the fence contractor we saw his trellising system and knew it was what we wanted. So when Ralph talked fencing he also talked trellising.
The Contractor built them when he was here doing the fence and this summer should see the Catawba, Concord and Niagara grapes start their life on the trellising.

Catawba Grapes
 Catawba is a red American grape variety used for wine as well as juice, jams and jellies. The grape can have a pronounced musky or "foxy" flavor.

Concord Grapes
The Concord grape is a cultivar derived from the grape species Vitis labrusca that are used as table grapes, wine grapes and juice grapes. They are often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape pies, grape-flavored soft drinks, and candy.

Niagara Grapes
Niagara grapes are a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca and are used as table grapes and for wines, as well as jams and juice. Niagara is the leading green grape grown in the United States.

Here are some photos of the trellis's.

We used high tensile wires, they will withstand tightening as the grapes start to bear fruit. These posts are in the ground over 3 feet. The support wires go to shorter posts driven in deep as well.

We have two wires to hold the vines and the vines are in the center of the panels. We will attach them to the wires and direct them along the wires toward the posts.

Here you can see a Catawba, it looks rather sad at this time of year but is well rooted and should do well this summer. We would have had a few grapes last summer until the turkey's found them. The turkeys became  quite fond of the grapes and after they tasted them the  grape vines were on their must walk by each morning list!

 Here you can see how simple they are...and how the support wires hold the posts.

Here is the set up at the base of the brace post. There are big washers between the nut and the post to stop the bolt pulling through the post under pressure.

We are making headway and each improvement gives us such joy. We are so truly blessed. I can "taste" fresh sun warmed grapes as I write this. The Blackberries should yield this year as well, can you imagine Fresh Jersey cream spooned thickly on fresh blackberries?

This simple but strong set of trellis's will improve each year as the  grapes mature and become established vines. Summer should see us sipping grape juice and enjoying the bounty of our farm.

God Bless you all.