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Horseless Summer

Country kids grow up a little different than kids in town. I am forever grateful for our large backyard.

Right now that life isn’t so much about horses. They send their time standing out in their pasture, eating and fighting flies. We are busy hauling hay, working summer fallow, canning beans, freezing anything that looses it’s crisp when canned, working in the garden, and generally keeping busy.

As important as I think it is for the kids to work with us and learn the value of labor, we also do our bast to get out and enjoy the summer.

Hot days are much better spent in the shade or water than horseback though so we go to the lake or explore water holes out in the pasture. Soon enough they will be back in school and I will get to work horses again. Maybe even clean house! 🤣 Until then they will be happy with a bareback ride in from grazing the yard and petting noses over the fence. I will be happy that they are enjoying the horses, enjoyment doesn’t have to mean riding.

Rain

We spent the day getting the combine ready to go. The wheat was dry and the next day supposed to be hot. Miserably hot.

It was time for wheat harvest to begin.

Getting the combine cleaned up and ready to go is a family affair. Like all things in farming are. The kids love to get out there and help, they think the combine is one big jungle gym. We love to encourage them to get out and work, to learn to love farming, and tractors, and being with us.

Finished with the combine we worked in the garden, weeding and admiring the fast growing pumpkin vines. Watching them reach towards each other we talked about how they can grow up to six inches in a day. We took pictures so we could look again the next day and see how much they grew.

Towards evening clouds began to grow.

It’s been so dry. Rain would be good.

Rain is just as scary as it is hoped for on dry years. During drought we are just as likely to get hail, or dry lightening strikes, as we are rain.

The thunder rumbles grew closer and the cloud was growing right on top of us. When the rain drops began to fall they were big and heavy, scattered across the sidewalk. Then it started. Our son said it was raining ice. Technically he was right. I love the names kids give things. He was frightened and worried by the ice rain. Honestly everyone was.

My husband stood in the open door and watched. I couldn’t and stayed in the kitchen, hiding, as I cooked supper.

Lacking the wind to drive it the hail fell straight down, scattered and small. It didn’t stop though, going on and on. Then the skies opened and dumped hail in a frozen downpour. I buried my head in my cooking. My husband cursed it from the doorway.

Once it finally stopped and the lightening moved far enough away we went out to survey the damage.

Tree litter covered the sidewalk. Hail stones still covered the ground. Glancing towards the garden told me I didn’t want to inspect that any closer right now. On the fourwheeler, as a family, like farming always is, we drove to look at the corn fields. See how bad it was.

It could have been worse. It could always be worse. We’ve all seen the corn completely destroyed, beat back down to bare ground. The trees stripped completely bare and killed in one summer storm. It was bad enough though.

With lips drawn tight my husband stared silently across the tattered fields.

In the distance lightening still flashed in the dark clouds as the sun broke through the clouds. A rainbow lit the darkness.

It’s been a rough year. We will be alright. As always, as a family.

Still Schooling

It’s been busy around here. Although we are just starting this having school at home thing it is going pretty well. That might change after a few weeks 😉

We’ve fallen into a bit of a routine, wake up and eat with my husband before he heads off to work. School is being taught at home and someone needs to make that possible and be there to support the teachers just like when they were teaching from the school.

Then we go feed cows. With school going this wasn’t mandatory, now it is. After feeding we check the pasture for new calves. Back home we do our school work. Short bursts and lots of reward for their work. My daughter is blogging as part of her schooling. She needed work on her writing, how better to learn than to talk about her experiences of the day. My son, in preschool, is doing his sisters math homework. Why not take something he likes and is good at and concentrate on it? We can tailor their learning to their individual wants and needs far better than a school that has to keep the whole class together in their learning.

Then free time on the computer or outside.

The rest of the day is spent playing, working, learning. Who says any one of those is separate from the other?

I firmly believe in the importance of play as learning, now we get to do it. Checking cows we learn about science, how a body works, what is inside of us, or cattle, how calves are born, what happens when things die. We use math, counting new calves, remembering what number we were on  clear until we find another calf.

They’ve been helping get the garden ready to plant, digging the remaining, still very edible, carrots from last year, helping clean out the greenhouse, and they will soon help plant the seeds of cold weather plants.

We’ve had in depth computer science classes, something we are lucky to be in the unique position to be able to offer much better than schools are. They, and the cousins, have helped build a computer and make repairs.

They’ve gotten better about playing together, learning about team work, as long as they think they are causing trouble. Hauling old posts out of one pile and stacking them in  the middle of the garden. They learn so much in that little act of defiance 😆

 

Country School

It’s official now. School is canceled for the next two weeks. To start with.

On the first day today the staff had to go in, we don’t have any cases anywhere near us, this is just an excess of caution. School is going to go on from a distance. They went in and got prepared.

The cousins came over since their mom had to go in.

We started the day by checking cows. Calving is starting and they need a close eye kept on them. They can be watched even closer if there are many children here who need kept busy. We followed the path that is safe to get through, avoiding deep snow drifts and any hill that is too steep. Talked about exactly what needs to be looked for in the cows and to be sure to check the far corners for any cow that wanders off alone. For the rest of the day it was their job to go make sure there were no new calves.

When there are new calves they will get to learn  about anatomy, science, even sex ed. Something farm kids generally have covered. They learn about what to look for when a cow is having trouble, how to tell if a calf has nursed. Maybe they’ll get to help pull a calf as the season goes on.

Inside there was computer time. I love watching them play together, together online and together in  the same room. They jump up and down  running to each others computers, they talk and plan, It’s a very social undertaking.

In between games they wrestled and played. Games were invited that had never been heard of before. The laughed and spread toys from one end of the house to the other. Or we all went outside. They disappeared off to climb hay bales while I  worked a horse, then wandered back muddy and bedraggled.

Late afternoon as everyone got tired and hungry we made cookies. 8 wanted to make sugar cookies. Make them in a pattern, square, star, square star. I  was sad to tell him we didn’t have a square cookie cutter.

But, who needs a pattern to follow!

We could cut out our own! We could make his square, we could make triangles, we could make any shape we wanted. It could be geometry!

Together the kids figured out measurements and ran the beater. Then, armed with the roller, butter knives and forks we began  to role out the cookie dough. Flour went everywhere, except on the table. Dough stuck to the roller. Little fingers scraped it free of the table. There was nothing square about the squares. The tip was cut off a triangle. The Goblin child held it up. Look! It’s a…   What’s the name of that shape again?

We made some guesses. No, No, not that. Oh yeah, trapezoid! Well if you say so dear. I have no clue.

One of the misshapen shapes looked like the state of Alabama! We were off on a new kick. I pointed at a square, look we have Colorado too! Or maybe it’s Wyoming? I can’t tell for sure. The others morphed into Illinois and Nebraska.

There did even end up being some stars.

Maybe tomorrow we’ll make it as far as getting some of them frosted, there might be a few left.

The teachers are getting homework together to send out. I’m hoping we can  continue on with it in  our small group. The older ones can help the younger ones. Nothing helps cement learning like teaching it to someone else. The younger ones may even be able to help the older ones. With geometry at least.

It will be like the old country schools, all the grades together. Learning, playing, working.

A few extra pictures of all the kids playing together along with our homeschool day.

 

 

Electrical Issues

Snow has been forecast for this weekend ever since, last weekend. As the week went on the amounts crept upwards. By Thursday they were predicting nine to fourteen inches.
So Monday two of the heated automatic waterers were froze over. The fuse was blown and the new one immediately joined its predecessor. My husband came home from work early and he and his father check wiring, multi-meters and other things I shy away from. The short was somewhere underground between the barn and the tanks. Everyone hung their heads and cried a little on the inside.
There were no shut off valves. Not below ground at least. No way to keep the water pipes from freezing in one old tank that was perfectly good and one they had just spent days getting installed. The heat had to be fixed before the storm coming in with the weekend.
The power company came out and located lines. They found the short, or maybe just where there was a splice, simply wrapped in electric tape and  buried underground. With a payloader, skid steer and shovels they dug it up. The bucket snagged the wire, pulling it loose but fortunately just scraped the waterline, not breaking it causing any further messes.Sure enough the wires were black and insulation melted. My computer guy/farmer/electrician husband tested the wires before patching and reburying. He tends to be cautious and a perfectionist.
There was another short. Somewhere else in between, underground. The the snow melted and it all drained into the hole. Now there were not only wires to fix but they were under a foot of water. Pumps are good to have. It was still muddy.
They called up Scott. It’s good to know people with trenchers. Abandoning the old line They trenched in two new wires to reach the waterers separately to avoid anymore under ground splices than absolutely necessary. With shiny new wire, wire that’s actually rated to be run underground, above ground junction boxes, a new trench dug, and wire ran, to the tank that has had an extension cord run to it for years. All that dug through knee deep mud. Knee deep on 8 that is.
It was all buried in and working good long before the cold and snow hit. With time left over for taking the duals off the tractor and putting the big snow blower on.
Category: 8, Cows, Farming  One Comment

Quite A Cluster

Some cows got out this afternoon. Not a big deal but  the father in law stopped to ask if I would help chase them in. Of course I would. As I hopped on the 4wheeler with him I absentmindedly called Daisy to come help. She didn’t come I worried a little then forgot about her amidst the whole cow chasing thing.

8 and I went to pick The Goblin Child up from the bus. Daisy is usually bouncing around wanting to come with. She wasn’t there. Again I remembered that she hadn’t come earlier either. Now I was worried. I tried to remember when I had seen her last. She had come with to feed in the morning.  I couldn’t think of a time I had seen her since then. She couldn’t have not gotten out of the feed truck. Could she?

We had a very little time before the bus would be there, we could make it to check for sure. Barely.

Sure enough. I opened the door and out leapt Daisy. When we get out she will just sit there. She has to be told to come out with us and apparently I didn’t do so. It was dark in the quanset and I was rushing to make it to the bus. I haven’t seen if she did anything to the inside of the feed truck yet. She’s a good dog. I didn’t smell anything. Keeping my fingers crossed that she didn’t hurt anything.

Out at the neighbors driveway that is our compromise meeting place, the bus driver complained about driving clear to our mailbox, I refused to have The Goblin Child unloaded on the highway, we pulled to the side of the road and waited. At the highway two vehicles sat. A car and a pickup. Their people sat on bumpers in between hanging out, talking. The bus managed to squeeze around them and made it up the hill slick with snow and ice.

After unloading the bus went back down the icy hill and waited for room to pull out. The two vehicles still sat, unperturbed by the traffic they were impeding. While loading children I watched a FedEx van pull out from across the street and head down the hill towards the bus. I waited and watched to see if he would slide right into it. He didn’t.

Pulling into our neighbors drive we turned around as usual. Backing out into the road. I put the car in drive, and we went backwards. As usual when things don’t go anywhere near as expected, it took a moment to think it through. I put it back in park and we stopped moving. Back in drive and we slid backwards again. Well, that didn’t work. This time I tried reverse, we were getting quite sideways in the road, maybe I could straighten it out and find some traction further down the hill.

The car straightened. There was no more traction though. A couple more tries and it became apparent that the only way we were going was down the hill. Down to where those two… very nice people still sat. Apparently unaware of the traffic swirling around them, They weren’t bothered at all by blocking half of the road. Easing the car as slow as I could down the slick road I aimed for the sliver highway I could see that was unobstructed. If we could just get to some clear ground and make a run at it we could make the hill.

Of course this whole time the children are sitting, standing, kneeling, spinning circles, and talking loudly in the seat next to me. Of course they weren’t buckled in for the one mile of county road home. Not distracting or impeding my view at all.

I managed not to hit either of the vehicles. The… very nice people sat, still unbothered by how incredibly annoying they were and stared at us as we backed past them. On the cleared pavement of the highway we were able to get started and made it up the hill with no more difficulties. Then finally home. To Daisy.

Hauling Hay

8 and I went to help the neighbor haul some hay bales. The weather was perfect, warm but enough of a breeze to keep us cool. I had debated seeing f we could go in the morning so there wasn’t quite so much help. In the end I decided it was easier to do everything else without him and to let him come along for the hay. We rode along in the cab of the pickup on the way over, looking at tractors and talking. Then climbed into the horse trailer to began the gathering of hay.

8 loved it. He started out enjoying seeing how the cows and horses ride. He rode on the hay. He climbed on the hay. He pulled bales around. He helped carry hay. He learned he could jump in and out of the trailer. He slept well that night.

 

 

Category: 8, Farming  2 Comments

Happy Halloween!

This year 8 is a tractor knight and T.G.C. is a princess knight.

8’s coat of arms is a combine and a tractor divided by some sort of line that is supposed to represent the earth. The black and green represent loyalty and sometimes sorrow. It seemed fitting. A seed corn cap for his helmet. Well it also seemed fitting. What is a tractor knight if not a farmer. What is a tractor knight at all? We don’t know but it was what he wanted on his shield so we went with it, all out.

T.G.C. wanted to wear her cape again from last year after seeing a picture of herself in it. I wanted to make armor and get so sick of princess stuff. Fortunately I remembered Nella, the princess knight. She was happy to go with it. The purple is for royalty, fitting since she is the queen of the world. She requested a Pegasus unicorn for her shield. It was a fun theme to go with. A little more mundane than a tractor but that’s all right.

I really meant to get some pictures of 8 on Coyote wearing the dragon mask. Unfortunately I sold my dragon mask and haven’t gotten another one made. I still mean to get pictures of him on Coyote. Eventually.

Halloween this year is coinciding with corn harvest. Very good atmosphere with the corn husks whirling in the wind and light of combines off in distant fields.

Tonight we trick or treat in town. After the school finishes all their parties of course. Happy Halloween!

 

Getting Ready For Halloween

Fall and Halloween are always my favorite times of year. It’s been a busy summer and fall but we’ve still managed to fit as much fall doin’s in as possible. Maybe that’s why it was so busy.

We played in the leaves, decorated pumpkins, dressed up, dressed warm, went riding in the cooler weather, trick or treated, rode in combines, and even fit in a haunted house!

The trunk or treat in Chadron was fun, as usual, but so very crowded this year. It meant squeezing through the crowd and waiting in line a lot. It was still great but would be more fun with less people.

That same weekend, the great build up to the actual day of Halloween, there was a haunted house in the old Clinton school house. Sadly it over shadowed the trunk or treat and was all the kids asked about while we were trying to trick or treat. It was the perfect setting. An old abandoned brick school house. We went for the lights on tour with the kids. Luckily. It was scary enough with lights on. They would never have made it through the real one. We went back to Rushville for supper before returning for us grown ups to go through for real. Waiting in the former Gym was almost more than they could handle, even with cookies and hot chocolate. The high school kids who were doing it went all out and had a lot of fun dressing up. Best haunted house ever. Almost.

Corn harvest has started with rather bad timing. It didn’t stop us playing just messed up my schedule a little. I do love corn harvest. It goes so nicely with the whole fall theme.

 

Category: Family, Farming  2 Comments

End Of Wheat Harvest ’18

I haven’t been on here for a very long time. Far longer than I ever intended it to be. We, well, we got busy and the summer slipped away. I have to make note of when they harvest wheat though and that is done and over with so I better write something about it!

It was a fairly late harvest and still wet and hard to get to with that. They started in on the neighbors wheat on July 11th and finished up on the 26th. It’s been a really wet year. It rained all the way through while they tried to squeeze in between showers and fight through wet wheat and green weeds. The kids are getting big enough to enjoy going along and not have to sit in the combine the whole time. They loved playing in the grain trailers with Jack, riding in the semis, and also napping in the combine. The Goblin Child and I made use of combine time, sending 8 off with his father so we could get some riding done. She’s starting to get more comfortable on Coyote and Rusty is grown up enough to be useful ponying and helping them when needed.

8 had a little accident near the end of harvest. He was riding along in the semi. He had the misfortune of being leaning on the door when another kid opened it. The semi was stopped, his head broke his fall. He caught his head on the steps and it left a pretty good scratch on the back of his head but luckily he wasn’t hurt bad.