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Subject to Change Without Notice

January 23, 2015

A farmer’s day is always subject to change.  Best laid plans?  You better write them down because when the day goes south, you will eventually want to come back to them.

No flash for Jane

No flash for Jane

Sorry about the blurry pics, mild-mannered Jane strongly dislikes flash.  I don’t mind bothering her after milking, but before, I stick to the routine.

Jane gets her barley, molasses, and root breakfast while I milk, so that is the first order of business after setting buckets and jars on the bench.

My milking routine is rote, so I use that time to observe what else has transpired overnight even though I was out doing morning rounds at 6:00am.  You miss a lot in the dark.

Of note, the overflow wasn’t running, not even a drip.  That means the ram has stopped or someone used a lot of water at the house…the first option is what I expected to find.  We hadn’t used much water this morning.

ram overflow

ram overflow

So before milking I walked up to the tank on the hill to see if the ram was pumping or not.  (Note these two pictures of the overflow and calves are from last summer.) A trip to the tank is much faster than a trip to the canyon where the ram is, and would tell me what I need to know.  Namely is the water stopped, and how low is the tank?  The water was not flowing from the discharge pipe, so I needed to add starting the ram to my list.  Back to the barn to milk.

I halter Jane and try to take a photo at the same time for a post on bad cows…well, actually how tame cows allow you to have bad habits around them and put yourself in danger.  As you can see, bad habits and photography don’t mix, neither turned out well.

After securing Jane’s halter, I open the gate and let her go to the milking stall.  She knows the way, and knows I’ll be there shortly after shutting the gate.

Milking commences while Jane eats, I milk and tell her my tales of woe.  She’s patient like the dogs and just listens.  She has no idea about the ram, or anything really about my day except the part where I act like her slave, and she lets me have her milk.  I rattle on, and wonder out loud if I made a mistake breeding her at Christmas?  An October calf?  What was I thinking?  I hate fall and winter calves, and I always speak up about this, and it’s always assumed that I worry about the calf, but my real worry is the cow, peak lactation going into winter?  Not good.  Jane was bred, then she wasn’t, 50+ days and then a strong heat.  Arghhh.  I made the call to the AI tech, had her bred, and then second guessed myself (I’m real good at that.)  I decided, okay, IF she doesn’t take it will be a blessing and I will just have to get over my fear of milking her for months while dealing with her heat cycles.   I also knew Murphy’s Law of Farming is that once you succumb and decide to go with the flow, the flow changes.  Right now she has missed one cycle, and so it goes.  October 1st due date, or if she comes back into heat I’ll go with a long lactation and get her back on a good schedule.  One that has her calving in spring, so I can take advantage of the good grass for good milk and good butter. C’ est la vie.

That still left me with going to the ram and troubleshooting that.  The ramologist was at work, and I could wait, but I was looking forward to the hike anyway.  But first I had to process the milk, wash all the milking utensils, eat breakfast, and feed the cows.  Everything went along according to Hoyle until the “new” farm truck, the Not So Great White, ran out of gas.  Farm beaters are usually aptly named and are notorious for limping around farms with various things that don’t work but aren’t totally necessary in granny or first gear.  High on the list are usually brakes and gauges.  Keeps you on your toes.  The gas gauge did work, but it’s also been my experience, like say for instance with International Harvester the gauges aren’t true.  Ever. A full tank of gas is actually 3/4’s of a tank on the gauge, and empty is somewhere in that 1/4″ that you can’t read.  Well, I’m happy to say that this GMC gauge reads the other way.  Empty is 1/8 of a tank.  I wanted to find out where this truck would peter out on me, but not today.  Sigh, so a jaunt back to the shop for a can of gas.

Finally, I got to the ram, then the troubleshooting began.  The ram was stopped and was shut tight.  So up the trail along the drive pipe and to the barrel.  No overflow from the barrel, but a lot of water coming out the “lizard trap’ pipe.  Oh, the screen must be plugged…it was, with a leaf.  To simplify, the ram stopped because it ran out of water, with the screen plugged the water supply for the ram was being diverted.  Simple fix.  I disassembled the pipes, cleaned the screen, put it all back together again so the supply barrel could fill.  Once the barrel filled and started overflowing, I went back to the ram, bled the air from the line, and started the ram.  It took right off.   Count 1000 strokes and hike back up the hill.  Water system restored.

Now on to the rest of the list.


12 Comments leave one →
  1. CassieOz permalink
    January 24, 2015 3:22 am

    That’s farming…

  2. Lucy permalink
    January 24, 2015 5:12 am

    Ihave read several of your posts about the ram system and I’m in awe of it. Fixing our water supply is somewhat out of my skill set.

    LOL, my farm beater has a few lights that don’t work and no windsheild wipers, besides being stuck in 4 low….

    • January 24, 2015 7:02 am

      If it really needed fixing I would have handed it over to the expert, lizards and leaves I can handle, leather or a broken spring I need to bring in the big guns 😉

      This one actually has a decent heater, sure helps with a panting dog in there fogging up the windows!

  3. January 24, 2015 7:51 am

    Yep – farming certainly isn’t static. Our Daisy Duke didn’t take on the AI either – on the upside – we’ve finally nailed down her cycle to 21 days on the mark. The only sign? She stands up on her rear legs – balances like a pro, and waits for the hubby to get close enough she can pounce. Danger danger.
    We’re just going to take her for a date with a bull down the road in May – and I’ll just go with an extended lactation, probably until November.
    It’s funny – on one hand I look forward to the break in milking – but a year long break gives me a huge anxiety. No milk, cheese, butter….yikes. I keep flip flopping on her calf too – we’re going to need beef in the freezer – but every eighteen days she stands out in the field for two solid days and bellows like a lunatic. It’s very tempting to breed her at the same time as the cow. Would have been simpler had the calf been a bull.
    Btw – your picture of Jane behind the loafing shed gate is calendar quality. Beautiful 😊

  4. thetinfoilhatsociety permalink
    January 24, 2015 5:22 pm

    We don’t have a farm, but yes when you garden and have livestock, plans change in an instant – usually the worst instant, too! Javelina broke through our fencing last night…my fault really, I didn’t do a good job in certain areas when I put it up several years ago and I got to regret my decision last night. So this afternoon consisted of a sledgehammer, rebar, wire, big rocks, and repairs. The big rocks were to anchor the fencing at the soil line so they can’t just lift it up with their noses.

  5. Bee permalink
    January 24, 2015 7:44 pm

    Yeah, the original model for the Gumby cartoon character must have been a farmer or a rancher.
    If it’s not the weather that changes the schedule, it’s a critter; if it’s not a critter, it’s a kid; if it’s not a kid, it’s a piece of equipment…

  6. January 24, 2015 11:21 pm

    I wonder what life would be like without the need to be adaptable and go with the flow? Boring I guess. I think boring is okay from time to time 🙂

  7. January 25, 2015 6:24 pm

    Oh my gosh! I’m exhausted just from reading this but I admire you so much! I’ve just discovered your blog a couple months ago and look forward to reading your new posts.

  8. January 26, 2015 1:01 pm

    I just adore the photo of Jane walking to where she is milked! Does she ever veer off course, or always head there because of her treats waiting?

    • January 26, 2015 1:48 pm

      Ha ha! Winter is easy. When apples & raspberries beckon? That’s an entirely different story.

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