Building Fences + Goats

See that electric fence? I helped build that. Basically it involved driving T-posts (the post in the foreground) into the ground about every 60 feet. One of the hardest tasks I’ve done at the farm is drive T-posts. Then every 20 feet rebar posts are driven into the ground with hammers (those are the little skinny ones). Plastic wikis (not a technical term) are placed on all the posts in pairs for the wire to run through. The bottom layer is strung on first, then the top layer. A gate is also installed. And by gate I really mean a square piece of fencing tied with wires to a T-post that opens and closes. After double checking for evenness, the fence is then wired from a power source (in this case, the dairy) and tested. I throughly enjoyed doing this, and four of us got it all constructed in one work day, leaving only the wiring to be done.

The purpose of this fence is to build a temporary structure for the goats to graze in. That way, when they clear a field of all edible grass -which doesn’t take long at all- they can be moved and the fencing reused for another pasture. Its not a perfect boundary, they’re are a couple of little ones who love to break out regularly, but it does the job and discourages predators from mingling with the goats.

Now, about milking…

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Cow, and Farm Foliage.

This pretty bovine is one of the five steers on the farm currently. There are four in this pasture, and a 5th in his own. The sequestered one resisted being moved, and it took 2 1/2 days and four men (ahem, ‘cowboys’) from the farm to wrangle the frightened-into-violence beast into the right pasture. He has warmed up to people though, in the last few days.

Some Snapshots:

These are just a few pictures of some flowers growing on the farm. I’ll come back and write more about the goats and how to milk them in the next couple of days.

These smell delicious, and they grow right by the Ed building.

Even though this flower is dying, the colors I thought were beautiful in an antique sort of way. This picture simply does it no justice.

A lovely bud

This guy is one of the most perfect flowers I’ve ever seen.

This guy is really happy looking (as most sunflowers are in my opinion) and he was all by his lonesome enjoying the sunset.

Marathon Cooking

This past tuesday was my turn to cook lunch- At the farm, everybody takes turn cooking the noon meal, and everyone eats together. pretty much every other meal is self-serve, and the protocol is to plan for 30 people.

Now, thirty people may or may not sound like a lot to some. And in some cases, it may not be. If these were 30 mild-mannered air-conditioned suburban office workers, this might not seem like such a task. But these are 30 farmers. People that have spent the past 3-4 hours working in the hot July sun, leaving them ravenous and electrolyte deprived. Not to mention the men who sit down for the noon meal here tuck in and put away more in one sitting than I do in an entire day.

I’ve never cooked for such a volume before. Usually when I make meals its for 4 or 5 people. The most I’ve ever cooked for is 15, and thats really pushing it. Plus, when I plan a meal, I make lists. Oh the joy of a shopping list! After I spend a significant amount of time searching for what I want to make, I then spend a significant amount of time searching for the ingredients. No such luxury here. I must put to use what is already in the farm kitchen, which is a beast I’ve never faced before.

As I was musing on what to prepare, I found out that there would be a troop of girls coming for a few days, about 10 or so. So the guidance I used on the volume of food to prepare was more or less a stab in the dark, and I found myself petitioning the Lord to intervene in a loaves and fishes type manner if I happened to not make quite enough.

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Happy 4th, Enjoy your food.

A nice post on why one shouldn’t become so health conscious that food is no longer enjoyed. I ate a burger today from Five Guys in honor of this very kind of thinking.

Flowers on the farm taken in the evening. They’re everywhere around here.

Happy Holiday.

The Electric Fence, a Farm Tour, and a Story.

Tales From the Farm:

These goats. They look innocent enough, right? Of course not. Scenario: I’m riding my bike down the farm road, snapping pictures. These guys are hanging out really close to the (electric) fence. Naturally I think its an opportune time to take some pictures of these friendly beasts. I stop, get this shot, then they just slide right under the fence (electric, remember?) like its not even there. Thought process: “Great. Escapees. And its my third day here.” Again, naturally, I start to panic, because what this picture doesn’t show is the entire herd of hollow-horned mammals lounging behind these two, and I begin to envision them all coming through the fence in a stampede of curiosity and mischief. Then I would really have some issues. I am no goat wrangler.

So I precede to take hold of their little collars in the form of a blue chain and guide them back under the fence. The first goes easily. The second goat (the far right one in the picture) makes me chase him a bit. I think the other goats are laughing. When I begin to push/deposit the second goat through the fence, my arm hits the electric fence. Now, this is a strange sensation. It made its way through my left arm, across my chest, then down my right arm. It wasn’t painful, just really uncomfortable and startling. It could have been painful. It was also really quick. Later I wondered what nerve I hit. Hopefully I will have more goat photos without mishap to share.

Now, on to the farm tour.

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Some Links, And Chickens that want to look like Turkeys.

Nice little piece on how self-regulation lets you side-step government regulation.

The American Section of the Ethnic Foods isle. So worth watching. So revealing.

In Farm News:

That’s where I live. I like it, the people are nice. Sure, its a far cry from the ultra-sanitized hospital environment that I have been living in, but you can’t have a farm without dirt. Right? Also, there are two temperatures: hot, and hotter.

Also, there are these curious looking ‘chickens’ wandering around outside my dorm. Here is one that slowed down enough for me to take his picture (Sorry these aren’t better photos, I couldn’t convince them to model for me.):

Supposedly these chickens are better suited for hotter climates (like south Texas) due to their naked necks. From what I understand they are a chicken + turkey hybrid, but I didn’t go around fact checking that. If you like genetics, a quick internet search pulls up all the info on such fowl.

On Friendship, and Working With Your Hands.

I have a friend named Alisha who celebrated a birthday this past week. Alisha and I have known each other for roughly the past four years, and our friendship has grown immensely in the last two. I can’t recall exactly when or how we decided to be such good friends, but it happened and I am ever-so-glad it did. What started off as a friendly acquaintance evolved into a support system for school, relationships, and delicious home-cooked meals when I have needed them the most. I am extremely blessed to have a kindred spirit who shares my passions about Jesus, medicine, food and music.

As a symbol of the birthday celebration, I baked this cake. Its a blackberry bundt cake with an orange glaze* that just feels like summer to me. Of course, living in south Mississippi it seems like the summer always feels you, but for the sake of friendship and summer berries, this cake is perfect.

I have a tiny kitchen, and being a college student my kitchen resources are limited at best. The original recipe calls for luxury appliances like mixers, which I do not have. However, I do have two fully-functioning hands, and I believe that people were making cakes years before there were mixers, and successfully. I’ll walk you through it, if the world of non-gadgetry is new to you. Read the rest of this page »