A Saturday in the Life of…

A reader asked for a walkthrough of a day on the farm. So I tried to keep track. This is fairly typical of a weekend. The livestock don’t take much time. On weekdays Julie has a schedule for housework, home school, business building and writing. On weekends we tackle bigger jobs.

Today was an odd day. We were up late Friday night as Julie wanted to go on a date. I don’t know why she wants to date again. We have been happily married for 17 years. Maybe there is something wrong. Something I can fix. Something I can do. She says it’s not that simple. Oh well. A night off work.

We had dinner out then came home to watch a movie. If you haven’t seen Ender’s Game, don’t. Just don’t. So that put us to bed around 11:30. I never stay up until 11:30

Today Julie’s phone woke us up at 4:30 alerting us that we were a mere 30 minutes away from the official start time of the day. What a stupid thing for a phone to do. I adjusted the phone’s attitude and slept for another hour to spite it.

At 5:30 I decide I can no longer excuse laying in bed all day so I pop up, brush my teeth and begin planning my day. The sun won’t come up for another hour at least and there is a pile of laundry and a small pile of dishes that need my attention. I responded to a few comments on the blog then got out the door…which is always guarded by cats.

Cats

On work days I can check the pigs, feed the cows, check and water the chickens and open the nest boxes then walk to the yellow house to check and feed the broilers and return home in 15 minutes. On Saturdays I tend to stand around and enjoy the scenery a little more. It took me 45 minutes today. I dropped the bale and stood in place surrounded by cows.

CowBreakfast

That’s kind of fun but it also gives me a good chance to look them over. Good thing too. Remember that date? I get home between 6 and 6:30. By that time we only just have time to drive 30 or 40 minutes to the nearest restaurant for dinner out and still get home at a decent hour. So Julie planned out the day’s pasture and elected not to bring the cows a bale of hay. The day’s pasture is not an issue of square feet. It is an eyeballing of available forage in a given space. She didn’t give them enough to eat as evidenced by Mrs. White.

EmptyRumen

I had a chicken out of the fence and spent 5 minutes stalking her then clipped her wing. Otherwise the birds were doing their thing. Feed? Check. Water? Check. Nest boxes open? Check.

HenScratch

Then I sharpened a couple of chain saw chains, loaded up my equipment, hooked the trailer to the truck, straightened things up a little bit in the shop and headed in for breakfast at 8:00 on the dot. One slice of bacon, two eggs and half a cup of coffee later and I’m killing time waiting on her to go to the broilers with me. So I decide to build a race car for a Yeti.

AbominableBy 8:40 the broilers were moved, fed and watered (there are currently 3 tractors in the field, just snapped a picture before moving it)…

Broilers

…and I kissed Julie goodbye. She was going to town to pick up the kids at her mom’s. She didn’t return until 11:00. In the meantime I dropped the trailer off at the brooder so we can haul bedding to the garden later and drove to the day’s main project, cleaning a fence row. The fence has been mostly smashed and buried by falling limbs and time but I need to at least find it. Further, I want to drop the lower tree limbs where I can, stop the trees from reaching into my field and cut out saplings that are inching into my field year by year. Again, I’m all in favor of trees, just not where I have fences. But I really can’t manage the neighbor’s side of the fence…only so much I can do. Finally, there is only so much I’m willing to do today. This is a first effort. Let’s establish a beach head. Lower limbs, nuisance species and encroaching saplings. Next year we’ll do a little more. Maybe.FenceRow1There were really only three tree species in the stand: hedge, elm and hackberry. I’m happy to burn all three but I hate cutting hedge. It is the hottest-burning of our hardwoods but what a pain. Literally. Hedge is covered in thorns. The thorns on the branches cause it to stick together like velcro. When it comes loose the limbs go on the attack. There appears to be something in or on the thorns that causes additional soreness for the next few days…especially joint pain. But there’s nothing else to do. You just have to sort of carve your way into the tree then start pulling it apart. Great fire wood though. And it’s good for bow making. And it’s a cut and come again tree so if I coppice it down to a stool I’ll have a new group of thorny sprouts the next year. That must have happened to this tree some years ago.

HedgeOctopus

As I cut my way through I lay firewood-sized limbs aside for later and stack the rest for chipping. It is important to lay all the butts facing the same direction to make it easier on chipper day. I’ll just set up in front of the brush piles and tie into it. I should point out I rent a 6″ chipper but it can not chew through hedge larger than 1″. Hedge is tough stuff. When I say hedge you should read Osage Orange.

LimbButtsBeyond the trees there were a number of unwanted and unpleasant things growing in there. Bush honeysuckle is an invasive monster that’s hard to get rid of but poison ivy is the worst. Especially when it grows in a shrub form. Every time I cut one sawdust flies up into my face. Poison. Ivy. Sawdust.

PoisonIvySo Julie and the kids showed up to help after 11. Julie stopped to gather eggs and check water. The oldest boy fed and checked the broilers. Then everybody helped move limbs into a neat row. We are maybe a fourth of the way down the row after three hours of work. That may be too generous. It’s obviously faster with 6 of us on the job. Well 4 of us. The youngest two mostly sat in the truck out of the cold wind.

BrushWe had lunch at Aunt Marian’s house. Every year for St. Patrick’s day she serves corned beef and cabbage. For some reason we are celebrating late. Delicious anyway. I asked her about the things in her house…who they came from. I was sitting in a chair that uncle French bought 120 years ago and eating from plates that belonged to my great-grandmother and the glasses were jelly jars that uncle Pete gave her.. I think that’s pretty cool.

Dishes

After lunch the oldest boy and I worked on pruning Aunt Marian’s fruit trees. Aunt Marian and I have radically differing philosophies on pruning trees. In short, she is in her 90’s. She sells her heifers and buys cows because she needs calves now, not later. Similarly, she wants me to prune for apples this season, heck with next season. Same conversations every year. I remove suckers, shoots and dead limbs. Then I start carving out interfering branches and limbs and work to open up the tree. She corrects me saying she has never removed shoots and just wants the dead and interfering branches out. But she defines interfering as just the limbs that have actually grown together. I don’t wish to disobey her. I just want to do a good job. No pictures of the fruit trees. When I removed my poison ivy-covered clothes at lunch I left my phone on the dresser and Julie was inside.

Home again around 3:30 and it’s time for some chores. 6 more layers are out of the fence so I ask the boys to grab the scissors. Then it’s off to build cow pasture, feed a bale of grass hay, do a final egg collection. The oldest boy feeds and waters one last time, we all change and it’s off to church at 4:30. At church I run the video production system. Julie and our oldest run cameras. Pretty cool stuff.

VideoBoard

Then a little grocery shopping, head home and chill while watching an episode of Tudor Monastery Farm then it’s off to bed.

That’s pretty much how a Saturday works around here. Normal livestock chores take a few minutes here and there and we try to make progress on some major projects inside or outside. We try to find a few minutes to goof off and look for opportunities to serve. Sundays work at a different pace with a different set of specific tasks and traditions. We clean the horse stalls and clean our toilet buckets. We also have our weekly family meeting and watch star trek. Weekdays we just try to keep up…and apparently go on dates. Who knew?

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16 thoughts on “A Saturday in the Life of…

  1. Sounds similar-ish to our Saturdays. You deserve special credit for working on the hedge. Nasty stuff. Always amazed that Mother Earth News and people keep recommending it ‘living fences’ and buying it. Thanks for the rec on Tudor Monastery Farm, i’ll have to wait until our library gets the dvd.

  2. Sounds like here, milk the cow, feed and bed the beef cows, cut firewood, fix fence that the firewood was on, bake hamburger buns for dinner, make ghee, seed some more vegetables, cover greenhouse with plastic, debate putting hens in to “weed” said greenhouse, check cows on last time, fix dinner, watch a movie, go to bed. Start over at 5:30 the next morning.

    It looks cold in your area…brrrr.

    • As much emphasis as we put on keeping our livestock, they really don’t take all that much time. Most of our time is spent on keeping and feeding humans. Cutting the wood is something of a diversion.

  3. Thanks for the “tour.” The Tudor Farm looks like a great learning experience. I’ve used the PBS series “Colonial House” to help teach about colonial New England. This looks the same but hopefully not the invasion of 21st Century attitudes.

  4. Great snapshot of your day. I am thankful we don’t have osage orange. Very thankful. I trade broiler chicken for fruit tree pruning. I don’t like a lot of ladder work, he has a family of six to feed. Works great.

    I thought Tales from the Green Valley was their series for the Tudor period, what a bonus that they’ve done another. The others are really good; Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm, my library has them, there are also companion books.. And Steve, this series is really different from the Colonial/Pioneer/Victorian House series – which is good too, but more of a reality tv type angle. These ones are about learning hands on how people did things in the different periods, not about whether modern day folk could live like that. The three narrators are archaeologists/historians, so there’s no infighting or family crises to liven things up – which might make them slower watching for a classroom but means there’s a better chance of getting the facts straight.

    Dates? We fit those in once in a while. The hardest part with those is to not talk about kids or finances, lol. I don’t know if that means we already get enough together time or that we don’t get nearly enough.. :).

    • Sailor Farm, Thanks for telling of the differences. I got tired of the “Survivor” type infighting. I wanted some more details about the time period. These should be better.

      I also have the cats guarding the door, except my problem is a set at the back door and another at the front. Too many cats.

  5. Thanks for this behind the scenes peek on how you manage to cram everything into your day/wk. In working away at reading your old blogs today, I found a similar look at one of your days back on May 22/12 – Dear Diary. And oh oh – it looks like you are a repeat offender with too much work and not enough dating then too, poor Julie! lol

    Great Aunt Marian – love the simple elegance of her family heirloom place setting with all it’s history – that is cool. If she is seriously in her 90’s and still has cows that is beyond amazing! You or Caretaker need to write up her story of how she still does that and share with us, and then call the Guinness Book!

  6. A soak in message of this blog snuck up on me the other day and that was of Balance! Your daily “pie” within that 24 hr period had time for your spouse, regular farm chores, farm projects, family time with your kids and relatives, church time, blog time (which I think of as community service as you teach, entertain, share experiences and thoughts that direct our attention to so many interesting things!) and still have some down time with lego and TV. Ye olde Type A drive in me (that I am getting better at squashing) would have had me out there cutting bush by headlights just to get the job completely done before Sunday sun up! A bit of an exaggeration but I have had too many days where my pie is only one flavor. I used to be sure I could conquer Rome in one day, so it is really good to see the balance you have in your day.

    Any chance you could turn the reins over to Julie for a behind the scenes look at her week on the farm? I imagine she does more of the weekday farm chores after your morning chores while you are at work. Ditto with the kids, (as told to HFS) by each of them. Not to name them or invade their privacy, just as oldest son, etc and hear in their words their part in running the farm. Not sure if they have routine daily chores – interested to hear what their favorite and least favorite chores or things on the farm are. Would be good to see the whole behind the scenes with everyone who contributes to running the Jordan Family farm. Thanks!

    • I mentioned the idea to Julie. Household chores are rotated weekly. Daily farm chores tend to be fairly permanent. When I’m home I usually recruit as many as I can to help with whatever I am doing. Last night I was cutting firewood and the kids were loading the wheelbarrow and stacking it while mom made dinner.

      The oldest boy is nearly 6 foot tall and we look at him as a man. We give him a man’s work. We expect things from him that we should only expect of an adult. But he just turned 13. Our expectations of him are completely unrealistic. At times I expect him to be my equal and I am completely shocked when he physically can’t get something done. He is so hard-working and so eager to please…it is hard for me to remember that he is still a child. I need to be more aware of his physical and emotional development in planning work. It is important that we get brush cut on the edge of that field. It is also important that we take a football along with us and take a break now and again. And to make time to play guitar, study for his ham radio exam and just chill and watch the clouds go by.

      The younger son (9) wants to be with us but he doesn’t want to just work all the time either. He wants to go fishing. I have to do that. I can count on him to drag brush. I can count on him to help feed chickens. He is always with me. I need to reciprocate.

      The oldest daughter is a total mystery to me. She works hard…and will work with us outside but her real passion is in the kitchen. She would much rather make dinner and desert than cut brush…but I can count on her to be out there with us.

      The youngest daughter (we call her Little Sister on our blogs) is game for anything short of washing dishes. She accompanies me everywhere but her job seems to be holding cats more than anything else. She usually shares my blanket on the couch too.

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