Sunday, February 27, 2011

we've moved

Too many hiccups with Blogger. Click here to visit our new blog.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


MaryJanesFarm has glamping [glamor camping]. MHf has chorping [chore camping]. Chorping has taken place only once at MHf and last night was the night. Here's a run-down of what chorping consists.

Last night's expected windchill was to be as low as -25 degrees and called for drastic measures. The herd is currently grazing the ground for the future orchard and there are not many places to seek cover from the wind. So, we opened the large sliding barn doors and gave the cows access to come and go as they pleased. They pleased very much. So much so that we're quite certain they never left the barn last night. How do we know this? Simple. Eric and I camped out on the living room floor in front of the fireplace and took turns checking the herd every hour. Checking, in this case, was much more than just walking out to the barn and saying hello. Here's a detailed look at chorping. We'll start with the attire.

Remember the expected windchill? Well, that makes it a bit difficult to walk outside in our skivvies. Eric can just bundle up in his insulated coveralls & hooded coat, lace up his boots and call it good. Five minutes, maybe? For me [Paula], it's a bit more time consuming. I need at least two pairs of sock (one being wool), long johns, stocking cap for my head, wrap for my face and then the insulated coveralls & hooded coat and laced-up boots. Let's not forget the leather, cotton-lined gloves for both of us. Ten minutes, at least. Timing is strictly dictated by how much sleep we've had since our last venture and how far into the night we are. During the act of dressing, we cannot ignore that sick-to-my-stomach feeling from lack of sleep. But there's a remedy for that.

Windchill. As soon as we open the back door, that wind slaps us in the face and motivates us the get the job done ASAP. That feeling in our stomach is now the least of our worries. Allowing the north wind to propel us to the barn, we first take a head count and make sure the newborn is still alive and kicking. If she wasn't, that would be another story. Second, let's check the water tank. In this case, we're using a mineral tub since it's a temporary station. It's usually empty which calls for hauling five-gallon buckets of water from the hydrant located in the front of the barn (a wise move on the part of the previous owner). Once we're finished in the barn, we head back to the house, undress, throw another log or two on the fire and set the alarm for the next hour.

Up until midnight, the cows drank like they came from the desert (that, too, is another story) - too many bucketfuls to count! At the midnight watch, Eric noticed their drinking subsided so we extended the next watch from one hour to two. At the 2:30 am watch (because it takes me longer to get dressed, right?) I noticed no one is interested in water. Yea! They've had their fill and everyone [us] can sleep for the remainder of the night.

Sleep is a relative term. In theory, taking every other watch means we get two hours of sleep. But unless we sleep in separate rooms, how much sleep do we really get if the alarm is going off every hour? Plus, once back in bed we relay our findings so the other has a reference point for the next watch. It makes for a short night.

And that, folks, is a run-down of chorping. Any other examples/versions of chorping out there?


Monday, January 24, 2011

too cute!!

Last Wednesday, I [Paula] was leaving for the bank and came upon a newborn! It was such a cold day to be all wet, too. I got out of the vehicle and determined that Mama Angus calved a heifer. The poor thing was shivering to beat all. After returning from town, I got the barn ready so they could move inside when Eric got home. That little girl needed to be out of the wind. A few days later, we extended the corral outside so they could enjoy the sunshine.

She's a special little calf because she's the first Angus/Dexter heifer. All the other crosses are bull-calves. I just figured it was God's way of helping me keep them straight. Guess I'll have to tie a pink bow around her neck! Right now she lets me walk up and pet her, but that won't last long after she & Mama return to the herd in a few days.


Monday, January 17, 2011

KS wind

If you've lived in Kansas for at least a month, you know we have wind: fast/slow, hot/cold, north/south/east/west. We have wind. And it's always more-so on the farm. Sometimes we appreciate the wind that day, and sometimes we don't. Take last month, for instance.

Paula's brother Mike came down for a few days Christmas to help with farm projects. Finally, the greenhouse was going up (this project has been on the to-do list for quite some time). Once we got started, it was fairly simple.

Day 1: level and fill the foundation

Day 2: construct the frame

Day 3: insert the fiberglass panels

Day 4: see photo below

Three days to build. Two hours to demolish. Eric stated is was a complete structural failure. Even the molded aluminum piece attaching the side walls to the base was ripped in two. At least we didn't need the ladder for final tear-down. All the panels are piled north of the greenhouse and will be used in future, more stable greenhouse projects.

Can you believe starting seeds is just a month away?

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Monday, December 20, 2010

old & new

Isn't he magnificent? Our tom turkey was in full uniform during morning chores yesterday. Obviously, he thought he was pretty special because he didn't even take time to eat. Following close behind two hens, he stayed puffed up for about ten minutes. Wonder if there was any food left after he deflated himself? He is handsome, though!

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Today's beautiful weather prompted another butcher (too many mutts in the barnyard). Most of them were hatched last April, but never culled. Today is the day! These birds may be a bit tougher than than the 8-week birds you've been buying, but they shouldn't be too bad. Using a slow cooker is a good idea, though.

We learn something new everyday, don't we? As I [Paula] was preparing today's blog post, I learned that the MHf blog has a follower! That's just for Facebook, right? Apparently not. I also learned that a list of followers could be added to the blog. One thing lead to another and to another. Hence, the blog has virtually been transformed from head to toe, including the background (as you can clearly see). No longer does it mimic the website, and that's probably not a bad thing. If you have a Google account, become a follower!! Comments are welcome, too.

Remember, farm products are still available during our break from deliveries. CSA customers have access any day during normal business hours as stated here. Give us a call so we can have the gate open for you. For all others, the gates will be open each Saturday from 2-4 pm.

Merry Christmas!!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

taking a break

Things sure have slowed down on the farm, haven't they? The garden has been retired and eggs have virtually disappeared. Aligned with the change of pace, MHf has decided to take time off from deliveries. The first two months of the year are the least intrusive as far as the schedule of labor is concerned. So, this week will be the final delivery to each location until March, 2011. We realize December has 5 weeks, but Christmas seems like a good place to pause. Besides, we're just ready for a break.

We appreciate everyone's understanding with the egg situation. Obviously, we have no control over the hen's capability (or desire) to produce. There are still quite a few names on the list of back orders. Rest assured, we're doing our best to accommodate you as quickly as possible.

This brings us to another aspect of customer orders. While the website clearly outlines the specifics for on-farm pick up, MHf has been a bit lax when it comes to enforcing those specifics. However, interest in the MHf CSA program continues to draw attention (the most-recent three months especially). MHf has been invited to speak to several groups regarding the CSA program and continues to receive email inquiries. For the sake of all CSA customers, MHf must stick to its guns when it comes to on-farm pick up. While some customers have been exempt from the CSA program for various reasons, we're sorry to say that this, too, must come to an end. While we appreciate everyone's business, we feel this decision is the best route to building a viable CSA business. For more information on becoming a CSA customer, please read here.

During our hiatus, nothing will change regarding weekly emails and updates to the In Season page. The only change will be the customer's access - primarily because the cattle are grazing along the driveway and the gate is generally closed. For CSA customers, please call with an estimated time of arrival so we can walk down and open the gate. For all other customers, the gate will be open each Saturday from 2-4 pm. All customers should keep in mind, though, that it's a good idea to email or call with your order. We'd hate for you to drive out if there is no product for you.

MHf appreciates your understanding of our need for long-awaited rest and rejuvenation.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

no more appliances!!

Remember the room we started a few weeks ago? It's coming along! Paula spent the entire Thanksgiving weekend sealing all the cracks and getting it painted (four coats). Last Saturday we were able to clean the appliances and get them moved into the room. Eric removed the door to the room and reattached the weather stripping that fell off last spring making it easier, yet, to keep clean. The front porch now looks twice as big! Screening the porch has always been on the list. Can you see why?

This week marks the first time in MHf history that eggs have been removed from the weekly list of available products. The shorter days have really taken a toll on egg production. On the farm, fewer daylight hours equal fewer eggs. So why isn't that the case with the commercial industry? Simple - they install lights in the hen house to keep egg production constant year-round. MHf certainly could do that (we have the electrical capabilities). However, there's a reason God designed our year with varying lengths to the days. It's okay to be without something for a short time or even for an entire season. We just appreciate it more when it is available. MHf's journey to sustainability includes finding the benefit of every season so far as it relates to farm productivity. Right now the shorter days have a negative affect on egg production, but a positive affect on our ability to plan next year's garden. It all cycles. Next summer when the hens are laying by the boat-load and the garden has us wondering why we planted so much, we will be looking forward to winter's time of rest. Bear with us. Local food is not always convenient food. But our hope is that you think it's worth every bit of effort put into it.

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