Up every morning at six bacon and eggs to fix. For those of you that are not familiar with it the title and first sentence are from on old Country Western song by Roger Miller. The song itself has no significance with Hobby or any other type of farm life. The title probably does though, at least in the minds of many.
Many people I think has the misconception that to have a life having any connection to farming or agriculture in any way somehow mystically dictates that it is required that you get up before sunrise. Now my Dad I feel would agree with that. It seems to me that when coming up it was some type of Cardinal Sin if the sun came up while you were still in bed. He was quite adamant about your being up to enjoy ALL the benefits of early morning too. I don’t remember it bothering me then, maybe because that is the way it had always been, and I still don’t. Yes I am still up early. Before light just about every day. By choice? Not every time but usually. See I have been doing it so long it just doesn’t feel right if I am not up when the sun gets here. Of course this time of year there is a good hour, maybe two, before the sun shows it’s face. Now I say good because I do actually enjoy that time before the world at large gets started. It is quiet for one thing. Even for here, out in the boonies, it is quiet. Weather permitting if the urge strikes we can go on the porch listen to and watch the cows, chickens and birds start their day. See the sun start over the mountain ridge behind us
and watch the rabbits and squirrels start their day as well. If we want to we can even talk to each other. Not because life demands it but because we want to. That doesn’t always happen but the farm or country life allows it. Pauline is not quite the early riser that I am but she is not often abed past six herself. Why? I would l=”httpike to think she enjoys the early time the same as I do and maybe just wants to be with me before we start our day. I know I enjoy it when she is there.
OK so you’ve been up for a couple of hours had your coffee and enjoyed watching the chickens you say. Now what? I will give you an example from the last couple of days at least.
I bought a small stock trailer about a year ago for the rare occasions when I have to haul some of my stock somewhere. Or we have bought something new and need to haul them home. But most of the time it just sits; and I can’t stand that. If I’m going to have it and have spent the money for it needs to earn it’s keep. Just my nature. Also two years back I built a covered rack to feed hay to the cows during the winter months. It seems such a waste to me to just put it out in the field as is normally done and about half of it gets wasted. The covered rack works great, BUT, they still manage to pull a large portion of it out and drop it on the ground. Walk over it and do unspeakable things on it and “oh no I ain’t eating that” they say. Again it is being wasted. Can’t stand that either. Also it stays wet stinky and breeds flies and other insects there all summer.
Yes it could go in the compost heap but once they walk it in or if it is wet it is tuff getting it up. So the solution? How about I take this stock trailer that is just sitting here? Take the sides off that. Put them up so I can use them again when needed. Put new sides that will allow the cows to get to the hay and feed them in the pasture. The hay has grass seed in it so I will be seeding as well as feeding and the uneaten hay will go back into the soil. It is also on wheels so it can be moved as needed to keep them from damaging good pasture by feeding in one place for too long.
So actually it took me only one day, 2 to 3 hours to get the cage for hauling livestock off and about 5 hours to build these two ft. high sides and mount them on it. Again it is just me and even though it is just a five by eight trailer the cage is a bit heavier than I can just pick up walk off with. It is sitting in the middle of the barn now and I will have to get it out of the way and put up, probably tomorrow. So here I am walking around my new mobile hay wagon all proud of myself because I finished it all in one day. Didn’t have to take it apart and redo it even one time. Believe me that happens on occasion. Then it dawns on me, you did not put a roof on it Bob. That is not actually what I called myself. It will be in the middle of the field no cover. That means wet wasted hay. Has to have a cover.
So here is what I did. Took 3 of the 8′ 2x4s cut them in half and attached 3 on each side to the top rail of the already existing walls. This gave it about 5.5′ in height. Then I used 2 stock panel to make the top. These I had previously used and they were just 10′ long. Just right for what I needed. This gave me enough length to arch them across the uprights just installed on each side to a center height is about 6′ 3″. Plenty for me to walk in without hitting my head when clean out is necessary. The arch was accomplished by lying the panels, one at a time. across the outside braces with a 6′ step ladder serving as a center support. Using cord or strap or whatever was readily available to pull the sides in to the desired spot and then nailing the panels to the top of the uprights with wire staples. It also gave me enough length that there is about an 18″ overhang on each side to help keep the weather off. The 2 of them with their 52″ width covers the length of the trailer with a few inches to spare. Added a 10′ x 12′ tarp, AFTER, the application of duct tape all around the edges of the panels. This is to hopefully stop the sharp ends from ripping the tarp. The plastic tarps are not very strong as we all know.
Now I have a mobile hay rack that can be moved wherever needed to allow the spot seeding from the hay. It can add organic matter to spots or area in need of it. Natural fertilization by the livestock. Natural tillage by the livestock as well and if I feel it necessary I can add additional grass seed of my choice and soil improvement such as fertilizer and or lime and let the cows work it in. And if I want the wasted hay for the compost heap all I have to do is fork it back on the trailer as I go for another two rolls then fork it off on the heap.
I have to admit I am feeling a little proud of myself right now. I’m getting double service from a piece of equipment that was just sitting most of the time and all for a cost of about $100.00 in out of pocket money. Is it pretty? NO! As you can see. But it does get the job done and economically as well. And that is part of what I feel this lifestyle is all about. Taking what we have and doing the best we can with it and maybe being able to give someone else ideas as to how to help themselves along the way.
If you have similar things that you have done I would like to hear about them and if you want them shared but don’t have the means to do it send it to me maybe we can work it in.