Monday, February 17, 2014

A Day in the Life :: Tuesday

Crazy. I know. To do another Day in the Life - but a blog reader who has been reading for years and commenting/messaging in response frequently - it seemed fair. She asked for a busier day (because she apparently likes to torture me? That's the only reasonable explanation ;) ). So this was a more "average" day, but not the busiest (don't ask for the busiest - seriously!). The busiest just involves me doing all the farm work as well as all the parenting - this is what Sundays and Mondays are like because Ren Man is gone 12 hours on each of those days, at an off-farm job.
Ren Man has been doing all morning chores. The deal was that I would do one morning a week when we switched to early in the morning. We made the switch because it was too hard for me to do morning chores and get Child F. to school on time and care for the younger two - particularly in the c-o-l-d! But I've done very few morning chores and when I do I'm very grouchy. Because A) I'm not a morning person. B) I value sleep greatly - particularly morning-sleeping-in sleep. C) The younger two - Child D. in particular (yep, not the baby) have often had me up night after night after night - multiple times a night!
But Ren Man suggested moving milking to the afternoon because he's exhausted. Not only is he working 2-10 hour days with a 1 hour commute one way - he's also taken on a TTH class at the local college. This means he's often up the night before class until 1am prepping. And then up at 5:30 for farm chores. Plus, he caught this vicious cold that Child F. kindly brought home from school (you know, to share) and then got over said cold much quicker than anyone else in the family.
Milking in the afternoon would be fine. Except ... cows do best when milked in the morning AND it would mean one afternoon a week (two, if you count Sunday) I would be responsible for milking AND kids at the same time. Milking adds a good hour to chores. Ren Man suggested we get a sitter for a couple of hours on that one day a week.
I suggested I get up and do morning chores more regularly.
So Monday I got up with a spring in my step (kids have been consistently sleeping through the night! In fact, I'd had more than one morning where I'd woken before Ren Man for one reason or another and then couldn't.fall.back.asleep!). Ren Man starts chores half an hour later than I do because he's faster and I really don't need the stress of trying to hurry - it never goes well.
I insisted on also doing Tuesday morning chores. I was not so springy! But here is that day:

What time should I start?
At 1am I brought Child D. to the potty. At 2am she fell out of bed (I tried having no guard rail - this was her second night - apparently she still needs the guard rail. Good news: she called "Mommy! Mommy!" - normally she just makes noises in the night, so I was glad she used words). 3am Child D. calls out - she wants water - wait until morning baby, girl. 4am and Child D. is requesting a book to look at in bed - in the morning sweet thing, go to sleep. 5am - alarm off, time for chores.
Start a prewash for wipes and dipes.
Stoke the fire.
Stall a little, trying to wait for the prewash to finish so I can start the BIG MAMMOTH MOTHERLOAD SANITIZE cycle.
One minute left of the prewash.
Here the shower running upstairs.
Oh yeah.
People (my parents) will be showering - they probably wouldn't appreciate the BIG MAMMOTH MOTHERLOAD SANITIZE cycle using all of the hot water. So stalling for nothing. Oh well.
Outside to the "green room" to fill a bucket with hot water to use in the barn to thaw the rabbit waters.

The water is slow in coming (low water pressure? slow pump?) and while the bucket fills I get on a snowsuit, cowl, two hats, boots, snowpants, and mittens. I also put together the milk can. I rest the iodine - used to clean the cows teats - over the lip of the bucket to keep it from freezing.
Bucket filled, milk can assembled, boots on, ready to go.

I carried the milker out in to the dark, the claw ends whacking my knees in time with my step. I see why bad knees could happen. There must be a more comfortable way to carry this 15lbs, but I'm too cold and almost-there to stop. It's dark outside so early in the morning.

The cows all get a small scoop of grain during milking - it's like a scoop of m&m's ... and they are waiting. This is Shadow - first to be milked. She's mooing at me. I immediately take off my mitten-gloves, they'll only get in the way. They are from college and wonderfully warm ... except for the two places the dog chewed through when she was a puppy. I need to get a new pair, I think. This winter has been exceptionally cold.

I hook up the milk can to the milk pump and put the grain dish (a refrigerator drawer in a past life) back up on the step in front of where the cows are milked. I notice the chain - a thin, inadequate dog leash that we've been using to "tie" the cows when being milked - is still broken, it came undone yesterday. I decide to improvise a tie with some baler twine. I let Shadow go with some difficulty. The hooks aren't easy to unhook and she's headbutting me and lunging away, expecting to already be released. Finally she's out and bolting with enthusiasm for the grain. I rub her teats down, a let out a spray or two before dipping each with iodine. The time it takes me to walk across the width of the barn to replace the iodine on the lip of the hot water bucket is enough time for the iodine to do it's cleaning. I grab a paper towel and wipe Shadow down, being sure to give an extra wipe to the ends of her teats and inspecting to make sure all visible signs of muck is removed. The pump is turned on, the milking claw is attached to her full udder (not without frustration as the suction is not excellent at first). I listen carefully for the click and hiss of the milker. When I hear it, I sigh with relief. It's not SO cold that I have to fire up the flame-throwing heater. It's not been working for me lately and it's cumbersome.

I have a few minutes but don't want to move far, in case one of the quarters empties out and the claw starts to pull away from the teat. If it falls off, it's left hanging onto the ground, still sucking - and it's not sucking in milk any more, that's for sure. So I need to stay nearby but have a few minutes. I fill a 5 gallon bucket and top off Shadow's water bucket, noticing that the ice has crept even higher in the bucket. I then start scooping poop in to the tractor bucket. This is our cleaning method. We scoop the gutter behind the three cows in the morning and ever 4 days or so, Ren Man fires up the tractor and dumps the poop on an ever growing pile. It's rather huge right now - but it keeps growing. On Tuesday, the tractor bucket was nearly full and I knew I couldn't fit all of the poop in the gutter in to the bucket. But I worked on Shadow's section while she was milked. And then threw wood shavings as new bedding. There's a lot of hay under her in her stall, but always places where the cows need additional bedding.

The bag was kicked over in enthusiasm by one of the cows yesterday (but let's not talk about the cows shenanigans around the barn yesterday!) so there's a hole in the wide part of the bag ... and apparently the bedding is super comfy for a certain cat.

Shadow finishes milking, and Facet, and finally Dana. There's some confusion about who goes where and jostling for this spot in the line up or that. I fill the big cow water bucket that Facet and Dana share and put new hay down for all. I go and grab the rabbit water bottles and put them in the warm water to thaw. I finish out milking Dana and look down her side to see her face.

I move the milk can to the door and play the game at psyching myself out for carrying it to the house. With the can weighing 15lbs and each gallon of milk weighing 8lbs - there's 47lbs to carry in one hand. I start by filling a bucket halfway with water and go out of the barn and up a slight hill to the chicken coop - but really the duck/turkey coop. They turkey's have found their voices and the tom is yelling and scolding as I approach. I enter and the birds all move to the far corner - all except the Bourbon Red (I think "Rosie" might be a good name for her). She's used to us, I suppose. I fill their water trough - a shallow black rubbermaid container that sports a frozen waterfall around its apron. I check food. There's still plenty. And peak for eggs - there's one. I grab it and head out of the door, being sure to turn the latch to lock it.

Back in the barn, it's time to take care of the chicks, rabbits and pregnant sow. I bring the thawed rabbit water in to the rabbits and I get the chicks empty water container. We rely on physics to keep a constant flow of water for the chicks, and that container is empty. I bring it to the spigot in the "cow barn" and fill it, resting the precarious costco-pretzel-container on my hip and carrying a 1/2 filled water bucket in the other hand I head back for the "inner barn". It takes some doing to unlatch the make-shift lock on the outside, but it's a hook and eye lock to close myself in to the inner barn. I put down the 5 gallon bucket and move to the chicks to do the water-flip process. The cower in the corner dramatically. I grab the metal tray on put it on top of the water container like a cover. Then flip the whole thing over. I've done this dozens of times perfectly. This time, the tray isn't held in place tight enough and 3/4 of the water rushes out over me and in to the corner of their pen. Wha-what? I give them what is left and tell myself to come back before afternoon chores to give them more.

And then it's Toppy's turn. I notice that she dives in to her food first, instead of her usual water-first routine. Huh. Well, that's more like a pig.

Back at the barn door and the sun is starting to rise.

I do one trip down the small hill to the house with a heavy milk can. I feel the -tendons? bones? muscles? - strain and stretch under the weight of the milk can. In the "not garage", I deposit the full can and grab two five gallon buckets and start filling them with hot water. I'd noticed the day before that the pigs/sheep/calf/laying chickens water trough was close to empty - if you didn't count the thick wall of ice surrounding the perimeter of the container, despite the water heater lodged in the ice. (These animals are not in the same pen, the mammals share a wall and the water trough is sitting on the ground between the two pens. The birds can go where they please, she get the water out of either side.). Armed with two five gallon buckets, I haul the hot water up to the "horse barn" (we don't have horses, just to be clear) and put the water right inside the door. The dogs are waiting. Excited at the prospect of stolen eggs. I keep the dogs out. There is one more bale of hay waiting inside the door. I grab this and bring it to the sheep/calf gate. The pigs are grunting enthusiastically - expecting their grain. I break open the hay bale and throw half a bale over the gate as far from it, into the pen as possible. I do this in one throw. I always marvel at the strength I've gained farming over the last few years. In the beginning, I couldn't open a bale without a knife. Now I can bounce a bale free of its twine.

While the calves and sheep are occupied with their hay, I open their gate and bring in the heavy 5 gallon buckets. The hay-eating-animals ignore me as I dump the water. I immediately hear the ice start to give, but see no movement of the ice. The pigs are slurping on the other side of the solid-walled-divide. Out of the sheep/calf pen and I take a peek at the hens usual nest area. There is a line and only one recently laid egg, so I leave them be. I'll get them later.

Back to the not garage and I'm filling one of those five gallon buckets with feed for the pigs in the horse barn. Back in the horse barn, the pigs are happy. I head over to the "tool room" - also part of the barn and doesn't actually hold many tools. That's where the dogs are fed, and they are ready!
Dogs fed, I'm back in the "cow barn" and grabbing my gloves, the empty "hot water" bucket, and the teat dip.

Those get put back in the not-garage and I fill a 5 gallon bucket with yet more pig grain and head for the outside feeder-pigs.

The beef cows are waiting in the distance.

Out in to the pasture and the cows are waiting patiently.

And then it's time for washing up the milking machine.

And chores are done. Open the back door and see the usual morning scene - kids in front of the fire, some dressed, some not. But usually I'm part of this scene. It's cool to see it from the outside in.

Child D. comes downstairs - she's just woken up and has rosy cheeks and a warm snuggle.

Ren Man is teaching a class today so he drops Child F. off on the way to school and picks her up on the way home. So we wave bye to Child F.

And then it clicks with Child D. what's happening and she rushes at Daddy for a hug.

Time to get the younger two kids dressed. In case you're keeping track: it's 7:54am.

Child D. moves away from the getting-dressed-spot and she has picked up a book, taking a getting-dressed-reading-break. I'm so excited that nightly reading has fed the interest in books. When she first came, she could not sit through an entire story. And now she's hanging out, looking at books.

And this is my life, all.the.time. And recently she's started pushing anyone away who dares to sit on my lap. Or she'll pull your hair. Anything to get you away.from.the.mommy.

I wander away to switch out of barn clothes and in to regular clothes. I'm ready for the day.

And look at that! Child D. is dressed and follows Del downstairs for the promised breakfast. We're always excited about food around here! We also feel the need to bring a random ziploc of summer clothes left over from a previous kid's spare-daycare-clothes.

The baby sees a banana and Child D. is distracted by scissors. So breakfast is delayed. (I did not realize this chair, that Baby E. is on, was so tastefully decorated with fingerpainted-yogurt before seeing this picture on the computer ;) )

We are a very happy baby with yummy banana chin and cheeks.

Del is reading:

Noah is playing video games (he's been told he needs to do X amount of workbook pages, clean up X amount of toys from the floor, and empty the dishwasher. This might also have been the day he needed to take a shower first - that was the day he was up at 6:38am to fit in a shower early to maximize video game playing time):

and it's time for this momma to grab some breakfast ... a breakfast that I believe was referred to as "cake" the night before. I'm not anti-eating-cake-for-breakfast.

Child D. is chowing down some bananas and yogurt:

My stellar breakfast has reminded me that granola-making is in order. We order many dry goods in bulk and then store them in food-grade five gallon buckets. I wish we had a pantry. But we don't. I think we could - we have a near-the-kitchen-under-the-stairs-closet ... but that's a project I haven't tackled yet. So for now, we have towers of 5-gallon buckets which also double as step stools. So the oats bucket is almost out (don't worry, another 50lb back awaits).

The ingredients for the granola all laid out (except imagine 3 more cups of oats).

There's a fair amount of running back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room. The baby is fussy. The toddler is done with her yogurt. The baby wants up, no down, no up. The toddler wants in to the older kid's business. And then there's a "MOM!" from the living room. Del has enlisted Noah to help her find her workbook and she wants my help too. Child F. organized the homeschool shelf last night and now everything is in unexpected places (ie on the shelf and not on the floor) and Del can't work in this environment!

The workbook is found and the baby is on my back as I finish up the granola.

Granola is ready for baking - 30 minutes, stirring every 10.

While that's cooking, some dishes need some putting away and other dishes need cleaning. It's 9:03am.

Child D. reorganizes the lazy susan while I wash dishes. At some point in here I got that mammoth laundry cycle going.

And I used the last of our 5-minute-a-day bread dough last night - to clear out that super-salty-tried-to-fix-failure batch of bread dough. So I start a new batch. But I get distracted and put in too much yeast and salt. Argh. So I need to double my flour. But the bowl isn't big enough.

So I find the bowl Ren Man uses when he makes bread for farmer's market. It's too big, but it works.

The granola is done and I pull it out to cool on the oven.
The younger two are entertaining themselves by flipping through books.

I think it's time for a coffee:

Finished up Child F.'s Valentine's Day cards. She won't be in school for this - she has a dentist appt - but she still needs to have cards for the other kids, right? So I made these. No mommy award here - I didn't include Child F. in any part of the Valentine making.

The granola is cooled and ready to be jarred:

11:04, start lunch for the younger two and then check emails and work on a note to the girls' parents. I write one most weeks for them to tell them what the girls have been up to. This week The Lego Movie and a visit with Grandma was the big news.

The younger two are both napping by noon and I need to go back out to the chicks to replenish their water. I switch laundry before heading out.

Toppy, the sow, is carefully picking up a piece of stray baler twine in her mouth and mouthing it for a few minutes before depositing it in a mound near a wall in her pen. Interesting. I bet she's soon! And weird that there is a piece of baler twine in there.

Back in the kitchen and Noah and Del are re-writing their lists. Yesterday they wrote out lists for Birthday and Christmas wishes. Normally I would have cringed and discouraged this want-want stuff. BUT - handwriting! Go for it. In Noah's haste to write his list he had many many sloppy misspellings (like spelling "Noah" without an /h/). I explained that it would be really hard for people to read his list if he didn't write more carefully. I explained that he did just what good writers do - he wrote his thoughts down quick without worrying about spelling or looks - but now he needed to go back and re-write it so others could also read it. So a re-write was deep in progress when I came in to the kitchen - the top half of the paper was for Noah, the bottom half for Del.

Del is working on a "tornado" while waiting for her turn to add to the list.

And then it's done and on the fridge.

More laundry to do.

The younger two are still sleeping. If they sleep past the half hour mark - I will have time to shower!! It's a little like being on vacation. The plan is to swim the next day, so it's a mega-shaving-shower.

I'm out and loitering in the hallway outside of our room, checking facebook and debating how to get dressed. The baby is asleep on our bed, and I really really don't want to wake her up early. I'm reading, and facebooking ... and then I hear a baby crying. But it doesn't sound like it's coming from our room. That's weird. I go and open the bedroom door slowly. She's not there! Oh no! She's already woken up!! I speedy quick get dressed.

I find Del downstairs, giving Baby E. a bottle. She heard her wake up and went and got her and when Baby E. was still sad, she gave her a bottle.

"I think she wants you," Del says.
Yeah, me too.

Wait, something isn't right with this diaper. I'm getting wet as I hold you. Let's double check this:

Oops. It happens.
I made crepe batter last night but ended up just making eggs, bacon, and having bread for dinner instead of going whole-hog and doing crepes. So I should use the batter.

I find a recipe for a sort of crepe casserole. And here comes a Child D. flying in to my arms, happy to be awake!

I fire up the crepe maker and run out to the cooler to get some soft cheese. I mix in basil and the last little bit of mozzarella we have. The front door opens. It's 2:21pm and Ren Man is home with Child F.

I'm working on dinner and Ren Man is working on getting outside to do chores. The kids are acting crazy and I insist all of them suit up and get outside. The older three are gone in a flash, Child D. needs some help getting in to her gear. So Ren Man helps Child D.

and I keep working on dinner.

Oh! And the dog needs flea treatment desperately. She's about 2 weeks away from having puppies and we've researched and found that advantage works as flea treatment safe for pregnant dogs. So I need to do that while I'm thinking of it - and the treatment came in today.

The casserole is put together. Child D. and Ren Man are out the door ... and Noah comes in the opposite door followed shortly by the Del and Child F.

Ren Man comes back in - "I hear squealing, the piglets are here!" he says to me quietly.
"Okay, I KNEW it!" I say and explain the nesting I'd seen.
He stands there expectantly.
"What?" I ask.
"I didn't know if you want to come out or anything?" he says.
"No, I've seen it before," I say. "The kids JUST came in and I have other stuff I need to do."
Noah starts piano practice, a hot-and-cold interest for all kids - mostly hot when another child has the piano.

Time to tackle dishes again and switch another load of laundry. Our friend arrives. She's here to quickly pick up her cell phone that she'd lost here during a recent playdate. I also hand her a bag of clothes for the 7mos old she just started fostering. I run out in the cold quick to take a peak at her newest addition. The kids are all sleepy and the ones she's fostering look satisfied and plump. It's cold! Back inside to those dishes.

Baby E. is asking where Daddy is. "Outside, doing chores," I tell her.

He happens to come back in. "Next time you think a pig is farrowing, let's be out there with her," he says.
"What is it?" I ask.
"Well, she farrowed 13, only 5 are still alive and I don't think they are going to last either (they didn't)," he explained. "At this scale, we need pigs to farrow 8-9 piglets at each farrowing and even then the piglets cost us about $200/piglet."
"Maybe we should go back to just getting feeder pigs then and not keeping breeding stock," I suggested. He shrugged and left, clearly upset. I was feeling extremely frustrated, guilty, angry - myself.
This is not the first batch of piglets we've lost this year - it's the third. None have been so large. The previous two litters were unexpected and we attributed their demise to inexperienced mothers. But this was Toppy's third litter of piglets - and potentially her largest.

A counter cleared of dinner prep does not mean a boring counter. The three girls climb up on to buckets to investigate recipes ... and the two year old dumps a healthy amount of salt all over the counter and the floor nearby.

I put dinner in the oven and hope Ren man will be back in by the time it's ready. I clear the table, pick up toys, finish up dishes, fold laundry. When dinner is ready, everyone is there. The kids excited, the parents disgruntled.

And then it's bedtime for the younger three. Usually the rule is: no videogames after dinner. But lately, Ren Man has not been encouraging that rule.

Upstairs, the girls teeth are brushed, pottying done, drinks drank, pj's on, and books chosen.

When everyone is snuggled cozy and asleep in their beds, it's time to get the older two. Del insists on flossing.

And then it's "An Elephant in the Garden" with the intention of also reading "Harry Potter". I tell Noah that we'll start with "Harry Potter" the following night. My throat is starting to hurt and I can barely keep my eyes open. He's agreeable to the reading-delay. I smile when I look over at the paintings the older two did yesterday - Noah a ninja, Del 6 kids all holding hands. We'll need to hang those up soon - in their room, as requested.

By 8:45 I have myself bed-ready and I'm reading just a few pages of "The Book Thief" (I can't get through it!) before my eyes are too heavy and I'm off to sleep.


Meredith said...

Wow! Your days are so full. Thanks for sharing; I loved reading this. And I totally LOL'ed at the diaper mishap. I can't even fathom how much laundry you have... Great pictures.

lovermont said...

Thank you! The laundry is a little out of control in terms of how much there is. It's amazing! But I stay on top of it, more or less. Often there are baskets of clean, folded laundry that need to be put away ... but hang out in the basket until I need the baskets for the next clean load!

Camie said...

You have an overflowing, busy life! I admire how much you and your husband do for your beautiful family. I think the farm life would be hard, but also rewarding. I especially loved the animal and nature pictures.

lovermont said...

Thank you, Camie! I'm glad you liked the pictures. It is a really full life, for sure!

librarian pirate said...

I love love love reading your day in the life posts. Holy cats, S! There's so much! Also unasked for advice? While I've always loved audiobooks, the girls fell in love with them when I had laryngitis a few years ago. Even when I'm healthy, though, they still adore them. I usually read them books myself then we all curl up together for audiobook time to give my voice a rest. Jim Dale, the narrator of the Harry Potter books, is my favorite audiobook narrator ever and totally worth a listen, if you're in the mood. <3

lovermont said...

Unasked advice is ALWAYS welcome ... except when it's not - but I can't imagine I wouldn't value your input on any topic ever.
I've avoided audio books for the kids (except once when we went on a 5hr road trip) because I was imagining them holing themselves (particularly Noah-who-is-like-Josh) up in their rooms for days on end. But man, HP is LONG - so I'm really excited about THAT idea!
Someone also gave us all of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings audiobooks ... on tape. We have GOT to find a tape player!