Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's crunch time

Around this time every year, I start to panic. Mike has gone back to teaching, which means that he only has Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to work on the farm. I know I should be happy that he doesn't teach on Fridays, but three days compared to seven is quite a reduction in hours. And fall is approaching, quickly followed by winter, when hibernation is the only reasonable option for all living things in Illinois, including people.

My annual panic had not set in until last night when Mike informed me that the forecast is calling for nighttime temperatures to fall into the 40s within the next week. Unlike some parts of the country, we have been having unbelievably cool weather this summer, which I love. This colder-than-normal weather pattern has been here since last winter when we had temperatures at something crazy like 16 below zero, which I did not love. I've been hoping something would snap soon, and we'd be back to normal seasonal temperatures. If this trend continues, our first-frost date of mid-October will probably be coming a lot sooner, which means less time for things to grow in the garden. I'm still waiting for my fall lettuce to sprout. And if frost comes sooner, frozen ground probably will also, which means we have even less time left than normal. In other words, it's crunch time.

The Urban Dictionary defines crunch time as:
The interval of time immediately before a project is due, when it becomes apparent that the schedule has slipped and everyone is going to have to work like dogs to try to complete the project in time. Crunch time usually occurs during the period between the next-to-last scheduled milestone (prior to which everyone was able to delude themselves that the schedule had NOT slipped) and the final deadline for delivery. During crunch time, workers are in crunch mode. Prevalent in the software industry, but used elsewhere as well.
My delusion this year was acute. So, what do we have to do before our world freezes over?
  • Put drain tiles in the yard around the house. Every year the flooding is getting worse, and we said that we were definitely going to get this done this year. Can't do it once the ground freezes.
  • Replace almost all the electric fencing with woven wire. Goats and sheep do not respect electric fencing. Woven wire is destroyed when it floods. So, we're going to put woven wire in all the areas that don't flood, and we'll use the temporary Electro-net for rotational grazing in areas that do flood. New fence posts have to be put in before the ground freezes.
  • Create kidding pens in the smaller barn. Last winter, Mike created "temporary" pens in the smaller barn for me, so I could sit in the heated office and keep an eye on goats that were in labor. Over the summer, he removed all of them. New pens have not been built. After last year's experience kidding in below-zero weather, I am not breeding anyone for due dates in January or February this year. Although we could do this after our world freezes, we are kind of wimpy when it comes to working outside for very long in cold temperatures, so it needs to be done soon.
  • Stain more trim for the house. Yes, this can also be done after it gets cold, but then Mike is tempted to do it in the heated barn office, and I'm afraid that the fumes are going to cause him serious problems. Katherine is supposed to start staining this weekend, so she can do it in fresh air.
  • Put tile around my bathtub. This might sound like a low-priority item, which is why I have been staring at concrete board for four years. At some point, it needs to be moved up on the priority list. And it has to be done when windows can be opened because it's a headache-inducing-stinky job.
  • Landscape in front of the house. I'm over-the-top optimistic to think that this is going to get done, but I either need to seriously get it landscaped or learn the names of all the weeds growing out there so it sounds like it's a "planned natural area" when people ask what we're growing in front of our house. It is kind of pretty when the weeds are five feet tall and blooming, but I don't think anyone would ever want that much Queen Anne's lace.
And we need to get all these special projects done while continuing to do the daily work on the homestead. Right now, there is also a lot of gardening that needs to get done, as well as canning and freezing vegetables. I was going to make salsa yesterday but ran out of time. I need to remember to order garlic for fall planting, but my indecisiveness in choosing varieties usually leads to procrastination in ordering. You can see how this is problematic.

Speaking of ordering, I need to order maple sugaring supplies, so we can tap our maple trees next spring. I just ordered two books from Amazon on the whole process. As we were walking around looking for oak and hickory trees, we realized we have a lot of very large maple trees. My sister-in-law in New York learned that all the suppliers are sold out during sugaring season, so last spring she used Chinese take-out cartons to collect sap. I've already started looking for supplies, but the less-expensive suppliers are still saying "sold out," so I need to remember to keep checking back or just order and hope it all arrives before next spring.

This weekend, we need to do goat maintenance: FAMACHA everyone (check their anemia status), give copper to those who need it, trim hooves, tattoo summer kids, and probably a few more things that I've forgotten at the moment. Oh, yeah, the bucks need to be moved to new pasture, which is always a fun job.

Now, I have to get ready to teach today.


Gail V said...

re: drain tiles around house-- does that mean wet basement? I want to recommend what we did at our old farmhouse, which was to have drain tile and sump laid inside the perimeter of the basement walls. It's worked like a charm for 5 years, Really!
Email me if you want:
gvonbargen at aol dot com

Deborah said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Gail, but luckily the basement hasn't flooded, except in cases of human error or power outage. Now that we have a generator, the latter should not be a problem any longer. The flooding is in the yard. We get an inch or two of rain, and we're ankle deep in water. There is a large concrete slab in front of our house (where a mobile home used to sit) and it gets about five inches of water in it when we get an inch of rain. Sorry I didn't explain the flooding thing better. Thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

What do you vaccinate and worm your goats with...I didn't do the three older goat we have, but Trapper thinks is would be a good idea now that we have three little ones. The woman we got the Boer goat from doesn't use wormer, because they are sold as organic meat to, so I don't know what I should use.
Yesterday I fixed fence by myself since Trapper has alot of work...really could have used an extra set of hands so I can sympathize with you. Our priority list should be a new roof, but something else always comes up....

Deborah said...

I've quit vaccinating the goats that I keep, but most people just vaccinate for CDT, which is available at all farm supply stores and the goat catalogs. The most up-to-date information on deworming is available at It is the most current research on what works and what doesn't, what dosages to use, and why you should NOT deworm unless you have an anemic goat. It's government-funded research; you paid for it, so you might as well use it!

Deborah said...

I should add that since I don't vaccinate for CDT (T is for tetanus), I keep tetanus antitoxin on hand in case an animal in injured. So far, no one has gotten tetanus, including the ram who was attacked by coyotes and ripped up.

Michelle said...

When I was a kid in Nova Scotia, we used to make our own maple syrup. We got the spouts at Home Hardware (, and we used ice cream buckets to collect the sap. If we had handle-less buckets, we made handles out of wire coat hangers. We used to boil in on the woodstove in the basement, after going out just after dawn to collect the pails. It made me feel like we lived in "The Little House in the Big Woods". :) They were fun times!

Deborah said...

That sounds so cool, Michelle! I am really looking forward to next spring. Thanks for the link!


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