Thursday, December 15, 2016

Broken Pipes and a New Frost Free Hydrant

Welcome back!

Dale is still getting better!
She likes to sit in the dry hay in the sunshine during the day.
We saw her riding Clover a few days ago, too.
We're so glad her leg is healing!

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Sometimes things on the farm get broken. Sometimes it's our fault, sometimes an animal breaks something, and sometimes someone else breaks it.

A few weeks ago the plumber broke a pipe and he couldn't repair it, so Bryon had to do it. We had no water in the house or in the barn for a whole day!

It's so hard to be without water for 24 hours when we have animals that need it. We need it for drinking and washing. And we need it for cleaning out the milker.

We were glad we had a lot of water stored at our house. It was enough to last for the day.

The plumber was supposed to fix the frost-free hydrant. That's a special pipe that goes deep in the ground so we can have water in the barn in the middle of winter. If you live someplace cold your parents probably cover the faucet on the outside of the house, or they may turn the water off on the outside of the house so the pipes don't freeze.

Our hydrant was leaking so a few weeks ago we decided it would be a good time to replace it while the weather was still warm.

The plumber broke the pipe about 5 feet under the ground.
That isn't a very big hole in the cement floor to dig down 5 feet!

But Bryon, Tim, and Matt all took turns until they could see where the pipe was broken.

The decided that to fix the pipe they were going to have to dig a hole on the outside of the barn, too.
The post hole digger loosened the soil. We have a lot of rocks and it's hard for the tractor to dig through without the soil being a little looser.
The backhoe has finished digging the dirt out of the hole.
Can you see the pipe at the bottom of the trench?
A trench is a long, deep, rectangular hole in the ground.

Bryon, Matt, and Tim have to put the new pipe and the new faucet together before they can attach it to the pipe in the trench.

Matt has to hold the pipe straight up......

While Tim connects and glues everything down in the trench.

Matt and Tim got to take a break while Bryon went to the hardware store for parts.

After all the pipes are connected and glued, the hole inside the barn is filled with sand.

As long as we were putting in a new faucet we decided it would be better to have it pointing into
the barn instead of along the wall.

All hooked up and ready for water!
Can you see the electrical cord coming out of the hose?
That's the hose that plugs into the wall so the water doesn't freeze inside the hose during the winter.
I wish the plumber could have fixed the pipe without breaking it.

Sometimes we don't get what we wish for.

Thankfully Bryon, Tim, and Matt don't complain when something bad happens. They know that complaining or whining about it doesn't help.

Figuring out how to fix the problem is what works!

They spent about 2 hours on Friday night trying to dig out the broken pipe. They spent 8 hours on Saturday digging the trench and doing fixing the pipes the right way.

Every day on the farm we need 5 gallons of water to clean the milker. Every day the cow and little goats drink between 15 and 20 gallons of water, the bucks and sheep drink about 10 gallons of water, the adult does (girl goats that give milk) drink between 10 and 15 gallons of water, and the chickens drink about 2 gallons of water.

How much water do we need to store on the farm so that our animals have enough for two days?

We store about 10 gallons of water per person in the house just in case we don't have water for 3 days. We have 4 people living at our house. How much water do I have stored in the house for people?

Water is so important!

One day this week count how many times you use water.

I bet you will be surprised!

Have a great week!

Friday, December 9, 2016


Welcome back!

Did you get to travel to someone's house for Thanksgiving? Are you going to someone's house during Christmas vacation?

When we drive somewhere the driver often has a GPS or phone that has a map to show them where to go so they don't get lost.

We use maps on the farm, too. When we have people do our chores they need to know where everything is, where each of the animals live, where to find the food, and where the gates are.

If you looked at our farm from an airplane, this is what you would see.

This is what a map of our farm would look like.
This is a map that we've used for people who come help on the farm.

There are a few differences from the airplane view and the map I drew because the photo is older. We've moved a few fences, added a fence, and added a hay barn. Can you see any other changes?

This is what it looks like when I walk out to the barn in the morning.
Right now the ground is covered with snow, not with grass.

The big white door is usually closed.
It's open so you can see inside the barn.
If I leave the door open all the time then Echo, River, and Serenity would make a mess inside.

There are two milk stands.
Do you recognize the blue hang over bucket?
Do you see the blue hose on the left?
It's a special hose that has a heater in it.
We plug it in in the winter so the water in the hose doesn't freeze.
We can use the hose to fill the water buckets around the farm even when there is ice on the ground.

This is what the right side of the barn looks like.
This is the south side of the barn.
You can see 3 stall doors.
The door closest in the picture is the stall where Echo, River, and Serenity sleep at night.
The middle and far doors are where Annie, Misty, and Clover sleep at night.
Stalls are like bedrooms for animals. They come inside when the weather is bad, and they come inside to sleep.
This is the back of the barn.
If I open the big door on the back, the bucks will come running inside.
Two big bales of hay weigh about the same as a small car! That's heavy!
It takes about 2 weeks for the animals to eat a whole bale of hay.
On the other side of the barn we keep grain in big, blue barrels.
We buy grain in bags. Do you see the two stacks of bags to the right of the blue barrels?
We store food for the animals just like you store food at home.
Do you see the white door? That's how we get into the chicken pen.
The chicken pen is under the roof.
The chickens need shelter from the weather just like the other animals.
And you can see our red tractor!
The little dog house is for the ducks.
They need shelter when it gets cold, too.
Sometimes they go into the chicken pen,
sometimes they like to get into the dog house.

Here is a map I drew of the inside of our barn.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of our farm!
Do you see how useful maps are? The people who come take care of our animals while we are gone like having a map to see where all the animals are supposed to be. The like knowing where the food is, and where to find everything they need.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Welcome back!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. We had all our family together for Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful time.

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Do you remember the types of dishes and bowls and cups you used during Thanksgiving dinner? Some dishes were probably flat, some were more like bowls. Each bowl or dish is used on purpose to hold each type of food.

The animals on the farm have certain types of feeders, too. We use the word "feeder" for something that holds animal food.

This is the feeder on the milk stand.
It's called a 'hang over bucket' because it hangs on a bar or a piece of wood.
This is what it looks like with feed in it.
We don't wash the feeders very often. People need clean dishes, bowls, and cups to eat out of. Animals don't need to have their feeders cleaned that often.

This is Echo's 'hang over bucket'.
It's much bigger than the goats' bucket because Echo's head is much bigger!
This is the same size bucket that horses eat out of, too.

The chickens eat from a hanging feeder.
I pour the feed into the top and it fills a dish at the bottom.
The chickens are so messy that I put a rubber feeder underneath to catch all the food that falls out.
The chickens can still eat the food in the rubber feeder and it doesn't get wasted by falling all over the ground.

This is how we feed hay inside the stall.
The fence holds the hay and the goats can pull out what they want to eat.
We take the hay that's on the floor and bring it out to the chicken pen.
We put it inside their nesting boxes, and sometimes spread it on the ground.
The chickens love to eat the leftover hay.
This is the feeder we use for Echo and the little goats.
It's really a horse feeder, but Echo doesn't mind it.
We like to feed her outside because she always poops while she's eating!
We don't have to clean the stall as often if she poops outside.
The feeders are all under some sort of roof in the winter so the food doesn't
get spoiled by snow and rain.

What about water?

You drink from a cup or a bottle, but that doesn't work well for most animals.

The white part of the container is filled with water.
There is a float at the bottom so all the water doesn't spill out on the ground.
Look closely and you will see a black cord coming out of the top of the waterer.
That cord is attached to a heater that sits at the bottom of the bucket.

I'm sure you've noticed that there is a lot of ice on the playground, and maybe around your house. The animals can eat snow, but they like liquid water better. If they have enough water and food, and if they have a place to get out of the rain and snow, they stay warm without a furnace like we have in our homes.

The blue barrel, and the green barrel, both have electric heaters at the bottom.
You can see the chords plugged into the grey box on the post.
Echo, River, and Serenity use the green water barrel.
Misty, Clover, and Annie use the blue water barrel.
The hose also plugs in! It's hard to get water into the barrels if the hose is frozen. Someone was really smart and figured out a way to put a heating wire inside a hose so that farmers can use a hose in the winter instead of having to fill buckets of water, then dumping them into the barrel where the animals drink.

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Every morning Scout, JJ, and Midnight like to have a treat in the barn.

JJ gets her sip of milk from an old plastic feeder on the floor.

Scout gets his sip of milk in an old metal pan near the milk stand.

Midnight gets her sip of milk in an old metal lid.

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I am sad to report that there are no baby chicks. When the hen started sitting it was so close to winter we weren't sure if she would stay and keep her eggs warm. We also weren't sure if she would be able to keep her chicks warm enough with winter so close.

One morning when I went out to do the chores the hen was gone from the nest, and the eggs were almost frozen. The eggs were so cold that there is no way the chicks inside the eggs could have survived. The eggs need to be kept at about 100 degrees so the chicks inside can grow. Once they are hatched the mama hen needs to keep them at about 95 degrees until they can grow enough feathers to keep themselves warm.

This is not the time of year that we get warm temperatures like that!

Things on the farm don't always turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes that's for the best.

Earlier this year we had some chicks hatch out. That was the first time we ever got to see some chicks hatch!

I thought you might like to see some videos of that, too.

Here's Xander holding the little chick from the video.
Those chicks are all grown up now. They were some of the roosters that we gave away to another farm. Our farm only needs one rooster. Roosters are noisy. The more roosters we have the noisier they are because each one tries to be louder than the other!

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Do you remember Dale? She's the chicken that likes to ride the goats as if she's a cowgirl.

We don't know what happened but two weeks ago Dale hurt her leg. Usually a chicken will die if they hurt their leg. There aren't any chicken veterinarians to take care of them.

Sometimes they get better!

Can you see Dale limping a little bit? She's getting better! She couldn't walk on her left leg two weeks ago. All she could do was hop around the farm on her right leg.

I hope she gets all the way better!

Stay warm and have a great week!