Here we are mid February 2013 and the barn that was supposed to be built in November is still just a slab of concrete. Remember our grand opening celebration that was scheduled on December 8th? Obviously it has not happened.
To add insult to injury we discovered that what little work was done... was sabotaged by the contractor. I wish I had known what footings were when they were pouring that cement pad... because there are NONE there. We kept asking about the lack of floor drains in the cement and the contractor kept saying "Trust Me... I have been in construction for 15 years." He spoke of some magic roto-rooter device that would create floor drains after the building was placed on the slab... little did we know he was full of it. The picture above shows the cement pad and where we have begun to have the concrete cut for footings.
After missing yet another deadline of Christmas for construction completion, another long line of more excuses from Mr. Allen, and with the end of January fast approaching we decided to fire this contractor and requested a refund. We had discovered that the cement pad would require thousands of extra dollars to repair and bring to code. We learned that Mr. Allen had not paid the cement contractor, and the electrics that were done on the house were all wrong. We needed to basically start over.
Since then we have had nothing more than empty promises to refund the money paid Mr. Allen. We contacted the authorities and a Deputy came out to take a report, and things were beginning to feel pretty glum. Then yesterday my phone rang. It was Tonya Ward from Energy Rescue, a local non-profit. She is a dear friend and we had spoken about our situation a week or so ago. Tonya offered to orchestrate a giant fundraising and volunteer effort to raise the barn! Needless to say, I was blown away and brought to tears.
Tonya got right to work! She contacted news stations and Fox 42 was the first to jump at the opportunity to broadcast our story. For those that remember.... this is the same station that aired the story about the tornado that took the barn two years ago. In fact, they sent the same reporter, Curt Casper. I believe the story will air after American Idol tomorrow night (2/13).
Right now, we do know that the barn kit will be here Saturday. We need help with cement work, we need a septic tank, water needs to be run to the barn and electricity, materials for the inside of the barn and general man hours to get everything completed. We have been granted until the end of Feb to get off the Elmwood farm so timing is crucial... there is much to be done and little time.. and no funds left.
Tonya is working hard to secure financial and material donations and volunteers to help us get this creamery completed. Andy and I borrowed $10,000 from a friend last week and this will cover the cost of the new building I ordered. We are operating under the assumption that there will not be a refund in the foreseeable future but if there is we will use all funds to the rest of the project.
It is our sincere hope that his coverage will encourage Mr. Allen to refund Lowell the money he was paid.... nearly all of it since what little work was done is going to require significant expense to correct.
I will share more info as I have it....
Why does it always seem that the only time I get to blog is late at night when I am so tired I can barely hold my eyes open? Maybe that is when I ramble the best. I was shocked to see I had not made an entry here in three months; shame on me! :o)
It's hard to believe that is January and 2012 already. Wow... time really flies. Tomorrow is Hannah's real 11th birthday although we celebrated it Sunday. I actually took most of a whole day off of farm business, didn't even check my emails. I am awe struck at the idea that the little five pound baby I brought home is now eleven years old. You would think I would be getting used to watching these kids grow up, but instead I would really rather they just slow down a little and let me enjoy them more. I long for a day when we are less busy, less hectic and more organized with more family time. But I know we are doing a good thing with this farm and all this work will pay off. Anyway, back to the kids. We have only had one real snowfall this year, much to the small people's dismay. Hate to disappoint all you folks back home... but we did NOT have a White Christmas. Hannah kept saying it didn't feel like Christmas without snow on the ground... all I could think is "Nope.... no one can call these kids Southerners anymore..." Missing the snow; they did decide to plaster the house with snowflakes.. which I really loved!
Our first calf of the season was born on New Year's Eve... silly guy. Just five hours later and he would have been the first calf of the year, but instead that honor went to the little guy born today. We have also had our first set of lamb twins born. Twin girls. I must admit, I especially love it in the winter when our barn is transformed into a nursery. The heat lamps give off a soft glow and Mommas and babies are fun to watch. It's just so peaceful in there. Of course all newborns have an audience of kids, I love that we have such warm relationships with our cows that they trust us to be there during birth and afterwards. It's awesome!
Mom was here for Thanksgiving. She is so stinkin' awesome! She spent most of her time playing cards with the kids, teaching them all sorts of games. She seemed to almost always have one kid in her lap. The certainly caught the card bug and even still seem to always be playing some card game somewhere; there are stacks of cards all over the floor, remnants of games interrupted by little brothers or chores or in the case of the little guys... just plain ol' forgotten.
Games seem to be the new passion around here.. I love that! And crafts... boy do they enjoy crafts. Little art and craft sets procured at the dollar store have brought much joy around here. Someone pointed out to me that my kids find joy in the simplest of things... and I realized how much I love that about them. They could care less about the latest fashion trends, they don't know much about what's hip or trendy.. they are just happy to have what they have.
We were visited this Christmas by the Christmas Angel... and want to take a moment to thank our angel. You really have no idea how much your gift meant and helped us. We thank you.
OK It's really late now. I will leave you tonight with one of my favorite Christmas pictures... the kids and Santa taken at Bass Pro Shops when Mom was visiting. I call it "Santa needs a potty break". Is it just me or doesn't he look like he's gotta GO!
Wishing everyone a wonderful new year. We are looking forward to 2012, the fresh start it brings and all the excitement this year holds for us.
Boy, am I ready for March! This past month has felt like a rollercoaster ride. We have had some exciting moments and some tragic ones as well.
We have some new piggies! We have added some Hereford pigs to our family. Hereford pigs are a heritage breed that believe it or not originated right here in Nebraska. They are known for their gentle disposition and are excellent grazers. IF you are curious you can check out more on the breed by clicking HERE.
They are really fun little pigs... curious and very friendly. They love a good nose scratch so feel free to greet them when you are here... (mind the white fence - it bites).
These guys will be here close to the house for a few more weeks... we will be moving them out to pasture once we have grass. So, say hi while you can!
stole this off her facebook account! :-)
Ashley is home! She decided that she wants to attend college here at home rather than in Georgia so she came home this month. It was a difficult decision for her but she seems very settled and centered and at peace with her decision. Ashe is back at Lincoln High and will graduate from there this May. She only needed 17 credits to graduate so she only has to attend a half day at school.
I cannot begin to tell you all how absolutely wonderful it is to have her home. She is such an incredible, bright, alive, young woman... her spirit and exuberance fills our home! We are all so thrilled to have her back!
We added four new cows to our herd this month. Welcome Milly, Molly, Mandy, and Candy. Four beautiful jersey girls!
They are doing great.. they have adapted to our laid back milking style and are getting along with the other ladies just fine. We couldn't be happier with them.
We had a tragic accident this month. Weirdly enough it was actually the night that Milly, Molly, Mandy, and Candy arrived. The power lines on the road came apart at the insulator and fell on our fences. This caused quite the fireworks show which scared the cows and calves here next to the house. They ran. One hit the fence and was electrocuted and three others ran into her and were lost as well. The whole experience was horrific... we waited an hour for the power company to come shut down the lines and make our farm safe again... very nerve wracking. All in all... we are lucky... we could have lost many more cows than four, as bad as loosing four is.
We are blessed beyond words that this accident happened at night, that Andy did not touch the fences when he went out to check on everyone, and that our children slept through the whole event. We were able to tell them what happened in as gentle a manner as possible, they were spared from witnessing any of it.
The next week was one of waiting. Waiting on OPPD, waiting on the insurance folks, waiting to bury our four lost cows. The children mourned and the other cows mourned.. it was heartbreaking to watch. The children laid roses on the cows and we covered them with a tarp and waited. One of the adult cows lost her calf eight weeks early and we waiting and watched to see how many more would suffer the same fate. Electricity is such a funny thing.... one moment it's a necessity and the next it is devastatingly dangerous.
Miraculously we had a beautiful calf born last week! Her Mom is Tippy and one of our best cows. They were in the area with the accident so we did not expect the calf to survive. We named the little girl Tiffany and I have some incredible shots of her birth. Tiffany's birth leaves us with hope that maybe we have turned the corner and the rest of our cows will be well. btw... she is named after a friend of ours.. Tiffany Baker. This may seem a strange way to pay tribute to someone but she just reminded me to Tiffany... long, leggy and gorgeous!
All is well with Tiffany.. she is a gorgeous calf.. very tall and leggy and full of beans!
She is in the barn keeping warm right now but will join the other calves soon.
All of these new additions means one thing - MORE MILK! Our milk shortage is now a thing of the past! The past two weeks have been a blur of farm tours as we have opened up our waiting list and have been able to accept new customers. It also means the return of one of everyone's favorite things - CREAM!
Our cream separator has been chugging away and so has my food processor with butter! LOVE butter! LOVE CREAM!
We are bottling over 36 gallons of milk a day right now. Our family has been enjoying treats such as homemade raw cream top yogurt again! Last week I made flavors such as honey, maple syrup, and succanat vanilla which were all huge hits. I also tried molasses yogurt....( that one needs work).
Our new baby arrived today! His name is Shep. He is a Great Pyrenees puppy. He is such a big boy.. only eight weeks old but HUGE!
Shep will be a working dog... his job will be to guard the sheep. In a few weeks he will go to live with them and learn their ways. They will be his pack... not us. This is kind of sad since he is such a love... but our sheep need him.
Even though there is snow on the ground and it's 23 degrees outside.... spring is on it's way! The eggs are a sure sign! Look at what Hannah gathered tonight!
It's almost here... it's almost here! Before we know it we will have cows out on pasture, sheep shearing, and flowers everywhere... and milk will go back down in price! I could not be more excited!
Ya'll stay warm out tonight... its a cold one! I am off to make more yogurt.
A few reminder emails from some of you and here I am finally getting around to updating our blog. Thanks for the nudges.
Last weekend's snow was fun. Andy is quite the man with a shovel! It took him the better part of five hours but he made sure our customers could come get milk. I was super impressed with what a neat job he did... he even created pathways to the water and house so we didn't have to trudge through the snow. He never fails to impress me.
A slacker he is NOT!!
As is probably somewhat imaginable... winter is a rough time of year to be milking. Its rough on us and its rougher on the cows. To give our cows (and ourselves) somewhat of a rest we switched to once a day milking at the start of winter. We have certainly been enjoying the extra time together and have been finding ways to make the most of this time. I have been baking more.... the smell of fresh baked bread is just intoxicating and when combined with a pot of bubbling chicken broth in the works..it's just pure heaven. For me, snow days are spent playing with the kids and baking!
With February fast approaching and cabin fever setting in... I am finding myself focusing on spring. It's time to start planning our garden.... always an exciting venture. As usual we will stick with heirloom varieties of veggies and fruits. Last year we didn't get a garden in since we moved in July. I am super excited about this year's garden! We have some serious projects lined up for spring... one of which will be building a bridge! We are planning a couple of farm work weekends to get that project completed..... so for those of you itching to roll up your sleeves and pitch in we can put you to work! I will have more information on dates, etc much much closer to spring. For now... we are planning and budgeting.
Our first calves of the year are due in Feb! Keeping our fingers crossed everything goes according to schedule and without complications. Our milk supply is so tight right now... looking forward to some breathing room and cream! I really miss cream.
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..