Apr 25, 2011

"Judgment Call"

One of our cows in the birthing stall waiting to have her baby.

The whole calving experience is one of trying to make the best judgments possible for the welfare of the animals.  It is not an easy task.
You are always hoping you are doing it right. 
There is absolutely no room for pride.
Like the children's game of musical chairs, the goal is to have everyone be in the right place at the right time so the mothers and babies are safe.

Gustav shuffling one cow out to make room for the next one coming in.
It is almost automatic to do an assessment every morning and evening, checking to see which cow or heifer is moving along in the process and which one is next to be moved into a birthing stall.
After doing that for a few calving seasons it is easy to start considering oneself  "discerning", "capable", or better yet,  even "knowledgable".

So it was a little unexpected when Corvin,
 who had the sum total of nine days of experience on the farm, 
approached me one morning in the barn, after all the cows had been appropriately shuffled for the day and said:
"Nainy...I think we have made a mistake. 
 I think we should be moving this cow into a birthing stall instead of that
 other one".

We weren't sure he was correct,
but we thought it was important to respect his feelings. 
 So we did exactly as he suggested and traded the two cows.

Corvin watching as the mother licks her newborn baby clean 5 minutes after the birth.

This picture shows what happened
 one hour later!
(You go Corvin!)

If Corvin wouldn't have been  so caring and observant,
or if Gustav and I would have been too arrogant to consider
 the 'new guy's'  opinion,
 this beautiful little calf would have been born in the dung ditch
to a mother who was tied up and unable to take care of it.
Instead it was born into a warm birthing stall,
 onto a bed of soft, clean straw,
with it's mother at it's side.

I love the words of Rudyard Kipling's hymn
 'God of Our Fathers, Known of Old'
that say:

"The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart.
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart."

We know that when we are humbly trying to do our best,
 and are open to inspiration,
 we will be blessed.
And we were.

In the case of this particular judgment call,
all three of us got it right!

"When Corvin Came..."

...we didn't know he'd work out so well. 

he scrubbed floors,

He painted ceilings,

he mucked out,

he fed calves,

he hung fat for the birds,

he hauled milk,

he was our first vegetarian,

and the one who found our first lambs of this season.

Having him in our home made life on the farm even richer than it usually is.
Maybe that's one of the greatest compliments anyone could recieve.

Apr 24, 2011

"Plus and Minus"
Corvin was upstairs in his bed reading...

I was downstairs hanging some laundry...

Gustav was in the shower...

Pappa was working by the tractor garage...

 and we all heard it at the same time:
(Not good.)

 Corvin came running downstairs.   I called for Gustav on my way upstairs.  He threw on his clothes and raced out of the shower room.  
 The three of us hit the front door as fast as we could to see what was going on.

The heifers were out!
How did they do it?  We didn't have any idea.
How could we get them in again FAST?
Like this...

 Corvin was the "human fence" so they couldn't come back that way.  Gustav herded them towards the gate and gave them a talking to at the same time. 
You can't see me or Pappa but we are over to the left of this picture blocking the road so they couldn't run that way either.  Pappa, hearing the shouting from where he was in the tractor garage, had hurried out to see how he could help.

 And we got them back in again. 

When the heifers get out it is a three-fold problem:

1.  They could be injured by running somewhere that isn't safe for them.
2.  They could run onto other people's property and do significant damage.
3.  They are large and powerful and could injure a human being or smaller animal.
All of those scenarios are minuses.
But there is one giant plus in situations like this as well.

 When something unexpected occurs - and there are many instances in farm life where that happens,

We snap into action as a team.
 We  drop whatever we are doing and race to solve the problem,

There is no jockeying for position or trying to be the "big boss". There is no pride or arrogance involved. 
 It is just everyone pulling as one to insure that all is set to rights.

Because of that,
 we succeed each time.

I  LOVE that part of our lives.

Apr 22, 2011

"The Duett Garage"

This is the Duett garage. 
It is supposed to house the Volvo Duett, our "do-everything" farm vehicle.
Instead, for a long time, it has housed various pieces of equipment, car parts and accessories, but mostly wooden boards that needed to be dried to later be used for panelling inside a house.

The drying was now more than accomplished so it was high time for the Duett garage to
 "fulfill the measure of it's creation".
 Gustav and Corvin were elected to do the job.

True, unloading the contents seemed like a formidable undertaking, but the boys got right started and  in no time they had made quite a dent in it.  They had a great system where one would unload and the other would position himself at the end of the flat bed trailer to make sure the boards were on straight.

Corvin loaded....
and Gustav made sure it was straight.
And vice-versa.

It was a good day, a little bit overcast, but not too cold when they were out there working.

All that was about to change.

As the last few boards were being loaded onto the trailer and they were driving away with the tractor, the snow began. 
 A few flurries at first, and then...

It really started!

The empty barn where they were taking the boards was five minutes away from our farm and this is how it looked when they got there.  They surveyed the situation for unloading and decided to lay down some of the boards to make a walkway to get up and in with their cargo.  The wind was howling, the snow was blowing and the boards were heavy.

But they muscled it up and got it done, emptying the entire flat bed, even with the horrible weather conditions.
Everyone was pretty happy when the deed was done and the snow-covered boards were safely into the old barn.

This is how the Duett garage looked the next day when the snowing had stopped and they were able to sweep it all out.

And this is how it looked an hour later with the Duett in it.

I suppose that reading this post one could say,
"Well, wasn't it good of those two young men to accomplish that feat even when the weather turned so bad so unexpectedly?
And they would be right.
The two of them did a great job.

But to us it represented much, much more. 
It meant one more step forward in
 "Completing the Farm" 
which is our overall goal.

We want to
get it all done. 
We want everything to be
where it is supposed to be.
We want to go into a building or a barn or a Duett garage that functions
 the way it is intended to.

And to Gustav and Corvin who were willing to keep on even when it was tough, and help us achieve one more part of that goal we say:

Thanks Guys!

Apr 15, 2011


Corvin Busche - our current "WWOOFER" from Berlin, Germany
My husband, Hans Göran Karlsson, is an outdoors-y,
nature-loving man.  He has no desire to 'conquer' the elements or physical fortresses that abound in this part of Sweden (or anywhere else for that matter), he just loves to be one with all of drink them in.

But for at least a solid week out of every month, morning till evening, and sometimes longer, he is a prisoner inside the small office just off the front hall of our storstuga (main house),
" doing the papers". 
These dreaded papers consist of the seemingly endless government forms that must be submitted or updated, the bills that must be paid, the orders that must be put in, the information leaflets or brochures comparing farm equipment that must be read and evaluated...
you name it - he hates it.
So when he called to me on one such morning to come into the office to
    "look at this",
I hurriedly punched down the bread dough, covered it with a cloth and went right in.

W.W.O.O.F volunteers on an organic farm.
He had seen a small advertisement in one of the farm magazines about an organization called
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms  
W.W.O.O.F links up young people who have a desire to spend  time working on an organic farm with farmers who would be willing to provide that opportunity for them.  There is no pay involved, it is strictly volunteer, and it is happening all over the world.
We went to their website immediately.  It looked great. We signed up and began to post pictures and information on our profile.
We wondered if we would get any bites with our
alcohol-free/tobacco-free/drug-free/devotional-at-every-meal standard.

The handsome young man you see in the picture at the top of the post is
Corvin Busche, a student from Berlin, Germany who is working on his degree in chemistry/biology.
 He saw our profile and contacted us instantly for a six week time slot
 beginning in mid-March.  We agreed just as instantly, the arrangements were made, and before we knew it we were picking him up from the bus at the ICA parking lot in Junsele.

The long bus ride had taken it's toll, so we encouraged him to rest up a bit that evening and be ready to start work the next day.
Trust me on this one....he was READY!

Bright and early the next morning he was up and into the barn with Gustav and I, doing all the barn chores with gusto...even mucking out with the wheelbarrow and scaling the heights of the dung heap.
Once breakfast was finished and Gustav was off to school, he and I were back into the barn again where he was powerwashing stalls in the young animal barn so that we could set up the maternity wards for calving time.

After a short tutorial, he headed to the dairy and began washing the cheeses.
 Remember washing the cheeses - the job everyone hates to do? 
 Corvin is smiling, and he did it perfectly.

Later, when Gustav got home from school, they went to the carpentry and constructed this excellent feeder for the outside animals, carried it over to the pen and set it up.
It was a big hit with the heifers who were so anxious to use it they even criss-crossed each other to dig into the grain it held.

Any thought of breaking him in gradually to the joys of farm life with it's abundant opportunities for work were dismissed as he and Gustav hiked over to the little stuga to bring a dresser up for him.  They moved so fast I couldn't even focus the camera, and just a little while later when the timer went off and I was hurrying back from the pack room I came into the kitchen to find Corvin taking the sourdough bread out of the oven - WITH the wood peel.
It was official...we had a winner!

(Stay tuned for the further adventures of  "Corvin Comes to the Farm")
"Look Who's Here!"

Up in the fields behind the farm our sheep are having their lambs in the snow.

When I went up there to check on them it occurred to me that:

 They are born into a cold hard world and they are happy anyway.
Some of them are black and some of them are white and it doesn't matter.
When they want to feel safe they just stay close to the ones who love them.

I think these babies are onto something!