Saturday, August 6, 2011

My blog grows up!

I now have a self-hosted blog: http://foraging4aliving.com/  I am a little sad to leave this one, but hope many of you will follow me there.  I am pretty excited to be doing this and have been web designing like crazy!
http://www.michellesweeten.com/ will hopefully be following my career and path to be a stay at home mom.  I have also re-vamped the ancient http://www.sweetenhayfarm.com/ and will be making more updates to it soon. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

August is here.....

Indiana is still HOT HOT HOT!  Paul asks every 2-3 days if tomorrow is going to be cold.  Jeremy started early one day last week and was able to get the heifers worked (wormed, pregnancy checks, etc).  It was overdue, and we were planning to send several to auction or to become freezer beef.  However we only have one candidate!  The young bulls have been doing their jobs and the older one will be on his way to the auction instead. 

I have a waiting list for beef, so will have to see what we can come up with.  We are still out of hamburger ourselves, though I tried substituting sausage for hamburger in a few recipes.  So far no complaints.  We should have hamburger by the end of the month.  I am trying a new online meal planner.  I have done a paper one in the past and it really alleviated not only stress but saved us money as well.  I recieved the link for Say Mmm from Money Saving Mom.  The giveaway is over, but the free service is awesome as well!    Last week was VBS at church and the kids really enjoyed it.  I helped every evening, so now the house is a wreck.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Temple Grandin

We love movies at my house.  However it is harder to find ones we REALLY love.  Temple Grandin is one we love.  Jeremy and I both had the sensation of meeting Temple but cannot remember when.  Not only does this movie inform the public about autisim.  But it also shows how agriculturalists have worked to improve animal handling.  The movie is very realistic.  I highly recommend it.  She will inspire everyone!  I am so excited that I work in the same industry as Temple.  Her designs were in our animal science text books in college and high school. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

The corn is curling and I am worried about pollination.  We do not have any corn this year.  However many of our friends and neighbors do.  The beans seem to be surving well, even on the sandy soils.  Our beans are ~R3 which is pretty exciting to us.  The hay fields seem to be re-growing well.  We still need to take a first cutting on one grass field and second cutting on one alfalfa field.  The birdsfoot trefoil field is also on the to-do list since the fence hasn't been completed.  Once it is cut Jeremy will let it regrow and turn the heifers out on the field. 

 July seems to be disappearing faster than even June did.  Amy gets all over the room and is a wonderful delight.  We all attended the Wabash County Fair last week and were able to catch up with some friends.  The kids and I are spending a lot of time indoors and Jeremy is spending too much out of doors.  Paul and Ruth went with a dear friend, Barb, to the Peru Amateur Circus on Saturday.  Barb is moving back to Oregon and waited for this special weekend so she could take the kids.  We will really miss her. 

Jeremy is planning trips to Ohio for a shooting competition and also Tennessee with our church's disaster relief team and help clean up more trees.  They went right after the deadly storms in May.  We are hoping they get enough people to go and help.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Big week!

The hay barn before all the hay was unloaded.  Somehow we had REALLY great week, though I'm not sure how many more 18 hour days Jeremy can take.

The old '71 Autocar semi with a load of hay.  In addition to making 36 acres of our own hay into small square bales, Jeremy managed to mow over 500 acres for a dairy, roundbaled & wrapped 300 bales for them.  Mowed another 30 acres, small square baled ~5 acres and roundbaled an additional 10 acres.  I think.  I will have to get all the baler counts.  But he has been BUSY.  We're hoping for rain so he can catch up on sleep.  In 10 days we finished most of first cutting, and I made it half for second. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sweeten Bridge is Falling Down!

Yes it is true!  The small bridge at the end of our driveway is falling down.  Between the heavy rains and a groundhog the bridge is missing it's south foundation.  The county moved the bridge to the top of their repair list and are waiting for supplies.  Until then the neighbors have moved the sign to the side so everyone can get through.........

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where is June going so fast?

First cutting is nearly done.  This has by far been the rainiest spring I can remember.  Our soybeans look good, but will need another spray of roundup.  The beans are on sandy soil so the rain is good for them.  Just hard to get hay dry.  We should be mowing the 500 acres of custom work this week.  With the delay we are looking at possibly only 3 cuttings this year. 

We are learning a lot in our Financial Peace University course.  Trying to modify it to our farm business is going to be interesting.  I am starting the envelope system for groceries this week.  Hope it helps and I do not get many complaints.  We are out of hamburger.  Jeremy needs to get the vet out to check the heifers so we can send some to butcher. 

On Saturday I started Paul & Ruth on commission for doing some light chores around the house.  Ruth doesn't quite understand yet, but Paul is eating it up!  He gets a quarter for putting away the silverware, taking out garbage or picking up toys.  They designed their own "banks" with stickers and clear plastic containers out of the recycling. Paul is eager to earn more money so he can take it next week for children's church.  Amy is rolling all over the place and is still in the 90% percentile for height... 27 inches at 6 months.  Not sure why time is flying, but it is and we are just holding on for the ride! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jeremy brought home a new "project" tractor last week.

We have been trying to finish up our own hay acres before a big custom mowing job starts.
However while we missed a lot of the rain over the weekend, I came home to this yesterday :
That is about 4 inches of rain my camp chair.  It did cool things off and Jeremy spent the evening at the 4-H fair helping. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Building a Farm Business and Growing a Family

It is not always easy to live on one income while building a business such as a farm.  We have strong tendencies towards the simple so that helps.  Here are some ways we save on living expenses that may help others:

1.    We have a woodstove and only use our propane furnace as backup in the winter.  We can generally get buy each winter on one tank of propane.  Which we plan to buy during summer fill-ups.  Jeremy cuts and splits all our wood off of the farm.
2.    In the summer we only turn on the air conditioner when it starts affecting our sleep.  We have also added insulation when needed.
3.    Dairy heifers that will not make good milk cows either go into our freezer or that of our friends and family.  We even traded beef for pork last summer!
4.    I cook 75% of our foods from scratch.  I watch sales and follow money saving blogs to take advantage of coupons.  We also stock up on many foods and buy flour in bulk.
5.    We have really cut back on our eating out.  I have to admit driving past pizza place on my way home makes a really tempting supper at the end of a long day.  However, I can go home and the five of us can have a nice nutritional meal for 1/3-1/2 of that “cheap” $10 greasy pizza!
6.    I have been attempting to grow a few vegetables, but that has not gone well.  Hoping we have at least tomatoes this year!  Last year a friend gave us some sweet corn and Jeremy’s Grandfather gives us a bushel of peaches every year both of which I freeze.
7.    Jeremy does 80% of his own repairs.  With local shops charging $50-75/hour rates, this is a must for a beginning farmer.  It also allows Jeremy to run older equipment because he knows he can rebuild most of them if needed.
8.    Research research research!  Especially for things like car seats, I spend probably too much time finding out what will not only save us money in the long run, but also keep the kids safe!
9.    Our clothes often come from hand me downs, consignment stores (I try to shop only the clearance racks there), or garage sales. 
10. Our Sunday school class has just started a “Financial Peace” course by Dave Ramsey.  I will have to let you know how that changes our habits.
11. For Paul & Ruth I cloth-diapered, but I also worked from home more then.  Now I buy most of my diapers for ~$.10 each using Amazon Mom’s Subscribe & Save program!  I have saved my diapers and plan to use them when I get back home!  Plus I can use my swagbucks for $5 amazon cards!

Let me know how you are saving money to keep your family in the “green”!

Friday, June 10, 2011

We beat the rain again!

Making Silage bales

I went out at 9:45 Wednesday night to snap this shot of Jeremy.  He still had some bales in the field and rain was coming.  After starting at 6 that morning he finally came to bed about midnight.  We are very blessed to have a large barn that he can pull into on nights like this.  We used to fight tarps, which can be very trying at 11 p.m. with thunder in the distance.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Making hay while the sun shines!!

Or at least baleage!

American Truck Historical Society


Jeremy has been waiting for 3 years for the May 26-29 ATHS show in South Bend Indiana.  We get some strange looks hauling hay with our 1971 Autocar Semi. When it kept raining and he couldn't get in the fields Jeremy took the truck to the show and it fit right in!  We are still debating painting the truck, many of the truck show participants said not to since there are so few originals left.  Jeremy really has enjoyed getting this truck back on the road and using it.  Ruth was "discussing" the show with Daddy in the second picture.

On another note the rain has stopped and we have finally put up some of the first hay of the year!  The weather looks good so we are attempting some dry small square bales.  The heifers aren't hungry anymore!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

View from house... wet but green!

Living a Childhood Dream

Both Jeremy and I dreamed of farming and living on a farm from a young age.  I played with tractors and loved all animals as a young child.  My family moved to a small farm when I was in elementary school.  I have always referred to it as a 4-H farm.  We had sheep, a horse, dogs, chickens, rabbits, apple trees and a huge garden. 

Jeremy was an avid reader of anything outdoors related and was also a 4-H member.  In 1986 his family bought a farm to grow Christmas trees and hunt and fish, but they rented the house out.  He worked at a local agriculture machine shop and began producing hay on the family farm when he was in high school.

We met at at Purdue University while pursuing Agriculture degrees.  Jeremy was able to complete his masters by research that was completed at his family's farm.  After we received our degrees in 2003 we moved to his family's farm.  Now we are living both of our dreams of farming.  We would both admit it has been much more difficult than we expected.  I taught our first year on the farm and was able to help Jeremy in the summers.  He raises cash crop hay and a few row crops when a field needs rotated.  He also mows hay with his 2 self-propelled swathers for local farmers.  Paul joined us in May of 2006, Ruth in December of 2008.  We began raising the dairy heifers in 2008.  We also sell fencing supplies and forage crop seed.  In the winters Jeremy has hired himself out as everything from a mechanic, to truck driver, to a log skidder.  Making ends meet seems to be more and more difficult but we are determined to stick out these hard times, and continue living our childhood dreams until God directs us elsewhere.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where were one year ago....and today

Last year the dairy heifers (heifers are female dairy cattle that have never calved) we raise had been grazing for over month!  We were busy with 24 bucket calves, they need fed twice daily as close to 12 hours apart as possible, milk must be warmed enough to dissolve the powder milk but not too much to make the calves sick.  Jeremy had well over half of our hay crop had been harvested thanks to our Claas Uniwrap Baler.  We were debating selling one of our self-propelled swathers due to an iffy mowing contract.  I was working out of the house as an agronomist (I helped farmers with their crops) and was about 8 weeks pregnant with our third child, Amy.  We were comfortable as we could be with the uncertainty of the economy and were stockpiling basic grocery supplies.  We went to church every Sunday when not working. 

Today we have no bucket calves due to the dairy we were raising for selling out last August, of course before buying the heifers we had on contract with them.  The remaining heifers and repossessed Jersey cows have been grazing for only about 10 days and are nearly out of forage.  Jeremy is desperately watching the weather for a break so we can make silage hay for our own use and also to sell.  We have found a niche market in selling cull heifers as freezer beef.  I have taken a job in town and the kids go to a sitter every week day.  Amy arrived safe and sound on December 28, 2010 and is nearly paid off.  We are now eating from our stockpile and not adding much to it.  Most of the bills are paid but we live pay day to pay day.  However despite all of that we look forwards to attending church every Sunday and are growing closer to Christ each and every day!  Jeremy has been on 2 mission trips this spring and went to Brethren Way of Christ!

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