Barbershop Convention

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This past weekend, we went to Pennsylvania for the fall district convention for the Mid-Atlantic District of the Barbershop Harmony Society. We planned to get there Friday for the quartet semi-final, but we were slower than we meant to be (traffic was pretty heavy…we should’ve thought of that). While I enjoyed the convention, I have to say the food was the highlight of the trip for me.

One of the guys at work has a huge collection of places he knows about and he has friends in a lot of places. I mentioned that we were going to be in Lancaster and asked for recommendations. Friday night, we went to Horse Inn for dinner Friday night on his recommendation. Since it was less than a mile from our hotel, we walked (we were glad for that when we were so full after dinner). Saturday breakfast was Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie, which we found on our own. That was so good we went back on Sunday morning too. Saturday for lunch, we had Flora Flora’s, again on my work friend’s recommendation. After three huge meals (Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, and Saturday lunch), we went to bed on Saturday without dinner and didn’t really miss it. And having that extra room meant we could enjoy Rachel’s when we went back on Sunday morning.

Tony would be the better person to talk about the barbershop competition because he knows so much more about music than I do. The short version is that I generally liked the quartets better than the choruses, though in both categories, there were groups that I liked and groups that I disliked.

On the way home, we stopped to get apples (honeycrisps are our favorite and they’re supposed to grow better up north (the ones I saw at Carter Mountain didn’t look great). The orchard we stopped at had seconds for a really good price and since we didn’t mind picking out a few bruises or bug spots, we picked up a bunch and we’ve been working on putting them in cans (jelly, mostly, but we’re going to try to can some pie filling and possibly some straight apples). Dried apples are on the list of things to do before the apples are gone too.

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Week of Chaos

This week has been chaotic, so the blog post is late today. Sorry.

At the end of last week, one of Dad’s friends offered to loan us a backhoe for about a week. We weren’t going to say no to that, so we’ve been pushing hard to get as much done as possible with that before it had to go back. We’ve got the front cleaned up and ready to be seeded. We also got a lot done in the back. I’d guess we have about 1/3 of the back completely de-stumped, de-debrised, and mostly smoothed out.

Other good news from this week is that I found a great deal on a chain drag harrow (Google is your friend, or you can see it hooked to the truck in the video I linked in the next paragraph)…the only catch was that I had to untangle it. That turned out to be only an hour long project and I had a completely functional harrow. Anyway, once the ground had been cleared of stumps and the biggest dips in the ground smoothed out with the backhoe, I tried out the harrow. It did a great job of collecting all the little blueberry roots and crappy little tree roots that were left. I’m really happy with how well it’s working.

It’s really, really dry though. It made moving the stumps Tony got out pretty unpleasant. Especially since I kept forgetting to wear a bandana or something to keep from breathing it. I’m linking to a video, since it looks like it won’t play directly on the blog.

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In work-related news, there’s a new goat! She’s an Alpine and she’s super personable. The goats they had (Oberhaslis) are pretty personable (they like to walk out to the pasture with you, while the sheep are content to follow behind). But the Alpine followed me when I left the pasture to round up the sheep that missed the turn. Another point in her favor is that she’s more colorful (prettier) than the Oberhaslis. On the negative side, she’s super jumpy, which makes her not a favorite for milking. From what they said at work though, she’s settling in really quickly, so even that shouldn’t be an issue for long. I think she is my favorite.

Peaches and ATVs

Whiskey isn’t great at going to work with me, so we’ve stuck to Sundays (the quieter day) so he can learn to behave before we try adding more people and dogs to the mix. This past Sunday, I was the only one at work because the other person who usually works Sundays was out. So I had all the outside chores and regular milking chores to do. The fields are so spread out that they have an ATV to get to the various animals and I thought I was going to have to leave Whiskey at the barn and go alone to do all the feeding and watering and checking. But he surprised me and ran with me. I’m not sure why he decided the ATV was ok, but I’m really glad he did. We had a good time running all over the farm and he was worn out Sunday night.

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In other news, I picked up a bushel of peaches last week. It’s toward the end of the season and I got a surprising (disappointing) number of unripe peaches in my boxes. The ripe peaches were made into jam and peach butter. I wanted to freeze some, but the ones that are left aren’t actually that good, so I’m probably won’t. It just seems like such a waste to give some many good-looking peaches to the pigs. Even if they don’t taste good.

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In pig news, we have just over a month left with the pigs before they get turned into bacon (and ham and roast and…). It’s nice to have a target departure date so I can plan fences between not and then. I know I want them in the circle when I’m ready to take them so loading and leaving is easy, so they’re making their way up there now.

Farm Tales

We recently got the bad news that our flock has mycoplasma synoviae (usually shortened to MS) – George was very sick and after we finished the job, I took him to the state vet for a necropsy. While MS is not as lethal as the avian influenza that agriculture people have been watching for about a year, it can slowly decimate a flock. While it’s treatable, the only way to completely eradicate it from your flock (and keep from spreading it to new birds you bring in) is to “depopulate” and start your flock again. Which means that those babies that Buffy hatched this summer? They’re in the freezer (the vet said that as long as they’re cooked fully, they’re safe to eat). The rest of the flock? They’re enjoying the fact that doing the four we did this past weekend was exhausting.

This was after getting Whiskey neutered last week. He was not as docile as I’d hoped he’d be after the surgery. Like Rhythm, he was quiet for a couple of days, but after that, he was decidedly done being cooped up in the house with supervised trips outside exclusively for elimination.

Needless to say, last weekend was exhausting and I was glad when it was over. This week has been more manageable. And we have a date for the pigs to go (bacon!), which is helpful for planning (fences and feed).