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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Farm Life

Both of my parents grew up on a farm; my Dad's family had a turkey farm and later a dairy farm. Many of his relatives, who were from Michigan, were loggers and those who were not loggers, were farmers. My Dad's father was Belgian; his family, before emigrating to America, were sheep farmers.

My mother moved to a farm with her family when she was about twelve or thirteen years old. Her grandparents had both come from farming families, potato farmers to be exact, after arriving from Poland they settled in Chicago, but were soon lured to northern Wisconsin, where farm land was being given away for free. Later, after my great-grandparents were grown and had married, they decided to move to Milwaukee to try life away from farming. My great-grandfather got a job driving a streetcar, which was lucky for his family, because he didn't lose his job during the Great Depression like so many others did.
Many years later, his second oldest son, my Grandpa, decided that he wanted to buy a farm, so he did, taking his wife and seven children with him. My Mom was about twelve or thirteen at the time, the second oldest of seven children. My Grandpa still had a regular day job; the farming part was mostly like a "hobby farm", although he did plant fields and they had animals; goats, rabbits, chickens, a few cows and horses. They also had a very large vegetable garden and an orchard. Growing much of their own food was helpful when you had a large family of growing children and not much money.

By the time I was born, my Dad's parents still lived on their farm, but they no longer kept a dairy herd and my Mom's parents, though still living on their farm also, kept no animals anymore and the fields were rented out. As the years went by, my grandparents aged and by the time I was in high school, their farms had been sold, the equipment auctioned off and long gone; my parents had careers ( my mom a nurse, my dad had his own business), so I never knew what it was like to live on a working farm myself.
But, the farm life loomed hugely in my memory, from stories and pictures from the past, and me and my siblings and cousins had always enjoyed visiting our grandparents so we could play in the huge empty barns, swing on old pasture gates, hide under the corn crib, and dive into the hay in the loft (which we were forbidden to do, but did it anyway!)

A few years ago, one of my cousins, and her husband, decided that they wanted to buy an old c. 1850s farmhouse, which also came with a few acres of land, and numerous barns and outbuildings. They also decided to become goat farmers. Every year they have a Labor Day picnic at their goat farm, and me and my extended family, all of us "city folk" go out to the picnic and have a fun day "on the farm".

These are all pictures that I took this last Labor Day at the farm, and then edited using my new editing program.

The old smokehouse

They do have some cows; a few young Holsteins and two Herefords.

These are actually some of the young kids. There are two pens of the kids, who were all born this last spring. One pen holds all the males, the other are females.

I have forgotten now exactly the number of kids that were born this spring a the farm... but I think it was close to sixty or seventy kids!

These are the adult females. There is only one adult male; the "billy", who 'services' all the females, but he is kept with the cows in the cow pasture.
Evidently you can "rent" other males if you want to have some genetic diversity in your goat herd. 

The two Herefords are actually a mom and her baby. The heifer is called "Big Mama". The baby doesn't have a name yet, although she is a couple months old already.

I got this picture of my Mom when I was looking down the hay chute. She's holding onto my Grandpa's arm as they were walking around in the lower level where the goats are. At nearly 95, my Grandpa still loves to talk about his own farming days and it's a great treat for him to come see my cousin's farm.

Just like cows, the adult female goats get milked twice a day. There are about 50 adult female goats. They can fit two rows of ten goats in the milking room at a time, where they get hooked up to the automatic milking machines. If you walk into the milking room, they all will turn and look at you. Goats are very curious creatures; they are also very friendly and entertaining to watch and have quite distinct personalities.

Black and white version:

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed a taste of the "farm life"!


GinaBVictorian said...

Hi Katie! Wow! Now that's alot of kids! Aren't they cute?! Thanks for sharing all of those beautiful country scene photos. They all look so familiar for I grew up in the country myself. My dad was a farmer when I was a baby and then he later went on to own his own sawmill/lumber company. Love that old smokehouse photo! Gina

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

How wonderful to experience that with your Grandfather! I am sure it is a day you will never forget and you have such wonderful pictures.

Pam said...

Gorgeous farm photos. I love the one inside the barn with the light shining into it.

Bead and Needle said...

Hi, Katie...back from my extended summer, and glad I stopped here first. LOVE this post - the kids and calves are ADORABLE - GREAT photos, girl! I think the picture of the inside of the barn, with the light shining through the wood is exquisite! Hope you're looking forward to fall - XOXO