Life on the farm.....
A Father’s Day Tribute to Bob, the man who’s always there to handle things.
Bob was willing and ready when we felt God leading us to come back to the farm. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we never fathomed what lie ahead. Bob was a saint with my dad dealing calmly with the dementia. From turning switches when all the bulbs burned out at once and saying, “it’s fixed Clyde” never stating the real issue, sticking close when Mobile Crisis was called to get Clyde help, and even pretending to push a bull onto a truck in the nursing home to settle Clyde when dementia brought hallucinations. Bob never complained.
When I wanted to direct market meats he was willing to work with me on it and fully participates now!
A cattle man, grazer and conservationist at heart, he’s adapted quite well to caring for other livestock, fixing old buildings, improving conservation practices and slowly developing a better grazing operation.
He did it all when I fractured a vertebrae during lambing and farrowing season. He took care of livestock and then came in and got meals and ensured I had all I needed. He got up early to complete the chores so he could get me to doctor appointments.
Bob brought laughter to the situation when one of the kids recently broke the bush hog. It meant the third item on our equipment replacement list moved to first place, but as he said it’s not worth getting upset over.
These are the things others rarely realize, he’s the quiet rock of the operation.
Here I am preparing for the Indiana County Farmers' Market both as a vendor and as the President of the Farmers' Market group. So life has not slowed down, as I've sought to step back from responsibilities in other areas of my life farm related responsibilities shout my name!
We celebrated Morgan's MS degree graduation from Millersville a couple weeks ago! It was a fun weekend! Sometime asked Bob about how expensive it is to be a millennial!
Garrett is working in Ames, IA this summer on a swine research facility with the same company he worked with last summer. Garrett graduates with a BS in Animal Science from Iowa State!
I need to take a moment to say how thankful and honored I am to be Garrett and Morgan's mother. I am sure Bob is honored to be their father as well. These kids never cease to amaze us as the beautiful, responsible, mature young adults they have become.
Bob and I were far from super or perfect people or parents. God used us anyway. God blessed us with two awesome children and allowed us the opportunity to raise them.
Now we have the opportunity to watch in awe at the young people they have become.
The most important crop anyone can raise on a farm is their children! Everything else pales in comparison.
So many things have changed over the last six/seven months. There were highs and lows overall it was quite the roller coaster. I finally took a deep breath and am settling in to 2017.
September 1st we said good bye to my dad, Clyde. He spent the summer months in St. Andrews Village. The wonderful staff was like family to him, caring for his every need. Calming him when he was anxious and joining his world as we did talking livestock and farming because most of the time he thought he was at a livestock show or out working on the farm.
Bob and I found ourselves in a fall transition, no more trips to the nursing home visiting and taking him things he needed. It was our first time with an empty nest! You see we sent our son off to college in 2013 and came home to the farm. So we transitioned from teenager to seenager (our affectionite term for our senior generation).
As you can imagine my sisters and I did lots of sorting and cleaning out this Fall. I realized a couple weekends ago as I sorted nails that I won't ever get bored on here. I will spend the rest of my life sorting things! My dad liked to keep things in case he needed it some day.
There are interesting treasurers like old Jersey and Duroc magazines of yester year. Remember my dad was raised here! Lots of old books to read, etc.
The kids were home to help on the farm over the holidays and once the New Year came it was Farm Show time. The Farm Show remains a McConaughey family affair with only one family member missing from the fun! The second purebred swine scholarship was awarded. Dad set up the scholarship a couple years ago.
We showed and sold Duroc gilts and also watched Garrett get one of twenty eight PA Farm Show scholarships.
And now after all that excitement it's time to get into the groove of 2017 and back to normal workdays. Ok as normal as life gets on the farm sometimes!
Life has a way of getting away from me....especially during busy seasons.
My farmer husband, Bob, is currently excited to have his 1st cutting hay all baled. Thanks to a special neighbor I have nicknamed the "round bale fairy" for helping Bob finish a field by round baling the rest when Bob's wagons were all full and rain was threatening. (Special note, he does not know about the nickname I've given him!)
Let's put what this neighboring farmer did into perspective. As you're are driving home from a long days' work how many times do you see someone who could use your professional expertise and keep on driving? Or see someone working on a project and keep on heading for the exit door at work when the clock strikes 5 pm?
At 7 pm or so he was driving home after finishing his hay and saw Bob was never going to be able to get all the hay done that evening and pulled into the field and offered to round bale the rest for us. Soon he arrived with the round baler and a bit later the field was all baled!
Another neighbor was painting one day and dropped everything and came with his young grandson to help during a crisis, with just a few minutes notice!
The second weekend of June another friend fed our animals while we attended a family wedding and spent time with our Morgan and Garrett! It may not seem like much to you but I celebrated 36 hours away from the farm and time spent with family!
We are blessed beyond measure with great neighbors! A true gift found in a rural area where families have been neighbors literally for generations.
A matter of perspective.
I am currently participating in a risk management conference for work and find different perspectives from across the US to be very interesting.
This evening the weather forecast isn't great. The weatherman expects quarter or half dollar size hail and stated we can handle that. At home that would be considered a real weather challenge!
I also learned in one area of Nevada that is blessed with water farmers are selling their water instead of farming. Selling water is more profitable than farming the land. I then asked what the next generation is doing, yes they are keeping the land but in general continue the profitable practice of selling water not farming. All land must be irrigated to grow crops there so the land is laying fallow but the water is being put to use.
One farmer is growing alfalfa in Nevada. They get 10 cuttings a year from their alfalfa! We are consider ourselves lucky to get 3 cuttings a year!
Can't wait to see what else I learn while I'm here! I've only been here six hours.
Spring is here! I've got pansies to plant, thanks to my next gen who picked them up for me! It's not Spring until I plant some pansies.....it's my tradition. My horticulturist side coming out!
I love color in the flower beds and that means some early flowering plants must be planted each year. The bulbs are blooming too, but I need LOTS of color!
We are preparing for a small early 4-H project pig open house next week. (Later pigs will be available in same format on April 30th.) We had a similar open house for steers & heifers at South Branch Farms. Everyone always enjoyed that so we thought we'd do the same this year for pigs.
Our goal is to provide "first choice" to everyone and maintain prices that are affordable for the buyers, yet profitable for us the farmer....there has to be a balance so it's a win-win for everyone. The 4-H kids need to be able to make a profit on the animals just like we need to be paid for the time, breeding & feed costs it takes to get the sow and litter to the stage where the pigs are ready for their new owners.
Bob & I agree the neatest part is watching the kids grow and mature into wonderful young men and women! They develop their own set of ideals and reasons for raising pigs (or any species) many times they come to realize the one with the champion ribbon isn't the only winner. What each child gains along the way developing responsibility, salesmanship, business sense about profit and loss, and a great work ethic is priceless and tremendous asset no one will ever take from them.
We remain great friends with those who came to buy steers and heifers and the families remain friends with fellow steer and heifer customers! We hope the same is true for the pig open house.
May I add, although one teenage cattle customer shared his demolition derby video with us during a trip to the farm neither of our children grew up to enter the demolition derby or rodeo! Praise God for little miracles! At the time I was a bit concerned because our young impressionable kids thought it was the best thing in the world!
Wonderful memories....none of us will ever forget!
Looking forward to meeting new young families and 4-H'ers next weekend.
A simple kid friendly lunch will be served during look and lunch starting at 11:30 then final bids will take place only on any animals that still have more than one bidder. (Those with one bidder will be claimed at the board price.) If questions call Bob at 717-873-6409.
Can you tell we've been busy?!
Between the animals and meeting season with my day job it's been rather eventful! No time for rest of social life.
February his always a month when Bob has an enormous sleep deficit from staying up to check pregnant animals and ensure everyone is doing well. All his work paid off, the barns are full of baby lambs and baby pigs and calves running in the field!
For many reasons I don't always get to the barn, as I fed the sheep tonight I was admiring our Suffolk based lambs. We are very pleased and blessed to have a nice group the ewe lambs out of our new Wiford ram. They will definitely move us toward our goal of establishing a percentage Suffolk flock! of the date our
Also saw some real nice looking baby pigs in the farrowing barn! It's always fun to watch them grow and develop and see what they grow into. Watch our website and facebook page for more info the date the project pigs will be available at the farm.
We are thankful for the great weather and the opportunity to get some extra outdoor chores done.
It's that time of year! Barns begin to fill with livestock that are preparing to delivery offspring!
Many of you are saying, "Ah how cute" or "I'd love to do that."
Realistically I think of the many, many farmers across Pennsylvania watching the weather forecast and waiting to see what track the storm is taking. They are not thinking about whether they have bread, milk, water, batteries or flashlights for the house, those items are extremely trival. Farmers are focused on how they will meet the needs of their livestock and dairy animals. They are thinking about quantities of hay, food and water required by those animals. Pondering how they will move all that snow in order to reach the barns and sheds where the livestock is in order to properly care for their animals.
The dairy farmers are also thinking about what happens if the milk truck can't arrive. Ever lost a paycheck? Well that's exactly what will happen if dairy farmers must dump milk because the roads are shut and milk haulers can not get in to pick up the farmer's milk. Bills will still need paid but the income will be lost. Farmers stainless steel bulk milk tanks do not hold an unending quantity of milk. Farmers rely on their milk tanks being emptied on a regular basis by the milk hauler who delivers the milk processing plant to package into the milk you buy in the store.
As you shovel your driveway, walks and/or take your dog for a walk or feed your pets indoors think of the farmers, snow removal crews and emergency workers struggling to keep up with the work load and pray for their safety, strength and stamina. If you have the opportunity to remain indoors and wait out the snow storm, be thankful, very thankful!
Our prayers are going out to our many friends and family in the path of the storm.
It appears we may be spared from the larger snowfalls, and we are very thankful.
Time flies when the kids are home for the holidays!
Many projects were completed! Thankful for cooperative weather everything from manure hauling to swine registrations, broiler harvesting and PA Farm Show prep was accomplished by our youthful assistants!
As a family our focus has been on PA Farm Show prep, after all if you have McConaughey blood flowing through you the first of January brings the annual trip to Harrisburg and participating in another Farm Show pig show.
Yes, once again our family converged at the hog barn at the PA Farm Show. The one place, once a year where usually you can find my siblings and nieces and nephews! (Not sure why we never made the beach or an exotic vacation location the tradition!)
1) Our kids have NEVER missed a PA Farm Show!
2) Our family has been showing at the event since 1939.
3) My grandfather first traveled there via railroad, riding in the railroad car with his dairy cattle to care for them during the 2/3 day trip from Indiana County!
4) There is a page in the new Farm Show book about my dad and his Farm Show experiences.
5) This year the 1st scholarship in memory of Clyde & Hattie McConaughey (my grandparents) and Lois McConaughey (my mom) was presented to Taylor Conley! My dad wanted to encourage youth in the purebred swine industry and he established a scholarship to do that.
While Farm Show offers a great opportunity to visit with friends and family we don't see often enough. It also provides an opportunity to make new friends and learn from them just as they learn from us! We educated many; answering questions in relation to our pigs.
We also learned a lot as we visited with other PA and Northeast farmers regarding their farm operations. Many of the farmers were there for the bred gilt sale where all the open class pigs (pregnant females) were sold to new owners, farmers and 4-H families to raise their own pigs on their farms. It was a great sale.
THANK YOU to all our buyers for making it successful. We wish each one the best of luck with their gilts. We hope the gilts will be profitable for the farmers as well as create priceless family bonding moments, as many of the pigs are birthed, sorted, grown and shown at fairs by 4-Her's.
Great Farm Show travel weather was a blessing! However, Garrett made up for it with long flight delays during his travel back to Iowa State on Sunday. We are thankful the good Lord allowed safe passage even though slow and frustrating at times.
It's the middle of January and lambing and farrowing are fast approaching, will seek to keep you posted on life on the farm!
Many exciting things have happened at MCF in the last several weeks!
It was wonderful having Bob's parents, George & Maddie, and Bob's youngest brother, Ed, Colleen, and Marissa visit over Thanksgiving weekend!
We even got a room painted over Thanksgiving! Extra hands are a great help.
The great weather has been an asset on the farm. It allowed me to paint the inside of our market trailer last weekend.
I spent three days this week in Harrisburg with one of my day job tasks, assisting with Growing Pennsylvania's Organic Farms conference.
Morgan attended the conference and spent her time learning about pastured poultry production from Jeff Mattocks and Casey Rogers from Fertrell Company. She and her dad continue to develop a plan for pastured broilers for the 2016 season.
Are we ready for Christmas? Yes, it's easier with more mature kids. I have not pulled all the decorations out...bringing them down two flights of stairs certainly prioritizes what I "need" out.
Our wish is for everyone to focus on the real reason for the season. The most important gift ever, baby Jesus.
Life has been a little busy! Last week I spent two days working in eastern PA.
We enjoy holiday as it usually means our college kid comes home for a visit! Garrett is a Junior at Iowa State and is far enough away he doesn't make it home on the weekends. It takes a weeklong break for him to get back home.
We are very thankful for his college friends and their families who have allowed him to be a part of their families while living in Iowa! This time he shared stories of making apple cider with an old hand crank wooden apple press this Fall. He needs to learn to take pictures so his mom can enjoy the events too!
Yes, his dad has chores just waiting extra hands! The wagons of hay and fodder are now all unloaded! All the hogs have been critiqued and the rest of the animals checked out.
Now it's nearly Thanksgiving and we look forward to having both Morgan and Garrett home for a meal or two together. Then we'll be headed back to the airport and Garrett will head off to Iowa State once more.
Some people ask why he goes so far away. We ask why not, it's a great school. Garrett is where he's suppose to be! Iowa State and The Salt Co. have been a huge blessing.
This week finds us juggling many tasks, including preparing for the Community Seed Swap on Saturday at IUP. We certainly want to encourage the students in their endeavors. It's an opportunity to educate and share with people about agriculture, our farm and what we do here.
It also will be our first Saturday buying club delivery! it's a good opportunity for multitasking.
Of course my day job keeps me busy throughout the week too. I will be at a Western PA Fruit/Vegetable event on Wednesday in Prospect, PA. PA Farm Link will have a booth there sharing information about upcoming events and sharing a bit more about the non-profit.
It's a beautiful fall day and we don't want to take it for granted! In northwest PA the winters can be a bit unfriendly.
Bob is celebrating by mowing hay. Yes, it's November 2nd and my husband mowed hay. He warned me he was going too. He said someone may stop and suggest he's crazy. (He has to be to put up with the rest of us!)
I am happy at the thought of having more hay in the barn for the winter. It will be put to good use.
He said he would mow one of the well established fields. He didn't want to cut his newly seeded hay fields because it would stress the planting too much over the winter. (I also learn something new every day.)
Believe he also mowed corn stalks so we'll have some corn fodder for bedding as well.