Monday, June 25, 2012

Underhill visit Part II

Morning at a.Caitlin and u.Jim's house.  We went out to the gardens, and played with star wars and star trek action figures.  Caspian found a coffee pot and had coffee, "like mama!"

I walked inside later to find u.Jim playing the car-passing game. This little red convertible beetle, with rear-wheel pull-and-release drive was the favorite, and therefore most contentious, toy in the collection.

The kids, after a late night of partying at a.Natalie's, a bit of Caspian throwing up after gorging on grapes and hot dogs, a Caspian fever, and a very early rise-time, took a decent nap.

Caitlin let me use up half her pile of cedar rough cut 2x10x10s, left over from their raised beds, to build a bridge.  It was a wonderful quick project, tickling my long held desire to build bridges.  (I love bridges, the idea, the need they fulfill, the limitless options of how to solve the problem of getting from here to there.  And the geometry.  Go take a look at the steel bridge in England that is completely dovetailed together, no welds or rivets. Amazing.)

Anyhoo, I got a fair distance into the project while the kids were sleeping, and by the time they woke up a.Natalie had arrived, and the kids had TWO aunts to distract them.

We took a break in the mid afternoon to pop over to Uncle William's farm to learn about the milking process, see the cows, and visit William's favorite part of the farm, a beautiful spot in the pasture with a panoramic view, and Mt. Mansfield right in your face.

This little mostly-white calf is going to Natalie and William's house to grow up until it's old enough to enter the milking rotation.

No idea of this little fellow's back story, but he was hungry, and sucked fingers aggressively.

We took a ride in the farm truck up to the pastures to get the cows down to the barn for milking.

There's Vermont.

A little note, I have no time to edit any of the pictures on this blog.  Some of them, like the sky here, just turn out amazing all on their own.

You also can't beat seeing those two munchkins in William's arms.

I like cows.  

The kids, Auntie Natalie, and the dogs all helped unroll the round bale of hay down the length of the barn for the cows as they were milked.

Always interesting to learn about how these things work.  The cows are all trained to go to their spot in the barn, where there is a drop-down metal rail, custom set to their height, that encourages them to back up when they start arching their backs to go to the bathroom.  Gets the waste into the channels cut into the floor down the length of the barn, and a series of metal plates on a chain rotate around that channel and sweep all the waster out to the lagoon.

There are stainless steel pipes running the length of the barn, and I believe a separate pipe with suction in it.  Or maybe they're both pressurized.  William here is carrying one milking rig, which ties into the two lines, and is attached to the teats of the cows.  The milk is sucked out, piped back to the milk room, and then william moves the rig to the next cow.  It looked like he had four of these rigs in action at any one time, which gave him enough time to move them along in pace with the emptying of the lead cow.

The kids got to help.

The two halves of the bridge, a simple truss design, with the walkway hanging from the large triangle.  A bit of design whim and neccesity, the boards we had to work with were 10 ft long, the span had to be at least 16 feet across.  

Before moving the pieces of the bridge into place and assembling, the kids had disappeared with a.Natalie to the tent in the back gardens, and they all came back screaming for brains.  A long zombie-struggle ensued.  u.William was the first victim.

A girl and her farmer.  :)
And her mohawked pooch.

Annaliese found snails in the garden.  ("Is that my hand?" she just said over my shoulder, chewing carrot in my ear.)  

After putting the bridge in place and assembling, we went to the brook to get some flat stones for the four feet of the bridge.

A picture with me in it!

We put the bridge through its paces.

My sisters, the aunties.

a.Caitlin and u.Jim on their new bridge to nowhere.  I believe the plans are to clean out the area on across the bridge and plant it with deer-resilient things.

The day concluded with a pizza party courtesy of a.C and u.J, and a big pile of folks watching Despicable Me on the giant movie screen in Caitlin's living room.  If you haven't seen that flick, it's one of the funniest, kid and adult entertaining things I've seen in a long time.

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