This evening while doing chores, I had to wear a jacket. The rain was a fine mist, almost snow like. It was just windy enough to be cold. I pulled my jacket closed against the wind and looked at the sights around me. The woods was beautiful tonight. The slick colorful leaves shimmered in the fading light, as I stepped into the horse barn. The warmth and light made me smile. Autumn is in the air for sure, but peace filled my heart.
The horses spent this cold rainy day indoors. I had planned to give them haircuts after supper, but my plans changed. I busied myself with all sorts of rainy day projects until the day was gone. Doing chores at dark, I realized just how much beauty surrounds us here on the farm. I almost forgot to notice. I stood in the mist for a minute or two longer than I needed to, just to savor the beauty laid out before me…it was breathtaking.
The last of the year’s jobs are almost complete. I need to pick the animal corn and split a few loads of firewood. The speltz are coming up. The field is turning green against a colorful backdrop. I have a few pieces of machinery to clean and put away for the season. As my farm year winds down, I feel very good about what I have accomplished so far. The autumn leaves are almost like fireworks signalling the end of something great…but not the end, just a pause to rest.
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: inexpensive waterers for livestock, livestock watering, recycle, repurpose, Small Farming, Tire Tank, Tires, Water Tank
October 17, 2016
Well, I have given myself another project. I first saw this idea in an old SWCS (Soil and Water Service) bulletin. These old road grader tires make great water troughs for livestock. I was able to scrounge up two of them for my next projects. I will give step by step instructions along with photos so stay tuned.
This tire, will hold many gallons of water. The tire is almost six feet in diameter and two feet tall. The side wall will be removed on the top side to allow better access for the livestock. This one pictured will be used in my permanent horse pasture. They are tough on things. I think this will be almost indestructible.
The tire is placed on packed gravel, just as in the photo above. Dry “sacrete” ready mix concrete is tamped into the space where the rim would go on the bottom side. The dry concrete is packed under the bead area and brought up to the level of the bead just off the ground about 5 inches. Once the cement has been packed/tamped in place, water is put into the tire to a depth of a few inches above the dry mix, Let the water stand for three days, then fill and use the tank.
I was able to secure two tires and will be putting them in service as soon as next year’s wood is all in and this year’s corn has been picked. I have a full plate, but am looking forward to trying this simple, effective idea.
These are my two tires in the back of my 8 by 14 foot trailer. I’m thinking the skidsteer will be a great help in moving them around. They are very heavy. I am not the first to do this and the internet has plenty of information. I will offer as much detail as I can, including how well they work in our cold snowy winters.
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: Compost, cover crops, horse feed, Small Farming, Spelt, speltz, straw
October 7, 2016
Wow, after pushing hard from dark until dark for the last three days, the spelt crop for this year has been planted. I had to use the tractor some, but the horses and I pushed through it. This back field is usually our pig herd pasture. I needed to renovate it. Spelt and hay is planted at the same time. I will frost seed clover into this field in February or March, but in the meantime, the spelt will nurse the fescue hay seedlings.
This is a field of about five acres including a small wooded section and several small groves of trees. I farm around the trees for the benefit of the animals and even for the look of the grassy hamlet. The spelt field is about three acres, so well worth the effort. Next July, the grain and straw from this piece will meet our farm needs for a year.
The straw when mixed with the animals manure, after providing them a warm bed, is the foundation for our compost providing much of the carbon source needed. The grain fuels” the horses for an entire year, providing all goes well with the crop. We have not had to buy commercial horse feed for over eight years. Spelt and salt and mineral are all that is needed to keep working horses in good condition, along with good hay of course.
As I type these words, I am tired from the last three days, but I am very satisfied. Now, I just have to clean up the grain drill, grease and put away the disc and other tools while I wait for the seed to sprout. :o)
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: buckwheat, cover crops, Grazing, grazing extender, honeybees, Oats, Small Farming
October 6, 2016
This little field is located at the back of my farm. It is where the cows will spend the winter. I planted oats and buckwheat here to extend the grazing season. The little field is much better with a cover crop on it. The cows will soon eat this, leaving rich manure behind. It’s nice when they spread their own!
I spent $24.00 on the buckwheat seed. The oats were right out of my feed bin. We disced the area to cut some grooves into the hard ground. We next broadcasted the oats and buckwheat on top of the ground and waited. The rains finally came and sprouted the seed. The buckwheat bloomed and provided a nice autumn crop for the bees. The standing forage will make my cows very happy.
The oats and buckwheat are not frost hardy. They will die once winter gets here, but the cows will have this all eaten before then. The plants have “mined” the soil of trace elements. The cows will eat the plants and deposit the digested minerals back on the ground. Next spring I will plant corn in this small place. The corn will benefit from this crop and from the cows too. It will prove to be a very good way to have spent $24.00.
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: autumn, decorations, fall, family time, pumpkins, speltz
October 4, 2016
Its that time of year again. We are all scrambling to get the harvest in before winter. I started yesterday opening up the corn field for picking. I go along the edge and pick the corn so that the team and wagon has room between the fence and the row being picked. I was surprised at just how dry the corn had become in just a week. It will now keep in my crib without spoiling.
My time commitments at my off farm job have been almost overwhelming this year. It takes away from my farm time, my blog time and even my life. It is a necessary evil at this time, but someday……… :) Anyway, I did not grow pumpkins this year because I knew that I would not have time to take care of them. I bought this load from a friend. There are plenty here beyond the needs of my grandchildren, so some will be fed to the livestock.
My buddy makes these cute little straw bales for harvest decorations. I couldn’t resist them for the ladies in our family who love to decorate their yards and homes. I also got a bin of pie pumpkins. The kids can paint them, but I will enjoy pie and cookies made from this sweet treat. The kids will too…. sorry “Libby’s” but homemade is best.
I am scrambling to get my speltz planted this week before the next big rain. In between I am hand picking corn. I have a few days off so farm and horse time is just what I need to heal body and soul. The fact that I get to bring in the harvest, spend time with family and friends, just makes this awesome time of year even sweeter!
Filed under: September 2016 | Tags: autumn, beef cows, calves, flannel shirt, little ones, Small Farming
She was born a few days ago. I couldn’t help but like her little white socks, so I named her Bobbi.
The best part of farming for me is the little ones. I mean all of them. The baby pigs, lambs calves will brighten the most dismal day. Showing these little critters to small humans, will shine light into your soul. The children’s bright smiles and gleeful shouts are the things that make marks upon your heart.
I am watching the cows close. They are about to calve, all of them, before winter. These are exciting times here. We calve at this odd time of year, because we share a bull with another small herd. I still have good, abundant pasture and lots of high protein food for when the weather turns foul. There is plenty of shelter for our bovine group. So, the entire herd will be warm and well all winter long.
Autumn is chasing summer away. We will soon be soaking up the last warm rays as the fall foliage turns color. These are flannel shirt days where a man can work comfortably in the cool breeze. I will work at planting my fall crop and harvesting our field corn. The horses and I will enjoy the cool work days, while mother cows nurse babies in the fading summer sun. I love this farm life!
Filed under: September 2016 | Tags: cover crop, procrastinate, raised beds, Small Farming, small gardening
September 14, 2016
Over the last three days, my wife and I have accomplished much around the yard and garden. Many of the jobs we did were long overdue. I used the weedeater in places that I hadn’t touched all summer! I trimmed bushes and hedges that really needed a “haircut”! I weeded beds that forgot what the hoe even felt like. We chopped, trimmed, dug mowed and sweated like people possessed.
The summer flew by, as we did farm work, chopped wood, and took care of animals. Somehow, while I was immersed in farm work, the gardens and flowerbeds went WILD. I walked by and simply turned my head knowing that I would get to it sooner or later. Our neglected garden was simply pitiful. Honestly, I was ashamed of my laziness.
I sat down and we outlined an attack plan. I also decided to do away with a couple things that didn’t work for us. We tore out three raised garden beds. I kept the ones with our berry plants, asparagus and rhubarb planted in them. The ones that I thought would make gardening easier, I ripped out and salvaged the lumber. They turned out to be labor intensive, hard to mow around and constant suckers of energy.
We also renovated an old perennial flower bed. The grasses had started to choke out the flowers. I had tried weedblock, mulch and this year, the weedeater but I just don’t have time to make it look like it should. We will now be mowing up to the fence, as the whole thing has been planted to grass. The last order of the day was to work up the garden space and plant a cover crop of rye. The gardens and flowerbeds are now all ready for winter.
It is great to have this behind us. I am training a new horse and will be soon working up a field and planting speltz. The corn crop is drying nicely and the harvest will soon be at hand. I can now look forward to those things, working horses and just enjoying this farm.
Bye bye flowers, hello grass….shhhhh, don’t tell anyone…the fence needs painted!