June 21, 2011, 12:03 am
Filed under: June 2011

June 21, 2011

     Evidently there is a sign somewhere that says “Leave your unwanted pets here!” We seem to get an awful lot of discarded animals. It seems to be mostly cats, especially kittens. The little sleeping feline has been crying at our back door for two days. You can see the effect that cat food soaked in goat’s milk has on him….. at least he quit bawling!
     The little guy will probably wind up a permanent resident unless someone comes along while he is still cute and playful. Teenage cats don’t have the charm that stumbly little kitties do 😮  We haven’t named him yet, but I have called him all sorts of things.
   Today is the first day of summer. That means the days now start getting shorter and we are headed for winter. Dang, I missed spring. If it wasn’t for the flowers I don’t think I could tell at all it was spring… seemed more like monsoon season for us northeast Ohio folks.
     Haymaking season is upon us, but the weather still is a bit damp. I guess I’ll have to get some washed this year…every now and then the rain washes it off for us farmers. Takes a little goodness and color out of the hay, but they do still eat it. We just prefer to make good dry, green hay, lots of protein and no dust …especially for the horses.
     I guess I should approach the season like my feline friend, wait on the rain, get a full belly and nap. He has no cares. He doesn’t even know he’s homeless.. he thinks he lives here 😮   I am reminded of an old dog we once had. He lived with us for years, mom said we couldn’t keep him… I guess he was a renter until he died. Dog’s name was “Sooner”. My grandpa named him. Grandpa said the name fit him perfect, because he’d sooner pee on the floor, than go outside  😮

A Day for Dads
June 18, 2011, 11:39 pm
Filed under: June 2011
Father’s Day

June 19, 2011

     Today is a day set aside to honor our fathers. It goes without saying that the honor goes to grandpas and great grandpas too. It also takes in our other father or father-in-law.
     A father is a nice title but perhaps a bit presumptuous. The father is the sire of the offspring, who has the DNA to prove it. A dad, may also be the father, but for sure he is the guy who loves and nurtures us.
     Dad is the guy who chases monsters out of the closet, digs out a splinter and can fix all sorts of stuff. He helps mend broken toys and even broken hearts. You can rely on him to pull you through at the last-minute. He helped to instill that inner voice that keeps you from doing wrong. He is always on your side, in your corner and behind you, every step of the way.
     Dad is the guy who was tough on you. He taught you responsibility, even when you didn’t want to learn it. He put you on the school bus, watched you graduate, walked you down the aisle or witnessed your wedding. Dad stood strong, often with a big lump in his throat or perhaps tears spilling over, but he wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
     Fathers come and go, but a dad is forever. He loves you no matter what. He gets a bad rap sometimes for being the punisher, but even in that mode, his love is poured out. It might not show at the time, but it really does hurt him more than it does you 😮
     I was fortunate enough to have a dad, as well as, a couple of step dads who cared enough to mentor me along the way. I also have had many father figure type guys to guide me as well. These are men that I am very fond of today. Those men cared enough to look out for me, watch over me, teach me and set a good example for me to follow. I am forever in their debt.
     A few of those guys were family friends, one was an old boss and several are uncles. My mom’s youngest brother keeps close tabs on me still today … and I like that.
     As you take time today to honor your father, say a special thank you to another male influence in your life. Maybe he was your baseball coach, a teacher, an old guy who fixed your bike or the father of a close friend, but take time to acknowledge him today.
     Now, for all of you who have a dad in your life, give him a hug, in person or by phone. Tell him how much he means to you … but don’t worry if you can’t find the words … dads know. The best thing you can do is learn from your dad. Exemplify his strengths, forgive his weaknesses and love him with all your heart … because I will tell you all now … He sure loves you!

Gangs and Gangsters
June 18, 2011, 4:36 am
Filed under: June 2011

June 18, 2011

     The above photo shows a gang of troublemakers. These little imps have figured out how to get through the smallest of openings. They are so cute sleeping in the straw and yet so destructive when free roaming the flower beds!
     I did finally figure out where the little bulldozers were getting out. Much to their disappointment, I fixed that part of the fence. The little gangsters will be headed off to new homes next week. I hope their new pens will hold water because that’s just about what it takes to hold these little jail breakers 😮
     It’s nice that my biggest problems from gangs is caused by escaped piglets. They are tough on the garden and flower beds, but have yet to spray paint the side of the barn. They cause me grief for only a little while, then they can’t fit through the squares in the fence anymore. They become content with what is within their boundaries and show no contempt for me …the jailor.
     I pray that my two-legged youngsters continue to be able to separate themselves from the crowd. I try to instill confidence in all I touch, self-esteem is a wonderful thing. It keeps you standing on your own two feet when the rest of the crowd is swept into sometimes bad behavior. Be strong, be yourself and stay inside the fences.
     If you are going to go along with the crowd, be the leader. Take the gang some place good for the purpose of doing good. Start a new trend. Mow an old person’s lawn or run an errand for someone in need. Babysit for a neighbor for a couple of hours, teach a child to fish or sit with someone who just needs company. Try and be the force that gets things done, builds things up and beautifies everything it touches. The whole world will be better for it.
     The little piggies in the photograph will some day give their lives for the purpose of good. They will enrich people with protein for strong bodies. They will supply great tasting pork products like ham, bacon and sausage to get that done. It would only be right to use the energy for the purpose of doing good, but every now and then step outside the fence and kick up your heels a little. Have some good clean fun, run around with some friends  and enjoy the sunshine…… Oinking is optional 😮

Bringing the girls home
June 17, 2011, 12:51 am
Filed under: June 2011
A couple of cute heifers!

June 17, 2011

     The young ladies in the photo just arrived here. They will be bred to a beef bull before too long. They will start a new venture here that involves grass-fed ground beef. They will be part of the foundation stock.
     The last of our brood, my youngest son, has brought home his girl. We have met a few before, but this one is a keeper. They are to be wed in September. They have worked out most of the kinks and have chosen each other for life mates.
     It is a crazy thing bringing home your girl to meet the folks. Everyone is off keel a bit. It’s usually dad who breaks the ice and gets the conversation started. I have had the pleasure to do this on quite a few occasions. My wife’s last two nestlings were boys. I had the privilege of helping to get them to manhood. Then came my oldest and now , my youngest.
     The newest addition to our family has roots in West Virginia. They come from the east side near Elkins and Davis. Our family came from the White Sulphur Springs area. I guess that makes us hillbillies to some, but to me it means good, honest folks. We work hard, play hard and don’t take much crap from anybody. We are easy-going, helpful folks who work the land, like nature and hold family dear.
     Our family grows bigger each year. We have grand babies, new spouses and even a few who just show up for the food. We welcome them all with a full plate, a smile and a heart full of love. Life is way to short for anything else.
     Soon our cattle herd will grow as we enter the next phase of our quest to make the farm profitable. Our family continues to expand as well. This farm provides a haven for babies both 4 legged and 2 legged alike. I watch over them all. I guide, ride herd, punish and praise, each one with a gentle heart and hand. The result is a group of beings who count on me. It’s a big job that I gladly accept.
     The best part, is the respect that comes with such a job. Sometimes I don’t feel like I deserve it, like when I am too honest or share my opinion or perhaps even tell them exactly what to do. It’s not always my business, but I react as if it is. I don’t mean to be pushy, mean or hurtful. I do mean to be strong and honest,  even to a fault. Thankfully, they all know me, they still ask my advice, listen to it, then make their own decision. I am pleased to have been asked … and every now and then, I give them a nugget that they can use 😮
     Bringing home the girls has gone on for generations. In fact there would be no generations if we didn’t bring them home. It’s a ritual, a rite of passage and in some cases an honor. I know for me, it is exactly that. I am honored that our kids and grandkids care enough about us to meet their friends and soon to be family. It is great that they want our approval, seek our advice and care enough to ask for it. It is just one more of the many blessings that we share.
     Welcome to our crazy family Heather. Take good care of her Jake. She will be the foundation stock for my next round of farm hands, as your children join the others … helping Pa-Pa.      No rush..but …  we did buy a square baler you know 😮

Black Gold
June 16, 2011, 7:14 am
Filed under: June 2011
Composted manure ready to apply

June 16, 2011

     The manure pit is full waiting for the weather to clear so we can get it put out on our fields. This black gold makes up the biggest part of our fertility plan. It is turning our farm into a grassland paradise.
     It is amazing how much of a difference manure application, timely mowing and crop rotation has made on our farm. The soils were depleted when we came here nineteen years ago. I followed in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and my grandpas with my farming methods. I’m not sure if the two past presidents are proud, but I am sure that my grandpas are.
     The productivity of our farm has increased by leaps and bounds. We raise most of our animal’s food and a great deal of ours, while protecting water quality for folks miles away. Our conservation plan ensures only good comes from the manure applied on our fields. We don’t apply on snow or wet fields when run-off is a big concern. I want the nutrients to wash into the soil, not off of it.
     We don’t apply any fresh raw manure other than what the animals leave while grazing. Those piles and patties are scattered by the chickens and are of little concern. Rotational grazing by mixed species keeps the pastures well clipped and well fertilized. It’s a very “green” way of doing things.
     I am not trendy or out to fill some environmentalist niche. I just know what works. I follow proven, time-tested , common sense farming methods. I have read about some, but many were handed down by my grandpas when they didn’t even know they were teaching. I watched and then followed their example. The proof of  their efforts can be seen on my farm…even by just driving by.
     It is a work in progress, this farm, but I enjoy working at it. I guess I too have taught while not knowing it. I have friends and family that are gardeners and small farmers. They get inspiration and advice from me. I in turn get to talk my favorite subjects with like-minded people, making for a wonderful time for me. I think that is what is called a win-win 😮
     If you garden or even grow a few house plants, you can benefit from a small pile of compost. Use your yard wastes, table scraps and even a bit of soil to build a small heap. Turn the pile when you feel like it or just let it rot. Dig into the bottom part of the pile now and then to put a little of the black gold around your plants or side dress your tomatoes. Your plants will benefit from the ready-made nutrient rich food. They will respond with flowers or vegetables, either way, it’s a nice reward 😮
     People wonder how I know so much about compost, manure and such… that’s easy … many will say…….. that I am full of it 😮

June 13, 2011, 4:02 pm
Filed under: June 2011
Thank You Daddy

June 13, 2011

     My oldest son and my granddaughter were enjoying our farm. She got tired of walking and asked her father to carry her. Up on his shoulders she went, “Thank you daddy’, she said. I watched , listened and enjoyed the scene. My heart was full, yes it was … enough.
     Enough is a word that can be used in many ways. I remember my mom saying “E..nough !  When she had found her last bit of patience with something I was doing. That word came with a look that would peel paint off of a wall. It was usually sufficient to make me stop what I was doing, no matter how much I was enjoying doing it.
     You can eat until you have had enough. You can stand by and watch something until you have had enough. These two illustrations are no where near each other and yet both times you may be sickened.
     In the last few hours of my mother’s life she told us she felt fine. We asked her if she needed anything and she told us she had enough, right there in that room. I looked around and there was her husband, me and my dear wife and my two sisters. My mother’s whole world. I guess she did have everything she wanted.
     Her friends and the rest of the family had all been close by either in person or on the phone. Looking back now, I see we were all saying good-bye.  As hard as it was at the time, I am thankful for those weeks and days. We could talk or just sit quiet, but we all spent time until she got enough.
     I want to live in such a way that I am always full of what really matters. I don’t spend time on disgust, meanness or evil. I want to make people feel good, share information and be a resource. I want to laugh, smile and just be filled with joy.
     The hard times will come, lay you low for awhile, but the way to overcome any setback is to be positive. Find a way to see the good, make yourself  believe that all is well.
     Hard times help us grow, make us appreciate good times and build character. Greive when you need to, get mad for a little while, but then pull your shoulders back, and  get over it. Lean on friends and family. Share yourself and help others see the good in the world.
     As we walked in the pasture the day that Rachel need a lift, I was talking to my son about the farm. I usually do that whenever anyone will listen 😮 I guess I can’t get enough of this place and those who surround me in it. It is a wonderful place to be …. Enough said!

June 11, 2011, 8:57 pm
Filed under: June 2011
On 3 let’s go!

June 12, 2011

     My son is in the photo with his mini horse and my horse Knight. The little horse is named Patches. I call him all sorts of names … even Patches sometimes. He does not like me.
     My son Jake, the owner of the little hay burner, is a regular horse whisperer. He can train a horse to do anything. He and Patches are doing well together. I expect the little fella to just do horse things like mine do. He should be eager to please me just like Knight, Duke and Hoss. Instead, he is my menace. He simply loves to aggravate me. He is very smart, too smart in fact.
     He and I will one day be friends, but for now we are brain combatants. Each one of us tries to out think the other. He is way ahead so far. I keep blaming it on my advanced age, but am starting to think he may really be smarter than me. He is definitely smarter than a fifth grader 😮
     I have been outsmarted before, usually when I trust someone who isn’t trustworthy. I don’t have much use for liars, cheats and thieves. I keep my word and expect that in every one I meet. Most folks are true, but every now and then I meet a man who has no scruples.
     I inherited a good name. I have done everything in my power to pass that on to my children and grandchildren. I will not compromise my word. I want to always be fair and honest, even if its unpopular. My sons are making me proud as they carry on in my tradition … it’s a pride that can be felt deep within my soul.
     Patches tries to be the ring leader. He wants to get my horses to do things like run when I come into the pasture. They do not. They come to meet me. They want to be petted, talked to and breathed on, by me. I hope it’s because I am square with them on every occasion. They can trust me. They listen to me and I think they care for me. It’s a fair deal, because I like them a whole bunch too.
     In your life you will meet the Patches type, on two legs and four alike. Keep your word. Earn their trust and don’t be anything but yourself. They will come to your side once they figure it all out. If they don’t … then just say good riddance!