The Log Splitter
November 28, 2011, 5:33 pm
Filed under: November 2011
Tough Guy

November 28, 2011

     This is the beast of a log splitter than two friends and I built. It is a 50 ton splitter with a 32 inch stroke. It is mostly for splitting wood for the sugar house. The longer pieces will work nicely in the maple syrup firebox.
     The story of the construction is filled with drama. It all started when one of my friends said that he had a cylinder and an “I” beam. I had a good Honda engine, so why not build a splitter? I would only need a few more parts and it wouldn’t cost much at all … I told myself…and my wife 😮
     All I needed was a few hoses, a pump, a valve, a filter, some suction hose, a little metal, an axle and some wheels and $$$$$. Well, so it goes. I did indeed buy all the aforementioned items and then the drama started.
     The motor I had, turned out to be too small to run the 16 gallon per minute pump. I had to buy a bigger motor. I bought a valve from a guy that turned out not to work for this application… I had to buy another one. The one I bought was bad right off the shelf… had to buy a another one from a different store, because I had bought the last one they had.
     The second motor was a vertical shaft and the first one was horizontal. This meant a modification was in order. I had to buy fittings for the hoses. The fittings came from two different places. The axle came from a junkyard. It was out of a mini-van. The axle broke the first time we tried to move the splitter.
     The hydraulic pump was also bad right off the shelf? Had to exchange it also. The broken axle we fixed with a thick piece of pipe. When the axle broke however, it smashed the oil drain plug on the motor and ruined the entire housing. We couldn’t fix it or find another housing. I had to buy a third motor.
     The axle incident also bent a fitting so I ran and got another one to replace it too. Finally, the whole thing was ready to try …. NOTHING!
It would not move the ram out of the cylinder! We worked several nights until after several tries, of many things, we turned to another good friend.
     This friend is an expert in hydraulics. He is a master at that craft. In three hours he had it sorted out and fixed. Turns out that the fitting I had bought had an orifice in it. A restriction that I had not asked for or was told about…. but the saga ended once a new fitting was installed.
     This thing is a beast of a machine. I named it “Tough Guy” . I am looking forward to putting it to work. The “inexpensive to build” thing, flew out the window by the second and third motor. It was a humbling experience and makes a case for buying new when you get in over your head… but I got one doozy of a splitter..thank goodness 😮
     The deer were elusive today. The week is young and we will try again tomorrow. It was a cold, wet, rainy day. They were much better prepared than I was!

Shotgun Season Opens for Deer
November 27, 2011, 9:08 pm
Filed under: November 2011
Not this year, but soon

November 27, 2011

     Deer gun season is a real big deal around here. It has been a ritual for as long as I can remember. I am sure my first seasons in the woods made my mom anxious to say the least, but she let me go just the same.
     My grandson is pretty sure that he wants to go, but not for awhile yet. He will be indoctirnated, just as the rests of my boys were. I think it’s important for them. Perhaps it is even a right of passage… I know it was for me 😮
     The past is the past and there is no way to change it, but I would have done some things differently if I could do it all over again. I would have hunted with my friends and family even more. I would have taken shots that I passed up, just to teach them how to field dress game. It would have been a great celebration, especially for a young boy.
     I am not making excuses. I just didn’t know how to be a dad back then. My father’s did not hunt, in fact, spending time with me, was not usually on their list of things to do. I learned to do many things alone, but most importantly , I learned to make time for my family.
     Yes, I do hope we can harvest a deer or two this week. The meat will be good to have and the deer herd will benefit from a reduction in numbers. The most important thing, however, is the bonding between father and son, uncle and nephew and in some cases, just two guys who are friends.
     My grandson will join the hunt in a few years. The first year or two he will hunt rabbits with his BB gun along with us big guys. He will learn gun safety, environmental stewardship and how to mix with men. When it is time for him to carry a real shotgun, all of the basics will have been learned.
     A successful hunt is a wonderful thing . but a successful relationship is a gift from God.

Muskrat Love?
November 26, 2011, 9:25 pm
Filed under: November 2011
No Fear

November 26, 2011

     My granddaughter playing with a dead muskrat. I think she may be skinning them by next year. She helps a little bit with the meat cutting and sausage making. I guess she has it quite a bit different from most city kids 😮
     It was a nice day here today. A friend of mine solved a problem with the new log splitter we built. It was a simple thing really, but sure had us scratching our heads! I am looking forward to a full day of using it.
     The horses have put their winter coats on. They are still shiny black…when I can keep them from rolling in the mud. They love to do that and I hate all the brushing that comes from it. I guess it’s just a thing they do to keep me busy.
     Deer season starts next week. The traps are pulled and all the stock will be kept up by the barn… just in case. We hope to get another deer to finish filling the freezer and perhaps fill a few canning jars. I wonder if I can get my granddaughter to help with the butchering 😮


Still Getting Them!
November 25, 2011, 9:11 pm
Filed under: November 2011
The Trappers

November 25, 2011

     We are still getting raccoons. The masked bandits are working steady in my corn field. The good news is that they are leaving the chickens alone … for now.
     My son’s children are learning about nature, animal habitat and that November water is very cold. My grandson is a little Daniel Boone, following in the footsteps of his father. My granddaughter is the brave one. She is alert for danger and watches over her male counter parts like a mother hen 😮
     Some people still wear fur. I would much rather hunt and trap wild animals humanly, than have them starve to death from over crowding or die from  disease. The population . kept in check is a good thing , at least that is what I believe.
     All of our sons and most of our daughters like the out-of-doors and all that comes with nature. That love extends down into the next generations of our family. The connection with land, food and our environment can be felt by all. The stewardship we share makes our farm and woodlands much more secure.
     Some will wonder what I mean by that last statement and to clarify, bear with me. Good environmental stewards keep a watchful eye on water quality, to just name one thing. We have a ten-acre wetland ripiarian buffer between us and Mill Creek, the stream that borders our farm. We are careful when spreading compost. We manage our woods for wildlife habitat as part of our efforts to improve our woodland holdings.
     We plant food plots for the wild animals or leave a few rows unharvested just to ensure winter isn’t too tough on the woodland creatures. Just like the cattle and hogs on this farm, life is happy and stress free. Then one day they are dispatched, quickly and humanly. They themselves nourish us, ensuring the cycle of life continues.
     Raccoons can be destructive pests that recently have become infested with rabies. That disease makes it necessary to vaccinate our livestock, just in case one would be bitten while grazing. The “coons” love fresh chicken, especially warm and feathered! We will not eradicate them, merely trap enough to keep their numbers in check… hopefully keeping them in the woods looking for food instead of in my chicken coop, trash bin or corn crib!
     I am happy that my son takes the job of trapper so seriously. He is a contentious man. He checks his traps promptly. He dispatches the animals quickly and takes care of the kill so as not to waste it. He also keeps the muskrats under control in our pond keeping the dam and bank sound and in good repair.
     His little family trudges through the woods with him. He teaches them many things. He thinks he is a trapper..and he is, but he is a good daddy too! When it comes to making memories, it can be said that he… is… “Still getting Them”


Missing You on Thanksgiving
November 24, 2011, 10:11 pm
Filed under: November 2011
King waiting and missing me

November 24, 2011

     The house is empty. The family gone. The food is all put away and a stillness fills our house. It was a very good Thanksgiving except for the missing family members. Life takes us on a journey. That journey may take us far from family and home, but home and family will follow you all the days of your life.
     We talked to many people by phone that weren’t here today. Our methods of media make it much easier to say hello and we love you now days. That media, is a wonderful thing…. but I think it’s still OK to miss the people who weren’t with us.
     I miss my mom, especially on the holidays, even though I know she is with us. I miss our kids that have moved away, grandchildren at college and extended family that has plans and dinner for the rest of our brood.
     It would be easy to sad today if it weren’t for all the blessings that we have to share. Like I said many have called to talk, some texted and some e-mailed. The best part is, that there was a lot of food, lots of smiles and enough love to make it a great day.
     Today, officially starts the Christmas shopping season. Many of our family members have their sights set on the sales, stores and shopping that comes with “Black Friday.” I am very content to just stay home…petting my dog 😮
     This was a fantastic day when it comes to being filled with fun. There were no cross words, no snubs and only a couple of tears from the little ones. My grandson learned a new word today… and will hopefully remember not to use it again for many years… hence the few tears….been there done that 😮
     All of the animals got a little extra feed today. The pigs got a few apple peelings and a couple of pumpkins. The chickens got a little bit of speltz grain. The horses also got speltz. The cats got some turkey broth and the goats, a couple of carrots. The dog only got a few extra treats of his own, but no table food…He will soon be big enough to stand well above our table…don’t want to see a whole ham walk away one day!
     I wish all of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving. I wish a blessing for all of you. To my extended family…hugs…and know that you were missed today.

Sharing Blessings
November 23, 2011, 10:37 pm
Filed under: November 2011
Rachel and Duke

November 23, 2011

     Sharing blessings is a wonderful thing. It fills you with a feeling that is not found just anywhere. Recently, I was able to donate money to a man who was in a bad accident. He is recovering slowly. I felt good about sharing some of what we have with him and his family.
     My granddaughter is feeding my draft horse Duke. She is sharing some of the hay that Duke help make this past summer. Duke is grateful and my granddaughter is delighted. I was filled with a good feeling as I watched the whole scene play out. I am sure that many years ago, it was me feeding my grandpa’s horse.
     As the horse greedily ate the morsel offered by my grandchild, I could feel the love of the past generations of horse farmers, shining through my soul. I stood in the sunlight and savored that moment, thanking God for his shared blessings.
     Yesterday we got a whopping 1.8 inches of rain. The ground was just starting to dry out, but now is saturated once again. The corn waits, but all the inhabitants of this farm are glad it wasn’t snow 😮
     The pies for tomorrows dinner are all baked and sitting on the counter. The turkey cools in the refrigerator. Pots and pans line the kitchen and the work waits patiently for my wife. Our house will be filled with family and friends as we share blessings and celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Take time to think about the less fortunate and better still….share some of your blessings with them. The reward is without measure.


Waiting on Dad
November 22, 2011, 3:22 pm
Filed under: November 2011
King … who is not allowed on the carpet

November 22, 2011

     I was working night shifts, so it requires sleeping during the day. My dog doesn’t understand why we are not out walking the farm or working horses. He waits for me , but not too patiently. He lies on the threshold of our living room staring at the bedroom door…. waiting on dad.
     My children wait on me sometimes too. I usually want one more cup of tea or coffee. It isn’t the beverage so much as it is the time sitting with them that I enjoy. We often gather in our kitchen, talking and visiting as the little room fills with love … that kind of love fills a person all the way to the heart.
     Yesterday, my youngest son and I went to a local stockyard and sale barn. We bought a nice boar to breed our gilt. He is a handsome fellow that I named Noah. He will restart our pig population here on the farm. The gilt is not interested right now, but they will grow to love each other very soon.
     It was a real father son moment when I realized that my son was the one driving the truck and I was the one half asleep in the passenger seat 😮 We made it to the sale and back. We bought the boar and five nice piglets to finish this winter. My son waited on me as we sat in the bleachers. He was cold, but waited like a trooper on dad.
     Today, rain is falling and a heavy rain is forecasted for later today. I am working on smoking the last of the deer jerky. It is a good day to be inside. I will hopefully smoke the last of the meat by tomorrow. The last load will be a few cottage hams and some Canadian bacon, made for the pig who gave her life for the deer bologna we made.
     Everybody says, “call your mother”, but I want to say … “Call your dad!”  It will be good for both of you 😮   If you can’t call your dad .. call an uncle, your brother on some man who is a favorite in your life … You will be glad that you did.


November 21, 2011, 10:12 pm
Filed under: November 2011
New Horse Mangers

November 21, 2011

     The new horse stalls are complete. I have been very busy of late and even my BLOG has been neglected. Life, work, farming and perhaps a little worry flood in now and then. I am usually right on top of all of it, but now and then I get bowled over.
     Recently a good friend started chemo therapy, my little sister had a big surgery and chores, farming and life itself doesn’t wait while I get it all under control. I am happy to report that sis’ surgery went well and my buddy is handling his treatment very well too.
     I am back on top at least for now 😮
     My son got another deer. We butchered a small pig and are in the process of making bologna, pepperoni, jerky and smoked sausage. The results are tasty. It has been fun for me dabbling in the old craft of sausage making.
     Horse work here on the farm is aimed at picking field corn. So far we are just picking the ends of the rows. I hope to be able to pick with the powercart and cornpicker once the mud lets up!
     Firewood is almost complete for this year, but a little more needs split and stacked. We hope to finish this week. Thanksgiving is almost here and one thing for sure … We are thankful!
     Having the horses back in the barn that I built for them is working out great. Chores are quicker, harnessing is easier and the whole farm flows as it was designed…. I don’t know what the heck I have been stalling for 😮

Great Conversations
November 14, 2011, 2:13 pm
Filed under: November 2011
King and I in a discussion

November 14, 2011

     Rain is pelting down outside. The wind is howling and November is flying by at  breakneck speed. I am wondering where the first half of the month went. King and I were discussing this subject. He is wondering not only where the month went, but his testicles as well 😮  I gave him the whole “responsible pet owner” speech … but he isn’t buying into it.
     My work list is winding down. I was hoping to use the horses and pick corn today. The weather and a prior commitment, has made that not a good choice. I surely don’t want to catch pneumonia over picking corn. I want to do it, but at this point I don’t need to do it. Wisdom really does come with age.
     In the last several days, I have been able to see a few of my oldest friends. I was able to spend quality time with them to boot. In every case, we were working together on a small job. The conversation flowed like wine and the friendships became cemented even more.
     One guy stopped for a check. I told him I would write it and hang it on the calendar, stop and get it anytime. The date on the check was 10-7-11. He picked it up last night. That level of trust, goes without explanation. I am glad to have him for a friend.
     Two other pals of mine helped me to get the dolly wheels and axle off a semi trailer. The trailer will be for some storage, taking the place of a small building. (more on this subject later) We worked a few hours to make it all happen and once again, friendship and trust went hand in hand….. especially as I held the trailer, testing the lifting limits of my skidsteer, as two of my dearest friends worked in harm’s way.
     Coffee, talking and gentle ribbing were the order of the evening. Darkness started to close on us and we all had to get back to chores and all that is farming. We parted as friends do, each of us telling the other to “stop by again soon.”
     I am a busy guy, but I will always make time for great conversation. Some will even say that I excel in conversation…even my wife describes me as a “Bullshi**er  Extrodinair” … and …. Who knows better than her?

Gone for Now
November 12, 2011, 10:57 pm
Filed under: November 2011
Looking east after Friday’s Snow

November 12, 2011

     The snow has all melted now except for a few patches on the north side of things. The sun has turned it back into water. The ground is soggy again, but the snow cover is gone for now.
     The sugarhouse looks like a painting from Norman Rockwell. It sets among the trees in the little hollow on our farm. The snow just dresses it up. Click on the photo above and look for yourself 😮
     I picked a load of corn today from the ends of the field. I have much more to pick, but it was nice seeing the golden harvest take shape. The ears are not ready to store yet, but the animals sure love them. The slow progress of picking by hand, will give the ears a chance to dry down more as they are spread out on the floor of the crib.
     I managed to work on my unending list of jobs today. I completed several and felt good as I crossed them off the list. The winter is bearing down upon us and though the snow is gone for now, I know it will soon be back.
     Most of the farm equipment and tools are stored away for the winter. The firewood and sugarwood is almost finished, just a few more days and that job too will be completed. The corn harvest will push me right into the winter snow, but I like that job, so no complaining here.
     We are in the process of cutting the dolly wheels and axle out from under a small semi trailer. The forgotten hauler will get a new life here on the farm as a storage building. I saved it from the scrap yard, much to the dismay of my dear wife. I keep telling her that once it is camouflaged and sitting on the ground, she will hardly even be able to see it.
     I figure by dark tomorrow, the semi will be seated upon railroad ties. It will be tucked in behind a hill of dirt and just like the snow … It will be gone for now 😮