View From The Driver’s Seat
June 8, 2012, 4:47 am
Filed under: June 2012

What I see looking backwards

                                                      June 8, 2012

      This shot is a view from the driver’s seat. The horses are walking along the standing hay and I am watching the sickle bar. I am perched up upon the seat, driving the horses, keeping everything in line and watching for any danger in the cutterbar’s way. There is plenty to watch while holding a hand full of driving lines… I can’t even text anyone 😮

      Last night we went up town in the car. My wife was driving, but from where I was sitting everything looked different. I thought we were too close to stuff. I thought we should have waited before pulling out and I thought we were in the wrong lane. My wife was cool, calm and collected. The longer we rode, the cooler she got!

      I learned the view is much different from the driver’s seat. I didn’t learn to keep my mouth shut. I did learn that my wife is very tolerant. I also learned that I should drive when we go places, from behind the wheel, not while sitting in the passenger seat.

      I guess the lesson learned for me is this; when you have the best view, you make the best decisions. Once the information is assembled, executing the plan is easy. Lastly, being patient with the one driving, is always a good idea. After all, they have the benefit of seeing things from the driver’s seat 😮


Bee Real
June 7, 2012, 7:30 am
Filed under: June 2012

Me in my bee suit

                                                       June 7, 2012

      A call was on our answering machine. There is a swarm of bees in an apple tree, “Can you come get them?” I went and got the homeless creatures. I threw a hive body together and put the swarm into their new home.

      My daughter-in-law thought my bee suit was pretty neat. She snapped this picture, then watched from far away as I put the bees into the hive. They were grateful. I received not one sting, from getting them out of the apple tree, to putting them into their new home.

      I was taught how to handle bees by an old man who has now passed away. He was very knowledgable about bees. He had been a beekeeper for over sixty years. I miss him and his easy-going manner.

      Larry M, was the man’s name. He showed me how to get a wild swarm. His advice was well thought out and based on experience. He showed me how to make a bucket to put the bees in. He showed me how to calm them with sugar-water and how a bit of wax in the pail along with the sugar-water, kept the bees from wanting to fly right back out of the bucket.

      I am sure that probably the only thing I gave back to that old man, was several opportunities to laugh until his sides hurt. He would direct me under the bee swarm as I held on to the rungs of a ladder, knees shaking and sweat pouring off my brow. I can still hear his high-pitched voice trailing off as he shouted instructions from the ground, followed by a string of laughter.

      Larry never put me in harm’s way. Most of my fears were self-imposed. The bees weren’t the problem, it was usually from standing on the top rung of a rickety ladder. Once it was from standing on a porch rail on what looked like a haunted house.

       The craziest time, was when just after trimming a branch off a tree with a long set of lopers, the swarm fell on top of my head. The poor gals were scattered to the wind, all over the ground and all in my clothes. I hadn’t put my suit on to trim the branch. What a sight I must have been as I danced around stripping out of my overalls. I didn’t get stung…but had every right to be 😮

      I want to switch to “topbar” beehives this year. My research tells me that it is a much easier way to keep bees. The bees do well in these hives. The “topbar” hives are much more natural for the bees. I have read where it even keeps them healthier. All of these reasons point to making the change. The hives even have a little charm as they adorn the landscape. 

     I don’t expect to ever be a big time honey producer. I just know that bees need my help as they struggle from all kinds of negative things like mites, hive beetles, foul brood and colony collapse disorder. Many of these problems are man-made and research is pointing towards genetically modified plants and insecticides …gee what a surprize… I think we should let those things ….. bee !


Crisis Averted
June 6, 2012, 7:32 am
Filed under: June 2012

OMG it fell apart!

                                                      June 6, 2012

      Last night, I took my new mower and powercart out for a test drive. I had used the mower behind the tractor, but last night was the first time for the horses to pull it behind the powercart. They were a little nervous at first, but settled down quickly.

      We went around the field with the sickle bar chattering, the motor on the powercart running and me smiling as big as I could. The whole thing was working great. Hoss was walking right next to the standing hay and we were going fairly straight. I was just mowing pasture to test everything out, but I still wanted it to look right 😮

      After seven or eight rounds, as we turned the corner, the whole mower actually fell apart. I looked back from the driver’s seat and dang near messed my pants. It was making a “way” different noise and was dragging behind at a forty-five degree angle. I told the horses “whoa.” They stopped immediately… just like they are supposed to do. I shut the mower off followed by the engine. I let the horses stand a couple of minutes, then simply got down and unhitched them from the powercart.

      I was/am thankful for broke, quiet horses. Last nights episode could have ended much differently. The whole thing was caused by a jam nut not being tight. It let the main frame of the mower vibrate loose. A sort of turn buckle came unthreaded. There was no damage done  to the well made piece of equipment, even though it was running at a severe angle and simply being dragged like a hunk of junk.

      We will complete the pasture today and hopefully mow some hay. The horses are ready. The mower will be ready, as soon as I double-check the jam nuts and squirt a little grease everywhere. I am ready too, my hands quit shaking  just about bedtime last night 😮

      A year ago, we were mourning the loss of Lucy, our farm’s Border Collie. I still miss our girl. She rests near the garden..still watching the farm.


Hidden in plain sight
June 5, 2012, 7:16 am
Filed under: June 2012

My treasure chest … blending in?

                                                                    June 5, 2012

      I call it my treasure chest, but it only holds some plastic barrels, a wooden sled and a couple of sap gathering tanks. It does keep those things under cover, out of sight and protected from the sun and weather. We recently painted it to blend in better and sort of disappear from sight. One day the trees and shrubs should help hide it too.

      The big ramp that was there has been leveled out some and made smaller. This new design will fit much better with our plans. There is still a bit to do, but the dirt has been moved, so we are on our way. I am thinking about planting a row of thornless blackberries in the new dirt right in front of the shrubs. They should help make the semi trailer disappear, while providing us with a tasty, healthy treat.

      I hope this thing will be like a deer, blending into the landscape, yet right in plain sight. My wife was amazed when I brought it home…maybe even “that” I brought it home, but her mood has softened as it begins to disappear from view. I like the stupid thing. I see it’s potential and have been  a supporter of its value, ever since it was dragged in here 😮

      I have been corresponding with a young man in the service. He is stationed in Afghanistan. He wants to farm with horses and has big plans. I am humbled by his quest to ask me things, but honored to help in any way that I can. I am an “English” farmer who uses horses to farm. I am a relic to some and an inspiration to others. I guess I just never saw myself in that light…evidently.. I have been hidden in plain sight.


Dirt Moved
June 4, 2012, 12:58 pm
Filed under: June 2012

Landscape improvements

                                                         June 4, 2012

      The dirt work has been done for a few days now. I just have been unable to write about it. The man finished just hours ahead of the rain that would have made for a sticky mess, had he not got done. I am very pleased with the job he did.

      It is fascinating to watch a man do what he is good at. It seemed as though every move of the machine, produced positive results. I am almost certain that he could spread butter on toast with the excavator. Like a little boy, I stood nearby just watching him work with a big smile on my face, amazed by man and machine 😮

      This work is not just for looks. The whole area that he shaped and smoothed, had been a craggy mess only fit for bugs and snakes. I could not mow it, even the sheep avoided the area. The water pooled there and made homes for mosquitos. In short, it was a swampy, brushy quagmire that prevented any drainage and looked like heck.

      I now have to finish a sort of seedbed and get some pasture grasses planted. I am thinking that some wild flowers will be naturalized here and there, to make the whole area a happy place. The sun-kissed flowers of summer, followed by the bright colors of autumn, put to sleep under a blanket of white and awakened by the happy shrieks of children playing and the laughter of family working together near the sugarhouse in spring … can make this place not only happy, but enchanted as well.

      The little grotto where the sugarhouse sits, was a swampy, brushy tangled place twenty years ago. There were a few maple and other hardwood trees littered around the site, but skunk cabbage and briars were the most abundant plants. I had a vision back then. I had a plan for the spot. It just took time, patience and a continued walk towards my goal. The sugarhouse and surrounding area will one day be a crown jewel of my farm. It will remind me of a testament to perseverance and finding a way where no way exists.

      This latest effort was all about moving some dirt. Some folks will just see soil, bulldozer tracks and a whole lot of work. I see an awesome landscape ready to be painted. I see a project that has been in the back of my mind, on my list and in my heart coming to completion… In fact, I see celebration mixed with reverence. I will celebrate my accomplishment and give thanks for a vision planted in my mind by my grandparents and parents, all of whom would be very proud of this project and most of my efforts…. I am very glad about that.


A Good Soaker
June 3, 2012, 4:43 pm
Filed under: June 2012

An inch and a quarter of sweet moisture!

                                                       June 3, 2012

      These last couple of days were wet with a slow drizzle. The rain accumulated to over an inch. The drizzle still lingers this afternoon. A good soaker is just what we needed…. Now everything will “pop” and start to grow with a vengeance … especially the weeds!


A different perspective
June 1, 2012, 3:49 pm
Filed under: June 2012

View from the sugarhouse looking south

                                                 June 1, 2012

      The transformation in the land surrounding the sugarhouse grove is incredible. This photo was taken before the work started. This unsightly brush and brambles can only be controlled with goats… lots of goats. The only trouble with lots of goats is that they use the sugarhouse, woodshed and anything else for a gym set.

      The goats and other animals did indeed “tame” this mess so that we could get a different perspective of how it should look. More importantly, it allowed us the luxury to see where the water could and should be drained. That is the work that was completed yesterday.

      Today and last night the rain has been falling in a steady drizzle. The fields and crops are jumping almost as you watch them. The lush green is returning everywhere. The animals are enjoying a day without flies and the restful, slow day can be felt anywhere on the farm.

      I am so glad to always be working from a “master plan”. The work often takes time, but as long as you proceed in the right direction, progress is easy to see. Some of my projects take years to complete. I try to not borrow money, but rather, pay as I go.  This system does take longer, provides entertainment for others, but feels so good when they are done.

      The current way of the world is to do everything on credit, with a “have it now” mentality. I admit, sometimes I get tired of waiting, but force myself to come up with a solution before succumbing to the pressure of credit. The easiest way is to work harder, find small jobs that will make money. I skid logs, build a building or provide some service to another. This helps the cash flow, shows income for a small farming business and helps us to reach our goals…and hard work never hurt anyone..so they say 😮

       I can’t tell anyone what to do, but will suggest that you get out of debt as fast as possible. Work to live… don’t live to work. Enjoy your off time doing all the things you enjoy, for me it’s farming, working horses and growing stuff. I do like to hunt and fish, look at the stars and play a little music … all of which is made sweeter when I am surrounded by family and friends who love us.

      There is definitely a different view out at the sugarhouse and I hope I offered a different perspective than Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard.