Celebration in the Straw
July 31, 2012, 1:18 pm
Filed under: July 2012

Re-baling Straw

                                                      July 31, 2012

     It is a celebration here today. After almost two seasons, I have fixed my small square baler and have it tieing knots like it is new! I am so impressed with myself that I can’t believe it. I am not the most mechanical guy, but I figured this one out… and it actually works 😮

     The large bales of straw that we are rebaling, have been stored inside since last summer. They are just as dry and nice as the day they were made. I am very happy to be putting them into small square bales. The small bales go up in the hay loft above the horse barn. It is like money in the bank!

     The straw was made from my last crop of speltz. That straw is the best in my opinion. It is absorbent, bright and easily broken down. The soils love it almost as much as the baby pigs. I will have just enough to get us to next year when the speltz crop will be once again harvested.

     I am having a great day watching the bales get tied knot after knot. The little knotted bales keep coming out of the baler like turds out of a rabbit. Yep, it’s a great day here!

     They say,” Hillbillies Love it in the Hay” , but this hillbilly is having a celebration in the straw!


Sweet Corn!
July 29, 2012, 3:22 pm
Filed under: July 2012

                                                   July 29, 2012 

     Today we enjoyed fresh sweet corn. It was grown locally by a produce farmer. It was delicious! It is so funny how that first sweet corn of the season opens up a flood of memories… and makes a guy’s eyes bigger than his belly.

      I am reminded of picnics and dinners of my youth where sweet corn was almost the entire menu. Later in the summer, fresh tomatoes and potatoes were added to the table, but those first meals when the corn became ripe were awesome 😮

      Our first planting of this years corn did not do well. I turned in under and planted again. That planting too came up sporadic at best. I am sure that we got some bad seed. It happens I guess. The drought is also playing havoc with the growing corn, but I think we will get enough to fill the freezer.

      This year I planted sweet corn in the plastic mulch rows with the pumpkins. It is just now making ears, but I believe it was a successful venture. We only had to weed the crop once. That job only involved pulling weeds from the holes in the plastic, from where the corn grows.

      I would say, check out your local growers, find a source of local, fresh sweet corn and schedule a party. You can invite friends and neighbors, or just family… and if nobody else comes you can have a party in your mouth!

      It is the simple things in life that make it so very wonderful. Fresh sweet corn, garden ripe tomatoes or the first bite from a tree ripened peach can make your taste buds roar. These things are awesome and don’t even touch on the scent of a favorite perfume or the feeling of a sweet kiss that lingers on your lips. Yep, for me it will always be the simple things! … Now, pass the butter!


Rape and Turnips
July 26, 2012, 6:37 am
Filed under: July 2012

Rape and turnips coming up!

                                                     July 26, 2012

     Despite being in a drought, the likes of which have not been seen since 1988, my little field of rape and turnips are starting to grow. We got a sprinkle overnight and more rain is forecasted for today. The moisture will help everything especially these tender seedlings.

     Rape grows much like kale. The leafy vegetable has much protein and nutrients for the pigs and sheep. The pigs eat it like candy. They also eat the turnips tops. They don’t seem to be too crazy about the turnip bulb, but the sheep love them.

     This is one more way to balance our farm and it gives great testimony for mixed-specie grazing. The sheep will follow the pigs in this case, but each will eat different forbes, making great use of the pasture and everything in it.

     There is some grass coming up in the small field. No doubt, there are some weeds too. The rape and turnips should smother out much of thier competition, but what survives will be eaten by somebody 😮

     As king corn prices continue to rise, thinking outside the box will be the ticket for small farmers and homesteaders. I didn’t have to think much at all. I just consulted my “Morrison’s Feed and Feeding” book. I have also tried this combination in years past.

     The little field will most definitely yield some feed for our stock. The grass based feeding continues to help with profitability, without compromising quality. This fact embraces sustainability and that is what it is all about!


Made in the Shade
July 24, 2012, 9:10 am
Filed under: July 2012

Our sheep chilling in the shade

                                                      July 24, 2012

     Yesterday was another hot day. The temperature was 91 F. The weatherman said it felt like 94 F … I think he should have been helping me cut firewood..seemed hotter than hell to me 😮

     Our sheep are wise creatures. They seek the shade in the hottest part of the day. They just lay there and rest, choosing to graze in the morning and evening. I think they have it figured out!

     I keep going on as usual. I still wear dark-colored t-shirts and bib overalls. I keep thinking I can will it to be cooler…maybe even scare up a little rain. The sun, however, just laughs at me and continues to bear down on our small farm.

     Yesterday while I was scouting the pine forests looking for lumber candidates, I found that area to be very cool and inviting. I spent a little too much time there for just “tree looking”.  I guess I would have to say, that I milled around enjoying that spot away from the hot sun.

     The woods are much cooler than any part of our farm. The shade from the canopy of the leaves makes it a wonderful place to visit on a hot day. The pine tree forest seems even cooler. I can’t decide if it is because the needles on the ground are soft and inviting, or because the canopy is thicker, blocking out more of the heat rays.

     The sheep seem to choose the pines to lay under. I guess they too are baffeled..well then again, maybe not.. They are smart enough to lay and rest in the mid-afternoon… I guess they have it made in the shade!


A Walk In The Pines
July 23, 2012, 4:59 pm
Filed under: July 2012

Our white pine plantation

                                                        July 23, 2012

     We have a few small white pine tree plantations on our farm. They were planted in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. They were planted in rows by a machine coordinated with the Soil and Water Service. I think the government expected our hardwood forests to be waning, so by planting the white pine seedlings, a landowner would profit from the mature trees.

     The idea sounded good, but most people only gave up a small portion of their land to try the idea out. Most, like this farm’s former owner, took a “wait and see” approach. Some folks went whole hog on the idea, because the government agencies were to build and secure a market for the growing softwood lumber.

     The market never came. Most plantations were neglected so the trees didn’t grow the best lumber either. Many plantations, like ours, were not thinned or groomed in any way. The trees are too close together and actually short to boot.

     They have almost no commercial value…. BUT, if you need building material, they are like a savings bank. I am picking out a few crowded ones to cull and salvage. I am planning an addition to our pig barn, so the native lumber will work fine for that project.

    I will drop the trees, trim them and haul them to a loading area with the horses. A friend of mine with a small sawmill will cut the logs into the lumber I need. Any boards that are left over, will just be stacked and saved for another project. The softwood will dry and still take a nail many years from now.

     I have selected a few trees that need to come down. Some are shading other trees. One has a big “first” log, then quickly turns into three small limbs for a top. The first log will be long enough to become the ridge board for the addition. It will also provide some 2″x4″ and some siding boards too.

     The holes in the forest canopy will soon be filled by other nearby trees. Some of those trees are other white pines that are craving space and sunlight. I will only use 5 trees and one that got blown down by a storm. The rest will be left to grow in our woodlot savings bank 😮


The Gathering
July 22, 2012, 10:21 pm
Filed under: July 2012

Our hens sharing a meal

                                                      July 22, 2012

     Today we had a get together for our family. My wife’s granddaughter came home from Arizona. She brought her two children too. They are our great granddaughters. We think all of our granddaughters are great, but these two actually get the tittle 😮

     Our farm was a showplace for its visitors. The animals were on their best behavior. The lawn was cut and looking good. The sun stayed out all day. I forgot to wear a hat and now I am nursing sunburn on my balding head!

     We had a nice day. I had fun with the little ones. Our great-grandson was here too. The children make life fun, after all, that is what we live for ……

     The dishes and chores are done. Tomorrow is another day, as they say. Work will continue, but the pause for the gathering was great!


Daisies and Daylillies
July 21, 2012, 9:06 am
Filed under: July 2012

Our Garden Border

                                                     July 21, 2012


     Is there anything more beautiful, honest or unexpected that blooms from a flower? I guess in this case unexpected doesn’t apply. I have seen, however, blooming flowers in odd places where they were blown by the wind or perhaps just forgotten.

     Spring daffodils blooming in a brushy wooded area, defining the old foundation of a house long gone, always gives me pause. The little flowers bloom year after year, providing smiles, even though the one who planted them has been gone for generations.

     I think flowers are a delight. They reward you season after season with minimal care. The old perennial varieties of daisies, daylillies, and cone flowers adorn our farmstead. They please me.

     Our drought year has all but killed our lawn. The flowers however, are in full bloom. They seem to be a bit shorter than usual, but just as vibrant as ever. The birds and bees think so too 😮

     We divided and planted the new bed along the fence last fall. The flowers have taken root and residence. They look as if they have been there forever. I will divide more later this year to be planted by the sugarhouse and my mom’s place.

     I read something somewhere about things to do while we are here on this Earth. One of the lines simply said “Plant Sequoia” I considered the age and size of those giant redwoods and decided that it is a noble person who plants trees of any kind, but especially Sequoia!

     I am sure there is a reason why we take flowers to sick people, lay them on graves and give them to our lovers…flowers speak to our hearts… I know mine feels better from just looking at them.