Days of Summer
June 28, 2013, 11:03 am
Filed under: June 2013
A couple of steer calves looking for dinner

A couple of steer calves looking for dinner

June 28, 2013

Summer just got here according to the calender, but it’s been hot, muggy and rainy here. I would venture to say “tropical”. It’s nice to see the sun, but when it comes out, the air fills with moisture making it uncomfortable for man and beast.

I will say that the sun on the calves seems to make them grow. They are doing well. They often sleep lazily in a sunny place…waiting on dinner! Today we will be down to the last two bottle babies. They will get weaned in a week or so too. Feeding time is fun for a day or so, but becomes a bit wearing by week number 6 or 7  😮

Cutting firewood is best done early in the morning or late in the evening. The mosquitoes make it a bit difficult, but the mid-day heat is much worse than fighting the blood suckers. I hope my corn is enjoying the humid days, because it is the only thing around here that might!

Yesterday, I was driving in the country in a torrential rain storm. I have not seen flooding like that before. A road where I grew up had water flowing across it sixteen inches deep. I did go through it, but I am not sure it was a good idea. I still can’t believe it. I really feel for the folks in flood prone areas.

The weatherman says the rains will be much less in July and August. I am thinking that means short pastures and not much second cutting hay. I know that it will work out as it is planned. I need to just keep going and quit worrying about things that I cannot fix.

Its is the time for cold drinks and ice cream. The raspberries are now ripening. They go very well with ice cream. I guess these hot days are good for something! It is also much better here, than in parts of the southwest, where the temps are in the triple digits…now those are the Days of Summer … and I am glad I live here on the Northcoast  😮


It’s a Start
June 26, 2013, 9:10 pm
Filed under: June 2013 | Tags: , ,
Hay almost ready to bale

Hay almost ready to bale

June 26, 2013

I have 25 bales (4×4 round) made. It is a poor start, but it’s a start none-the-less. I lost 3 acres of hay to the weather and a small break down, but it will all work out 😮

The bees have been busy and more honey waits to be extracted. The speltz are starting to ripen. The bottle babies continue to do well. Two more of them are almost ready to wean. The last one is doing very well, in spite of getting me into a little trouble by bringing him home …. after all, what’s one more when the table is set anyway 😮

We are shifting gears and working on firewood. I am sure that I picked the hottest days to do it. The weatherman says rain for many of the next ten days, so hay waits, but the wood is getting cut.

The fly season is in full swing. The horses wear fly nets when we work. The nets just scare the flies away, but work almost as good as the sprays do. I am trying to work in the morning and then in the evening when the day is cooler…well that is my plan, but today I was throwing wood into a trailer from 2 to 3 pm … that was a stupid thing for a fat man to do!

Later, after I recovered by drinking 1/2 of Lake Erie, I did chores, fed my bottle babies and picked some fresh raspberries…OK, Connie picked most of them while Ichecked for quality by sampling several! There isn’t enough to freeze … but It’s a Start 😮


A New Crop
June 24, 2013, 6:24 am
Filed under: June 2013 | Tags:
The new house going up

The new house going up

June 24, 2013

In my old meadow, a house is taking shape. It belongs to my son and his wife. I did make the hay that was growing in what will be their front and back yards. It was very odd shaped to cut, but the hay was heavy and well worth the effort.

I first plowed this field in the spring of 1993. It was a little forgotten corner next to the woods. It plowed hard. The horses and I used my walking plow. We kept after it, doing a little each day. We planted corn that spring in the poor neglected ground.

The corn did grow and made a crop. We picked it by hand. The two acre field yielded just over 120 bushels of corn, a mere 60 bushels to the acre. The ears were small, but the animals were happy to eat it.

We put tons of manure on the field year after year. Lime and soil ammendments were also spread on the ground. The soil has improved by leaps and bounds. the last time corn was planted there, the yield was just over 100 bushels to the acre. The ears were large and easy to pick.

A crop of oats followed the corn, nursing the hay crop that was planted at the same time. I baled the oats for the animals and watched the new hay crop burst forth in the little field. It had improved very much since the first days of my farming here. I wa proud of my efforts.

We gave the little field to my son and his wife. A house is now rising from the soil. A new crop will soon be grown there. The crop will be that of children. I will nurture and watch them grow too.

I will share many of my farming experiences with them. I will hand down wisdom from my grandparents. I can’t wait to tell them about my great grandfather’s “kid grower”. Every spring, when the cows were turned out on grass for the first time, my grandpa would tell us kids that the soupy green manure coming out of those cows would make us grow. The secrect was to run through the stinky green goo in our bare feet.

We fell for it every year. The warm manure would squeeze up through our toes, as we searched the little pasture for more of the magic growing potion. Our feet would be stained for a week or more. The green grass stains having to wear off… no amount of soap and scrubbing would work…. only time, would make our feet white again.

So for now, I wait on that new crop, but while I wait, I will make a list of all the forgotten things that will make those kids grow. I remember getting a big growth spurt one Easter Sunday from riding on grandpa’s manure spreader seat as he spread the watery mess that is dairy cow manure. A fine mist covered my little suit and exposed skin. He cleaned me up with an old feed bag before I showed mom.

There I stood, covered in crap, dusted with cow feed smiling from ear to ear. Not only had I got to do some farming with my great grandpa, he was making sure that I was going to grow too! I guess it worked. All of us kids did indeed grow up, got taller and a few of us even got smarter 😮

The next crop in the little corner field will be that of speltz. I will plant them to get a nice lawn started for my son. The speltz will nurse the grass.  The other crop, that of children, is up to them. I will explain that the season is year round, so get busy…after all timing is everything. We want to catch that first spring grass manure as soon as they babies are walking 😮


Oh Honey!
June 21, 2013, 6:36 am
Filed under: June 2013 | Tags: ,
My solar honey extractor

My solar honey extractor

June 21, 2013

I sold almost all of my bee equipment a year ago. I promptly caught a wild swarm of honeybees. I came up with enough left over stuff to make a hive for them, but I had no extractor. What you see in the jar is honeycomb filled with honey made by the bees. I mashed it all up with a potato masher.

The mashed up honey and comb is next put into a glass jar. A new lady’s knee high stocking is stretched over the top of the jar. A second jar is duct taped to the first jar, mouth to mouth. Then you turn it upside down, set it in the sun and wait.

The sun warms the mixture and lets the honey flow. The knee high stocking is the exact micron sized mesh to let the honey through, yet hold the wax behind. I do turn the jar some as needed to keep the honey flowing. It is a process that depends upon the warm sun…which we haven’t seen much of until these last couple of days. Now, that the sun has chosen to shine, the honey is dripping good.

I caution the reader to use glass jars because the wax and debris sticks to plastic making it unusable. The wax will only come out partially by washing. It makes a real mess in the dishwasher (do not try that one :o). Along with the glass, I will say use a brand new knee high…not one with laundry soap impregenated into it …or the odor of foot!

Now, if that won’t make you say “Oh Honey!,  I don’t know what will.

Speaking of “Oh Honey”,  We have been bottle feeding a few bull calves from a local dairy farm. The calves will one day supply us and our customers with ground beef. We butcher and grind the whole animal, steaks, roasts and all cuts included. This makes for some very good, lean ground beef…and it’s grass fed to boot!

Anyway, we have been feeding one group of calves for about six weeks. They just got weaned from the bottle on Wednesday, much to the delight of my dear wife, who is growing weary of feeding calves and washing bottles. She was thinking that two were done, two more to go for a couple more weeks and the whole bottle job would be done…. Wrong!

That sounded pretty good until the dairy farmer called and said he had one more bull calf … Did we want it? Connie said , “No, I don’t think he does, but thanks.” I of course said, “Sure, we’ll take it!”

So we are another six weeks away from finishing that whole bottle feeding, twice a day, and all the clean up that goes with it. We are only feeding three, but it does get a bit redundant. When I told my dear wife that we have one more calf to go…she smacked me playfully with a spatula, (much to the delight of my cousin) and said …. “Oh Honey!”


Handling The Boys
June 20, 2013, 7:43 am
Filed under: June 2013
Jake checking his grip. Knight and Hoss mowing

Jake checking his grip. Knight and Hoss mowing

 June 20, 2013

Handling the boys can mean many different things to many people. Around here, it usually has to do with the way we care and drive our geldings. We use a gentle yet firm hand. The strength in the grip instills confidence. The gentleness makes every situation a positive one.

I guess it’s the same if you are talking about men or horses. Gentleness and firmness go a long way in a relationship. Set the boundries, hold to them fairly and consistantly. Expect the boundries to be tested and be ready to apply the right amount of pressure to set everything right again.

We are trying out a new farmhand. So far things are going well. Like most colts, training and oversight is needed, but progress can be seen. Once in a while he gets in a tight spot, even pinched a bit, but it all works out 😮

We also have a youg lady who is working here a bit. She is good help too. Our wet weather is preventing any real work from being done, but we are ready once the weather breaks. Our young gal is using the time to break in a new boyfriend. He is usually right behind her, hat in hand, waiting for the next piece of direction. Talk about handling the boys… she has it down pat 😮


What a difference a year makes!
June 18, 2013, 9:21 pm
Filed under: June 2013 | Tags: , , ,
Hay and Pumpkins 2012

Hay and Pumpkins 2012

 June 18, 2013

Wow, what a difference a year makes in farming. Last year at this time we had the first cutting made and in the barns. This field of hay was actually second cutting. The pumpkins were beautiful…right before the drought came.

This year is a very wet one. I did cut some hay last evening right before a pop up shower gave us 3/4 of an inch of rain on already saturated ground. The pumpkin plants wait in little plastic plugs struggling just to stay alive. I hope to plant them by the weeks end, but now there is no dirt…only mud.

My field corn was off to a great start. It is now a bit yellow as it begs for some sunshine. The weeds are thriving threatening to choke out the corn. I could only cultivate now with a row boat. Riceland Meadows might have better planted rice this year 😮

The weatherman says 5 days of sun coming, but they are more like weather guessers that weather predictors this year. So we shall see. I do have some hay down, hoping to use the 5 day window, but what I cut today lays on standing water … not good.

The animals are enjoying the cooler weather. The flies are a bit behind, but will soon be out with a vengence, biting man and beast. I think those night time blood sucking insects are building up to large levels… I just hope the bats, barn swallows and purple Martins eat them quickly.

I will keep plugging away, working around the wet, rainy weather, after all … that is what we farmers do 😮


I Call Him Andy
June 14, 2013, 9:09 pm
Filed under: June 2013
Andy taking a break

Andy taking a break

June 14, 2013

Yesterday, I made a trip and got a new boar. Our old boar had gotten too large to breed the smaller gilts. I also have a few of his daughters here and so needed an unrelated boar. I also wanted to inject some new genetics into my breeding program … so this Duroc boar fits the bill nicely.

He came from a farm that raises show pigs. They are the high dollar kind, but worth the money. The farmer sells semen from some of his boars for $250.00 per straw…that is some pricey stuff! This boar is out of that stock and will be a good boost to our future herd.

I like my mostly York mother pigs. The York breed is known for it’s mothering skills. I will attest that they are good mommas and I keep only the best ones that I can. I farrow in nests, often on pasture, so I need a self-suffient mom who will take real good care of her babies.

I also know the benefit of the hybrid vigor created from a three way cross. I try to use Landrace and York in my sows, then cross them with a different breed of boar. I have good feed to meat ratio doing this and have proven it over and over for the last fifteen years.

The boar got out of the trailer and I knew that he would need a name. I thought about it for a while and came up with this solution; when I walk visitors around my farm I can say…. These are my sows …”and he’s” the boar…. Get it ??  And He’s the boar … Andy’s the boar  😮


High Praise
June 11, 2013, 1:56 pm
Filed under: June 2013 | Tags: , ,
Dwarf lilac in bloom

Dwarf lilac in bloom

June 11, 2013

Today my daughter-in-law asked my wife for a recipe. Actually, what she asked for was for my wife to write down recipes of my son’s favorite dinners. My daughter-in-law, as do the rest of us, thinks my wife is a great cook. I think that it is high praise for her to keep my wife’s recipes among her cherished things.

When Connie and I married, it was a small affair at the courthouse. We had a celebration party a few days later for family and friends. We asked that gifts be omitted, but come share part of a day with us. Some people did bring gifts anyway. My mother brought a basket of stuff and in that basket were several of her recipes …. most all of my favorites 😮

Those recipes given by my mother and prepared by my wife, are some of my favorite foods. There is my grandma’s sugar cookie recipe, mom’s peanut blossoms and of course her home-made tomato soup directions. I guess at the time, I didn’t realize what a great gift those old index cards would become.

My hope is that years from now, as my son and his wife sit for a meal, we are remembered along with happy times. I know that when I sink my teeth into a sugar cookie, memories of my family and times we had, flood into my thoughts. Those memories are more precious than gold.

My wife has given recipes to all of our children. Many of the girls bake and cook for their families using those directions, written by hand and filled with love that will extend beyond our earthly lives. I would say that is High Praise to have someone ask for such things and then treasure them to boot!


Stuck in the Mud
June 10, 2013, 3:15 pm
Filed under: June 2013
weeds, small corn , water and mud

weeds, small corn , water and mud

June 10, 2013

Boy oh boy, the rain is making it tough to keep up with my outside work. The photo shows corn up and growing among the weeds. The field was barren when we planted the corn. I expected to be able to cultivate by now, but the rains just keep coming. The weeds keep growing and the planting window is closing.

In the photo you can see extra space between the rows. That space is where pumpkins are to be planted. We can’t do that yet either. It’s soggy to say the least. On a good note, most of my inside work has been done 😮

The plan is to start cutting wood for the sugarhouse this week. I have lots of it down. It just needs to be cut to length, split, hauled and stacked … No sweat! It does make me pause a little when I think that last year we were about 90% done with that job by now and had even cut some hay.

I know what will happen. The ground will dry and I will be scrambling to get the cultivating done, more of the garden planted all while working around trying to make hay. It does make the days go by fast! The horses will get plenty of work and I may even shed a few pounds.

Our strawberries just need a few sunny days to ripen them. They are so close to ready, that my mouth waters every time I walk past the patch. Soon it will be strawberry sunday time along with all sorts of desserts …yea right … shed a few pounds?!


Sorting out the good stuff
June 8, 2013, 7:42 pm
Filed under: June 2013 | Tags: , ,
Logs ready to go to the landing

Logs ready to go to the landing

June 8, 2013

These logs pictured were waiting to be skidded to the landing. They are nice logs, so it was easy to choose them. The thing is, every log must be hauled out of the woods…sort of a “no child left behind” thing.

I am careful to get everything I can out of a felled tree. I do not want to waste anything. The tree tops and branches will make great firewood. The same thing goes for any split piece or crooked spot in a trunk. I use it all.

In life we get to sort out the good stuff a little easier. I guess better to say that we can choose to dwell on the positives, look for good and let the rest roll off our backs like water off a duck.

Sure some stuff has to be dealt with no matter what, but much better to think about great memories and ice cream. I know that I am still sorting it all out… but… I choose to be happy.   😮