Back in the Slop
August 29, 2013, 8:34 am
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Nuff Said!

Nuff Said!

August 29, 2013

Here we go again… Monday we got a nice little shower that gave us a half of an inch of rain. That rain was almost welcomed after almost 9 full days of dry weather. The weatherman said, “don’t worry, the next couple of days will only contain pop up showers, from daytime heating.”  Well, they sure popped up here !   😮

I had just finished digging up our driveway to install a waterline to the washhouse. The trench had been filled again and “some settling” was sure to occur…. My daughter-in-law got her car stuck in that settling! It took seven tons of gravel to help fill the squishy mess. It is still unstable, soft and a bit of a concern. It resembles a road through a swamp.

I was sure that my daughter-in-law had embelished her car story a little, but when I went outside, I was amazed. A small river was running through our driveway. A pile of stone was on one side of the new waterway and my skid steer was on the other. I stepped into the fast moving stream to check how the bottom was … there was no bottom…well, it was deeper than my boots were tall.

I sloshed,one footed to the telephone and begged for another load of stone. The guy brought us one as fast as he could. He dumped it in the stream that was once our drive and created a small bridge for me to get the skid steer across. I spent the rest of the morning trying to fill in the moat that surrounded our house.

I swear that as I was working as fast as I could, I saw two black bears fishing in the trench down stream. I would dump in stone and almost watch it get washed away. I would roll up on top to push it down, but there seemed to be no bottom. The hole took load after load of stone, mud and gravel. I spent quite a bit of time trying to correct my problem, time that I has set aside for othr projects.

Later in the day, I tried to do some of those other projects. It seemed that everything I tried to do was stalled by muddy conditions. I have a cement truck due today…I’m thinking he may have to wait a day or two!  At least he won’t have to try and cross …. “The bridge over the river Cry!”


The Last Straw
August 27, 2013, 11:18 am
Filed under: August 2013 | Tags: , ,
Overhang snug for winter

Overhang snug for winter

August 27, 2013

Each year, I plug this end of the barns overhang. Behaind the wall of straw makes a very snug place to spend the winter. We have had many different types of farm animals there and each one was very content.

The baby pigs burrow in the deep bedding, cuddle up against each other and momma. They are warm as can be. The wall of straw breaks the wind, staves off the wet snow and rain making for a good place to be.

I use the straw above the door. I use what is stored in front of this outside wall. I leave this wall until late spring. The warm sun takes the place of the wall. There is an occasional storm that blows into the animal bedroom at that time of year, but the sun warms and dries it pretty quickly.

In summer, the overhang is left open. A breeze usually blows under there making it a cool shady place to be. That overhang was a cheap addition that is very versatile. I can store equipment, harvested crops and even animals under there. This one measures 16 x 32, for my small farm it is the perfect size.

All of my straw is currently stored under there. I will put a gate in front of it to keep the animals from knocking it down. It works out well for me and the animals benefit too  😮


Hay There!
August 24, 2013, 6:20 am
Filed under: August 2013
2013 hay crop

2013 hay crop

August 24, 2013

This is just a small amount of the 2013 hay crop, but it has been completed! I was in a panic, just like many farmers in my area, but we are all getting our hay made. Our’s is done. I just need to finish moving some of it home. The lambs in the photo can’t believe that we got it done either 😮

These last two weeks have been the days for projects and hard work. The hay crop took a while, as did getting some purchased straw hauled home and stacked away. We are also getting a machinery shed cleaned out ready for cement. The wash house has been taking some of my time as we continue to work on it.

The lambs have been weaned. The speltz straw has been baled and put away. A large pile of wood and construction debris has been burned. Gas and water lines have ben installed at my son and daughter-in-law’s house. The lawn has been kept mowed and we even built an old fashioned grape arbor.

Pasture and fenceline mowing is the order of the week. We are trying to get things in order after a very wet rainy summer. The sugar house wood is the next project on the horizion… very soon we will be buttoning things up for winter… Brrr I hate to think about that right now, but I feel a whole lot better about it now that the hay is done ….. for this year anyway 😮


Happier Than a Pig In … What?
August 17, 2013, 6:50 am
Filed under: August 2013 | Tags: , , ,
One of the gilts enjoying a summer day!

One of the gilts enjoying a summer day!

August 17, 2013

The old saying is;  “Happier than a pig in …crap. That is simply not true! Pigs don’t like to be in their own crap. They much prefer clean bedding and a clean stall. They do enjoy a good wallow in the mud. Pigs do not sweat, so the cool water and mud helps to cool them. They will roll in crap, when it is their only choice…but I do not think they are happy about it!

I’m feeling pretty happy right now too. We finally got some sunny weather. Our hay is drying. It is looking like we will get some made after all. I am still keeping my fingers crossed, as they say, because we are just one “brief” shower away from ruination!  😮

The fall like temperatures feel good to work in, but do not make for great hay drying. The dew is heavy at night and takes quite a while to burn off in the morning. All of us in this area are concerned about an early frost. That would not be a good thing for this years corn as it tries to fill its ears and dry down before winter.

Geese are flying. Trees are turning color. Everything seems a few weeks ahead of schedule except the corn , it is two weeks behind, thanks in part to the cool weather. Oh well, that is farming! Work your butt off, do all you can … and then work with the weather …that you have no controll over what-so-ever. There is one thing for sure…You have to love it!

Oh yea, I do love farming…you could even say… I’m happier than a pig in … What?    😮


What a Find!
August 13, 2013, 8:52 am
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Museum quality Gleaner "E" combine

Museum quality Gleaner “E” combine

August 13, 2013

I am still pinching myself. I can’t believe that I found and bought this small, self-propelled combine. It is a one-owner machine that was taken care of very well. It is 1967 vintage. She has a ten foot grain head and the same engine as a D-17 Allis Chalmers tractor. It was advertized on a sale bill for public auction, I never imagined that I could buy it.

Connie and I went to the sale in the hopes that we might get a chance to buy this machine, but I was very reserved. When we arrived, the machine was being looked over by a fairly large crowd. I saw small farmers of all types, licking their chops and commenting about the incredible shape of this small harvester.

I have seen similar machines sell for over $5,000.00 dollars. That was way beyond my reach due to some other projects on the farm. I got a bit dis-enchanted and almost left the auction, knowing that this small beauty would sell beyond my means. It was the next item to sell, so we stayed to have an idea what a machine of this quality would bring.

The auctioneer started the bidding at $5,000.00…but he went backwards! There was nobody in the crowd intrested in this old machine…just a lot of lookers I guess. We bought the machine for one fifth of what I was sure it was worth. Two men in the crowd were tickled beyond words when the gavel fell. One was me … the other was an old man, the owner of the machine  😮

I am excited to have what will be the last combine of my farming career. It will easily last me twenty years …and who knows if I will. The old man was happy to know that his combine would find new life on our farm and not be sent to the scrap heap. We shook hands and made a new friendship. He shared many stories of his 82 year old life with me, 45 of which, he owned this combine!

I have gone over the machine from top to bottom. There is not one missing bolt, worn belt, bad bearing or defect of any kind. He gave me the original owner’s manual with pen and pencil notes in the margin, from a love affair of over 45 years. I will treasure the manual, almost as much as the machine.

This small combine was the “baby” of the Allis Chalmers combine fleet. It is a dependable machine that has many parts much like the old AC 60 & 66’s that I am used to using. It is funny that I bought a machine that is over 45 years old, and still upgraded by twenty five years !  😮

Another good part to this story is that the Allis Chalmers 66 pull type combine that has harvested my spelt crop for the last five years, found a new home, where it too will be taken care of by a very grateful man. I didn’t want to see it go to the scrap heap either!

Small harvesting equipment is not being manufactured anymore, except for a few Asian companies for rice harvest. Sadly, combines of today are big behemoths that cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. The headers are thirty feet wide and larger … not practical on many small farms…especially this one, where horse drawn equipment and my time, keep the fields in sizes of three to four acres.

The rain fell again over night washing the hay that I cut this weekend, but I can still smile! Finding an asset like this old combine will do that to a man … Making a friend like Frank Mann, the combine’s old owner … well that is priceless!


Pigs on Pasture
August 12, 2013, 8:05 am
Filed under: August 2013 | Tags:
Some of the girls just enjoying a beautiful day

Some of the girls just enjoying a beautiful day

August 12, 2013

I have been a supporter for pigs on pasture for a long time now. I will say, that when the grass gets short, they root the ground up some, but usually they just mine the rootlets from quack grass…so even their rooting is beneficial. My pigs are in my old speltz field. They are cleaning up anything that I missed, eating grass along the edges and spreading their own manure!  😮

This field is a good one, but this year stayed wet at harvest time. I plan to plant speltz here again this fall. I will disc the straw and stubble back into the ground before planting. The hogs are doing a great deal of the plowing for me now 😮

I just have my sows and the boar out on the field. It is amazing how much more content they stay. The field is of about four acres in size. It has woodland edges, a row of tangled crabapple trees, a few old regular apple trees and a small hidden meadow, along with my 2.5 acres of harvested speltz. They make use of every bit of the space.

I think their most favorite place is a deep spot in a small stream. The stream only runs when it rains…I guess most people would call it a drainage ditch. In any case, it makes a nice wallow for the hogs. They flop around in it and cover themselves in mud. I think they stay cool in the water and the mud helps keep the biting flies at bay.

I am thinking about building a makeshift winter round bale hut for the hogs and letting them winter on this field. I guess it is a good plan “B”. They come up to the barn to eat when I call them, but spend the rest of the time enjoying the big pasture. So if the rains continue and I can’t plant speltz, then the pigs will have this place all to themselves until time to plant oats next spring!


A “Boar”ing Story
August 11, 2013, 8:37 am
Filed under: August 2013 | Tags: ,
Dale and the girls hanging out at the pool

Dale and the girls hanging out at the pool

August 11, 2013

Some of you will remember that we started out this summer with a new Duroc boar. His name was Andy. He was pretty shy around the girls and mostly just wanted to lay around and look at them. The girls, especially the older ones had great contempt for Andy…I think it’s safe to say they hated him and his “Mr. Milktoast” manners.

Andy actually started to understand his job. After a couple of weeks he even chased one of the girls around. His heart wasn’t in it though, I think it was all for show. One of my big sows got tired of his lack of interest and beat him up. The problem was, that she waited until he was about to mount one of the gilts. She rolled him end over end injuring his shoulder. Andy never played with the girls again.

So, here we were, six female pigs all ready to be bred and no boar in sight. I scrambled and found a very nice Landrace boar in a neighboring county. He was actually in with a nice bunch of gilts and understood his job well. I bought him on the spot.

My sow herd is out on our spelt field…the one I got stuck in just a couple of weeks ago. They are cleaning up anything that I missed or couldn’t get harvested. They are rooting for roots and eating grasses along the field edges. They are eating crab apples and who knows what else, but they are very happy in the big field, sleeping in the shade and playing in the water.

I brought Dale home. I unloaded him in the spelt field. He had not ever spent a day of his life off concrete. He was almost afraid of the grass and dirt. It didn’t take long though and he was grunting approval about his new surroundings. I went and got the girls to follow me and meet their new “man”.

It was a blissful greeting. The mean old sow who detested Andy so much, came running over barking at him. He stood his ground, curled his lip at her and she stopped short. He walked up to her, gave her the once over and pushed her aside…you could almost hear her swoon.

It turns out that he came home on the perfect day. One of my gilts really needed him. He established the pecking order and the fact that he was in charge and all is well. They spend their days frollicking in the pool, loafing in the shade and just enjoying life…. I’m getting the nursery ready for just after Thanksgiving 😮


Here’s the Dirt on what I’ve been doing!
August 10, 2013, 6:18 pm
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New Landscape at the Sugarhouse

New Landscape at the Sugarhouse

August 10, 2013

I have been busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger! The rains keep coming pushing the hay season back even further…further than I can ever remember. A long stretch of off farm days at work, coupled with a few days of good sunshine, made me feel as if I was meeting myself coming and going out the door.

We took a large portion of my son’s basement dirt and put it in the low spots around the sugarhouse. We hauled dirt for over eight hours … there were lots of low spots ! 😮 Some of this dirt is over four feet thick! We created a new swale for the water to run off, leveled up the bridge and made a once swampy area resemble a gravel pit … well at least for now.

The dirt is all roughed out, but finish grade will have to wait until drier days and more free time. I do have a plan to make it all nice very soon. The sugarhouse will one day be set in a grassy lea. A small creek will flow by the building shaded by the nearby woods. In my mind it is beautiful…I think it will be great one day before too long.

I did manage to get my oats all baled. They are more mature than I wanted, but they will make great bedding for the sows and their babies. The grain was mature enough to be full of protein, yet still stay on the plant while it was baled. I managed to get the oats cut, raked and baled over several days, while working night shifts at work. I was pretty tired, but well satisfied to see the oats all baled and stored ready for winter.

We also got a little bit of hay made and have more down and drying as I write. The timothy has gone to seed, but the trefoil is rank and the grass is lush underneath. The timothy will reseed itself making for a good crop next year. Like a Cleveland Browns fan … I can always say… “Wait until next year!”

We took some farm products to the County Fair. Potatoes, Onions, Speltz, Honey and Maple Syrup all represented us. Our potatoes won a blue ribbon. We also got second prize for our speltz and a third for our Maple Syrup. I am pleased with the results. It was fun to compete. We have taken almost two gallons of honey off the beehive so far this year…I did that while working away too.

Be assured that I have been busy. I have lots of stuff to share in the coming days. In other words I’ll share the dirt on what I am doing 😮