The Challenge of Making Dry Hay
July 29, 2014, 12:34 pm
Filed under: July 2014 | Tags: , , ,

Buckwheat Blooms in July

Buckwheat Blooms in July

July 29, 2014

We have had an interesting “last few days”. Saturday our youngest son and his wife welcomed a new baby boy. Keagan was 9 pounds 10 ounces. He is a big bouncing baby boy, born to two very happy parents…and grandparents too!

Yesterday we got a total of over two inches of rain. The weather is cool, with water standing in many places. The animals are lounging about like they are on vacation. I guess they are on a vacation of sorts, because even the greenhead biting flies are leaving them alone due in part to the cool weather.

The experimental oat and buckwheat field is doing well. The buckwheat is in full bloom. The pollinators are very happy and buzzing about. The field looks pretty good and will be cut for hay soon…. just need some dry weather.

The challenge of making dry hay gets tougher every year. It seems that the rain comes every third day…just short of the time needed to dry hay. I have a new “arrow in my quiver” with our new tedder. The ground drive model that we have is made by Master Equipment here in Ohio.

We have used it twice so far and have been very impressed with its performance. I think it will come in handy when we make the buckwheat and oat hay and especially when trying to dry the sorghum/Sudan hay. I am sure patience will be my best friend, as I wait for a string of sunny dry days.

Crazy weather and extra shifts have made for a tough hay year for me, but so far all is well. I am very sure the animals will appreciate my efforts come winter as they munch on hay made from the sweat of my brow and losing sleep to work with the sunny days as they come.

Actually, I sleep better knowing that the hay is mostly made, the corn is growing and the pastures are holding up well. We are blessed for sure….not to mention the new helper born next door!

Open pollinated and looking good

Open Pollenated and looking good

The Sunset Rush
July 24, 2014, 1:48 pm
Filed under: July 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

Fluffy Windrows in the Sunset

Fluffy Windrows in the Sunset

July 24, 2014

Tuesday night, after a long day of work at my off farm job, I baled this hay. The hay was in big fluffy windrows and ready to bale. I went as fast as I could go and it still took me until after dark to finish. It was very nice hay and completes my needs for winter.

As I rushed around the field gobbling up the hay, I had time to think about life’s journey. I contemplated how many times that I have rushed through things to get done. The sun was setting on my hay making, much like the sun is setting on my life. Yes, I still consider myself young, but I am “middle aged”. 😮

Just like life, the sun continued to set, even though I still had hay to bale. The time simply would not wait on me. I persisted anyway. I drove like a madman. I wasn’t reckless, I just kept going as the darkness fell. I pushed through and completed the job. I felt great, knowing that the hay job was finished.

Now, as I once again reflect upon rushing towards the sunset, I am realizing that taking time along the way is the best thing to do. I saw deer, mice, snakes and hawks as I baled the hay the other night. I took time to enjoy the ride as I pushed into the darkness, sure the sun was going to set and I was going to be surrounded by darkness, but while I could see, I watched, and while I could feel I embraced the night.

The evening sun lost its warmth, but I took time to enjoy it on my bare skin anyway. When the cool breeze of evening started to rustle the leaves, I enjoyed the sight and feel of the cool evening breath on my face. Most folks who could see me, probably thought that I was just baling hay… They had no idea that I was living life to the fullest…. the hay bales were just a bonus!

Life To The Max!
July 23, 2014, 6:16 pm
Filed under: July 2014

Max right at my feet

Max right at my feet

July 23, 2014

After a late night of tractor work, I am giving myself permission to take a break while the rain clouds pass by. I finished making the cow’s hay bales last night at almost 10:00 pm. The last few rows were getting tough but I wanted to beat the rain. Those last few bales will still be better hay than if it was rained on.

The bugs tried to eat me alive, but I managed to fight them off. I now have that peace of mind knowing the hay has been made for winter. My experimental field of oats and buckwheat will be ready to cut soon. Those bales will simply be a bonus for the hay stack!

I combined my speltz one evening last week. The field was small, but the combine worked beautifully. A little bit of straw has been mowed. The horses and I will work on getting that made this weekend. Straw makes very good bedding on cold winter nights 😮

Max is doing great. He is learning to be a stock dog, but also a companion. He is loyal. He is socializing well. One day soon he will be the farm’s greeter to our visitors. He sure is a handsome guy.

The winter hay, now all made, must still be brought from the field and stacked away, but what a relief to have it made. I am working a few extra shifts at work, dealing with our weather, but finding enough time to relax and stay satisfied…. I guess you could say that I am living life…. to the Max!

The View From Here
July 19, 2014, 8:33 pm
Filed under: July 2014 | Tags: , , ,

The backyard in bloom

The backyard in bloom

July 19, 2014

Finally, I am catching up. I just have some cow hay to make, but everything is falling into place. I even found a few evenings to rest and relax. I visited with some friends, stared into the fire and spent time with my horses.

The pastures have all been mowed, the corn is growing well and the speltz have been harvested. I helped the new owners of my sheep, vaccinate, deworm and wean. I made some nice new friends in the process. I even had time to fix a wagon that has been giving me fits for months!

I have some hay down as I write. It apparently needed to be washed off, God took care of that job for me. So see, everything is working out well. I will bale that clean, rinsed hay once it is dry. The cows will love it come January. It will sure beat eating snowballs 😮

Piglets are growing and my work list is getting shorter. My experimental fields of buckwheat and oats along with the sorghum/Sudan grass, are also looking well. It has rained quite a bit, but we have been working in between. The fields, pastures and lawn are enjoying the extra moisture.

I look toward next week with excitement as I continue to get my summer work done. I look at this last week with satisfaction as I can see much progress and the results of my efforts … Thanks to all who helped, especially my wife. She helped me celebrate the maiden voyage of our smokehouse…by helping me clean up after!

The Whole World is a Playground!
July 15, 2014, 7:38 am
Filed under: July 2014 | Tags: , , , , ,

Our Goats

Our Goats

July 15, 2014

Goats have a party everywhere they go. Their upbeat, positive attitude is hard to miss. They are happy to see everyone they meet and look for the good in everything they do. Of course “good” to a goat may not be so “good” to us humans.

Goats love flowers and any plant tended by man. They can jump onto the roof of a car in one leap. They are awesome manure spreaders and will leave their poop pellets everywhere they go, especially in buildings and on the back patio. They love children, I guess to a goat, small people are just … kids 😮

There is a lesson to be learned from the goats. No, I’m not talking about destroying flower beds or jumping on cars. I also cannot condone pooping on someone’s patio, but finding fun and excitement everywhere you go…. Now, that is a lesson!

We humans get too wrapped up in the stresses of life. We need to relax. We need to look for, and find, fun more often. If you can’t find some exciting pastime, then like the one goat in the photo, just plop down and rest. Yes, animals in good care, have it made. You can see contentment by just looking at them. Goats, well they are the ultimate party goers…if they can’t find one…they make it!

Work Horses and Biting Flies!
July 14, 2014, 11:03 pm
Filed under: July 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

Knight and Hoss ... "Chillin"

Knight and Hoss … “Chillin”

July 14, 2013

My horses are lucky enough to have me for an owner. They work hard when I ask them to do so, but summer is rough on horses. I try to work early in the morning and then again in the cool of evening. They spend the mid day in the dark, cool barn, away from the biting flies… especially those awful greenheads.

All three of my boys are turned out at night to graze, roll and rest. First thing in the morning they are brought into the barn, given breakfast and allowed to stay in the cool barn for the day. They even have their own fans to cool them off. Yes, I spoil them 😮

When we work, the horses wear fly nets. The nets are made from nylon and have tassels hanging down that pester the pestering flies. It seems like the right thing to do! I also spray the horses with homemade fly spray made from household ingredients (10% Dawn dishwashing soap, 10% Listerene mouthwash, 40% Pinesol cleaning soap and 40% water). It works as well as any poison does, and makes me feel better about using it.

When we have to be out mid-day, I spray them often, rest when needed and offer water from a bucket when we stop. Some days they drink pretty good, other days, they just play in it. The flies bite me as well, but I can at least swat at the offending pests.

I think they forgive me, at least they always like for me to touch them. I am quiet, kind and steady. I expect that they do their job. I don’t tolerate monkey business, but I correct them mostly with my voice or a quick swat on the butt. They want to please me, so they straighten right out and behave. We have a great relationship.

The flies will be gone soon. They fade with summer. In the meantime we make the suffering as tolerable as possible and we take breaks from the hottest part of the day, when we can. I don’t have all the answers for how to cope with life’s curves, but when it bites you in the ass… my solution is to bite back!

See Gull
July 13, 2014, 11:54 am
Filed under: July 2014 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sea Gulls gather in my experimental field.

Sea Gulls gather in my experimental field.

July 13, 2014

This morning I was greeted by a field full of sea gulls. They seemed to be checking out my experimental field of buckwheat and oats. The young field must have been home to some yummy insects, I guess. The birds stayed quite awhile. I hope they ate their fill.

My crazy work schedule made me miss this last window for making dry hay. I focused instead on mowing our pastures, cultivating corn and working from my to do list. Mowing the pastures is the single best thing I do for them. I get ahead of weeds, promote growth in the new grass and make young lush feed for my animals…. Perhaps I even make feed for sea gulls by chasing bugs out of the tall grass!

Corn cultivating was much needed. The horses and I fought the greenhead flies and their awful bites, as we tried to get ahead of the weeds. This job too would have been better done over a week ago, but work and the weather allowed the weeds to get a jump start on us.

Summer is here. The mid-season flowers are in full bloom. It is a wonderful time of year. The cool evenings of late have been enjoyed by all of us farm critters. It seems even the biting flies take a couple of hours off to rest and enjoy the peaceful, cool time….. I know I do!

Much better than last year's!

Much better than last year’s!

Hello from Holmes County
July 9, 2014, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
The little Ambassadors

The little Ambassadors

July 9, 2014

We attended Horse Progress Days in Holmes county Ohio, over the fourth of July holiday. It was a good time as expected. Horses are used to work farm land with various pieces of machinery. Much of the equipment is “tractor” equipment. They even had a ten foot rototiller hooked behind a power cart, pulled by horses and driven by a powerful motor.

There were small equipment manufacturers, vendors of every description for horses and equipment and many other items of interest for the small farmer. They had logging and tree felling demonstrations, even a barn raising from wood sawed on site. The event was attended by many folks from all walks of life and several foreign countries. The crowd was large, but dispersed nicely. The event was well planned, well laid out and well done in every way.

Equipment of many types was driven and field trialed. Seeing really is believing! Horses pulled mowers, haybines, rakes and tedders. They also baled, wrapped and handled hay with a variety of equipment from many manufacturers… and that was just the haying demonstration part!!

A highlight of the show for me, is when twelve horses hooked to a four bottom gang plow, went to the field and plowed. It is an awesome display of horsepower and one that I will never duplicate. I also like all the innovative thinking that is on display and for sale. It is a great event for small farmers, especially those of us who farm with draft animals.

There was plenty for the women folk to see and do as well. Seminars on all sorts of topics from home canning to home remedies. Candle and soap making and other home building skills were discussed and displayed.

The food was great too…I mean where else can you get homemade ice cream made by a hit and miss engine or churned by a horse drawn sweep. Fry pies, soft pretzels and cheeseburgers, along with veal, sausage and even salads, could be found on the grounds…. no place to be dieting, I can tell you that!

Next year’s Horse Progress Days will be held in southern Indiana. If this sounds like something you’d like to see, make plans now to attend, you will not be disappointed!

Spreading information!

Spreading information!

Foxy Lady!
July 8, 2014, 9:22 am
Filed under: July 2014
Momma fox on the hunt

Momma fox on the hunt

July 8, 2014

As I mowed hay the other day, a mother fox followed me around the field hunting for her dinner. She has a couple of kits. We have seen her almost daily. Some of our old hers were even invited to her house for dinner. They of course were her dinner! This brazen varmit had gotten on my last nerve, but as I watched her pounce on mice and then a snake, I got a new respect for her. She is a crafty one, but hunts only for food and not sport.

We managed to get all of our horse hay baled and stored before it rained. I celebrate that it went well. We still have to get the cow’s hay made, but all is going much better than last year. Pasture mowing is taking my idle time this week between the raindrops, but hay making will start as soon as the weather lets us again.

We made a trip to Amish country in Holmes county Ohio to attend Horse Progress Days over the 4th of July. It was a great trip that I will blog about in the next day or two. The event was well attended, well organized and well done. Hats off to anyone who was part of it! We stayed in a nice Inn near the town of Walnut Creek. There was no dieting as our room was in walking distance to a great restaurant, a bakery and even a chocolate factory!

Got one!

Got one!

Hay Man!
July 3, 2014, 10:37 am
Filed under: July 2014 | Tags: , ,