Hiding in Plain Sight
June 27, 2016, 9:39 am
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June 27, 2016

I parked the skid steer in my son’s barn. He has five pullets just starting to lay. They usually hide their eggs behind an old gate against the barn wall. Apparently, they were looking for a new hiding spot. They found it on the floor of the skid steer, right between the pedals. Lucky for me, I saw them before stepping into the cab.

I laughed a little at the crazy birds, but then thought about my own stuff hidden in plain sight. Yesterday, I was looking for a hammer that I had been using. That thing was right where I left it, but it took me five minutes to find it, laying there on the workbench. I have looked for my glasses only to find them on my face! Okay, go ahead and laugh, but did you ever lose your car keys?

This past week I sprayed my spotty corn field. It is a little field of about five acres. The planter skipped a few places so there are gaps in my corn. The weeds and especially the grasses were choking out the baby corn plants. I sprayed weedkiller on the offending crop killers. I rarely use a herbicide, choosing to cultivate instead, but this year I got overwhelmed. Using a conventional spray, sparingly, was my course of action.

I borrowed my friends sprayer, but used my horses to pull it. A small gasoline engine powers the pump. The horses provide the traction power. We sprayed the field in under an hour. The weather was hot and muggy. The horseflies were biting and the sweat was dripping, but the horses worked steady and quietly.


After just a week, the weeds have been killed or set back. The corn has jumped in size and color. I am sure that I will get a crop after all. You see, the corn was there all along…hidden in plain sight.



Hard to Swallow
June 23, 2016, 9:32 am
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June 23, 2016

We have a nice flock of barn swallows, but I have never seen nests such as these. Yesterday, I was at my Amish buddy’s house. There in the top of his horse barn were these nests. The parents were constantly flying in and out feeding the babies. They must have caught hundreds of flies while I stood there.

In my barn, the birds build their nest on top of a light fixture or attach it to a floor joist of the haymow. They leave a little room all around the edge to fly in an out. Seeing these nests built with the entry hole, amazed me. Try as I might, I wasn’t fast enough to capture a picture of the parents entering or exiting the nests. The little acrobatic fliers were to fast for this old man, but they were a lot tougher on the flies than on me…and that wasn’t hard to swallow!


Managing Grazing
June 21, 2016, 12:32 pm
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June 21, 2016

Cows and sows graze white clover. This pasture was getting a little ahead of the sows. I turned the cows into it so as to slow the growth down a little bit. I guess manage is a better word than slow it down. I am making the best use of the pastures as they grow. Multi-specie grazing gives me a great advantage when it comes to pasture management.

The cows also help to keep the permanent horse pasture under control. The grasses grow faster than the horses can eat it. The cows stop by from time to time and spend the night there. They eat what the horses leave. I will soon mow the rest. This early summer with very little rain, makes pasture management a delicate job this season. If i graze the grass too short, I will pay all season as it struggles to grow. If I leave it go to seed, it also stops growing.

The trick isย  to use as much of the grass as possible before mowing to keep the weeds at bay. So far so good, but it is only the middle of June. There is a lot of summer left for our grass. Hopefully, herd management, timely mowing and multi-specie grazing will maximize natures bounty….all while letting the animals spread their own manure!

Ready for Work
June 17, 2016, 2:26 pm
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June 17, 2016

Why is it that when it’s time for work we all move a little slower? I, like my horses, move like a snail until the last minute. Then I rush around and try to beat the clock. I usually lose, because,ย  “the time and the tides wait for no man”!

Once I get started work is no big deal. I will say that this all goes out the window when it comes to working here on the farm. I jump out of bed and start my day with a big smile. Even when things don’t go exactly as planned, i just adapt, move on and complete almost any task. In the corporate world, too many stumbling blocks prevent me from being as efficient as I would like. There is no doubt that putting your hand where your heart lies is the answer.

Hoss, in the photo above, waits patiently to finish getting ready for work. He and Knight were worked yesterday as a team. It was the first time in a long time that I only worked two horses. The job I had only required two. It was in a tight spot where three horses would have been a bother to navigate. As Abby gets into her training, I will be using two teams daily. That gives all of them a break while allowing me more “horsepower”ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

I must get moving because its time for me to get …..ready for work ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Rough Ride
June 15, 2016, 9:58 am
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June 15, 2016

Um, okay, steel wheels on the hay tedder, steel wheels on the forecart and a steel seat to sit on! Talk about a rough ride! After several hours over the last few days, all of our first cutting hay has been mowed, raked, tedded, raked again, baled and put away. The horses and I slept well last night. The tedder in the photo above is used to fluff the hay to aid in drying and curing. It is a simple machine that works like a dream…the ride, well it is more like a nightmare.

This forecart is where the horses hook on to the machine. I bought it from an Amish friend of mine. They are not allowed to use rubber tires, long story but part of their religious beliefs. I just figured what the heck, I’ll use it that way. It works fine, but I can see it will be a good thing to make my fields smoother. I will start using a thick pad in the meantime. The seat is not hard on my butt, it just makes my spine hurt. Those bumps go all the way to this old man’s neck!

I thought about using the filly yesterday, but then thought better of it. Her first hitch will probably be to the sled or wagon. I will get her used to the banging of a steel contraption behind her a little later in her training. Chances are, she would have been fine, but I didn’t want things to turn bad on a day when I had no help around in case it was needed.

We are a little slow around here this morning. We worked to almost midnight getting the hay all in and under cover. The equipment too was stored before I quit for the day. Now, we will move on to another project….the project of filling the woodshed. Good work for men and horses because we only work at it in the early morning, then again in the cool of evening. The afternoons are spent in the shade of a building working at some trivial task or perhaps eating ice cream ๐Ÿ™‚

Dress Rehersal
June 14, 2016, 7:17 am
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June 14, 2016

Yesterday evening, Abby got to play dress up. I have been putting this old collar on her for a few days now. The collar slips over her head like a t-shirt. She wasn’t too sure at first, but now actually pushes her head into the collar to help get it on. Last night, I put the rest of the harness on her back.

It is good for her to get used to the smell and feel of the harness. The straps hang down and touch her in different places. The tug chains rattle and jingle and even just the weight of the harness, is a different feeling for my young lady. She did great.

You can see by looking at her eye, that there is no fear. She trusts me to keep her safe. I put the harness on and off several times. She paid me no attention except for nuzzling me as I talked to her. This is a big deal, a benchmark in her training. Soon, she will be hitched alongside Duke, as she learns to be driven. It’s hard to say how that may go, but from everything I have seen so far, I think she will be a quick, calm learner.

Hay… Man!
June 13, 2016, 8:01 pm
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June 13, 2016

That is exactly what I have been doing, hay man! I hired my neighbor to make baleage from 3 small fields this year. We made 65, 2200 pound bales and wrapped them for winter feeding. The clover mixed hay had some spelt in it too. The spelt was left behind because I must have had my combine fan open too far, so blew seed back on to the ground. It grew nicely, so why not make feed out of it. I am sure the cows will relish this come winter.

After a breakdown with my hay mower, my friend Ron “baled” me out. He came and mowed for me with his mower. Thank goodness or I would be way behind. I also would have missed my opportunity to have my bales wrapped. This machine is on the go constantly, you snooze, you lose! Well, this time I won!

After a very long day of tractor work, it felt real good to be working with the horses today. We raked eight acres of dry hay for baling tomorrow. They did well as usual. The flies were almost absent. The sun was bright, but the outside temperature was cool. A nice breeze blew on man, horses and hay. I will sleep good tonight.


It’s June
June 9, 2016, 7:10 pm
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June 9, 2016

We picked these berries this afternoon. They are very sweet and tasty. I was going to rip the plants out this spring, but didn’t get it done. I am very glad, because the new plants I planted all died. This makes these taste even sweeter! I will move some of them to a new bed once the season is over, but for now we will enjoy them where they grow.

We have entered a weather cycle where we get a day or two of sun, then rain. The pastures love it, but it makes it impossible to make dry hay. I will be mowing tomorrow to roll some up for wet silage bales. The cows love that feed. It also allows me to get some lush first cutting hay off the fields and put up for winter feeding. The dry hay needed for the horses, will just have to be made when the weather straightens out a bit.

There is no shortage of work. Garden planting, pumpkin planting continues along with daily chores. The corn needs cultivated and the lawn needs mowed, but the good thing is…I can reward myself with fresh strawberries and ice cream!

Managed Grazing


June 7, 2016

We have had a strange spring, but it sure has made the grass grow. Today, I moved the cows into the horse pasture. The finicky horses are not the best grazers. The cows and then the sheep will help eat it down before we mow it. A good timely mowing will set back weeds and get the grass growing again.

I am amazed at just how much feed is made available this way. Seventeen “animal units” will graze this space and get all they want. An animal unit is measured as one adult cow. So, a draft horse equals 1.5 animal units. It takes five sheep to make up one animal unit. The rule of thumb is one acre of good pasture, per animal unit, per season. We are ahead of that curve thanks to good management, compost and rain.

Our stock is all in great shape after coming through a mild winter. The pastures have all been excellent. I even grazed around the buildings out back for a week, forcing the cows to clean up some grass and weeds they would usually turn their noses up at, but it helped me by lightening the workload. They ate it fine and look good for doing so.

I encourage the small or beginning farmer to mow his pastures. If that is the only thing that you can afford to do, it will help. It will make a giant difference! Your stock will appreciate it too. Even weeds are much easier eaten at the young, tender succulent stage. Mowing, is all part of good management and you , your stock and your farm will benefit from doing it.


Seeing Spots
June 2, 2016, 9:07 am
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June 2, 2016

Working almost daily on removing winter hair and the dander that comes with it, I am finally seeing progress. Abby and Duke are even sporting spots. Spots are a great indication of body condition. All my horses have them, but it comes from care, not by accident.

Last night, just after coming in from chores, I found out that my friend and mentor, Gene Logsdon had passed away. He died peacefully at home surrounded by family after a battle with cancer. In short, I indeed the world, has lost a friend. Gene was a champion for all things farming, especially old time, small farming.

He was known for his wit and humor. He would stand up to be counted when it came to challenging the status quo. He did not support “Big AG”, neither do I. I first discovered Gene through his books in our local library, I was in my twenties. I sent Gene a letter and we became friends. I sold him cattle, we talked about sheep and hogs and a host of farming subjects. Gene wrote the forward to my book “Cultivating Memories”. I will be forever grateful.

So, after finding out about my friend’s passing, I was not sure if it was spots I had been seeing. My eyes were blurry. It happens when you lose someone who made marks upon your heart. So, I will think of Gene standing in deep pasture, surrounded by sheep and other farm animals, speaking on their behalf with a cutting edge to his voice and a twinkle in his eye.