Plotting for Deer


August 29, 2016

This little field was an old part of our pasture. When I put up the new fence, I straightened it out. This little place got abandoned. I keep mowing it. I tried a couple of years ago to plant trees here, but the weeds choked them out. We will probably do that again, but for now, we have created a plot for the wild deer.

We worked up the sod and planted oats, turnips, radish and a medley of grasses and forage. My sheep would go nuts for this soon to be lush autumn and winter grazing. We hope the deer like it. I just want to keep them coming to our farm. We harvest a deer or two each year, so it seems only right to offer them a little food.

They do get into my hay fields and eat clover. They munch my corn and other crops too. This plot however is all theirs. It is in the back, next to the woods. There are trees growing on three sides. A stream is just a few hundred feet away and places to hide and sleep abound.

My son was pretty pleased with our efforts today. My grandson was thrilled that we planted food for the deer. He had a great time catching grasshoppers, crickets and even a frog while we worked and planted. My granddaughter made me mud pies and helped her brother in the big grasshopper hunt. It was a good day for us all….I think more than just a few seeds were planted today…I believe a memory was planted too.

August 25, 2016, 2:28 pm
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August 25, 2016

This picture is of Abby’s new harness bells. They are an unnecessary part of the harness, but they please me. I enjoy the simple chiming as the horses walk. Using horses makes a person slow down. They are animals, living, breathing creatures just like us. They must stop to rest now and then, but it is remarkable how much work they can accomplish.

As we work, I get to listen to the birds sing. I can even hear the plow slicing through the soil as we turn the sod. I hear the horses breathe and monitor that breathing for signs of when a rest is needed. The sounds of birdsong, slicing earth and breathing horses is enhanced by the ringing of my harness bells…or at least I think so.

I choose to use brass bells, cast in a foundry and made to ring pure and crisp. The sound is like no other. It cuts through the air in a subtle yet pronounced way. I use different sized bells to make the music sound like a melody. I can’t sing along, but it sure makes me smile. The horses pay them no mind. The bells are just part of their harness to them. I even asked them one time if they mind the sound? They just said … “neigh”.


Mr November
August 18, 2016, 10:32 am
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August 18, 2016

I have made it! I will be “Mr. November” in the Draft Horse calendar printed by Mischka Press. Well… Okay…my horses made it. The photo above is not the one, but it was taken that day as they filmed us for RFD-TV. Knight and Hoss are pulling the logging cart in the calendar photo. I even kept my shirt on!

: http://www.mischka.com/shop/product.php?productid=17289&cat=248&page=1&featured=Y

If you follow the link above, you can order your calendar. You can even preview the other month’s photos. These are functional calendars with room to write appointments on. I guess I am old-fashioned. I don’t use my cell phone, I still write stuff on the calendar! In any case, if you like photos of draft horses at work and play, you will enjoy this latest effort from Mischka Press.


Trunk Wood
August 17, 2016, 10:14 am
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August 17, 2016

Yesterday, in a stiff cool breeze right before more rain moved through, I started working up these logs. They are the trunks of some big trees that were taken down in Ashtabula. All but one of them required me to cut from both sides of the log with my chainsaw. My chainsaw is a big boy with a 24 inch bar. Two of these trunks are just a little short of 48 inches in diameter.

It seems that not many folks want to tackle logs of this size for firewood. It is a lot of work, but man does the wood pile up fast! I still have 21 chunks, cross sections of the big white oak to split yet. Those chunks along with these in the photo, will provide the heat for two homes this winter. Sure it’s a little work, but it seems to me, like a respectful thing to do with these old trees.

In the cool breeze yesterday, the work was easy. The saw was sharp and the chips flew. I will need another evening to finish the sawing. The splitting will take several days, but I am on track to have it all split and stacked long before the winter winds howl. I think I will always like cutting and splitting firewood. I like it from the minute that I hook on to it with the horses, until I look at the completed stacked rows. So, I get to smile the whole time from “Trunk” wood… to “Chunk” wood !

A Good Day
August 16, 2016, 1:19 pm
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August 16, 2016

I am not sure what makes a good day for other people, but I try to find good in every one that I am given. Yesterday, we got our first calf of 2016. He is a little bull, soon to be steer. He and mom are doing fine. New babies always make me smile.


I worked yesterday, in the heat of the day, fitting Abby’s new harness to her. She took it all in stride, even her haircut. She was patient and calm, making this a good day too.


I put her new bridal on. She is used to the bit and paid no attention to me, as I adjusted straps and the fit of the new harness. All you have to do is look at the trust in her eye to see that all is well. You can see that she believes in me completely, no worry, no fear. Having this bond with my animals also makes a good day for me.

I think every day when we wake up, the choice is ours to have a good day or not. I choose to have a good day no matter what!

Shady Summer Pasture


August 15, 2016

This patch of woodlands was recommended by the state forester to become a pasture. There were not too many trees worth saving according to him. I bought a herd of goats several years ago and let them eat whatever they wanted. I mowed what I could after the goats had moved on. I cut down and am cutting down, cull trees while cleaning up what falls down every year.

This hamlet has become a great pasture for sultry summer days. I feed hay to the cows here to provide feed in addition to whatever the cows graze. I graze it very short so that my clean up efforts are made easier. Soon I will hand seed grasses into the bare spots. As I remove trees the filtered sunlight encourages the grass to grow. What was once a brushy, thorny, overgrown patch, with a few trees growing among the multi-flora rose, has become a productive paddock on my farm.

I am going to remove all the trees with multi-trunks, leaving the best and straightest to grow. I continue to clean up the dead, wind blown, fallen trees and branches. Trust me I have made great progress, but plenty of work awaits. I work here in the fall. The weather is good for hard work. I also like to take trees down after the leaves have fallen. It makes the brush easier to handle.

In following my “Woodland Management Plan”, this area will become a pasture. In following my own desire, the pasture will be wooded, providing shade and comfort during the dog days of summer. I do get a fair amount of grazing days here as I rotate the animals through this field. I also graze the sow herd here to clean up the fallen Hickory nuts and wild apples. It has been a great little field and it is just starting to reach its full potential.

Pastured Piggies
August 14, 2016, 5:16 pm
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August 14, 2016

As a child, I ran barefoot through the grass without a care in the world. Today, I watched my piglets and their mother foraging in the pasture, playing in the mud and eating from their dish. They watched me without caring. The little ones grow quickly in this wide open pasture. They eat, drink, play and rest in the shade of some trees and brush. They are healthy and happy. This is a great way to raise pork!

In the next day or so, I will move the herd up to the barnyard. The boys will be sorted and castrated. The herd is moved right back to the pasture for another ten days. Once that time has passed, the boys will have healed up. All the babies will be sorted again. This time they will be given de-worming shots and weaned from mom. The babies will all be left together for comfort and to compete with each other for their food. A few days after that, they will be sorted by size and penned together on full feed rations. Some will be sold to other farmers to be raised by them. The rest will be raised here.

The ones who stay here will be given a big pen, a clean bed and all they want to eat and drink. Twice a day they will be given “recess” in a big lot where they can run and play. In the space of about four months, they will gain enough weight to be ready to butcher. By then, another batch of little ones will almost be ready to occupy the pens that will be vacated by these. It’s the cycle of life on a farm. It’s my job to make all the animals as comfortable as possible. I treat them with respect and I handle them humanely until the very end.

I can only hope to pass my ways onto my children and their children. That is what makes farming sustainable too. It is not just the soil and the animals. There must be profit and desire. Without profit a farm cannot continue to operate. Without the desire of the next generation to operate, a farm cannot survive. So, sustainability comes from people, animals and the land all working in harmony. It is that harmony that makes great pastured piggies!

Abby’s New “Digs”
August 13, 2016, 9:36 pm
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August 13, 2016

I made the commitment. I dug deep and spent the money. Duke has been using a mismatched harness for four years. Abby had only been using a well worn serviceable harness, that had seen better days. She is doing well. Her and Duke will be work mates, so I upgraded their harnesses. I bought a set that matches Knight and Hoss’s as close as I could find.

I consider this a good investment. The set worn by Knight and Hoss is over fifteen years old. It looks great and is in very good condition. I just need to pressure wash them again. When I upgraded from leather harnesses to “bio-plastic” it was a good decision. The harness is strong, yet lighter than leather. It cleans up with soap and water. I don’t have to polish or oil it. It makes my job easier and that is a very good thing!

Tomorrow, I will fit the new harness to Abby. Her training has progressed to the point where she will soon be working as part of a team. I decided that it was time to dress her up. She is a pretty girl, so she should have a new dress! I guess Duke just gets his by default. It should also be noted that Abby’s old harness was too small for her neck. It was fine for walking around and getting used to it, but she could not pull anything with it. So the timing was right for her new harness.

Abby will be worked on light loads after a few more days of “line driving”. She is doing well and continues to remain calm in all situations, so far. I look forward to working her a little. It will do her good to work a little, perhaps even get a little tired. It’s been rough lately due to the hot, muggy weather. I guess I’m a softee…the horses seem fine, but I melt!


Gone Fishin
August 10, 2016, 5:14 pm
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August 10, 2016

Our summer so far, with its lack of rain, has made it quite easy for me to be caught up with my work. Once we get some more moisture, the work will once again be plentiful, but in the meantime, I am finding a little time to goof off. The picture above was taken after the woodshed filling had been completed. The boys all went fishing, while several of us older guys sat in the shade and enjoyed a nice cool breeze.

I don’t sit very well. A long time ago, a man called me lazy. It stung me to the core. I vowed that I would not be thought of as lazy ever again. I carried hatred for that man for a very long time. Once in a while as I enjoy a cool drink in a shady spot, I call the man a son-of-a-bitch. He is long dead and my displeasure should have died with him. I even feel a little guilty for that mean streak that comes to light now and then. So, in the last year or two, I simply toast the man. I figure raising a glass in his honor, while I sit on my ass, would insult him more than anything. Somehow it pleases me.

I don’t fish because I put it in the lazy category as a boy. I don’t golf, or play any sport. I can only hunt when the work is all done. I do watch a little television after dark once the chores and the day is done. Perhaps that old man still has the upper hand? I don’t think so, but I am a pretty busy guy……One thing for sure… I am not lazy!

As we older guys sat in the cool shade visiting. My mind drifted to the fishing boys. They laughed and played. They even caught some fish, but I think it was me who had the best time of all. The work had been completed and though the boys caught some fish…. I caught up on some rest and a nice cool breeze….so mark me down as “Gone Fishin” 🙂

Full to the Brim
August 8, 2016, 10:10 pm
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August 8, 2016

The sugarhouse woodshed is finally full to overflowing. What a great problem to have. The woodshed is quite large. It measures sixteen by twenty feet. The eave height is just over seven feet. We pile the wood up even higher in the middle, as we stack between the rafters. This wood will be used to boil our maple sap next spring as we make maple syrup.

Saturday, my buddy and his five sons, my hired man, my grandson and myself spent just over half a day filling this woodshed. My logsplitter performed great! We had to put a new motor on it a couple months ago. We chose a 22 horsepower Honda. The splitter doesn’t even slow down as large pieces are turned into smaller ones. It is fun to watch.

We had a  great day. We worked, we laughed and we even fished for a few  hours. The day ended with us all laughing, telling stories and eating an ice cream cake from the Dairy Queen. The work was hard, but made easier by all the hands that helped. The young men made me feel old. I used to be the one lifting large pieces and throwing them around defying gravity, but Saturday, I watched as men forty years younger than myself met the challenge.

How can it be? My mind still thinks that I can do everything that I used to do, but my body protests, especially the next day! Where have the years gone? Oh well, I still get all the work done….it just takes me longer as I work smarter, not harder. Of course what works even better is having great friends and young men who look up to me. The sugarhouse woodshed is full. I am full … of gratitude for my friends and family. Thank you.