Washed Stone?
April 27, 2017, 11:34 am
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April 27, 2017

My son and daughter-in-law thought it would be a great idea to make a playground that they wouldn’t have to mow. They placed landscape fabric under the swings and playset. Next they bought a load of washed smooth stone. The pile of stone was too much for my grandson. He just had to climb it, roll in it and frolic like a baby goat. I laughed at his antics. The washed stone was COVERED with a fine mud…after a little while…so was my grandson!

We have been enjoying some nice spring days. The soil is finally drying out. Plowing for corn will begin in a day or so…as long as the wet weather holds off. Sure we need spring rain. We even look forward to it. Right now we get a washout followed by a few days of drying. The weather teases us all who want to get into the fields. Experience tells us to wait. Our clay soils will bake like a brick if worked when it is too damp…so we wait.

One good thing about the rains. It will wash that playground free of mud, but if it doesn’t…I know one little boy who could not care less!

The Promise in the Sky
April 20, 2017, 10:47 am
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April 20, 2017

I don’t think there are many things more pleasing to the eye, than a rainbow in the sky. The bible says it is God’s promise that he would never drown the Earth again. I feel peace when I see one. Yesterday, in the midst of a spring storm, with dark skies and heavy rain, the sun poked through bright and beautiful. This double rainbow was the result. (sorry if the second arc is not to visible, I was slow with the camera)

I always feel humbled when the colorful arcs show themselves over our barns. I know that I am supposed to be here, in this spot, at this place in time. Seeing the rainbow sort of “cements” this for me. I know that the best is yet to come!

Yesterday, before the storm, we managed to spin “bin oats” on the roughed up corn stubble field. These oat seeds are straight out of my oat bin. They will germinate and grow quickly, providing cattle grazing in just a few weeks. It is a minimum tillage practice that I sometimes use that also provides a cover crop for the bare field.

This field, once grazed off by the cows, will next be planted to a cover of buckwheat. While the field mostly “rests”, I will install some needed drainage. Once the buckwheat is tall and blooming, I will mow it all down and apply compost to the whole field. The buckwheat will be allowed to grow, while the horses and I begin plowing the field down in preparation for planting speltz in late summer, early fall.

Small farming is a series of small farming practices. Cover cropping, animal grazing, compost applications and timely weed eradication by mowing, helps me to keep my purchased inputs at a minimum. Sure, it requires a little extra work. It makes me walk my fields to look them over often. I get to know my farm this way, every piece of it. I don’t know of a way to be better connected to my farm, the woodlands or the animals who live here.

Last year, my corn planter skipped like crazy. I would up with it only planting half of a crop! Most people would have started over or mowed it all down. I persisted. Even though my field looked sparse when driving by on the road, it yielded very well. I hand picked the ears , with the help of some great friends. My corn crib is still half full. I will have plenty to get me through to this years crop. Isn’t that all a farmer could ask for? To have enough, what a wonderful thing!

The bee trap is working successfully. The bees, under protest perhaps, are moving in to the hive and setting up their home there. The rains of yesterday and today will sprout the oat crop and keep the fresh grass growing nicely. I will work horses on the sled and wagon as I prep for the coming work season. I will also work my brain, as we travel around the farm, planning for crops, improvements, and tasks that need completed. I will do all of this under the promise in the sky… even when I can’t see it.

Feeling Trapped
April 18, 2017, 10:16 pm
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April 18, 2017

Whew, what a spring! New babies have been the “order of the day”. All of them, human, beef, pigs and sheep are all doing very well. Abby continues with her training. I am trying to balance work, great weather, early weeds and shifting priorities. Today, I spent part of the afternoon setting up a honey bee trap. I hope to convince the ladies that a hive is a much better place to live, than the wall of a house.

I have only tried this once. The last time I failed miserably. This time, I educated myself a little more. I also have the good fortune of the bees being closer to the ground. They are actually pretty tame and tolerated my interference very well.

I waited until midafternoon when many of the bees were flying. I pulled off the siding and found the bee entrance. I sealed up almost all of the opening. I used fiberglass insulation, torn into pieces and poked into place with a flat screwdriver. I left an opening that was about an inch and a half long. The bees flew in and out while I worked.

Next, I fashioned a funnel using a sanitary flange, a 4 to 2 reducer and hardware cloth covered with window screen. After assembly, I used duct tape to help keep everything in place. I screwed the flange right to the wall over the opening. I caulked around it with silicone and watched for a minute. Sure enough, the bees were soon coming out of the funnel opening, but they couldn’t find their way back in.

I placed a “nuc” hive on a stepladder and strapped it solid with a ratchet strap. I placed the hive body and ladder just a couple inches away from the end of the funnel.


After a couple of hours, the bees were confused, but starting to check out the new home I made for them. There are a few frames of drawn out comb. There are two frames of capped honey. Once the ladies start inspecting the new place, my hope is they will be convinced to stay. I will check on them in the morning. I believe this was a small swarm that invaded the house wall. I hope they will be convinced to stay in the hive before their numbers build up.

None of us like change, many of us feel trapped. I can see light at the end of my own tunnel. My hope is that the bees will see, not only their way out, but also their way in, as they leave one place for another. It is much better to relocate than to eradicate! My hat is off to the pest company that wouldn’t kill the honeybees!

I will keep you all informed of my progress. The worst thing that may happen, is that the bees will leave the house wall, swarm and fly off completely avoiding my hive body. That would be bad for me, but the homeowners still win as the bees leave their home. The bees will then hopefully find a great place to live, somewhere out of harm’s way. If they make the “nuc” their home, I will move them to my bee yard, watch over them and help them to survive….. in exchange for a little honey of course!

New Filly !
April 7, 2017, 9:16 pm
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April 7, 2017

On April fourth, we welcomed our newest granddaughter. She is a spirited filly, of good stock and well bred. Her lineage goes back all the way to Scotland, Wales and Ireland on the grandsire’s side. On the dam’s side she traces back to England and eastern Europe. She is a beauty and a joy to hold!

We have many farm babies at the moment. Spring on a farm is a wonderful thing. New babies, any time of year, in any household are a blessing. I tell you true, we sure are counting ours! Farm work has paused. The weather makes us all wait. This little one came as we stood waiting on the rain. She chose to come when there was no field work to be done…no matter, we wouldn’t have missed her arrival for anything!