Cooped Up
August 30, 2014, 7:44 pm
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Our hens and Mr. Tom

Our hens and Mr. Tom

August 30, 2014

Being cooped up isn’t always bad. Our new hens are being penned up so they learn their new home. It is a safe place that protects them from weather and wildlife that might not be so kind to them. Very soon they will be allowed to free range. They will stay out much of the day, returning home whenever they want, but especially at night to roost.

There have been times when I was cooped up, not allowed to roam freely. One time that comes to mind is boot camp in Fort Knox Kentucky. 😮 Even that was good for me…or so my Drill Instructor said.

The kids are almost all back in school. They are cooped up during the day. They too come home to roost…at least for a little while longer. One day they will roam about freely. The hope is that they learned to make their way, but didn’t forget where the roost is located.

At work, off the farm, some days I too feel penned up. I guess it is to make being home that much better. Work provides the means to live. So, work to live…don’t live to work. Spend time at the roost with the ones you love and enjoy your time together. You can always make more “money”…but “time” is gone forever!

The Looming Storm
August 29, 2014, 10:34 pm
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The beauty in the storm

The beauty in the storm

August 29, 2014

The dark days that swallow a man, are mostly man-made. Heaping fret and worry upon yourself, is for nothing. I have been consumed by the fire created in my own mind. The desire to change things, take back something that I said or avoid a problem can eat a man from the inside out.

Sadness, pain, heartache and worry are necessary to make the good times even sweeter. All of us have traveled down a lonesome road. The key is to find the sun. Look for the bright spot and let go, forgive and forget, clinging only to the lesson and perhaps a memory or two, as you heal body and soul.

Life is a journey. The road is not always smooth, but in every bump awaits a chance to shine. I struggled for a while at a job that I hated. I have lost loved ones close to me, failed in love and business, but I am stronger for each thing. I can be a resource for others when they are down, sharing my experiences and perhaps a smile at someone’s darkest hour.

I hope that is the reason for some of the pain that I have endured. That I may take away a lesson and impart wisdom for the sake of someone else. Giving from within, touching a memory and maybe sharing a tear with a friend, has great power. That kind of power mends broken hearts, seals friendships and makes the world a better place.

Storms never last. The sun and rainbows show the promise of a new day. When you have a choice, be the sun. Let your warmth touch everything around you. It won’t hurt you at all and it may help another much more than you’ll ever know.

Holy Cow What a Day
August 28, 2014, 10:17 pm
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One of the girls

One of the girls

August 28, 2014

My day started early, long before sunrise. As I walked the dogs, I got the chance to get lost in the night sky. It was beautiful. The stars were shining brightly. The moon just a sliver, allowed the stars to be the focal point. It was awesome!

The dogs and I shared a couple of minutes of friendship, before I left for work. The morning was cool and fall like. Oh how I wished that I could have spent the day splitting wood or better yet, working horses! I left the farm with a heavy heart.

The day was busy and passed by quite quickly. I was soon on my way home, singing with the radio. I butchered a few songs while I relaxed during the drive. Supper was waiting when I walked in the door, along with a wonderful hug…and like the morning stars…it was awesome!

Chores were done quickly so that I had time to go get our bull. We are half owners in Solomon, a Murray Grey. He was so happy to get with the girls even though they are all “in the family way”. Very soon calves will hit the ground. I want him to breed the ladies back as soon as possible, so as to reset their clocks and make for spring and summer babies.

I filled the water troughs as the sun began to set and darkness fell. I was satisfied with my progress, tired and content. I shut the barn door and headed for the house thinking to myself… Holy cow, what a day!

Eggs Actly
August 27, 2014, 9:54 pm
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Pullet Egg

Pullet Egg

August 27, 2014

This little egg is from one of our pullets. These little girls are just starting to lay. They take their job seriously. They give all they have and I am thankful. After all, who could ask for more than that?

The little ladies are getting used to their coop. They seem to be happy. Today we got ten eggs from ten hens. I ask you is that 100% or 1000% ? All I know is that it is a grand slam! A hen lays one egg a day when everything is perfect…. so, I’d say they like it here 😮

We have been almost six weeks without hens. This is one of the longest stretches in my life, for buying grocery store eggs. I hope it is a very long time before I have to do it again. In my opinion, there is nothing better than farm fresh, free-range eggs… and brown ones to boot!

Some will say that I am crazy, white or brown makes no difference. Perhaps they are correct, but for me, brown are best. The freshness is only a problem when you boil them. The shell sticks to the egg white, because a “gas layer” has not had time to form inside the shell. I’m okay with that… I’ll eat mine fresh , thank you very much.

Eggs bought in the local store, have been around awhile. Sure they are safe to eat, have a “sell by date” and are pretty good to most folks. I say however, if those same folks tried fresh eggs from happy, free range hens…they might want a change too.

If beer is best when “brewed from a mountain stream”, perhaps that is why eggs taste so good from hens who drink fresh water, eat grass and bugs along with choice grains, in a life free from stress. Agree or not its up to you, but I say , “That is “eggs actly” why they taste so good!

A Beautiful Thing!
August 26, 2014, 10:23 pm
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Finally ready for Winter

Finally ready for Winter

August 26, 2014

It was a jam packed day, but I got all of my hay hauled home from across town. I enlisted the help of a neighbor and new friend. He and I have been trading labor and equipment and both of us are better off for it.

My work schedule off the farm has been intense, but in spite of the extra shifts, I am keeping up with the farm work. This is no small task this year with our wet weather. I have plenty more to do, but having the winter hay situation under control is a beautiful thing!

We still have small bales to make from the large round ones for our horses. That job is almost fun to do. It requires a little help, but usually its all family, so we make a day of it. There is food to share, fun to have and it doesn’t feel like work 😮

I began to gather wood. There is much to do, but seeing the pile start to grow makes me feel good. It will need to be cut smaller then split, but the pile is starting to grow none the less.

We are having some hot afternoons. The temperature is in the high 8o’s, F. It is muggy and I don’t like to work in it. The corn , however, is loving it. The ears are growing and looking good. I am pleased with the crop so far.

So, as I close this post, tired from a couple of satisfying days, all I can keep saying is; “It’s a beautiful thing!”

It's a start!

It’s a start!

It’s a Cinch!
August 20, 2014, 9:17 pm
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Cinch checks out a kitty

Cinch checks out a kitty

August 20, 2014

Our dog Max is so spoiled…we got him a pet! Well, not really, a little boy in North Perry wanted his five year old Border Collie to live on a farm. Cinch came today, to live with us…and Max of course.

What a wet, hot, stormy day it was today! we now have gotten almost three inches of rain since Monday. It is very wet. Frogs are sitting on our patio to dry their feet off and ducks are carrying umbrellas!

Farming has stopped for now, but this is when I plan and rest up. All is well at Riceland, in fact you could say …it’s a cinch!

Roundbale Roundup
August 18, 2014, 8:12 pm
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I just got to get them home

I just got to get them home

Wow what a busy week I had last week! I call it vacation, but some would call it work … not me man… I had a great time! I farmed steady for nine and a half days. I had great weather, so I made use of every bit of it that I could.

I combined oats for a neighbor. I made several small fields of second cutting hay. We even plastic wrapped a few for silage to be used this coming winter. I got to visit with my nephew and a few friends, My wife and I shared some time together and even the dog knows me again!

We are getting ready for a firewood marathon. We need to cut and split a small mountain of wood. The sugarhouse needs more as well as home heating fuel. It’s time to get the last of it done. These present and unseasonably cool days, makes me want to see this job done!

Farmer’s Almanac says another cold winter headed our way. I plan to keep my shoulder to the wheel to make damn sure we are ready. Plenty of work remains, but for now we are caught up and that is a great feeling!

Summer Slumber

Three of our girls resting

Three of our girls resting

August 13, 2014

A very busy off farm work schedule along with the demanding work around this farm, has kept me from writing for a while. I am currently enjoying a few days of rest, thanks in part, to the rain. Even the cows were resting this morning in the recently harvested experimental oats and buckwheat field.

The experiment went well for the most part, but I didn’t seed it heavy enough. I did harvest a few round bales for feeding this winter, but would not repeat the experiment. There are other forages that do better in the same time frame. Sorghum/Sudan grass does better. I proved that too in a side by side comparison this season.

I am an ambassador for both oats and buckwheat in other applications. Buckwheat “mines” the soil for nutrients. When incorporated back into the soil, buckwheat makes those nutrients available for the next crop. Buckwheat also lures all sorts of beneficial bugs, especially pollinators.

Oats grow well in spring and fall. They can be baled or grazed along with harvesting them for the grain and straw. I use them often to follow corn and as a nurse crop for grasses and legumes. The grain makes great horse feed, but I prefer speltz due to my work load and our cold clay soils.

I managed to get all of our second cutting hay made, along with the forage buckwheat and oats and sorghum/Sudan grass. All the bales were made without any rain on them… a real feat this year! I have one more field of clover second cutting, that will be made into balage for our cows. The silage type bales will be wrapped in plastic and resemble big marshmallows.

Our corn, planted June tenth, is doing well. Sure, there is better looking corn around, but my small field of open pollenated corn will feed our sow herd all winter. I am fine with that 😮 The fodder will also be used as a snack for the cows once the ears have been picked and stored.

Plenty of work awaits me, but it feels very good to be caught up for now and enjoying a few days of fun. A trip to Holmes county yesterday, made for laughs shared and memories made with Connie. We bought a “chicken Tractor” from an Amish man who makes them from conduit and small square wire. They are light and portable, yet strong and durable …. more on this topic later.

Our corn towers above the five foot fence

Our corn towers above the five foot fence