Watching and Waiting
July 29, 2013, 6:29 pm
Filed under: July 2013 | Tags: ,
Litte Julianne with great gramma

Litte Julianne with great gramma

July 29, 2013

Just like my wife Connie watching over our little ones, I am watching the weather and waiting for the timing to be right 😮 I cannot believe that July is almost gone and I am so very far behind,,,but I haven’t spent a single minute watering anything! We got another 4 plus inches of rain last week.

Today I cut a small field of hay. It is still looking pretty good, but I don’t know if the weather will let me get it in or not before it gets washed. I have a plan to bale our straw from the speltz field and make this little field. I still don’t have any hay made for the horses yet. I do have a small amount of cow and sheep hay, but it’s too dusty to feed to the horses.

I also mowed my oat field. The plan was to cut them in June and make oat hay. The animals really like it. The oats were planted as a nurse crop for next years hay. They have gone to seed, but are not quite ripe. I will bale oats, weeds and grass. The combination will make great bedding for our pig herd complete with a built in snack! I’m sure as they snuggle down in mid-winter in the fluffy straw and grass..they will be thankful for my efforts… I bet they will even squeal about it 😮

The biggest thing about all this waiting around is, that Ikeep finding things that need done. My list is growing but that’s alright, I like having things to do…. and believe me … I do.  😮


“Play”ing Around
July 19, 2013, 2:31 pm
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Greatgrandson Jackson talks to the girls!

Greatgrandson Jackson talks to the girls!

July 19, 2013

We had a party over the fourth of July. It was well attended by family. Everyone had a good day “down on the farm”. We all had to walk around the mud…well all of us except the little ones who delighted in it.

Connie and I spent the last couple of days in Cleveland. We vacationed there 😮  We took in the Titanic exhibit at the Science Center on Wednesday. Thursday morning found us at the Museum of Natural History. Then, in the evening we went to the State Theater and saw  “The Lion King”.

This is something way out of character for me. The weatherman said more rain and HOT…so we went and had a great time. We were in air conditioning most everywhere we went. We saw many interesting things. The Lion King was our first ever play … and it was AWESOME!

I have plenty to do here, but the short break did us good. We rested and did things that were “outside of our box”. The city was easy to get around in, thanks in part to GPS, but we were never lost. All of the folks we met were kind and helpful. It was a good time.

This morning on our return trip we went to the West Side Market. What a neat place. It was full of vendors selling all sorts of food items. The produce, meats and cheeses were fresh and abundant. Seeing all the produce made me homesick. The place was clean and neat. The people we met there were helpful and not pushy. I will most assuredly go again some day.

Ok… vacation behind us… and all the “Play”ing around done… it’s back to work. The weather looks promising for what I have on my list. I’ll let you know how it goes 😮


Spelt has been Harvested
July 17, 2013, 7:48 am
Filed under: July 2013 | Tags: ,
A year's worth of horse feed

A year’s worth of horse feed

July 17, 2013

Some people grow spelt to be used for flour. Spelt flour can be used by folks who can’t eat wheat. I grow spelt to feed my draft horses. It, along with salt and mineral, is a perfect wholesome food that the horses love to eat. It has all the protein they need, even when working hard on the farm.

I got the combine out of the mud. We made repairs to get it running again. It rattled some because of our unconventional fix, but it worked perfect as I got more spelt harvested. I had to go around a big wet spot. I also had to leave a wide strip on the west side of the field…. BUT I have enough in my bin to feed my draft horses for a whole year 😮

I do hope to gather in the rest of the spelt. Perhaps a few more days of drying and I can get them. I will bale straw later this week and hope to get a year’s supply of that too. The big field will then become home to our sow herd. They can glean the field, wallow in the mud and spend the rest of the summer on pasture.

This has been a year of small successes. I will add the spelt harvest to that list. Sure I hope to get more, but for now I have enough. What I miss, the sows will eat, so nothing is wasted. My small farming is a hoot to some, but for me It’s awesome.

I still have not cut any more hay. The hot muggy days with hay laying on wet ground will make a dusty bunch of low quality hay that is only fit for cows. I need good, dry, well made hay, even if it is a bit mature. The cows eat it better and it is just what the horses need. Patience is a virtue they say.. so far it’s been more of a pain in the butt….. I will continue to work on that “virtue” part 😮 ….  while I wait on the weather.


Saving the Ladies
July 15, 2013, 8:50 am
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Getting the bee tree ready to move

Getting the bee tree ready to move

July 15, 2013

Last Friday I went to get another bee tree. It seems odd that I have gotten two in one year. In fact, this tree actually had two seperate hives in it. One was in the section you see with the climber in, the other one is right next to it.

We managed to stuff paper towels in all the entrance holes, keeping most of the bees inside while we worked. It pays to start a “bee tree” job early in the morning…while the bees are still sleeping 😮

Except for the male bees called “drones”, a hive is made up of all female bees. The drones service the queen. They are attended to by “nurse” bees, just like the “queen”. Drones have no stinger and do no work what-so-ever. The queen runs the hive, lays all the eggs or “brood”, and runs a tight ship!

The balance of the hive, the worker bees, are all ladies. I feel good about rescuing them from any plight they may be in. These last trees that I got were scheduled for removal. They were mostly dead and near houses. My friend feels as I do about saving these beneficial insects. He calls me and together, we try to do the right thing.

This tree had to be felled. One section of the old tree broke open when it landed. The hive got a little miffed. I used a little smoke, a rachet strap and a chainsaw to quickly close the section of log back up. It worked well. The other section just needed to be cut from the downed tree…piece of cake!

I brought both sections home and placed them out back. I will deal with them all later. The broken section will have to be opened and the bees removed before winter. I will do it soon so that they have time to get settled in their new home before the winter winds are howling.

Work is piling up, but I am not bored. Today, I will rescue and repair the combine that spent the night in the field stuck in the mud. I must unload the grain and get set up to try that combine job again. The sun is shining and the honeybees are working the flower blooms in the back yard. It will be a good day.  😮


Let Me Tell You About My Day
July 14, 2013, 9:10 pm
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Nuff Said!

Nuff Said!

July 14, 2013

After a few days off and no rain, I walked the hay fields and found them to still be too wet to make dry hay. The speltz field however, felt pretty good. I had hooked to the combine yesterday and was all greased up and ready to go.

I entered the first field and except for a wet spot on one end, it was good to go. I managed to get that whole field done. I did notice though, that the last few rounds were pretty light, as far as, the grain went. I ws not too worried because the next field, the grain was heavy and full.

I made two rounds in the next field and stopped to check the grain bin, surely it would be 1/2 full. It was almost empty!  That was when I discovered a big hole in the bottom of the elevator that sends the grain to the bin. A very nice trail of speltz was on the ground for both rounds… I didn’t even go look at the last rounds in the other field 😮

I retrieved some duct tape and was back in business in just a few minutes. I was very pleased with myself. I was daydreaming about some very nice bales of straw when I felt the machine go down. It had broken through the mud. I was able to get out, but did leave some ruts and a few choice words behind.

The mud knocked a drive chain off. I noticed that right as the machine plugged. I fixed the chain, unplugged the machine and made a promise to God to lose more weight! I was soaked and dang near dehydrated. I went to the house for water and some shade.

After a short break, I hit the job with a new plan. I would go around that wet place, divide the field into a third, and get that part in a day or two after some more drying. I almost got stuck again while splitting the field. I almost got stuck still again as I rounded the end, but both times, luck was with me.

I emptied the machine and went back at it. I got about another 100 yards when we sunk out of sight. I was about to give up until I had some help and a long chain. I say about to, because this is when the combine jumped off the do-dad that hooks it to the tractor. The tractor got right out! … Taking the PTO shaft right out of the machine with it.

I see parts in the mud. Mud is packed everywhere. The tractor tires are full in between the fenders and the wheels. They look more like a steam roller than a tractor tire … I quit for the night 😮

I did get an almost full gravity wagon of some of the nicest speltz I have ever grown. We shall see how , when, and if, I can get the rest of them off. Did I tell you I had a difficult day?…. Well at least my hay didn’t get rained on 😮


Raspberry Delight
July 11, 2013, 10:48 pm
Filed under: July 2013 | Tags: ,
First year plants showing off!

First year plants showing off!

July 11, 2013

These are our first raspberrys in this bed. We have tried other locations, but this one is proving to be the best. The rain has made weeding the bed an almost a forgotten task, but the berries don’t care. They are giving us fruit daily. The grandkids ate a bushel I think, but there are still plenty to be enjoyed.

I fondly remember the big patch of raspberries that my grandpa and gramma Rice had. They grew in the corner of the hayfield near the house. The rows were long forgotten, but the big unruly patch yielded what seemed like “tons” of raspberries. My gramma, who never wasted anything, picked those berries by the bucket full. We ate them all year long thanks to her efforts and a freezer.

I can close my eyes and taste the freshly churned homemade ice cream. The raspberries were thrown in when the ice cream was almost done and YUM, what a delight it was to eat. I pick our berries as they ripen. I  always eat the biggest, ripest one…savoring the taste and remembering my gramma. It truly is a Raspberry Delight 😮

July 10, 2013, 1:47 pm
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Cattle grazingthe west pasture

Cattle grazing the west pasture

July 10, 2013

In the 1840’s people flocked to the gold fields in California and then Alaska. They beat themselves up looking for “paydirt”. This dirt was laden with gold and made many men rich beyond their dreams.

I searched for treasure too, but it was not for gold that I searched. I wanted a farm. I wanted one close to my family with a small woods and a secondary water source. We looked for quite a while but could not find one that we could afford or one that met our criteria.

I found this patch of forgotten land. There were no buildings, no fences and it had been years since a plow had turned any soil. The weeds and brush were taking over, but I saw promise. We went to our knees and put our dreams and plans in God’s hands. It was over twenty years ago, that we hit “praydirt”. This farm makes me feel rich beyond my dreams.

I have carved out a place for me and my family. We are pretty self-suffient here growing our food and family. I am pleased with my efforts, even though today, some of my plans are under water…thanks to our constant and recent rains. This farm defines me. I have found my place in the universe and I am happy.

I give back to people, who like me once, are searching for the way to farm or garden. I teach forestry to young people and anyone searching for answers. I give advice freely and do so because I have been enriched and filled beyond measure. This farm truly is a gold mine for me when it comes to satisfaction…. one day the checkbook might even reflect it too 😮


Raised Beds and Potatoes
July 5, 2013, 9:01 pm
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Red potatoes starting to bloom

Red potatoes starting to bloom

July 5, 2013

Our raised beds are the only part of our gardening efforts that are positive this year. I plant a few potatoes for early summer eating, to hold us over until the main crop is ready later in the season.

I like the early red ones in potato salad or cooked with the skins on and smothered in hamburger gravy. It is a yummy treat that I remember from my childhood. My mother loved them too.

In the rear of the photograph, you can see the ripening speltz. They will be ready to harvest later in the month. It is neat to see the “amber waves of grain” as it ripens in the sun….. those days that we see the sun around all the raindrops. 😮

Summer flowers are blooming around the yard. The purple cone flowers are some of my favorites. I guess they like all this rain, as much as,the grass. The lawn looks pretty good as do our pastures. I think it is good to focus on the successes now and then. It will help keep a man sane!


Backyard Chicken … Yum!
July 4, 2013, 11:53 am
Filed under: July 2013
Chickens almost ready to go to freezer camp

Chickens almost ready to go to freezer camp

July 4, 2013

These chickens are doing great. We started out with 25 chicks and still have 22. The three we lost along the way is just part of the process sometimes. One got its head stuck in the wire somehow and died. The other two we lost were the result of our cold spring and them piling up on each other for warmth.

The 22 are almost ready to be butchered. They are approaching seven weeks old. They will dress out around 4 to 5 pounds. That is some nice meat I will tell you 😮

Butchering day will start early while it is still somewhat cool. Dressed birds will be cooled in ice water then packed in ice for 24 hours. I like them to go through rigor mortis before cuting and packaging for the freezer. I believe it makes them even more tender.

This is a pretty good way to raise over a hundred pounds of protein for your family in just seven weeks. It is fairly easy, but having the portable pens is the best way that I have found to raise them. The pen is moved each day allowing the birds access to new grass, ground and bugs. Their feeder is kept full, but the free ranging, keeps the birds content and clean. This year’s rains have made it a bit muddy at times, but that is the exception not the rule.

This pen can be pulled around a backyard and does not require a farm. The lawn, after the birds have passed over it, will not need fertilized for quite a while! It is not messy and should be considered by anyone wanting to raise part of their own food.

Move them daily, keep the water and feeders full and fresh. Watch them grow … and enjoy. Another blog will describe the butchering process so stay tuned. This pen for 25 birds is 8×8 feet and as high as a roll of chicken wire just to make it easy. I did build it a bit heavy to move…but no raccoons have broken into our pen either … They like chicken too!


Time and the Tides
July 3, 2013, 9:29 am
Filed under: July 2013
Cody, wetting a line.

Cody, wetting a line.

July 3, 2013

Time and the tides wait for no man – Geoffrey Chaucer

This statement is so very true…. Our son and his faimly came home for a visit from Montana. It has been too many years since we have seen them. The grandkids have grown like kids do, but it makes you stop and wonder where the years went.

The hay still stands in our meadows. The rainy weather making it impossible to make hay. The corn is trying to grow in the saturated soil. It is at least enjoying the hot muggy days. I am not.

I feel as if I am wishing my life away as I wait for haymaking weather. I keep checking the ten day forecast. The symbols for storms and rain are all that I see. I look at my grandchildren and other markers for aging and realize that rain or not, another day is passing by… I need to seize it!

My grandson has no problem finding all sorts of things to do. He runs from here to there excitedly discovering lots of things on the farm. He helps with chores, pets the animals, yet finds plenty of time to sit and fish. I think at his young age, he has life figured out. He knows to rush when you need to, but leave time for resting and all the really important things that life brings.

I watch him fish and it makes me slow down. I remember when my oldest son would fish too. There was nothing in his life more important than fishing. I wish I would have taken more time to sit and fish with him. Those days are gone, never to be re-gained. He is now the one busy, trying to make ends meet…. but he is smart enough to still spend time fishing.

All is not lost for me. My fun and enjoyment comes from farming. I drown myself in it and am very happy. There is no work in it for me. I feed the animals and look after them. I talk to and touch them often. I watch my plants and crops grow. I make plans for many seasonal things, often planning two or even three years ahead.

It seems like “only yesterday ” for so many things, yet time has slipped away and even my red hair is mostly gray. I vow today to try and live more for each day. I want to make the most of them, take more time for friends and family, engage in writing more and doggone it … spend a little time fishing…. even though I really don’t like to fish 😮