Making the Earth move
May 30, 2012, 8:28 pm
Filed under: May 2012

modifying the sap unloading ramp

                                                          May 30, 2012

       We built the ramp of Earth, even before the sugarhouse was built. The ramp was in the wrong place, too tall and it made it hard to go out the gate. Today we began to modify the ramp. It is turning out well.

      Last year we got about 100 loads of ditch cleaning dirt when the state cleaned our front ditch. I pushed that wet, soggy, cat tail invested mess over the bank towards the sugarhouse. Now, a year later, what was once a quagmire will be used to make our old bank easier to mow.

      It is looking very good. It’s hard to believe what a guy can do with a machine, when he knows what he is doing 😮 I hope to mitigate several wet areas around the sugarhouse. It will make access easier and be much nicer to look at.

      I baled the last of the hay we had down. Now we just wait on the weather to cut some more. I am sure next week we will be back at it. The only showers are now for Friday. We didn’t get hardly any rain these last few storms, just enough to complicate haymaking.

      I am pleased tonight. All the hay is caught up, chores are done, a few things got crossed off the list and the Earth is moving in a good direction. There is much to be happy about.

Summer Begins
May 29, 2012, 7:43 am
Filed under: May 2012

Noah … digging in the dirt

                                                       May 29, 2012

      The Memorial Day holiday is behind us. School is back in session for just a few more days, but according to the amusement parks and beaches, summer has now begun. I say, let’s get at it 😮

      I guess it’s time to do what you love. If you enjoy sports, swimming or laying on the sandy beach, now is the time to immerse yourself in those endeavors. Perhaps you enjoy gardening or digging in the dirt like my boar Noah, well just like the beach goers, now is the time to get at it.

      The soil is just right for growing stuff. The temperature has warmed the dirt and seeds planted, pop in just a few days. Flowers, transplanted from pots to the warm bed, reward in brilliant blooms. This is a great time of year, get out and enjoy it.

      I will also say, that for those of you who enjoy keeping a lawn in pristine condition, this is surely the time you enjoy most. I cut our grass, fight the edges and borders with a weed-eater and apply mulch to keep the weeds under control. I don’t, however, enjoy this type of work. I like the look once it’s done, but am not too crazy about doing it.

      The farm work is stacked like cord wood. Everywhere I look a job is waiting or perhaps even a little past due. I think this year it is because of our early spring and summer, as we run almost a month ahead of schedule. I am keeping up, but just barely. The good thing is, that I am not bored!

      The weather is about to head into a rainy period. I will use the time to rest, work on some inside projects and plan for summer. I guess it is just beginning 😮


A Day for Remembering
May 28, 2012, 8:30 am
Filed under: May 2012

Mom’s Place

                                                      May 28, 2012

      Today is Memorial Day. It is a day set aside to honor and remember the men and women who served our country , especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I will say, that anyone who served gave some, but some gave all.

     We also remember loved ones who have passed from this life. I will sit quiet for a while today to remember many of my family and friends who are now gone. These are people who shaped my life, instilled values and gave me some of the best memories that I have.

      Last night, I watched the old movie “Sargent York”. It is a favorite of mine. I hope one day to go see his farm in Tennessee. The story is about a simple country boy, who overcame outstanding odds to save his friends from machine gun fire.

      Sargent York, won the Congressional Medal of Honor along with several other medals for bravery above and beyond the call of duty. I get goosebumps every time they show him getting the medal. He was a man who sought only to save his pals without regard to his own safety..it would be nice to have a friend like that … or better yet … to be that friend!

      I will remember many today, including men whom I served with in the Ohio Army National Guard. We were minutemen, standing ready at a time when America needed us. I still hold her dear and cherish the oath that I took.

     With my hand over my heart, I will ask God to bless America and to watch over those who serve and protect. I will ask him to make sure that I never forget her heroes like Sargent York and all of those men and women who cared enough to answer the call …. Men like my father-in-law who humbly carried his stories to the grave, leaving his pain buried deep inside himself.

Got “em ” all in!
May 27, 2012, 7:18 pm
Filed under: May 2012

Humble beginnings 1500 plants planted

                                                         May 27, 2012

      Whew, we finished planting the strips. It took us just about eight hours. We broke it into two mornings and finished each day at lunchtime. We had good help, a few friends and some family. It went well.

      This was our first attempt at planting this way. We learned a few things along the way. We have plans for next time regarding the number of people needed and what we will do different from an equipment perspective.  We were professionals by the time we were on the last flat of plants.

      The standing hay between the strips will be cut soon. It is in great shape and is nothing short of second cutting. The growth is lush, succulent and packed with nutrition. I just need the weather to cooperate…. I am sure it will, all in good time 😮

      We gave the irrigation a trial run. It worked well. Our pond will provide the needed moisture for the growing plants. The drip tape was laid at the same time the plastic covered beds were built. This whole process is nothing short of amazing to me.

      I can see where gardeners in small spaces can have a profitable business or simply raise a year’s worth of produce for a family. The sky is the limit, as they say. If our beds were in one long row, it would measure over three-quarters of a mile… just short of 4000 feet. 

     Our “pop-up” showers are making hay impossible. They won’t give us enough rain to help the crops either, but then again, we have gotten 1/4 inch since yesterday… I guess everything appreciates it…. especially the lawn!


Making hay while the sunshines!
May 26, 2012, 7:41 pm
Filed under: May 2012

First round bale of 2012

                                                        May 26, 2012

      The weather continues to be very nice, although too dang hot for us fat guys! The planting is almost done. The hay season is in full swing. The first cutting is a little light, but early. The second cutting may be awesome…unless it stays dry.

      I cut some more hay and sure enough, now the weatherman says, “possible pop-up showers”. This means just enough rain to delay hay making but not enough to water the newly planted crops. I am hoping to get a few more bales made yet today. Then I am hoping for a good old soaker to make everything continue to be green and lush. 

     We began planting the pumpkins in the strips. It is going well for our first venture. We are about half way done and well pleased with our efforts thus far. The only downside is that there isn’t much the horses can do for that job … it’s all human hand work 😮

      Planting, haying, lambing and chores, is keeping this guy busy. I am grateful for the help that I am getting. It would be hard to get it all done, totally alone … not to mention that I would look foolish out there talking to myself!

      It looks like a busy week next week too. The good thing is, that we are finding time to sit on the patio in the evening. It is a restful, relaxing place. I think we even charge our batteries a little by sitting there.


Kicking Up Dust
May 23, 2012, 8:33 am
Filed under: May 2012

Hoss, Duke and Knight kick up a little dust

                                                     May 23, 2012

      One more photo of the horses spreading the trace minerals. The dust was getting a little excessive, making us wonder where all the mud went 😮 The horses did good that day. I worked up a little lather on them, but only from honest work… not abuse!

      The rain forecast for the last two days missed us. I watered a few transplants in the garden last night with a water can. The rain will surely come. I am sure of this because I cut hay yesterday. Well, okay, it may hold off until I get the hay in, but cutting hay will bring rain the same way washing your car will do it.

      I have lots of items on my list today. Cutting more hay ranks as number one. I must also get the rake and baler ready to go. There are a few more large pieces of wood to cut and split, roosts need built in the new chicken house and a wagon load of tender young plants needs to be planted. I am waiting for a little help on that job.

      The fields and woods are a beautiful green. These late spring days are wonderful. Some hot weather is coming and with it probably some rain, but in the meantime, we will rush around, working on the list and will surely kick up some dust!


It was a day for work
May 22, 2012, 11:50 am
Filed under: May 2012

3 Belgians at work

                                                       May 22, 2012

      The weather continues to be good for farmers. They said we might get some rain overnight, but it missed us. I am planning to mow hay today. It is early, but the weather looks awesome.

      I had an appointment today that went well. I now have the afternoon to do farm work. I am looking forward to the peace that comes with that work. I was born to farm… I should have followed my heart earlier in life.

      The overcast skies look menacing, but the rain is elusive. I could use a little on the newly planted corn and garden. I am thinking that if I cut some hay, it might surely rain 😮  If it stays away, at least I got my hay down.

      The horses in the picture above, belong to a man I know in Burton, Ohio. He was unaware that I got a picture while he worked. The horses and men were all in high gear the day I took the picture… It was just that kind of day…. Just like today 😮


One way to plant peppers!
May 20, 2012, 9:41 am
Filed under: May 2012

The Miller children planting peppers

                                                     May 20, 2012

      I snapped this picture just the other day. I was at my friend’s farm in Geauga county Ohio. I was there to talk with him and see about renting his mulch layer. I arrived just in time to watch the children finish planting the pepper crop.

      They were on the second day of planting. The plastic covered beds get two rows planted in each one. The children finished at lunchtime. The total amount planted was 27,000. Yes, twenty-seven thousand! They had them all planted in just two long mornings.

      It was fun watching them go at it. They learned from their older siblings and mom and dad of course. My buddy has raised produce now for almost ten years. He does have many of the specialized tools that make the job easier, but he also has a working family who enjoys being together.

      The transplanter, seen in the photo, was made by Marvin’s brother. It is a well made tool. It will plant in row spacings of twelve or sixteen inch. It puts the water and fertilizer in each hole that it pokes in the plastic. The children push the tender plants down into the hole over and over again 😮

      The horses too make this job easier. They walk very slow and very steady. It makes them bored right along with the kids, but both groups stay at it, no complaining until the job is complete. It was really something to see…. Even though I have watched the spectacle many times, I am always taken aback by how well everything goes.

      I hope to plant just shy of one thousand plants in our formed beds. I will plant without the luxury of a transplanter. The work will be done by hand..probably with a little complaining…. if only from my knees 😮

      So, a new chapter unfolds for us. We shall see where it goes. One thing I learned for sure, is that there is more than one way to plant peppers!


Forming the Beds
May 19, 2012, 9:12 pm
Filed under: May 2012

Plastic mulch laid on the beds

                                                       May 19, 2012

      What a long yet pleasing day 😮 I had some help from my Amish buddy Marvin. He and I formed the pumpkin beds and laid the weed block. He has a machine that does this all in one pass. I am grateful to him for letting me tap his knowledge and use his equipment.

      The mulch was laid in the strips that I had plowed earlier this month. We got the strips worked into a nice seedbed with the disc harrow and spike toothed drag. The loose fertile dirt was easy to work. The hours spent getting it all ready was well worth the effort.

      The “Plastic Mulch Layer” is a piece of equipment designed to be pulled along the soil. It forms the bed, lays a section of drip tape,  lays and covers the plastic mulch all in one smooth operation. This machine saved countless hours of work. It did an awesome job.

      Marvin and his family grow produce for a local market. They have much specialized equipment and even more experience for growing vegetables. I am just planning for some squash and pumpkins and perhaps a little bit of other stuff, on a small trial basis.

      My field of dreams is taking shape. The Root-A-Tiller is working well over on the edge of the field. The strips of hay look great. The garden strips are now laid out and looking professional. I just have to do all the planting yet.

      We managed to get the beds all formed, four acres of corn planted and a few things put away. I am just about all in, but what a great day. Now, speaking of beds … I’m going to go get ready to crawl into mine!


Soil Preparation
May 18, 2012, 9:33 pm
Filed under: May 2012

Hoss, Duke and Knight stir up the dust

                                                    May 18, 2012

      After getting their feet trimmed and their shoes reset, the horses and I spread soil amendments in the evening sun. The sun was hot, but a breeze made it comfortable. The horses did great in the soft soil and my home-made spreader worked well.

      My Amish buddy is at the lines. He is not any more comfortable in front of the camera than he is behind it. I snapped a few pictures as he helped me get the field corn ground ready for planting.

      The corn planter has a broken chain that I didn’t see when I put it away. I will get one tomorrow and hopefully the corn will be planted by the end of the day.

      We are still working on preparing the strips where pumpkins will be grown. The main garden also needs a bit more effort. All in good time, the work is progressing, the weather is cooperating and help is lining up. I am a man blessed … and I am thankful.

      I saw a few fields of freshly cut hay. I am thinking that job is out of reach for me just yet, but haying is right around the corner. I will continue to keep working in the dirt. Once the planting is all done, then I will start to plan the harvest of our hay… all in good time. The sun is making it grow after a wet time… it will wait..for now 😮

      As this day closes, I am a happy man. I had a good day filled with fellowship, friends and good horses. We worked on a few problems, made a few plans and continued to prepare the soil…. It was a wonderful day!