Stop and Smell the Flowers
May 28, 2016, 1:21 pm
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May 28, 2016

Life gets so busy that we all get caught up in stress and worry. I just spent three and a half days pushing hard to get my corn planted. In that time the flowers around the farm started blooming. The lilacs smell awesome. The columbine like in the photo are a beautiful delicate flower and I almost missed them! I paused yesterday for a glass of iced tea and conversation with my wife. That little break was a great lift to my spirit.

I listened to my wife talk as she shared some concerns with me. We made plans. We talked about the pesky robin nested above our heads on the patio. I would shoo her away, but she is feeding four little babies. Once the chicks fly away, I will dismantle the nest and clean the mess. Until then I will watch the busy momma feed her little ones and dodge the bird poo.

The multi-flora rose bushes around the farm are starting to blossom. They have the sweetest smell. It fills the air and almost makes you appreciate this invasive, nasty, thorny plant. I sniff the breeze and relax, but I am making plans to hack away at that doggone multi-flora rose scattered around. It was once the latest , greatest thing for farmers. The government said it was, “Horse high and hog tight. Best living fence in the world.” Now whole farms are a thorny thicket thanks to this monster plant.

Oh well, I work at the problem plant here on our farm, but I confess, I do enjoy those spring blooms!

2016 Corn is Planted
May 25, 2016, 11:09 pm
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May 26, 2016

After three very full days of grueling tractor work, the 5 acres of corn ground has been plowed, disced and planted. I am happy but it is bittersweet. I put 31 hours on the tractor in three days, not counting chores. I am one tired fellow, but we did beat the rain. Tonight after chores, I brushed out my teams. I don’t know if they needed it, but I sure did.

They seem to forgive me. I brushed and petted and fussed over my guys. The new little girl got her fair share too. Tomorrow after putting the corn planter away and fixing a short in the fence, I will spend the day working horses. Abby will get her haircut and try on a collar…several times. She will get the hang of it and learn to trust me in the process.

I have two big logs to skid out of the woods to the sugarhouse as we start to assemble our woodpile for sugarwood. I am planning a frolic in June to split and fill the woodshed in one day. The work will be followed by eating and fishing. This will make for a fun day, but first we must get everything ready. As long as, I get to work horses doing it… I’m good with that!

What a beautiful sight
May 25, 2016, 7:35 am
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orel feeder

May 24, 2016

Yesterday, while plowing….and I use that term loosely, it was more like making loose dirt than anything organized, I saw a Baltimore oriole. They are beautiful birds! He was hanging out near the hummingbird feeder. I was taken by his black and orange feathers. My wife rigged up this feeder. I don’t know if we will see him again, but I sure hope so.

I finished the plowing marathon at just after nine last night. I crashed into a heap from the effects of too many night shifts in a row, followed by riding a bucking tractor all day. Speaking of bucking tractors, Discing that field will be a rough job. The waves of dirt look more like snow drifts than the usual flipped over sod found when the ground has been plowed with horses.

I look forward to the time when horses do 98% of the work around here. I would rather use them than tractors any day of the week. They are quieter. They do a better job in almost every regard. They are easy on my land and they make my heart sing. I will push forward today, scrambling to beat the rain. One more day of grumbling, but progress can be seen.

Hopefully in a week, the little corn plants will be breaking through the soil. I will be engaged in some sort of work with the horses and the orioles will grace our feeder. I hope they find a place to nest and stick around. They sure do brighten the landscape.

What a Week
May 23, 2016, 12:00 pm
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May 23,2016

I have had a tough schedule these last several days. It is time now to catch up on farm work. The weather is about to dump rain on us, so I will be pushing hard to get things done. These are the times when I, sadly, must put the horses aside and use a tractor for farm work. It is still farm work…but it is simply not the same as I push into the night, stopping only for fuel.

It is so much better when the horses and I work these fields. Working and sweating together, but resting and sipping water that way too. I will do what I have to do to keep the farm running, but I don’t have to like it! I will use the horses for a few jobs and if the weather holds we will plant corn before the rain soaks us all.

The above photo is a snapshot taken during the filming of our documentaries. It is now the current cover page on Facebook for Rural Heritage magazine.  The second episode aired last week. The boys sure made me look good. I hope to get a pic or two this week as they help me catch up, but for the next day or so the tractor will have to drown out my grumbling as I watch the horses over the fence.

Making a Difference

rooto copy

May 20, 2016

My son sent me this link yesterday. It is from Facebook. A guy who goes by Small Farms, Big Horses has made a “root-o-tiller” I use mine for our boar in the off season. I was pleased to see that someone has used my idea and even better, gave me credit! I guess I make a difference after all.

My second video made here on the farm last March aired this week on RFD-TV. I got calls from all over the country from folks telling me that they enjoyed the program. I am humbled by their nice comments and want to publicly thank those who called.

Rural Heritage has posted the two videos on Vimeo. You can go online and watch the programs in a format much like “Youtube” I am amazed at how small our world has become.

In this world of internet, cell phones and space travel, I still say it is a wonderful thing to be behind a pair of horses doing farm work…in fact, I prefer it there!

On The Boardwalk
May 17, 2016, 5:29 pm
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May 17, 2016

I had a piece of lumber left after making Abby’s harness cabinet. I decided to make the hens a ramp for their house. We have been using this coop for over two years, but I never built them a ramp. They hated the little door, because the step out was a long one!

I barely got the  ramp in place and the hens were playing on it like a teeter-totter. I had to wait my turn to take this picture. I don’t know what took me so long to make it. It only took me about thirty minutes to make it once the tools were all out. I guess it just hadn’t made it to the top of the priority list until today.

I don’t know if they really need the stair treads, but they look good. The hens seem to use them, so I will chalk it up as a success. Closing the  small door that leads to the ramp at night, will keep our girls much safer. I wasn’t always good about closing the man door. The risk is the same for small predators, but the weather changes will have much less impact on the small door.

As for being on the boardwalk, our second episode of the horses and farm aired on RFD-TV today. They did another great job, but it is sure weird to see yourself on TV! Although it is great inspiration for dieting!

Comfort Food
May 15, 2016, 8:20 am
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May 15, 2016

This morning’s temperature is in the lower thirties. I put the summer annual flowers inside last night. The horses spent the cold rainy night in the barn. The sow herd was all snug in deep bedding. The cattle and sheep were tucked into quiet groves of pine trees. I was dressed in flannel and all of us were wondering where the heck spring went?

When the temperature drops, even after a couple of days of almost 80 degrees F, food seems to make us all feel warmer. The animals all get a little bit more grain. I eat a few more potatoes…in any style, but love mashed best! The comfort of warm food and a warm bed on a cold night, has got to be one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The horses continue to shed their winter coats. I have been working steady helping them rid themselves of it. My clothes smell of horse dander, mud and perhaps a little manure. I laugh because when I am working on them, I just smell the nice smell of “horse”, but when I grab them to dress in the morning all I smell is the manure part coming through! So, I take “clothes” off the horses and change mine daily too!

Our new to us filly “Abby” continues to fit in. She has a ways to go, but we are making great progress. She too gets a daily brushing as we work to shine her up. She loves the attention as I use the time to introduce her to clippers, harness and all things new. She is kept safe as I introduce these things to her slowly, yet steadily. I want her to know, that as long as I am there, she is fine. The “boogyman” won’t hurt her…even if he does sound loud or buzz like a bee.


Abby is cleaning up good. She will match up to my boys very well. She has to finish growing and learn all sorts of stuff, but she is doing well. Last night, in a warm dry stall, dining on a scoop of farm raised speltz and a manger full of hay, she found the same comfort on this farm that I enjoy. The kind that makes you want to be here, more than any other place on Earth.

On Top of the Heap

compost 2016

May 10, 2016

Yesterday, I finished applying the compost to my corn ground. This stuff was straw, manure, wood chips, manure, sawdust, manure, old hay and of course manure! It has been composting in my bunker since last October. It is awesome stuff with only an earthy smell of dirt…. well, okay, perhaps a hint of manure, but mostly dirt. It was in no way offensive to anyone’s nose.

This past fall we used wood chips for bedding. It proved to be a good addition. The small chips kept the pile open and airy longer. I didn’t see any “fire fang” or clumps of uncomposted hay from the absence of air. I also didn’t see many areas of compacted wet anaerobic places either. I was afraid the larger pieces wouldn’t compost well, but they did great and helped the whole pile to boot! I am sure the abundance of manure along with the diversity from several types of animals helps too.

No doubt, I will continue to use the wood chips in part of our bedding strategy along with traditional carbons sources like straw, sawdust, leaves and wasted hay. The wood chips are free. They are not real absorbent, but do work okay when used with one of the other products mentioned, especially straw. We add to the pile daily and I sort of turn it once a week with the skid steer when I push up the daily wheelbarrow loads.

Today, at 4:30 eastern standard time, our documentary from Rural Heritage magazine, airs on RFD-TV. It is weird to see your name in the TV guide! The show will replay on Saturday at 3:00 pm. Then next week , in the same time slots they will run a second episode. So, I guess like the wood chips… I am on top of the heap!

Like the Big Boys
May 5, 2016, 6:38 pm
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May 5, 2016

In just a very short time Abby has learned her place. She has sorted out the pecking order in the pasture. She has bonded with her stall mate Duke. She understands the daily routine and knows where her stall is in the barn. She has a ways to go but she is learning to be one of the big boys.

We had to play around a little for her to learn and understand the command “get over”. It is not a command used to clean stalls or feed. It is a needed command for getting over when in harness and getting hooked up. It is a command when I want the horses to move right or left without moving forward or backward. This knowledge comes in very handy when hooking to a log in a tight spot.

Much of her training will take place in the barn. It is a safe place and no harm comes to her there. She learns that if I am there, she is safe. It helps her to gain trust in me. Again, that trust comes in very handy when something scares her. She will know that no matter what, if I am there, she will be okay. This is just simple foundation, basic training, but well worth the effort. I can prove it, because she will trust me, just like the big boys!

Putting the Shine On
May 4, 2016, 10:57 pm
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May 4, 2016

This pile of hair is from tonight’s brushing session. Knight has finally started to shed his winter coat. The other horses are well on their way to their summer “do”. They are shedding a little, but this guy is dropping gobs, much to the delight of nest building birds.

I am glad to see him finally getting rid of his winter coat. He gets pretty hot on work days. This will sure help that problem. The daily brushing gets easier for me too. The short hair is much easier to keep get and keep clean. I like seeing the horse’s hair coat shine. They are beautiful animals. The shine just adds to the “eye candy”.


Tomorrow we will be working again, but tonight is time for rest!