A Day to Pause
The sheep spend a day by the pond

The sheep spend a day by the pond

November 8, 2015

Today marks the 50th anniversary of a horrible battle in Vietnam. The battle involved the 173rd Airborne Brigade, nicknamed the “Sky Soldiers” during “Operation Hump”. The history of the battle can be easily researched, but in short 400 Us and Australian forces were met in heavy combat by 1200 Vietcong soldiers. The fighting was intense. 49 American men were killed in combat some of which was hand-to-hand, as bullets ripped, men screamed and grenades exploded all around. Death hung in the air and blood soaked that foreign land. Today, I will pause and think of the men, who against incredible odds, survived that day. I will also tip my hat to the men who died for a cause they believed in doing what they we told to do.

There is one other thing to remember, a medic named Lawrence Joel, was awarded the Medal of Honor becoming the first black man to do so since the Spanish-American war. Though severely wounded, (shot twice) he ran from man to man saving lives in the midst of that awful battle. Many men are alive because of Lawrence Joel’s efforts. John 15:13 says, “greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his brother”  Lawrence exemplified this on November 8, 1965. He didn’t die that day, but was willing to do that very thing. Lawrence died in 1984 and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

So, as I soak up the peace that surrounds this farm. I will say thank you to those who keep us safe. I will especially remember the 173rd today and play the song by “Big and Rich” entitled “Eighth of November”. Hoorah men! Thank you!

Back Home Again
November 7, 2015, 9:14 pm
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Solomon, back with his gals

Solomon, back with his gals

November 7, 2015

Solomon is back here on our farm. I own him with another like-minded farmer, I get him for half the year, my friend gets him the other half. Solomon is glad to be home. He is familiar with the paddocks and shelters. He understands the “drill” as we move every day from paddock to barn lot. I get to check everyone over and it teaches the babies to follow mom and get used to moving and coming when I call.

Our 2015 calf crop will be arriving soon. We should have new babies from now through December. Solomon checks each calf over and even licks the newborns. It is strange behavior for some dads, but for others it is natural to want to be with their children. I fit in the last category, but I wonder if I did enough. They grew up so fast, I fear that I missed too much of their childhood. I don’t put on much of a show, but I love them more than they know.

Solomon got out of the trailer, walked up to each of the cows and made sure he knew them. They all greeted each other, then walked off to graze. Tonight he follows the herd walking the fence line checking out the young heifers in the paddock next to his. I think the little girls have a crush on him 😮  He struts his manliness and curls his lip… I, like all dads, check the fence, admonish him and remind him they are too young, but love knows no bounds….I hope the solar fence charger keeps him in check!

Solomon, like me, is comfortable here.  The old John Denver song… “It’s good to be back home again”  plays in my mind. I see the big bull content, almost smiling and strolling through his pastures and I realize that I too feel that way every time I pull back into the drive. I really don’t need to go anywhere else on Earth … “and hey it’s good, to be back home again!”

November 6, 2015, 9:23 pm
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Protecting a stream bed

Protecting a stream bed

November 6, 2015

In my off farm job, I provide a buffer from upper management to the workforce. I have been in that job for a very long time. It is an important function to be the one who keeps communication flowing up, as well as down. It is a rough spot sometimes when each side gets frustrated with the other. I really feel the squeeze now and then. Lucky for me I have this farm to relieve my stress, heal my mind and settle my soul. In fact, I think it’s good for all of us  😮

When I think about buffering, I think more about how to reduce the impact of farming on the environment. My farming is small compared to some, but my farming practices are just as important. I want to be a good steward to my animals, but also to the land and especially the water. Erosion, even in a small way, is a problem that needs ample consideration…if you don’t think so, read about the dust bowl of the 1930’s.

I also want my dollars to stay on the fields where I put them, instead of running off into a nearby stream. I don’t buy much fertilizer, but I still want it to feed the crop and not the algae in the water! I also don’t want to fill my farm ponds in with mud and silt. I want the woodland streams that traverse my farm to be clean and healthy. I feel it is my job to protect what I have been given to use. Let’s be real, it is only mine for a short time. I will pass, but hopefully, my ideals will live on, in the minds and practices of my children and grandchildren.

If each of us does just a little part to protect the land, the water and each other. Our world will continue to be a pretty darn good place to live. Ask yourself, “What can I do better?” It may be simple like holding a door, picking up some trash or offering a sad person a smile. I guarantee you will feel better. In the end, isn’t that what life is about? Feeling good, doing good and setting an example for those in line behind us, is a way of buffering our impact upon this world….it’s the little things that matter.

How Now Brown Sow?
November 5, 2015, 8:12 pm
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The girls enjoying supper

The girls enjoying supper

November 5, 2015

Tonight, I moved the sows from their summer pasture to a small wooded hamlet. This small forested area is of about three and a half acres. There are hickory nuts and wild apples littering the ground in this place. My foraging mothers will have a great time searching for and eating those treats. The pasture in the photo will become home to a group of young cattle, heifers and steers. There are a couple of weeks of grazing here in this paddock for those youngsters.

As we race for winter, I am glad to still have grass available to my cattle herd. The main herd of cows are grazing a lush piece of red clover, a few cowpeas and some oats. They leak a little when they cough, but they keep right on eating and smiling 😮 Our bull will go in with the mommas tomorrow. It is a little unconventional to breed at this time of year, but so far it is working well for us. We are mostly just growing our own beef anyway…and for a few customers. So autumn and winter calves work ok for us.

Our sows will get to spend the nice winter days out in the wooded pasture. I will build them a hay fort out of big round bales to hunker down in on nasty days. Mostly they will be up under the barn’s overhang, but spending days outside in the freedom of the big woodlot, pleases them. Happy sows, happy cows and less chores for me !

Off to Work
November 4, 2015, 5:33 am
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Down the lane we go

Down the lane we go

November 4, 2015

Why is it that on days when we have to go to work, we all move at a snails pace? I even see it in the horses. As we leave the barn and drive off towards a job, they walk very slowly. When we are pulling logs out of the woods, the trip out to the landing is fairly quick. Once we drop the logs and head back into the woods, they plod along agonizingly slow. It used to make me tense, but now older and wiser, I just enjoy the trip 😮

I too move like a slug on days that take me off the farm to my job in town. I usually jump out of bed, grab a quick bite of food and tackle the day at hand. But oh those “work” days away from the farm…. The alarm clock sounds like an argument. My food goes down slow as if I didn’t chew it. I poke around changing clothes. I practically run as I do my chores, feeding the animals on the fly. Then back at the house for a shower and change of clothes, it seems as if the clock is jumping time.

It feels as if I am always running behind. I really hate leaving here…I poke along so dang slow, a snowman could out run me. I know that I have to go, for a few more years anyway, but I will not ever like it. I now understand the horses point of view. In fact I think they snicker as they watch me drive off down the road. I will say though, they are very glad to see me when I get back home, only Cinch my dog, is happier to see me. It is a great reunion…me and my dog shaking our tails and expressing just how happy we are to be home, the horses waiting by the gate for me …or maybe its just the oats?

I’d like to write more, but I have to go…off to work.

Living on the Edge
November 1, 2015, 8:59 pm
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The edge of the spelt field

The edge of the spelt field

November 1, 2015

Wow, the calendar moves again! I am busily preparing for winter. We butchered our last flock of meat chickens this weekend. They have gone off to freezer camp. We also got over two and a half gallons of rich broth from the backs and necks. The chickens grew fast and will be delicious all winter long 😮

I spent part of the last few days putting equipment away. I like it all stored inside, only the manure spreader needs attended to, but first we will spread the autumn compost. I moved the cows to their last paddock before winter this evening. They will graze there for another two weeks at least. Then its time to start feeding hay. It was a great grass year in spite of the mid-summer drought.

Tonight, I put the ram in with the ewes. They were having a ball getting to know each other. April babies will be bouncing around the pasture next spring, a happy sight after maple sugaring is over. For now, I will keep working on firewood. I have quite a bit to bring out of the east end of the woods. I planted speltz in our far east paddock, but knowing that I had wood to bring out, I left a sod strip along the fence.

That sod strip will hold up to the horse’s foot traffic much better than newly turned soil. It is a method of good stewardship leaving this edge to use. Soil erosion will be at a minimum. I won’t have big ruts to fix and the horses get a good place to walk…everybody wins!

As the woodland creatures and I prepare for winter, I think we are all on the edge a bit. We scamper crazily, knowing that soon the land will be covered in snow, or worse yet, cold rain. I feel better after this weekend of work, but I’m sure that I forgot something. Oh well, I ‘ll cross that bridge when we get to it, in the meantime, I will make plans for skidding logs on that well planned strip of sod with my horses. Horse time is a great stress reliever, keeping them out of the mud keeps me off the edge.