The Gang’s All Here!
October 31, 2013, 6:53 pm
Filed under: October 2013 | Tags: , ,
Grazing in the Fall

Grazing in the Fall

October 31, 2013

   Today is Halloween. I don’t get all the hype about ghosts, monsters and especially zombies. What happened to dressing up like a cowboy or a hobo? Girls used to dress up as princesses or Raggedy Anne. Costumes were cute on kids and yes every now and then a ghost or monster might show up, but they looked more funny than scary! I simply don’t get it.

   I go along with those that say, “Let’s celebrate the harvest and forget about the whole trick or treat thing.” Kids could dress up as farmers, hunters, grocerymen or meat cutters. They could go as vegetables or fruit…imagine a whole bunch of little “Fruit of the Loom” kids showing up asking for a treat. I don’t think a bunch of grapes ever scared anybody! Okay, I’ll quit … “wine” ing 😮

   My animals have used up most of their pastures. I have one more ungrazed paddock where the sheep will spend breeding season in a week or so. I have another pitiful corn field that the cows and sows will get to consume. It’s time on this farm, to start feeding hay. Yep, the whole winter chore thing is about to become my main focus.

   The animals will all require much more care. Manure will be forked, hauled and composted. Feed and water must be brought to the animals instead of them simply just taking care of themselves. Sure I have chores every day twice a day in summer too, but they are much less. It’s a good thing that most of the other farm work is done.

   I looked over the farm yesterday. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. I considered just where every animal will spend the winter days… I am still working out all of the logistics. Today, the sows have conspired to roam three fields on the farm. They saw an opening in the fence and are on a wonderful vacation here on the farm.

   Tomorrow, will be the first dry run of winter movement. Horses come to eat everyday. They pose no problem. The cows will come when called as do the sheep. The hogs , well let’s just say I have to convince them that what I want to do, is much better than what they are doing.

   I have one old red sow, named Char (she was named when I got her), she will come to a bucket of feed. I hope to convince the rest of the marauders to follow her and come with the gang… we shall see how that works 😮


I Tried … Really!
October 26, 2013, 9:26 pm
Filed under: October 2013
Frozen hoses

Frozen hoses

October 26, 2013

   Why is it that every year the first snow catches me off guard? I laid these hoses up on the trailer in the sun. I was sure they would warm up and be easy to coil, then put away. I laughed when I saw them, buried in snow and frozen in spots… I tried I really did.

   One time I went to a horse sale in mid October. It was on Sweetest Day in fact. I sat on my hands just looking at all the horses. Then, I saw her … a chunky black Percheron mare. Her name was Rose. I bought her and brought her home. My wife asked me what I was thinking. I told her that I didn’t mean to buy a horse… but come on, her name is Rose. It’s Sweetest Day… I got her for you! … My wife gave me “the look” as I was saying … I tried, I really did!

   Tonight , a cold rain falls on the farm. The animals are all tucked in and I too am done for the day. The rain falls on the roof and soaks the water laden soil. I think about all the work waiting on a nice day and I realize…it will wait.  When folks ask why my wood is not in…at least I can say … I tried… really!  😮

October 25, 2013, 9:06 pm
Filed under: October 2013
Some things that I love

Some things that I love

October 25, 2013

   Yesterday morning I snapped this picture. I don’t care where you live or what you love, but anyone can see the beauty in this photo. I stood awhile and just looked at the landscape that makes up our farm, seeing God’s handiwork left me in awe.

   My sow herd paid no attention to the snow. They almost seemed to enjoy playing in it. They came to see me as I stood near the fence, grunting in agreement that it was indeed, a beautiful morning. I had to agree that it was a wonderland…after all I am not qualified to disagree with a pig 😮


Squaw Winter !
October 24, 2013, 8:58 am
Filed under: October 2013 | Tags: , , ,
Snow adds to the beauty of Autumn

Snow adds to the beauty of Autumn

October 24, 2013

   Squaw Winter has arrived, as my great-grandfather would have said, now, we will get Indian Summer. I hope he is right! I moved all the livestock yesterday getting ready for last night’s storm. The rain came cold and plentiful, followed by sleet then snow.

   My most vulnerable animals, three little baby calves, were snug in a pen filled with straw. The horses also spent the night in their stalls, in a dry bed. The cows rested on pine needles under the boughs of the white pine trees in the lane. The sows spent the night snuggled together in a bed of old hay in a three-sided shed. The sheep laid against a row of straw bales, quietly chewing their cuds, while I snoozed under a pile of quilts 😮

   The snow reminds me of my youth. It seemed we often had snow for trick or treat night. If it wasn’t snowing, it was cold! Hot cider and donuts was a welcome treat upon getting home from canvassing the neighborhood for candy. Mom’s homemade vegetable soup would warm us up too. It warms me a little now as I write … thanks mom.

   Yesterday, I almost finished splitting all the wood for the sugarhouse. The rain spoiled much of the day, but a couple of hours before sunset, the weather broke and allowed for another big load to be split. We even dumped that load under the woodshed. It still needs stacked, but it is closer none the less.

   I found a few things that need done before real winter gets here…but that is for another BLOG. Today I will work and reflect upon the good memories of my childhood, like squaw winter and my grampa, homemade soup and my mother…and snowballs with rocks in them for trick or treat!


Hey Man… I gotta split!
October 23, 2013, 7:03 am
Filed under: October 2013 | Tags:
Squatch ?

Sasquatch ?

October 23, 2013

   My day off from work, finds me once again playing out in the rain, but “Hey man, I gotta split…all this wood 😮  We made much progress yesterday, but plenty of work remains. I like this job. It’s easy to see what you have accomplished by the end of the day.

   We made modifications to the logsplitter late last year. We extended the wedge. Now we can split pieces of wood that are thirty inches long. That length works out very well in the maple syrup evaporator. That length, however, is a workout to lift the log pieces before splitting. It often takes two men to lift the sections, but wow does it ever yield a lot of wood from one piece!

   My plan is to try to stay focused on the wood for the next two days. I have other projects waiting for me, but I know that winter will soon make wood getting a less desirable job. On a nice, crisp, winter day, when everything is caught up, cutting firewood is a nice job. When you wade knee-deep through snow, digging in it to find wood because you absolutely have to do it…that is not fun at all! 

   Drywall waits for me to start finishing the inside of the washhouse. The plumbing, gas and electrical are done. Now, to just finish the walls and ceiling. Those jobs are inside, so they can wait for a bit longer…because like I said … “Hey man, I gotta split!”


All of Us Are Gleaning
October 22, 2013, 9:52 pm
Filed under: October 2013
Gathering in the Harvest

Gathering in the Harvest

October 22, 2013

   Gleaning is an old word for cleaning up the last of something. Usually this word is used for going back over a harvested field and getting anything that was missed or left over. The animals have sure done a good job in the corn field!

   I have been working my butt off cutting and splitting the sugarwood. I think I have 90% done, but now it must all be gathered in and stacked away in the woodshed. Today, after  three inches of rain in the last six days, I managed to get the last of the wood taken care of that is down in the gully. It is wet and muddy down there, but now I am done.

   The horses and sled will have to bring the wood all out. The tractor would make a BIG mess of things. The horses won’t get stuck, make very little impact on the land and are much quieter to work around. It is some of my favorite work 😮

   Sounds like the next day or two will remind us of what is to come. Sleet and wet snow is in the forecast, along with cold temperatures. My great grandpa used to say, “You have to have squaw winter before you can enjoy Indian Summer.” I sure hope he’s right. I need a bit of good weather to get the wood in … Then, “Let her Rip!”


Saying the “W” Word
October 20, 2013, 4:10 pm
Filed under: October 2013
Newly planted fescue, "greens up" against the autumn backdrop

Newly planted fescue, “greens up” against the autumn backdrop

October 20, 2013

   I hate to say the word “winter” this early in the season, but the cold rainy nights make me think of the white that will surely come. I see many things that need addressed before then. The good news is, that the list is small. I guess all those days when weather forced me inside… I tied up some loose ends.

   I have a plan for the winter areas for all the livestock. I just need to follow-up and move them all there soon. I see the need for a few adjustments, some fence alterations and water accommodations, but things are pretty much in order. Although, I will surely get caught with at least one water hose frozen like a fifty foot snake 😮

   Two and a half inches of rain has fallen since last Wednesday night. The harvest in our area is stalled to say the least. My last little field of forlorn corn waits for my attempt to pick it. I am not worried anymore, I have discovered just how efficient the livestock are when it comes to harvesting. The only problem is that they go through it pretty fast … I guess they feel the need to put on some fat for winter!

    The leaves are falling off the trees quickly. The rains seem to wash them to the ground. Soon they will be bare, standing like soldiers against the blowing winter winds. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the changing of the seasons, the brilliant fall colors and the crisp autumn air…. and I will avoid saying the “W” word for at least a few more weeks!  😮


Getting Along in Spite of Ourselves
October 19, 2013, 2:47 pm
Filed under: October 2013
Cows and pigs not such strage bedfellows.

Cows and pigs not such strange bedfellows.

October 19, 2013

   The rains are back. We had a great couple of weeks at the start of the month, but now, water stands everywhere again. The cold autumn rain falls steadily as I write. The rain gauge says just under two inches since last Wednesday. The clock is ticking towards winter and I am reminded about a few items to still be completed…. oh my never-ending list 😮

   The cows and pigs are making short work of cleaning up the little corn field. They weren’t too sure about each other at first, but now pay very little attention to one another. Yesterday, they were all napping in the same shed, sharing the warm sun, after a big meal.

   It’s like people, we just have to co-exist. We need to get along with each other for the benefit of all. We don’t all have to be friends or bedfellows,but we need each other. You can’t go to a restaurant, order a meal, cook the meal and serve it to yourself … although my wife does it often 😮  … What I mean is, that life is better with people in it…and you probably won’t like every person that you meet…it would be a strange life if you did!

   The pigs benefit from the cows knocking corn to the ground. The chickens benefit because the pigs are sloppy eaters. I benefit because I like beef, pork and chicken! All of us depend upon each other… it’s part of the cycle of life.

   Look at your own life. You will see that there are folks in it that you don’t particularly like. You don’t have to make best friends with them, but there is a reason they are in your life. Be yourself, do your thing, don’t place stumbling blocks in their way. Be the better person and carry no malice. Life is short. Greet those people with a smile, be kind and walk away knowing that all is well.

     What I’m trying to say, in a farmer kind of way, is this….. We don’t know who may be knocking the corn down for us. We may not realize that we are helping people prosper by leaving bits behind. Those bits may be information, kindness or perhaps just tolerance … in any case, there is wisdom in the old saying … “Can’t we all just get along?”   😮

Chicken Dinner?
October 17, 2013, 4:00 pm
Filed under: October 2013 | Tags: ,
Pigs and chickens in the old corn field

Pigs and chickens in the old corn field

October 17, 2013 

   Currently, I am multi-specie grazing our old corn field. I have cows in there, along with pigs and chickens. The cows eat some of the nubbin ears that the picker missed. They also knock some off onto the ground. The pigs eat what the cows miss.

   The pigs are sloppy eaters that miss a few kernels of corn. They also root up the ground exposing worms and bugs. What the pigs miss, the chickens eat. It is a marriage for all of the animals. I also “win” from this as, they get their own feed for a few weeks. Sure they have other feed offered, but usually relish the harvest clean-up time, and turn their noses up at the regular feed!

   If there is one problem, it is that pigs will eat chickens! The chickens seem to know it too. They will run back to the coop whan the pigs get too close or when the pigs take an interest in them. Usually, they eat right alongside of each other, but once the feed gets short, the pigs turn to chicken dinners if they can. I find it much better to introduce them early in this effort 😮 The pigs pay no mind to the chickens at that time.

   The field is about two acres in size. The chickens have been free ranging in it since January. They were in there the day I planted the corn and have been in there all summer. They have not bothered the corn one bit and have eaten countless bugs. They lay nice big brown eggs as a way of saying thanks.

   I will keep an eye on this whole progress and move the animals when necessary. The cows will go first, then the pigs. The chickens will have this domain for the entire year. I will keep them safe, because in the end … I like chicken dinners too!


Filtered Light
October 15, 2013, 9:59 am
Filed under: October 2013
A Woodland Walkway

A Woodland Walkway

October 15, 2013

   The photo above reminds me of my life. It is beautiful. The light shines through just enough to make for a pretty scene. The shadows represent the past and some not so great things, but beyond all of the dark, the light shines through.

   I will focus on the light. The bad times come only to make us appreciate the good times. It is a balance, one that must be tempered by ourselves. We have to stay positive, look for the good and simply move past the negative and what we can’t change. We must just learn to let go… no matter how tough that gets.

   I spent the day yesterday with my youngest grandson. I forgot just how many questions a five-year old has. I also reenforced my thinking that a coyote call is not the greatest gift for a small boy…much like a drum set, it is for parents only 😮  We had a great time. We looked for wild animals, told stories and even squeezed in some work.

   Time spent with family and friends is the light in our lives. I am guilty of not trying to bask in more of it. I am going to try to do a little better in that department. I saw what it can do…I looked into the beaming eyes of my grandson and I saw my son… and as I looked deeper…  I saw myself.