The Path Forward
October 26, 2015, 4:35 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
An Autumn sap road

An Autumn sap road

October 26, 2015

This well defined sap road has been used by us for twenty three years. The horses make very little impact on the land as they pull the sled through the maple woods. We use this path for hiking, walking and reflecting. Just strolling along alone helps thoughts and dreams come into focus, but it is a much better stroll when walking with friends or family. I walk here often and I enjoy every minute spent there.

Today, I walked among a group of young people. They are part of a school class, but each child is searching for their path forward. It would be nice on one hand for their choice to well defined and easy to see. OnĀ  the other hand, however, finding your way while bouncing about for a time, gives life experiences to draw from “down the road”. I didn’t know what I wanted to do…..well, actually I did, but lacked the support to make it happen.

Now, in the last third of my life, I get it! I know exactly what I am supposed to do. I will farm and write. I have been engaged in farming, or parts of it, for my whole life. I have been writing (professionally) for well over fifteen years. I am very happy doing both. That is the key to life… “Do what you love, love what you do! Work is easy when you enjoy it. In fact it doesn’t even seem like work.

Many folks will discourage you from doing what your heart tells you to do. They will say, “There’s no money in it.” I think for them, that may be the truth, but for you, say…hogwash! Find a way to make it happen. Pour your heart and soul into it. You will succeed. It is not always about the “money”. You can be rewarded richly in many ways. Yes, you have to keep yourself out of debt and the bills paid, but the enjoyment of loving what you do is priceless.

Think it through. Make a plan. Go for it….But I caution you, if it doesn’t work out on paper…it won’t work out in life. So, get back to thinking. Make those thoughts into plans. Once you have defined the path forward…go for it. Life is very short, spending even one day unhappy or vengeful only makes you lose a day of your life. It can even poison you causing you to miss out on many of life’s pleasures. Seek the way that makes your heart glad. Find the path to your soul. Remember, it’s okay to walk alone, but much better when shared with friends and family šŸ˜®

Repurposed Lumber
October 24, 2015, 10:01 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Stairway to Heaven...almost!

Stairway to Heaven…almost!

October 24, 2015

A few days ago, my buddy Marvin and I built these stairs. They will give us access to the new addition without banging our heads on the ceiling. The new storage tank will be easy to get to for cleaning or any other work. The stairs are sturdy, functional and well made. The best part for me is that only three short boards are new. All the rest of this lumber was repurposed from an old pool deck šŸ˜®

As I look at it now, all the work in the summer heat to get the wood, then pull all the nails, was worth every drop of sweat. I still have a few more pieces left over for the next farm project. This wood will stand up to the steam from the boiling process of making maple syrup. It will make a neat place for children to watch from a safe vantage point, out of harm’s way. The stairs are not steep. Nor do they have big steps for short legs…even Goldielocks would say they are “just right”.

It is the little things that keep a farm in the black. Being self reliant is good, but having great friends helps even more. One friend gave me his old pool deck. Another helped me to salvage the boards and still another helped me build the stairs. I have sweat equity invested, a little time, and a trade for my own labor on an upcoming project for my friend. The best part is only three boards had to be purchased for this project, less than fifteen dollars of out of pocket expense.

We can all agree that they do not make a stairway to Heaven…but it sure is a Heavenly project. Its not just the stairs, it’s the friendship that makes them so great. The fact that they cost almost nothing…is indeed priceless!

For The Little Ones
October 21, 2015, 3:35 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Jackson and Xavier, helping Pa-Pa. Cinch keeping a watchful eye.

Jackson and Xavier, helping Pa-Pa. Cinch keeping a watchful eye.

October 21, 2015

These little guys are a gift from my wife. They are my great grandsons. They had a big day on the farm last week. They helped feed the animals and entertained us all. I like to watch the eyes of a child as they take in our farm. The kidsĀ get so excited as they run from place to place. The animals take it in stride. The kids like to feed the animals…I think that is what keeps the animals interested šŸ˜®

A big ear of corn looks even bigger in the hands of a child. The children tossed the ears over the fence to the delight of the sows. My great granddaughter was a bit shy at first, but she warmed up quick to feeding the pigs. One momma pig has a litter of piglets. The kids sure liked those babies. They got to pet one little squiggly baby who squealed a bit. They children jumped at first, but soon laughter over shadowed the fear.

I like this farm, in part because of the little ones. The baby calves, lambs and piglets make me smile. To see one of our grandchildren or great grandchildren delighting in the farm babies, tickles me to the core. When young people make a connection to the farm it pleases me greatly. In fact this is one of the biggest reasons thatĀ  I do all the hard work that comes with farming…it’s for the little ones!

oink oink!

oink oink!

A Walk in the Park
October 14, 2015, 9:05 am
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Hens enjoying  their new park

Hens enjoying their new park

October 14, 2015

Recently, we built a new enclosure for our laying hens. These pens are often called chicken parks. I want my hens to have outside room to roam but I want to keep them safe as well. This park is a perfect fit for both me and the hens. They will keep the grass and tall weeds in check around their chicken house and the back side of the wash house as well. Now, they just need to lay a couple hundred dozen eggs to pay for it šŸ˜®

Yesterday, I was closing gates and moving cattle. The goal is to put the sheep in the sugarhouse paddock again. The grass in that place is deep, green and lush. The lambs will fatten well on it. The mothers will put on a little extra weight just in time for breeding season. I think the grass is rich enough to “flush” the ewes. Flushing them refers to tricking them to think there is an abundance of feed so they will release more ovaries. They have the confidence that there will be plenty of feed to raise their new babies.

Some guys say that flushing ewes is an old wives tale. I know in nature, if deer have plenty to eat in the fall, the does have more twins in the coming spring. I also believe that flushing has worked for me the past fifteen years, so I am not going to quit doing what works. It’s not like I only wear a favorite jacket or socks during breeding season as my ewes head to the playoffs! This is about balanced nutrition. The ewes have access to all they want to eat and drink, along with minerals free choice. This is good husbandry. It’s the way I do business anyway. I think all those sets of twins next spring is the ewe’s way of saying, “Thank you!”.

As I was closing gates and moving the stock, I realized yet again just how much beauty was surrounding me. The leaves continue to get more colorful each day. The growing speltz are a bright green and the grass looks like a green carpet that stretches “wall-to-wall”, from fence row to woodline. In fact, it’s just like a walk in the park!

The sugarhouse nestled in her little valley

The sugarhouse nestled in her little valley

The Color of Autumn
October 13, 2015, 8:02 am
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Hoss, grabs a snack

Hoss, grabs a snack

October 13, 2015

As I prepare for winter, sometimes I get so busy that I forget to look around at the trees all dressed in their autumn splendor. Yesterday, we had a beautiful day. The sun was warm and bright. The green grass, revived by recent rains, is beautiful. The trees are almost dripping with color and the sky is a beautiful blue. I had to pause for a few minutes, just to savor the view.

Farmers around me are very busy with their fall harvest. Soy beans are being harvested as is corn and even grass for forage. I stood by the fence and watched as my animals harvest their own fall food. The lambs and steers are growing nice and fat on the lush late season grasses. The sows are enjoying wild apples and hickory nuts along with juicy clover, not to mention plump ears of corn, as they too prepare for winter.

I will have to feed hay and grain soon, but for now the animals are getting their own food. I don’t have to spend the time or fuel chasing around the farm for a few mouthfuls of grass. They animals do it themselves and they eatĀ everything inĀ the nooks and crannies too. They are efficient grazers who also spread their own manure as they go šŸ˜®

I will continue to store equipment and restore a sense of order on my farm. The animals will fill their bellies without much help from me. The farm will be harvested, theĀ animals fattened and nourished as I go about my business. I simply need to keep water tanks filled, pastures rotated and momma pigs looked after. The horses and I continue to gather firewood as we all enjoy the cool, colorful days of autumn.

Soon, the cold wet, rainyĀ days of lateĀ fall, will bring down the leaves and mud will also be present. The cold will penetrate a jacket and all of us critters will find warm places to huddle. I know those days are coming, but for now we will all enjoy the fleeting warm sunny days that nature is providing. It is important to look around, linger a little as I go about the business of animal husbandry and enjoy the color of autumn.

Raising Up
October 11, 2015, 10:18 am
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
David and Margret's House going up

David and Margaret’s House going up

October 10,2015

Yesterday, I spent the day watching and helping, as my friend’s David and Margaret’s Timber Framed house was raised. I have seen many things in my life so far, but this experience was a stand out. It will remain in my memory forever. David is a timber framer. He finally got the time and “where-with-all”, to build his family’s home. He selected each tree andĀ each branch, that would become his home.

David and Margaret purchased their land with the same goals in mind. They would become stewards of the forest and guardians of the trees. Yes, they would harvest them, but only when the trees are biologically mature. In other words, they would only harvest the dead and dying ones. Once those trees were selected, they would be utilized to the utmost. From lumber to firewood, the entire tree would be used.

David has been perfecting his craft for twenty years or so. He is an artist who can see great beauty in the standing tree or the fallen log. The wood almost speaks to him as he fashions mortise and tenon joints. The craftsmanship is remarkable. David selects crooked and curved logs that other’s would discard. In those misfits he finds beauty like no other. The character in those logs are like the inner beauty of a person, A personĀ who has been beaten down, but survived life’s hard knocks and finds good, in every breath they take.

The curved wood, when cut into slabs of lumber reveal grain and color that is breathtaking. A curly cherry arch forms the doorway of the homes main entrance. The highlights of the home are curved cherry archways that hold the home’s ridge. They rise up in one area from the first floor, all the way to the second story ceiling. The beauty of the wood and the perfect joinery is a sight to behold. It is a classic case where form is functional. David’s workmanship is as fine as cabinetry, like the beauty found on old ships. His attention to detail is astounding.



There were many pieces that had to be joined. Only a few were assembled in the shop before the build yesterday. I stood in amazement as each piece fit into place with it’s corresponding mate, one after the other. Each joint fit like a hand in a glove. I only saw two adjustments made, and those were made with a plane and a chisel. The small amount of wood removed were merely chips and sawdust. My hat is off to David Yasenchack and his family for a wonderful day of fun, food and amazement. You can see more pictures of David’s work by checking out his website.Ā  WWW.dytimberframing.com

Twelve hours of work.

Twelve hours of work.

The last touch is to nail a green tree branch to the top of the structure. It shows respect to the trees that made the whole work possible. I found it to beĀ fitting touch to end an awesome day.

Falling Down
October 9, 2015, 8:07 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Colorful backdrop for the pig's pasture

Colorful backdrop for the pig’s pasture

October 9, 2015

The color of autumn is really starting to wow us. A few of my sows can be seen laying in the picture below the trees. They are content and seem to be enjoying the cooler days as much as me. Last night, as I hurried to feed my momma pigs out in that pasture, I twisted my knee and fell down. Today, I am limping. My knee is swollen and sore, but it was worth it. I fell coming back from checking on a new mom and her five piglets. They are fine… I am not šŸ˜®

I am amazed at how well the clover pasture the pigs are enjoying is holding up. There will even be a week or more grazing for our cow herd once I move the pigs to the woods. The woods pasture is doing well. Hickory nuts and crab apples are falling steady. Those woodland treats will be gobbled up by the sows and their babies. They will romp, play and sleep in the fallen leaves. I guess its like one big party before coming in for winter. It sure makes for happy pigs!

I will chalk up my tumble to the season. You see in autumn, Ā it’s not only leaves that “fall”…. It’s us nuts too!

The Eye of the Beholder
October 3, 2015, 12:53 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,


October 3, 2015

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. I guess that is true, because each person has their own idea of beauty. I see my horses head, the honesty in his eye, the trust in his demeanor and I am overcome by his beauty.I have owned this guy since he was just a few weeks old. He and I are friends. I take good care of him. He in turn will do almost anything that I ask.

Two summers ago, Knight walked into the roof of one of my pasture pig shelters. (I have since made design changes and keep horses and sheds far apart) The edge of the roof cut my buddy right across his chest. He had a gaping wound eight inches across. It was gapped open enough that my whole fist would fit into the cut. He acted as if he didn’t feel a thing. I, on the other hand, was scared to death.

We made an emergency trip to the veterinarian’s office. They told me the surgery needs would be much easier to do there, than here on the farm. We sped over to the vet’s place. Upon arriving, we found the restraint pen the vet had was way to small for my very large friend. The vet was a bit worried about the procedure and the lack of ability to restrain the animal. I reassured the vet that all would be well, as long as I was at the horse’s head.

I put him in the pipe stall. It was wide enough, just way too short. I calmed Knight with my voice and hand. The vet numbed the cut with several shots. My horse’s eye got a little big. The white showed for just a second or two, but he did not move.Ā He kept his eyes locked on me. At times he would put his muzzle on my shoulder, but he did notĀ make a fuss of any kind. I talked to him softly, just as I have any time some “monster” scares him like a tarp, plastic bag or child in a nylon snowsuit. He stood still, waiting on me to tell him what to do next. My veterinarian remarked, “That horse really trusts you. I can’t hardly believe what I am seeing.”

The vet finished in about an hour. Two drains were installed in his cut and many stitches to close the wound. It was an ugly thing to see, but much better than the bloody, gaping wound it had once been. I began daily care of that awful wound. The care lasted more than three months. Wound dressing, rest, daily bathing of the area and a whole lot of praise and it healed. It healed to the point that thereĀ are just a few white hairs to show the scar, no bump, no indent, just those white hairs. I am so very pleased, it is hard to describe.

Knight and I have always been close, but our bonding over his wound is like no other. He comes to me wherever I am. He listens to me anytime and he stays calm always. Calm is a great thing for an animal this large and powerful. It is not only a great thing….it is a beautiful thing šŸ˜®