Farm Wife
August 25, 2017, 10:59 am
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August 25, 2017

My wife grew up in Mentor Ohio. She was a city girl who had moved out to this rural area where we met. She has learned all sorts of things from this country boy. Over the years she has milked a cow by hand, helped castrate animals, deworm and tend to medical animal emergencies. She gardens and processes our food. She is an almost expert parts runner and flashlight holder. (Where I’m looking, he says!)

Where she excels the most is nurturing all creatures, two-legged and four-legged. She closes and opens gates. She hand feeds, bottle feeds and forks hay. She has shoveled more than her share of manure and turned the water off to overflowing water troughs way too many times!

The remarkable part to me is that she does all of those things while keeping a clean house, washing a mountain of clothes, cooking, dish washing and nest building, making our house a home. She keeps her finger on the pulse of our family. She keeps tabs on Facebook, remembers birthdays and such and keeps all of us covered in her homemade quilts.

On Sunday August 27, we will celebrate twenty-five years of marriage. I am not an easy guy to love. I come with baggage, strange smells and a menagerie of farm animals. I can be abrupt to a fault and very bossy. She takes it in stride choosing to look past my faults and into parts of me that I can’t see.

So, today, I will use this public forum to say thank you for not only choosing me, but for staying with me after learning all my faults and shortcomings. Thank you for loving me and my whole brood. Thank you for helping me blend our crazy group even when it seems the wheels have fallen off. You are my hope, my love and my best friend. I ask that you continue to hold my hand as we walk through life. Wherever and however far our journey takes us, together forever no matter what…I will love you.

In the Groove and Hitting Our Stride
April 1, 2013, 8:35 am
Filed under: April 2013 | Tags: , ,
The horses help gather sap by voice command

The horses help gather sap by voice command


April 1, 2013

After several trips up and down the sap roads, stopping many, many times along the way, the horses have the routes memorized. Jake was gathering sap along the edge of the roads. He would ask the horses to go. They would lean into their work, step off together and walk until he told them, “Whoa.”

This is where horses beat a tractor everytime 😮 You can tell the tractor to move. You can yell and scream until you are blue in the face… and that tractor will not move. Of course, leave the thing in gear or on a hill in neutral … and suddenly it won’t “Whoa!” I’ll take horses over a tractor every time for this job!

I guess the horses work by “conditioned response”. They know the way. They know where we stop most times. Telling them to stop and go, makes sense to them…. This is what the experts would say… I however prefer to think a bit differently 😮 I say the horses are my partners. They work for me because I ask.

I look after the horses just as I would my children. I feed and care for them. I nurture and praise them. When needed, they get a slap on the butt or usually a stern voice of disapproval. I think my voice, filled with disappointment, stings much more than the slap on the butt.

Our horses have come a long way. Their training is on going, but they are becoming a trusted team. They stand when told. The move when asked. They enjoy our farm’s visitors. They almost look forward to all the petting and love, especially when given by children.

There is sap to gather again today. The rain fell last night along with the temperature. The horses will get a short break tomorrow, perhaps even Wednesday, but there is warm in the forecast by the weeks end. I am sure the horses will take it all in stride. The maple season for us, is nearing its end… but for now, we are in the groove!


A Day For Sharing
January 27, 2013, 7:40 pm
Filed under: January 2013 | Tags: ,
Connie and King share a moment

Connie and King share a moment

January 27, 2013

Today was an awesome day. It started out crisp and cold, but the sun was shining brightly. The snow glistened as if diamonds had been scattered into it. Just looking at the snow made me smile.

I did a little clean up from yesterdays butchering and finished that job. Next it was chores and putting the harness on the horses. My hired man and my son Jake had the horses ready to go by the time my clean up job was finished.

Jake drove Hoss and Knight up and down our maple sap roads, while Justin manned the lopers and cut a whole bunch of face slapping branches out of our way. We continue to prepare for the upcoming maple syrup season.

I hitched Duke in the cart and followed along behind. I didn’t do much other than enjoy the ride and exercise Duke. We spent part of a day sharing who was in charge. I won. He had a good time,and performed well once he figured out who was picking the direction we should go.

Connie spent the day putting her kitchen back together after the new floor went down. She and King spent a minute visiting while she scratched some of his favorite places. He adores her, as do I.

Evening was spent visiting and sharing with an old friend, making plans for next week and resting. My batteries are re-charged and I am ready to face the music of next week. This farm is my sactuary and I will be forever thankful to have it.

Butchering Day
January 26, 2013, 10:22 pm
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January 26, 2013

Yesterday, I taught my son how to walk a pig 😮 We used an old-fashioned pig crate. It is a rectangle wooden box, a little larger than the size of a pig, with no bottom. The pig goes in by way of a sliding door. Two men carry the box by handles on each end. They carry it just up off the ground. The pig walks along because he doesn’t like the box touching it’s rear end.

We walked the pigs 200 feet from my son’s barn to my trailer. We made a ramp out of white pine 2×6 inch planks. The pig walks right up the ramp and into the trailer. My son was amazed. The pigs went along without a squeal. They snuggled down in the straw in the trailer and spent the night that way in my driveway.

This morning we butchered the pigs. They were dispatched quickly, quietly and humanely. We killed them out on the snow. They were bled out there. We then skinned and finished the job in the shelter of the new slaughterhouse. It is far from finished, but worked very well to keep us out of the wind and cold.

We left the carcasses hanging to cool while we cut and hauled two loads of firewood. The snow is deep. The ground is not frozen underneath. The horses pulled us through the deep snow like we weighed next to nothing at all. We made two trips to the woods and back, filling two pick up trucks with firewood.

Our farm had some visitors today as well. A friend of mine who lives in the city, brought his grandchildren out to see the farm. They got to see all the animals and the farm by way of a horse drawn sled ride. I am sure they are still talking about it. They left happy, cold and still brimming with excitement.

Once the trucks were loaded, we unharnessed the horses. They were given a drink and some hay. We all gathered in the garage to cut up the now cooled pigs. In just under two hours, the pork was all cut, trimmed and ready for the freezer. It was great looking, fresh pork. I am sure many meals will be enjoyed thanks to those two piggies.

I had a wonderful day. I finished up just after 5 pm. One more trip to the barn to check on everybody, walk the dog and enjoy the view of the full moon. I am tired, but satisfied and will go to bed with a greatful, thankful heart.

Lap Dog
January 9, 2013, 7:08 am
Filed under: January 2013 | Tags: ,
King looking for love

King looking for love

January 9, 2013

Yesterday, King acted like he hadn’t seen me in ages. He would not leave my side, which is okay with me. I came in for coffee and he wanted to get into my lap! He is a big dog and I have a small lap…thanks to my big belly 😮

He is a dog who really loves his family. I don’t know what was up with him yesterday, but it sure was funny. Perhaps he thought I paid the horses too much attention. I don’t see how, because I spend most of my time with him…he should not be jealous.

I am thinking a lap dog is a great comfort to many people. I am content with King just laying at my feet. He usually is too… but I guess we all need cuddled now and then … I know that I do.

January 7, 2013, 12:00 pm
Filed under: January 2013 | Tags: ,
Jake passing on knowledge

Jake passing on knowledge

                                                            January 7, 2013

     Yesterday, we did indeed take care of two fallen trees that were blocking a maple sap path. The job went well and we were done in less than four hours. I had the pleasure of watching my youngest son, teach my hired man some draft horse stuff.

     My son practically cut his teeth on the butt lines of my team. He has been a horseman since the day he was born. He is good on the lines and has patience for both young horses and young men. He has learned by watching and by doing. He is a great help to me and an asset to my farm.

     He does a few things differently than I do. The result is the same and perhaps even a bit easier. I am just the old dog who learns new tricks slowly 😮  I am also shorter than both of the young men in the photo. Trust me, tall horses and short men must learn to adapt to each other!

     I have been mentoring my hired man since he came to work for me. He is a quick learner who can be trusted with animals and equipment. He wants to learn how to work horses. I don’t know that he will ever farm, but the value of horses goes beyond farm work …at least for me!

     I owned horses ten years before I owned a farm. I used them around my small rural lot to plow snow, plow the garden, haul manure and for cutting firewood. We were in several parades and worked on a Christmas tree farm every season. I got many hours of enjoyment from the horses. I learned how magical they are…that is a feeling that never goes away.

     Justin has been bitten by the draft horse bug. It is an infectious thing that spreads to a man’s heart. It creates a longing to be near one of the gentle giants every few days. I know, I have been smitten ever since my grandpa let me take the lines fifty years ago. The seed once planted, grows strong.

     We are teaching Justin how to work horses with a soft hand and voice. Teaching him what it means for a horse to work because they want to, not because they are afraid not to. Mine work for me because I ask them. They will give all they have and nuzzle me at the end of the day to boot. I have never had a tractor do that.

     I busied myself with cutting the trees and cruising the woodlot looking for other candidates for firewood. Jake and Justin loaded the sled, drove the horses and bonded over some work. Jake imparted wisdom, of that, I am sure.

     Just like the day my grandpa handed me the lines of his old work team and I was hooked, so it goes with my son Jacob. Now, Jake passes on his love of horses to another young man. I think my grandpa knew exactly what he was doing 😮



Freedom Lover
December 2, 2012, 6:51 pm
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Hens enjoying their freedom

Hens enjoying their freedom

                                                December 2, 2012

     Our hens are starting to molt. It is the time between egg cycles. They lose feathers and get new ones. They quit laying eggs. They just lounge about taking a free ride.

     I guess I shouldn’t complain, they have given us enough eggs to keep the family in eggs and even sell a few dozen. The year started out with nine hens. Now we are down to six. Once the molt is over, they should be able to keep us in eggs again, at least for the winter.

     Big egg farms sell or kill the hens once they get to this first molt. They eat and don’t lay eggs for a while. When they do start producing again, the number of eggs for the year will drop. The egg size however, gets bigger. They lay some whoppers!

     The hens should be back into production pretty soon. Hopefully, it will be soon enough to help out with the Christmas baking 😮

     I am sure that as they go through the molt period, they need a few extra nutrients. I let them find those nutrients for themselves. They scratch and pick at the ground finding whatever it is they need. They also supplement their diet with this free ranging, eating less purchased feed.

     Our hens have the run of a two and a half-acre field, but when turned out in the farm-yard, they act as if they have never been out. They run crazy from here to there finding morsels to fight over. I like to watch them enjoying their freedom. The gestures they make, they extra food they consume, makes me a “freedom lover” too 😮