Snowy Start to December
December 9, 2021, 3:16 pm
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December 9, 2021

December has arrived. I have been busy deer hunting. It is usually a fun time, but this year was bittersweet. My uncle Fred passed away during this deer season. He was my mom’s youngest brother. He was a great friend to me all of my life. He was with me the day I got my first deer. It was a buck!

I was a very excited 15 year old boy. We had hunted all that morning, but hadn’t seen anything. We stopped for a quick lunch of my mom’s homemade tomato soup. Once we had eaten and visited with mom, we headed back out to make a pass around a large weedy field.

We posted the field. I walked down the remnants of an old fence line. Quietly, I watched the field and walked slowly looking for deer. All at once I saw him. The buck raised his head and I thought he was the “Hartford Elk” the old mascot of an insurance company. I was focused and a little shaky at the same time.

My uncle told me to grab a rest on a nearby sapling, aim, relax and shoot. It was a textbook shot. The deer died quickly, dropping in its tracks. We walked up to the kill and there he was, an 8 point buck. He was an old timer, so his rack was smallish, resembling a basket, but I was filled with pride. My uncle too.

We were a long way from the house. We gutted the buck. I told my uncle to stay with the deer and I would go get one of my ponies to pull the deer back home. It seemed like a very good plan. The pony however, wasn’t to thrilled about the idea. He wasn’t too keen on the fresh blood smell. We started home a bit quicker than I would have liked.

Things were going fairly well although I was taking some very large strides, when we got to the top of an old gully that was on the way home. We hit the top edge of the gully and as the path dropped towards the bottom, the pony, the deer and I picked up even more speed. My uncle who was short in stature, was already jogging behind me. I could hear him roaring with laughter as we dropped out of sight.

I made it down the hill in about three jumps. That deer made funny noises as it bumped along behind the fast stepping pony. Those noises fueled the pony’s flight reflex just in time to start up the other side of the gully. My big old rubber boots made a thundering sound as I grappled to keep my feet under me. It was touch and go for a few moments, but we all made it to the top. I squeaked out a whoa and my pony stopped.

The pony and I heaved and gasped for breath. Both of us were soaked in sweat and quivering. My uncle was almost on his knees, holding his sides and hoping not to pee himself as he continued to howl in laughter. The pony and I were not quite as amused.

I talked softly to old Stormy and asked my steady steed to walk a little slower as we made the final leg of the journey home. I gathered the lines and spoke to old Stormy. We were off like a shot once again! The bucks antler caught in the ground and flipped his body into my almost running legs. I fell onto the dragging deer, swept completely off my feet. The pony didn’t even flinch. He just reached out farther with his front legs covering more ground as we flew.

I squeaked another whoa and Stormy stopped. I rolled off the deer and onto my feet in one motion. I looked back for uncle Fred, but I couldn’t see him. I stood there for a minute looking for my dear uncle when I noticed the goldenrod tops moving where he was literally rolling on the ground laughing. He said when I did the deer surfing thing, it was the final straw for his composure.

We did get that old buck to the house no worse for wear. The pony too was fine. He was just glad that the job was done. Uncle Fred made it to the house as I unhitched the pony. He started telling my mom the whole story. It was funny watching him try to tell the story to mom. I began to laugh and we all kept laughing about it for years.

That story happened on my mom’s birthday almost 40 year ago. This year I stood in the woods on mom’s birthday, thinking about her and my uncle, now both passed from this life, I smiled. My heart hurt a little, but this old story came to mind. We all laughed until we cried ….

Plotting for Deer


August 29, 2016

This little field was an old part of our pasture. When I put up the new fence, I straightened it out. This little place got abandoned. I keep mowing it. I tried a couple of years ago to plant trees here, but the weeds choked them out. We will probably do that again, but for now, we have created a plot for the wild deer.

We worked up the sod and planted oats, turnips, radish and a medley of grasses and forage. My sheep would go nuts for this soon to be lush autumn and winter grazing. We hope the deer like it. I just want to keep them coming to our farm. We harvest a deer or two each year, so it seems only right to offer them a little food.

They do get into my hay fields and eat clover. They munch my corn and other crops too. This plot however is all theirs. It is in the back, next to the woods. There are trees growing on three sides. A stream is just a few hundred feet away and places to hide and sleep abound.

My son was pretty pleased with our efforts today. My grandson was thrilled that we planted food for the deer. He had a great time catching grasshoppers, crickets and even a frog while we worked and planted. My granddaughter made me mud pies and helped her brother in the big grasshopper hunt. It was a good day for us all….I think more than just a few seeds were planted today…I believe a memory was planted too.

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 😮

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

Snuggle Time!
February 9, 2015, 11:23 pm
Filed under: February 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,

The babies get ready for bed

The babies get ready for bed

February 9, 2011

After a very nice weekend, the temperature has plummeted again. We saw 40 Saturday and again on Sunday. It felt very warm. The snow in the fields got settled some, but it is still plenty deep. The driveway is frozen and all of us are ready to snuggle up once again.

I guess this is the week for that stuff. I’m thinking that is why St Valentine has his day in February. Snuggling up in August is fine, but snuggling now is wonderful! I will say the animals even seem to like it. Sure, part of it is necessary, but they play and frolic, then settle down and even cover up with the bedding.

I am not going to fight Mother Nature. She has it all worked out. The weather breaks enough to allow the wildlife to get food and water. Some of the wildlife know where to go no matter what the weather does. My buddy in Pennsylvania went to pick a remote five acre field of ear corn. When he got there, the corn was gone. The stalks were all there, but the ears had been eaten by the deer.

As we talked about the wildlife on his mountain farm, he also told me how the bears paw open his plastic wrapped bales of silage. They ruin a few every year he told me. Man, to think about a bear ripping open a big round bale, then rolling it halfway down a hill, makes me shake my head….and glad to live on the flat land.

We try to live in harmony with nature. I am an environmental steward. I manage my woodlot in ways that enhance wildlife habitat. We farm this farm in ways that keep water quality protected. I look out for my animals and the ones who call our farm their home. So, for tonight, we will snuggle up, make plans and stay warm!