Put a Lid on It
July 3, 2015, 6:28 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Even a skylight!

Even a skylight!

July 3, 2015

We managed to get the walls and roof on the sugarhouse addition. Only the doors and batten strips remain to be finished. The addition is turning out even better than I visualized in my head. We even put two skylights in the roof to make use of natural light. I know from experience that there is nothing like it. The big windows on the sugarhouse itself, let in much more light than I can make with a few bulbs. The manmade light works good at night, when piercing the dark, but falls way short during the light of day.

The rain fell as the work commenced, but in the end, a nice day made this building project fun to build. It will soon be all closed in and the work on the inside will start. A wall will come down and a set of stairs will be built. The large tank is scheduled for October. The installation will take place then. There will be plumbing to do and a few other things to complete, along with a final measurement of my hill outside for unloading. Gravity can be your friend, but he can be a mean enemy when trying to push water uphill…saying nothing about how he helped my chest fall into my drawers :o

The fields are still wet, but drying. Farm work is stalled, but completing projects such as this, makes me feel good. The work all has to get done, so changing the order is good planning not a shotgun approach to work. On a small farm it is all about adapting to change. It is about wearing many hats like a builder, a veterinarian, a gardener, a logger and a mentor. I embrace this life. I take up the challenge and speak up for small farmers…..so the nay-sayers can “Put a lid on it!”

Hay man! Where’s the sun?
July 2, 2015, 9:37 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Ripe and ready

Ripe and ready

July, 2 2015

The rains keep falling, the grass keeps growing. The clovers and hay grasses continue to ripen. It will be all fine, but I’d sure like to be making dry hay soon. We are making “wet” bales so all is not lost. This will make some very nice winter time feed. The succulent plants, harvested at their peak, provides high protein feed that smells wonderful. Opening a bale when the snow is deep, as the winter wind whips your face, is almost fun. The sweet smelling hay crop reminds me the days of summer. The worries of making a hay crop…gone! So, the lesson is…be patient. It will all work out.

The pastures are growing great. All this rain keeps the grass in top shape. We are mowing the lawn almost every three days. There is no sign of the dry July grass and lawn burnout. I’m sure it will come, but not this week :o Soon, the sun will shine and lots of work will need done all at once. Farmers like myself will be scrambling waiting for a rainy day and the rest that comes with it. Until then, I keep clicking things off my list, some projects not scheduled until fall, but they are complete none the less.

I see a few jobs that will slide of my list until the late cool days of fall. Grass and weeds are taking over the edges of the farm. I generally keep these areas mowed, but to date, they have been wet and saturated. I will get them sooner or later, but this year it will be later! The speltz are ripening quickly. Soon the “amber waves of grain”, will be calling me to harvest. This is a mid-summer job and much to my surprise … It is mid-summer!

A Moo…ving Experience
Ka-boss, come along girls

Ka-boss, come along girls

July 1, 2015

As part of my rotational grazing method of raising livestock, I moo-ve my cows often :o  I just need one gal to follow along and all the rest follow her. Now that we have been doing this a while, I say Ka-boss and they come running. They know that something good is about to happen! Even last years calves, still sucking moms, beat feet to the gate or new place that I am taking them.

My horse pasture is an area of almost six acres. I only have three draft horses on that paddock, so they can’t keep up with the grass, especially at this time of year. They also eat their favorite places down and leave other areas alone. I put the cows in there with them, just before mowing the pasture. The cows aren’t as picky. They eat the tall grass and anything else that grows pretty much. This makes great use of my forages, keeps all the grass growing well and rids the pasture of a few weeds in the process.

Having tame livestock is a plus, but once they know there is a reward for coming, even the surly ones follow the rest. The young stock go where mom goes. They stay together even grazing in a little herd. They go to the water at the same time and even rest together. The horses keep to themselves too. They don’t chase the cows, but definitely rule the pasture. They drink first. They come in first. and the cows move out of the way. I’m not sure how they learned this, but it goes on this way no matter which horses or cows that I have had over the years. I don’t question it any more. I’m just grateful it woks out so well.

I’m Tired
All tuckered out from playing with the tire swing!

All tuckered out from playing with the tire swing!

June 30, 2015

Today, as I waited for more rain to fall, I installed tire swings for my pigs playtime. “What?”, you ask. Yes, tire swings. The pigs love to play with them. They bite on them. They push them around with their noses. They even crawl through them and rub their bellies. It is funny as heck to watch them play. In the past I have also used old bowling balls to give them something to do. I will say though, they like the tires best :o

Often our pigs are outside. The sow herd is currently enjoying a big pasture from which to graze, play and wallow in the mud. These smaller ones would cause a big fight if I was to put them in with the sows. It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. It is much better for these fattening pigs to have recess on the feedlot and play on the tire swings for fun. They do get to go out and play in the mud in a little paddock next to the barn. I guess they just like being pigs, eating , playing and resting…and best of all growing, in a stress free environment.

We have been using sawdust for bedding this summer. We tried chips, but they weren’t absorbent enough. The sawdust gets damp and stays cool. We scoop out the poop and strip the stalls when needed. The pigs like the damp cool sawdust on hot days. They stay comfortable and clean. The pen smells like sawdust too, a much better odor than pig poop!

The horses got their feet trimmed today. Knight has soft hooves, so he keeps shoes on all year. Duke and Hoss have hard feet that just need trimmed usually. I do put steel shoes on when working on the road or heavy work where they could slip. Our jobs for the next few months are light. We will mostly work in the hay fields. Well, that is the hope anyway :o

One of our gilts watches a bird

One of our gilts watches a bird

And they go with Ice Cream too!
June 28, 2015, 3:33 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Raspberries ripening in the new bed

Raspberries ripening in the new bed

June 28, 2015

We have been enjoying this awesome fruit for a few days now. I like raspberries in yogurt, plain in my hand and on ice cream! My grandma Rice used to make homemade ice cream and just about the time it was done, she’d throw raspberries into the churning, freezing mixture that I love so very much. I have many fond memories of licking that red-ish purple treat. Sometimes, when I eat a raspberry, I can almost hear my grandma’s voice or feel her touch. Yes, there is magic in those berries!

I transplanted these plants early this spring. I was hoping they would survive in their new space. I never imagined that they would thrive! I am guessing the success is due in part to our rainy weather. The space between plants is helping to prevent plant problems like powdery mildew. This has been a great project and we are being rewarded with tasty, sweet fruit for our efforts.I even plan to dry a few leaves to be brewed for hot tea on a cold winter night :o

June is fast coming to an end. It’s had to believe that one third of our summer is over. Our hay is still standing and many early summer projects are on hold. All is well, as long as, there are such wonderful things such as fresh raspberries and ice cream!

Great Year for a Raised Bed
June 27, 2015, 3:34 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Garden beds starting to look good

Garden beds starting to look good

June 27, 2015

As I write this post, rain is hammering down outside. We have gotten over 2 inches since 5am this morning. We are still pretty wet from the last rains we got a few days ago. I am very glad to be gardening in raised beds this year. The plants, though well watered, are still doing great as their roots are above the flood zone :o

It does take some getting used to. I usually have many more plants to weed and watch over. Our garden needs have become smaller as our family has too. Gardening like this is actually fun. It doesn’t take any time to weed or hoe a bed. The dirt is loose and easy to dig into. The best part is that even when it is wet, my shoes stay clean as I do my “dirt work” standing on the lawn!

The sugarhouse addition is coming along, but the rains have delayed that project a little too. No worries, I am sure it will wait for me! My biggest issue is waiting to make dry hay for the horses. That too will all work out, I along with everybody else in northeast Ohio, just needs to be patient.

Laying Hens
June 25, 2015, 7:40 am
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
The Lil Red Hen takes a break!

The Lil Red Hen takes a break!

June 25, 2015

“Who wants to spend their life in a small cage, laying eggs?” … “not I”, said the Lil Red Hen

“Who wants to live in a crowded barn with 49,999 other hens?” …”Not I”, said the Lil Red Hen

“Who thinks overcrowding, antibiotics, and fecal matter so thick a hen can’t breathe is the way to raise chickens? … Certainly not I”, said the Lil Red Hen

It’s not funny! It is true. I can’t help but wonder about all the hype caused by the “avian flu”.  “They” say it came from China. Hmmm, now we are supposed to be glad that our egg prices won’t go up because we are going to import eggs…from China!

“They” say us backyard flocks are the problem. I say bullshit! I think this is one more way to scare city people into “buying what they are selling”. I think it’s one more way for our far reaching government to control us. I fear their efforts to “help me out”.

Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to give us all we want, is big enough to take all we have.” I think these words have never been truer. “I love my country, but fear my government”….. what a sad thing to say…, said the Lil Red Blogger.


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