Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: cover crop, gardening, planting, plowing, raised beds, Small Farming
August 24, 2015
Our new (this year) raised bed gardens performed very well in spite of the June floods and the recent lack of rains. We have been dry for over six weeks. The weatherman says we are three inches behind in the rain department. Being able to control the amount of moisture no matter what the weather helped us to grow an abundance of food even though our plots were the smallest we have ever grown.
I am pulling out the plants that are done producing. The tomatoes, a few peppers, some winter squash and a cantaloupe vine are all that remains. I am about to plant cover crops in the vacant beds. This cover will put our garden to bed for…dare I say it?… Winter! While there is still plenty to do, one must stay focused on the northern sky, where Old Man Winter and Jack Frost are plotting their chilly plans :o
Next week we will plant a few things. Any month with and “R” in it is the time for planting trees, shrubs and most perennials. I need to plant all of the above and will even try boldly to relocate our strawberry bed. The horses and I will soon be plowing for speltz, but I am holding out a little longer for some soil softening rain. The water will make the plow pull easier and believe me, we are a very long way from being too wet to plow. The soil and the weather rule and guide a farmer…that is just the way it grows.
Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: back to school, empty nest, joy, life, Love, Small Farming, tears, weaning calves
August 23, 2015
It’s the time of year when we wean the calves. The mother’s need a rest period before this years babies come. It has been very noisey here these last few days…and nights! The calves think they need to nurse. The moms udders are a bit swollen, so everyone is mooing and the rest of us are holding our hands over our ears. I even called the neighbors so that they wouldn’t worry.
Today, it is much better. The calves are mostly hoarse from mooing constantly. They even moo with their mouths full. I put three gilts (young girl pigs) in with them to distract them. It worked, but they just all slept together in a barnyard sleep over! As soon as they woke up the magical music started again :o My son next door says the echo even comes through the baby monitor…so everyone is sharing in the farm experience.
I can’t help but think about the moms and dads whose children are headed off to school or college. There will be tears and boo hoos, as separation anxiety overcomes all involved. I guess it is good for all of us, but nothing bends a heart like the loneliness of someone leaving…especially a child. It makes us all grow up. There is no shame in a few shed tears, an extra hug or two or that lump in your throat that won’t go down. It’s part of life…and life can be hard!
Soon, the mother cows will be nursing new calves. The cry babies on the feedlot today, will be part of the herd again soon. These sad days long forgotten as they too become moms before they know it. Some will head off to freezer camp to nourish the farmer’s family as the cycle of life continues to turn.
I remember very well the days when our children left home to make their way in the world. They soon came back with spouses and babies of their own to share. So, your nest may be empty for a while, but fear not it will soon be full again. The days between empty and full, are called life… and that fullness is called love…. So, enjoy life to the fullest!
Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: calves, equipment, firewood, Small Farming
August 19, 2015
It has been a busy , hot, dry month so far. The rain has just decided not to fall here I guess. I made our second cutting hay last week. The amount was small, but I am still thankful for the feed. I have been cleaning up around the back pond and sugarhouse, nothing like a fire on a hot day :o
Yesterday, I got a call from a friend about some trees being taken down. The wood was free for the taking. I went after a load for next year’s sugarwood. It seems I chase firewood all year, but this was an easy score. They even loaded it for me. I was very glad, because I have been nursing a sore back for the last several days.
We put the sugarhouse tank in it’s place. It still needs to be moved a little bit then plumbed up to the evaporator, but it is inside. Progress can be seen around the farm as we clean up corners, mow brush and repair fences. It’s time to wean the calves, so a noisy place this will be for a day or two. The calves think they need the milk, but moms need to rest as they await the next generation.
School has started here. Some of my help has now faded until the weekend or an occasional evening after school. I am glad that the big projects are complete. We continue to pick away at the small stuff, putting equipment away as we finish jobs. The hay tools have mostly all been cleaned and stored away. The days are getting shorter and the leaves are starting to turn. Winter will be upon us soon, but for now, I will continue to cram as much into each day as I can, living life to the fullest and cleaning up as I go!
Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: best management practices, Countryside magazine, environmental stewardship, pig drinker, pig nipple, ponds, pork chops, rain, Rural Heritage magazine, water, water quality, wetland
August 10, 2015
Tonight as I write, we are getting a very nice rain. It has been raining for over three hours. The weatherman says it should rain off and on all night. This is our first rain since the 5th of July. It is pretty dry here. The grasses, the gardens and the trees are drinking their fill as well.
Our second cutting grass/hay is ready to cut. This rainy period is just what we need. The corn was starting to curl as it too, was wanting water. The pig herd was playing in the water when I got home. The whole farm seems content, with the exception of a few hens who got stranded outside when the wind blew the coop door shut :o
We were featured in the current issue of Countryside magazine. The horses and I are looking forward to farming full time. I thirst for that day. The horses just like having me near. I am sure that breathing on them is as good for them as it is for me. The peace from our partnership fills me and satisfies my soul. I write a column in Rural Heritage magazine. In the current issue, I describe a way to grow pork chops in your backyard, complete with directions on how to set up gravity water flow to a pig drinker.
It’s all about water. The moisture of life, without which we die. I do all that I can to protect the quality of water that leaves my farm. I catch two ponds full. I maintain a ten acre wetland that borders a large stream. I use best management practices when logging, farming and especially when spreading manure. I am a good neighbor, a good steward and a protector of the resources that this farm holds. I am so careful with water, that I have even been called a …drip!
August 7, 2015
This sow is waiting for her due date. She is laying in the shade in the cool earthen bed she made. I that that is about as comfortable as a girl can get. :o
Her young ones will be here soon. The rest of the herd pays her no mind. Two sows have had their babies already. Two more younger gilts are in the middle of their gestation, so it will be a couple more months before they deliver their piglets. The boar over sees all of them. He is a proud papa who watches over his youngsters, keeps an eye on the girls and still comes to me to be petted.
It is dry on the farm. The pig’s wallow has dried up. If the rains don’t come soon, I may actually haul them some water back just to make them a mud hole. For now, the cool shade in the wooded pasture is keeping them cool, but if those hot, muggy days return, I will give them a pool to play in.
I managed to finish hauling all of my compost today. I put a thin coating on the big horse pasture. I also had enough to put on a small field where next year’s speltz will be planted. I am glad to have that job completed. When the rains come and they will, it will be great to have the nutrient rich compost washing into the hungry soil. The pasture grasses will jump as they put away stores, to carry them over winter.
So, we are waiting on birthdays, second cutting and some rain. I am keeping busy putting away equipment, making a few repairs and sitting in the shade now and then.
Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: Border Collie, childhood, County Fair, school, summer fun
August 6, 2015
Connie and Cinch play an almost daily game as she waters her flowers. Cinch loves to “chew” water from a hose. I caught the two of them playing in the water the other day and snapped this picture. He jumps at the water and gobbles up huge mouthfuls. He is funny to watch and I admit, I have to play with him too as I fill water troughs around the farm.
Summer is flying by these days. It’s hard to believe that the county fair is next week and school for children starts soon after. When I was a boy in 4-H, the county fair was the highlight of our summer. It was where we met up with old friends, rode rides and ate “food” from the midway. It was also a time for great responsibility. We had to care for, then show our animals. Unlike the daily care at home, we tended our stock 24/7, making sure city folks saw as little manure as possible.
We worked hard, lost sleep and fell in love, always with a farm animal nearby. I never out grew it. I am the most comfortable around animals. They are my passion. They put me at ease…no matter if I am working hard or tired from lack of sleep. As for falling in love, it still works! I fell in love for the last time, thirty years ago, but I continue to fall in love with new babies, boy and girlfriends of grandchildren and people who God puts into my life, always with a farm animal nearby.
The end of the fair week was bittersweet. It signaled the end of summer. It meant saying goodbye to friends from other school districts until next year. It meant saying goodbye to an animal friend raised and shown for it’s carcass. It meant school was just around the corner and the only thing to look forward to was mowing the yard. So, this time of year meant cramming as much summer fun into each day as possible. I still live by this creed. So, if you find me squirting water at my dog, you’ll know that I am just reliving the wonderful days of my childhood!
Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: Farming, food, gardening, pastured pork, piglets, stress free
August 5, 2015
We have two sows that have had their babies. They are finally following mom around. They are the cutest things on the farm right now. They were born on pasture in a big nest. They nor their mom was caged or penned up unless you consider a 4 acre pasture penned up. They act as if the whole world is their oyster and are exploring everything they see.
I caught these guys in the shade of the woods. Everyone was napping when I walked up. They laid still for a while until Cinch must have alerted them. The mothers jumped up with a start and sixteen babies headed for the safety of a nearby thicket. I snapped pictures as the little guys took off. It was a hoot watching them jump over a fallen log as they scrambled away.
These litters are the result of over thirty years of selecting for mothering in my gilts. They are the product of docile boars and mixed genetics. They show what time and patience will do for a farmer. I need healthy piglets that grow fast and are easy to handle. I want a lean carcass, well muscled and long…but most of all I want a tender pork chop. I get all these things by careful breeding in an environment without stress…for the animal or the farmer.
Commercial farmers may think I am all wrong. They will say that this is no way to grow production pork. I don’t care what they say…for me it’s the only way. Safe wholesome food is not a concept…it should be a way of life. Pork, plants and people all do better without stress in their lives…so find a way to relieve it. I do it by farming and gardening…and if watching little pigs scramble over a log doesn’t make you smile…. I don’t know what will :o