Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Friends came to visit for the day yesterday. We have four sons, they have 5, so what do you do with all that energy?

David was given a go-cart from someone in the area and needed to get it going. Andrew installed a snowmobile engine on the cart, and yesterday the boys worked on it and got it going. They got it up to quite a speed, and then the engine fell off! Guess the bolts used weren't strong enough.

Now it's back to the drawing board to figure out how to bolt the engine to the frame. I'm not worried; Andrew will figure it out. He's quite the mechanic.

So, the boys had to find something else to do.
Everyone but Jonathan donned swimming gear and poled out to the deeper part of the lake. It was time for swimming! After a pep talk from Jim about keeping safety in mind and a quick prayer, off they went.

A fun time was had by all.
The only cloud on the day was when barefooted Peter was stepped on by our horse. Ouch! She got his big toe. Our friend is an EMT, and determined the toe wasn't broken, thankfully. We had Peter soak it in hot then cold water, and he went to bed.
This morning Peter told me he hardly slept last night, so he went back to bed after milking the goats. After more doctoring, Peter is sitting in the recliner with his feet up, enjoying a book that came in today's mail from interlibrary loan. Our family would have a hard time without that service!
I'm also including a photo of one of my rose bushes. It was much prettier before the wind blew away some of the rose petals, but still looks very nice.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Greening Up

Our gardens are looking pretty good, in spite of how cool our spring turned out to be this year. Our tomato plants that were planted in the hoop house are doing very well. That is a very good thing, since last year we hardly had any tomatoes that made it to maturity on the vines. Most of them had to be picked just before a killing frost and left to ripen in the upstairs of our house.

Above are our raspberry plants. The boys were complaining that they couldn't do any weeding in there because there are too many bees buzzing the plants! That is a very good thing, too.

We've had many occasions when there was rain in the forecast, but none came. This is what the clouds looked like on Friday afternoon. We thought for sure it would rain -- but there was only a brief period of showers.

From this photo you can tell the rain went north of us, and headed into Canada.
Today we actually had a good soaking rain. Since we've been skunked so many times the boys waited to get the animals into the barn, and the joke was on them. Everyone was soaked to the skin by the time they got back into the house. We are very thankful for every drop of rain.

We are in the beginning of our harvest of strawberries. They are so good! I'm not sure how we'll market them, but until then we are enjoying them ourselves.
I've been busy cleaning canning jars that weren't used last year for the harvest. We placed an ad in the local weekly newspaper for jars, and came up with quite a few. I didn't have time to do anything with the remaining jars, so for the past few days I've been cleaning and organizing them into boxes for water bath canning and pressure canning. It will be so nice to have them ready for me when it's time to begin.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Days

It's amazing to me how our weather went from a very chilly spring to warm, sunny days. This weekend we had temperatures in the 80's, and our gardens are growing like crazy. The weeds are growing, too, and it's always a challenge to keep ahead of them.

On Saturday Jim, Jonathan and Peter headed to near Bismarck to attend the 7th annual Prairie Days, which is a weekend of fun, fellowship, and teaching of homesteading skills. A lot of our friends attend the event. This year Jonathan was asked to provide a workshop on survival skills, and then the three played bluegrass music during one of the shared meals.

Andrew, David and I stayed behind to take care of the home front. We were kept busy with chores ... Jonathan has a lot of chickens running around at various stages of development, so we kept busy keeping everybody happy.

There are broiler chickens and our egg layers in movable pens out in the field, and we made sure there was plenty of fresh water and food for them. The cow and horse are also located in this field.

Those bell waterers can be a challenge to maintain, since the filter can become clogged and then water doesn't refill the tray. We had to clean out a couple of them during our day of keeping watch over the chickens.

These are the chicks still growing in the chicken coop. I can't remember how old they are now, but they are certainly growing like the weeds in the gardens.

So, what do you do with old campaign signs? You create a raft!

Andrew designed and created a raft made out of four old barrels and scrap wood. I was so impressed with the job he did. He even kept a hole in the middle and added a ladder, so after jumping off the raft they can go under the raft and come up in the middle and climb back on.

Instead of anchoring the raft in the lake to be left there all summer they are using poles to push it out to the main part of the lake and then drop anchor and have some fun.

Yesterday I was talked into taking a spin on the raft with David and Andrew. I didn't swim, but enjoyed watching them having fun in the water. The lake isn't very deep, but we poled the raft to a spot where it was plenty deep for the boys. The weather was a bit warmer than when we took the above photo!

Once the boys were swimming we noticed that we were drifting more than we should have been -- turns out Andrew's knot didn't hold when tying the anchor rope to the raft. We were able to pole to where we noticed the rope floating in the water and retied it to the raft.

By then it was time to get back to shore for one more feeding of the chicks before their food was taken away for the night. It turned out to be quite a challenge to pole against the breeze to get back to shore.

Even our dog Samson got into the act of enjoying the water. We didn't allow him to go with us on the raft, so he decided to try to follow us on shore. Just as we were starting to pole back to shore, we noticed that Samson had decided to swim all the way across from one shore to the opposite one. Good thing he is a good swimmer, and made it home before we did. The guys had our camera down at Prairie Days, so I didn't get any photos of the day.


PS: I don't know how to fix the problem of keeping my paragraphs where I want them to be. Whenever I use photos on a blog entry, it seems I am at the mercy of the Blogger program as to how the paragraphs and placement of the photos are arranged when I publish the post. It has been very frustrating to me. Does anyone else have this problem?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

My Appleseed Project Weekend -- Chores

I thought I would give you an example of what it is like on the farm when I am left to do chores while everyone else leaves to attend an event. I don't know if it's because I'm unfamiliar with the inner workings of our farm (the boys don't always tell me about their misadventures or quirky animals) or if it's just that things happen. It sure makes life interesting!

Last weekend was a very busy one for me. Jim and the boys left by 6:00 a.m. to travel a couple of hours to where the Appleseed Project weekend would take place. I went back out to finish chores around 8:00, and then worked on some other projects around the house.

Around noon I checked on the broiler chicks located in the chicken barn. Those creatures sure can eat! Jonathan has boards blocking the chicks into one area of the barn, and when they saw me walk in they flocked to the other side of the gate. It was very hard not to step on them. I felt like I was constantly filling their feeding dishes.
This time I noticed the bell waterer had quit working, so the chicks weren't getting any water. I tried fiddling with the tube (there is a bucket of water that feeds the waterer), but nothing happened. I do not possess a mechanical mind and couldn't figure out what was wrong, so I walked up the hill and checked the internet.
From what I gathered, the filter on the waterer was most likely plugged, but it didn't tell me where the filter was located or how to access it! I decided to go back down and fill some small feeders Jonathan had left in the barn with water. That meant I had to go down every hour or so and refill the pans.
Later I went to check the egg layers located in movable pens a ways from the house and behind our raspberry bushes. In one pen I discovered a chicken close to death. The others had pecked her so badly that her intestines were out. By the time I got her out of the pen she was dead. I didn't have a clue why that had just happened.
Later in the day I knew the shoot would be over, so I called someone's cell phone and he gave the phone to Jonathan. He then was able to walk me through how to find and clean the filter on the waterer, and wonder of wonders -- it worked! I was so relieved, and I'm sure the chicks were as well.
I also discussed the dead chicken, and Jonathan asked me if that pen still had food in the feeder. I had thought so, but when I went back to check things I did notice the feeder was smaller than the other pens' feeders, and it was indeed short of feed. No wonder the chickens had found a victim to prey on.

I have a feeling our dog Samson decided so sneak over to the woods where I left the dead chicken, as he had a very guilty look on his face when I walked out of the house.

Jim had asked me to water the gardens; I tried, but couldn't figure out how to get the water to go to the sprinkler I wanted it to go to. I gave it up for the time being. This really made me wish I had paid closer attention to the times I watched the men work the sprinkler system.

In the evening I tucked everyone in for the night, and when I was down checking the cow and horse I heard a terrible ruckus. Three roosters were beating up on a fourth one. The night before one of the Buff Orpington roosters had been sitting on a pile of dirt in front of the house; his eyes were swollen shut and he hardly moved. In the morning he seemed better, but apparently the other roosters weren't finished with him yet. I grabbed a stick and smacked the attacking roosters and they finally left the injured one alone. He entered the barn, and I hoped he would have a chance to recover.
I also had to contend with our cat, Funny Face. She seems to have been pregnant forever, but I had a feeling she was in labor and wanted to deliver in the house. She has had her kittens outside in the past, and this time we wanted her to do that as well. Jim has an allergy to cats.
Funny Face followed me all over the farm and meowed constantly. I even walked over to the chicken tractors three times in a half hour, and she followed me every time! I don't know how she did it.
During evening chores I had to take the food away from the broiler chicks. We found out the hard way that they tend to eat themselves into problems and can have heart attacks from eating too much. So, they need to be without food for 12 hours each day. They weren't too happy with me when I took the feeders out for the night.

In the morning I was a welcome sight for the chicks, and it was quite a challenge to get the feeders back into their pen without setting them on somebody. They acted like I had starved them!

Another waterer in one of the egg layer's pen went out, and I was glad I had talked to Jonathan the night before so I knew what to do to fix it. I actually had to hold onto the top cover of the pen (there was a pretty stiff wind out there and I didn't want it flying off its hinges), climb in and repair the waterer, then get it hanging again on its nail. I was beginning to feel like Houdini!

At noon I went down to give the goats and large animals more hay. The guys have been letting the goats out to roam, but I thought that was a recipe for disaster with only me here so I kept them in the barnyard. They didn't like me for it, though. The cow is usually staked out for the day, but I wasn't going to tackle that or milking the goats.

Anyway, one of our yearling goats had gotten her head out of the fence and was stuck. I couldn't get her out, so I walked back up to the house and tried to think about what to do.

All of a sudden the stuck goat was screaming, and I ran down there to find the cow bashing her on her side. There was also a couple of other goats that were smashing into her as well. She was frantic. It's usually hard to tell any kind of emotion on a goat, but this time I could sure tell she was scared.
I filled the feeder so the other animals had something else do to than torment her, and they quit. I tried to get her head out of the fence, but she resisted anything I did.

I ran back up to the house and called a friend to come over and help. I got in the fence and she twisted the goat's head back while I pulled from behind, and the goat's head was pulled out. She was okay, but probably pretty sore from her ordeal.

At least the pigs were no trouble at all!
Funny Face did have her kittens that night, and the injured rooster disappeared.

I was also very thankful when Jim and the boys returned before evening chores on Sunday night.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Strange Weather

We'll see how we do Saturday night:

Saturday Night
Cloudy with chance of rain and slight chance of snow. Lows in the upper 30s. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.

We have our potatoes planted, and just a few things left to go into the ground. I sure hope it doesn't snow!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Oh No, Not Again!

After a very cool spring, our family has attempted to get all of our vegetable plants in the ground. Then we receive another forecast like this:

Mostly cloudy with slight chance of rain showers and isolated thunderstorms in the evening...then partly cloudy after midnight. Patchy frost late in the night. Lows in the upper 30s. North winds 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 20 percent.

Mostly sunny. Patchy frost in the morning. Highs in the lower 60s. North winds 5 to 15 mph.

Tuesday Night
Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 30s. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph shifting to the southwest after midnight.

This forecast is for our nearest town; we live 15 miles away in a higher elevation, so who knows what we will receive as far as freezing temperatures. Our family was up at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday to get ready to leave for the Appleseed Project, and there was frost on the chicken barn roof.

Guess this is our year for keeping a sharp eye on the weather.