Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our Newest Crop

We haven't quite succeeded in keeping the weeds down in our strawberry patch, so you have to look very carefully to find the berries. Little by little we are moving the beds to a new location and first laying down a type of plastic and then planting the strawberry plants through the covering.

They are delicious!

Oh yes, we also have a new crop of babies as well. Andrew took this photo of some baby birds in a nest near our workshop door.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cows, Chickens, and Other Things

David has been given the responsibility of caring for Cal, our little steer. He loves to be with people, and is very curious about the big outdoors. The boys let him out regularly to walk around and check things out. However, he spends most of his time out of the fence closely following David around.

Samson finds Cal very interesting as well; especially when he has milk on his face. Cal is just a little bit bigger than Samson.

It certainly doesn't take long for Cal to down a bottle!

Today was a test to see how well we would do with butchering chickens. Jonathan chose the largest broilers in the pens to butcher and see what the end result would weigh. There was a lady that asked for some chickens for tomorrow, and we were happy to oblige since we needed to check them out anyway.

Jonathan had purchased Herrick Kimball's book, Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker, and it also gave detailed instructions on how to construct cones for what we need to do with the chickens. They worked a whole lot better than last year's cones made from wire.

Last year Jonathan bartered (I think it was) raspberries for this chicken plucker.

Today they used a garbage can to heat the water for scalding the chickens, but when we do the actual job we'll borrow our neighbor's turkey fryer to see how that works. It we are happy with it we'll try to find one of our own. Eventually Jonathan would like to construct a Whizbang chicken scalder.

Cleaning up after butchering.

My delphiniums are monsters this year, and I should have transplanted some of them to another area. As you can see, the flowers in the rest of the garden have a long ways to go.

Here's another photo of my sweet williams that are growing along my rock wall.

This year the guys created raised beds for my herbs. I pulled what I could out of my old herb garden, and hopefully the plants will thrive in here. I may have squeezed too many things in the 2 beds, and maybe by next year I can have some more made and spread out the plants.

Jim has been experimenting for a couple of years with blueberry plants. Last year they died over the winter. Jim contacted the company where we got them and asked what he could do to get them to live through our winters, and instead of replying we received 2 more boxes of plants!

I decided not to pull these pink daisies out of my old herb garden. They are tending to take over that garden area.

I need to start harvesting my comfrey.

The corn in the hoop house is getting quite tall. After I took this photo, Jim took off the hoop house plastic covering. Hopefully everything in there will continue to do well.

My flowers are pretty, but I sure have a lot of weeding to do!
PS: While some of the boys were out in the lake our dog Samson was sprayed by a skunk! Peter and I were in the house and heard Samson barking and barking, so Peter went down the hill to see what was going on. He witnessed Samson chasing a skunk into a hole, and the next thing he saw was Samson getting sprayed -- and a mist of the spray floating away in the sunlight. Needless to say, Samson is not visiting us in the house tonight! I hear a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap works wonders.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Farm Photos

Things are still growing, in spite of all the rain we've had.
Andrew took some photos of my flowers. Above is a photo of sweet williams.

More sweet williams. This year I lined our rock wall with this type of flower instead of petunias.

Over by the cabins we moved in last year is a row of lilac and rose bushes. The flowers are very pretty right now.

Jim planted more strawberry plants, and is trying a new type of cover to keep down the weeds. We'll see how they do.

Our horse and cows have become a herd; where one goes the others follow.

Sandy is the leader of the pack.

The photo is kind of dark, but it shows where Jonathan has placed the chicken's movable pens up to the field where he has been keeping his younger layers.

The layers seem to really enjoy the lush, fresh grass.

I think the turkeys have become some of my favorite animals on the farm. They have so much personality, and love visiting with me when I walk up to where they are being kept. They are very curious and love checking things out. They are also quite the talkers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Special Day

Yesterday dawned sunny and clear. It was still very muddy, though, since we've had such rainy weather. Good thing the weather was nice, since we were heading to a wedding.

Jonathan, David and I planned to make the 4 hour trip to the Dagley farm for the celebration. We ended up taking the old pick-up truck, which meant only 3 of us could go. Our friend Paulette was also driving down, so I hopped a ride with her so I could keep clean until the wedding. We took our 2 way radios so we could communicate between vehicles. Paulette was staying in the area overnight, and I rode back home with the boys.

The wedding was the day after Prairie Days, an annual family event held at the Dagley's. Quite a few families stayed for the event. The ceremony was outdoors, and the weather was perfect.

The above photo is of Hannah the bride, and Ron Stover, her dad. The wedding had a western theme.

The extended families were the wedding party, and the 2 dads performed the ceremony. I was sitting off to the side and a ways away from the front, so I didn't get as many photos as I should have.

We've been friends with the Stovers and Dagleys for quite a few years, and it was such a blessing to see Benjamin and Hannah bringing the families together.

Oh, and the reason we ended up taking the truck was because we picked up the newest addition to our farm:

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A yet unnamed 1-1/2 month old calf, who we are now bottle feeding. He was so good on the way home -- just laid down and took it easy. Hopefully he will adjust soon to the Bartlett Farm.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Floating Garden

This is what part of our garden looked like after the deluge was over. I can't imagine living through something like a hurricane. We sustained some water in the basement as well.

Tomato plant ...

Onions ...

Celery ...

And green beans.
Later yesterday and again this morning, Andrew and David set up the generator and pump to get rid of the water.
Today was a very beautiful day, with lots of sunshine. Now it's clouding over and we may have a bit more rain. This has certainly been an unusual start to summer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gardening in Between Raindrops

More rain today. My parents called tonight; apparently our area even made the news back in northern Minnesota. According to the water I poured out of the dog dish we must have had at least a couple of inches in less than an hour -- and then some.

Yesterday was a lull in between storms, so I pushed myself outside to plant the remaining herbs and flowers.

I encountered one big pest: Henry the cat. He made up his mind he was going to sleep underneath the delphiniums, so I finally gave in and left him alone. I sure hope he leaves my newly planted flowers alone.

Our garden items are coming along nicely in spite of all the rain. However, we have lots of weeding to do. I neglected our asparagus patch, so we probably had only one meal out of them. Our friend Steve told us they are heavy feeders and we should have given them nutrients, so that information will be stored for next year's growing season and chalk it up to another case of learning things the hard way.

Yesterday Andrew took some great photos of the farm, and here is one of raspberries in the formation stage.

Our peas are climbing up the chicken wire. Now to get it hot enough to take off the hoop house plastic.
We are also growing a bumper crop of mosquitoes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


We've had lots of rain lately. One neighbor told us she talked with another neighbor, and the week before Memorial Day he poured 9 inches of water out of his rain gauge! Everything has been very soggy.

We were thankful that a friend made a start to improve our driveway. During all the rain we continued to be able to travel in and out without getting stuck. The man was waiting for road restrictions to be over before finishing the work that needs to be done. The restrictions were lifted recently, so hopefully the driveway will be scraped and gravel added in the near future.

The pigs seemed very happy with all the rain -- made it easier for them to dig up the area inside their pen. I don't know why, but all 6 of them insisted on rooting up the path we take to get to their feeder, so it makes for a slippery, mucky walk in there. They haven't rooted up all of their available area, so I wonder why this particular spot was their favorite.
Peter strung electric wire around an area near where our semi trailer is temporarily parked. As soon as the pigs are brave enough they will discover how much room they have to move around in and dig up.

We've not had warm enough temperatures to take off the hoop house plastic. Night time temperatures are still in the 40's, and daytime temps seem to hover in the 60's. I think I read one day this week we may actually hit the mid 70's.
Our corn is knee high in the hoop house, so hopefully we'll have some to eat on David's 11th birthday the end of July.

The tomato plants are looking pretty good in there as well. The plants in the field aren't half as nice, but hopefully things will perk up soon.
Tomorrow I need to finally get some flowers planted.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Update on the Farmstead

We've had some very busy days lately, and here are a few photos to show some of what we've been doing.
Jonathan has his second batch of broilers for the season in the coop. His first batch are out in the field in movable pens. It's amazing how quickly they grow. We will butcher the first 200 at the end of this month.

We also have 39 turkeys running around in another section of the coop. Thankfully Jonathan has only lost one of the batch. We haven't had turkeys for about 3 years, and all I remember about them is how tough it was to keep them alive for the first 6 weeks or so. After that they were tough!

The Rhode Island Red hens that Jonathan purchased for egg laying are now out in the big field surrounded by poultry netting. At the time the photo was taken they must have been in their coop.
One night we had a lot of thunder and lightening, so Peter shut off the electric fence. I'm not sure what can happen to the fence during a storm, but apparently it can sustain damage. In the morning Jonathan discovered something had gotten through the netting and killed 14 chickens, with another 4 unaccounted for. We suspect it was a skunk, since some dead chickens had blood on their necks but others were eaten and the carcasses left behind. We won't do that again! Thankfully nothing else has happened to the rest.

This is Jefferson Davis -- Jeff for short. He caused quite a bit of problems last night during milking time for Sandy, our Jersey cow. This was Sandy's first cycle when Jeff was around and she was in heat, so she was very crabby when Peter brought her into the barn for milking. She wouldn't stand still, and kicked over the milk bucket, dousing our dog Samson. He didn't seem to mind, though, and proceeded to lick up what milk he could reach.

And finally -- progress is being made with the installation of our siding. It's looking pretty good.
There's lots more to tell about what's been happening!