Category Archives: Farming

Finished the Yard

Yesterday was the first pretty day I’ve had in over a week without the wind trying to blow me off the mountain!!!  Hubby was turkey hunting and our daughter was working on the yard at her new house so I decided to tackle the rest of our yard and it was bad!

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

Maple tree leaves help protect my roses and perennials all winter long but they’re a bugger to take care of in the spring!

I started raking around 1:00, I think, and finished about two hours later.  I hauled my big wheelbarrow away with six packed-down loads.  Now the entire yard has been cleaned up and I’m ready for some gorgeous flowers to brighten my life!!

This is where I began. It doesn’t look like much now but once the perennials between the roses come out it will look great. The big rocks that I use for edging came from the site where our daughter has built her new home. They make great edging and I don’t disturb the flowers when I’m mowing.

Next was the corner rose garden. I started using the old red gate last year to try to contain the old-fashioned rose. I wired an old birdhouse that Uncle Holl had made to it to dress it up and this year I have a pair of bluebirds nesting in it.

bluebird nesting in the rose garden! Love it!

Then I cleaned out the Siberian iris along the south fence prepared the wheelbarrow for something bright red and purple.

After that I replaced my lawn wind flower that Heather got me for Christmas. I love that thing!!! I have to take it down when the wind gets up because it twirls itself apart!  The front of the rose garden is full of sweet-william.  I’ve loved that flower since my grandmother grew it when we all lived in Paint Bank as a child.  Last year is the first year I was able to get it started.  It has stayed green all winter and the frost we had the last two days hasn’t hurt it at all.  It’s beautiful when it blooms and blooms all summer.

Johnny jump-ups are all over the yard now.

My daffodils have been beautiful this year!

I’m so glad the cold doesn’t hurt them.

Isn’t this color so very bright?

 

 

Spring peepers

Have you ever heard of petoots or spring peepers?  It’s those noisy little beings we hear every spring when it starts to get warm!  I love hearing them but I’ve never seen them or ventured out to see what they looked like.  I’ve always assumed they were little tiny frogs.  This year I found out!!!

I went with hubby one morning to feed the cattle and in our back field we have a small pond that’s never gone dry (yet)!    As we drove by the pond we could see the pond just wiggling with life and the noise was deafening.  We went to the back-end of the field and dropped off the hay to roll off the hills to the cattle and then drove back to the pond.  I had my camera with me and finally got pictures of hundreds of the little noise-makers and they weren’t a bit afraid as I took their picture!  You can click on the photos to enlarge and see what I’m talking about.

Petoots of every size!

Usually where there’s one, there’s two!

The noise was deafening and hubby says when he spring turkey hunts you can’t hear the turkey for the frogs!

This isn’t a very big pond but the entire pond was covered with the little buggers! So, my friends, spring petoots, means mating season for frogs!!!

Now all I have to do is find out why we don’t hear the whippoorwill anymore!!  I love listening to them as much as the petoots and grouse drumming in the spring!

New Cattle Working Pen

On February 20th our new cattle holding/working pen had progressed to this.

Hubby and I have been working everyday on the pen when the weather permitted.  We were delayed in the beginning due to problems finding the lumber we needed.  One of our neighbors, Mr. All, has a portable sawmill and sold us 20 of the 1 x 6 x 16 boards to get us started.  We then finally found a sawmill that took private orders and we bought 100 of the boards.  Most sawmills that we contacted don’t take private orders anymore and only sell to commercial builders such as mining operations.

100 oak boards from Bennett’s Sawmill in Lowmoor.

First row of posts are boarded and this side of the pen faces Little Mountain Road. We put heavy woven wire on first and then put the boards on top of that. We did this to prevent the cattle and calves from sticking their heads through the fence and breaking the boards. We’re learning from EXPERIENCE!!

Post holes are dug using a drill and our Kubota tractor. We are drilling into a bank of slate and sometimes had to use our big tractor and its front loader to press on the drill to force it into the slate and break it up.

Next row of posts are dug and post put in the ground with Quikrete.

And some bracing rocks are placed in the holes for durability.

This is the roll of wire that we placed between the posts and the boards.

The is the outside of the pen next to the main road.

This is the second section of boards and woven wire. We put boards on both sides of the posts for a sturdier loading chute. This needs to be sturdy because if the cows or calves are going to get honery getting on the truck, this is the spot where they’ll do it. They’ll try to back out, turn around or go over if they’re really anxious.

From this angle you can see the double layer of boards reinforcing the woven wire

This is another angle from the end of the pen to see the reinforced chute.

This gate is at the entry of the loading chute.The chute opens to an eight foot chute that narrows into a four-foot chute. The eight foot gate will swing from the narrow chute to the wider chute depending on what we are loading, cows or calves.

This four foot gate was then hung at the end of the chute where the trailer will load. You can also see another short gate about half way down the chute to help control turning and backing. Cattle are more apt to go into a wider space at the other end and that’s why we start with a 8 ft space that  narrows as you get toward the end of the chute.

This section is where the wider chute will be and the next we will board up. The posts are set and now we put the boards on. I might mention the posts are treated but the boards are not. We are using 3 inch screws to mount the boards. Once those green boards dry they’ll make the chance of coming out because the boards will shrink around the screws.

This is another section of the pen that we expanded from the old pen. We were experiencing lots of pushing and shoving when trying to separate 50 – 75 head of cattle at the same time. This section will have a gate that opens on both sides at the end of the pen toward the scale house. We can release them into the barnlot or if we still need to do some separating we can release them back in to the loading section.

Yes we have a scale house. The scales with in this building are state certified every year. We can watch the growth of the calves, we can check the weight of the cows or bulls and we can get an idea of how much weight is going to the market before they’re loaded on the truck.

This all I have for now but will continue the saga when the pen is completely finished and we can send a load of fall calves that we’ve weaned and been holding for the completion of the pen and hopefully a price increase.  I’m hopeful it will be completed this week!!!

It’s just about time . . .

This little fat guy came to visit in 2015 and we had almost thirty that year. I had five or six feeders out and had to fill them twice a day.

April 15th is my deadline for putting out the hummingbird feeders. Last year I was late getting them out and didn’t have near as many.  This year I’ve got the jump on them I hope by putting out two feeders on the front porch this morning. I’m early but they might be too!!

First feeder out and ready!

I’ll start with two feeders and always in bright red. That seems to be their favorite color and I plan to have red and purple flowers all over the porch and yard this year. I’ll be watching out for the first fuchsia plant to hand on the porch too. Their vibrant colors really attract them.

Last year the few hummers that I had loved the butterfly bush, geraniums, bleeding hearts and the columbine.

That beak looks deadly, doesn’t it?

We have the ruby-throated hummingbirds here at the farm.

We think they’re stunning birds!

This was last years batch and I think the most we had at any given time was 10-12 and that was toward the end of the season.

Get those feeders out this weekend and let us know how many you have and when you first sighted them!

Here’s my recipe for the feeders, all natural:  1 cup sugar to 4 cups of water.  I mix it up in a pitcher and put it in the microwave for 6 1/2 minutes to sterilize it and keep it from fermenting.  I let it cool to touch and then pour in the feeders.

 

Seasoned Firewood

Although it’s been cold here this winter it’s been nothing like last year and the before.  We only had a total of six inches of snow the entire winter.  That being said we still have a woodhouse two-thirds full of seasoned firewood.

The woodhouse holds six ranks of firewood from one end to the other and almost to the rafters.

From this position you can tell we can put two more ranks in the woodhouse for next season.

From several downed apple trees and locust trees we think we have enough cut for next year.

This is about six or seven tractor dump loads.

This is our woodhouse which sits in the southwest corner of our back yard.

All of this wood will need to be seasoned. By seasoned I mean, we will split the wood and stack it to air in the open air behind the woodhouse so that the moisture will dry out of the wood. Unseasoned wood is the main culprit of flue fires in our neck of the woods. If you’ve not had or heard of them it means that the creosote from the wet wood builds up in your stove-pipe and chimneys and when it gets hot enough it blazes and a blazing fire in the pipes and chimney sounds like a tornado or a big train rolling down the tracks!! Scares me to death and we’ve only had about two in our 45 years of marriage.

The smaller sticks on top are from the maple tree that I posted about earlier in the year.

Close up of the wood we gathered from a maple tree, two apple tree limbs and several locust trees.

Some of the wood in the pile is from limbs on the main tree and don’t have to be split but do need to be seasoned just like the split wood.

This is our “Wood General” wood splitter which we’ve had for several years. It has saved hubby’s back and shoulders from lots of pain!

This is a closeup of the engine on the Wood General. Gas engine with a pull cord to start it.

The hardest part about using this woodsplitter is the cranking when it’s cold!! So we usually work on the wood on sunny days after the splitter has sat out in the sunshine!

He has split a very little bit of this pile of wood for the time being and says on sunny afternoons he should be able to finish it in a couple of weeks if he splits an hour or so while I fix supper. I call that a “win-win situation”!!

Apple wood is a good wood if it’s dry for getting a fire started.  Most of the wood in the woodhouse is oak and from trees that have died on the farm and were already seasoned.  If you need a hot fire that will last overnight we use seasoned locust and there are times it has run us out of the living room at night because it heats up so fast and lasts so long.

Locust, apple and some maple split from the big pile.

Another neat thing about having the splitter is all of the kindling that builds up under it while you’re splitting.  I gather all of it into feed bags and store it in the woodhouse for starting our fires.

Splinters of wood from the main block make great kindling (fire starter) to start your fire.

Bark from the wood also make great kindling.

REMEMBER:  Season your firewood!!  No one needs their home to burn down at any time but especially in the middle of winter.

 

 

Spring Prep

Warm weather has us in the mood to clean even though we know there’s probably still some winter weather ahead of us.  I’ve worked in the yard several day and got some help from hubby to get those maple leaves out of my flower beds and around the house.

Maple leaves were in abundance but protects a lot of my perennials during the winter.

We have cleaned out all of the yard except for the corner of my rose garden.

This is the rose garden in the east end of our yard and the most colorful, I think, throughout the summer.

The rose in the very corner and tallest stems you can see is an old-fashioned rose planted by our ancestors shortly after the house was built.  The bloom is white with a hint of pink around the edges and they’re about two inches across.  It blooms most of the summer if I keep it pinched back (faded blooms).  Another one just like it but much smaller is at the entrance of the front gate.  I have to clip it back  all summer long.  The fragrance is divine!!

This corner will soon be cleaned up and I’m hoping to add a couple new roses to it during late spring.  I don’t have a lavender or a blood red rose in that bed and think it’s time.  I had a hibiscus in the middle of the bed and it just towered over all and lots of pretty bloom was missed unless you walked through the bed.  Last year I planted some sweet william in the front row and they have survived the winter.  I hope they will add some color while waiting for the roses to bloom.

Here’s a photo album of the rest of the yard clean up:

Both sides in front of the house/porch are all cleaned up and hostas that get as big as bushel baskets cover that area.

The flower bed in the corner with the dinner bell is full of perennials such as day lilies, poppies, primrose and lots more.

I forgot to get a photo of the backyard but it was the quickest and smallest area to clean up.  All I have to do back there is hang our swing and wait for the hostas, shasta daisy and daylilies to spring up.

Tree limb cleanup-this is what came out of the front yard from the maple tree. It’s been hauled away now!

Now I need to take care of the outside of the yard including some new planting at the gazebo at the pond.

The gazebo is another “getaway” spot. I love to go there right before the sun goes down and listen to the spring peepers and birds going to roost, watch the mallard pair that spend the night and wait for the fish to do their evening feeding and the frogs start croaking!! There’s peace all over the farm if you’ll just watch and listen!!

Surveying Cellar Food Stores_Preparing the Garden Site

The Cellar

The Cellar

I just took some empty jars to the cellar and took an accounting of what is left from summer 2016 canning.

Full shelves from canning season 2016!

They were completely full in October but now supplies are dwindling!

We have a huge pile of potatoes leftover and will probably sell them in the coming months.  I’ll can about 15-20 quarts but the rest will go in the garden for seed and we’ll eat some more until they start sprouting.  They’re bakers and peeling size and have been so good throughout the winter.

Hubby has plowed the garden and we’re hoping we’ll get some spring rain on it before we disk it up for planting.

We use the Kubota tractor for plowing.

Our garden site has very rich soil and always produces more than we can eat and preserve.

It also seems to get bigger each year!!!  This year we’ll plan the usual crops of green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and in the fall some turnips and field greens.

Hope your planting season is grand and praying we have an abundant season this year.  In the coming weeks I’ll be cleaning off the various asparagus patches we have and watching the rhubarb show its sprouts already.  I had six grape vines started new last year and they all survived but one.  I bought this red grape to replace it.

It’s a red seedless grape and I love them. Hope they get as large as the one’s we buy in the grocery but know it will be a couple of years before that happens.

We also went to Food Lion yesterday and bought three dwarf apple trees for the orchard at the mansion.

Dwarf red delicious – once this starts bearing fruit we’ll take cuttings from it and graft to some new root-stock or some wild apple trees we find every year on the farm that we’ll transplant to the orchard.

Dwarf yellow delicious-dwarf trees don’t last as long as standard trees but they give you fruit quicker.

This is a dwarf McIntosh which is hubby’s favorite. We have one tree in our large orchard but it’s really old and we lose an old standard about every year.

This is the mansion orchard where the dwarf trees will be planted. The pond is close by and a mountain spring runs through it to make for easy watering.

Last years grape arbor is where the new red grape will be planted and is right beside our garden.

 

 

 

Adding To The Flock

This year I’ve decided to raise some chicks into egg layers. I let three hens hatch last year and out of nine hatched (30 set) we got five hens and four roosters. This is not a good plan!

I went to Rural King with hubby last week and picked up six Barred Rock chicks (hopefully hens) and six Black Sex Link chicks (also hopefully hens). I have them in a tote in our family room for the moment and they’re growing like weeds!

The day we brought them home I placed them in their first home which is the largest tote I had. I scrubbed the tote, placed newspaper in the bottom (easier to clean), and filled their one quart feeder and water bottle. As I placed each chick in the tote I held their beaks in the water for their first drink and boy were they thirsty!!!

Here it is a week later and they’ve been introduced to a new feed trough.  The little buggers were scratching the feed out of those feeder holes and wasting more than they ate.  The feeder below doesn’t allow that as much and the quart water bottle was replaced with a half-gallon jar so they don’t run out of water during the night.

New feeder holds the same amount of feed but the holes are smaller so they can’t dig the food out into the floor.  I feed them medicated feed to begin their life to boost their immune system.  I lost one chick the second night and not sure why but the others seem to be doing quite well.

A half-gallon glass jar is heavier and the water will last through the night. The old one had to be refilled and clean three times a day.

They have almost doubled their size from last week and they can actually fly up to the top of the water bottle.  I will upgrade to a taller tote over the weekend instead of putting them in the brooder box because of the cold temps and their size.

This hutch is being used for my rabbit does. I have taken Marigold from her side of the hutch and placed her somewhere else (post to come later) and put this chicks in her side of the hutch.

The interior of the hutch is divided into two sections. Cleome is in the other section. Both sections have a light fixture in the top for using heat bulbs. I will have to enclose the bottom of the cage to keep the chicks warmer but have access for cleaning underneath. All of my animals are taken care of in all aspects of their growth and life.

The interior will be cleaned/scrubbed in the next few days and before Cleome has her litter later this month. I’m expecting the chicks will be moved into the hutch by the second week of April if not sooner, depending on the weather.

When these chicks are 6-8 weeks old, I plan to start another clutch of them so that next winter we won’t have a few weeks without eggs.  These chicks should start laying at 6-7 months of age and lay for 190-220 days before they molt and take a egg-laying-break for a month or so.

Love my chickens!!!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

 

Spring Calving Season

Our spring calving season began on March 13 with this little girl (heifer) and it was such a beautiful day.  

This little bull started our calving on the 19th, followed by the next two within minutes of each other. Now we wait for the 25 to come!!

Preparing for Spring

We’ve had some glorious three weeks of spring-like weather and now the cold and wind is back!!

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Along with building a new cattle holding pen, hubby and I have been cleaning up around the farm while waiting on our lumber.   We had lots of trees come down during the fall and winter and we’ve been cutting them up for firewood and piling the brush to be burnt (if the wind ever quits blowing).  Hubby plowed the garden this week so if we had any cold weather (which we are experiencing now) the freeze and thaw would be great for the disking when we get ready to start the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

While he was plowing I started cleaning up the yard.  We have beautiful maple trees on three corners of the yard which provide us maple syrup in the spring and wonderous shade in the summer but in the fall and winter they shed their beautiful coats into our yard.  It takes lots of time and strong arms to rake it all up and pile on the compost pile.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

 

 

 

After the cleanup, the yard starts looking like this before the  grass greens, the roses sprout leaves and the perennials show their pretty faces:

In front of the front porch after cleanup

In front of the front porch after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

 

 

 

 

 

Now, all I have to do is the rose garden and the new perennial bed we made last spring.

We just have to wait for another warmup which we hope is on the way next week.  We’re also hoping that the warmup we had and this freezing weather doesn’t have any adverse effect on the honeybees because they sure were working hard to find food last week.

Spring means new life on the farm and we’re expecting 20+ cows to start calving in the next two weeks.  My hens have picked up on their production and I’m getting a dozen eggs a day now.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My rabbit does were bred this week and we should have kits around the 30th of March.  They’re all lops and last years babes were a huge assortment of colors.  I think the first batches this spring will go to new homes and the second mating will be meat rabbits.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleome waiting her turn.

Cleome waiting her turn.

Baby chicks and ducks will probably join us in April and our next big project is to get rid of the old chicken house which is in bad need of repair.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it.  There's a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there's storage for feed on the inside.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it. There’s a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there’s storage for feed on the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cattle Working Pens

Hubby and I spent most of February tearing out our old loading pen.  It was well over 50 years old and was worn out.  Instead of repairing like we normally do we decided to start over with this section of the pen.  The far end with the working head chutes and calf pens are on the opposite end and were redone three years ago.

This is the working part of the pen we completed three years ago.

This is the working part of the pen we completed three years ago.

Head chute for medical and castrating.  We consider this one of the best investments we've made in regards to working our cattle.  Hubby is less likely to get hurt, less stress on the calves and our daughter is learning to use it too!

Head chute for medical and castrating. We consider this one of the best investments we’ve made in regards to working our cattle. Hubby is less likely to get hurt, less stress on the calves and our daughter is learning to use it too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boards have been torn off the posts and cut up for kitchen woodstove firewood.  We recycle as much as possible.  The old posts will be cut up for the big woodstove.

The boards have been torn off the posts and cut up for kitchen woodstove firewood. We recycle as much as possible. The old posts will be cut up for the big woodstove.

We’ve rehung some gates, tightened up some posts, and put in some posts.  Now, we wait for our lumber to arrive which has been an unexpected delay.  Most of the private lumber mills in the area will only cut for commercial folks.  Here’s some pictures of the work we’ve done so far and I’ll post more as we get the work completed!  I’ve definitely used muscles that have been lazy for some time!!!dscn9079

Fence posts dug, posts placed, quikrete poured and hardened.

Fence posts dug, posts placed, Qickrete poured and hardened.

Heavy equipment used to set some gate posts that we didn't replace.

Heavy equipment used to set some gate posts that we didn’t replace.

Rotted off gate posts at scale house.

Rotted off gate posts at scale house.

Area of most work yet to be done.

Area of most work yet to be done.

Some of the existing gates that we will use again.

Some of the existing gates that we will use again.

dscn9007 dscn9005 dscn9003

We rehung these gates after we replaced the posts.

We rehung these gates after we replaced the posts.

Generator used to drill the hinge holes in the posts.

Generator used to drill the hinge holes in the posts.

Kubota tractor we used to drill the holes for the posts.

Kubota tractor we used to drill the holes for the posts.

We used our milkcans to haul water for the Quikrete

We used our milkcans to haul water for the Quikrete

The Massey Ferguson was used to haul in the new fence posts and hauling the pallet of Quikrete.

The Massey Ferguson was used to haul in the new fence posts and hauling the pallet of Quikrete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOW WE WAIT!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glorious days-do we dare think spring is here??

There’s a storm coming in so this post is short and sweet with a picture view of what’s going on at Caldwell Farms.  More to come!

Wind damage

Wind damage

Seed order prep

Seed order prep

Tearing out old cattle holding pen

Tearing out old cattle holding pen

Future hen house

Future hen-house

Heavy equipment at new holding pen

Heavy equipment at new holding pen

For the post holes

For the post holes

Replacing gates

Replacing gates

Yard work

Yard work

Garden work

Garden work

Tree limb cleanup

Tree limb cleanup

Rabbits bred

Rabbits bred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And on top of all that, spring calving season begins any day now!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varmints on the Farm

GRAPHIC NATURE!!  I went to gather the eggs yesterday afternoon and found one of my last year ISA Brown hens behind the feed barrel dead.  Her head was missing and something had eaten all of the meat from her neck.

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

We are having a spring full of varmints.  Hubby has set live traps and caught several huge opossums, three or four skunks and a bunch of feral cats.  We don’t have any cats and we think someone is dropping them on our road because they’re everywhere!  At night he has seen red foxes and a pair of gray foxes circling the pond.  We have a bald eagle, golden eagle and a numerous bunch of red-tail and chicken hawks.  I saw a young bobcat my last week of hunting season!  We are surrounded by the varmints and my egg production suffers from it!!!  I have two young roosters that warn of danger flying overhead but I think they’re too busy being the men of the henhouse to keep close watch on the ground danger!

Egg production has gained strength with the longer and warmer days and I’m getting 10-12 eggs per day out of 24 (23 now) hens.  The “eggs for sale” sign is back out at the end of the driveway and neighbors are starting to come looking for fresh, large eggs of many colors.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

 

Hiding Away

Do you ever have those days when you have so much work to do but just can’t get into it?  Do you have those days when you just need to get out of the house but the a guilty conscience tells you “No, not today!”?  Wouldn’t you like to knock that guilt angel off your shoulder and just go?

I have a spot I love to go and don’t have to leave the farm!

My special spot away from home on the farm!

My special spot away from home on the farm!

That would be woods behind our house where my tree stand is located. I could sit back there for hours with a book and camera and just drink it all in!!! If our world gets much crazier I’ll probably be spending a whole lot more time there too!

This spot is my hunting spot about 500 yards from our house but only a few people know where it is.  I hunt there, I read there, I think there, I watch wildlife there and I take lots of pictures there!

Wildlife ventures through!

Wildlife ventures through!

I have shelter from the weather and I hunt there with my bow, rifle but mostly with my camera.

I have shelter from the weather and I hunt there with my bow, rifle but mostly with my camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of my reading is done in this little cottage in the woods!  It’s not a cottage really but it is a 5 x 5 building that has windows on three sides, it has a raised seat that sits one person quite comfortably and it has a hanger for my hat, gloves, camera and bow and it has a storm door on the front with a drop down window for shooting. Best of all it’s not up off the ground!!!  Hubby made it for me!!new-deer-stand-for-bow-season-2015-3 new-deer-stand-for-bow-season-2015-4

This past hunting season I was privileged to see raccoons, deer, turkeys, bobcat kitten, chipmunks, wild birds galore, squirrels  and enjoyed the peace of the woods in a rain shower and a light snow fall.  I read four books while waiting for just the right game to come into focus.  It’s my getaway from this crazy world we live in!!!  Hubby doesn’t mind me slipping off to it occasionally because he has his spots too!

 

The bag of charcoal is in the floor to absorb any human scent so as not to scare off the wildlife.  I have a big  4″ thick swing cushion for the bench so my butt doesn’t get tired or cold.  I take it in after hunting season is over so the mice won’t use it for bedding.  The step is to keep my legs comfortable and not dangling off the edge.  I have a hook latch on the inside to keep the door shut tight.

Do you have a getaway?  Tell us about it!

The 200+ Tree

Our biggest sap producer in the back yard of the mansion.

Our biggest sap producer in the back yard of the mansion.

It’s getting close to time to make maple syrup again and Mother Nature split our best sap producer in half back in late summer.  The tree is over 200 years old and we have pictures of my husband’s family having a picture made at it when his great, great grandparents had passed away.  All of the children were standing/sitting in front of the tree when the picture was taken and the tree was only about 10-12 inches around.

This is a picture of my husbands great aunts and uncles taken at the mansion and the young maple can be seen in the background.

This is a picture of my husbands great aunts and uncles taken at the mansion and the young maple can be seen in the background.

Now, three to four people holding hands around it can still barely reach around the base of what’s left of it.  I’m hoping it may sprout new growth this spring and only time will tell.  We got several truckloads of firewood from it and the rotted was carried to the woods to go back into the earth.  This loss will make a big difference in our sap production but we do have several of the same size on the farm that we have not tapped before and will during our next production season.  We probably won’t have a maple syrup weekend this year due to the crazy season we’re having this winter/spring.  Here’s some pictures of the downed tree and the damage it did to fence and gates but thankfully fell to the north instead of on the mansion (family home of our ancestors).

wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-20 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-19 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-18 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-17 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-16 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-14 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-12 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-11 wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-6
wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That storm in July broke another of our heritage apple trees which seems to happen with every storm.  wind-damage-at-mansion-072016-3  We had another storm last night but thankfully no damage was found but for one huge pine tree in our back fields.  Cattle and fences were spared this time.

January 17th was a very sad day

It’s taken me a month to write this because I start crying!  In January 2004 this little lady was given to me from my husband for a Christmas gift.

Sassy was born on December 8, 2004 and she came to live with us six weeks later.

Sassy was born on December 8, 2004 and she came to live with us six weeks later.

Everyone instantly fell in love with her!

Everyone instantly fell in love with her!  She was also the runt of the litter.

Due to the fact that it has taken me two weeks to get this far in the post I will just show you some of our pictures of her as she grew.  It’s just too hard to put into words what a special dog/pet/family member she was!!

img_0005 img_0004img_0021-2img_0007img_0201img_0122img_0041-3img_0038-3img_0037-2img_0036

Sassy twelve years later!!

Sassy twelve years later!!

img_0006 img_0002-2

Granddog spends the night

For about three weeks or more my daughter and her family have been losing a lot of sleep! The culprit:

This is Jippy!  He belongs to my daughters family and like most single house dogs, he rules the roost most of the time.

This is Jippy! He belongs to my daughter’s family and like most single house dogs, he rules the roost most of the time.

Jippy seems fine during the day but at night around 11:00 he can’t seem to lay for any length of time on his tummy.  He pants from then until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning.  He wants to be snuggled, ears rubbed and he’s constantly up and down.  This behavior is causing the entire family to lose sleep which is much-needed when you are working away from home or going to school which applies to all in the house!

Heather asked me to meet our vet at her home on Thursday and Doc Bowman couldn’t find anything physically wrong with Jippy except for being a little overweight which he has been for over a year.  She drew blood and hoped to have the results back by today.

Me and Papa decided to give them a big break last night and I kidnapped him and brought him to our house to spend the night.  He was quiet and seemed content to be with us and usually is going outside a lot to look for his “mommy” but he didn’t last evening.

We went to bed at 11:00 and he snuggled right in close to me and was fine until 12:00 and he jumped up like something had hold of him.  He turned his head toward me and tucked his head under my hand and I started rubbing his ears (both) and it settled him unless I stopped.  We did this until about 2:00 and then he wanted to take a potty break.  I let him out and he stayed for about 15 minutes.  Once he came in he was restless and constantly panting.  At time he would get under the bed covers and crash for a 10-15 minutes with no panting and then he would come out from the covers and get right in my face panting and acting like he needed to tell me something. He continued wanting both ears rubbed and they were hot. This makes me think there’s something in his ears.  I tried to listen and feel for any tummy rumblings and sometimes I did but not enough to think he had a belly ache.  We’ve all been careful about what he eats since this started.  I felt so sorry for him and wished he could talk!!  Papa slept until 5:00 this morning and  let him outside to potty and then sat in the living room with him the rest of the morning watching westerns together.  I don’t know how Heather, Joel and Victoria have gotten any rest in the last few weeks.  Hopefully, Doc Bowman will find the answer in the blood work and fix the issue quick.  Flu season is all over the state and my kids need their rest to fight that off and stay healthy!

Jippy seems fine now, don’t ya think!

Sleeping peacefully on Sassy's bed in our bedroom while I write this post.

Sleeping peacefully on Sassy’s bed in our bedroom while I write this post.

Feed the Birds From the Garden

One of 27 of my hens that heads straight for the bird feeders as soon as the hen house door is opened.

One of 27 of my hens that heads straight for the bird feeders as soon as the hen-house door is opened.

Part of the bird feeding station.

Part of the bird feeding station.

I love feeding the wild birds in our back yard during the winter.  There’s just so many species that flock to the feeders all during the day including my chickens!

 

I have 10 feeders in the back yard and the wild birds depend on me during the winter months when they can’t find seeds and other food.  I use black oil sunflowers that we raise in our garden, wild bird feed from our local farm supply store, and saved grease from my kitchen which I save in foil pans and stick in the freezer all year round.  We also dry any leftover sweet corn from the garden.  I pick it, shuck it and air dry it in our grainery and then place in mesh bags which are stored in lidded trash cans until feeding time.  I put the corn on a squirrel feeder and the birds and squirrels love it.  We had such an abundance of corn leftover after freezing for ourselves and sharing with our family, friends and neighbors.  I hate waste and the birds love it and so do my rabbits.

Sweet corn dried from the garden and now feeds the birds and squirrels. They love it!

Sweet corn dried from the garden and now feeds the birds and squirrels. They love it!

 

 

 

Another feeder in the back yard.

Another feeder in the back yard.

The wildbirds scratch it out on the ground which the ground feeders love and so do the chickens!

The wild birds scratch it out on the ground which the ground feeders love and so do the chickens!  The bucket holds walnuts that I gathered in the fall, dried and de-hulled for the squirrels.  The bluejay like them too.  The metal feeder, box feeder w/gallon jar and the gourd feeder are all handmade.  At the back-end of the station is another handmade feeder with four sections which the wrens prefer over the others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collection of birds grows with each year:backyard-birds-2016-7 backyard-birds-2016-6 backyard-birds-2016-9 backyard-birds-2016-1 backyard-birds-2016-14 backyard-birds-2016-17 backyard-birds-2016-19 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-3 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-8 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-9 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-10 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-11

New Fencing on the Farm

I’m not sure why but we just can’t seem to keep up with the fencing repairs on the farm.  Every year there is a field or road fence that needs replacing.  Last year we enlisted the service from a “professional” fencer and though it looked good it wasn’t installed properly.  Electricity was running to the metal gates going into the field.  We contacted the fencer and he told us he would be back to correct the problem but he never showed and within a couple of weeks someone in the community ran through the new fence and didn’t stop.  At this point we had to repair the fence anyway and hubby made the corrections to the electricity himself.

Fencing torn out and repaired.

Fencing torn out and repaired.

We do a lot of patching when we can but Dad is tired of doing that and wants to replace now.  Some of the bad spots look something like these:

These fences are probably 30-40 years old.

These fences are probably 30-40 years old.

Woven wire that gets bad is usually patched with a couple strands of barbed wire.

Woven wire that gets bad is usually patched with a couple of strands of barbed wire.

 

 

fencing-2016-17-45 fencing-2016-17-43

Here’s a look of what the old fencing on the farm looked like before we started the new.

fencing-2016-17-41

This year we selected a new fence service who gave us a decent quote and hubby thinks his service was excellent.  His crew worked as hard as Mr. Price and  on days when the wind was howling and terribly cold.   Mr. Price was a true professional and hubby says we will be using his services again in the near future.

elmers-fencing-business-card-1

Mr. Price was quick to start the work and his crew didn’t just stand around and wait to be told what to do.  They tore out the old fences, stacked the old wire and piled up the old post which we’ll use for firewood.  You can’t beat locust posts for a hot fire in the middle of winter.

Old fence posts and stacked wire ready to move from the fields.

Old fence posts and stacked wire ready to move from the fields.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s some of the finished work and I know we will be using Elmer’s Fencing again in the very near future!fencing-2016-17-30 fencing-2016-17-29 fencing-2016-17-27 fencing-2016-17-23 fencing-2016-17-17 fencing-2016-17-11 fencing-2016-17-9 fencing-2016-17-8fencing-2016-17-38fencing-2016-17-36fencing-2016-17-35fencing-2016-17-35new-board-fence-at-farm-entry-2016-1 img_0012 img_0011 img_0010 img_0009 img_0008 img_0006

Board fencing with high tensile behind it.

Board fencing with high tensile behind it.

Beautiful new board fence behind Heather's new house.

Beautiful new board fence behind Heather’s new house.

img_0005 img_0004 img_0003 img_0002 img_0001 new-board-fence-at-farm-entry-2016-5 new-board-fence-at-farm-entry-2016-4 new-board-fence-at-farm-entry-2016-3 new-board-fence-at-farm-entry-2016-2

 

 

 

Isn’t it gorgeous?!?!  The next fence project is a line fence between us and a neighbor and Eddie & I are going to tackle it alone probably in the next couple weeks.

Farm work is NEVER done!!

With age, there is wisdom!

Every year for the last few, I’ve started my year out with a list/book of things that needed to be done.  I would get really aggravated with myself if at least half of that list didn’t get completed.

To-Do List for the outdoors

To-Do List for the outdoors

I had lists for indoors, outdoors, spring lists, summer lists, fall lists.

I had lists for indoors, outdoors, spring lists, summer lists, fall lists.

My list of things to do on the farm.

My list of things to do on the farm.I’m not talking about a list of 20-30 things, I’m talking about a notebook with sections for each room in the house, the yard, porch, buildings on the farm, garden, farm work, whatever needs to be done.  

Rather than beat myself up with resolutions and lists this year I’ve changed my tune!  If I’m in the mood, it’ll get done!   My new motto is:

If it gets done, hurrah, if it doesn’t it’ll be there tomorrow!

2017 Bucket List

My Bucket List for 2017

1st and foremost, meet my baby grandson that lives in New Jersey!

Declan Bryant on his first New Years Day!

Declan Bryant on his first New Years Day!

2nd Finish the snowman quilt and sampler quilt in my sewing room.

Block for Snowman quilt

Block for Snowman quilt

Blocks for Sampler Quilt

Blocks for Sampler Quilt

3rd  Dinner once a month for my kids at our house.

I love family meals!!

I love family meals!!

4th  Paint or have my living room renovated and painted.

5th  Clean up and clean out my laundry room which used to be the pump room/milk house that our ancestors used to keep the milk products really cold.

6th  Build up my rose garden.

The rose garden isn't very pretty in the winter time.                                  The rose garden isn’t very pretty in the winter time.

7th  Landscape my gazebo and put in a fire pit at the gazebo for nightly star-gazing!

Gazebo summer 2016

Gazebo summer 2016

8th  Move my chickens into their new abode.

9th  Have one more yard/estate sale at the mansion with my daughter.

Image may contain: indoor

2016 sale went quite well and we’ll have just as many treasures in 2017!

10th  Take a one-day road trip with hubby just to get away!

This doesn’t seem like a big list but finishing it within 12 months will be a huge undertaking.  Wish me luck!

Furry Friends Enjoy the Back Yard

We have some fox squirrels that keep the feeders empty all year round.  I’ve made a point of gathering walnuts, hickory nuts and chestnuts for our squirrels every year.  We’ve had a few lean years in the way of food for all of the wildlife.  We have orchards for the deer to feed in but these guys will move out of the area if there isn’t any feed and we love watching them from our kitchen window.  I found out last year that all of the excess sweet corn at the end of the growing season is also great for the cattle but the squirrels, wild birds and deer will eat the sweet corn after it dries up.  We pick it off, shuck it, and then lay out on a screen to dry and then store the whole ear in barrels with a lid for the really bad winter when the ground is covered with snow and ice for long periods of time.  We saw a small buck in the garden last night digging up frozen turnips too.  If you love watching the wildlife as much as we do, help them out a little.  Baby, it’s cold out there.

img_0002

Eddie built this squirrel feeder about 10 years ago and the wildlife still love it. You’ll laugh yourself to death when you see a full-grown squirrel in that gallon jar!!!

img_0006

This guy watches me when I’m moving around in the kitchen or the bathroom.

img_0008 img_0005 img_0004 img_0003

Image

Happy Thanksgiving

Letters to Declan

Declan is growing!!  He is our second grandchild and only grandson!

Declan is growing!! He is our second grandchild and only grandson!

Dear Declan,

Nana and Papa are in what looks like a Halloween fog today but it’s supposed to warm up later this morning. Hunting season is very unusual this year and it’s too hot to hunt.

We’re preparing for winter even though it’s very warm. The woodhouse is almost full of firewood and I’ve filled three large boxes with kindling. The few apples that we had this year have been picked and made into applesauce which I bet you will love and Nana canned 20 half gallons of apple juice. We don’t buy a lot of food that we eat unless it flour and sugar. Granny Barbara can tell you about all of the fruit and vegetables that we grow and can. We’re a natural farm and raise chickens, cows, and rabbits. Victoria adopted one of our bunnies from the last batch and named her Leila.

This is Leila and Victoria's new baby!

This is Leila and Victoria’s new baby!

She’s brown and very pretty and loves to play with Victoria. Her cat, Boo-Boo and dog, Jip, are afraid of the bunny. Isn’t that funny?!?!?!

We have about 65 cows and 30 calves on the farm now and three bulls. The farm looks like a golden forest at the moment but those golden leaves are falling really fast.

We have three ponds on the farm and each one holds different breeds of fish. The big pond has bass, perch and carp in it. The carp help keep the pond clean and we have a paddle boat that we use during the summer. Victoria loves to go out in the middle of the pond in the boat and read where it’s quiet. The smallest pond is used to raise minnows that Papa uses to trout fish with. The middle pond is loaded with bass and catfish. We want to catch out the bass and put them in the big pond.  Victoria wants to teach you how to fish when you come to the farm.

I’ll tell you more about the farm as time goes on and hope that Granny Malone will read this to you. She has been to the farm and likes the quiet and beauty of the country. I hope one day you will be able to come to the farm and learn to love it as much as we do.

I hope you have a grand day with Granny and want you to know that we love you very, very much.

Love, hugs and kisses, Nana

Did I Say Canning Season Was Over. . . NOT!

Nope, canning season is not over and believe it or not I’m glad. I’ve been canning half-gallons of apple juice all morning!

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.  There’s only 15 jars showing here because the last batch is just about ready to come off the stove.

Our orchards did not bare much for us this year due to the frigid spring and heavy frost when the trees were budding and flowering. I love a glass of juice when I first get up in the mornings and apple juice is one of my favorites right up there with grape juice.  We decided we would have to purchase some apples to make me some juice.

Eddie and I ventured over to Botetourt County last week and picked up six 70-lb. sacks of their cider apples.  The day we arrived to pick them up they were sorting Red Delicious and they were beautiful  Out of 420 pounds of apples we may have found a dozen with rotten spots.

Six bags of red delicious apples

Six bags of red delicious apples

Beautiful Red Delicous apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

Beautiful Red Delicious apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

On Tuesday, our daughter was off from work and came up to press apples with us.  We cleaned up the cider press, washed the apples, and started pressing all of the wonderful juice out of the apples.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Pouring in the first bucket full

Pouring in the first bucket full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Cider Mill

American Cider Mill

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won't miss a family outing.

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won’t miss a family outing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished the seventy pounds with two 12 gallon milk cans full of juice and a bowl full of apples left over to eat and make some apple bars.

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring.

Heather presses.

Heather presses.

Mom presses.

Mom presses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family fun

Family fun

We stored the cans in our garage until this morning so it would stay ice-cold and so the settlements squished into the juice would settle to the bottom of the can.

I washed up all of the half gallons jars and sterilized them for the juice.  Eddie went to the garage and  poured the juice gently into large stainless steel pots and brought them to the kitchen.  I heated the juice just to boiling and poured it into the hot jars. placed the lids on and tighten them for canning.  The jars were too tall to fit any of my canners so we used our turkey cooker for the job and it held five half-gallon jars.

Turkey deep fryer hasn't been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

Turkey deep fryer hasn’t been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After placing the filled jars in the “canner”, I filled it with hot water almost covering the jars, turned the heat up to high and waited for it to start boiling.  Once the boiling started, I timed the process for 25 minutes and when completed I turned off the stove and let the boiling stop.  I then picked up the jars and placed them on a heavy towel on my kitchen table (away from drafts) so they could seal. We have twenty half-gallons which should last through most of the winter.

The difference in the quart and half-gallon jar is shown here.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

 

I love these tongs because they're so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

I love these tongs because they’re so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saved the sacks the apples were in to use next year when picking our own apples if Mother Nature cooperates, bagging onions, drying walnuts or anything else we may need them for.

These green mesh sacks held 65 - 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

These green mesh sacks held 65 – 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The apple peelings filled up one big galvanized bath tub and four five gallon buckets.  We feed them to each of the three herds of cattle and our bulls.  The extra milkcan of juice will harden to cider which we also love.  If there’s any that gets too hard, I’ll let it turn to vinegar and store it in jugs in the cellar.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They're unbelievably dry at this point. I'm sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it's all gone. I'll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They’re unbelievably dry at this point. I’m sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it’s all gone. I’ll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just put some apple bars in the oven and I’ll share the recipe if it turns out well since it’s a new one for me!

There’s rarely anything that goes to waste on our farm.  This does NOT end the canning season either!!!!  I killed a really nice 7-point buck yesterday and the hams will be cubed and canned early in the next week.

Our chestnut season is over though and we sold 35+ pounds of those this week and saved about 10 pounds for ourselves to snack on.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time. . . .