Category Archives: Farming

Willow Trees

Starting new willow trees from cuttings

These cutting remind me so much of forsythia but they are in fact willow tree branches from a very old tree at my husband’s grandfather’s farm across the road from us.

Our daughter loves weeping willows and has bought several and planted at her new home on our family farm but they have all died.

Hubby and I decided to get some cuttings from Granddaddy Harry’s farm and see if I could get them started in a bucket of water.  We cut about 50 branches of new starts, old branches and broken branches.  I put them in a five-gallon bucket and filled it with water and placed the bucket under the roof overhang of the east facing side of our house/  They set there for about two months and the roots that came out on those branches were quite plentiful and very  healthy.

Strong roots on practically every stem.

Willow branches rooted and potted.

In April, I set about 20 of the healthiest starts out in buckets of very fertile soil and the majority of them have lived.

New leaf growth and decision time!

Now all she has to do is decide how many she wants and where she will plant them.  If they don’t make it there will be no money lost and my time was worth the wait to watch them become little trees.  I love growing things!

 

Back to my roots. . .

Yesterday, July 16th, I attended a Bradley family reunion at the farm of my cousins in Newport/Craig County. I had not been to a reunion since my Dad died in the late 80’s and it was held at my grandparents, Dewey and Mabel Bradley, home in Paint Bank VA. Most of our grandparents are gone and now the cousins get together once a year in July. My paternal great-grandparents were Ott and Melissa Carr Bradley and they lived on the mountain in Sinking Creek Valley.  This reunion was held at the home of Uncle Claude, grandfather’s older brother, and Virginia Kathryn Bradley and I was treated to a tour of the beautiful farmhouse.  

Everyone bought a covered dish and there was so much food including fried chicken, venison roast with potatoes and carrots, salads, desserts, homemade rolls and more.  We each bought items for an auction to benefit the maintenance of the family cemetery which sits behind the house on the hill.

Cousin Ralph and  Aunt Jean now own the house and land around it and are working like all of us that have old farmhouses to keep the house in good shape.  Old farmhouses are a chore to update, restore and make livable.  This one is gorgeous and I love the lower and upper porches on the front of the house. The banisters on the upper porch are beautiful and add so much charm and grace to the house.  There’s porches on both side of the house too.   While standing in the house the entrance doors and all windows were open which allowed a marvelous breeze to blow through,  making the house feel air-conditioned with 80* – 90* temperature outside.  While walking through each room of the house you could hear whispers of the family as they grew old in this incredible home!  It made me want to go visit my grandparents home and hear those same voices of time that I grew up with.

auctioneer’s getting ready to entertain the crowd. Left to right are Cousin Joe, Cousin Ralph and his beautiful wife, Jean.

Now, the auction was the entertainment of the day!!  Cousins Ralph, wife Jean, and Cousin Joe kept the atmosphere full of laughter, smiles and goodwill as they “tried” to be auctioneer’s for the absent cousin that truly is an auctioneer!  Everyone went home with treasures that others considered junk and a good amount of cash was accrued for the mowing and upkeep of the cemetery.

View of the side of the house with an enclosed porch facing the driveway.

Side view of the front with another smaller porch on the 1st story of the house. This faces the garden that Ralph and Jean work each summer.

Cousin Ralph has promised to take me and my husband on a tour of the farm, cemetery and old home place on the mountain when the weather cools.  In the meantime, I’ll pull together more information about my cousins, their families and our great grandparents.

What a wonderful and blessed day!!  More stories to follow of my heritage as the summer goes on.

 

 

Wild Rabbit Comeback

I went out and bought tame rabbits last year and now the wild rabbit population has exploded on the farm.
I love watching them and now the farm is alive with all sizes. I’m sure the coyotes, eagle, hawks and owls will keep the population in check though.

Fortunately for them we have lots of briar patches for them to hide in from predators.

Who couldn’t love that face!!! She never did run.

Fresh raspberries

They’re wild and ripening!

Black raspberry bushes behind our garage.

We’re thinking ice cream and jelly, nothing to beat fresh made ice cream with raspberries mixed in. I have to pick them daily because the chickens have found the stash and are eating what they can reach. We’ve picked about a gallon so far and should get at least that many more from this small patch.

First pickings cleaned and ready for the freezer.

There’s three clumps of wild raspberries behind our garage. They’ll be gone before we know it.

There’s an old freezer filled with scrap metal sitting in the middle of the clumps. Next year I hope the freezer and old metal will be gone and the bushes spread with more delicious fruit.

When I clean them, I drain all of the water off and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Once they’re frozen I put all of them in large Ziploc freezer bags. They stay loose and I can take out a cup or whatever my recipe needs and reseal the rest. The bags don’t take up a lot of freezer space. In the winter if I want to make jam it’s very convenient to take out just what’s needed. We like to put them on a bowl of ice cream and it only takes a couple of minutes to thaw them just for the ice cream.  How about a fruit cobbler hot out of the oven in the wintertime!

 

 

Snapping turtle

Every year our pond becomes invaded by snapping turtles that eat the fish and frogs from the ponds. A few weeks ago we found where some varmint had found several turtle egg nests on the farm on the side of a mountain spring that runs through the farm to Sinking Creek.

Dirt bank along side the branch where the turtles had climbed, dug perfect holes, laid their golf-ball-sized eggs and covered them to hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think this was probably done by a coon, skunk or even a raven or two.  Every nest, and we counted at least six had been raided and what eggs were left will not hatch. 

You can see the shells along the side of the hole and below it.

But with that being said we don’t like having them in our pond so we set “trot lines”  (heavy nylon thread with a huge hook on the end ) to catch the beast that eat our frogs and fish.  We caught one night before last and our dinner that night was chicken fried turtle. fried potatoes, cantaloupe and asparagus.  So good!!!

Fried turtle is so good!!

Fried potatoes and onions on the left and fried turtle on the right.

Hay Season 2017 has. . .

officially begun!  Two small meadows were mowed yesterday along with a corner of one of the large fields.  Today and tomorrow will be a mad rush to get all of it baled into 4 x 5 bales before another good chance of showers rolls in.

The grass had finished blooming and dropping seed.

It was so cool watching the tall grasses wave in the wind but not so cool to watch the clouds of pollen fill the air like a heavy fog over the fields.

This field and part of the big field started yesterday were cut today.

Hubby just started raking the first field he mowed yesterday. Our daughter, Heather, turned it over this morning to help it dry faster in the blazing sun.

First round of raking is half way completed.

The wind rows look four feet tall from where I sit on the porch taking pictures.

The baler is greased and ready to roll it up!

Blackberries In Full Bloom

Unless our summer turns really dry we are going to have a bazillion blackberries this year!!!  I’ll can them, freeze them, make jams and jellies, make some blackberry wine and juice and share with our friends. Here’s a few pictures of our wild patches of blackberries that the honeybees and other bees are making good use of now from the bloom.

These vines in the past except for last year produced huge blackberries.

These vines are in Barker Hollow and across a spring that comes out of the mountain in front of our house.

This is a small patch right beside Barker Hollow road and look very prolific so far.

These are easy to reach from both sides of the fence.

This patch is on the opposite side of that little field where the little barn sits.

The fenceline below the little barn is covered with the vines.

This is going to be the summer of fruit for us unless Mother Nature takes a severe turn. The only fruit that didn’t make it through the last frost was our pear trees.  Apples, peaches, plums, rhubarb, and  berries are abundant and   I will be a busy farm woman!!

 

 

Bunny World

The farm is alive with little animals everywhere, domestic and wild! On April 2nd my two rabbit does, Cleome and Marigold had a total of 16 little ones and 13 survived. I weaned them this week, placing them all together in a large pen and they’re so much fun to watch with each having their own personality and playful attitudes.

A few of the cute faces at three weeks of age.

The babies are all Lops which mean they have the droopy ears.

They can leave the farm this week

 

 

 

 

 

We have black, tan, tan and white, white, white with black spots, white with black eyes,   It’s hard not to fall in love with such beautiful creatures.

In their new play house!

This is one is so curious.

Group hug!

There are two this color, solid white but seem to have more fur and they love to rub noses with me.

Love those floppy ears

Looks like her mom.

Rabbit ration, carrots, apples and lots of green grass is their diet that they’ve been eating for three weeks. My granddaughters love bananas too.

Visitors View of the Farm

My daughters very good friend from Norfolk VA came to visit over the weekend for her birthday. Ashley and Heather grew up together in elementary school and only recently have they found each other again and I’m so glad they did!  Ashley loves it here as much we do and as much as most of our visitors do. I thought I would share with you our farm through Ashley’s eyes.

Ashley bought herself a new camera for her birthday and there were quite a few times when I looked out she was laying on her belly in the grass getting up close and personal!

The Farm

Purple marten heaven in our grape arbor.

View from the front porch where she sat most of the day when she and our daughter weren’t out walking.

Perfect spring day but so windy and cool.

Mountain Laurel blooming in Craig County and on the farm.

Ms Hen and our first hatch of the year.

Potting table full of herb pots ready to be filled.

It was quite fun watching Ashley herd chickens up the hill so the dogs wouldn’t find them. She has a beautiful corgi named Evan and a pitbull named Harper!

This is one of many pictures she took of the bunnies. We have fourteen little ones this spring.

Our big red barn at the entrance of the farm.

Beautiful buttercups grabbed at her heart strings.

Ashley loves all animals but became quite attached to this one.

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.

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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).

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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!!

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Sassy twelve years later!!

Sassy twelve years later!!

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