Cooler weather is good and upon us and we’ve actually had a fire in the woodstove several nights to take out the chill and dampness. Fall has crept in on us with the trees changing color and the shadows falling on the ground remind me of Halloween. Pumpkins everywhere we go and bales of straw. Scarecrows sitting in every nook and cranny!
With fall come the acts of nature that we overlook until you almost walk into it! By this I mean, bee nests and I walked right under this one several times before actually seeing it!
Can you see anything hanging from the tree? My first encounter was in July and I walked through that path about six times one looking for little chicks in distress because they couldn’t find their mom. I never saw a thing while walking but that afternoon I was in the laundry room folding clothes and looked out the window and there hung a hornet’s nest the size of a volleyball!
We didn’t want to destroy them because as long as you leave them alone hornets are good! They catch thousands of houseflies!! That’s the GOOD!
The BAD is if I had walked into their nest and made them mad!! I would have been stung several times before realizing what was happening! The UGLY is those insects are black, big and build onto that nest all summer. It’s huge now!
Along with the hornets we’re seeing lots of bumblebee’s which have a nest in the ground in my rose garden. The rose garden is a mess now because I can’t get in it to weed. The yellow jackets and sand hornets are all over the apples in the orchards but we haven’t found their nests yet. All of the bees make great pollinators but they do have an ugly and mean side!!!
I’ve not had a lot of time to write posts this summer because I’ve been doing this:
Of course we also had green beans this year but I didn’t can very many because we had a lot left over so about four canners (28 quarts) was enough to fill up the shelves.
Then to sum it all up we have these:
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.
In April, I set about 20 of the healthiest starts out in buckets of very fertile soil and the majority of them have lived.
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!
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.
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.
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.
They’re wild and ripening!
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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!
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.
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!!!
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!!
Last year the few hummers that I had loved the butterfly bush, geraniums, bleeding hearts and the columbine.
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.
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.
From several downed apple trees and locust trees we think we have enough cut for next year.
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.
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.
REMEMBER: Season your firewood!! No one needs their home to burn down at any time but especially in the middle of winter.
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.
We have cleaned out all of the yard except for the corner of my rose garden.
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:
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.
Now I need to take care of the outside of the yard including some new planting at the gazebo at the pond.
I just took some empty jars to the cellar and took an accounting of what is left from summer 2016 canning.
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.
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.
We also went to Food Lion yesterday and bought three dwarf apple trees for the orchard at the mansion.
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!
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.
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.
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!!!
We’ve had some glorious three weeks of spring-like weather and now the cold and wind is back!!
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.
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.
After the cleanup, the yard starts looking like this before the grass greens, the roses sprout leaves and the perennials show their pretty faces:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
NOW WE WAIT!!
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!
And on top of all that, spring calving season begins any day now!!
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.
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.
procrastination at work
Learning and growing as we go, join us on our new adventures.
Hi, I'm Lacie! I'm a real mom with a crazy busy life. I'm always seeking new ways to make things easier. I hope my ideas can help make your life a little easier too! Thanks for stopping by!
A little mix of DIY, fashion, & motherhood.
This site is about my life as a farmgirl, wife, mother and grandmother and the things I love to do. I've been married to the same man that I love for 40+ years. We have two beautiful adult children and one granddaughter. We pretty much live off of our farm by raising our food or hunting for it. My blog is a day to day walk-through of our life.
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