Category Archives: Fun on the Farm

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!

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.

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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!

Crazy Month of May, the First Chapter

I don’t even know where to begin. My daughter and I decided to have an Estate/Yard sale and for the entire month, we gathered, took pictures, priced, organized and prepared for the largest yard sale I’ve ever seen that was for one family. Of course, it was four generations of collections of one family, the Caldwells. It was a history of the Caldwell family that was taking up too much space and after watching my daughter dealing with my mother-in-laws estate and the clean-out of her house,  I decided I would not do that to my children after I’m gone.

We cleaned out my house, the Mansion, and the remains of what Heather and her Dad cleaned out of her grandmother’s “stuff” and had our sale on Saturday. It included, antiques from three or four generations ago, household items from our home, Heather’s home, my husband’s grandmother and aunt & uncle, and his grandfather and great-grandfather, tools, and we filled three entire rooms of the Mansion, the front  porch and the yard.

We advertised on Facebook, our personal email contacts and asked everyone to share the details. We did really well and I was blessed to see so many old friends and acquaintances including my Dad’s best friend, Bobby Rose.  What a treat to have him here on the farm.  There’s a wonderful family story behind this which I will share at a later date.

We worked the sale with the help of a very special friend, JoAnn, my granddaughter and one of her best friends.  We were too busy to take pictures during the day but I will share a few pictures of the treasures that left the farm.

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Wood cookstove in excellent  shape.

Wood cookstove in excellent shape.

Antique churn

Antique churn

Old toys

Old toys

quilts

quilts

Box after box of bottles, jars, insulators.

Box after box of bottles, jars, insulators.

Tool sharpener

Tool sharpener

Pottery

Pottery

Stoves of all sorts but we only sold two.  We still have propane, wood, wood/coal stoves.

Stoves of all sorts but we only sold two. We still have propane, wood, wood/coal stoves.

Bowl & pitcher

Bowl & pitcher

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This is just a teeny-tiny bit of what left the farm.  The rooms of the house were as full as we could get them.  It was a beautiful day and the cleanup has begun!!

Outdoor Day

I’m whipped in a good way and made a major accomplishment with the aid of my wonderful husband today.

This is the area outside the yard on the right side of the house that I've planned a perenial flower bed.

This is the area outside the yard on the right side of the house that I’ve planned a perennial flower bed.

Hubby leveled it out for me and tore out a huge maple stump that had been rotting for years.

Hubby leveled it out for me and tore out a huge maple stump that had been rotting for years.

It needed to be tilled up and worked down.

It needed to be tilled up and worked down.

A friend of ours gave us some old railroad ties to use around the bed.

A friend of ours gave us some old railroad ties to use around the bed.

They will be used to contain the flower bed and to use as a guard to keep the chickens out while the bed is being established.

They will be used to contain the flower bed and to use as a guard to keep the chickens out while the bed is being established.

This morning hubby tilled up the entire area for me and afterwards I worked for three hours raking, leveling, pushing, prodding and now we have a really nice bed to show off some of my favorite flowers.

The black paper is two sheets wide and held down with metal  stakes that Eddie made from 8" aluminum nail spikes.

The black paper is two sheets wide and held down with metal stakes that Eddie made from 8″ aluminum nail spikes.

It's about 25 ft long and 4 ft wide.

It’s about 25 ft long and 4 ft wide.

I packed the dirt on the outside perimeter to keep the chickens from scratching it up and to level the ground so I can mow close to it.

I packed the dirt on the outside perimeter to keep the chickens from scratching it up and to level the ground so I can mow close to it.

The ties have been placed around the area after I covered it with black garden paper.

The ties have been placed around the area after I covered it with black garden paper.

It turned out a lot bigger than I had originally planned but it will be beautiful when all the plants are up and blooming.

This is a view from inside the yard looking out.

This is a view from inside the yard looking out.

This is a view from the driveway.

This is a view from the driveway.

I’ll be filling it full of tall flowers of hollyhocks, hibiscus, and coneflower and others as I find what I want but they’ll all be perennials  and I’m planning to put a snowball bush as the end closest to the driveway but on the outside of the bed.  There’s a young peach tree full of pink buds today at the other end of the bed.  I will be planting all of the seeds in a couple of weeks after we warm up just a little bit more.  I have a friend in Colorado that has just had another snowfall and I want to wait for that system to pass us by.

This is a view of the house from our gazebo.

This is a view of the house from our gazebo.

I think it’s going to be beautiful and will show off the side of the house as well.  I can’t put a lot of perennials in the yard because there’s too much shade but this bed will get sun all day and will be somewhat protected from the north and west winds.

A View of the Barn

Big House Barn (18)This is one of the bigger barns on the farm and I love walking through old barns and listening to the history by just looking at the interior. Here’s a view for you to see and listen for the history of all the work and animals that used it. We know sheep, beef cattle and dairy cattle used this barn.

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This is a cider press that has been converted to electric power and we use it every year if we have a good supply of apples to make apple cider.

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There’s been lots of our friends and neighbors pouring apples in the top and amazed at the juice that came out the bottom.  This is usually an all day event and so much fun!

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It’s a huge barn and we store equipment in it, store square bales of hay in it and use it for cows having trouble and we can use one of any number of stalls in it for allowing a vet to access the cow quickly and safely.  We also use it for the orphans born on the farm.

Family visit with cousins

Vada is my and her Grandpa's little duck!

Vada is my and her Grandpa’s little duck!

What a very blessed Saturday I experienced with some cousins of my hubby! On May 15, 2014, his only surviving paternal aunt passed away. Peggy Ann was such a beautiful woman and I considered her a friend because she welcomed me into the family with open arms the first time I ever met her as did her husband, Dickie. Peggy Ann and Dickie lived in Lanexa, Virginia and have two children, Stuart III and Teresa. I’ve never met Teresa unfortunately but Stuart and his beautiful wife, Debra, have become very special to me and have been to the farm previously. They have a 28-year-old son, Stuart IV, and daughters, Heather, Dana and Brianne.  Heather and Dana had not been here before and were anxious to meet us and see where they’re grandmother was raised along with four other generations.
On Saturday, all of the family except for Teresa and Bri, but including two special son-in-laws and four grandchildren, caravan to Craig County to memorialize Peggy Ann and spread her ashes on her beloved mountain on the family farm which connects to our farm. This was the first time that me and Eddie had met Heather and Dana and their children. Our daughter and granddaughter joined us shortly after they arrived.
We spent the day with four of the most adorable kids and one being a seven month (I think) little girl by the name of Vada but I’ve nicknamed Ducky. I was in heaven!!

Dana, "Ducky" and myself

Dana, “Ducky” and myself

L J wrestling a huge bale of hay.

L J wrestling a huge bale of hay.

Lavar, Kenny, Ducky and Dana climbing the mountain.

Lavar, Kenny, Ducky and Dana climbing the mountain.

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2015-11-21 069This is Vada and her daddy, Kenny!  She never fussed the entire time she was here and took the cold on the mountain like a champ.

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Cousin Stuart was thrilled to be able to share the farm with his kids, son-in-laws, and grandchildren and they all visited the house that his mom grew up in.  It’s still standing and they’re hoping to fix it up a little and be able to come and camp out whenever they want.

Keep in mind looking at this photo that my husband is not a baby person. He's always afraid they would break. I think he got a little attached to this little munchkin!

Hubby is not a great champion to babies and never was but I think he fell in love with Vada and she him!

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He doesn’t let just anyone wear his hats!!

Victoria and Heather, my granddaughter and daugher , we in on the visit too. Victoria was ready to go deer hunting.

Victoria and Heather, my granddaughter and daughter , were in on the visit too. Victoria was dressed to go deer hunting but never made it to her deer stand.

Eddie and Dana topping the mountain.

Eddie and Dana topping the mountain.

Linden and Heather on the mountain.

Linden and Heather on the mountain.  Heather has three children, two boys and a girl.

Before they trekked to the mountain in the cold to spread Aunt Peggy’s ashes they all got to visit the animals, check out the cellar, hives and sugar house after we had a small lunch.

This was a day I will never forget and am so looking forward to a return visit very soon.

Two month anniversary

I cannot believe it has been two months since my retirement began!  I’ve been so busy that I am rarely in front of my computer which is why I’ve not posted any new stories.  This morning before I head out on the farm I’ll give you a pictorial view of my life since leaving public work and before I do let me just say that I am in heaven!!!

Laundry day

Laundry, cooking, cleaning and gardening just about every day.  I’ve been off the farm less than 10 days in two months because I am in heaven!!

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (9)

I helped Eddie move hay off the fields and we had over 725 bales rolled this year.

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Gardening at least twice a week.  My daughter has a friend that clearing out flower beds and I’ve been gifted an abundance of perenials.Cavitini w a twist (4)

I have my kitchen back full time and cooking breakfast and dinner  every day.  Trying new recipes and perfecting old ones.

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I’ve harvested all of my mammoth sunflowers which grew over eight feet tall.

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I have three new orphans to care for now and there will be numerous stories to follow about them.

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Fall calves are starting to arrive and this was one of the last ones.  More stories about them later.

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Sassy is really starting to show her age and becoming white on the muzzle.  Cuddles is her best friend and aggravates her to no end.

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This is “Miracle” orphan number three.  More to come.

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This is Roscoe and orphan number two.  More later!

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This is Cindy named after a friend of mine and she is orphan number one and a spoil rotten brat!!  More to come!

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I finally completed my bathroom re-do and it will be my next post.

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I went to Covington to visit Dean and watch him bowl.  He’s received another Special Olympics metal for his bowling.

The cellar is full except for the potatoes and meat.

The cellar is full except for the potatoes and meat.

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Canning started my first day and I just finished last week.  We’re digging potatoes today and the meat will come during deer season.

Have a blessed day while I celebrate at home on the farm!!  What a blessing!!

Visitors from across the world

In the spring I met a very precious new friend that works down the hall from my office and she’s from China and working on her PhD at Virginia Tech.  She misses her family in China (husband, father and mother) very much and has her daughter with her.  I love learning about her country and lifestyle and she mine.  I recently invited Janet, her daughter and some of her close friends over to the farm.  It was such a treat to share our life with them and be able to actually show her things we do on the farm.  The following is a picture album of our day.

We showed them how we  bring in and process our own firewood.

We showed them how we bring in and process our own firewood.

The little girls got to sit in a big tractor.

The little girls got to sit in a big tractor.

They met all the animals on the farm including the coon dogs and found out why we have them as working dogs.

They met all the animals on the farm including the coon dogs and found out why we have them as working dogs.

Gathering eggs was such a treat and something we take for granted.

Gathering eggs was such a treat and something we take for granted.

The young ones got to feed Prissy & George.

The young ones got to feed Prissy & George.

We took them for a pickup truck ride on different parts of the farm.

We took them for a pickup truck ride on different parts of the farm.

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They took pictures of themselves to commemorate the day while I gave the little girls cooking lessons in an American farm kitchen.

They took pictures of themselves to commemorate the day while I gave the little girls cooking lessons in an American farm kitchen.

They took numerous rides in the paddle boat.

They took numerous rides in the paddle boat.

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Janet and her daughter plan to come back with their friends to a weekend campout at the pond one more time before they all return to China in late July and August.

I am so blessed to have friends all over the world.  I’m hoping they enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

They also brought us a charm of peace which I will keep at my home’s entrance as long as it lasts.  Peace charm

Thank you all so much for your charm, lessons of life and friendship!!  I’ll never forget you!

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Rita and Janet, forever friends

Rita and Janet, forever friends

Teaching the girls how to make a daisy  chain for their hair.  Janet's daughter, Michelle and her friend, Boffy, they're such wonderful kids and very adventurous!!

Teaching the girls how to make a daisy chain for their hair. Janet’s daughter, Michelle and her friend, Boffy, they’re such wonderful kids and very adventurous!!

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Janet

Janet

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Sassy enjoyed our new friends too and the little girls couldn’t get enough of her.

Hens-and-chicks

Two boots are better than one.

Two boots are better than one.

Hens & chicks

Hens & chicks

Hens & Chicks 2013 (2)

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Two boots are better than one.

Two boots are better than one.

 

And then there's these hens and chicks!! :)

And then there’s these hens and chicks!! 🙂

 

Hummingbirds

We started out with six hummingbirds in mid-April and then it got cold and up until two weeks ago we only had one.  I kept the fresh nectar out for him and finally we have five which I hope will multiply soon.

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Normally I have five to seven feeders on the front porch by now but they’re only using the two and I’m refilling the feeders about twice a week.

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I love these little guys and could watch them for hours.  I make sure they have plenty of their favorite flowers in the yard as well.

IMG_0014They’ve been very busy this weekend and I’ve heard their courting rituals several times today.  The dipping dance they do is quite something.

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They’re quite territorial at the moment and they whizzed right in front of my face and caused Sassy to change positions on the porch for fear of getting “hummed”!!

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Front porch fun

In the heat of the summer day, we spend time on the front porch.  We welcome neighbors and friends and sit around and talk.  I’ve tried to make the porch an enjoyable place to visit with young and old alike.  This year I added a antiques bench on one end of the porch and a game board on the other end with plenty of seating in between.

First I want to show one of my new chairs that I added to the decor and fun!

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                       An old blue stool and a tractor seat =  this:

IMG_0007  IMG_0006  IMG_0005 Believe it or not this is a very comfortable seat.  It’s sturdy, country looking, and fits all sizes!!!

Then I added a game corner for the porch.  I took a vinegar barrel and added a checker board for all too enjoy!  A couple of tall stools on both sides makes for some friendly competition for old and young alike.  Right now the checkboard clother is draped over the barrel but hubby is making me a flat service to fit the checkerboard and the fun begins.

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I can’t wait to challenge my granddaughter to game of checkers or Life on the Farm game!

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Life on the Farm is much like Monopoly but based to farm life instead of city life!

And the last of the porch makeover is this assortment of antique tools we’ve found on the farm which we’ll add to as time goes on!

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Wouldn’t you love to come visit on the porch for awhile?!?!?!

 

Sprucing up the gazebo and summer fun at the pond

I’ve worked around the gazebo a few days in the last two weeks and it’s so peaceful sitting in there.  My beautiful daughter bought me two Boston ferns for Mother’s day and they are gracing each side.  I planted a orange and a yellow trumpet vine on the back side in hopes of providing a little shade in the August afternoons.  It may be a couple of August’s before they get big enough to do that but I’m also thinking about making a Roman shade to go on the west side for the evening relaxation.  The paddle boat has been cleaned up and ready to launch.  The picnic table needed some repair work which hubby took care of.  Don’t you think this is a wonderful spot to relax and just a few steps from my front door.

Ready for Summer 2013

Ready for Summer 2013

 

Place to sit, boat to pedal, picnic table to eat at, who could ask for anything more??

Place to sit, boat to pedal, picnic table to eat at, who could ask for anything more??

 

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

 

100 yards from the house!

100 yards from the house!

 

SUMMER IS GOING TO BE FUN & RELAXING!! 😉

 

 

 

Watching the new babies at play

Now that Annabelle has a new Mom, I thought I would share a few pictures of her and Gyp at  play.  They won’t be able to do this anymore because the new Mom doesn’t like any other animals near her baby.  Annabelle minds her Mom really well though she will still let her come to me for a good rub down.  Here’s the babes at play before the final adoption.

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DSCN3423They chases each other with Gyp nipping at her heels and Annabelle tolerated Gyp constantly licking her face when she could get to it.

 

2013 Maple Syrup Season Completed

It took three days of work for my husband and a very special friend and our kids and the maple syrup is cooked off and ready to sell.  From 235 gallons cooked down to 59 pints of golden maple syrup.  

Hubby collected the sap three days and stored the tank in the garage to keep it chilled.  He and our friend from Giles county worked on it from 10:30 Friday morning until 12:30 that night and started again at 6:30 on Saturday morning.

 Several of the neighbors came to visit and watch the creation and some friends from Blacksburg came on Saturday afternoon but not in time to watch the procedure.  They were fascinated with the results and the education they received about Mother Nature and maple syrup.  

I’ve decided to complete this post with the pictures I have of the event which my daughter took.  I was under the weather and banned to the house and a very special friend stayed in with me so we could catch up while I filtered the syrup and canned it.  All in all, everyone had a good time and there were lots of smiles throughout the day!

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Final pan boiling down 03162013

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Marion Ross joins the maple syrup festivities 03162013

Preparing to take off a batch 03162013

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New Year of Maple Syrup

 

Sugar maple tree with a beautiful blue sky background.

Sugar maple tree with a beautiful blue sky background.

 

We could not have picked a better time to start tapping the maple trees.  Saturday morning after feeding the cattle and cleaning up from breakfast we got started.  It was clear, sunny and still a chill in the air.  First we gathered the bucket and cleaned them and then we cleaned the 210 gallon water tank.

All the gallon buckets have been washed and ready to hook up to the taps.

All the gallon buckets have been washed and ready to hook up to the taps.

Nice and clean gallon buckets.

Nice and clean gallon buckets.

 

Shiny and clean tank.

Shiny and clean tank.

It holds 210 gallons and it was specifically purchased just for sugar maple processing!!

It holds 210 gallons and it was specifically purchased just for sugar maple processing!!

A regular garden/water hose will attach to the fauce when we're ready to fill the pans.

A regular garden/water hose will attach to the fauce when we’re ready to fill the pans.

 

From here we gathered the portable drill, wood bits, hammer and taps and headed for the maple trees in the yard.  From there we tapped the trees behind the garage and then went to the mansion and tapped the tree that we know has been in the family since the 1800’s.  She is still producing and we tapped with six buckets on her and from there went to our daughter’s house on the farm and tapped two trees at her house.  In total we nine trees in all and as tonight at 7:00 p.m. the tank is full.  We’ll hold it in the tank in the garage until Friday morning.  It will stay ice cold in the garage.

 

26 taps sterizied and ready to put in the trees.  Eddie likes using the plumbing tees best because they stay in the tap hole better.

26 taps sterizied and ready to put in the trees. Eddie likes using the plumbing tees best because they stay in the tap hole better.

Metal taps were used in the tree at the mansion and at our daughter's house.

Metal taps were used in the tree at the mansion and at our daughter’s house.

Drillling the first hole about a 1/2 inch in diameter and about  1 inch deep.

Drillling the first hole about a 1/2 inch in diameter and about 1 inch deep.

These trees are not being damaged.  The one inch hole heals within a few weeks and as I said before the tree at the mansion is in a photo we have of the family back in the mid-1800’s and it’s still living.

Tapping the tee in the tree good and tight so it won't leak around the hole.

Tapping the tee in the tree good and tight so it won’t leak around the hole.

Up close view of the hole drilled into the tree.

Up close view of the hole drilled into the tree.

Tap, tap, tap!

Tap, tap, tap!

Three buckets on this tree in the yard and the taps are dripping away.

Three buckets on this tree in the yard and the taps are dripping away.  This tree is at our daughter’s house.

 

Around 1:30 Saturday our son joined us and he was kept busy emptying the buckets into the tank and was glad to have the ATV for collecting.  He won’t be still long enough for Mom to take his picture.  But sometimes we have to do what we can and here’s a picture helping at the sugar house in years past.

Our son, Shawn, manning the pans in the past.

Our son, Shawn, manning the pans in the past.

From the tree to the straining bucket.

From the tree to the straining bucket.

By Saturday night we had 100 gallons in the tank and the high temperature at the farm on Saturday was 49*.  Sunday morning we got up to 27* temps, the buckets were running over with ice and the sap had even pushed out of the top of the tee.

Beautiful Sunday morning.

Beautiful Sunday morning.

Icy buckets and frozen hands.

Icy buckets and frozen hands.

Bucket of ice from the cans which we thawed and poured into the tank.

Bucket of ice from the cans which we thawed and poured into the tank.

Ice frozen all down the tree.

Ice frozen all down the tree.

Ice coming out all over the tee.

Ice coming out all over the tee.

Sap running over onto the ground!  The honeybees enjoyed it once it warmed up.

Sap running over onto the ground! The honeybees enjoyed it once it warmed up.

On Sunday we got another 75 gallons and the sap has slowed a little.  The temperatures got up to 52* and at 9:30 p.m. it was still 49*.  For the sap to run really good the temps MUST get below freezing at night.

Today hubby filled up the tank and the trees have slowed down immensely but the tank is full of 210 gallons of pure sugar maple sap.  The cooking will begin on Friday and finish up on Saturday around noon if all goes well.

Here’s a few of today’s photos:

Last bucket to empty for the day (Monday).

Last bucket to empty for the day (Monday).

 

Hard to see the water line on the tank.

Hard to see the water line on the tank.

Stainless steel bucket with lip and strainer.  Every bucket on the tree is emptied into this bucket and then strained into the tank.

Stainless steel bucket with lip and strainer. Every bucket on the tree is emptied into this bucket and then strained into the tank.

Straining into the big tank.

Straining into the big tank.

Better view of the full tank!

Better view of the full tank!

Hopefully more pictures of the process when completed on Saturday!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasures from the apple orchard

Hubby was cleaning up apple trees brought down by the duratio last summer and he brought me these treasures!!  I’m so excited!!

Apple tree stumps

Hollow apple tree stumps

Three hollow tree logs for crafting.

Three hollow tree logs for crafting.

Fuzzy thinks this one would be good for squirrels!

Fuzzy thinks this one would be good for squirrels!

I think the first two will be new birdhouses as I like to use natural things to make the birds feel more at home.  All I’ll have to do is screw on some barnwood to the bottom and top and drill a small hole for the bluebirds to enter.  Drill holes in the bottom board for drainage.  I like to use screws so I can take the top off in the winter and clean them out for arrivals in the spring.  I like to put a little overhang on the top to keep the weather out and a place for the bird parents to perch between food breaks.   I also put a short perch in the front right below the entry for them to perch while feeding the fledglings.

The third one though will make a perfect nest for the next orphan squirrel we save.  We tend to find them in the woods fallen from their nests.  If their bodies are still warm we let Mom come back to get them and carry them back to the nests.  If their bodies are cold, I snatch them up in my pocket and get them home quick as possible and feed them some warm milk with a little honey to warm them up and boost the energy.

Baby squirrels are so easy to care for and they usally bond with only one person after being orphaned and thats usually whoever feeds and bathes them.

Baby squirrels are so easy to care for and they usally bond with only one person after being orphaned and thats usually whoever feeds and bathes them.

 

Hubby is always looking out for things in the woods that he knows I’ll put to good use.  We’ve been looking for a hollow tree about five to six feet long to make into a flower box for the yard or the gazebo.  I’ve also been looking for just the right knarly stump to put in one of my flower beds for the natural look.  You will see it when I find it 😉 .

Sugar house repairs

When we moved to the farm almost 12 years ago we  were way too busy taking care of  my husbands uncle who had Alzheimer.  What a horrible disease but that’s another post!!  My husband inherited our farm from his uncle which has been in the family 200+ years.  It once was the farm of at least five different links of the Caldwell family.  Some parcels were sold off and some of what we know was in a journal of one of my husbands great uncle, OFWC.  There are at this time two apple houses, two cellars, two smoke houses, numerous  grain bins, storage building, barns, barns and more barns and currently four houses.  We live in one, our daughter is building another, the other two are family homes or build somewhere in between.  We have bull barns, cattle barns, hay barns, equipment barns, bee house, and did I mention a “sugar house”??

A sugar house was built for just making wonderful maple syrup.  Our farm is loaded with all sorts of fruit and nut trees, pines, and more than anything else, sugar maple trees.  One on the property we are sure was about thirty years old when a family picture was made on the farm and that was in the mid 1800’s.  It’s starting to look pretty bad and in need of pruning or taking down but it sure pours the maple sap in the spring.  I digress again and on with the story of the sugar house.  This is what it looked like when we moved here 12 years ago and hadn’t been used since our kids were small and they’re 36 and 39 years old at the moment.

2004  and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

2001 and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

 

Time to take some measurements and start over.

Time to take some measurements and start over.

My son-in-law is a brick mason and loves restoring old building and the fixtures within.  Even though he’s my kin, I have to say he used to do awesome work.  Economy and no work has changed that way of life in our neck of the woods.

Anyway, hubby, Joel and my brother broke it down, cleaned it out and started over as you will see from the following photos.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

 

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

 

Now, I wasn’t around to take pictures when Joel was rebuilding but I think these beauties will show you what a beautiful job he did and I’m so proud of the beautiful “sugar house”!!

Bandit Ann checks for varmints Now to clean out around the pit and put down small gravel Nice pit, clean pan and tools time to make syrup Need to fix the chimney flashing Side view Sugar House Tools ready_pan full_fire heating upWe’ve used it several times since the renovations and everyone enjoys the time together!  We usually have friends and neighbors into for the day or two that it takes to cook the sap off and everyone enjoys the french toast and waffles when the first batch comes out of the pans.

The main reason I did this post is the time is upon us to tap the trees again if Mother Nature will cooperate and everyone is well.  I’ve posted in the past on the process but plan to do that again sometime next week with some new photos of last years event.  Until then, THINK SWEET THOUGHTS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

New girl on premises

She’s five years old and a beauty.  My hubby just brought  home a new coon hunting dog and her name is Roxy.

She’s a beautiful dog and very vocal when we’re near.  She sounds like she’s really talking.  Hubby did a trial hunt with her before bringing her home and planned to take her hunting last night but the weather didn’t cooperate.  We have one other redbone but he (Dan) hasn’t been hunted at all.  We have one other tried and true coon dog and she’s a Walker (Brandy).  Brandy was trained as a bear dog but had a stroke a few years ago while with her previous owner. She’s somewhere around 10 years old and the stroke has definitely slowed her down but she’s quite a  beautiful dog.   Hubby has hunted her several times and wanted to get a new dog started and hunting with Brandy before she’s too old to hunt or has another stroke.  He plans to hunt Roxy here on the farm a few times before running the two dogs together.

Roxy - Pretty girl.

Roxy – Pretty girl.

Roxy checking out one of our cats on the haybales.

Roxy checking out one of our cats on the haybales.

Lady Brandy - Walker hound

Lady Brandy – Walker hound

 

My daughter would say we are dog poor but when you love to hunt, you have dogs.  My son-in-law doesn’t much care for keeping dogs unless you can let them run free.  It’s important to keep hunting dogs chained/pinned to keep them from being taken or learning bad habits.  We love our dogs and take good care of them.  Our granddaughter even loves coon hunting and wants a dog of her own but her folks tell her she’ll just have be part owner of PaPa’s dogs.  We welcome our new lady, Roxy and hope she proves to be the dog hubby has been looking for quite some time.

Orphans at the farm

I love babies of all kinds and have raised two kids of my own but I’ve also raised several orphan animals and thought I would share some pictures of them.  It’s very gratifying finding them quick enough to get some warm food in them, warm blankets around them and a good warm bath no matter if they’re furbearing or feathered.  Here’s some of my babes:

 

Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.

Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.

My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn't raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!

My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn’t raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!

 

Sassy - our current baby!!

Sassy – our current baby!!

 

Sassy  & Dandy

Sassy & Dandy

 

Brandy

Brandy

 

Annie and the triplets

Annie and the triplets

Baby

Baby

 

Precious and Bambi

Precious and Bambi

 

Cuddles

Cuddles

 

Little Dan - now he's all grown up.

Little Dan – now he’s all grown up.

 

Baby chicks

Baby chicks

Half grown mallard babies

Half grown mallard babies

 

Baby Dude

Baby Dude

Fuzzy

Fuzzy

 

Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans

Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans

 

Buckwheat

Buckwheat

Garth

Garth

Roxy

Roxy

I can’t begin to tell you of all of the cats, dogs, fawns, squirrels, calves, rabbits, chicks and ducks I’ve hand raised but I can tell you everyone of them was worth the challenge!!

Youth hunting day & success for my granddaughter

 

On the 29th of September, Virginia had it annual Youth Hunting Day for deer.  This was my granddaughters second year, I think, participating and she went with her grandfather to her mother’s deer stand.  She likes hunting in the afternoon like her Nana and this year she waited about two hours before the opportunity showed itself.  Two bucks came out of the woods into the clearing in front of her stand.  One was very small and the other looked like a monster to her.  She put up her gun and whispered to Papa that she could here her heart beating.  She  sighted in and click . . .  the gun didn’t fire.  Apparently when they got to the stand, Papa loaded the gun but did it gently and quietly so as not to scare anything off  or alert the game to their location.  The gun apparently didn’t load completely and therefore would not go off.  He quickly took it from her and reloaded, the deer looked in their direction but didn’t run because they were well hidden.  Victoria took the gun, sighted in again and shot.  The big  buck fell immediately and the smaller ran off, safe for another day.   She and Papa sat quietly for about five minutes, put the gun on safety and exited the stand.  They started walking up the hill toward the direction the deer fell.

I was watching the entire scene from our front porch and about 500 – 600 yards away with the field glasses. When the deer fell it went in a small dip in the landscape and while they were walking up the hill they could not see it and Victoria was getting nervous.  She thought the deer had got up and ran off which would mean tracking.  Once they got within 10 feet of the kill location they could see the horns sticking up and everyone was very happy.  Papa went to get the truck while she guarded her trophy and calmed down.   When he got back to the kill sight, Victoria got up in the truck to hoist the head and horns while Papa lifted the main weight of the deer.  Papa says Victoria needs to work on her upper body and arm strength because she almost came out of the truck but they finally got it loaded and headed for the house.

I met them at the truck and here are some photos we took once they got it home:

 

Very excited young lady!!

Very excited young lady!!

She was very anxious to get to church the next day to show the pictures to her pastor and all of her male friends that hunt.  She was a little put out when they shunned her and didn’t want to talk about how their hunts went.    We told her not to worry about them and to be very thankful that she was able to help fill the freezer.  I’ve also attached some photos that her Mom and I took the next day in the bright sunshine with her proud Papa.

020

Nine-point success story - Grandpa and Victoria

Nine-point success story – Grandpa and Victoria

Youth day perfect shot 2012

youth day 2012

Victorias 9 pointer

Victoria Youth Day 9 pointer 2012

Cant wait to show it off 2012

2012 winner for Victoria

 

There is some funny parts I can’t leave out of this post.  When I was taking pictures of her at the truck when they first bought the deer in Victoria realized that what she and Papa thought was an 8-pointer turned out to be a nine-pointer which made her unbelievably happy.  The other funny part is, Mom has banned her from her stand and told her if she can do that well she can hunt on another acre of the farm.  Now in order to be able to live with this 14 year old, going on 15, we all must hunt harder and better!!  Victoria is a very competitive hunter as you may have read in some of my spring posts when she was turkey hunting with Papa.

She can bearly hold him up 04142012

Happy Hunter 04142012

 

Two good hits!

Two good hits!

 

two of a kind 04142012

Shes a true hunter 04142012

 

The year is almost three quarters gone and what did I do?

                                                                                                                                                                    January -Ice and snow

February-Making maple syrup

January-February – grafting fruit trees

February – March – Seedlings started

March – Baby calves arrive

March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.

April – fire wood for winter 2012

April – New equipment for working the cattle

April – More new fencing

May – Gardening begins

May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey

May – Bee swarming begins

May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.

June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!

June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.

June – Hay time

June – Hay lot is full!

July – Spring cleaning almost done!

July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!

July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!

July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!

August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!

July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.

September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.

September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).

September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.

And, here it is the end of September.  Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here.  Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market.  Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves.  The cycle starts again.

Babies leaving home soon

This is a happy time of year for hubby and our finances but somewhat of a sad time for me.  In the spring we had forty + babies born and now they weigh between 425# and 500# and it’s marketing season.  We’re delaying it for a couple weeks because a few have been plagued with “pinkeye” and they are recovering.  I wanted to share some of their pictures before they leave.

They’ve put on about 300 – 400 pounds since they were born and are grazing along side their moms now.  Most will only nurse a couple times a day at their present weight and they’re first to come to the feed troughs which make it easier on them when they leave their mom behind.

The three bears

We only have four cherry trees on the farm at present.  Three of the four produce pretty decent cherries usually in late May or early June depending on the weather.  My hubby really looks forward to them ripening and he loves cherry pies.  This year only two of the trees outwitted the late frost and produced for us.  Hubby kept checking them and was anxiously awaiting their ripening.  He wasn’t aware that someone else was watching and waiting right along with him.

Guess what??  The critters beat him to them and one of the trees got a very bad pruning.  The smaller of the two was robbed of their fruit by birds and raccoons.  The largest and sweetest cherry producer was invaded by three black bears. On one given day it was visited at the same time by three.  There were two that were probably three years old gageing by their size and then there was the “big boy”.  The last time I got to see them, the two smaller (125-150 pounds) were taking turns up and down the tree and having the times of their lives UNTIL the big guy showed up.  They were pretty quick to leave the area with him around.  The “big boy” stayed for a good while and that’s the last I saw them but hubby watched him tearing that tree to pieces, stripping it clean of all cherries for about two weeks.

After they were all gone and hubby was so disappointed, I went to WalMart and bought him some for the pies and the ice cream.  I froze the last basket to have for out next batch of homemade ice cream because they just won’t keep very well once we get them home.   We were happy to see the bears but not so much when they took all the cherries.  Maybe next spring will be a different story!!

Love cider time

September and October are my favorite months in the fall. It’s also the one time of the year that we invite friends, neighbors and family in for some fun on the farm making cider. We have two small apple orchards and if the frost is light in the spring it means we will have apples come fall. We always hope for a bumper crop of apples!!

We have about 30 apple trees on the farm and most are old, old trees that have been here through three or four generations and in the last 20 years haven’t been cared for. We are in the process of grafting about thirty new rootstock in hopes of keeping the orchards for generations to be. The grafts weren’t very successful this year but I’ll try again next spring.

My post is to show the fun we have with our family and friends at least one Sunday afternoon making apple cider. About two weeks before we make the cider I email or call everyone we would like to visit and give them the date and time. We usually have about 20-30 adults and children. Our granddaughter helps to entertain the children and our kids help with the preparations if they can. A few days before the gathering we head out on the tractor gather up 15 – 20 bushel of apples trying to mix some tart and some sweet for the best cider. We have our own cider press and some years back a motor was attached to it and the cider making becomes more fun than hard work.

We clean out the barn, clean the press and bring out the gallon jugs I’ve been sterilizing and saving for the cider.

I plan a small menu for a meal at the house after the cider making is complete. We just have some good old fashioned fun and at times teach someone not as lucky as we are what life is like on the farm!

Once the apples are picked and about an hour before the gathering, we bring out a large galvanized stock tank and fill it with cold water, dump in the apples and give everything a good washing. Mind you, we DO NOT spray our apples at anytime of the year. They’re as natural as can be and if a worm might  get in the apple, we figure that some natural protein to add to the juice :)!!

You will hopefully be able to see the REST OF THE STORY in the following photos I’ve taken over the years of our gathering! While you’re at it go to an orchard in the fall. It’ll be the best trip you’ll take all year!!


After all the apples are pressed, we strain the juice through several layers of cheesecloth into those wonderful old milkcans. Then the jugs are filled to the rim and handed out to any and all that would like to have some. Everyone lends hand in the cleanup and then we head to the house to have a meal and drink some fresh cider. Everyone heads home with a full belly and a jug of cider. Those that hang around for awhile sit on the porch to chat or take a spin around the pond in the paddle boat or play a game of badminton or just listen to the quiet (unless the kids are having a good time in the front yard)!