Category Archives: Seasons

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!

Spring pictoral

Just a quick note this morning to share the beauty in my yard so far this spring!

More iris

Peonies

Shamrock from hubby for Mother’s Day

Clematis

Hostas everywhere

Tall phlox will bloom late summer

Iris of every color that have never bloomed much. We opened up the maple tree and this is what I got this spring.

Allium got froze back but still showed a little color.

More iris

Roses budding

More iris

More peony

Sweet William, my grandmother’s favorite

Siberian iris

More Sweet William

And more Sweet Williams

Foxglove

Siberian iris

Clematis hiding it’s beautiful bloom

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!!

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!

Merry Christmas to ALL!!!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and to remind all to remember the real reason for the season!! I’m wishing all of you a very blessed 2017 and hope to hear from you through my blog in the coming year!!! Blessings to all and on this joyous day, and throughout the coming year, may your life be filled with good luck and prosperity.

End of Summer Roses

My flowers are gone and this is the last of my beautiful roses.

my-last-roses-for-2016-3 my-last-roses-for-2016-2 my-last-roses-for-2016-1

Hydrangeas, Bleeding Hearts, & More

Proof of spring and early summer!

IMG_0004 IMG_0003 IMG_0002 IMG_0001

Lavender & purple Iris

Lavender & purple Iris

Siberian Iris

Siberian Iris

Columbine

Columbine

Peonies

Peonies

 

Peony buds

Peony buds

More peonies

More peonies

IMG_0008

Can you tell I absolutely love peonies and have them all over the yard!?

Rose of Sharon started from seed from our old homeplace on Johns' Creek.

Rose of Sharon started from seed from our old homeplace on Johns’ Creek.

Lilac bush from my daughter to be planted. I'm making sure I choose just the right spot.

Lilac bush from my daughter to be planted. I’m making sure I choose just the right spot.

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart

Purple iris

Purple iris

IMG_0027

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Beige & peach Iris

Beige & peach Iris

Peach Iris

Peach Iris

Two year old rose

Two year old rose

Old fashioned rose

Old fashioned rose

Siberian Iris

Siberian Iris

And of course, where would we be without our wonderful honeybees pollinating everything.

And of course, where would we be without our wonderful honeybees pollinating everything.

This is what is blooming at our house right now, the last day of May!!!

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.

Sugar Time at Caldwell Farms

You know spring is really on it’s way when the Caldwell family fires up the sugar house and loads the maple trees with sap buckets.  Eddie and I tapped our maple trees last week with the awesome help of our son, Shawn.  It was a spur of a moment decision because of the unpredictable weather situation.  We tapped fourteen trees with 1-5 buckets depending on the size and condition of the tree.

Sugar maple tree with tap

Sugar maple tree with tap

This is one of the sugar maples in our front yard that provides us with plenty of maple sap in the spring and glorious shade in the hot summers.

This is one of the sugar maples in our front yard that provides us with plenty of maple sap in the spring and glorious shade in the hot summers.  This tree held five buckets this spring.

We gather the sap every two hours so by the time we had all of the taps drilled, plugged and a bucket hung on them it was time for Shawn to start making the rounds to each of the trees.  The sap was running like a heavily dripping faucet and soon the buckets were running over.  We had a total of 52 buckets hung and we hauled it in milk cans from the trees back to the 210 gallon storage tank.  The tank was filled well past the holding mark giving us about 225 total gallons of sap in 2 1/2 days.  On Tuesday afternoon we pulled the taps and buckets, cleaned them and put them away for another year.

These are some of the tools we use to start the process of making maple syrup.

These are some of the tools we use to start the process of making maple syrup.

Stock water tank holds 210 gallon at the top ridge of the tank.

Stock water tank holds 210 gallon at the top ridge of the tank.

At this point we stored the tank full of sap in our garage where it would stay below 40* until we were ready to make the syrup and would be okay for 10-12 days as long as it stayed cold.  We now waited for weather that was cool, dry and not too windy to fire up the sugar house.

On Friday, Eddie hauled in the firewood to use for the fire.  It had to be dry and a sturdy wood that would stay really hot.  We had a stockpile of old locust post that came from replaced fencing on the farm so he brought in two loads and placed them on top of three other posts laid out on the ground to keep the wood dry in the event it rained again before we started the fire.

Friday night we made the decision to make the syrup while we had at least one good day.  I emailed the kids and we set the syrup vat on the fire pit. The syrup vat is a stainless steel vat with four sections.

Cooking tank has four sections. The first two on the right have a opening so that the sap runs from one side to the other. The next section is the first thickening section and the narrow section on the far left is the last section before straining off. The pain has grown dark over the last few years and each year our syrup gets a little darker and sweeter.

Cooking tank has four sections. The first two on the right have a opening so that the sap runs from one side to the other. The next section is the first thickening section and the narrow section on the far left is the last section before straining off. The pain has grown dark over the last few years and each year our syrup gets a little darker and sweeter.

We put the vat on the firepit around 9:00 p.m. Friday night and we thought we had everything ready. The sawed up fence posts were in the pit along with kindling and we don’t put the sap in until right before lighting the fire.  (Don’t want no varmints sucking up the water or worse walking through it.  The lights for working in the dark first thing in the morning were set up and ready.  The hose was hooked up to the tank, buckets in place, and all we had to do was try to get a good nights sleep because it was going to be a long day.

The next morning Eddie got up at 5:00 a.m. and got the vat filled with sap, started the fire and when I got out of bed at 6:00 I could see the steam coming out from under the sugarhouse roof.  It had been cooking good for about half an hour and Eddie was going to add more sap and the waterhose from the storage tank to the vat was froze.  We were really doing some hustling trying to unthaw it.  First he tried a small propane torch but that didn’t work and would have melted the hose.  Then we tried running hot water from the house to the hose and that didn’t work.  Finally we ran straight hot water into the hose, whipped it against the ground to beat up the slush and ice in the hose and finally after thirty minutes and almost scorching the syrup in the pans it broke free.  At this point we filled the vat sections quickly again but this time we kept the hose off the ground by placing it on several milkcans from the garage to the sugar house.

The sugar house sits down over the hill from the garage about 50 feet and it was warmer down there than it was up the hill at the garage.

The sugar house sits down over the hill from the garage about 50 feet and it was warmer down there than it was up the hill at the garage.

After this things went pretty quickly and I left him to go to Covington at 9:00 to visit my younger brother.  This was a short trip because he wouldn’t get out of bed and didn’t want to talk.  I got back home a lot sooner than I expected and our daughter, Heather, had joined her Dad around 10:30 and things were going pretty good.  Only about 75 gallons of sap had gone through the vats during my absense but I had about two gallons of syrup to strain and process.  It was beautiful and so sweet.  You have to remember though that when we collect that sap from the trees it looks and tastes like clear water.

First pot off the firepit and it's ready to strain once more, heat to boiling and put in the sterilized jars to seal.

First pot off the firepit and it’s ready to strain once more, heat to boiling and put in the sterilized jars to seal.

Cheesecloth for straining the syrup. I use about four layers of cloth when I strain the syrup and it's strained twice once it's cooked. We also use a bucket with a straining net to pour it in the storage tank.

Cheesecloth for straining the syrup. I use about four layers of cloth when I strain the syrup and it’s strained twice once it’s cooked. We also use a bucket with a straining net to strain from the tapping buckets and pour it in the storage tank.

Regular and wide mouth jar lids

Regular and wide mouth jar lids

Sterlized pint jars

Sterlized pint jars

We had a very successful day ending up with 53 pint jars and 6 quarts.  We’ll sell the pints for $8 and the quarts for $12.

Pints and quarts of heavenly fresh maple syrup.

Pints and quarts of heavenly fresh maple syrup.

Caldwell Farm labels include the date made and the ingredients.  We do not add any preservatives or other sugars.

Caldwell Farm labels include the date made and the ingredients. We do not add any preservatives or other sugars.

Here’s some of the pictures shared throughout the day.

Frosty morning started at 29* at 6:00 a.m.

Frosty morning started at 29* at 6:00 a.m.

At times the steam in the cool air made it impossible to see what was going on in the vat.

At times the steam in the cool air made it impossible to see what was going on in the vat.

Boiling maple sap to scrumptious maple syrup.

Boiling maple sap to scrumptious maple syrup.

Our daughter Heather after a steamy day of fun!

Our daughter Heather after a steamy day of fun!

Mr. Caldwell considers himself the "sugar monster" at the end of the day.

Mr. Caldwell considers himself the “sugar monster” at the end of the day.

Jared and Crystal joined in the afternoon. This was Crystals first trip to the farm and she also got to feed the baby calf, Miracle.

Jared and Crystal joined in the afternoon. This was Crystals first trip to the farm and she also got to feed the baby calf, Miracle.

Jared hanging out in the sugar house.

Jared hanging out in the sugar house.

End result!

End result!

Sassy guarding the woodpile from mice and voles.

Sassy guarding the woodpile from mice and voles.

Undescribable smell in the air!

Undescribable smell in the air!

Vats are full and boiling.

Vats are full and boiling.

Boiling sap almost maple syrup.

Boiling sap almost maple syrup.

He's stays busy during the entire process.

He’s stays busy during the entire process.

Sugar Monster fueling the fire.

Sugar Monster fueling the fire.

Crystal and Jared enjoying the day.

Crystal and Jared enjoying the day.

Jared and Eddie catching up on everything and planning their spring gobbler season.

Jared and Eddie catching up on everything and planning their spring gobbler season.

Red hot coals from old locust posts keep things hot and sap boiling from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Red hot coals from old locust posts keep things hot and sap boiling from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

The steam makes the whole area smell like maple syrup.

The steam makes the whole area smell like maple syrup.

Firepit in sugar house

Firepit in sugar house

Our granddaughter, Victoria, and her new beau joined at the end of the evening just in time for french toast and sausages.  Fun and hard work was had by all!

 

Heather Defeats the Snowblower

My daughter can operate just about every piece of equipment on our farm. The only equipment she hasn’t used is the backhoe but I know it’s just a matter of time until she is on it to. Here is her newest accomplishment completed today:

IMG_0010

In four minutes she was half way there.

In four minutes she was half way there.

I believe she has been whining about the snow since last week and today she’s out in it playing and taking pictures of the farm and the wildlife.

 

Feeding the Wild Birds

Winter is finally here and my wildbirds are looking for food.  I had noticed that I didn’t have very many around but had not put out the birdfeeders because of my chickens which will devour the seeds.

Wildbird seed

Wildbird seed

Two feeders cleaned and ready to fill

Two feeders cleaned and ready to fill

With the snow we received and blew away yesterday, I decided to fill all the feeders.

All during the year I save any grease from bacon, sausage and more.  After cooking I drain the grease into mini aluminum loaf pans and store it in the freezer until cold weather arrives.  I have all sorts of woodpeckers that love the firm lard and they get lots of protein from it.

Small tins of frozen grease-these are bacon and sausage drippings saved from our kitchen.

Small tins of frozen grease-these are bacon and sausage drippings saved from our kitchen.

The aluminum disposable tins are a quick and easy way to save grease over time. I pour what little grease comes from our meat and add to the tin until full. Great for the birds.

The aluminum disposable tins are a quick and easy way to save grease over time. I pour what little grease comes from our meat and add to the tin until full. Great for the birds.

I’ll place these on my hanging flower table that Eddie made me and all the birds can get on the table together if they want.

Hanging plant table used year round.

Hanging plant table used year round.  The bird feeders fit well there too but the chickens fly up on the fence and then onto the table when they see the wild birds feeding there.

Along with the birdseed I put out ears of field corn, sunflowers, peanuts and dried bread crumbs.

Two for one shot!

Two for one shot!

2015 grown sunflowers. I hung about 30 of them and they're just about gone but they were fed mostly to the chickens in the henhouse.

2015 grown sunflowers. I hung about 30 of them and they’re just about gone but they were fed mostly to the chickens in the henhouse.

Squirrel feeder and the jar is filled with peanuts in a shell. The woodpecker breeds love these as do the cardinals.

Squirrel feeder and the jar is filled with peanuts in a shell. The woodpecker breeds love these as do the cardinals.

Field corn strapped to the fince post.

Field corn strapped to the fence post.

So far this winter I have woodpeckers of several varieties, doves, nuthatches, wrens, snowbirds, bluejays, Juncos, cardinals and Carolina wrens feeding at my stations.

Cold weather warning preparation

According to the weather forecasters, colder weather is heading our way (but we’ll see what Mother Nature has to say about that).  We’ve put fresh hay in the coon dog houses, put plastic covered mesh over the summer windows of the hen-house, padded Roscoe’s new digs (he has moved to the upper part of the smokehouse).

Roscoe's old bed in his new house in the grainery attached to the smokehouse.

Roscoe’s old bed in his new house in the grainery attached to the smokehouse.

He has so much room to run now and when I go out there he follows me through the rafters poking his head in between the lumber up there.

He has so much room to run now and when I go out there he follows me through the rafters poking his head in between the lumber up there.

Hi mom!!

Hi mom!!

He is so much fun to watch.

He is so much fun to watch.

We started putting dry wood on the front porch again to keep us warm.

East end of porch is full.

East end of porch is full.

Front edge will be filled from the wood house.

Front edge will be filled from the wood house.

West end will be filled in the next two days.

West end will be filled in the next two days.

I also brought in some canned green beans, tomatoes, october beans, potatoes, delicata squash and cabbage from the cellar.  I also buttoned down the storm windows to keep the wind out. Hoping it won’t get real bad if I’m prepared ahead of time.  I’m not sure if that really happens or not but I’ll try anything.  I don’t like the sixty and seventy degree days in November and December and definitely not January.  Eddie found a cherry tree on the mountain in bloom and the maple sap is running.  We had about three weeks of really cold temps and the sap went down and now it thinks it spring and time to run again.  This messed up our maple sugar processing last year and afraid it may have again.  I’m more worried about the honey bees and their survival in this crazy weather.

Hope you all stay warm on this last day of December 2015 and keep those prayers coming for all of those unfortunate people out west dealing with flooding and snow storms.  Be thankful for what you have and truly appreciate all that God has blessed us with!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

Hummingbird Moth

This summer weather in December is making me crazy!!!  I don’t care for the cold anymore but this is ridiculous!!  We actually have a cherry tree on the mountain BLOOMING!  This is just wrong, don’t ya think?

So if it’s going to act like summer, I’m going to blog summer!

Hummingbird moth stealing nectar (2)

This the last flower blooming back in September and the little guy hovering over it is a hummingbird moth.  They’re so unusual and I only had two this summer.

Hummingbird moth sucking out all the nectar from around each petal.

Hummingbird moth sucking out all the nectar from around each petal.

Can you see both of them  on the Tall Phlox?

Can you see both of them on the Tall Phlox?

The pink of these flowers and their delicious smell attracts the hummingbird and the hummingbird moth.

The pink of these flowers and their delicious smell attracts the hummingbird and the hummingbird moth.

Hummingbird moths on tall flox 082015 (3)

Hummingbird moths on tall flox 082015 (4)

Hummingbird moths on tall flox 082015 (5)

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, can we PLEASE have some normal temps and a little of the white stuff (not fog)!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

What a crazy year and where did it go!!?? Before I get lost in all the festivities and wonder I wanted to wish all of my blogging friends and followers a very merry Christmas and a wonderous and blessed New Year of 2016!

My blogging time is very limited at the moment but I’m sending you the following to help make it feel a little more like it’s Christmas and to thank our Lord and Savior for giving the beautiful farm I live on, the special family I have and the ability to know what Christmas is truly about!

Blessing to all and I’ll see you next year!

Hay Season 2015

It will take me weeks to catch up on all of my blog posts that I want to complete from the summer and this fall.  Thought I would start with the wonderful hay season we had this summer.  I don’t help much with the hay production but I do make sure there’s plenty of refreshment for my two hard workers, my hubby, Eddie and our daughter, Heather.

Eddie decides what fields are cut down first and does the cutting with the haybine and the baling with a round baler.  Sometimes, we do square bales but later in the summer as a second cutting of the crop.  Our hayfields have orchard grass, red clover and timothy.  This summer we had bumper crops and more hay was baled than ever before due to the wonderful spring and summer rains.

Heavy crops

Heavy crops

Beautiful orchard grass and clover

Beautiful orchard grass and clover

Haybine hard at work.

Haybine hard at work.

IMG_0007

IMG_0006

IMG_0005

We have a large Massey Ferguson tractor and by looking at the back wheels you can tell how high the grass was.

We have a large Massey Ferguson tractor and by looking at the back wheels you can tell how high the grass was.

One of the last fields harvested.

One of the last fields harvested.

The season left us with over 800 bales this year.  I just hope we won't need to use it all because that will mean a "winter monster"!

The season left us with over 800 bales this year. I just hope we won’t need to use it all because that will mean a “winter monster”!

Moving hay from Snead line 07192015 (1)

Moving hay from Snead line 07192015 (3)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (4)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (5)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (9)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (15)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (18)

View from the truck while moving haybales 2015 (8)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (16)

I did get to drive the big truck when it was time to move it all off the fields and that took quite a few trips in several days.

Moving hay with a 1970 truck.

Moving hay with a 1970 truck.

Moving hay from Snead line 07192015 (5)

 

Half full

Half full

I ove this old girl.

I love this old girl.

Eddie stacks six bales on the truck and carried two on the tractor each trip to the haylot.

Eddie stacks six bales on the truck and carried two on the tractor each trip to the haylot.

Eddie would have moved all of it by himself if I had not been retired and home to help!  I’m starting to feel useful again on the farm.

Spring? ? ?

I know that spring is just around the corner because I found these in my yard yesterday.

Crocus

 

Crocus

Aren’t they beautiful??  Spring is coming in like a lion and I have two little orphans because of it.  George and Prissy were born on March 15th& 16th consecutively.  It’s was the worse days we’ve had all winter.  George’s mom decided he should be born and baptized at the same time so she had him in a wet weather spring in the middle of a blackberry patch in 0* weather.  He was so cold he could not get up to nurse and when Eddie found him Mom left to go eat.  Eddie packed him up in the tractor cab and carried him to our cellar.  Twenty four hours and lots of warm towels, heat lamp and propane heater, he was toddling around and taking a bottle.

George is curious and very pushy!!  Normal little bull.

George is curious and very pushy!! Normal little bull.

Prissy was delivered to the main house the next morning covered in ice and snow and barely alive.  I didn’t make it to work that day because of the snow and ice and I think Eddie was glad to have me there.  He found Prissy covered in four inches of ice and then snow.  Beside her, the mom was cleaning and trying to make her dead twin come back to life.  Eddie scraped off the snow and loaded her in the tractor and brought her to me.  I got out an old cutter quilt and he laid her by the woodstove. I grabbed old towels and blankets and started drying her off.  Sassy helped by licking her face.  I was certain she would die because her tongue was cold and she was so lifeless.  Sassy and I worked on her all morning, shifting her from side to side and warming another old quilt to lay over her.  We gave her about an ounce of warm milk every hour or so trying to get her warm on the inside and the outside.  Around 9:00 p.m. she started trying to get up on her own and by 10:00 she had taken three ounces so we decided to move her to the cellar with George.

Prissy-very quiet and docile.

Prissy-very quiet and docile.

Thankfully both calves are doing well.  George has been a little rough on Prissy and stepped on her the first night they were together and she limps from her left front leg but we’re hoping time and some loving care will fix that.  She’s a lot smaller than he is coming in at around 45-50 pounds and Eddie says George weighs over 75 pounds.

Here’s some more pics of them from the last two weeks and I’ll update their growth and shenanigans as time goes on.

DSCN6630

Prissy is trying to making friends with Cuddles, the cat.

Prissy is trying to making friends with Cuddles, the cat.

Curious calves.

Curious calves.

George has a voracious appetite, funny, big kicker, and is constantly sucking on Prissy's ears.

George has a voracious appetite, funny, big kicker, and is constantly sucking on Prissy’s ears.

Prissy is watching the chickens.  George usually chases them.

Prissy is watching the chickens. George usually chases them.

Prissy and George enjoying the sunshine.

Prissy and George enjoying the sunshine.

George climbing out of his hutch and Prissy wondering "why?"

George climbing out of his hutch and Prissy wondering “why?”

Feeding time!!

Feeding time!!

It's not as easy as it looks when there's only one person feeding them.

It’s not as easy as it looks when there’s only one person feeding them.

George tries to take Prissy's bottle when he empty's his first!

George tries to take Prissy’s bottle when he empty’s his first!

Just to let you know how I feed them, we buy powdered calf milk that is medicated and high in protein and feed them two quarts every eight hours.  The powdered milk is mixed with water and the first couple of feedings they are given colostrum to get the immune system going that they couldn’t get from their natural mom.  At three to four weeks, we start introducing them to the small grains.

More to come!!!

 

Patience

Definition:  the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset; the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Epistle of James, the Bible urges Christians to be patient, and ” see how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,…until it receives the early and the late rains.” (James 5:7-11, NAB).

I’m patiently waiting for spring and the first sign of spring on our farm is this little bird.

One problem, I don’t have the patience I used to have!!

2014 Summer of Roses

Looking back at my 2014 roses makes me look forward to spring!

 

 

DSCN5390 DSCN5389 DSCN5642 DSCN5622 DSCN5621 DSCN5569 DSCN5746 DSCN5745 DSCN5742 DSCN5730 DSCN5729 DSCN5725 DSCN5724 DSCN5721 Rose 2014 IMG_0043 IMG_0037 (2) IMG_0036 Flowers 2014 (13) Flowers 2014 (10) Flowers 2014 (9) Flowers 2014 (8) Flowers 2014 (6)

New roses are growing

I truly love roses and am trying so hard to make them grow and survive our mountain farm.  In the spring I found a wonderful buy at Breck’s for five roses for $19.99 and they were bare root roses.  When they arrived they were already showing lots of new growth but I was afraid to plant them because we were still getting freezing temps day and night several days in a row.  Finally in early May, hubby helped me dig the holes and we put them in the ground with two tablespoons of epsom salts and lots of water. DSCN5366

DSCN5357

DSCN5355

DSCN5353

DSCN5352

DSCN5351

I watered them every day May through mid-June and we started getting some rain.  Now I water them thoroughly once or twice a week depending on the rain. They are doing quite well and all but one has bloomed and it’s still sprouting new growth.  I’m watching it carefully and giving it lots of love!  Here’s proof of the blooming:

DSCN5734

DSCN5732

DSCN5730

 

DSCN5727

 

 

Now, I started this post in June and here it is the 8th of August and (more about that later)  here’s what my beautiful roses have done all summer:

DSCN5721

DSCN5724

DSCN5725

DSCN5729

DSCN5742

DSCN5745

DSCN5746

 

IMG_0022

IMG_0023

IMG_0024

DSCN5390

DSCN5387

DSCN5368

DSCN5367

DSCN5562

DSCN5642

DSCN5622

DSCN5621

IMG_0025

 

 

IMG_0011

I’m dealing with some japanese beetles and some black spot which seems to be worse with all the rain we’re getting but I’m thrilled I’ve kept them alive, they’re blooming and so beautiful.  I just have to keep them through the winter.  New post coming with the rest of the flowers flourishing this summer!!  

Winter stockpile

2014 final wood split and ready to store in shed.  Wonderful oak that has been dead for at least a year.

2014 final wood split and ready to store in shed. Wonderful oak that has been dead for at least a year.

We’re ready for a cold winter after this load is put in the woodhouse. I believe it’s a total of three pickup loads full. Hubby split it in three days while I was at work. Now we need to put it in the shed to keep it dry for winter use.

Wood General wood splitter has saved a lot of sore muscles and pain the back!

Wood General wood splitter has saved a lot of sore muscles and pain the back!

This will all go in the big stove in the living room. We’ve not brought in anything for the wood cookstove yet.
Heating oil tank on the backside of the woodshed.

Heating oil tank on the backside of the woodshed.

This fuel tank was used for heating oil when hubby’s aunt & uncle lived here. The back side of the tank was against the wood shed and years of rain off the roof, onto the tank and draining against the wall has rotted it badly and it was placed against a door to the back side of the shed.  This is what it looks like after years of rotting.

Rotting wood

Rotting wood

Woodshed needs repairs.

Woodshed needs repairs.  A hole and major damage is at the bottom of the door and a short board is holding it shut for the moment.

We’ll replace the door and use it to throw the wood in for stacking. It will be easier to back the truck up to that opening.  Always something to repair or replace but this door will make it easier to throw the wood in the building instead of the window.

The shed is already two-thirds full from wood we didn’t have to use last year.

Two-thirds full

Two-thirds full

We will surely be warm in the coming winter months!

UPDATE

Hubby repaired the rotten door today and did an amazing job.  He plans to paint the entire building with a old time mixture to preserve it the rest of OUR lives.  Here’s the results and it was the first door he ever made from scratch.  He’s so amazing!

 

Repaired with lumber cut from the farm.

Repaired with lumber cut from the farm.

First time he made a door from scratch.

First time he made a door from scratch.

 

TOTALLY AWESOME!

TOTALLY AWESOME!

Spring planting

Seed Potatoes

Seed Potatoes

Potatoes cut and ready to plant

Potatoes cut and ready to plant

 

We got all the seed and garden had been plowed and ready to work down.  Now the weather channels are calling for a hard frost tomorrow night and chilly temps tonight.  I brought in all of the flowers and herbs I potted last weekend and pulled what I could under the covered front porch.  I went to my little green house this evening and put up heat lamps and on the way back to the house was admiring all of the tiny little fruit on all of the apple and plum trees.  The peach and pear trees are also full and the aspargus was all pulled to keep it from freezing.   I am so ready for warm weather!!

Spring flowers on the farm

 

 

IMG_0023

daffodils

A pop of color all over the yard makes my heart sing and swell!!  I love flowers anytime of the year but these sure help get rid of the winter doldrums.  Spring is in full swing in our area and the cars are covered with pollen and the honeybees are so happy that we’ve already had our first bee swarm!  It left for the mountains before we could capture it.  Of course, the fruit trees in full bloom are helping them, too.

IMG_0022

IMG_0021

IMG_0020

Easter lilies and wild hyacinth

IMG_0017

IMG_0016

Daylilies and huchera

IMG_0015

Poppies

IMG_0014

Daffodils and columbine

IMG_0012

Daylilies

IMG_0011

Goldenseal in the backyard

Allium

Allium

First broody hen of 2014

This is “Crow”.  She is a bantam which means she about half the size of a normal farm hen.  She came to live with me about two years ago after her old family had to move and couldn’t take their chickens with them.  I inherited her and seven or eight more chickens.  Her eggs are about 1/2 the size of a normal chicken but she is a good layer.

CROW-my only bantam hen.  Most bantams are broody and Crow tops the list.

CROW-my only bantam hen. Most bantams are broody and Crow tops the list.

 

Crow has beautiful feathers of black and blue-black that glisten when the sun hits her.

Crow has beautiful feathers of black and blue-black that glisten when the sun hits her.

 

Crow usually gets broody for me about three times a year. Because she is so small, I can only set six to seven regular eggs under her at a time. She is an excellent mother and very, very protective of her new babies.  Generally, fertile chicken eggs which are hatched out by a hen will take 21 days before you see little faces staring at you from underneath their mamma’s wings.  She is the main producer of my replacement hens using the large brown eggs or the blue/green eggs depending on what I have when she decides to “set”.

This is Crow with her first 2013 clutch of bitties!

This is Crow with her first 2013 spring clutch of bitties!  Later in the summer of 2013 she hatched seven more.

The babies she hatched in 2013 are now producing beautiful brown, blue and green eggs for our breakfast and for several of my friends and egg customers.
I set her with seven eggs on March 30th, 2014 and on April 21st I went to check on her after I got home from work and she was all fluffed up and “growling” at me.  I didn’t want to upset her so I didn’t know how many had hatched but knew from her demeanor that she wasn’t completely done.  I walked away anxiously waiting for my first view of our new chicks.  I’ll see them when Crow is ready for me to see them.

Now we have three little balls of fluff.

Their coloring is beautiful!

Their coloring is beautiful!

They're about the size of a golf ball.

They’re about the size of a golf ball.

light brown, caramel, and black/brown coloring.

light brown, caramel, and black/brown coloring.

I won’t be able to tell what their sex is until they’re about three to five weeks old but I was  hoping for at least six hens out of the bunch but I take what I can get.  I have no doubt at all that by mid-June she will “set” again.
More updates as the summer comes to Virginia!!

Merkels or morels

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

What in the world?????

Morels are a type of mushrooms which can be found growing all over the world in a wide variety of habitats every spring. They are among the most prized of the edible mushrooms because they have a rich and complex flavor that goes well with almost any food. They also have a very distinctive appearance which makes them readily identifiable, assuming they can be found at all, since they’re notorious for being very elusive.

Like all mushrooms, the morel is only the fruiting body of a larger organism. Most mushrooms form a massive web of fibers underground called the mycelium. This web of fibers can be quite large, and when it decides to reproduce it sends up mushrooms, which release spores from the parent fungus. Mushrooms are quite appealing to humans because they are often fleshy and flavorful. Scientists have not determined why mushrooms fruit when they do, but mushrooms are usually linked with rain and heavy moisture. In the case of morels, spectacular growth patterns are also linked with forest fires.

We love to search for these delicasies every spring and this spring is no different.  When Mother Nature cooperates we feel like we located the “mother load”!!

During spring gobbler season every year, hubby and his friends make a day of searching for these tasty morsels in their secret honey hole.  As in years past, they did very well and these shots will prove harvest:

92 morels cleaned, halved and ready for the skillet!

92 morels cleaned, halved and ready for the skillet!

Some are golden, some are brown and some are white.

Some are golden, some are brown and some are white.

It's a beauty!

It’s a beauty!

Draining all of the water off so they'll last longer!

Draining all of the water off so they’ll last longer!

 

There is absolutely nothing better than country fried merkels, baked beans and macaroni salad for supper!!  Wish you were here to enjoy them with us 😉