Our biggest sap producer in the back yard of the mansion.
It’s getting close to time to make maple syrup again and Mother Nature split our best sap producer in half back in late summer. The tree is over 200 years old and we have pictures of my husband’s family having a picture made at it when his great, great grandparents had passed away. All of the children were standing/sitting in front of the tree when the picture was taken and the tree was only about 10-12 inches around.
This is a picture of my husbands great aunts and uncles taken at the mansion and the young maple can be seen in the background.
Now, three to four people holding hands around it can still barely reach around the base of what’s left of it. I’m hoping it may sprout new growth this spring and only time will tell. We got several truckloads of firewood from it and the rotted was carried to the woods to go back into the earth. This loss will make a big difference in our sap production but we do have several of the same size on the farm that we have not tapped before and will during our next production season. We probably won’t have a maple syrup weekend this year due to the crazy season we’re having this winter/spring. Here’s some pictures of the downed tree and the damage it did to fence and gates but thankfully fell to the north instead of on the mansion (family home of our ancestors).
That storm in July broke another of our heritage apple trees which seems to happen with every storm. We had another storm last night but thankfully no damage was found but for one huge pine tree in our back fields. Cattle and fences were spared this time.
I’ve said in the past how much I detest and despise coyotes.Well, we have almost a month to go for the first spring calf to arrive and nasty beasts are back. Hubby set snares and has caught two, one young male and this huge male that’s probably two – three years old.
Huge coyote male snared 02/2014
If there’s males around there’s bound to be females and their mating season will soon begin if not already. This brute could take a newborn calf away from it’s mother in a matter of seconds. A month old calf in a few minutes if it’s not with the herd. Of course, these cows always decide to calve out in the woods alone and the babies are then easy prey, especially with canines like these:
Two to three year old male coyote.
There’s open season on them and several trappers are trying to help but Mother Nature gives them the inate sense to breed larger welps when the group get’s killed out or dies out. We’ve lost too many babies to these predators and stopping them is essential to our farm profits each and every year.
Not only do they kill the calves but they devastate the deer population, all livestock and will kill your pets.
I hope I don’t offend anyone with this post but everyone needs to be aware of the problems this creature creates for farmers.
It’s amazing to me that anyone may be short on hay this winter since we had such a great season. But then I think about the drought the rest of the country had and still has and then I understand. We had about 70 round bales left from summer 2011 and met our needs with some to spare this year. We started feeding out the older hay first and when the snows come hubby puts a couple in each patch of woods that the cattle are in and feeds the good hay first thing in the morning. The cattle move from the fresh to the older as the weather turns bad. The calves like playing and nibbling in the older hay too. Our cattle are in good shape and the fall calving is complete now since the end of November. Our spring calves will come in late March, early April through May.
One of three haylots full of round bales.
Gielbiev-Angus cross – love the babies!
My older hens have quit laying but I also raised late chicks in June and they’ve started laying for me. I guess it’s a type of rotation laying in our henhouse. I never use heat lamps or special lighting because I think they need a rest too. I make sure they get a tablespoon of vinegar in their fresh water each morning, lots of grit in one feeder, and cracked corn to put on some fat on their bodies which will help them make it through the winter. The vinegar helps rid them of worms, I’m told and they seem to be in better shape since I started using the apple cider vinegar. I don’t let them out of the henhouse when there’s snow/ice on the ground. The biggest problem I have is the younger hens want to sleep in the nests at night because the older hens (pecking order) run them off the roost. Hubby fixed that by building an additional roosting section to the existing roost and all but one hen now uses the roost. She tends to make a nasty mess in the nests during the night and by the time I get to the hen house in the morning another hen has laid her eggs in the mess. I have 38 chickens of which three are young roosters. I’m only getting 6-8 eggs a day now but it’s more than enough for us to use and share with the kids as they visit. I have about 10 hens that need to be culled but I find it hard to let them go because when I enter the henhouse some of them come to me singing and of course, I sing back to them. I always have a couple hens that get broody and hatch but you never where the hatch will be roosters or hens. I think this spring I”ll order a new batch of Buff Orpingtons and Americauna’s. I love those beautful eggs. Two of the three roosters I have are Americauna and the other is a mix but he is a beauty.
New roost addition to accomdate everyone!
King of the Roost
He’s a little over a year old but his sisters are giving me double yolk brown eggs. I haven’t found an adequate name for him yet but thinking about it!
It’s June, the weather is hot and the grass is turning brown on the tips. It’s time to make hay!! Early summer is a very busy time for all farmers because they’re preparing for the winter ahead and keeping the livestock fed. As of last week, my husband and daughter had mowed down, raked up and baled 125+ round bales of hay. That total is about one third of what we will need to make it through a fairly bad winter. We have about eighty 4×5 foot bales left over from last year because we had a very warm and short winter season and we have about that many left over from the year before that.
This is one of the toughest jobs they have on the farm because you deal with rain, heavy dew, riding on equipment that doesn’t have a really smooth comfort zone and of course, that bearing down sun. The heat so far this year has ranged from low to mid 70’s early in the day to high 90’s in late afternoon. It’s very important to stay hydrated and protect your skin. NOW, I must tell you the two stubborn people working on our farm think that sunscreen attracts hay seed and hay dust and therefore rarely if ever wear sunscreen. They think the canopy on the tractors will protect them. Needless to say, they are both quite brown-skinned now and I’m envious but won’t trade places with them. Me and the sun do NOT get along. I do however appreciate the hard work they put in and love the time they get to spend together even though they’re working.
The cattle will be very pleased with this crop during the winter months when they can’t find a green spot on the ground and their tummy’s are growling and their babies are growing inside them.
I’ve included a few pictures of the work at hand. Please take heed and watch out for our farmers on the road. They are putting food in our mouths even though they’re making the hay for the livestock!!
This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we have Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats. In addition we have donkeys, llamas, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and peafowl. The blog describes the weekly activities here.