Farm Dogs: Rottweiller

January 10, 2017

We’ve had a lot of dogs on the farm.  Thinking about the Rottweillers.  I guess we had only two.

The first one had kind of a weird looking head.  Gus was his name.  He had seizures so we had to put him down.  I think Dad got what was considered a good buy, but of course it didn’t turn out to be.

The second, Hans, is the one everyone remembers because he got so big.  Well over a hundred pounds.  He was a pretty good dog.  He showed some aptitude for livestock herding, but was generally too rough.

I remember one time loading hogs with Dad.  Hans bit into the rear of a hog and a chunk of quivering ham fell out onto the ground.  We stopped having him help us load after that.

Another time we were checking cows with new calves out in the pasture in the spring of the year.  The dogs liked to run along with the jeep or ATV and most of the time the dogs were very aware of the momma cows as they are protective of their newborn calves and will charge dogs or anything else that looks threatening.  Hans never paid any attention to the cows.  He just trotted along like the top predator he was.  He must have gotten too close and one of the cows decided to chase him away and started towards him.  Hans didn’t appear to notice her until the last instant when he turned and ferociously bit her on the nose.  That’s all it took for the cow to hightail it away from him.

When we ran the calves through the corral for vaccinating and castrating, we always locked the dogs up because its already stressful for cattle to be corralled and seeing dogs just makes it worse.  But dogs, at least every dog I’ve ever been around, always know what is going on in their surroundings, and when we let Hans out of the basement, he ran straight down the hill to the corral.  We forgot about him until a couple of hours later when we saw him waddling up the hill, his belly visibly distended, filled with all the testicles of the calves we had castrated that day.

Hans was never trained as a guard dog, but he had some natural instincts.  The dogs slept in a non heated porch in the warm months of the year.  My parents would latch the screen door shut last thing at night.  One morning when my Dad went out to do chores, he found the screen door broke open.  He was kind of upset until he went to open up the driveway gates and found a golf club lying in the driveway.  Someone, we never found out who, so it may have been someone with bad intent, was down our half mile dead end road opening up the gates into our yard at night. Hans sensed trouble and met them at the gate.  They didn’t get the gates open, and they never came back for the golf club.


It’s All There!

September 18, 2014

 

 

DSCF1925The 2014 Midwest Wild Harvest Festival was held at Badger Camp, overlooking the Wisconsin river valley.  I loved it.  The people were friendly and excited to learn.  The instructors were inspiring.

I learned about food preservation from Leda Meredith.  Sam Thayer was his usual irreverent self.  And Doug Elliot was as entertaining as he was informative.

Below is the largest poison ivy vine I’ve ever seen.  Doug said loggers used to eat a little bit to immunize themselves against its effects.

 

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I visited with Doug over the course of the weekend and I heard him say, “It’s all there,” several times.  It’s a vague enough saying you can use it just about anywhere.  I think the first time I heard him say it was out on a nature walk, and the next time was in exclamation of the excellent chili, (great food, by the way).

It’s all there, that’s your motto isn’t it?” I asked.

“Well I don’t know if it’s my motto,” Doug said.  “But’s it’s not a bad one to have.”

“It just about says it all,” I said.  “I think I’m going to make it my motto.”

And I am.

I think about my boys who used to love to put lego projects together.  We would scissor open the bags containing all the tiny pieces, and they would follow the instructions step-by-step, ending up with the prescribed toy.  I remember the drama that would ensue if one piece was missing, as now it wasn’t all there, and everything was ruined.

Now we have a drawer filled with loose lego pieces.  My five-year-old nephew makes a bee-line to that drawer when he comes over.  He happily builds something excellent, and then we let him take it home.  We joke that we are slowly transferring the contents of the drawer to my sister’s house.

But we never worry about drama with the lego drawer.  I think it’s the combination of  passion with autonomy, and the sense that it’s all there.  Nothing is missing, and they are confident in their abilities to create something cool.

 

 

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2014 Midwest Wild Harvest Festival

August 21, 2014

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I’m all signed up and excited to attend the Midwest Wild Harvest Festival, September 12th-14th at Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.  It’s three days and two nights of foraging fun at Badger Camp.  I can’t believe it’s been seven years since I attended something like this.

Below is a photo from a foraging weekend near Lacrosse, Wisconsin.  Sam Thayer is in the left of the photo.  He and his wife Melissa, are two of the organizers of this festival.  A fun added benefit for me, and for the rest of the campers, he said modestly, is that my pork will be served at some of the meals.

I don’t think it’s too late to sign up.  If you are interested in wild edibles, this will be a weekend you won’t forget.  I hope to see you there!

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Father’s Day, 2014

June 15, 2014

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Happy Father’s Day!

This is a photo our friend Jeanenne took of my Dad helping me move farrowing huts about a month ago.  Click on the picture to enlarge, and click again for more detail.  She has a nice camera and took the photo without us even knowing it.  Zooming in changed the perception, though.

The bare dirt in the background is my Dad’s corn field about a quarter mile away.  The white water tower with the Redbird on it is about three miles away as the crow flies.  In the foreground you can see how tall the rye bordering the sweet corn has grown.  There are some flags in the sweet corn field where I planted squash and pumpkins.

When Jeanenne gave me this photo she told me how nice it is to see family working together.  And she’s right, that’s one of the benefits of farming.  I’ve spent many hours working with my Dad.

There is also a little time for play.  I remember one Christmas, Dad  put up a basketball hoop in the barn.  My sisters being too little to play against me, I always bugged Dad to play.  He would usually indulge me in a quick game, especially after chores were done.

Thank you, Dad!


First Day of Spring, Rye Cover Crop, Egg Balancing,

March 20, 2014

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It seems like a long time since the last photo of the rye cover crop in November.  You know it’s been a long winter if you feel like a different person come spring.

Spring always has an effect on me.  Along with being outside more, I’m reading and writing more, and sleeping less.  It’s a funny thing, I always think I’ll get more reading and writing done in the winter, but it appears I enter a state of semi-hibernation, only to emerge revitalized in the spring.

The bottom photo shows a tradition in my family of balancing an egg during the spring and fall equinox.  Egg balancing research says that this is a myth and eggs can be balanced any time of year.

We’ve tried it various times, and it’s so easy now, yet so difficult at other times, I find it difficult to believe science.  Experts speculate my delusion fuels my success, and I’m open-minded enough to admit they may be right, but I’d rather be a successful delusional than a know-it-all failure.  Cheers!

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Dickies Insulated Bib Overall, Review

February 1, 2014

Dickies Insulated Bib Overalls

Restrictive, but warm!  I normally wear something like the ensemble pictured below.  But when the temps drop below zero F, I throw on these insulated bibs and am able to get my chores done without discomfort.

My Dad is a big fan of insulated coveralls.  He usually puts them on in October and doesn’t take them off until May.  But I’ve found them too restrictive.  I like to move when I’m outside.

That being said, I was too cold when the weather turned brutal.  So when Country Outfitters offered me clothes for free, I jumped at the chance to try these insulated bibs.

And I learned something.  I used to think when my toes and fingers got cold I had a cold toes and fingers problem.  So I would put on a second pair of socks and gloves to combat the problem with limited success.

Now I see when I put on these insulated bibs, it ties everything together and warms up my core.  This warmth radiates to my toes and fingers and I don’t need more socks or gloves.  Amazing!

Winter Farm Clothing


Madison Primal/Paleo Meetup

July 14, 2013

Madison Primal/Paleo Meetup

The Madison Primal/Paleo Meetup group toured our farm Sunday morning.  It’s always fun meeting new people who are engaged and interested in what we do.  Most were from the Madison area, but a few were from as far away as Michigan and Iowa.

I showed them a bred gilt who I predicted would farrow within a week.  She farrowed much sooner than that.  By 5 pm she had twelve nice piglets.  I wish the meetup could have seen it.

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