Chicken Pictures for WSB

March 9, 2011

In, “Chicks, Fun and Trouble,” I told about the new chicks we received by mail.  WSB asked for more pictures when they were grown.

I took these pictures yesterday.  The chickens are enjoying getting out of the barn, scratching, grazing, picking up rocks for their crop.  It’s been a long winter, stuck in the barn.

Today we have a snowstorm and school is canceled.  Seems like Mother Nature always teases us.  What’s the saying?  “Robins always get three snows on their backs?”

Below are three of the chicks, grown.  An Araucana, White Rock, and Barred Rock.  They are laying beautiful, little, pullet eggs.

Also, I want to say thank you to all the women in my life.  Today is the 100th International Women’s Day. It was started in 1911 to honor the Suffragettes, who fought for womens’ right to vote.

I’m Stuck

February 1, 2011

School started two hours late today, let out an hour early.  My 4-wheel drive SUV made it half-way down my quarter-mile lane before the snow proved too deep.  My Dad pulled me out with the tractor, and pulled us back in.  It’s supposed to start snowing again tonight, with wind.  If you want to visit, and you don’t have a snowmobile, you’re going to be walking.  We’re stuck.

I’m stuck with this blog, and having trouble getting restarted.  There is a reason I post every week, and it’s not because of popular demand.  It’s how I’m wired. I like starting every day with chores.

And so, I’m publicly announcing my intention to post every week, even though I still feel stuck.

I think this blog works best when I’m answering a question.  Some questions I want to answer:

How much wood does my outdoor wood boiler use?

How much fuel does my farm use?

What is the feed efficiency of my hogs from 250 to 300 lbs.?

Why can hogs digest acorns without processing?

How long did the “wild west” last?  Side note: I think a major contributor to the wild west was post-traumatic stress disorder from the civil war veterans.

Another thing I want to look at more closely is how a square foot of land changes throughout the year.  I think I know, but forcing myself to look every week, and take a picture, may prove eye-opening.

Until next week, stay warm.

Taking a Break, Making the Best of…

December 18, 2010

Red clover hay field.  This field is an example of making the best of a bad situation.

The cowherd winters on cropland, walking into the woods for shelter, and water out of springs.  We feed the cows by unrolling round bales of hay on the harvested corn fields.  This is a way to spread the fertility from the cows’ manure, and the damage from the cows’ hooves if the ground is not frozen.

The hayfield above was exposed to the cows, and even though we never fed them hay on it, they chose to stand on it often.  When the ground thawed, the cows did considerable damage to the alfalfa plants.

We monitored the field as everything started to green up in the spring.  We could see most of the alfalfa had been killed and it would not be a productive field.  We had three choices: 1. Do nothing and accept the reduced yield.  2. Till it and plant corn.  3. Plant another forage crop.

We didn’t need the corn acres, and it would mess up our rotation if we put it in corn this year.  It wasn’t slated to be a corn field until 2011.

We decided to plant another forage crop.  There are some grasses which people plant in this type of emergency: Italian Ryegrass, Teff grass.  We wanted a legume, though, which would fix nitrogen for next year’s corn crop, which is what the alfalfa would have done.

We chose Red Clover.  There are disadvantages to Red Clover.  It is short-lived, and it doesn’t dry well for hay.  The first reason didn’t matter in this case, and we decided to try to find dry times to make the Red Clover hay to take care of the second disadavantage.

The main advantage to Red Clover is it’s very easy to plant.  We broadcasted the seed with a small spreader from the back of a tractor, and pulled a chain harrow to cover the seed with a little bit of dirt.  We planted four pounds per acre.

It worked great!  Look at how thick the reddish flowers are in the picture.  We made the best of a bad situation.

And so, I can no longer put off addressing the title of this post.

I’m taking a break from blogging.  I’ve posted consistently for nearly two years.  I’ve met people, made friends, learned, shared, in short, it’s been a blast!  Thank you for visiting, commenting, and sharing.  Without you, a blog is a journal.  With you, a blog is a conversation.  Thank you for your conversation!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Blackcap Pickin’

June 27, 2010

(Rubus occidentalis)

Come along with me we’re goin’ blackcap pickin’,
Put on long pants so you can push through the thicket.

Pick out all the black ones better leave all the red ones,
The red ones pretty sour, but the black ones are heaven.

Purple mouth and fingers, lets ’em know what we been doin’,
If they wanna get some, we can show ’em where we goin’.

If you got a bowl then you can fill it in a moment,
If you wait ’till next week, then you wait another year.

I See Circles

June 19, 2010

Following is an excerpt from “Circles” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.”


May 1, 2010

Killdeer nest.  Can you see the nest in the center of the photo below?  I took this picture at eye level, standing a few feet away.

I found the nest because the mother moved off of it as I walked by her.  I stuck a stick in the ground to help me find it again.  Even with the stick, it takes me awhile to find the nest.  The eggs almost seem invisible.

Killdeer parents are tenacious and almost annoying in defense of their young.  They employ a broken-wing strategy in combination with a distress call to lure predators away from the nest or their precocial chicks.  I know this because they do this to me all the time, thinking I’m a predator.

I got to thinking about camouflage.  Killdeer begin life as wallflowers; but need to step out of that role  to raise a family.

Pruning to Improve Fruit Production

April 8, 2010

John 15:1-2  Jesus speaking.  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Luke 6: 43-45  Jesus speaking.  “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.  People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

I’m 41 years old and I’m pruning, for the first time in my life.  I freely admit that I’m not sure what I’m doing; but I’m glad to be doing it.

I may be pruning too much or incorrectly; but so little fruit was produced, I no longer feel much pressure.

I like that success will be measured by the fruit that is produced.

My Mammoth Ass Saved My Butt!

April 1, 2010

“Yow!” I said, as Wilma bit my arm.

Wilma is a Mammoth Ass.

Wilma’s been with me for a year and she was starting to grow on me. But a donkey that bites…

I held back tears as I drove to the local clinic.

“It’s funny Doc.  I was gonna come in and have you take a look at this spot on my arm, but I never got around to it.”

“It’s kind of hard to see with the injury and all, but I think we’ll take a sample just to be on the safe side.  You get a lot of sun, don’t you?”

Turns out I had Basal Cell Carcinoma. A little anesthesia and a snip and I was good as new.

I got to thinking about Wilma and the way she acted before she bit me.  She likes to nuzzle my arms and stick her nose in my armpit.  This time she seemed nervous and kept sniffing the spot on my arm.

I did a little research.  Turns out dogs are being used to sniff out some types of cancer.

My entrepreneurial spirit took over.  I placed an ad in the local “Shopping News.”

“Skin cancer screening while you wait!  Convenient, affordable!  Matthew Walter, phone.”

So far, Wilma and I have had five clients at 20 bucks a pop.  All  have been benign; although we had one false positive.  A guy had a pack of “Juicy Fruit” in his shirt pocket.

Spring Arrives

March 17, 2010

Colors come when spring arrives,

Asparagus seed beneath the snow.

Violent thrust of rhubarb red,

Pushing up from down below.

Use It or Lose It

March 15, 2010

Compost tea made with 27 things,

Full of promise, friable and loose.

Shall we put the compost on the grass in the spring?

No let’s wait a little longer so it’s not used up.

Shall we disc the compost into April oat fields?

No let’s wait a little longer so it’s not used up.

Shall we plow the compost into May corn fields?

No let’s wait a little longer so it’s not used up.

Let’s stir the compost, let’s examine the tea.

It’s stronger and smaller, but it still smells sweet.

Shall we fertilize fields after hay’s put up?

No let’s wait a little longer so it’s not used up.

Shall we spread on new seeding after straw is made?

No let’s wait a little longer so it’s not used up.

Shall we sprinkle on pastures before an August rain?

No let’s wait a little longer so it’s not used up.

Everything is brown and harvest is complete,

Let’s put it on the fields before the snow is deep.

O farmer, tight farmer, you have waited too long.

The compost shrunk and the compost is gone.