Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Happy New Year from Ole Lake Farm!

Today’s post is not going to be a 2018 “year in review” like you might expect – instead, this post is all about transitions.

From birth to death, life is constantly changing, or in transition. I was thinking about this as our last two pigs were butchered on Saturday – they truly have transitioned – from livestock to food.

Our outdoor climate certainly has transitioned – here is the latest view from the milking stand.
The snow is beautiful.  The temperature is not.  Milking this morning at -18 degrees was not the pleasant experience that it usually is.  This photo was taken this afternoon when we hit our high temp for the day, around -1 degree. 

Speaking of milking – the goats are transitioning too.  Echo and Vinca are down to just morning milking now and my plan is to have them dried up by the end of the month.  Ranger has moved back to his winter quarters shared with Forest, and Periwinkle is back with the does.

The Christmas tree transitioned out of the house – a traditional New Year’s Day activity for Kurt and Kori.  This year’s tree was slender (sort of skimpy actually) so shoving it out of the window was easier than usual!

Forest and Ranger got the tree to nibble on and Ranger found it handy for a good head scratch.
 I know that in my last post I reported that the hens’ egg production was picking up again.  It has continued to increase and now we have more eggs than we know what to do with!  

Today I put some old hay out on the snow for the chickens to step on and peck at – they like that and it gets them out of the coop for some fresh air. 

One last transition to share with you – the compost pile is cooking away, transforming chicken poo and bedding, coffee grounds and veggie scraps into wonderful black gold for the garden!  Pretty neat to see the snow melting over the pile when the temps are sub-zero!  At least I think so anyway.

We may not have another post for three or four weeks again, but we will be back.  Until then, stay warm and be well friends.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

December Blog Post #1

Sometimes it's hard to come up with a title for a post.  I am calling this December Post #1 so that I will be obligated to do a Post #2 later on in the month.  Hopefully it will be interesting - come to think of it, I hope this one will be interesting!

I will start with a photo of my stand at yesterday's Sprout Growers and Maker's Market in Little Falls.  Looks pretty good I think - as expected for a holiday market, I had a very good day.  Soap does make a good gift.

The market had at least three excellent bread makers.  The folks behind me sent me home with a box of bread for the critters.  The chickens enjoyed it quite a bit.

The pigs declined to be roused from their mid-day nap when I brought it out at noon today.

They did get up to nosh a bit later.  These two are the only ones left now.  The other three completed their destiny last Saturday and now reside in a few different freezers. These two are the "little ones" and they will be with us for a couple more weeks I think.

Good news from the coop.  Two posts ago I reported that egg production was low.  Two eggs a day, then one, and one day none at all!  I actually had to buy eggs!

I begged, cajoled, shamed, and threatened...

Finally I caved in and we started turning on the lights at 5:30 AM when we do chores and turning them off again at bedtime - for us that's sometime between 9 and 10 PM.  After a couple of weeks of that, they gradually started up again.  Yahoo!
Rocky is on the job!

Just a couple of weeks now until Christmas - I am not sure if I will get that #2 post out before or after the holiday, but whenever it is, until then, be well friends!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Wrapping up November

This is just a quick little post about what we are up to here at Ole Lake Farm as we near the end of November.

The turkey flock has been reduced quite a bit.  Most of the turkeys are either in the freezer or have been given away or eaten already.  Remaining to carry the flock into next year are Penelope, her daughter Peanut (not the same Peanut, but she looks like a Peanut to me!), and a new Tom obtained in a swap with another small farm.

Tom is a Narragansett, another heritage breed - I think he is rather handsome.  You will notice that the turks are indoors.   They will be spending the winter in the Summer Coop.  This is not their choice of course but I sure feel better about it and will not have to worry about them so much when the truly nasty weather of winter comes. 

We obtained an old hand cranked corn-sheller at a neighbor's auction this summer. The cornmeal corn crop was better this year than last, so we are happy to have it.  It's an interesting tool and works great.

The cold weather has continued and that means we are always worrying over water.  The pigs are still with us and are especially a pain to keep watered.  Three of them will be butchered next weekend with the other two in a couple more weeks.  I sure don't know what Kevin will do with all of his extra time!  Maybe  I will put him to work wrapping soap bars...

Until next time (in a couple weeks) be well friends!


Monday, November 12, 2018

Wintery Weather and Hunting Wrap Up

On this day after Veteran's Day, thank you all who have served or are currently serving.

This post has two parts - first a farm-life update, then a deer-hunting update.

We are in our sixth decade (yikes!) of life in Minnesota (well okay, one was in Wisconsin, but it's pretty much the same) so winter should no longer be able to sneak up on us.  So why are we not prepared for 10 degree nights and snow that needs to be shoveled? 

Cold and snow does not curb Hoover's enthusiasm for an outing!

The view from the milking stand this afternoon.

Water is always a priority for the animals, no matter what time of year - it just gets more difficult to provide with the cold weather.  The pigs in particular present a problem with that. 

The chickens are all together in the Winter coop now, and their waterer is moved indoors. The three adopted hens, Barak, Speckles, and Rocky are always the first on the roost in the afternoon - kind of funny how they hang out together although they came from two different homes.  Many of the hens are in various stages of  moulting so the coop is full of feathers and egg production is very low.

The goats have had some changes with their living arrangements.  Periwinkle has moved in with her big brother Forest and is none too happy about it, while Ranger was most pleased to move in with the does.  He is an expert at pulling the hay out of the feeder.

After Opening Weekend Report by Kevin:

Last Monday was a pretty productive day for us with three more deer added to the hanging rafters in the garage, one six point buck and two fawns. Then on Thursday I was able to harvest a fork type buck. Then everything seemed to shut down. There were 5 of us hunting Saturday and we saw a total of 1 deer. Not sure if it was the cold and snow or what. It snowed Saturday night into Sunday morning and all we did Sunday morning was go out and pull stands down. With all the traveling we did on our property to remove stands we saw a very few tracks in the snow.

We were very fortunate to harvest a total of 13 deer, so we have the freezers full and ready to provide us plenty of great meals through the year. In our case here, Ardis and Rollie did most all the cutting up of the venison, which I am so grateful for. But once again the very best part of this year was getting together with family and friends. We continued some traditions and may have started a couple new ones, only time will tell, right, because that's what traditions are all about. So we are all done hunting for 2018 and thoughts and talking about what we will do different in 2019 has already started.

We may not have a post for a couple of weeks, but we will be back - until then, be well friends!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

2018 Deer Season Opening Weekend.

Good Evening everyone, you have Kevin posting for the annual opening weekend deer hunting report. For those who are not interested in seeing dead animals, I have put those photos at the very bottom of the blog.

We have a group of 11 hunters this year, 5 of them under 18 and two of them for their first hunt.  The rest of the group are old hands at hunting at Ole Lake Farm.

Saturday morning started with a little bit of a sunrise, but it went cloudy and the deer started moving. By the end of the day we had eight deer. One was a buck, two fawns and the rest does, and one of the does by a young man who got his first.

I get asked why we allow the harvesting of anterless deer and the reason is that we have so many deer around we really need to thin the herd a bit. I would rather have the deer in the freezer to use to make great meals than to see them hit by cars, or worse, starve in the event of a bad winter. I have seen starving deer and it is not a pretty sight and I feel a huge waste. 

A best guess of total deer seen by our group on opening day was over 40 deer, with one seeing 28! That hunter gave me grief about my herd management since they were all anterless other than 1 buck seen a long way off and in a big hurry.

Sunday was rainy and had a little snow spurt and the deer just hunkered down. One of the young men was able to harvest one in the morning and then movement slowed down to nothing. Since we had so many on Saturday most of us were just looking for antlers. Total deer seen today was around 6 and most of them were during non-shooting times in the morning and evening.

Most of the group will be hunting again Monday and then the out of state group will be heading home to Wyoming with another successful opening weekend. Our numbers will drop to 6 hunters starting next weekend. Because we are in a bonus area we have 7 tags that could be filled, but if we were to fill just a couple more we will be done.

Enough for this week, I will leave you with a picture of the opening day crew and then a deer picture below, be well and have a great week.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Last Days of October

Major accomplishments for the week - for me anyway - the garlic is planted and the Winter Coop cleaned out.  Then, more rain!  It is pretty muddy around here.

Otherwise, I don't have much to report, so will just share some critter photos and call it a night.  Last week it was a turkey on the combine.  This week:

Turkey on the Cub...

Turkey in Rollie's truck...

Turkey on Silver!  Bad Turkey!!!

The pigs are hard to photograph since they always want to come right to a person, but I tried!  They sure are getting big.

Caught the does spending some time enjoying the sunshine today.
Next week - the good, the bad, and possibly the ugly of deer season opening weekend.  Until then, be well folks.

 See yah!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Fall Farm Happenings

During the two weeks since our last post, the weather has run the gamut: rain, snow, cold, warm, cloudy, sunny, windy, calm... you name it.  Just a day or two after the last post our morning chore-time was one of the most miserable yet... just above freezing, driving rain - unpleasant at any time but at 5:30 in the morning just plain nasty.  It sure made that first cup of coffee very welcome I can assure you!

The view from the milking stand has changed quite a bit.  Kevin's combine has been squeezed in - just clearing the rafters.  Due to my complaints at this obstruction, he removed a fence panel and moved the milking stand over.  I will adapt.   

You will notice the hunting blind on the wagon of course - it will soon be moved out to the woods onto a platform.  And beyond that, feasting on field, are some deer.

Getting ready for fall, the lads and the pigs have been moved to the barnyard.  The pigs are on short time these days; just a few more weeks to go.  Ranger will be moving in with Vinca and Echo around Halloween and Periwinkle will be moving in with Forest.

It will be an adjustment for Periwinkle but I think she will be glad not to have to sleep in the crate every night!

The pigs left behind some pretty big craters in the front field!

Six of the turkeys have gone to the freezer, and more are scheduled for that next month.  In the meantime, there are still ten of them roaming around the place - this one is checking out a roosting spot on the combine.

I have been spending quite a bit of my home time working on soap.  With the holidays and fall markets coming up, I need to get my inventory up.  Like my new label?

Last, Kevin is sharing a few shots from one of the trail cams.  It doesn't take the greatest pictures but they are interesting...

So that's enough for this evening.  I'm not sure if we will have a post next Sunday or not but two weeks from now I know Kevin will be posting a deer hunting report.  Until next time, be well folks.