Ole Lake Farm is a special place in north central Minnesota. It has been the privilege of three generations of the Flowers family to live, work, hunt, and play on this land since 1966. We grow a small amount of produce like pumpkins and some grain each year, like corn and wheat, as well as raise chickens, goats,and pigs. We also manage our forest to produce lumber for construction projects and heat for our home.
I hope that someday we can look back at the weather of 2017 and remember it as an unusual, strange sort of year. I sure hope this isn't our new normal. Unseasonable cool or even cold days when it should be warm, now warm when it should be cool. No serious frost yet - weird.
This has been a stormy week and we did not escape from damage.
Can you see the holes in the roof of the greenhouse?
Critter-wise, it's a lot quieter around here. Mitzi went home today as planned; I will miss her but maybe not her loud voice. Yesterday all of the young roosters and one of the tom turkeys became just chicken and turkey. Both of the toms were supposed to make it to the freezer but one of them escaped the capture team (Kori, Rollie, and I) and gets to stay a while longer.
Penolope and the poults have settled in. I do not know where they spend the night - not in the shelter we provided for them. I was worried during the storms but they seem to be just fine. They like resting on this borrowed excavator.
The boy scout's pumpkin patch provided a bumper crop this year. Today was pumpkin picking day. This is the field before the scouts arrived.
This is just some of them - many more left with the scout families to be sold and provide much needed funds for the boys to go to camp.
My view from the milking stand is a little more colorful. The young rye field has really greened up. That's a bit of Vinca's tail in the upper right.
There will not be a post here from me next Sunday - maybe Kori will do a guest post. Kevin and I are taking a little vacation to celebrate a pretty big anniversary. Until then, be well friends.
The turkeys continue to amuse us - Kevin has taken to gobbling at them and the boys gobble back. Most of the time that is - when they don't then he just sounds kind of silly!
They get pretty full of themselves sometimes! Unfortunately for some of them, they are not destined for a long life. We are going to keep a couple of them though, and our new hen - meet Penelope and her poults!
Poor girl, her feathery gown is rather soiled and tattered but underneath she is a princess - a Royal Palm. She came from some farmer friends who had lost all of their turkeys except for this little family to coyotes. Hopefully she will have a long and happy life here.
News from the goat pen - Mitzi will be going home next weekend. Her owners prefer to milk just once a day so starting tomorrow I am going to once a day for both does.
She has a very loud voice and continues to be naughty on the milking stand, but I have grown quite fond of her.
We are done with the farmer's market for the season but somehow I don't think that will make life less hectic! These days I've been trying to keep up with the tomatoes as they ripen, really enjoying having an abundance of cantaloupe to eat, and putting off dealing with the apples - after that it will be pumpkins and squash. Kevin is finished with the grain work now but is getting quite busy with scout activities and is trying to figure out winter housing for all of the critters.
We have quite a bunch of young roosters that need to go. More on that next week I think. Until then, be well friends!
It seems to be autumn all of a sudden. We haven't had a noticeable frost but may have had an un-noticed one or else the plants just know it is time. The pumpkin, melon, and squash vines have started dying down revealing a pretty good yield.
These are the eating pumpkins in the garden. Winter Luxury and Rouge Vif D'Etampes (some people call it Cinderella) are my favorites to cook up for pie and muffins.
The Troop 52 pumpkins are plentiful and HUGE this year. I order the same kind of seed for them every year, a variety called Howden that has done well here. There is also one called Howden Biggie and I wonder if we didn't get those by accident - all of them that I can see are really big! Hopefully there are some smaller ones out there for the people who prefer non-behemoth sized jack-o-lanterns!
Remember we had some chicks hatch about three weeks ago? Here is what they look like now.
Meanwhile, out in the summer coop there are three more hens that want to set! Sorry ladies, wrong time of year for that. I keep taking their eggs; I sure hope they give it up soon. I don't know if there is a way to re-program hens to set in the spring instead of the fall or not, but I hope so. Guess I will have do do some research on that this winter.
With the grain harvest complete, Kevin and Rollie lost no time and got busy replanting rye and winter wheat. Kevin is doubling the amount of winter wheat planted over last fall. This is a photo of the no-till grain drill he rented for a nominal cost from our local NRCS office. This will be the first year we try no-till, he ran the disk over the fields to knock the stubble down and then planted with this. Some research has shown better yields with no-till so we will see what happens.
I will close with a little winter color from the goat pen. This pine tree has a red vine that has climbed all the way up - not desirable I suppose, but festive!
So, do you know how long our country has celebrated Labor Day? Since 1894!
I will get right to the the topic referred to in the title of this post - we have a a bird here that does not belong.
About two weeks ago Kurt added a board to the top of the wire fence to assist the turkeys to get back into the coopyard - saving me from having to run out and open the gate for them. I think it was the next day that Kevin mentioned that one of my young birds was out - we assumed he had flown up to the board and then jumped out. I saw no sign of him and when darkness came and we closed up the coop, there was no bird huddled up next to the building or near the gate. We figured it had gotten it's self in and thought no more of it. A week passed, and one morning I heard crowing in the woods to the north. We don't have neighbors close by who have chickens, and of course I was curious. I went out there and caught a glimpse of what I took to be one of my own young cockerels who took off at first sight of me. No way would we ever be able to catch that bird!
This story is getting kind of lengthy, but I am getting there. The next morning, when I went out to the Summer Coop where Julio and the mature hens live, there he was, on the window sill, pressed against the hardware cloth covering like he would very much like to be in there. This was 5:30 in the morning so it was dark and he was pretty much blinded by my headlamp. I took him down to the Winter Coop and put him in with the other youngsters. I thought he looked a little different, but I had to get to work. At afternoon choretime, the sunlight revealed a handsome fellow, but definitely not one of my birds! Very odd - we have no idea where he came from. Do you suppose people drop off unwanted birds in the country like they do with kittens? Makes me mad - although that is how we acquired Roye.
So, here he is (the one on the right):
Hard to believe these are the same birds that hatched this spring!
Can you stand any more pictures of the turkeys?
Our house is a split level and the framing there is to run a rain-gutter away from a lower roof so it doesn't come down right in front of the front door. That is our bedroom window up there - Sure hope she doesn't think that is a good place to spend the night?
We had a good day at the Farmer's Market yesterday. We have been bringing sunflowers - people really like them.
Couldn't resist having a little fun though...
We have completed the grain harvest. Kevin reports a good yield of oats and spring wheat. Next he will be planting winter wheat and rye - next weekend's work. With the grain comes straw to be baled. The folks are always so helpful - here Ardis drove the tractor and baler. She hasn't done this for many years but you wouldn't know it - she did such an awesome job of it!
The view from the milking stand was hazy this afternoon. That brown area was in oats and is prepared to be replanted.
Iron Man has come to Ole Lake Farm! I call him Pete though. An all metal scarecrow made by metal artist Mathew Hurd - he will last a lifetime!
Enjoy your Labor Day everyone, please be safe. Be well.
We sure have had the rain lately! Following a very soggy and dismal farmer's market, yesterday afternon the Greater Mille Lacs Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota had our first Farm2Families event. And it rained some more. We put up canopies, cut back on the activities some (no hayrides), had our speakers and meal as planned and it was all fine. Just not as many people attended as we would like, but considering the rain it was good. I didn't take many pictures but did have my sister Carolyn take this fun picture of some of us members posing with our photo board. My relatives who see this post will recognize cousin Mathew Nix there in the front. I claimed the goat of course.
Wandering turkeys continue :
There are lots of mushrooms around -due to the damp conditions I suppose. I find them so interesting - this leathery looking one was in the yard.
And this is not a mushroom at all. It's Monotropa Uniflora - also called ghost pipe or indian pipe. It's a plant that doesn't have chlorophyll, sort of rare I guess. I wouldn't know anything about it but I saw it just the other day on facebook.
In garden news, even though it's a mess, the jungle is producing quite a few tomatoes! I will be making sauce this week I think, and I am looking forward to a good melon harvest.
So the turkeys are messing with me. Plainly they get a kick out of flying over the fence, then standing around by the gate and calling loudly so I run out and let them in. Over, and over, and over again.
Kurt added a board to the top of the fence near the gate so they can
just jump up onto it and from there just jump back in. We parked the wheelbarrow with some wood suggestively close. And added a ramp. Oh, that's
While they are roaming around, they have a great time - checking out the roof of the woodshed and pole barn, followed by a little greenhouse trashing.
The gentlemen turkeys are gobbling these days and doing that poofy display thing which is kind of neat to see.
Enough of turkeys.
Thursday I found a little surprise in the coop!
This hen has been setting for a while but I was expecting the chicks on Saturday, not Thursday! I actually have two other broody hens but I am ruthlessly taking their eggs away daily. This is not the time of year to be having chicks. I did let this one though because we have a thing (event) coming up where it will be nice to have some little ones to show folks. More on that next week.
No futzing with the incubator, fretting if the power goes out, trying to manage the humidity, making sure the turner is working and getting the temperature just right. This hen does it all, and better. Mother Nature knows best.
The calendar tells us that it is mid-August. Our high temp today was 62 degrees. Just doesn't seem right.
I just have a bunch of random thoughts this evening and am not even sure where to begin. You might be wondering how the pigs are doing - I'll say not that great. At least none of them died this week but their condition and lack-luster appetite is concerning.
In the coops, the turkeys are routinely putting themselves outside of the fence and then calling until I trot out to open the gate so they can go back in. I'm getting pretty well trained.
The pumpkin patch is looking pretty good. I tried to get some pictures out there of the blossoms and one of the bigger pumpkins but they are just not blog worthy, sorry about that - so you get these:
Cheese - Kurt and I made this farmhouse cheddar around the end of October and it has been aging in the wine fridge since then. The flavor is good - quite sharp, but the texture is on the dry side. It does not melt like a store-bought cheddar does so it wasn't a hit in Kurt's omelet. I am really enjoying crumbling it up on my salads and I think it would be good in a pasta salad, so may give that a try.
Spot - She has a talent for finding the sunniest place to nap - here on the dusty backside of the baler.
Ok, just noticed the wrapper on the baling twine next to her ... that makes me giggle a little - wonder what she is dreaming about?
Hoover - He likes to hang out as close to me as he can, so that means he is frequently underfoot in the kitchen. You might think this was just a momentary pose but I believe he was sleeping when I took this one. The kitchen floor was recently redone in painted plywood (thank you Rollie!). That is working out okay so far although I do intend to put another coat on at some point - this winter maybe?
Sunflowers - behind the house they are really blooming - just beautiful. I took 2 pails of them to the farmer's market yesterday to sell by the stem and they sold out by 10:30. I will take more next week and hope they go well again.
With that, I will wish you a fine evening. Be well friends!