Sunday, March 3, 2019

Spring will come, Spring will come...

Spring will come, Spring will come...My new mantra...

Every morning I greet the does "Good Morning little does! spring will come" I don't know if they believe me.  Sometimes I don't believe me...

Admittedly, the snow is beautiful.  Driving to work in a fresh few inches is no big deal.  It's the cold that is wearing us out.  We are just so tired of below zero chores.  This morning -13.  Tonight's low predicted -18; it just goes on and on and on. Today the high was 1 degree and the wind was biting.

Yesterday was better - sunny and calmer. Hoover and I got quite a workout walking the logging roads that haven't been plowed for a while. 

 Hoover would much prefer to run off leash, but I do not let him for fear of running across a deer.  

The hens are still laying well and out in the summer coop the turkeys seem to be doing just fine with their forced incarceration; Tom has been doing some gobbling lately .  I have no regrets about making them stay indoors for the winter.  I hope Penelope and Peanut like the coop enough to lay their eggs in there when the time comes. 

Back to the goats - they are enduring.  Bellys are getting big. Kids are about a month away.
Not the greatest picture but when I climbed up on the higher spool table they kept trying to follow me - probably because I usually have some kind of tasty treat in my pockets.  My fingers got cold trying to get a decent photo, but you get the idea!

The machinery sleeps but farm work chores continue,  just different chores.  I'll be back in a few weeks with a new post and some spring happenings.  Be well friends, and stay warm!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mid-Winter Farm Happenings

Greetings from the farm!  Most everyone who will look at this post has experienced the recent Polar Vortex.  We got through it with no major problems like frozen pipes or livestock losses; it was pretty awful just the same.

Wednesday morning, the 30th = yikes!  And notice the indoor temp!

Thursday  morning, the 31st - no way, can that be right?

And it was even worse than that some places.  Anyway, we are glad it is over and temperatures are closer to normal.  I worried most about the goats but they seem to be just fine.  The does were dried up just in time!

Around New Year's, Ranger had some friends over - a couple of pretty young ladies - Maggie and Elsie!  They stayed for about a month and hopefully will have some kids early next summer.

We had to say good-bye to Mickey in January.  He was part of our family for many years and it was tough.

This is one of my favorite pictures of him from just a couple of years ago.

I'll never forget the time he ate that bar of soap!

Hoover is adjusting to being an only dog.  When I am home, he hangs out in the house with me and follows me around as much as he can - the laundry basement is off limits though.  He waits patiently for me to come back to the kitchen.

Despite it being the dead of winter, we are still keeping busy with farm related activities.  I've vended at some winter markets and just this last Saturday at an event called Back to Basics in Pine River.   Kevin has to keep cleaning grain and grinding the cornmeal and flour, and I make more soap at every opportunity.  Pretty soon we need to be thinking about planting too!

Thanks for stopping by the blog.  I'll be back with another update in a month or so - no doubt we will be getting spring fever by then!  Be well friends!

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.