Sunday, December 14, 2014

Foggy December Weekend

Our part of Minnesota has been having some unpleasant weather lately.  Not so cold but damp and down-right gloomy… we haven’t seen the sun for a week or more.  I will take 10-20 degrees with sun over this damp cloudy 30-40 degrees anytime.  Everything outdoors is wet; the dirt roads like ours are a sloppy mess.  Grumble, grumble. Yesterday and again today have been very foggy.  The picture I have here was taken yesterday at 2:30 PM.  Today it's even foggier, but a lot of the snow has melted.

Here at the farm we have settled into our winter pattern.  Feed the animals.  Water the animals.  Feed the stove.  Cut and haul wood whenever time allows.  Go to bed early; some of us anyway!

Our Lily, arguably our most beloved cat, developed a troubling eye condition in November and appears to have lost the vision in that eye.  It does not seem to bother her a bit but it’s pretty unattractive to look at.

Rollie and Ardis dispatched the three roosters last week.   There is an optimal population of birds that I like to keep over the winter; too many and the air quality suffers, too few and it just doesn’t stay as warm in the coop as I would like.  Because of some miscalculation on my part, I sent too many birds to be butchered this fall. After the extra gentlemen left, the Winter Coop census was a bit low. I know, you’re thinking “and you call yourself The Chicken Lady”… well I actually never called myself that, other folks do, but I can’t help that!  Anyway, yesterday, four young hens arrived to fill the vacancies.  I believe that there are now twenty-eight hens plus Javier out there now.

The newcomers did not travel far, just from my cousin Richard’s place about three miles away.  He and Lisa have a pretty assortment of birds.  The ones that came home with me appear to be a Rhode Island Red and three Red Star layers. 
Richard hands over a bird
Four new residents of the Winter Coop

Over in the goat pen, the odor from Ranger is a much more tolerable.  We’ve been putting off giving him a hoof trim, but he got one today.  Daisy is completely done milking for the season, but Vinca is still giving us milk twice a day.  I intend to cut her down to once a day soon, maybe even later this week, and then dry her up completely sometime in January. She needs to take a break and just grow her new kid(s). 

Spooky-eyed Ranger!  Here is a little trivia for you.  People sometimes get "red-eye" in photographs.  My Kodak software has a fix for that that works pretty well.  Goats get "blue-eye" and the fix does not work! 
A little Christmas related activity as we chose a tree yesterday from the Scout 52 lot in Aitkin.  Kurt and Kori got it set up (not without a few tense moments) and decorated.  Thanks guys!

And so life goes on.  Rollie is due for a knee surgery on Monday; please send good thoughts his way.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Post-Thanksgiving Saturday

I hope that everyone reading this blog had a pleasant holiday on Thursday, no matter how you spent the day.  We had a very traditional meal at the North House… turkey and the works, cooked up by Ardis for the most part.  It was delicious of course, and the best part was sharing it with family.  When I think of the things that I am most thankful for I include my home, the land it sits on, good friends, my job, my animals, but most of all my family. 

I do love traditions, and a fairly new one for me is running the Baxter Turkey Run 5k on Thanksgiving morning; this was my fourth time.  I was so happy to share part of Thanksgiving with my good friends Kathy, who participated in the run, and Leslie, who hosted us for coffee afterward.  This year it was pretty chilly, -6 degrees at the start time of 9:00 but fortunately there was no wind to speak of.  Everyone got pretty frosty but I have no regrets. 
A little frosty, and sporting my turkey feathers!
Friday (known as Black Friday to some, but I don’t care for the name) was the day of Aitkin’s World Famous Fish House Parade.  This event is almost 25 years old now.  It has grown over the years to become a genuine BIG DEAL for our little town.  Kevin and the scouts participate in the parade every year.  New this year was the Fish House 5k… how could I resist?  It was a bit warmer for running than Thanksgiving Day was, but the course was very, very icy and the runners had to take it easy due to the slippery conditions.   

Kevin and Kurt are working on wood today, as they will be most Saturdays and Sundays for the foreseeable future.  Kori, Mickey, and I walked down the road to where they were and saw evidence of turkey activity along the way.
Lots of coming and going from the woods to the cornfield across the road, and back again.

Kori and Mickey check what the guys are up to

The adult goats are mostly hanging around in the shed these days, but I did catch them outside this morning. 
Daisy has been down to once a day milking for a few weeks now.  I will be drying her up completely after tomorrow I think.  Vinca is still milking twice a day, but if my plan is to bring her down to once a day by Christmas, and then dry her up sometime in January.

Vinca, playing like a kid for a while in the snow!

And so, life goes on.  We’ll be caught up in the season of Christmas soon.  Things settle into the winter routine around here, so I won’t be blogging as much.  I am going to try to put something out here from time to time, but if I go for a week or two, or even a month without a blog, just check back again.  Spring will come, and with it new life and we will be here on the blog to share it with you.

Until next time, be safe, be well.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seasons End

Today was the official last day of the 2014 MN firearms deer season.  For the crew at Olelake Farm, it was over last Saturday.  Saturday afternoon Kori shot another deer which was put on Kurt’s tag, which gave us a total of 6 deer.  We were officially done.  That’s a lot of meat to cut up. Thank goodness Mom and Dad are deer cutting handy.  I wonder how many deer these two have cut up so far?
 Mom doing a front shoulder

Dad working on a hind quarter
So this weekend we went out and pulled the blinds and chairs down off the platforms.  We will wait until Thanksgiving Day to go out and take down the ladder stands.

The Birch Stand
So, here are some interesting things about this deer season.  Dad went back to shooting his lever action 30-30 with open sites and shot 3 deer.  That’s old school there.  For the first time ever, a deer was shot out of Lady’s Stand. A few deer have been seen out of the stand, but never has one been harvested.   And for only the 4th time since Kent and I built the Birch Stand, a deer was not shot out of that stand.  Just for a hint on how productive that stand is, we built that stand in the late 1970’s.  Now that’s quite a track record.  The Big House stand has once again provided the opportunity for a first time hunter to get his first deer.  I shot my first deer just down the field from where the stand is, Kurt and Kori both shot their  
The New Big House
 first deer there and now Kellen has.

Old School Stand, Kent shot his first deer here
So all in all, we had a successful season, but the best part of Deer Season Is getting together with Family and Friends, having a safe season, and continuing the traditions of Olelake Farm. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sunny Saturday!

Wow, we are having a most beautiful day today!  It's been a dark and frigid week so the sunshine today is most welcome.  This is also the last weekend of the 2014 deer hunting season, but I believe that Kevin will post a season wrap-up for you, either later today or tomorrow, so I won't give away any details.

One of the highlights of the week was going to the Central Lakes College Community Band concert on Tuesday night.  Kori joined the band this fall and plays flute and piccolo.   I wish I had a picture to show you; I was so proud of her when she stood up with the other piccolo player to be featured when playing "Stars and Stripes Forever".  Unfortunately, the lighting was not good for us to get any photos and I cannot find any on-line either.

This morning the guys, Rollie, Kevin, and Kurt were out cutting up wood with the buzz saw.  Kevin and Kurt said they were whipped when they got back with the wood.  Rollie said he wasn't!

Rollie heads home to the North House with a load of fuel

I screened a cartload of compost that I have been storing in the shop to keep it from freezing.  This load went to the beds in the greenhouse.  It's very pleasant in there today with the sun warming it up.  I am using the opportunity to tidy up, put things away, and get an inventory of supplies.  I have already received two seed catalogs to wet my appetite for planning next year's garden.  Yesterday I was very happy to get the new catalog from my hands-down favorite supplier, Pinetree Garden Seeds.  I have ordered from this company for years and will continue to do so.  They have good prices, interesting selections, and best of all are just a really nice bunch of people.  If you are interested in checking them out, their website is

I also spent a little time with the young goats today.  Chicky and Billie-Dood have settled in nicely, but he is a little shy so I am working on making friends with him.  They were a little naughty their first afternoon in their new digs... When I went to check on them, they had squeezed into the coop through the little chicken door, then squeezed through the even smaller little chicken door into the "chick room" where the food is.  They protested vehemently when I evicted them.  Billie-Dood promptly ran right back around the coop and in through the little door again!  Anyway, now the door has been made even smaller by screwing some strips of wood across on the inside.  They still give it a shot now and then though!

Nice try but sorry, no admittance!

Inside the coop, egg production is very low.  Many of the older hens are molting, and my pullets just haven't gotten going yet.

At least this hen is on the job!

And that's about all I have today.  I'm going to head back out to my greenhouse to dream about spring!
Not a bad place for a gardener to hang out on a November afternoon

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Alarms started going off at Ole Lake Farm pretty darn early this morning; the first was Kevin’s at 4:40 (his phone blasts out Revellie) followed shortly thereafter by mine (a much less annoying generic phone melody).  Most of you (I would think) are wondering about this madness… it is after all Saturday!  Well, it’s also hunting season and there are unfilled tags.  A glance at the thermometer resulted in a double-take… 8 below!    Hmmmm, maybe Plan B should be considered. 

Muffin making commenced, Kurt and Kori were roused, Rollie was called and consulted, and in the end, the deer stands stayed empty and the deer were safe for a few more hours.  It has warmed up quite a bit, 24 degrees now at 3:00, so the four hunters are out again.

Kevin, Kurt, Rollie, and Ardis spent many hours cutting up venison this week.  Sorry, didn’t get any pictures of that!  Maybe there will be another opportunity.

Critter news:  I have three (I think, two for sure) young roosters that need to go elsewhere.  These fellows were cleverly disguised as pullets when it came time to send superfluous birds to be butchered.  Rollie has indicated that he will butcher them for me sometime soon, but if there is anyone else out there who would like to take them off my hands, speak up and they are yours.

For a donation of no money at all, you can take this chicken home!
Kori and I brought Chicky home from Righteous Oaks Farm today, and her companion came along too for a while.  His name is Little Bad Billy but Kori has nicknamed him "Dood".  Yes, that is how I am supposed to spell it.  They will be sharing the Winter Coop yard with the poultry.

Chicky and "Dood" get settled in
Roye came to supervise us moving in the goats

 My sister Carolyn is here for the weekend.  She reached a milestone in her life just recently as she now has her first ever driver’s license.  Today was another big accomplishment as she drove “up north” herself for the first time.  Way to go Sis!

No, she hasn't moved to Nebraska... it's a rental!