Sunday, August 30, 2015

Feeling Squirrely

So, where was my post last weekend?  Well, our telephone company,  which also our internet provider, had a BIG problem.  We went without our land phone line for several days, and lost our internet for about three.  Frustrating... annoying... and a little scary just how big a deal that was!

I think I mentioned hot and muggy weather two weeks ago.  That was followed up by some darn chilly weather... really, some days barely 60 degrees.  In August! I was about ready to break out the long underwear! Then followed some nice days, then more chilly, then more nice days.  Mother Nature is really toying with us.  We had a low of 39 one morning, reminding us that we could really get the F-word any time now (not that F-word.... FROST!).

The signs of the changing season are all around us.  The view from the milking stand in the morning is pretty much just darkness.  Leaves changing, geese flying, pumpkins turning from green to orange.

The greenhouse has become a jungle.  This was an experiment to see how tomatoes would do in there over the summer.  I would not call it successful at this point.  A lot of plant, not many fruit.  Next year, if I try this again, I will plant them later.

I spent some time in there today adding some twine to support the plants and doing some pruning.  To give you some perspective, the white shelf in the back there is out of my reach when standing flat-footed on the floor.  By the time I finished wrestling with these plants and got out of there I was reeking of tomato.

Speaking of reeking, Ranger is getting that special buck ... aroma already.  Another sign that fall is approaching I guess.

The title of this post does not refer to me feeling silly these days, but having the compelling urge to put food up for winter.  The beans are canned, the corn is frozen, and now I am working on tomatoes, mostly sauce.  I am also trying to get some goat cheese in the freezer for winter. Milk production is down quite a bit, in fact today I dropped Daisy down to one milking per day.

The oats and wheat are combined and straw is baled.  Thank you Rollie and Ardis for all of your help!

We have a lot of oats now, but the wheat crop is disappointing.
A sunny strawstack is a great place to find a napping cat.  Photo by Carolyn.

One other sign of the season I would like to mention, Gilby's Orchard is open!  They have Zestar and Sweet Tango apples so far, and they are both very tasty.  They also have fun activities for the family there too, so locals, you might want to stop in. 

One more thing I want to share, even tho it has nothing to do with the farm or garden.  Yesterday I had a really fun time participating in Aitkin Community Ed's Splash Dash 5k.  Kori came along and volunteered; she had a good time too, throwing colored cornstarch at the runners and walkers.
photo by Kori

That is my condensed version of the last two weeks.  Barring another internet catastrophe, I will say see  you next week, good night, and be well.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Typical August!

The title of this post refers to the hot and humid weather we have had this past week.  It’s been pretty uncomfortable at times, but really it’s to be expected here in Minnesota.  Our kitchen is normally the warmest place in the house, so yesterday I tried a little experiment.  I make yogurt every couple of days (I go through a LOT of yogurt).  I got the warm cultured  milk ready pretty early in the morning, then instead of putting it in the little cups in the yogurt maker, I put it in a glass bowl and just let it sit covered on the counter all day.  It worked great! So, if your kitchen is 85 to 90 degrees for extended periods of time, give it a try!

I brought home a new bird on Monday.  Meet Diego!
This handsome youngster is going to be Javier’s replacement as he will be retiring this fall.  I hope he is as good a bird as his predecessor. 

The main thing going on this week is the oats harvest.  We have a machine call a Swather that has been sitting in the shed unused for over 20 years.  Rollie made it his mission to get it running again and with some help and advice from his brother-in-law Kenny, he did it.  He tells me he doesn’t know how old this thing is, but probably older than he is (Kevin doesn't think so... perhaps some research is in order).  What the Swather does is cut the grain and lay it on the ground in swaths, hence the name.  We let it lay there a day or two so the green material in it (meaning the weeds) can dry.  Then the combine comes along and picks it up and separates the oats from the straw and the rest of the debris.  The combine can cut and separate the oats at the same time (guess that’s why it’s call a combine) but our grain has a fair amount of green stuff in it, and when that ends up in the bin with the grain, it heats up and will likely spoil.  It also makes for a bigger job to fan (clean) it later.  So, getting the Swather going is a really good thing.  It’s a pretty funky looking machine.

 Thank you Rollie!!!!

The green that you see now that the oats is cut is clover, which we planted, and whatever else grew up there.  Next year, this will be hay for the goats.

In other good news, we baled hay Wednesday evening, and straw yesterday, and we seem to have the knotter issue with the baler fixed.  This has been a very vexing problem and Kevin was about ready to junk the thing, so we are doing a happy dance over this.

So,  that's what's happening here on the farm.  Thanks for stopping by, and until next time, be well folks!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Downhill Side of Summer

To me, summer is June, July, and August.  We are definately on the downhill side, and as with most journeys, going downhill goes faster. 

I have a lot of bits and pieces, random things to fit into the blog tonight.  I willl begin with the view from the milking stand, which was so beautiful to me this morning that I had to go back after taking care of the milk to get a picture.  In just that few minutes the fog that was lingering by the woods was gone.  The oats are golden and almost ready to harvest.

You will see in the foreground part of the pig's extended pen, and beyond that, ForestRanger's paddock and shelter.  Later on today it was moved to a new piece of ground and some fresh forage.  While Kevin moves the paddock gates, ForestRanger go to the summer coop yard and hang out with Javier and the hens.  Today we had a little sprinkle of rain while they were there.  I may have mentioned before on this blog just how much goats dislike getting wet.  Well, Ranger went over the fence and into the pole shed to get out of the little shower. 
Just ask Ranger... goats are water soluble! 
 Speaking of rain... Thanks Mother Nature but ... Enough already!!!!! And, by the way... the whitetail buffet is closed until further notice!

Kevin spent most of the afternoon fencing the pumpkin patch
Guess what I got to do on Saturday night?  I and some other folks had the opportunity to visit Mat and Katie's little piglets again over at Righteous Oaks Farm.  The little guys were ready to castrate and Mat was getting a lesson from Jessi, who is experienced with this.  This girl rocks folks!  Amazing Zumba instructor AND master of piglet castration.  Anyway, Mat invited anyone in our Sustainable Farming group who was interested to come on over and check it out.  I have a picture here of the sow and some of the piglets.  Again, not the greatest photo but I was trying to get the stripey ones... so cute!  Sorry, not posting any pictures of the actual deed.

And here at home, our pigs get pretty excited at chore time.  BoyPig is forever climbing on fence when we come near.  This picture doesn't really show how big they are getting.  He really needs to stop climbing the fence or one day it'll be down and then we'll really have trouble!

As for the garden, well the beans are keeping me busy these days; did some canning today.  The tomatoes are still slow, but picking up, and the bi-color sweet corn is almost ready.  I peaked under the row-cover today and the cabbages are getting little heads and looking good.

I'll close with a photo of the sunflowers... such a happy image, they make me smile!  Be well.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Don't Turn Your Back on the Zucchini!

Another week has gone by; it's Sunday night already and this will be a brief blog.  It sure is good to have the guys home from camp!  They say they had a good time with the scouts, but are glad to be home too.

What fool plants four zucchini plants?  That would be me.  Good thing the chickens like them!  Beans are coming along now, I probably will be canning this week.  The tomatoes are still pretty slow, just a few here and there.  We are also getting some nice cukes, and I am enjoying lettuce, swiss chard, and kale in my salad.

Rollie combined our small field of rye this week, so today we baled up the straw.  The baler was a problem again, but with some adjustments it was running a bit better by the time we were done.  Didn't get any pictures of the combining or the straw baling, but there is still the oats and wheat to do.

The sunflower field is about half in bloom now.  I wish you could see them in person!  They are such happy flowers!

Because I like to include a critter picture in my posts and didn't take any new ones this weekend, I am throwing in this one of our housecat Callie.  I don't think she's been on the blog before.  She's often to be found at the foot of our bed.

And that is it for tonight.  Be well friends.