Sunday, November 22, 2015

Game Over

My title this week refers to the roulette wheel of weather that is such a big factor in our lives as farmers and gardeners.  Mother Nature always wins of course.

The mud of our driveway is rutted and frozen, all the critters have heaters in their waterers now, with the exception of the chickens,  They keep the Winter Coop pretty comfortable with their own body heat, at least for now.  We've moved the milking stand into the shop where it will stay until Vinca is dried up, sometime in January probably. This evening we had our first measurable snow...  of course I didn't measure it, but an inch or two... it's white out there anyway.

I won't be blogging weekly for a while I think.  Much like last year, there just isn't that much to "show and tell" during the winter. Once or twice a month will suffice.

I do have one last photo of the pigs to share.  We are waiting on the butcher to fit them into his schedule.  They may be gone tomorrow.. it might be next week, it could be a couple of weeks.  Anyway, I had Kori put me in the picture for scale.  Those are pumpkin seeds & skins they are chomping on. 

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.  If you are traveling, please be safe out there.  And of course, be well.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A post from both of us this week

First, Kevin gets his two-cents worth in:

What a difference a week can make when it comes to hunting.  Kent and Kellen flew in from Cheyenne on Tuesday and did see some deer, nothing with antlers. Kellen wanted to be a little selective on his second deer.  Well, it got to Saturday with just seeing fawns.  They did see some deer, and Kellen did shoot at one but did not get it.  But Kellen was able to participate in the “Beaver Dam” drive on state land and Kent was able to make his famous walk in the woods next to the road.  They were not productive, but the next generation of hunters at Ole Lake Farm got a taste of the “good old days”.  This weekend Tim and Nick returned to help fill some stands.  After seeing a whole bunch of deer last weekend, this weekend kind of shut down.  We did see deer, but with only Kellen having an antlerless tag, we did not see any bucks. We still have 3 buck tags to fill with 7 days of the season left.  We are all pretty “sat out”, so while there may be a little more sitting yet this season, it probably won’t be much.  So that is the deer hunting report for this past week, and I will let you know how it all ends up next weekend.  

Ah, now my turn... two weeks to catch-up on.

I don't do much with the deer hunting myself, other than as support staff.  A ride here, some assistance with meat wrapping on occasion, some cooking.  This year though, I claimed the fat tallow from the deer.  I have rendered down one batch, and have another big batch to do yet.  I plan to make soap with it this winter.

Mother Nature has not favored us with snow yet, or even very cold weather really.  We had been waiting for the on-and-off rain to stop, and when it did out came the combine and the sunflowers were finally harvested.  Ardis recorded the event on her camera, but getting those photos from her memory card into my computer has proved to be problematic.  Anyway, the sunflowers were sort of an experimental thing here at the farm, from the planting with our old corn planter to the cultivating and the harvest.  We did get some sunflower seed and a fair bit landed on the ground for the wild critters to enjoy.  Rollie and Kevin now have an idea about how the combine works with this crop, and next time will go better.  The pigs (yep, they are still with us) are getting to eat most of the seed.  What's left will get mixed into the does' kibble.

Rollie is not only our farmhand, but our handyman too.  He hung this door on the winter coop recently... I really like it and the old door was disintegrating anyway.   It came from friend Leslie's house... I thank you both, Rollie and Leslie, and so does my poultry!
Pretty snazzy door for a chicken coop, and it lets in a lot of light.  Someday I am going to get the shutter put back together...  maybe...

I have taken advantage of the weather to be able to harvest what is left in the garden when I have time to, instead of having to try to do everything at once.  The carrots are now all dug and put away and the beets are dug (but not put away).  I'm still eating kale and swiss-chard in my salads and will continue to do so until it's buried. This weekend I got the trellises down and worked on removing the cornstalks.  Not quite done with that project yet. 

In the greenhouse, the tomato plants continue to amaze me.  I pruned them back again this weekend... I cannot imagine what it would be like in there if I hadn't done any pruning at all...could I even get in the door?  Is it worth it for the few tomatoes I am getting out of there?  Maybe, just for the "wow" factor.
Not as good as ripened in the garden, but WAY better than the tasteless tomatoes offered at the store in town.
So, I have a new bird to show you.  I like to keep around thirty chickens in the winter coop over the cold season.  Because of the dog losses and a couple of deaths, the census out there is a little low.  My cousin Richard was nice enough to part with four of his birds, and two of them are Dark Cornish.  
I am quite taken with these hens.  Their sleek feathers, russet with black penciling are just beautiful.  Their body shape is a little different that my usual heavy layers, more primitive looking.  They have pea-combs, which adds to their exotic look.  This one just might get a name.

So, a pretty long post.  Enough for now I think   One or both of us will be back next week.  Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Be well friends.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The hunt begins

Hello everyone, You have Kevin posting tonight.  Debby will be back (after hunting season) to tell you about chickens and such, but is letting me have a turn at the blog.  She says I have to warn folks right away that there are dead deer pictures below.

This opening weekend we had a group of 7 hunters, Rollie, Kurt, Kori, me, Cousin Tim and his son Nick and my friend and coworker Mike.

The Department of Natural Resources tells us that our deer numbers are way down, but they must not have spent any time in the woods at Ole Lake Farm.  Between Saturday and Sunday we have seen over 40 deer.  Every member of the group has seen a minimum of 4.

We have a first time hunter in Nick this year and opening morning he shot his first deer from the stand we call the "Big House".  I think more first deer have been shot out of that stand than any other on the property, including both Kurt and Kori a long time back.  Here is a picture of Nick and his first deer.

Nick's dad Tim is back hunting at Ole Lake Farm for the first time in about 10 years or so.  He kept saying "all I want is for Nick to get a deer, I don't care if I get anything".  Well that is all good to say until an 8 point 175 lb buck walks out; he was pushing Nick out of the way to get to the gun, and here is a picture of Tim with his first BUCK ever! .

Saturday morning I was sitting on a stand watching state land that had been logged off last fall.  After sitting about an hour a deer walked out in front and for the longest time I thought it was a doe because I could not see any antlers, until he wiggled his ears and showed me little spikes.  And here is a picture of my buck.

Today Mike and Kurt filled the two antlerless tags we had, so for the 7 hunters we have 5 deer ready to start cutting up.  Once again we have had a very good opening weekend with some very tasty venison ready for great meals through the winter.  Next weekend my brother Kent and nephew Kellen will be here, so stay tuned for my next week's report

Good night and be well everyone.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November begins

So, here it is after 9:00 Sunday evening and I want to get out a blog, but I'm tired and bed is calling.  Once again, you are getting the condensed version of life at Ole Lake Farm. 

You would think that we would be slowing down a bit now, but not so... not yet.  The sunflowers are still waiting to be harvested (delayed yet again because of an ill-timed rain shower) and I still have a lot do out in the garden.  Wood cutting & hauling is always going on.  Kevin is also getting geared up for Deer Season which begins next Saturday.

I'm pretty happy to have pretty much all of the apples cooked up into sauce; finished that today and hope to get that canned tomorrow evening.  There are still squash and pumpkins to take care of, and out in the garden still some carrots, beets and cabbages. I'm also still eating kale and chard from out there.

The pigs are still with us for a few more weeks, so Kevin and Kurt ground feed today; it gets to be a pretty dusty job.

The hens are hopefully nearing the end of their molt.  The pullets are starting to lay now, thank goodness.

This is one of my older hens, not a pullet, but I just like the picture...
Ranger moved into the main goat area in the pole barn to step up his romance with Echo and Vinca.  Daisy and Forest moved out to the bachelor quarters for a while.  I have dried Daisy up and she is retiring so she will not be dallying with Ranger anymore. 
Daisy and Forest were not thrilled with the move, but they are adjusting

One last thing, non-farm related.  Last weekend was the Cross Lake Monster Dash.  I dressed up as Frost and Kori helped with the make-up.  I had a good time, but ended up with a rather painful calf so no running for me for a couple of weeks.  Anyway, for those of you who like to see me looking silly, here you go:

So I'll hopefully be back next week with a successful hunting report and farm update.  Until then, be well folks.