Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mid-July Moments

Today is Kevin's birthday and he left for a week of camp with the scouts.  Hopefully he will find time to relax a little while he is there.   Kurt and I get to do some extra chores but it's not too bad really.  Note to self though - wear knee high boots when feeding the piggies - I had muddy noseprints on my bare legs this afternoon. 

The chicks are getting so big!  The two batches and the turkeys are all co-mingled in the Winter Coop now.  The younger chicks stay to themselves; I have not seen the bigger ones pick on them at all, but the little ones do seem to be intimidated by them.  The picture below shows some of the older chicks.  Notice how some of the red birds have grey legs?  That must be some of the Austrolorp in them coming through.
I haven't said much about the garden this season.  I've had to scale back a bit from what I usually plant.  The tomatoes look pretty good; none ripe yet but the plants look decent.  Overall the garden is doing ok, such that it is.  The weeds certainly are flourishing.  It looks like I will be busy with raspberries in a few days. 

This post is pretty brief, I was just to busy to take many pictures or even think creatively it seems.  I do have these to share - the first  is some half-formed cattails, I think they are pretty interesting. 

And then caught a silly photo of Forest -

Be well friends.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mid-Summer Simmer

Another week gone again.  This one was notable for the holiday, and some stormy weather. 

I spent part of Independence Day out in the garden - a beautiful day!  As you may know, we move the pig shelter an paddock around every few days, and on Tuesday they were right up against the garden.  The smell of roses and the smell of swine makes for an interesting combination!  I did enjoy listening to them talking to each other in their grunting pig language.

We had storms roll through Thursday morning (at least I think that is when it was) starting shortly after mid-night and continuing on most of the night.  We could have done without the hail!  We were worried about the grain of course, but it seems to be fine here.  There is damage to crops in other parts so we are fortunate.  The pumpkin plants did get beat up a little, but are flourishing anyway.

A new crop for us is buckwheat.  It is blooming now and I walked out to get a closer look this afternoon.  It's kind of pretty and the butterflies and bees are loving it!  The field was just humming.

Those turkeys!  I tried again for a better picture - they are such pretty birds - I think so anyway.  Two of them are pretty dark and three fairly light.  I think (not for sure) that the three light ones are hens and the two dark ones are toms.  You can see a couple of the chicks in the photo also - these are from the first hatch and are getting big.

And just sharing - my clematis is blooming and is so pretty!

Thank you for stopping by the blog.  Until next week, be well friends!

Sunday, July 2, 2017


I cannot be the only one who is astonished to find that it's July already.  Independence Day this week, AND the Aitkin County Fair.  It's way, way too early to be fair time!  Most years we take some grain, some canning and baking, maybe a quilt, but this year there won't be any exhibits from us - just too darn busy.

So I want to show you how big the pigs are getting. Kevin moves their house and pen every few days and they make short work of digging up the ground.  They moved again today; these photos are from yesterday.
The three black pigs are much bigger than the others - I guess we should have gotten six of those!  The brown one is the smallest - here you can see the size difference.

Speaking of getting much bigger - check out the turkeys!

As usual I had to herd them into a corner to get a picture - most of the time I see them like this - trying to get away from me... ingrates!
We've had a fair bit of rain this week but today was sunny - the hens took advantage to do some sun-bathing.  The one on the right is one of three Dark Cornish that I have - really beautiful birds.  You will notice that the black one has clipped wing feathers - she's a naughty one!
Lastly, a little addition to the naughty dog story from last week - you would think I would be a little more careful!  Last night I put the laundry basket filled with dirty clothes out on the landing to make sure I wouldn't forget it in the morning when I went down.  Well - I left it just a little to close to where Hoover sleeps clipped to the railing.  You can guess what happened...  -  no picture of my chewed up bra though!

In closing, I will wish you all a safe Independence Day.  Be well friends.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Unhappy Ending of the Story from the Coop

You may recall from last week the tale of the hen (Mama Hen, as I had come to call her), some eggs,  some chicks, and general havoc in the Winter Coop.  This story did not end well - no "lived happily every after" this time.  In short Mama Hen abandoned her eggs, none of them hatched, I moved her back to the Summer Coop, and she died.  Rather unexpected, that last part.  Sitting on eggs does take a toll on hens as they don't eat and drink much for an extended period of time, but usually it doesn't kill them.

It has been crazy cold here the last couple of days!  I don't think it made it to 60 degrees yesterday - June 24th!  I was wearing four layers to stay warm at the Farmer's Market but at least we didn't get rained on; actually we ended up being fairly busy.

Speaking of rain, we've had a pretty good supply of that.  The pumpkins, planted by the scouts three weeks ago, are looking good.  It was so dry that first week they were pretty darn wilty and we watered as much as we could to keep them alive.  They are doing fine now, and didn't Rollie do a nice job with the tilling?!  He is so helpful, I don't know what we would do without him. 

It's haying season.  Kevin is scaling back on how much hay we put up.  Our handful of goats just doesn't need that much.  He cut the one field we are using for hay this afternoon, and we will be baling it on Tuesday.
The every changing view from the milking stand

In goat news, Violet and Garrus have moved on to a new home.  They got to stay together and went to an experienced goat keeper which make it a little easier to part with them.

So, about Hoover.

Hoover has been part of our family for a year or so now.  He is a great running buddy when I have the time and excels at loudly barking at invisible threats.  Unfortunately, we still cannot turn our backs on him.  He cannot be left unsupervised anywhere but in the kennel in the shop or in the fenced dog yard.  Why?

Hoover chews on things - chair legs, stray socks, whatever happens to be handy - even if a bone is right there!  Hoover loves to eat tissues.  He will take them out of the trash and eat them.  He will take them right out of the box and eat them if he can reach it.  And if someone is in a hurry and just hurls the twelve-pack of Charmin up the stairs and hasn't put it away yet?  Jackpot!!

An entire roll (double size) destroyed.  At least we caught him before he ate the entire thing!

And with that I will bid you good evening.  Be well friends. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Little Story from the Coop

Chickens are fascinating creatures - at least I think so.

You may recall from a previous post that we have a broody hen.  The first week went as usual and she stoically rested on those eggs, puffing up and glaring indignantly when I entered the room to replenish the food and water for her and for the chicks that also populate the room.  All was going just fine until Friday morning chores.  When I entered the room and added some feed to the feeders, she got off the nest and began clucking to the chicks ... for those of you who may not be that familiar with hens, they have a certain way of talking to their young.  The chicks were terrified and began racing round the room while she followed like she was trying to round them up and get them to listen... chaos! 

Now I was worried.  Would she go back to her nest, or had she abandoned it for these chicks?  Should I take the eggs and fire up the incubator, or just let nature take it's course?  Well, I needed to get to work, so I left the eggs to their fate. 

Back at home in the evening- all was fine.  She was back on the nest - but then hopped off again and the scene of the morning was repeated.   Now Sunday evening, the situation is pretty much the same except instead of all of the chicks being terrified when she gets off the nest, two of them have decided she is their mom and hang out with her and one even climbs right in the nest with her.

So now I should really have a picture of the hen and the chicks for you... but I don't.  I just can't get a decent picture in the low light of that room so goat pictures will have to suffice for this week!

Here's Violet!  Such a pretty little thing!

If you scroll down to last week's  post and look at the picture of Ranger, you will see that his scurs (quasi horns) have really grown.  It was time for a trim so today we tackled that.  Usually we trim them with a hacksaw but this is really hard work for the guy doing the sawing and takes a while making it an even more unpleasant experience for Ranger.  This time Kevin used the sawzall and it went quite well.  Still unpleasant but much faster!  Here is the after picture - yep, a little blood but not anything to worry about.  He is just fine.

That's quite enough for this week I think - I am not sure if there will be good news from the coop next week or not - if the eggs are going to hatch, it should be Saturday or Sunday I would think.  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Sweet Smell of June

Today, we had some much needed rain.  We've had a dry spell at Ole Lake Farm.  Earlier in the week storms went through to the north and to the south of us but missed our place completely - it was really disappointing.  We have been moving the sprinkler tower around the pumpkin patch and the corn area as well as spot watering but now we are good - for a little while at least.

I finally cornered the turkey poults long enough to get a photo.  I think they are a pretty unique looking cross.  They are getting along with the older chicken chicks just fine.  On the other side of the coop, the younger chicks are getting their feathers.

The lad's shelter and paddock gets moved regularly. Today while Kevin was working on moving the fence panels he had them tethered to one of the hay wagons.  They did not miss the opportunity to gain some elevation.

Out in the garden, I have scaled down on what I'm planting this year but things are coming along.  This is the first year in a long time that I have not lost any tomato plants to cut worms - I am attributing this to letting the chickens run in the garden in the fall and again in the spring.

Now is the sweet spot of June when the roses are blooming but the rose chafers have not arrived.  The blossoms are all very fragrant and it is a treat to spend time out there.  Pretty soon those nasties will find them - I have tried various weapons on them but have not had success against them so they just get to munch away while I look the other way - for now though, the roses are such a treat.

So that is the update for this week. Stop by again next week and until then, be well friends!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Critter Update, Part I

It's Sunday evening, 9:30 PMish.  My back is sunburned and I am pretty darn tired.  That means this blog is not going to be as complete as I had planned in my head while out digging in the garden this afternoon.  My plan was a complete and detailed account of how each and every farm animal is doing these days.  Hmmm.  Not happening.  Here is what I do have.

Earlier in the week (Monday evening?) we had the most AMAZING rainbow - so vibrant - awesome in the most literal meaning of the word.

The turkeys have finally ventured outdoors but are extremely shy of me.  This photo is the best I could do and it's pretty bad.  They have some very interesting feather patterns so I hope to do better as summer rolls along.

The latest chicks moved out of the bathtub (1 week old now) today and out to the chick room of the Winter Coop (Thank You Kori!).  To make room for them, the 4 week old chicks moved in with the turkeys (despite the dire warnings that turkeys and chicken should not be housed together, we did not have a problem last year so I am going for it!).  AND we have a broody hen.  I moved her back to the Winter Coop too and she is sitting on 10 eggs.  

I thought it was about time to update you on how the pigs are growing.  Kevin reports that they are much friendlier now and allow (and sometimes demand) back scratches.  They tunneled out of their paddock one time this week but followed Kevin back in like Mary's little lambs.  Anyway, when I went out there to take their picture today, they kept crowding the fence so this is all I got.

Anyway, that is it for tonight.  I'll be back next week with some more.  Until til then, be well y'all.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Long Weekend? Doesn't seem like it!

There is so much going on here we are just going all the time.  If I told you all about everything you would get tired of reading and fall asleep!  So, a short recap here.

Loaner goat Mitzi has settled down a bit but continues to voice her general displeasure and dis-contentedness anytime she thinks anyone is out and about to listen.  She has a very loud voice and reminds me very much of Daisy in many ways. I am still working out the best milking positions that will work for both of us but we manage and haven't lost a pail of milk yet (she does kick a little bit).  Vinca retains her Herd Queen crown despite the horn differential. 

The kids are still with us however we have put them up for sale.  They certainly are entertaining and people love to stop in to visit them and the pigs.  For some reason I get more good pictures of Garrus than Violet - it seems like he is posing all the time - wants to be a cover goat I guess!

I have been opening up the coop for the turks every day but they have yet to venture out into the coop-yard.  At night they have taken to snuggling into one of the nests!

The 3-week old chicks are doing just great and there is a new batch of 19 in the bathtub again, hatched yesterday and today.  I am not putting any pictures of them here because they look pretty much just like the last ones - how would you know the difference?

I put in some time clearing the really untidy (okay, disgustingly weedy) garden beds.  I work the beds by hand.  Some people might wonder why I do not use a tiller.  We do have one but it is a big beast and it is a real wrestling match to turn it - these 4 beds are each only about 22 x 22 feet so... I will concede that using the tiller would probably be faster but I do prefer to prep the beds with my tools- broadfork, hoe, and garden fork.  It's good exercise for mind and body and easier on the soil as well.  I have a picture here of what it looked like when I was partly through the worst of the beds.  Later some of the hens came by to help. 

The last of the grain planting is done. Kevin rented a no-till planter from the Aitkin SWCA to plant the spring wheat and he is trying some buckwheat this year. Not sure if the buckwheat will be a cover crop or if he plans to combine it, maybe both, who knows.  All the current thinking is that no-till is the most beneficial for the soil so we are trying a small patch and see how it goes.

We were at the Farmers Market in Aitkin on Saturday.  Thank you everyone who stopped by; there was a good turnout and it was nice to connect with all the farmer friends and customers from last year, and some meet some new vendors.  If you happen to be in Aitkin on Saturdays, stop by and see us! 

So enough for this weekend.  Enjoy and honor the day tomorrow; be well friends.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Goat Solution

We are at the point that we just have to face the fact:  Echo is not going to have a kid or kids this year.  We are beyond the last possible date - just not happening.  So I have been wrestling with some options on what to do about this.  The obvious thing to do is nothing, and just be content with the milk that Vinca provides.  Less cheese that way  - disappointing.  Less time making cheese - well, that wouldn't be so bad as I do manage to keep pretty busy.  There was a possibility of acquiring back a daughter of Vinca & Ranger's who is in milk already - but then we would have a buck problem come fall.  I've been mulling on this and having a hard time deciding what to do.

The solution came from an unexpected query in the mailroom at work.  My co-worker Deb asked if I had any tips for getting a doe to dry up when she wasn't ready to.... well, not really but I know of a good place she can go to summer camp!

So Mitzi arrived this afternoon (don't know if that is how her name is spelled but that's my best guess).
She has impressive headgear and even more impressive but unfortunate jumping skills.  I think she may actually be a squirrel cleverly disguised as a goat.  Some very quick modifications had to be made to the board fence in the shed.

The does are getting along as well as can be expected under the circumstances.  She's pretty unhappy about the situation, as you can imagine, but she just needs a little time.  We had our first milking together this evening - kind of different for both of us as she is used to a milking machine and for me, her udder is quite different from my goats.  We will adapt.

I will share this week's view from the milking stand - very green!  It's been rainy and chilly all week so we are all ready to see the sun again.

One last thing.  When I got home from work and the store on Friday, I had to leave the grocieries for a few minutes and get out the camera.  Kevin was out tilling near the house.  Across the road were behemoth tractors doing their thing.  Quite a contrast, and not just in size.

Stop by again next week - we will have our first farmer's market of the year behind us, and should have a new bunch of chicks.  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day, Moving Day

Today's post is brought to you by parentheses.  

Happy Day to all moms and non-moms out there! 

This Sunday evening is hopefully a little different than the last – no trips to the ER I hope (so far, so good!).  To finish off the tick story, what happened was that I found this nasty little beast partially embedded in my arm when I went to the shower around 8 PM.  The area was swollen, red, and sore.  We thought about what to do as we were pretty certain Kevin would not be able to remove it intact.  We called our hospital's nurse line (worthless, they were a thousand miles away) and decided we would just go in.  It was a bit of a wait as the ER had been very busy that evening (the TV was on in the waiting room, a useful reminder of why we don't have that anymore!).  When we were seen, the doc just removed the critter with tweezers, piece by piece just like Kevin would have done.  We found out they do not automatically dose a person with doxycycline anymore for these things - now we wait for symptoms first.  That is just fine with me  We also found out that they don't go cutting if they don't get the whole thing out  like they used to do - that just isn't necessary and if there is a bit left behind it isn't a big deal.  So a learning experience and I think it was just as well we went as I probably would have gone in the next day anyway.  Want to see a picture of it?  I will put it at the bottom so the folks who would be revolted by it don't have too look.

So today, besides having a get together for Mother's Day we moved animals.

The pigs moved to new ground.

Julio and the hens moved from the Winter Coop to join the rest of the gals in the Summer Coop.& pasture.  Then the turks moved from the chick room to the bigger room of the Winter Coop.  

The chicks vacated the bathtub and moved out to the luxury accommodations of the chick room in the Winter Coop.  Thank you Kori - Poultry Catcher Extraordinaire for your help with the chicks!

How is that for a bucket of chicken?
And the lads moved out of their winter quarters to a much greener paddock.
Check out the trees and the wheat field in the background!  Gotta love the green of spring!
Speaking of chicks - my new incubator had a wiring melt-down!  I found it before it had cooled down too much and Kevin, being such a handy fellow did a quick Jerry-rigged (had to look up Jury-rigged vs Jerry-rigged - turns out they are both a thing!  So educational, this blogging!)  wiring job and got it going. Crisis narrowly averted (I hope)!  I will be in touch with the nice folks at Incubator Warehouse tomorrow.

Managed to get in some garden tasks too - digging out the compost pile, transplanting tomatoes in the greenhouse, and torching the asparagus (well, Kevin did the torching, I just stood by with the water).  That should haven been done earlier, but it wasn't.  I picked a few spears and some were missed but I'm not too concerned -more will come. 
Roasted Asparagus...  I actually ate a couple of these - they were good!
The oats planting is done, thanks to the hired help.  The last thing will be the spring wheat.  Spring wheat is very frost intolerant, so Kevin is waiting a week before planting, but now looking at the forecast it probably could have been, but oh well. 

And now I will wish you all a pleasant and healthy week - be well.  And here is the tick picture: