Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve at Ole Lake Farm

Wow - it's cold around here!

We been in an extended cold snap since before Christmas.  Today's high was -6℉.  Tomorrow we are expected to get up to a blistering 1℉ Yahoo!

I do enjoy the frost art on the the coop windows though:
Speaking of the coop...when I posted here last (if the turkey topic hadn't bored you so much that you skipped that part) you read about my struggles to coax the turkeys indoors at night.  At that time, I was having partial success.  Now there is no problem - everyone with feathers goes in at night.  In the past I would not open the coop up during the day when the weather is this cold, but with 32 hens, Julio the rooster, and 8 full grown turkeys it's just too crowded in there.  I open the little door each morning and the turkeys roam about, seemingly oblivious to the temperatures.
It seems that 4 of Penolope's 5 offspring are males.  Here are a couple of them strutting their stuff.

The pigs are pretty pretty hardy creatures and are handling the cold just fine - although it is difficult for Kevin to keep their food troughs and water nipple thawed out.  The goats have good shelters, plenty of straw bedding, and heated water pails - even so I am sure they will be happier when it warms up.

At least we have snow.  This is the view from the milking stand that I like to put out here now and then.  Vinca and I are done milking for this season, thank goodness!  Although some years we continue into January, this year we finished up just before Christmas.
 With the extreme cold, we are really going through the wood!
I want to share a special Christmas gift.  Kevin's sister Lori had this really neat rock painted for him - looks a little incongruous on the deck right now though!  It is very heavy - we will NOT be using it for a sign at the farmer's market next summer, though I wish we could!

That's all for 2017.  From Ole Lake Farm to where ever you are reading this post, we wish you a healthy and happy NEW YEAR - Have Peace and Be Well!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wood Work and Turkey Turmoil

With the growing season and hunting seasons both over, wood working has begun in earnest.  Last weekend Kevin, Rollie, and Kurt tackled part of a large stack with the buzz saw.  They made a dent in the pile and brought up a lot of fuel.

I had another market this weekend - Sister-in-Law Lori stopped by and took this picture:
 The three adopted hens that were introduced in the last post are doing just fine.  They are good friends and hang out together.

About those turkeys... two posts back I described our efforts to get them indoors at night out of the elements.  The plan was that they would over-winter in the summer coop, whether they wanted to or not.  They did not.  Last weekend since the weather was so nice I let them out again, and again they did not return to the summer coop in the evening (although they did go in during the day to eat).  They ended up down in the winter coop yard with the hens and the other turkeys.  I shut them into the coop-yard and after dark was able to get most of them into the coop with some gentle persuasion - one (and I think it was the wary Penelope) was a little more difficult  but in the end they all spent the night crowded into the winter coop.  It looks like that is where they will be staying.  Every evening some of them still need to be herded into the coop, but it's getting to be less of them and easier to accomplish. 

It's pretty crowded in the coop, and utter chaos in in the morning when I am in there trying to do my chores.   I turn on the light to pick up under the roosts a bit - Julio starts chasing the hens around and eight big turkeys try to stay as far away from me as they can but the space is small.  There is much squawking and .... I don't know what to call the sounds the turkey's make - chirping maybe?  Anyway, it gets noisy.

Maybe I should get some ducks...

Until next time, be well folks!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Post-Thanksgiving Post

Another Thanksgiving is behind us, another four day weekend almost over. Kevin has chained himself to the kitchen table to catch up on book work, so I have joined him there for a farm update post.

The goats haven't had a mention here in the blog for a while.  Ranger and Forest moved in with the does a couple of days before Halloween, so almost a month ago.  The sparks were flying right away for Ranger and Vinca and I will expect kids to be born right around the last couple of days of March.  Echo??  Haven't seen much going on there.  You may recall that Echo did not get pregnant last year but did the year before.  We are really hoping things work out for her this time. 
We have some new residents in the chicken yard.  I was asked if I would take in three hens, all that was left of a small flock.  Although I select my hens for production, not looks, I cannot help but admired these pretty ladies.  One is a Speckled Sussex, another an Ameraucana, and the third is a Red Star. 
 The photo above is Speckles, and you can see the Ameraucana to her right.  She came with a name that I do not recall, so now she is Rocky.

Mickey is getting on in years and the cold weather is pretty tough for him.  Like many elderly gentlemen, he also needs to "go" frequently.  We felt the need for a better winter solution for him than being in the dog yard during the day with just dog houses for shelter, so we are keeping the dogs in the heated shop with a dog door.  When we have tried this in the past all of our makeshift door coverings, mostly heavy rugs, were destroyed in short order. Mickey himself was the main culprit at that time, but he was a much younger and stronger dog then with sharper teeth.  So far he has left the rug alone this time and a commercial dog door has been ordered.  Hoover doesn't seem to mind the cold at all but where Mickey goes, so does he.

Now that things have slowed down a little here on the farm, I will be reducing my posts to every couple of weeks or so, or at least once a month until spring.  I hope you will still stop back now and then to see what is up here at Ole Lake Farm.  Until next time, enjoy your week(s) and and be well friends.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hunting Over - Let's Talk Turkey!

Let's Talk Turkey!  Usually when you hear or read those words at this time of year, they are followed by cooking advice... Not in my post!

With the activities of Hunting (yes, capital H) wrapped up, we've settled into an early winter routine.  You may recall from my last (pre-Hunting) post (October 29) that Penelope and her poults stubbornly refused to seek shelter at night, preferring to roost outside in the elements.  We had rounded them up (no easy feat) and locked them up in the Summer Coop for about eight days.  I had hoped that would be enough time for them to consider it home.  Not so, as it turned out.  They were pleased when I let them out and resumed roosting outside that night.  Humph.

We had another turkey catching event - this time joined by the young people that were hunting here.  They seemed to enjoy the exercise (something to tell their city classmates about I am sure) - much more than I did, and certainly more than the turkeys did!

We managed to catch all of the poults with only a moderate amount of trauma.  Penelope proved to be slipperier than her offspring and eluded capture for two more days.  Now they are all locked up together in the Summer Coop - still not thrilled about it but at least they are not out in the elements.

Speaking of the elements - we have had a bit of everything so far this month.  Warm, cold, rain, snow, sleet.... Not much snow left at the moment.

The chicken hens and the other two turkey hens have been enjoying the fact that the snow is gone.  These two were visiting the pigs during their nap time - not sure how the photo got so crooked but I like the red and black hens visiting the red and black hogs...

The two turkey hens here are the lucking winners in the "you get to live" lottery that sent their siblings to the freezer.  I am hoping they hook up with one of Penelope's sons next spring and hatch more poults for us.  They have names now - Dolly and Polly - interchangeable as they are pretty much identical. 

I was a vendor at an indoor market yesterday - it is a monthly event in Little Falls.  Had an enjoyable time with my helper Kori although it was pretty chilly in the former factory.  This is a picture I took of our farm booth - I didn't realize the wagon and other things under the table were so obvious - maybe will do something different with that next time.

So, that is probably enough for this post.  Happy Thanksgiving to all, and be well!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Season Wrap Up

Good Sunday Evening everyone, this is Kevin again with the report for week two of the MN Deer Hunt at Ole Lake FArm

It has been a very active week since I posted last Sunday Night. On Monday Night Grace shot her first whitetail deer. All the youth have now shot at least one deer this year; what a load off my mind. I don’t know why I worry so much about getting the kids shooting but I do. It is so cool that so many people have had an opportunity to harvest their first deer on the property over the years; we really have it good.

On Wednesday evening my uncle Gene Flowers shot a deer to make this his first deer shot in Minnesota in a whole lot of years. My guess is about 40, so welcome back Uncle Gene! This is just the first of many back here in MN. Then on Saturday morning Dad (Rollie) filled his tag and we were pretty much done. We had a total of 12 people hunting and we filled 11 tags, leaving only my tag open. We did sit in the stands on Saturday night, but this morning we did not go out, we just waited a while and went out and took down all the stands. 

And finally, some thoughts about the 2017 deer season at Ole Lake Farm. As a group, we saw over 90 deer, many were the same ones, multiple times, but that is still a lot of deer. We did not see many bucks, just the one Kori shot, and one Nick saw opening day that stayed in the brush. Last but best, we did not have to track any wounded deer, they were all one shot kills. I am especially proud of the four amigos, Nick, Kellen, Grace and Sammy, who really did an awesome job this year. It has been an exciting year for Kellen, Grace and Sammy who got whitetail here, and they all three harvested a pronghorn in Wyoming earlier this fall. If they go elk hunting, they would have a huge amount of meat.
So concludes deer hunting season for another year.  Debby will be back next week with a farm update - she seems to thing people might want to hear about the turkeys...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Deer Hunting 2017 Opening Weekend

Good Evening everyone, you have Kevin here with the annual Opening of Deer Season Weekend report. Just a quick note, there are some pictures of dead deer at the end of the blog so if you rather not see them I will let you know when the post is done and the pictures are coming.

The hunting party this weekend consisted of myself, Kurt, Kori, Dad (Rollie), my brother Kent, my nephew Kellen, cousin Tim, Tim's son Nick, and friends Mike and Luke and Luke's kids Grace and Sammy.

We knew this year was going to be different, we were seeing a lot of deer every day out in the fields and this year our hunt area is Hunter Choice, which means you can harvest any deer, antlered or antlerless. 

Opening day everyone saw at least 3 deer, but Kori took the record sitting in her stand. She tried to recall how many deer she saw and her best guess was twenty.  I came in second with 10, all walking in a row in front of me. The weird thing is we have not seen any bucks except for the one Kori shot opening morning, and his antlers were so short, we had to call him anterless  The DNR say a buck has to have at least one polished antler 3" long to be a legal buck. Her buck only had about 1 to 2" antlers. She thinks it's kind of cute. There is a picture of it at the end of the post.

 The rest of the deer shot are all anterless, which is really strange, with so many does around there should be a few bucks but we haven't seen any.  So after the first weekend, out of 12 hunters we have filled 8 tags. We have never had so much meat hanging in the garage as we do right now, which is the other picture at the end.

So just a couple of other little things.  All 3 of Dad's grandchildren who are hunting shot a deer this year, with Kellen, Kurt and Kori all shooting deer. Kellen also did all the messy stuff on his deer, with tips and guidance from Uncle Kevin. He did a great job. It just so happened that all the deer shot today were by the youth, as in 14 and younger, so this evening we had a grand ole time with the next generation helping out with the skinning and splitting. Some were more enthusiastic than others, but they all helped a lot. They do seem to like running the Sawzall, who doesn't like using power tools? Nick got the messiest deer prize this year so far, and it will take quite a feat to beat it, he shot his deer at about 20 yards and his bullets sure did the job.

At our place, we skin the deer the same day they are harvested. I know there are many schools of thought on if the hide should stay on and how long they should hang before cutting, but for us, skinning the same day works great because the hide come off so much easier and when you have a bunch of youth helping out, it goes much better. It was really lots of fun to have everyone out helping and nobody got cut, which is always a bonus.

So now if you don't want to see the pictures, be well and have a great week everyone. If you would like to see a picture of a buck with itty bitty antlers and a garage full of hanging meat, continue to scroll down.

Next picture

See you next time

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Pig and Turkey Adventures

Snow has arrived!

We knew it was coming and wanted to make sure all the critters were properly sheltered.  Penelope and the poults have been resistant to moving indoors so finally we had to force the issue.  Thursday evening we slunk out to the garden in the dark armed with fish landing nets.  It was pretty traumatizing for the turkeys but at least they are indoors.  I have them locked in the summer coop and will keep them incarcerated for a week or so before letting them out again.  Hopefully they will imprint on the little building as home.

Now the pigs - they sort of moved themselves.  Earlier in the week they went missing - their fence was laid flat.  After a bit of a search, Kevin found them over the hill north of the house at the edge of the the swamp.  Usually when they get out they are easily led back to their pen with a bucket of feed, but not this time.  They came as far as the front of the shop and stopped there.  Kevin had to put some fence panels together and "tow" them to get them moving so he just took them to where their winter quarters are, partly tucked under the haybarn roof. 
 The size difference is quite noticeable.  We've definitely had health problems with the pigs this year and three of the four are much smaller than they should be at this point.  On the up side, they are alive and seem to be recovered and growing again. 

The new pig pen enclosed a large mound of really old hay that Kevin hauled out of the hay barn earlier this summer.  It's been composting for a few months and the pigs are really enjoying digging into it.
Deer hunting season is almost upon us so the next two or three posts will be hunting updates from Kevin. Be safe and be well friends.