Turtle puts a speed bump in the pond project…

pond frog

froggy

As soon as the weather permitted we began gathering everything for the pond. Last year we put the second pipe in and buried it four times. The pond flooded over and washed truck loads of dirt away. Finally we dug an outlet on the far end of the pond so the pond could simply overflow. Who would have guessed it was going to overflow six or seven more times and start washing the other end of the pond out? Seriously.

In March my brother and I took two pipes too small for the big pond on the other side of the farm. The dam is busted completely out and will take an immense amount of work to fix.  The idea is these undersized pipes will become the overflow pipes for the frog pond.

There is already a metal pipe at the frog pond. The previous owner thought it was a great idea to take the larger pipe first and put a smaller pipe in it. Complete wipe-out.

This all sounds complicated. It was even worse getting it done. The first pipe was on the opposite side of the frog pond. The path was too slick, muddy or steep so using a lot of chain and some boards we finally got the pipe in place. The tractor had to pull from the road above. The pipe landed too far into the pond. The plan was to dig a little and then wiggle it into place.

The weather had other plans.  The pipe was in the overflow ditch when the rain came down in buckets. The water lifted the pipe and overflowed the pond completely. Another truck load of dirt was swept downstream. The pipe floated eight feet backwards until the water could gush through it. More erosion. Sigh.

After digging more dirt off the banks to make a ramp so I could get on the dike, I dug the trench for the pipe. My brother helped lay it in place and bury it over.  Now we had to get the next set of pipes in place.

Okay, to make a long story short, we dragged an eighteen foot pipe  weighing over seven-hundred pounds through the cow pasture in low-gear, four-wheel drive and backwards.  We backed a flat trailer under it after we lifted the pipe on one end with the tractor bucket. Using five heavy ratchet straps we tied the metal sausage in place. The end of the pipe hung six feet off the end- touching the ground.

“Hey, Bro,” I  said,  “how about jumping in the back of the truck to see if we can at least get it off the ground?” The idea gave us half an inch and away we went. It was a quarter of a mile to the pond. I waited to hear the pipe scrape the road surface; a cop come down the highway or the pipe slide off going up the hill, then slither down into Route 218 and take out a vehicle, probably loaded with a million dollar cargo.  None of that happened. When you have our luck you go for the worst case scenario and skip the small stuff.

While my brother undid the ratchets I walked back to get the tractor. The idea was to attach a chain to the end of the pipe, lift, then drive the trailer out from under it. “Ta-Da!” It worked. Giving the pipe a push it was down over the bank and we were out of daylight. The next day we repeated the scenario with the much lighter plastic pipe.

pipe5050

After lining up the pipes we filled the gap between the two with concrete. Between the initial overflow pipe and these two pipes is an angle that is going to require a homemade concrete box. The argument is how to build the mold. While this dilemma is argued I decided to get started on burying the pipes. Four weeks later it still has not been decided, so, you know this country bumpkin is going to dump some cement in the hole and call it a box, right? Just saying.

pipe bottom

On Wednesday, June 13, I tapped the first pile of dirt in place on top of the dike where it had overflowed a month ago; taking another truckload of dirt down stream. Considering I have a small bucket on the John Deere we named, JD; it was a lot of work washed down the creek. I am a bit eager to get this area built up; now that I can reach it safely.

dam with arrows

The family took a short vacation and most of us were away from the farm for four days. The sad running joke is, whenever I leave the farm something dies. It has happened every trip for three years. This time we made sure the farm  had a babysitter. The renters took precautions to keep an extra eye on their animals and the farm. Came back and not so much as a chicken was missing. Yes.

Monday morning found me taking pictures of the pond progress. I stood on top of the dike where my last pile of dirt was. My eye caught what looked like several white mushrooms. I thought to myself, “How did mushrooms grow that fast in my dirt?” A moment later I am thinking…”Nah, can’t be.”

turtle eggs50

Suspicious, I investigated. Giving the “mushrooms” a tap my suspicion was confirmed. Big Bertha, the snapping turtle, had laid her eggs in the middle of my days work! The rain had opened the ground just enough for me to see a few of the top eggs. Only on Greene Acres could this happen.

turtleeggs

Okay, yes, I could eat them. Someone told me turtle eggs are delicious. The thought crossed mind. Unfortunately, I love nature. I have lots of chicken eggs. Turtles are good for the environment. It takes many years for a turtle to grow to the size of Big Bertha. Many of the eggs would probably not hatch. If they hatch, predators could pick them off. If we decide to put fish in the pond we might be picking them out of the pond. We were years from the idea. It would be kind of unique to see them hatch. I mean, how long could it possibly take?

bigger eggs

“Eighty to a hundred-twenty days!” I yelped at the computer screen. “Good grief, Charlie Brown!” Of course, I had to show the family the turtle eggs and make a little video before officially covering them over and tucking the nest out of sight.  I mean, how many people get to see a nest of turtle eggs?

Guess we will just have to work around the babies as best we can. At least she did not lay them in the hole where we have to pour concrete.

snapper 50-50blogturtlecrop50Bertha’s tail is at least ten inches long. The flower heads on her foot are nearly three inches to give you an idea of her size. As she was pretty cranky measuring her was not something my fingers were going to do, but we figured her shell has to be near eighteen inches.

turtlefoot

Pond One Punky None

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It is June and we are still on the pond project. The far end of the pond flooded over and eroded away the front of the pond. My brother and I; through some creative maneuvering involving our grandfather’s log chains and the tractor safely on the road; managed to inch the old metal pipe into place. It is to be a spill way pipe. Before we could get the pipe set we had a nasty little storm go through, flood the pond and of course the pipe plugged the hole perfectly and was floated eight feet down hill. Another truck load of dirt was lost as the flood water spilled over the height of the pond directly above the main pipe we have been trying to keep covered.

Well, try, try again; as they say. I spent seven hours on the tractor tonight. I have been digging dirt and hauling it one little bucket load at a time to the sight. I refuse to pay by the ton for dirt. The big backhoe is down, needing nearly two grand worth of pump parts. When we need it the most it is in pieces. The pond will be done by the time the engine rolls over on “Big Moe.”

In addition to the one pipe I put two more pipes in that will be buried under the front of the pond and exit where the main pipe exits. The catch is having to build a concrete box at the angle. We will  then raise the height of the pond three feet.

snapper 50 We dubbed this big turtle, “Big Bertha.”

After examining the sight I have taken a liking to it. I do believe Mom would love to come and watch the frogs in a screened gazebo. The dam has to be fenced off to keep the horses out. This looks like a perfect spot to put berry plants, maybe a some elderberry bushes, tall herbs, and such. Hmmmm. I see more tractor time in my future.

Ewww. Maybe some solar panels on the roof to run lights and a pump for a fountain in the pond. The fountain would aerate the pond and make fish possible. Some big fat catfish. Hmm. Mom might not like them eating her frogs. She is already on the fence about turtle soup. We might end up with catfish stew.

Okay, let’s just get to the chiropractor in the morning so I can dig up some more dirt before the next storm hits and wipes out my pipe again.

Yet, remaining to be filled is the mold for the concrete box. Can we say, “Twenty bags of concrete all on a Wednesday night? Scritching and a scratching. Mixing and a sloshing. All to pour on a Wednesday night.” Chiropractor for three- Thursday morning. I’ll make the appointments ahead of time.

After all the long hours of digging I came home to this at the front door…

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and little Noah full off high-speed energy. I think he licked the suds off my brother’s Red Bull. Sometimes it is just nice to have a little pup that always fits in your lap. I love my Dane girls, but a hundred-twenty pounds of lap dog is just not happening. Sorry, Maya.

noah 5050Done to DogresiedI

Water Heater Blues

It is winter again and everyone’s electric bills are hitting the roof. I might have stumbled upon an answer. The hot water tanks. It makes sense. The water temperature is just above freezing when it hits a greedy money sucking one-hundred-forty degree temperature demand. The little wheel on the electric heater goes berserk and our wallets get thinner and our tempers get hotter.

The fix seems to be a temper tank; a second tank of water which sits at room temperature and then is piped into the water heater. The idea is great but… where do you put the extra tank in a cramped, tiny, little house?  The tank must not leak. It must not sweat and create a mold condition. It must be open to the heat of a room to allow the water to raise in temp.

The closer to a heat source would be a grand idea. If you have a wood burner I would put the tank as close as I could get.

Where in tarnation do find one of the dagblasted things? The right size? It fits the space?

You can find safety expansion tanks, water heaters, even the inside guts to the tank, but, could someone come up with a dag nab twenty gallon, non-sweating temper tank I can just plumb-in? Good Grief Charlie Brown. I have been on this internet half an hour and I am so frustrated I finally had to sit down and write about it.

2kids left10

Do you know how much money I could be saving right now? Somehow I think the girls on the couch are thinking I am making a big deal out this. I could buy all their dog food for the extra money this issue is costing! It is a big deal. Stop looking at me like that…

May the electric companies shudder once I find a link to a temper tank and share it with all my friends.

Okay, that is it. I can not find a link to anything for this idea. You know, why not just take and put the cold water line into a big coil of copper pipe? Enough pipe might hold about twenty gallons of water and skip the whole tank idea. Heck, if I had a wood stove I could wrap the copper around the stove pipe and be dancing in the shower by the end of the night… and not even turn on the confounded money hungry water heater…so there Mr. Power Company…Ha!

Hmmmm… I see an addition to the house is needed. Time to pull out the saws, hammers and nails. One wood burning stove with a long black pipe wrapped in a copper spiral standing in a stonewall den coming right up- in about twenty years.

Done to Dogresied

Awe- look what all my ranting and raving has done to the dog. Guess I’ll have to pull out a dog bone to get her  untwisted. Those are in the same cupboard with the elderberry wine- yep- that should get me untwisted, too, in about fifteen minutes… well until next time.. bottoms up.

 

Our First Kid 2017

ladies in waiting

We have been waiting for a month for our first babies to drop. Finally, we got a girl from Roxanne. She was so huge I expected twins. Hours later no new developments. The baby girl was up and bouncing within twenty minutes. The energy of these tiny new life forms is amazing! Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!

Pumpkin Pumpkin arrived 6-20

Finally, Pumpkin settled down for a nap and I finally could get some baby pictures! She is going to be a uniquely colored goat I think. A few times she came over to see if my leg would give milk and followed me around. The best time to bond with a baby is right at birth. Hopefully this little girl will be a pocket goat like her mother.

We brought Mom and baby into the lean-to where I can control the flies. I was hoping for May babies when the flies are not so daunting. I sprayed the walls down while the baby tried to find breakfast. I wish there was a way to kill every fly on the farm. It is always an endless battle of fly sprays and traps. The flies can actually lay eggs on my new baby and then potentially cause problems. Getting her clean was a top priority. Towels!

With the babies coming, it is time for the buck, Boomer, to be moved from the herd and begin his summer work as a weed eater. If I leave him in there his scent will get into the milk and the cheese. That is a strong taste. Oh, milk, lots of milking ahead and lots of time consumed making cheese. Forgot about that part after being out of milk for six months. My schedule just filled up along with the freezer!

It is early morning and time to go check the herd. We will be putting up another charger to electrify the fence and hopefully keep the coyotes out, or the bobcat or the fox.  I am not sure what carried off all my chickens, but, I have not caught it yet and the dogs were barking last night. Kind of worrisome to a Farmer Mom.

Farmstead Distractions

Antique Rose

So never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Each day has enough of its own troubles. Matthew 6:34

The morning started with picture taking. A nice quiet morning. I planned on an all day attack on the rental unit repairs. To keep the distractions to a minimum I called my neighbor to see if she needed any help getting from her bed to her wheelchair today. She had help on the way. Then I drove up to my adopted niece’s place to find she was in need of a screw for her lawn mower handle which she was struggling with. Returning with screw, distraction averted, I headed for the unit.

lastbedroom The last bedroom coming along.

bathrThe bathroom getting walled in.

While my brother picked up building debris I slapped up the first piece of drywall in the bathroom and started cutting the hole for the vanity mirror. We put a false wall in to accommodate the plumbing. Adding real 2×4 next to the 1/2″ wall boards made it so we could put drywall up and now the walls do not move around. How these old trailers did not collapse en-route to their destinations I am amazed!

About the time I really get started to beat the heat of the soon-to-be ninety degree/sixty percent humidity day, my daughter comes in carrying this little surprise explaining it has to be Silver’s. Silver’s babies are already over a week old. Distraction Number One.

babt surprise Buck bunny gives birth?

Going to the barn my daughter and youngest brother in their limited manner, explain where they found the rabbit and that Silver Lady is running loose. A quick examination of the “buck” pen explains everything. Well, the rabbit I was planning on having for Sunday dinner just extended “his” life. I have been growing this extra male bunny big enough for a rarely enjoyed delicacy. Unfortunately the real buck killed the other four babies, but, my daughter’s pet python was not fussy. Waste not want not on this farm.

We raise all our live babies and sell them. After trying to figure out where to put the buck rabbit, we thought we fixed the cage to now harbor the new unexpected arrival. Hopefully the little feller makes it.

Back to the rental unit and making holes in the dry wall, so I thought. I was stopped by the hubby who he told me my brother had locked the place. Hmm. Great. The key hunt was on.

Unlocked and ready for work I just marked out the hole when the hubby asked for a hand to fix the stater on the four-wheeler. I have not been able to use it for almost two years. I was threatening to take it to the dealer and pay four-hundred dollars for the labor, so, the hubby set aside his distractions to get it fixed. Off to the garage we went, and the days heat was already messing with my asthma.

While the hubby searched for tools I happened to look up and see something strange against the ceiling and the cement wall. Yet, another distraction procured this four-foot-three-inch skin from the top of the shelving unit. Two more of three-foot length skins were curled up along a gap in the ceiling. Great, now we have snakes in the garage. Fantastic!

snakeskin4-3in Four-foot skin!

This is how come I never get to finish a project. Sitting back at the house trying to cool off; my daughter again appears with the baby. She and my younger brother were trying to find a board to replace the emergency cardboard I had slapped in the cage bottom. She explained the baby had fallen through the grid and gotten stuck. I examined it, curled it up in my hand. It tried to nurse on my palm.

This poor little critter. Already it had fallen out of the cage and crawled five feet. We think Silver Lady had heard its cries and literally yanked her feeder out of the way, pushed herself through the opening, to set on the baby, which is why I think it survived. My brother, coming in to feed the bunnies disturbed her and he nearly stepped on the baby, which is why they thought it was Silvers. If the poor thing makes it we are naming it Miracle.

While the hubby now took a hand in fixing the pen for our new arrival, I sat and watched westerns; keeping it warm against my own body. At this point nurse Lass heard the baby. She was ready to

15lassbabysitter15 Nurse Lass is on duty with all babies.

lick her new charge. She really wanted the baby! Whining and staring at me like she does when I have a steak on the plate. She even did some worrisome “woofs”; like I had a puppy that might be hers!

Just a few weeks ago, a newborn bunny baby had unfortunately found its way out of the nest and through a gap in the wire flooring we had missed. I brought the baby in the house hoping to warm it, but, it was already too late. While I went out to fix the pen, Lass took the baby out of the towel on the counter and curled up with it, trying to bring it back with her own body heat. This is just an amazing example of the Labrador’s strong maternal instinct!

Determined to get the drywall cut I again made for the rental unit, but stopped when I saw my daughter coming back from the barn. Again- the newborn baby was back. It had fallen out of the nest! Going to the barn I saw where the side boards were pushed out just enough to cause the problem. Putting Miracle back in with Momma bunny, Sunday- the big rabbit’s new name, I stayed put while my daughter ran to find a board, screws and a drill. After averting yet another near death experience I decided to check in on last weeks arrivals. Silver Lady weighs in over twenty-pounds. Her babies are sweet and gentle- and cute!

silver  babybunnysilvers  babybunnysilversallwhite

Out of pure spite toward whatever whimsical power that constantly distracts my time, I went down to the rental and I put a hole in the drywall for the window and the vanity. It was hot and humid, but, by George, that wall was up!

Now, to bag up the 12 quarts of dog food veggies I boiled and  eat my dinner. Guess it is Ramen noodles tonight and venison tips for Sunday’s dinner. Not exactly what I had planned, but, that’s farmsteading…

Pond Repair leads to Naming The Pond

THE FROG POND

pond work2
Covering the Pipe

A very necessary work began four days ago. Our top pond, as we once upon a time called it, was blown out. The amount of dirt needed to fix the pond actually started piling up when I widened an entry road to our field two years ago. The necessity of this pond has proven itself time and again when flash flood waters roared in from the rolling hills. I can not call these mountains in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. I grew up in Tioga County with cliff sides that made cars look like match box toys below my feet.

Though just hills, there is water that rushes down unencumbered. If left unchecked I fear my mother’s home would be wiped out. If Mom-ma is not happy than you know no one is going to be happy. Wet, soggy Mommy is not a good thing, so off to play with the backhoe I go! My favorite toy on the whole farm, next to the horses of course.

 

wild flower Daisy found a log home.

bullfrog   “The Frog Pond” is now my frog loving Mom’s favorite place on the whole farm. She has a big collection of frog stuff. I think a gazebo somewhere would be a great idea. Mom can come and watch her “froggies.”

bullfrog tadpoles  Tad Poles of the bull frog are huge! About five inches in length!

Okay, day five of this idea begins. The first day started with setting the opening of the pipe with layers of mud and stone. Nothing like playing in the mud and having an adult excuse! Remember when we used to do this and called it fun! If I could only bottle youthful vigor and save it for old age days like this. Pond mud is really thick and does not want to be moved. It is kind of like trying to get your tongue of a frozen flag pole- by the way never do that.

Day two was removing the old pipe while the water table was so low no water was flowing. We packed in clay dirt, tamped it with our feet and a tamping bar, then back-filled the top of the dam. The third day found me playing in the ditches to get enough dirt to put the second pipe in. If you are building a pond make sure both of your pipes are the same size. Do not do a “Walter” and put a smaller sized plastic pipe inside a larger sized metal pipe or your pond will blow out. The water will push the other pipe clean out and go all the way around it. Your dirt will go down river.

Second Pipe

The right way is the best way. So, day four saw us filling the big hole in the “dike” with a lot of dirt. About six truck loads. We connected the second plastic pipe in case of rain. We did not attach it by removing the tar seal on the new pipe. We will do that just before we are ready to bury the joint. I plan to gorilla glue, silicone and duct tape those bad boys together. I never want to redo this again.

Day five- back to the ditches for more dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. Some more Ibuprofen for overworked joints, liniment for sore muscles and a beer. Really, a couple of Red’s Apple Ales and an overstuffed chair at 9PM. My tail feathers are dragging. So this is why the guys dig chairs. Ug!

froggie33

I wonder if Mom will name the frogs? This one could be “Handy.”

frog11 Peeper?

froggie22 John Deere?

(Top Picture: Hubby on the tractor with my two brothers waiting for the dirt to level itself. That was a joke guys…)

Moving Livestock Requires Planning Ahead

Angel and AnnabelOur four bottle calves from last year are yet in their small square pen. Because of moving my mother and brothers to the farm, I did not get a hut built. Out of desperation, when the January winds started to sweep in the harsher weather, we slammed the horse trailer into the pen. Then it became the March wet season. The trailer stayed.

It is now May 21. The end of winter was so gentle the neighbor is haying and the raspberries are starting to form. A few sharp frosts wilted my potatoes from last year and devastated my blooming wisteria. The daffodils are gone, the major dandelion bloom is over. By the way, the blooms are delicious fried in butter with a little salt and pepper.

I digress, a bad habit. Our calf moving adventure started with a backhoe to pull all the future fertilizer out of the horse trailer. An air compressor inflated a brand new tire. I must have picked up a nail or something, just lovely. Then, knowing where I needed the two females, it was decided to pull out the Jubilee tractor which is shorter. Of course, the 2″ ball was missing and it has a 3/4 inch shank. Here we go. Hunting around the farm for a ball. I really need some sheds; and get organized. Sigh. Come on publisher or movie producer, pick my books! Yah, like that is happening.

Again, I digress. We found the ball on the back of the Kawasaki mule, which has again chewed through its monthly bearing on the driver’s side. We set it aside because at a hundred plus a month, it is costing too much to keep trying to fix. We will have to send it off to someone who might know what is going on. The neighbor has the same model and it sits in his barn unused.

The ball hunt over, we started on our way only to be stopped by a fuel shortage. Minor oversight. Jubilee wanted fed. The truck needed fuel, too. Armed with a gas can, I made for the station three miles down the road. A big plus for times like this is a rinky-dink town not far off.

Putzing down the road on our speedy tractor we now faced keeping the yearling calves back. I did not need a rodeo. The easiest way I have found to move most animals is with a bucket of grain. Annabel is a real sucker for grain. She is six months older than Angel, and halter broke. In she went.  Angel followed with a few helpful shoves from behind. Up went the gate and our future milk cows were ready for transport. Around the house and up into the small square holding pen with knee-deep grass already getting grain heads. Everything is early this year.

Down to the pasture, through the gate and on to the next problem. One of the bull calves, a white-faced black Angus cross, hopefully with a Hereford, was on the wrong side of the fence. If I could get him through the steep brier infested hillside, I would have to lead him down through 14 very curious bullies (big cows) to get to the corral. Option two, remove the mesh square fencing, pull it back, and see if he would crawl back through the high tensile fence- which is what he had done on the far side. Only he had gone up and around the brier patch and now refused to repeat the process. Well, that did not work and the hubby was started to flail his arms around like men do when they really want to do anything but what they got suckered into. Hubby is a city slicker. He got roped into this country life. He has zero patience for animals or people. Which is why he makes a wonderful landlord- yah, well despite this, the bulls were coming out of the pasture tonight. I had a pile of eggplants and yams, given to me by some friends, to get canned tomorrow.

The hubby remembered further down the fence I used to put the goats up through an opening beside a falling down shed. After some coherence and a tempting bucket of grain, Honda was back in with his buddy, Old Man Whiskers. (He’s a Holstein with extra long whiskers on his muzzle.) We are trying to sell him, or else he will be neutered soon. Using the same technique of baiting the horse trailer, the bulls, being more difficult; imagine that; and fueling the city slicker’s impatience; imagine that, found themselves roughly shoved up the horse ramp. The hubby slammed the ramp into place and gave me the look. Yah, that one.

Mumbling like the Jubilee’s putting engine, the Hubby helped drag my prizes to the corral where they will stay away from the main herd for a few weeks. All the big cows are going to be three years old and the bull is in there helping the next generation arrive.

This should be fun. Eight first time momma cows and one city slicker hubby. Yah, I’ll be writing a book about the experience.

In the meantime, the boys happily munched in the late evening light. I spotted mint growing fresh along the stream. While the Hubby was getting the ramp up and pulling the trailer out the poor city boy was yet taxed again. I was getting that fresh mint picked before the young bulls stomped it flat.

With a big handful of mint, one impatient hubby and an old muttering tractor we were down the highway getting ready to retire for the evening.

 

Angel MarkDoesn’t Angel have the coolest mark on her forehead? It reminds me of a lady in a fur coat with a big fancy fur hat. LOL I was watching John Wayne’s North to Alaska while nursing her back to health. Angel was the name of the main female character.

When a life ends…

Jazz Posing for the Ladies

Today we have to put down our Tennessee Walker stallion. He was coming on to four years old. We believe the timber wolf we have seen around the farm may have attacked or spooked the horses. The stallion ended up in the barb wire fence. It wrapped around his leg and sawed all the way around until the bone was exposed. By the time we caught the injury too many hours had passed with the bone exposed. The vet said there is nothing to graft and things would go down hill fast.

I hate barb wire. This was new fence; no saggy pieces.  I just hate using it but the cows go through everything else. If it is electric, they know when the power is off and they take the hit if they really want through.

We are so busy on the farm. The garden is ready to be put in. Getting the farmstead started is difficult and time consuming. I would not have it any other way, but, at this moment I am crushed. Jazz Cat is such a beautiful stallion. He is so quiet you would think him a gelding. I was so looking forward to beginning his training; getting the corral fixed and turned into a training pen. My niece and I have been discussing it all week. Now I have to go look my young stallion in the eye and tell him goodbye. It just knocks the heart right out of me, but, you have to keep on going.

When an animal must pass I tell myself I gave it a good life. Lots of pasture to run in and time to be as free as a horse can be. Cows, you know their time will come. I thank the animal for its sacrifice so I might eat. Even the deer and other wild game. I honor their life by not wasting. A horse, however, is different. He is a big fuzzy pal who lets me sit on him so we can go places. He listens to me chatter about all my problems then puts his head on my shoulder as if to say, “It’s all right. Come back with a carrot for our next session.”

It is so therapeutic to run a brush over his coat. When you stand back and see his long mane and tail laying so smooth and flowing you feel like you accomplished something. You take him for a ride and your neighbors “eww and aww.” You proudly put him back in the field and he trots right over to his favorite spot and rolls off all your hard work.

Jazz Cat and I will never know this relationship. We never got to ride together. I will miss the beauty of his painted face and marbled blue eye. Such a picturesque beauty destroyed in a single stroke; a butterfly caught in a bird’s beak. He has been swept away. There are two foals about to be brought into this world. I can only hope one of them is a colt with a blue eye and painted face. I don’t know if the mare running with him is pregnant, but there might be a third life. It’s small console, for none is like the original. I will miss seeing my Jazz streak through the field, his mane floating like a white banner and his tail a streaming flag.

Jazz Looking QuirkyI loved you, you big quirky gentle goof. May your foals be born healthy and just as goofy.

Black Timber Wolf Visits the Farm.

FB

At nine at night last night my niece called to say they see our “coyote” on their front door step. They live here on the farm. I took the gun with me but of course the animal could not be found.

Three times we have seen an animal which looks exactly like this picture. We do have coyote in the area but the description by my niece told me we were talking about the young eastern timber wolf. Only, she said he was huge, almost the size of our great Danes. This would put him in the hundred-fifty pound category and fully mature. So far none of our animals have been bothered by this big guy. It has always appears alone.

The only thing being bothered recently has been the chickens. We caught a red-tailed hawk in the act of killing the only brooding hen on the farm. She was five years old and raised many eggs to hatching. By the time I got to the scene the killer took flight.

A big vixen fox has been visiting the farm early in the morning and now we have the wolf back. It is aggravating to know your favorite chickens are on their menu.  The other problem with this big guy hanging around here is it is taking out our fawn crop. We depend on deer to fill the freezer. Guess I’ll have to hunt up someone who can take out some of the local coyote population and maybe this big guy. With the neighbor’s cows calving the loss to them could be substantial. My niece is also worried about her kids being injured by such a big animal. Usually you could say not to worry, a wolf is more afraid of you than it, but, when you see a wolf right on your front door step those words are not reassuring.

Spring Cleaning on the Farm

calvesAll winter long things piled up. Yes, let’s just say those piles include organic material best suited for the garden. It is clean up the pens time… and it so much fun. Not.

I thought cleaning my house in the Spring was bad. Playing with the John Deere in two feet of “Farm Pies” has got anything in the house beat. The smell is pure methane. Whew! The corral was first, then the calf pen.  No wonder they spent all winter curled up on that pile of hay. I could feel the heat coming off the rotting stuff.

Our four calves from last year are to be moved shortly from this pen.  I have decided to not raise any bottle calves this year. It is not worth the cost. Weaned babies are selling for less so why go through the fuss?  Next year I hope to have five cows provide a fresh batch of calves, no maintenance required. No milk bottles- Yay!

The goat house needs to be lifted and everything pushed off the deck. For the winter I put skids and horse mats in to get them off the deck, then pile it with hay, layer after layer. Their manure is so  garden ready it can be tossed right in, just like the rabbits contributions.

The neighbor came down to grind everything up for me. With this giant tractor and plow he gets the job done in minutes. It really digs and does the job. Just as I started pulling the seeds off the shelf the weather took a wet nose dive. Hurry up and wait seems to be a homesteading theme.

A tractor is an absolute necessity for a homestead. We have yet to buy the plow my neighbor owns so we just send up some deer steaks as a thank you. The plow/tiller is expensive. If we were doing more than a thirty by thirty square garden it would be worth the investment. The tool would come in handy for deer plots and replanting areas the cattle damaged, too.

Even though we have has a completely mild winter this year, an old timer told us not to plant until after mother’s day. Some of last year’s potatoes had come in the garden and were about eight inches high. One morning last week I woke up to frost on the windshield. There went the potatoes and my beautiful wisteria flowers. Young trees lost their leaves as well. Mother’s day is tomorrow. Smart old timer.