But First

On a working farm, as with life in general, jobs and tasks and plans have to be adjusted to the ‘but first’ scenario.

  • The barn needs to be cleaned, but first the tractor needs to be fixed.
  • A load of logs needs to be hauled from the landing, but first the haul road has to be smoothed before the loader can get in.
  • I would like to go shopping for something other than leftovers for dinner, but first I have to get gas since I forgot the last time I was in town.
  • The laundry needs to be washed, but first I have to empty the dryer from the load I did a couple of days ago.

I’m sure you get the idea. Continue reading

Power Tilling

A John Deere tractor with a tiller mounted on the back makes a first swipe through the weeds to work up the garden space.Mike made good use of the tiller that is attached to the John Deere tractor to work up the main part of the garden.

To the left is lawn, to the right is the garden space with cover crop and weeds (mostly weeds) growing after the unimaginably wet winter and the hard crust of compacted earth. By using the tractor to work the ground, the task to finish with my small rototiller takes many hours out of my hands.

There is still a danger of frost in our area for a while yet, so planting this space is still a ways off. But it makes me very happy to see the weeds turned over and the ground getting ready to be planted again.

Don’t Tell JD

There are many rules associated with farm equipment. Safety rules are important and I do not condone  using equipment of any kind in an unsafe manner.

This time of the year, the rotary mower is attached to the back of the little tractor to add stability and weight when moving loads around. The surface of the mower is called a deck.

Please do not turn me in as a rebel by telling the John Deere company, but when just being used as stability,  the deck of the rotary mower is a dandy spot for me to sit and for the dog to travel as we haul stuff with the bucket or pallet teeth of the front-load tractor. It is like a built-in storage for hauling me and the dogs around.

Black and white dog riding on the deck of the rotary mower attached to tractor.You can see my boot on the right and Jackson on the left.

Jackson loves riding and seems to enjoy being bounced around as we go over the bridge or scoop out the barns.

Just as a reminder, this is our little secret, no need to go around telling stories…

Cleaning The Barn

Now that the last batch of calves has been weaned and moved on from being in the show barn, cleaning time kicked into high gear.John Deere tractor scooping poop out of the barn.

Mike drove the scoop tractor load after load to clean the walking area, dumping the manure into the honey wagon.

Loading manure into trailer.Four loads full of manure needed to be spread out on the hay fields this day of cleaning.

Once the barn was cleaned, a thin layer of fresh wood chips was spread down on the concrete with a scattering of organic lime to control odor and balance the ph level. The lime also assists the manure to break down quicker once it is spread out onto the hay fields.



Little Doggie Prison

Jackson, the wild and crazy, possibly OCD farm dog was in trouble again and was sent to LDP (Little Doggie Prison). His crime, sneaking out to the barn and eating the cat food. His punishment, tethered at his dog house while his brother, Butler, got to ride on the tractor to help feed the cows.

The tractor happens to have the rotary mower hooked to the power-take-off on the back end. The platform of the mower is the perfect spot for the dogs to ride when we take the tractor over the bridge or out into the fields. Usually both dogs are enjoying the ride.

A black and white dog sitting on the deck of a tractor.Today it is just Butler and I sitting on the mower deck as Mike does the driving.

Butler knows when his brother is in time-out, he is in charge of the show.

He is very happy to be top dog on this day.

Canadian Thistle Helpers

We have weeds.

This is the line I use to begin farm tours. It may be obvious to some visitors, the weeds are everywhere. But, until I point out the fact, most people don’t even notice the areas of healthy green, 2 feet tall, pointy leaf plants that are those pesky Canadian Thistles.

Back in the 1980’s, County Extension Agents would visit farms and fine those farmers who did not control their Canadian Thistles. Chemical spraying was the most used and wildly accepted treatment.

The plethora of vibrant foliage here on our farm, is a downfall of trying to control the invasive species without using chemicals. Our solution for control is to mow the suckers down. Over a summer, depending on the weather conditions, we mow them once, twice or three times in an effort to keep the purple flowers from blooming. By cutting them down, the seeds are interrupted from maturing and fall to the ground without reproducing.

This approach is not 100 %, I miss those hidden patches hanging out along overgrown fence lines, or behind patches of trees, not to mention that we have miles of timberland stretching out from our farm where the neighbors are not as determined to control this weed.

Thankfully, we are not alone with the destruction of this weed. While using a hedge clipper to clean up some of the areas that I missed with the tractor and rotary mower, I noticed some black aphids have moved in to help. The little aphids attack one plant at a time. Several thousand of them cover a plant and suck the moisture out of the tender top 1/4 of the plant and kills the part that would produce flowers and seeds.

Right on little aphids! Thanks for your help!

Hay Season

Late June and Early July are busy times on the farm. We cut, dry, bale, load and store all the hay that we will be using for the rest of the year. Long, hot days in the hay fields are welcomed by the herd to supplement their open grazing. A few of our animals are fed inside the barn, for instance, when we are feeding the weaning calves, or getting the show animals in prime condition. Most of the time the herd is fed in outdoor feeders or directly on the ground.