Posts tagged “Farming

Robins in a Blizzard??? Changing Seasons Give-away!!

The first report came in last week…my girlfriend who lives about 2 miles away – as the crow flys – said that she saw some robins in her back yard.  This was just before the blizzard hit.  I thought “No way, she must be mistaken.”

Yesterday we were driving through a nearby town and turned a corner to find 10-20 Robins!!!!  I was shocked.  Each year one of my absolute favorite spring time activities is watching for the Robins to arrive.  In my mind, the arrival of a Robin has always been correlated with spring.  I was so pumped!!

As I was ready a post on Facebook a friend said she had seen 50 that morning.  Well, this prompted an extensive conversation from numerous people who had also been seeing robins.  The earliest was around Christmas!  With all of the talk about climate change and the planet growing warmer every year, the Robin sightings have prompted me to be a bit concerned.

So what gives?  Has the cold streak in the south chased them back up north?  I’ll be very interested to hear more about these sightings and the reasoning behind a spring event that’s occurring during winter.  It just doesn’t make sense…I must research, research and research even more as I get to the bottom of this unusual behavior.

Speaking of spring…Don’t miss out on a fantastic Changing of Seasons give-away over at The Beginner Farmer’s Wife.  While you are there read about their journey which involves naturally raised heritage meats and true free-range poultry.

Watch soon for a post on my blog which will discuss true free-range poultry.

Welcome to the week-end!!


Conquering my fear of heights…one bolt at a time.

I spent a good portion of my childhood climbing, sitting, playing & making forts in trees.  My favorite tree, a Red Maple located in the corner of my mom’s yard, has since had its bottom branches trimmed off but there was one branch that doubled as a trapeze bar.  We would hang upside down on it and it was our main access to the top.  As I grew older, I could often be found out in the woods building forts on, under & on top of old fallen trees.

In college I lived with many athletes since my dorm was located just next to all of our sports complexes.   At the beginning of my sophomore year, the day after Labor Day to be exact,  I was ‘recruited’ to try out the university’s circus.  Let me clarify…I wasn’t trying out for it, I was trying it out.  I hung on the trapeze, acted like an acrobat on the mats and then was asked if I’d like to try the high wire.  I was very uneasy about doing it but gave it a try.  The first time I didn’t get very far, got back up & tried it again.  The second time I again fell, the fall was simultaneously followed by cracking and then a trip to the hospital.  I broke my foot in 4 places.

Can you say OUCH!!!

With that said I think I have reason to be scared of heights.  For years I’d have nightmares about it and missed out on a lot of things.  In more recent years I’ve attempted to work towards overcoming my fear.  I’ve successfully sat in my tree stand – granted they lowered it 5 feet for me.  I’ve taken my kids to the ‘big’ slide which is HUGE.  I’ve even gone on the farris wheel, once.

It was during this past Labor Day weekend that I made the most progress yet.  We are beginning to prepare for the winter and added a new shed to our operation to store supplies.  It’s just like our first shed…which is still unpainted.  Getting it built is like similar to a puzzle.  You have to put each piece in just right before you can tighten all of the bolts.  And, it’s a two-man job.  With my hubby’s ‘main man’ – my brother-in-law at home with a newborn, I had to be the wingman.  I wasn’t sure which would be worse.  Being on the top of the roof or standing on top of a ladder, holding the bolts while they are drilled in from the other side.  GULP, I choose the drilling job from the roof.

This is the bolt holding part of the process....

A Look from above….

My Profile...one of many bolts I drilled that day.

I’m proud to say that I completed the job & we now have a completed shed where we have started storing our hay and feed.  And, I did it! Me, Moi! Now we just have to keep one pesky little hen out of it so she stops laying her eggs in there.  Another project for this weekend…installing a new door.

Next up...painting!

Tomorrow Willis & I head to our first Fishing Derby of the year.  Last year he walked away with a trophy for the largest fish caught.  He’s chomping at the bit for a second win.  I’ll keep you updated!


The Great Grain Truck Incident of 2010

We are on a roll!  Literally!  Harvest is in full swing around Illinois.  Despite a minor break down this evening, my father-in-law anticipates being done with corn tomorrow.  He was one of the first to start in our area.  Since my husband’s uncle retired, Paw-Paw has had an extra hand.  Prior to that my hubby would always drive the combine while Paw-Paw or Granny drove the grain trucks to town.

We’ve also been on a roll when it comes to major incidents.  Two years ago, my hubby’s cousin was driving the combine.  He likes to drive and dump at the same time.  Not my cup of tea, but I’m not in charge.  Well, as he motioned Granny down with her grain truck he stopped and changed his mind…this led to a change in approach…which led to the combine backing up…which led to Granny needing to get out of the way.  The whole concept would have worked dandy.  If only his cousin knew that the grain truck had died and Granny was struggling with getting it re-started.  CRUNCH!!  He ran over the front end of the truck.  Luckily no one was hurt but the grain truck.  That was the Great Grain Truck Incident of 2008.

Then there was last year.  It was a record year.  There were several people in our area who never even harvested until spring.  The rain was awful.  Instead of planting in mid-April, we had a monsoon season which set back planting to the first week of Jun.  Even so, he had fantastic yields!  Except in one of the fields.  My hubby’s uncle was driving the combine and hadn’t noticed the smoke coming from below.  That was the least of his problems.  It was the fire that was dropping from below that had everyone’s attention.  For an entire round he was dropping corn stocks which had caught on fire.  Put two and two together and you have an 80 acre field a blaze.  The fire department was called and they were able to successfully put out the fire in the field and the fire under the combine.  Had there not been so much rain, the damage to the combine would have been much worse.  So there you have the Great Combine Incident of 2009.

It’s a new year, a new decade!  The pressure was on to top 2008 & 2009’s incidents.  I won’t forget the moment I received the text from my brother-n-law.  At first I was confused and couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing.  The scenery looked familiar but I just couldn’t place the location of the picture.  I called him for an explanation.  As my father-n-law approached town he goes down a slight slope which continues ever so gently until you reach the stop sign.  It was at the slope he realized he had a problem.  There were no brakes.  Luckily, the stop sign was a ‘T.’  Unfortunately, there was a house, telephone poles, chain linked fence, phone box, a car and a gravel driveway.  He was able to manuver between the telephone pole and car. 

Just missed the phone box and landed in the gravel and eventually into the chain linked fence.  Did I mention he was fully loaded and on his way to the elevator?  See the corn falling?

He’s thanking his lucky stars for that gravel.  The truck sunk in almost 3 feet.  The semi-tractor tow truck even had difficulty getting it out.  I’m very thankful he wasn’t hurt but even more thankful that one of the kids was riding with him.  Before the elevator closed my brother was able to drive over and fix the brake.  The rest of the load arrived safe & sound at the elevator.  It just needs a new headlight.  And, the homeowners need a new fence.

So, THAT was the Great Grain Truck incident of 2010.  I wonder what will happen next year?  Oh, and by the way, it was the same grain truck which was run over in 2008.  Poor thing, just can’t get a ‘break’!

The end.


Our First Heat Related Fatality

Like much of the country, we’ve been under a heat advisory off and on for several weeks.  Yesterday, the heat index topped out at 108.    Around noon I drove the mower down to the sheds to check on water levels.  The chickens are panting and walking around with their wings open but everyone was alive and well.  I went around the fence checking for weeds that might be grounding out the electric fence.  I stopped once and pulled a few then headed to the house.  Just in that short amount of time, without any physical exertion, my clothes could have be wrung out and the sweat poured into a tall glass.

When I went down in the evening I started as usual by first feeding the steers their milk buckets.  While they slurp their supper I walk fast to get their feed ready.  As I started to get the feed out I noticed one of the chickens laying in front of the nesting boxes. When it’s hot they tend to dig themselves a little hole in the ground and sit with their breasts in the dirt in an effort to to cool off – although in front of the boxes was an unusual place.  Without a clear view I was uncertain of what was going on and had a bad feeling about things.  At that point, with all the milk devoured,  the calves were attacking me.  I got them under control so I could enter the chicken side of the shed.  Instead of laying breast down the chicken was on it’s side and dead.  I picked it up and managed to get myself out of the pen before being mugged.  It was one of my hubby’s grandma’s birds so it was probably fairly old.  I’m just glad it wasn’t a young one!

I brought it out of the shed and started to walk out of the pen when Willis saw it.  Here was the conversation…

Willis: What are you doing with that chicken mom?

Me: Well, honey, it died so I need to get it out of the shed.

Willis exclaims with joy:  Oh, good, can we eat it now??

Such a sensitive child…NOT.

Try to stay cool where ever you all are located & drink plenty of water!


Boys and mud

These are two words that go hand in hand around The Magic FarmHouse.  If there’s mud, my boys will find it.  Especially Willis.  When he was just about two we caught him preparing to eat an earthworm.  Ick!  Although he didn’t try to eat a worm, the other day he did find some mud.  It started out as a trip to the shed to show the new calf to their cousins.

Down to the shed...

Here’s a pic of the new calf.  He looks really cute but don’t let that fool you.  Although he is a bucket calf and has been weaned from the bottle, he has a strong desire to suck (not unusual).  Entering the pen without jeans is not recommended. The boys have started calling him Coo-Coo Brains.

Willis and "Coo-Coo brains"

Anyway, after introducing Coo-Coo Brains the boys wanted to chase the ducks up to the pool for a little swim.  This is where the mud comes into today’s story.  We got the ducks to the pool and Willis I guess became bored and decided to entertain himself.

Camo, Mac and BB going for a swim.

Camo, Mac and BB going for a swim.

Caught! Mud handed!

This was only the beginning and due to a commitment to my baby I was unable to catch anymore shots of the Mud Fest.   I was able to snap a portion of the cleanup.

Redneck washing machine...

Redneck washing machine.

All clean?!

Clothes off at the door boy!


Wow! Stop the lawn mower! REALLY!

Who knew we were all sitting on herbal goldmines!?!  I sat down to read my newest copy of ‘Turkey Country’ the NWTF’s (National Wild Turkey Federation) member magazine and came across an article that blew my socks off.  It talked about a plant that many pay big dollars to eradicate from their lawns.  Being frugal and cheap we at The MagicFarmHouse just mow them over and pray they never return.  Until now.

I gasped as I read all of the common ailments it may cure or relieve…

  • Reduces hypertension
  • Cures anemia (I’m chronically anemic)
  • Improves night vision
  • Acts as a mild diuretic
  • Improves liver and gallbladder function
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Mitigate mild constipation and other digestive issues (as a Crohn’s/Ulcerative colitis and IBS sufferer my colon was kicking me in the butt)
  • Clears skin problems including acne, eczema, warts, fungal infections and psoriasis
  • Eases arthritis
  • Stabilizes mood (I could use that all the time!)

What is this plant?  DANDELIONS! I know I still can’t believe it.  The author Lisa Densmore explains in the article that “It turns out the weed I tried in vain to eradicate is a nutritious herb, valued in Europe and the sub-Indian continent for myriad medicinal uses.”  Who knew?  Here’s one of the recipes they included with the article.  Unfortunately, since all of our dandelions are gone now (they usually dominate during the early spring), I haven’t had an opportunity to make any of their recipes.  I can’t wait to try them though!

Dandelion Blossom Cake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dandelion petals
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (we will exclude this since we have a son with nut allergies)
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened coconut (same as with the pecans)

Happy dandelion hunting!


Introducing….

I’ve added Miss Terry and Miss Lona to our starting line-up.  They are both great looking heifers and it’s a lot of fun watching them.

Miss Terry and Miss Lona

'Strike a Pose'

They are like a couple of kids as they run through the pasture.

This also helps with the ‘mowing’.  Mr. Sampson and Dahalia were having a little trouble keeping up with all of the rain we’ve received in the past month.