010214 – snow cows

With the cold weather and snowy conditions, you may have seen snow-covered animals standing around in their pastures. What’s wrong with them? Do they not have a barn to go in?

If you look at these two examples, it looks like they have had no access to shelter – they have snow all over them! What you can’t see is the big barn that they don’t go in, except when it’s time for their ration of oats, or when it’s really windy out. Same goes with our horses – they were completely covered with snow when I went to feed them this morning. Nice dry barn? Nah, we’re going to stand outside and look for grass in the snow or munch on the hay in the hay wagon!

Snow on their backs means that they have a good winter coat that insulates them from the cold. I’ve “dug down” into their winter coat and their skin is warm to the touch.

They have access to shelter when they choose to use it, and don’t seem to mind getting snowed on, so we leave it be. Silly cows!

 

Day 289 – the great chase

This is the correct positioning of a chain to keep a gate shut and critters in their appropriate places:

2013-10-16 13.25.22

This is not.

2013-10-16 13.25.33

When this happens,

2013-10-16 13.25.33

these

and this

2013-10-16 13.26.40

go on adventures.

This

2013-10-16 13.28.03

gets her head stuck in the gate and goes nowhere.

 

These

eat this,

2013-10-16 13.30.46

and are easily rounded up (bribery with oats), and this

2013-10-16 13.26.40

runs here.

2013-10-16 13.29.47

This

2013-10-16 13.29.47

is about 1/2 mile long from the the grass to the river (heading west – left in the picture).  Which equals 1 mile down and back. And when you (meaning me) is chasing this

2013-10-16 13.26.40

through half-grown beans planted in wheat stubble, that’s a very long, wet, tiring way.

After a mighty chase, and a very ugly tackle (yes, I tackled the dog. She’s fine.), this

2013-10-16 13.26.40

was reunited in with these

and this

2013-10-16 13.28.03

(who managed to get her head out of the gate at some point in time – I was 1/2+ mile away, remember?)

And this

2013-10-16 13.25.22

was double checked before leaving the area.

A-L-W-A-Y-S check the chains.

THE END.

 

Day 237 – applesauce, tomatoes and honey

It’s been a food-themed few days around here.  Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can.  I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now. I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were […]

It’s been a food-themed few days around here.  Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can.  I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now.

I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were cooking, and saw that there are even more green beans ready to pick.  I’m very happy about this, since we had to dispose of jars that did not seal properly this year.  As the House Stark motto goes – winter is coming.  I’d rather see too much food preserved, than not enough.

Also cooked down and canned up the mess of apples from our tree, along with some various and sundry apples that were laying around our refrigerators.  6 pints of applesauce later, that’s done.

Had the great opportunity to watch a honey harvest Saturday afternoon at Angry Hippy Farms.  Robert has had bees for several years, and they open their home at honey harvest time to show the process and sell the honey right then and there.  Doesn’t get much fresher and pure than that.

We’ve been considering getting bees for the farm, and since it would be up to me to tend the hives (Denny + bees = bad), I wanted to get an idea of what I would be getting into.  Robert already had taken the supers (the boxes with the honey frames) from the entire hive, so I didn’t get to see the excitement that happens when working around angry bees, but I remember from having hives as a youngster that lots of smoke is advised, to keep the bees sluggish and less likely to sting.  Robert said he wasn’t able to pull all the frames because of time, and the bees were particularly angry that morning.  Good thing for bee suits.

2013-08-24 15.32.29

This picture is Robert using an electric “knife” to cut the wax caps from the comb.  Once both sides are un-capped, the frame goes into a separator, which spins the honey out of the frame.  From there, the honey is collected and strained several times to remove any wax, bee bits, and other debris.  Finally, the strained honey goes into the jar, and out the door.

Final answer – it’s not easy (but what is on a farm?), but doable.  Another beekeeper friend gave me his last year catalog, from which I can buy starter kits – comes with everything needed to start beekeeping.  Looks like my Christmas list will be very short – beekeeping kit, please!

Tomorrow is the first day of one of my 2 college courses to teach, so that will throw another “thing to do” into the mix.  I’m ok with that though, because time management has never been one of my strong points.  I actually do better (well, up to a point!) with a busy schedule, because I know that thing A needs to be done, and class A starts at this time, so I better keep on track or else thing A doesn’t get finished.

 

Day 237 – applesauce, tomatoes and honey

It’s been a food-themed few days around here.  Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can.  I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now.

I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were cooking, and saw that there are even more green beans ready to pick.  I’m very happy about this, since we had to dispose of jars that did not seal properly this year.  As the House Stark motto goes – winter is coming.  I’d rather see too much food preserved, than not enough.

Also cooked down and canned up the mess of apples from our tree, along with some various and sundry apples that were laying around our refrigerators.  6 pints of applesauce later, that’s done.

Had the great opportunity to watch a honey harvest Saturday afternoon at Angry Hippy Farms.  Robert has had bees for several years, and they open their home at honey harvest time to show the process and sell the honey right then and there.  Doesn’t get much fresher and pure than that.

We’ve been considering getting bees for the farm, and since it would be up to me to tend the hives (Denny + bees = bad), I wanted to get an idea of what I would be getting into.  Robert already had taken the supers (the boxes with the honey frames) from the entire hive, so I didn’t get to see the excitement that happens when working around angry bees, but I remember from having hives as a youngster that lots of smoke is advised, to keep the bees sluggish and less likely to sting.  Robert said he wasn’t able to pull all the frames because of time, and the bees were particularly angry that morning.  Good thing for bee suits.

2013-08-24 15.32.29

This picture is Robert using an electric “knife” to cut the wax caps from the comb.  Once both sides are un-capped, the frame goes into a separator, which spins the honey out of the frame.  From there, the honey is collected and strained several times to remove any wax, bee bits, and other debris.  Finally, the strained honey goes into the jar, and out the door.

Final answer – it’s not easy (but what is on a farm?), but doable.  Another beekeeper friend gave me his last year catalog, from which I can buy starter kits – comes with everything needed to start beekeeping.  Looks like my Christmas list will be very short – beekeeping kit, please!

Tomorrow is the first day of one of my 2 college courses to teach, so that will throw another “thing to do” into the mix.  I’m ok with that though, because time management has never been one of my strong points.  I actually do better (well, up to a point!) with a busy schedule, because I know that thing A needs to be done, and class A starts at this time, so I better keep on track or else thing A doesn’t get finished.

 

Day 210 – the next generation

After spending the afternoon picking and canning green beans and some dill pickles, I had the pleasure of spending the evening with the teen-aged daughter of a friend.  She’s turning 16 this year, and her mom wanted her to spend some time with some ladies who could be considered, well, good role models for her.  Not sure how I got on that short list, which includes the commander of WPAFB!

We had an enjoyable supper at TGI Fridays and simply talked about her plans for the future, what I wished I had known/done at her age, how it’s ok to not know what you want to do (I mean seriously, you’re asking a 16 year old what she wants to do with the *rest of her life*???  Silliness, in my opinion), how it’s ok to change your mind on what you want to do.

She’s a good kid – smart, funny, adventurous, not afraid to “go it alone”, and I’m glad I was able to spend that time with her.  Too many kids don’t have anyone looking out for them and wanting them to explore and find out about who they are and what they want to do.2013-07-29 20.38.53This was the sunset Monday evening.

 

Day 88 – frosty cows

088It’s a chilly morning and there is a layer of frost on the ground – and on the cows who stayed outside last night.

Now before anyone starts with the “poor cold cows – you should put them in a barn every night”, we do have a barn for them to go into, and they do go in the barn when they feel the need.  If I’ve learned nothing else, I have learned that cows (and most animals) are smart enough to know when they need to get out of any weather.  When it rains, sometimes they come in, sometimes they don’t. Same with snow, ice, wind – any type of weather we have here.  And if you want to come and try to get them into the barn when they don’t want to?  Good luck!

Cows, horses, and goats also grow winter coats, so even though it looks like there’s not much hair, they are quite protected – the frost on the top of the cow means no heat is escaping from the cow.

The next time you drive by our farm and see critters with frost or some snow on their back, rest assured that there is shelter for them, they’ve chosen not to use that shelter, and they are doing just fine.

 

MENF 2011: More on not having to go it alone

I think it is a human trait to view new undertakings, especially ones that are large or difficult, as occurring in some kind of isolation. Yet the truth is that very few people are really going it alone at anything we try to do. The growing desire so many people have to establish sustainable, ready […] Continue reading

I think it is a human trait to view new undertakings, especially ones that are large or difficult, as occurring in some kind of isolation. Yet the truth is that very few people are really going it alone at anything we try to do.

The growing desire so many people have to establish sustainable, ready lives is a perfect example. I know when I took over Innisfree Farm, I felt like I was doing it all by myself, especially given the attitudes of the farmers I interact with most often. I believed that I had to figure this out myself and that I wasn’t going to get any help.

As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. While there is a dearth of sustainable agriculture and readiness mindset in my specific locality, thousands upon thousands of people around the US and around the world are doing some version of what I am doing. All I have to do is seek them out and ask for advice.

And that’s all you have to do too.

Whether you’re trying to plant a window box or a thousand acres, put together a 72-hour readiness kit or establish an off-grid thousand-acre farm, there are people out there trying to do the same thing you are doing. They want to talk to you, to share their experiences and advice. Not a small number of them even want to help you succeed.

None of this is to say such undertakings are going to be suddenly easy. It has been my experience on the farm that the most worthwhile undertakings are hard because they are worthwhile. Yet, knowing that there are people you can turn to to commiserate, ask questions of, and even ask for help makes the going easier even if the work is hard.

If I may suggest, the fact that you are even reading this blog post is the first example you can cite of there being others out there willing to offer advice and help. The whole reason I established this weblog is so that I can share my experience with others with the hope that it will help others struggling through the same things I am. I am always willing to hear from you, to listen to your stories, to offer advice when I am able, and to help build networks of people trying to do what we’re doing.

Over the next while–I can’t really say how long it might take–I hope to add to this site large quantities of information on organizations, publications, and resources I know and have used to make my effort easier. Along the way, I also hope to build a network of people who are doing the same thing and who are willing to offer the same commiseration, advice, and help I would like to offer.

And you should do the same. Maybe you don’t want to maintain a weblog, but you can still seek out your neighbor who also gardens or your local sustainable agriculture group. You can go to farmer’s markets and actually talk to the farmers or seek out conventions and fairs on the subject. By doing so, you’re helping build the network and make things a little better for all of us.

DLH

Read more at my Farming blog...