Friday, June 27, 2008

Full Circle

I have come full circle.

Today, I shot at my first groundhog.  I missed.  Im not sure the rifle is sighted in properly as I had the varmint in my sights and it looked like a great shot.  Either I shot just high and he scurried back into his hole, or I winged him a bit and he scurried back into his hole.  He did appear to spin when I shot at him so Im going with that.   

Who is the gopher's ally?  His friend?

The harmless squirrel and the friendly rabbit. 

Thats who.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our Link in our Barn's Life

Told from the perspective of the barn.

Today my new owners claimed me as their own by marking me with their name and the date they bought me.  They used green paint because they are evidently green people called the GreenAkeys.  I've never had such small children paint on me before and the experience was delightful.  I felt so happy that I think all my beams achieved a new level of strength and density.  I have a good feeling about these new owners and I really hope they paint my outside a lovely green color or at least give me a green trim.  I heard them talking about how to repair me and how to restore me to my youthful appearance.  I hope they hang around for a long, long time.....

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The excitement of the last few days is wearing off and we are back to basics.  Weeding and a little planting.  Today I planted the pumpkins and watermelons.  The melons are a little late but we'll see how they do.  I also planted some more sweet corn and some popcorn.  I planted them on opposite sides of the field so that they don't pollinate each other.  

We struck gold in our new barn and it will help solve our weed problem.  We have about 75 bales of 15 year old hay in the barn.  We started out with 6 bales and put it around about 100 of the tomatoes.   It will keep the weeds at bay and be a great mulch and compost for the garden for next year as well.  Our goal is to get all the hay out of the barn and onto the garden as a weed barrier by the end of next weekend.  

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We Bought the FARM!!

So many pictures from today.  It's a little funny to finally own the rest of the property.  There is so much to inspect and explore that it will take a week or two before we know all that we really have.  

During one of our tours of the property I saw an area up in the corn crib that had stairs leading to a little room.  I knew that the kids would instantly claim this area as theirs and create a club house or playhouse in that area.

I was right.  All I had to do was show them where it was and instantly they began to sweep it out, plan how they would paint it, where they would need chairs, fabric, a play kitchen, etc.

Mike will need to power wash that area first for the kids as they won't be able to stay out of there.  The boards all look solid so that's good.

Below are the pictures.

I think we should just get them tetanus shots now.
Below is one way to get up to the spot- but the stairs are inside and a much better way to get in.
The stairs go up through a floor-trap door that opens up into the upstairs loft area.  The kids felt so cool flipping up the trap door---- 

The back of the barn.

This is my favorite part of the barn.  It's hard to make out the April 1910 in red that is right above the Sept 1942 marking.  I think it says C.S Stonesifer under the April 1910.  
We will be getting some paint and putting our name underneath tomorrow.  What a great piece of history on that wood.

I was using my mother-in-laws camera- so this shot is terrible but I was amazed at how the light comes in the boards on the side of the barn.  You don't see all those spaces in the boards from the outside or the inside when the sun is set high in the sky.  

the kids at the pond

We have frogs and turtles at the pond.  Geese also come by and lay eggs near the pond.

Purple martin houses.  You close them up during the summer and then clean them out for the next spring.  We have 2 big houses like this that crank up and down on this tall pole.  We'll have to read about what to do with them.  We like purple martins because they eat mosquitoes and other bugs.  We had never been at the farm after 7:00pm and tonight we saw them all come out and dance around the pond and swarm over the fields for the bugs.  Very, very cool.  I will need to take some video.

Mike was showing us how to clean out the nests and he got stung by a wasp.  I don't like wasps.  Bees are cool-- wasps...... I'll just have to learn to avoid them.

We have lots of wineberries growing in the enchanted forest.   I think we either have peach trees or cherry trees in the enchanted forest as well.  I hope the 1 big one is a peach tree.  It hasn't flowered yet, so that's a good sign.   

One side of the house.

The garage/shed.  The kids were already into everything and all over everything.

We own a tractor.  Never in my life did I think we'd own a tractor.  After Mike took it for a short ride, he said that it's not big enough- he needs a bigger one.......
Talk about a gentleman farmer.....notice the K-swiss workshoes.....
The kids all want to learn how to drive tractors now....

The front of the house.  yes, the outside needs some TLC but the house is structurally great and the inside just needs some color and new carpet and we can then start moving stuff in.

This is the side the addition will go on- so we'll have to move those trees or cut them down.

Side of house for addition.

Corn crib.

This is an old smokehouse. The hooks are still in the ceiling.
I love Margarets look.  Little House on Prairie style outfit, pigtails, and muck boots.  The kid can wear anything and look like a million bucks.  She does not get that from her mother... :)

And so the day ended.  Tomorrow we work on getting water to the garden.  We've been lucky with rain so far but the garden is now in need of water...... Mike should have fun this week figuring out how to irrigate the garden.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Well, actually its not as grand as the previous post might suggest, we have just put in an order for some livestock.  Guineas.  A friend has graciously offered to have us split up an order of 30 Guinea Fowl keets that he is ordering from a hatchery.  They only send 30 at a time as a minimum order.  I said we could take half of them.  That means ordering some brooder equipment and supplies and building a coop for the Guineas.   I guess that also means that we will have an official farm operation.  Guineas eat lots of bugs.  Ticks in particular.  I have a feeling that if the local fox population doesnt get them all, the local tick population will suffer.

Maybe we need to introduce some Wolverines to eat the Fox.

And then some Mountain Lions to eat the Wolverines.

And some Pterodactyls to eat the Mountain Lions.

Having a farm is going to be SO cool...

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Suprise or Learning Opportunity Every Evening

I'm currently sitting in the basement writing this post while Kevin is playing Boogie on the Wii.  He is singing Celebration- I'm barely containing myself as I type.  After he is done slaying the song, I'll help him out.  Darn- he now knows about YouTube and will be surfing for hours a day.  "Wow Mommy, what website is that?  Oh, I see, YouTube.  Can you find other songs there?"

I love coming home from work and hearing what Mike has learned or figured out during his day.  Every day is a another day to learn something that I never thought I'd need to know.  

In the past, I've learned about pasture grazing techniques, polytape, chicken processing, chicken mobiles, chicken varieties, the cornish cross and how they can barely walk 10 feet when they reach 8 weeks old, the benefits of grass fed beef, the benefits of a steer/sheep combination farm, guardian dogs and the particular breeds, how to build a root cellar, soil sampling, the various cuts of meat and combinations that you can get from 1/2 a butchered pig, etc

I am now educated.

Today Mike and the kids had been to the local Ag center and found out that to encourage more local farming, the farm bill passed just last month can help with the watering and fencing needed to start up with animals.  It could actually pay up to 90% of the fencing and watering costs.  Amazing- who knew!  Although the catch is that you first need to have 16 animal units (aka: 16,000 lbs) of livestock on your current land.

So that means the book learning is coming to an end and the real learning will start soon.  
Mike has been trying to figure out what should be our first 16,000 lbs of livestock.  10-11 cattle at 1,500 lbs each?  25-30 smaller stocker cattle?  What kind of cattle?  Where to buy them?

The fun is just about to get started...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers Day Gardening

Beans are doing well!  The little bugs moved over to the brussel sprouts.


This used to be a field of peas.  Didn't work out well so we tilled it up today and this week it will get planted with pumpkins and other gourds.

Zucchini are flowering.

This will be the last week where we need to pitch a tent outside of the garden and hang out.  We'll have a house to go into and relax.  Although we might put the tent out there anyway since it's fun and relaxing to just sit in the breeze.   

Tilling up a little more area for more corn.  We bought 2 lbs of seed so we figured that we'd just dig up more earth and plant all the seeds.  We'll be sharing the corn with the deer so at least we'll have enough for us.

This is the compost pile.

This is one load of compost on top of the potato plants.  If you want to get more potatoes, then when they get taller, you cover them with dirt and they more potatoes will grow off the new leaves.  We have about 500 potato plants growing.  I figure it will take me about 3 weeks to cover half of them.  I'd like to see the difference between covering them up and not covering them and compare the yield.

Acupuncture and Baseball

So what do those things have in common?  They both happened on Saturday.  We were set to go to Kevin's closing ceremony for baseball and I went into the girls room and found that two of their stuffed animals were having an acupuncture treatment.  As I was laughing hysterically, I ran down to get the camera to take a picture to show Mike later when he got home.  

Kevin got his trophy for baseball and I am now off the hook for Saturday morning games.  Although I did get a lot of knitting done during those practices and games.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The girls had their last game today.  They lost every single game this season but they improved 300% from the first game.  Emily has gotten better at pitching and catching.  Margaret has improved on all aspects of her game and boy is she fast.

My favorite story of the season is one where a not-so-nice umpire saw Margaret come out to the plate and looked at her and said "She's too little to catch".  Margaret stomped her foot on the ground and yelled back at the Ump "I am NOT too little and I can catch".  It didn't change the Umps mind but it sure gave us indication that Margaret won't have a problem standing up for herself in life.  

Last week Mike brought a 16 inch Chicago softball to the game and afterwards we hit the ball around.  It started a tradition so we played again tonight.   I think the adults have more fun hitting the ball than the kids.  Mike is a good hitter- today with a 10 foot bounce, he hit the ball over the outfield fence.  I actually thought to myself- aw yeah- I'm married to that guy.

What happens when you don't live near your garden

The potatoes being taken over by weeds.  Mike got a small tiller the other day.  He's going to attack them tomorrow!

Now is about the right time to cover up the potato plants.  You cover them up 3/4 of the way and then potatoes will grow out of those shoots while the plant grows taller.

The corn is coming up but it's spotty.  I guess I'm just going to have to go with a bigger setting on the seeder next time.  Although the kids might have fun going through the corn maze as it comes up.

Bug attack on my beans!!!  I could not find a trace of the bug on my beans and I suspect it's because they jumped a row over to the potatoes below.

The weeds are just about officially ready to take over.  
Thank goodness we close on the farm house next Friday and so we'll be there to straighten out nature.
We have a plan to move the extra twin bed (aka the top bunk) from Kevins room and the extra twin bed from the girls room to the new house.  Then we'll buy 3 more twin mattresses for mike, myself and another kid.  We can then declutter our current house while we clutter up the new one.  Then we'll put the old one on the market and it should stay nice and clean because hopefully we'll be living at the farm most of the time.  We also have an extra fridge in the garage-- so that will come along as well.

It's amazing how much stuff we accumulate over time.  All you really need to move into a new place is a mattress, a fridge, a few clothes, towels and kitchen items.  All I need.... (mike will be impressed with this link)

I went to the farm today before softball and found that we have a bug problem.  I think I've narrowed it down to a flea bug, maybe a corn bug or cucumber bug- it seems to like my beans and is now starting on a row of potatoes.  I was trying to figure out how we could borrow a few guinea hens for a few days so that they'd eat the bugs.  A mother of a friend told me to take a sifter out to the garden and sift flour or corn starch on the leaves.  Evidently for most bugs they take a few bites of the stuff and then can't get it off.

We need to get them now because they seem to have started at one end of the beans and are traveling down the row.  They are also only through one row of potatoes so we can stop the invasion if we act tomorrow.  I will never complain about the extra price for organic produce.  It is not easy to maintain a garden without pesticides.  

Monday, June 9, 2008


I had a quick discussion on the phone today with Jackie Miller Coldsmith, a farmer who owns De La Tierra Gardens and who is also the manager of the local farmer's market.  We are going to meet next week to brainstorm some sort of cooperative enterprise for local farms.   Small farms are by definition unable to compete with factory farm enterprises simply because they cant compete with the resources available to Big Ag.  But what we can do is organize and be innovative in how we market and how we allocate our own finances.  

Sharing labor, tools, implements and knowledge could be invaluable to a new or beginning farmer.  Creating a shared pool of resources available to neighbors and other farms might mean the difference between financial viability and financial stress.  Why cant we share tillers, plows, seeders or disks?  Most farms only use these implements once or twice in a season and then they sit, depreciating and rusting next to the barn.  If getting the hay cut and bailed before the next cold front moves through means ruining several thousands of dollars in stored forage, why shouldnt we have a resource to call upon for help?

Jackie has found that several customers have requested CSA shares in return for working several hours per week on her farm.  She has also seen people lacking the skills necessary to be successful at the farmers market.   Every merchant and farmer benefits from a large and vibrant and successful market.  There are plenty of people to feed in this world.  Nothing should have to go to waste.  A bountiful market should easily attract locals in search of value and healthy food.  

We both agree that having a resource for farmers could be a fantastic starting point for developing a local food movement.  Sustainable agriculture depends upon a community supporting the movement.  Building that community will be important if we want the local food movement to take root and grow.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

After the rain

Update on the frogs:  None left.
But Kevin did see one at the farm today so some of the siblings survived.

Kevin and I stopped at the farm between softball games today and got a peek at the garden after all the rain.  Lots has grown the past week!   Now comes time for some weeding.

Corn growing.
Field of weeds-- was supposed to be peas- oh well, we'll try again in early fall for peas again.  Down the hill is the Morton building and the pond.  Closing is still June 20th!  



Monday, June 2, 2008

Check that

Um...1 frog and 2 tadpoles.  Apparently these things dont like captivity much once they hit the frog stage.

Time for another frog funeral.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Now there are 4

Well, we are down to 1 frog and 3 tadpoles.  Seems froggy number one didnt make it after I changed the water in the frog sanctuary today.   I guess he is hopping in that big swamp in the sky now.

Brief Tadpole Update

We are now proud caretakers of 2 frogs and 3 tadpoles.  The remaining tadpoles are all swimming with at least 2 back legs and one of them has its front legs.  They should be shedding their tails within the next 4 or 5 days.  Frog city, here we come.

Another nice 5 hour rain event yesterday right when we needed it the most.  The potatoes are coming up nicely and hopefully the peas are growing nicely too.  Well, the dwarf peas are doing well.  The climbing peas arent doing well.  I dont think I did a very good job of planting them with the seeder.  Either they got planted too deeply or it was just too warm for them to germinate properly.