Life of a Farm Blog

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Archive for April, 2007

Warming Up

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Finally warming up a little here in KY. The warm weather seems to have gotten everybody out and about. I’ve been running like crazy tilling gardens and even brush hoggin for folks. Between feeding, working, tilling, and mowing I haven’t had much time to spend with the kids. Sunday they talked me into a trip to Marsh creek to fish and wade. They love to run around in the creek and splash.

Haven’t done a lot on the farm because I’ve been doing for everybody else. I did get the animals delivered to the slaughter house. Every time I load pigs I tell myself I’m going to build a good loading chute for next time, but I just never find time. We had to use some redneck engineering to get the oinkers in the trailer again. I took livestock panels and t posts and built a temporary chute. Seems like everything on the place is held together with livestock panels and baling twine. Well it worked pretty good. The hard part was getting them to come out of their pen. I literally had to grab them one by one by the ears and drag them out. Once out of the pen they went on up the chute and into the trailer. I was proud of Garett, he got right in there and used his stick we got him at the farm show to make the pigs move. The beef wasn’t any trouble to load. The only trouble I had with it was when I opened the trailer door after he was loaded to put in some water for him. He tried to force his way out. I don’t know how, but I was able to get enough force on the door to keep him in.

I’ve got to find a good dependable farrier for the horses. The pony I picked up has some real issues with his feet. All the other horses need a good trimming and shoes too. The warm weather has me itching to find the time to saddle them up and ride. Thumper the colt has taken a real liking to BJ. She’s been brushing him and got a lead rope on him. Once he’s used to the rope some, I’m going to get him out of the barn and lead him around. Then will be the time to try to get a saddle on him. The mares I picked up last week need to be ridden too. They are only green broke.

I finally got the hemlock to finish the log house and to side the barn. Also picked up enough oak to build a tack room in the barn. Now if I can just get the contractor to come back and finish the job he’s already been paid to do. Last we spoke he said the forecast was for rain the next 3 days but he would get to it as weather permitted. Today it’s 80 and sunny, but no contractor. I can do the work myself, just don’t know how I’d find the time. We decided the traffic in the yard had done so much damage to the grass that it wasn’t going to come out of it. So I tilled up most of the front yard with the 6000 and mom sewed grass. A disc would have been better than the tiller, but I have not found the time to go shop for them.

The kids and I are planning a trip to the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area this weekend weather permitting. I scheduled vacation so we can attend the spring planting days demonstration. I want the kids to know what life was like before all the modern conveniences we have now. I think it will be good for them to watch draft animals work and see how folks subsided. Garett wants us to have family animal planet night this weekend too. We try to all pile up in my bed and watch animal planet when we get time. I’m lucky, it’s the little things that don’t cost money my kids enjoy like creeks and animal planet.

The chickenhouses continue to consume a lot of my time and energy even before they are built. Seems like everyday I am either on the phone or on the farm with someone discussing them. Seems everybody has a different idea about what’s the best site or best way to go about building them. On a bright note the company I will grow for called to say they had raised the pay about $500 a month.

Bj has gotten moved into the double-wide and it’s working good so far. This has a built-in recipe for disaster, but if it works out it will be great for the kids. Myself – I’m glad to have my room back in the cabin. Bj has even come out and helped around the farm.

Well tons to do so I better go………Check back soon and take a look at the pics I’ve added to the site!

Is this April?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Wow, this weather is not what I had expected for April. Seems like every night it’s been in the 30′s. That’s not good for the plants. I would hate to have an orchard right now. Estimates are they’ve lost about 60% of their crop. I know all the blooms on the apple trees here are gone.

Today was our family day and we went out to eat and stopped by the local Tractor Supply Company. The kids and I had spent $240 by the time we left. We picked up 3 new horses this week. Well, actually 2 horses and a pony. My neighbor Mr. Wisham had them and hasn’t ridden them in 3 or 4 years. Yeah this is going to be a rodeo. The price was right though. The 2 horses are registered American Quarter Horses. Also sold 2 of the calves this week for $750. Between the pigs I sold and what I sold the calves for, I’ve gotten more than what I paid for everything back in the winter. I still have 4 pigs and a calf to take to slaughter too. All I’m out is feed and the time I spent. I wish I could always do that good.

Garett talked me into getting two pre-fab rabbit cages. His rabbits are old enough now to raise baby bunnies and he wants to try. That means we have to get them seperated out so they can make a good nest and the other rabbits won’t eat the babies.

Still haven’t gotten the time to service the 6000. I did get the fertilizer spread though. I got all mine done, now I can concentrate on spreading for others. The price of fertilizer being so high has really cut down on how much I have to spread for others. When prices get high people just don’t want to let go of the money. With it at $420 a ton, I’m sure a lot of folks are just gonna hope for the best without fertilizing.

Madison and Garett have been dressing the puppies up this week. They found some baby onesies and put them on the puppies. We got them wormed and I picked up their vaccinations this week too. It’s time to start trying to find some new homes for them since Daisy is weaning them.

Nothing really new on the poultry houses. Still going through the process of getting all the bids together. The next hurdle will be figuring out how the money will be released and making sure we can get enough to do the building right.

Well 5 AM will be here before you know it so I’ll close for now. Be sure to check out the pics I’ve added.

Cool Easter

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

I gotta say this has been a pretty cool Easter! Yeah the temps dropped down into the 20s here last night with a very thick frost. I bet there won’t be many flowers after this cold spell. The coolest thing about this Easter has been hanging out with the kids. We’ve been side by side since Friday morning. Saturday evening we took a trip down into the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area to the old coal mining town of Blue Heron. Since the temps were so cool we had the place all to ourselves. The kids climbed all over the the old mining equipment and railcars. I’m a big history buff and I hope that I will be able to teach the children about the heritage of this area. Sometimes I think I missed my calling not being a teacher. My grandmother, great uncle Norman, and several of my aunts and uncles were or are teachers. To me, my uncle Ralph has the coolest job of all. He is an Ag teacher at Perry County Central here in Ky.

The cold temps meant we had to take a few hours and cover our vegetables that are already out. It probably wouldn’t hurt what we have out, but just in case we took plastic from bad or leftover rolls I’ve brought home from kingsford and covered them. We’ve got an appointment for our pigs and beef to be slaughtered on April 23rd. I guess I need to go ahead and start shopping for another freezer.

Today we are going to a cookout at our neighbors, the Phillips’. Joe and Becky are foster parents and along the way have adopted 6 kids. Joe helps me a lot in the summer with the hay, fertilizer, and keeping everything going. Every year the Phillips’ raise a huge garden and several beef and hogs. They preserve a lot too. When my bunch starts complaining about working in the garden I just remind them that we aren’t growing nearly as much as the neighbors.

The storms that moved through the other night brought lots of straight line winds, lightning, and rain. One of our trees was blown down across the road. My summer goat shelter that I had made out of livestock panels and a tarp became a kite. Luckily the fence caught it before it could go far enough to do any damage. Some of the neighbors didn’t fare so well. I saw a couple of damaged roofs and one neighbor’s shed blown down.

The poultry house venture is still a nightmare. If I put the best bids I’ve gotten all together I’m going to be about $60,000 over projected costs. Add to that I have never seen work done by some of these contractors and I’m scared to death. If I used contractors that I know and trust I’m looking at closer to $80,000 over projection. Just the construction overrun would be enough to finance my dream of making this place into a pumpkin patch. I’ve been waiting on bids from 2 companies that will be for a “turn-key” project. If they add anything at all for bonding the job and sub contracting out any of the work I’ll be $100,000 over projection or roughly 15%. Throw in there the $20k it’s going to cost to have access by county road and we’re at $825,000 not $691,00. This deal is getting crazier by the day.

I’m ashamed to say I haven’t gotten around to servicing the 6000 or spreading the fertilizer I bought last week. I don’t know if it’s the cold or just wanting to hang out with the kids, but I just didn’t have the drive this week I usually have. Well I better go and get to doing something………Be sure to check out the pics I’ve added to the site.

Cold Is Coming Back

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

This week has been one of the most jam packed weeks I can remember. Besides my regular work week I’ve managed to till several garden spots, work on my own garden, and get some fertilizer spread. On top of that I’ve stayed on the phone and in the woods with contractors going over what I would want in connection with the proposed poultry houses. I never realized how much was involved in these ventures. Between water quality plans and poultry house permits and excavators and builders and electricians I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I am ready to pull my hair out. I’m about ready to say the heck with it, it’s not worth it. I made myself promise I’d hang loose and get everything ready before I decided whether it was worth it or not. Right now it appears most bids will come in at least $10,000 over what was projected. That extra $50,000 is a lot of money.

Friday I had to take a trip to Owenton to my mom and dad’s other house to pick up our trailer and give my mom a lift back down here. It’s always depressing to see the farms for sale there. That part of the state relied heavily on agricultural, especially tobacco, and now it seems it’s dying. It bothers me bad because the people there are good, hard working people for the most part. They aren’t like the mostly government dependant people here. It kills me to see so many people here on government assistance.

When I went to pick up my mom I stopped by the local Mahindra dealer and picked up the stuff to service the 6000. It was right at $40 for 2 fuel filters and an oil filter. Today after work I went to pick up more fertilizer and stopped to get the oil for the servicing. I need another TV for my room at moms so I shopped around a little at kmart and WalMart. I was wanting some Craftsman ratcheting wrenches, but no way I’m giving the $100 per set they have at kmart.

Bj and I have come to an agreement on her renting the double-wide. That means I’ll be going back to my room at the log house. That will give the kids both parents pretty much all the time. That will free up a few hundred dollars a month too. That means I have to give up the TV I have here. It belongs to her, she just didn’t have room for it at the time. I’ll be getting another safety gift certificate soon, but looks like it’s already spent on a TV.

Tonight the forecast is for severe storms and a cold front to move in. Some stations are predicting a couple nights of below freezing temps. I have potatoes already coming out of the ground. I hope it doesn’t kill them. I think my cabbage, brocolli, cauliflower and lettuce will be okay, but I’ll cover them just in case. I guess this cold weather will keep the kids from going to the creek to wade like they have been at least a couple nights a week. They are thrilled to have “old blue” fixed so they can go to the creek.

Well lots to do so I better go for now……….Check back soon.

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