Life of a Farm Blog

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Archive for the 'Family' Category

Horseback

Friday, August 29th, 2008

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This has been a pretty exciting week. This week was rodeo week here. It was nice to spend a couple evenings with the kids taking in all the rodeo sights. Madison had waited a year to see “bubble gum Bob” the clown again, but for some reason they had a new clown this time around. Mattie was kind of upset at first, but it didn’t take “pork chop” the new clown long to win her over. Seeing the kids with that great big smile on their face means the world to me. I enjoy all the events, but most of all I enjoy seeing the kids have fun.

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There’s not been any slowing down this week. Madison and I met up with some nice folks from Ohio and finally took a horseback ride in the Big South Fork. Madison handled the trail and her horse like an old pro. She was having a great time until we saw the bears. As we were riding we heard a bunch of noise over off the trail and 2 bear cubs appeared. I can’t believe I didn’t have my camera. Not knowing where their mother was we didn’t get too close. Madison was a little scared because Kim and I wanted to go on up the trail past the bears. Madison firmly objected so we turned back. I’m no bear expert since we’ve not had many encounters with bears here over the years, but it looks like if we are going to spend much time in the Big South Fork we better learn about black bears.

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I can’t believe I have lived in the heart of such a magestic national park and not made time to get out and enjoy it. There is so much to do. There is literally something for everyone. Most of all it seems the park caters to horse people. They have 2 very nice campgrounds. One on the Tennessee side and one here in Ky. There are trails ranging in length from 30 minutes to all day or even overnight. Here in Ky there is a nice little resort just before entering the park. Bear Creek Resort has cabins that are for sale or rent with all the comforts you can imagine along with stalls for your horses. So if you’re in the market for a getaway for a week, a night, or for good you owe it to yourself to check them out. The one pictured below is awesome and it’s for sale. If you might be interested leave me a commet and I’ll put you in touch with the folks selling it.

Cabin 10 by you.

Folks must be doing some late summer landscaping because the topsoil is finally moving. I’m glad to see it go. Especially since there will be another big pile to sell from the second building pad. I have to make time to get to the Mahindra dealer soon and try to make a deal on a smaller HST 4×4 tractor loader backhoe combination. Our current flock of chickens will be leaving Nov 24th. That’s when the fun begins. We will be scrambling to get everything cleaned up for the next flock. I think a small tractor will fit good for cleaning out the 9 1/2 ft sidewall houses. Plus I can think of a million uses for it when we aren’t using it to clean out.

Well as always tons to do and not enough time to do it all so I best get at it. Thanks for reading, check back soon, and feel free to browse all the pics I’ve added!

Natural Arch

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Geuss time has gotten away from me a bit. I didn’t realize it had been so long since I had posted. Things are gradually slowing a bit with the chickens, but as it does it seems problems with help rear their ugly head. I had hoped to get away a bit, but I can’t do that if my help doesn’t show up. We only have a couple employees and one of those has managed to miss 6 of the last 12 days. Pair that with Cobb wanting the place picked up a bit because they have customer inspectors coming and it has me really busy. I’ve sold a bunch of topsoil in the last couple weeks too. The 7010 has been getting the honors of loading all of it and unloading the 30 rolls of hay I bought while the 6000 has been the mowing tractor. We’ve been trying to get all the rough stuff and weeds mowed before the photographer for Farm and Ranch Living Magazine comes. We’re set to keep a diary next month that would be published in the August/September 09 issue. That means lots of picking up to do. I just hope folks realize this is not a hobby farm. This is how we earn our living now. A working farm seems to always have something out of place.  All I know to do is keep plugging away and hopefully it will show how hard we work.

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The pad should be done this week for the second set of houses. Boy do I have cold feet. I see a major hurdle in all of this and it’s labor. By my calculations we will need a total of 6 people to take care of both sets. Atleast we are half way there. Madison has been telling me she’d rather have a big nice horse barn over there. She’s already named it. M&D Horse Company. Maybe we can do both. Madison has a nack for horses and I’d love to see her living her dream. Who knows with the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area so close maybe we could stable a few horses.

I have taken time for the kids too since school will be starting very soon. Last week we took a drive and had a picnic. I took them to Natural Arch. Natural Arch is a rock arch that my grandparents used to take us to frequently. It’s got some good picnic tables with grills and a shelter. They’ve added an outdoor pavillion since I was there last. After sandwiches we hiked out to the arch. I like to try to teach the kids about history and I find myself boring them sometimes. This trips topic was CCC. The Civilian Conservation Corp. There were a couple camps here in the county and the built roads and trails all over. In particular they built parks like Natural Arch. Just another reason I feel as though that generation was our greatest generation.

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After our picnic we drove down to Lake Cumberland to take in the sights. Makes me want a boat. Not much else to write about at the moment, but we have managed to borrow a trailer so hopefully we’ll get to take some time for horseback riding before school starts back. Be sure to check back soon and check out the pics I’ve added. Thanks for reading!

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Where has summer gone?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. Things have been hectic on the farm so we’ve been trying to do as many things as we can to keep up with the kids. We’ve made it a point to get away atleast once a week and see to it the kids have some fun. In return they have been helping some at the chickenhouse. School will be starting back in just a couple weeks. Where has summer break gone? Soon it will be back to the daily bus and homework rituals.

As usual we attended the 4th of July celebration in downtown Stearns and stayed for the fireworks. The kids like it because they close off the street for the car show and that means they can run free and check out all the old cars. Every year the museum has a silent auction on the porch. The kids always find something they want to bid on. This year it was webkins and coins. Madison won a horse webkin and Garett won several collectable coins. There are amusement rides all week around the 4th so the next night they got to ride all the rides. They always have a blast. It will be county fair time here in just a few days and I’m sure we’ll be doing it all again.

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It’s not been a very good week on the farm. Katies baby goat Thomas died as did one of the grown goats. I’m not surprised about the old goat. She was very old and it’s been a hot summer. Thomas has me puzzled though he was fine when he got his bottle at 8 the night before, but when Katie went to feed them the next morning she found him. It’s hard to make children understand about death, but atleast on the farm they realize it’s finality. Too many children don’t understand it can’t be undone with another quarter or by starting the game over.

 

Progress on the pad for the second set of chicken houses is nearing completion. The headaches are already begining. Finding a builder that can do the job for the money involved and that suits Farm Credit Services is a task in itself. It appears we will have 2 choices. Wait on the traditional Mennonite builders for about 3 months or pay more to a new builder. Costs are rising every day. Every contractor I talk to is afraid to bid the job because the costs are rising so fast.

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Not much happening with the tractors lately. I have used the 7010 to load several loads of topsoil, but that’s about it. Sit out the ocasional bale of hay to the animals or move this or that for myself or a neighbor. It will be time to cut the second cutting of hay soon so I’m sure that will change. Anytime there is hay being cut I’m usually rolling for someone. I bought hay this year for the first time since I started cutting and rolling my own. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do all I need to do. I did get the oil changed on the 7010. Now if I can just get 12 gallons of Penzoil Hydra Trans I’ll do the hydraulic oil and filter and grease everything. Then I think I’ll give it a bath and clean all my tea bottles out of the cab. The 6000 is still visiting my brother. He’s done with it, but I can’t get him to bring it home. I just hate it when people don’t return the things they borrow. It’s getting close to time to start talking seriously about trading to a smaller tractor for cleanout. Hopefully I can demo a HST with the 3710 backhoe soon.

Well lots to do so I better get at it. Be sure to check back. I’m hoping to post atleast weekly as things slow down a bit with the chickens and summer. Until then be sure to check out the pics I’ve added! Thanks for reading and check back soon!

Here We Go Again

Friday, July 4th, 2008

As usual the chickehouses are absorbing 90% of my time. My friend John who was helping us a few days a week quit. That has meant even more time here for me. Finding help for these houses is going to be a real hurdle. Nobody wants to work weekends or holidays. Thing is the chickens don’t take days off. I’ve found lots of folks who would work for cash, but I don’t want to get into that trap. Lots of people here are “disabled” and receive SSI, but still work a job for cash. Entitlements are draining this country and robbing our economy of employees. Why work for $7 or $8 an hour when the government will give you that much so you can “live”. For years I have seen my neighbors live better than me because they manipulate the system. It’s tough to know you have to work everyday while your neighbor who is “disabled” is pulling his boat all over creation to fish. At any rate holding fast to my belief that hard work and determination will get you through most things we have decided to build the second set of houses. That’s a tough pill to swallow because now we are able to do all the work ourselves whereas with 2 sets we will be dependant upon someone for help. I have always felt that immigrants took work away from US citizens, but am beginning to see that there are indeed some jobs folks won’t do. I find this especially in the agricultural world.

The rest of my time has been taken up rolling hay for folks. I finally broke down and took the twine tie box off the 6000 and installed it in the 7010 cab. That is a huge relief. No more coming home covered in hay dust and sneezing my head off. I get to ride around in the air conditioning instead of burning up too. I really don’t mind the heat, but I certainly don’t mind the air either. In this part of the country there are lots of hills. I’m finding the turbo on the 7010 especially pleasing. When the engine gets a good load on it you here the turbo whistle and away she goes. I’ve gotten nothing but compliments on the performance of the 7010. Unlike when I bought the 6000 people here are a bit more familiar with the Mahindra brand.

Looks like most of the kidding is done. We ended up with 4 babies to bottle feed. 2 of them are from a set of quads. That’s the first time I remember a set of quads being born. I’ve seen a few sets of triplets, but never quads. We took 2 of them as soon as we knew they got colostrum. I made the mistake of leaving a set of triplets with their mother too long and one died. Overall this has been a good kidding season though. We ended up losing 2 of 23. 1 of those was stillborn. That leaves us 21 to add to our herd, eat, or sell. I know atleast 2 will go for us to eat. There is nothing better than goat and noodles. A neighbor stopped and wants a young billy when they are weaned for her grandson. I’d rather sell them like that than have to take them to a sale.

Finally got my oak logs sawed into inch lumber. Now I have to find time to go pick up the lumber. There is over 750 board feet. Then I will need to find time to replace the weathered boards on my corrall. I put poplar on to start and that was a mistake. Poplar just doesn’t hold up out in the weather. I never seem to catch up on the farm work, but I am fast realizing that I have to step away from time to time if for no other reason than to refocus.

Well surely there is something I should be doing that’s a little more productive so I’ll go for now. Be sure to check out the new pics we’e added to the site and check back often to follow us through yet another journey down the twisty turny road of life here on the farm!

Spiked

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Haven’t had much time to post lately, but Mattie wanted to share with everybody that we got our first set of spikes. Spikes are young males that are brought in to make sure the eggs are fertile. As with everything on the farm Mattie was right in the middle of it. It makes me really happy that she enjoys the farm. The spikes are kept in a pen in the middle of the houses until they mature enough to get out with the older males.

Garett also wanted to share that we’ve made some more additions to the farm lately. He has adopted a stray dog and named it Buddy. Seems to be a really good tempered animal and loves to run and play with the kids. Just goes to show you that it doesn’t take fancy things to make you happy.

 

In addition to the spikes and Buddy, we also aquired another horse. As usual I just couldn’t say no! A neighbor had her for sale and Madison had to have her. What we’ll do with her I have no idea. We could always ride her, but we have been discussing training her for a buggy. Yikes one more thing to buy.

We also wanted to mention our special visitor here on the farm a week or so ago. Rick “Demonmaster” Young came by and spent the night with us on his motorcycle tour. We felt priveliged to have Rick for the night and hope he finds the peace he deserves. For everyone that has the time you should follow his stories!

Things finally appear to be slowing down a bit in the chickenhouses so hopefully I’ll be able to take a little more time to post. We’re still planing to keep a diary for Farm and Ranch Living magazine in the next few months and Garett has made me promise to take him fishing too. Well as always tons to do so I better get at it! Be sure to check out all the new pics we’ve added!

Hay Time

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

It’s that time of year again already. Hay time! Unfortunately this is a rough time of year for Garett. He has allergies that really get him down. Between the hay and the pollen he’s pretty much attached to his nebulizer. Every 4-6 hours on bad days. It doesn’t seem to slow him down too much though. He has some trouble getting his breath, but he keeps pluggin along.

How have I made it this long without a cab tractor? I would not mind to drive the 7010 for days on end. I see how folks are able to farm such large acreages now. The cab and air makes it so much easier. I actually look forward to cutting hay this year. The 7010 does a great job with the disc mower too. The 6000 had some trouble with the 8 ft cut in tall thick grass. I’m really happy with the rake I bought last fall, although I’m going to have to replace the tires on the dolly. They’re dry rotted and only hold air for a day or so at a time. The Vermeer roller is still holding up great, but after riding in the cab of the 7010 I kicked myself for not having the dealer install the twine tie box on the 7010. I was not nearly as comfortable out in the sun on the 6000 rolling hay as I would have been in the cab on the 7010. I meant to install the box myself, but time got away from me. I thought I would find a good used square baler and not roll so much this year, but they seem to be as rare as hen’s teeth. Looks like new may be the way to go for me. I just hate buying something and having to work on it.

Everyone is getting in on the fun here. Hay has been cut on every farm around. Just like most years I’ve been hopping from field to field rolling up what couldn’t be done with slow or broken down square balers. Most folks here would rather have squares, but I don’t think anyone local has a square baler newer than the 80′s. That could be a good niche to get into. It will most likely take a year, or even 2 if we build another set, to get the chickenhouses lined out where I can get away a lot. After that I’m hoping to lease some of these run down farms and get the pastures in shape to cut and sell square bales from them.

Well, as always there is a ton to do and I’m not getting it done sitting here so I’ll close for now. Be sure to check out the pics I’ve added and check back soon!

More New Arrivals

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

We’ve been busy as beavers trying to keep everything caught up here on the farm. Seems something new is showing up every day. It’s kidding season for the goats so about every other day we are finding new baby goats. Madison is thrilled with the new babies. That’s the first place she goes when she gets off the school bus. She has to check on those babies. Of 14 mom’s we still have 10 to go so I suspect this ritual will continue for a couple more weeks.

Kaylee is thrilled with her new arrival too. I finally broke down and bought a truck. Not exactly what I wanted, but not the $30,000 I had expected to spend either. I ended up with another Chevrolet 6.5 turbo diesel. This one has a lot more power than the older blue one. Hopefully with a few power upgrades I can make it tow what I desire comfortably and keep it reliable. Doesn’t seem like I tow much any more anyway. First up I have to put a gooseeck hitch in it. Instead of trying to sell “old blue” I’ve been kicking around trading to an older GM muscle car, an ATV, or a combination stock/horse trailer.

It’s time for the 50 hour service on the 7010 so I’m hoping to make it to the Mahindra dealer this week to pick up the stuff to do it. While I’m there I’m going to see if he can get me tires for the dolly on the rake I bought last fall. Both of them are flat. They look really dry rotted so I figure it’s best to just replace them. I also have to pick up the box that operates the twine tie on my Vermeer roller. I don’t want to take the box off the 6000 in case I ever need to use it as a back up. While I’m there I’ll do my usual poking around. I’m in the market for a good square baler and I want to kick the tires on the smaller Mahindra’s I’m considering for cleanout at the chickenhouses.

 Well tons to do so I best get to it! Be sure to check out the pics I’ve added to the site! Thanks for reading and check back soon!

Proud Dad

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

We’re all very excited and proud of Kaylee! She made the high school cheerleading team. Quite an accomplishment for someone her age. She just skipped right over the middle school team and headed right for the high school team. I am so thankful to have such beautiful, happy, and healthy children!

Things are very busy here in the bluegrass. Chickens are at their peak right now so it takes almost all our time just gathering the 10-11,000 eggs we are getting every day. Most days it’s 5am to 7pm or maybe a little later. I’ve tried my best to keep labor to a minimum, but everyone is getting worn down. We are still kicking around building a second set and I’m looking for the right person or persons for it and to help here. So far it’s mostly my mom and I with a couple folks part time. My friend John and his mom both help out. Bj helps when she can, but lately it seems there is always something that needs to be done involving the children and she’s been attending to that. Garett’s class went to Pigeon Forge TN on a field trip. They took in a show at The Black Bear Jamboree. He wanted one of us to go so BJ went with him. Summer is coming and I know they dread coming to the chickenhouse every day.

We have made time to get out and do things with the horses a couple times a week. I’ve finally got Thumper, the colt born here on the farm almost 2 years ago, green broke and gelded. I think he will make a fine horse. I’ve been riding him a little bit and Madison tried him some too. Madison is quite the little cowgirl. She took her first ride outside the fence this week. We just rode around on the farm, but it was a huge deal to her. She can’t even reach the stirups, but she makes the horses do what she wants them to. Of course her horse is very broke. It’s a hand me down from me. Johnny horse has been here on the farm for about 5 years now. He had some fire in him when we first bought him, but it didn’t take long for him to figure out that wasn’t going to work with me. Garett and Kaylee don’t have much desire to do the horse things, but Madison and Katie do. Katie is now bugging me for her own horse. We’ll see how long she stays interested before we buy another one.

I finally broke down and hired someone to build a tack room in the barn. I figured it was do it now or I’d wait until someone stole my saddles. Must be a sign that things are tough because there is more burglary than ever here. I’ve been lucky not to have much stolen from me in the past. What did go missing I knew who took it and took appropriate action. Some of it I got back and those folks know never to show their face here again.

This weeks project is going to have to be bird proofing the chicken houses and the well house. Can’t have wild birds anywhere around these chickens. Their immunity is not that of a domestic chicken. Bj’s cousin Jason has agreed to help me some with it and keeping the place mowed. We’re still shopping for a truck. I geuss I’ll put off buying as long as I can. Just can’t stand to let go of the money it will take to buy what I want. I don’t know why $30,000 in debt scares me when we are in as deep as we are with the chickenhouses. Kaylee is keeping her eyes open though. She points out trucks she likes pretty regularly.

Well as always lots to do and little time to do it in………………………….So I better get busy. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out all the pics I’ve added to the site.

Grower’s Meeting

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Finally got some time away from the chickenhouses this week. Cobb had it’s quarterly growers meeting and we attended. They smoked baby back ribs for dinner and had a feed nutritionist and veterinarian on hand. The vet put on a presentation on “how a chicken lays an egg” and the feed nutritionist did a presentation on “how feed grows chickens”. I learned a lot, even some stuff I’m not sure I need to know. As always there was lots of discussion about grain prices, the economy, and disease prevention too. The apparent recession and grain prices have everyone in this business afraid of tommorrow.

We got part of the garden started this week too. I hope the recent light frosts didn’t hurt the 3 tomatoe plants we set out. I know the potatoes, onions, brocolli, and cabbage will be fine. I would have covered the tomatoes had I known it was going to frost, but I never seem to have time to watch the weather so I didn’t know it was coming. I’ve been really impressed with the power and agility of the 7010. Seems like the more I use it the more I like it. The low low range makes tilling a breeze. With the 6000 I need to make two passes lots of times, but with the lower gears of the 7010 it only takes one. It does great with the 7ft brush hog too.

The grass we planted on the land we cleared last fall is begining to come up in places. I can’t wait to look over there and see a good stand of grass. Hopefully a few years from now that land will serve double duty as both a pasture and a hay field. My long term goals include running 20-30 head of beef cows and calves. On top of that I hope to fence in some of the woodland that butts up to pasture and run about 50-75 Boer goats. With the litter from the poultry houses I should really be able to make grass grow.

The lights in the chickenhouses are staying on until 10:30 at night now. The lights really make the houses glow from outside. All the more reason I have got to find the time to get those trees planted. I have come to the conclusion that I have to hire more help. I can’t be at two places at the same time. I can either be outside on the farm getting that stuff done or inside taking care of the chickenhouse needs. The question is should I hire someone for inside or outside. I could sure use a break from the daily grind inside. So most likely it will be for inside.

As always there is a ton of stuff to do and not much time to do it in so I’ll close for now……………………make sure to check out the pics I’ve added and thanks for reading!

On The Nest

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Wow! What a crazy couple weeks. We have absolutely been covered in floor eggs. It seems like it may be easing up a little finally. You don’t know what a relief it is to see hens on the nest. After a couple weeks of walking the floor constantly picking up eggs maybe we are seeing some change. The majority of the floor eggs we are getting now seem to be the smaller “commercial eggs” instead of the “hatching eggs” we desire. That usually means a hen that has just started laying. We get a bonus based on hatching eggs sent to the hatchery. Our hatching eggs have to weigh atleast 52 grams. The thought behind walking the floor is the hen will find somewhere safer to lay her egg next time if she sees someone move it. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will work and we’ll have very few eggs in the floor in just a couple more weeks. The chickenhouses are taking all my time now. The lights are on for 15 hours every day now. Soon it will be 16 hours a day and then finally 17 hours a day. That doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

We got the 7010 back from the dealer with it’s new tie rod mount installed. It appears they have redesigned the mount to be much sturdier. I’m just wondering if the other side shouldn’t be changed. I was glad to see it back! Just in time for this last little cold snap. It has been in the 40′s and raining for several days now. It’s much nicer to put out hay for the cows in that nasty weather when you’ve got the cab. I’m already spoiled by the heat. I don’t like the air conditioning as much as I like the heat. I must just be cold blooded. As soon as summer gets here I’ll probably spend just as much time on the 6000 as I do the 7010.

We finally got the land we cleared last fall run over a couple times with the disc and sewn with grass seed. Now let’s all keep our fingers crossed that it comes up and gets enough rain to grow this summer. I’m hoping this is the last cold snap. This morning there was a heavy frost on my windshield at 5 am. That would not have been good for a young stand of grass. Hopefully everyone had their plants covered here. I haven’t got anything to cover for the first time in years. If I can find the time that will change. I’m hoping for sunny weather to dry out the dirt so I can till a garden spot. Several people have come by wanting gardens tilled, I just have not had the time to do it. I’m chomping at the bit to get the tiller on the 7010 with it’s low low range. It should do a really nice job.

My uncle Ralph sent us several hundred white pine trees. Somehow I have got to find the time to get them planted. I want to use them as a buffer between the log house and the chickenhouse. Well as always I’m getting nothing done sitting here so I better go. Be sure to check out the pics I’ve added.

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