Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jeff 2 Mice 2

Well, it's a slow hunt, but Jeff has gotten two mice now.  Amazing how when he tells the story, his chest seems bigger!!!  Last weekend, when he closed the hood of the tractor to pull it out of the shed, a mouse dropped to the floor from the engine compartment.  Jeff gave it a kick as it ran and it ducked under the plywood ramp at the doorway.  Jeff pulled the tractor out of the shed and went about hooking things up.  During this time, one of the dogs was sniffing and digging at the ramp.  Duh!  The mouse ran under there!  The insistent digging continued for so long, I pulled the ramp aside to find.......a flat mouse!  He ran for cover, only to be squished by the tractor's weight!!!! Jeff 1 Mice 2.
This weekend Jeff went to the farm alone.  He had his traps loaded and set and when he checked, one was sprung but no mouse was in it!  But there was a dead mouse under the tractor!  Jeff 2 Mice 2.  I don't know what happens in that shed when we're not there, but it's weird.  I'll be glad when all the holes are closed up and we don't have to worry about this anymore!
Some farmer I'm gonna be when I don't even like killing mice!  What will I do when my hens quit laying and Jeff wants to cook them?  I'll be buying eggs at the store and putting them under the hens!!!!  I hate to see things die.  Why am I not a vegetarian???????

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mouse Hunt

For the last two weeks, Jeff has set four mouse traps in the shed baited with peanut butter.  For two weeks, we opened the shed to find four traps un-sprung minus the peanut butter!!!!  Mouse 2.  Jeff 0.
I'm afraid the score is going to even out this week though.  Jeff bought a heavier, more sensitive trap.  I won't enter the shed until the evidence is gone.  I can't stand the idea of their cute little bodies crushed in the traps.  I know it has to be done.......but I can't be the one to do it!  Yes, I'm a softy.  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Butterfly Effect

Something happens each year in early August that is so neat.  After a good rain, when there's still moisture in the gravel on the road, the Sulpher Butterflies congregate in SWARMS.  If you walk or drive down the road you do so amidst a yellow cloud of fluttering wings.  I've not seen it anywhere else.  That's not saying it doesn't happen, but I've not seen it before.  It's just so cool!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Future Monarchs of America!

We leave a stand of Milkweed just for this purpose.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

There's a Mouse in the House (or how to drive a man crazy!)

Last weekend, when arriving at the farm, we opened the shed to get tools and look things over.  Under the front end of the tractor was a pile of gray fuzzy stuff.  I reached down to feel it and determined it was chewed up foam rubber......like the stuff lining the inside of the engine compartment of our new tractor!!!!!  I mentioned it to Jeff.......going ballistic doesn't quite describe his reaction.  There was a LOT or stomping and ranting and words I won't print here.  We decided we should look under the hood......but how to open it was a mystery.  While Jeff went to look at the "tractor instruction manual", I opened the door to the gas tank.  Staring back at me was "the mouse"!!!!!  I don't know who was more startled....me or him!  I shut the lid, then opened it again and he was GONE.....poof! 
Jeff came back and opened the hood and right on top next to the filler tube was a little nest, all nice and cozy.  Now came the threats of 1000 mouse traps, 10 cats and rat snakes.  I say, just leave the hood open so it's not so cozy!  Gotta admit, they are very cute!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different!

Finally, the weeds around the peppers are under control and I can do something else for a change!  We decided to change the color of the shed from Fire Engine Red to a more earthy brown.  The old color made the shed shine like an emergency light from the road!  It screamed "LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!!!!"   Not what we wanted!  The temperature and humidity were down yesterday and painting was therapeutic.  Jeff was trimming around the trees in the orchard so that left me and two lazy dogs to hang around the shed and paint.  Alone with my thoughts, the rhythm of a paint brush and the warm sun on my bare shoulders felt like cheesecake for my soul.  Every now and then I backed away to check my progress and sigh happily with a sense of accomplishment.  One and one half sides to go and it's done with its chameleon change.  I like it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

It happened so fast!

I slept until 10 this morning and was jarred awake by the knowledge of not having paid my Visa bill on time!!!!  I've been at my computer for over an hour paying the monthly bills and such.....ugh!  The weekend went by far too fast.  Off to the farm straight from work on Saturday evening.  Just enough daylight left to make the bed and start a fire.  Jeff made delicious pork chops in a cast iron skillet and corn on the cob in the wet husks over the fire.  Mmmmmm!  While we ate, the light show started with fireflies and stars.  The bats came out and flew silently overhead.  The fire died down to glowing embers and we decided to get an early start on our dreams.  While JUST dozing off, there was a fluttering sound in the peak of the shed.  Flashlight on and we discovered a little bat had let himself in through the still open soffits.  We opened the door and he swooped out.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, one of "the girls" (our name for the pregnant cows next door) was making a lot of noise.  I half expected to see a new calf in the morning, but the ladies didn't show up under the tree like they usually do.  Maybe there WAS a calf and that's why they stayed under cover away from the dogs.
We slept until 8:45 and quickly realized that was a mistake when the sun finally burned off the early morning fog.

Damn!  It got HOT quick!!!!  Jeff sprayed while I made a final pass at the weeds around the peppers.  Finally, I've got them all.  Production is down this year and we have decided the soil needs some amendments.  We learn more each year.  While he finished spraying, I whacked weeds along the fence and around trees while the dogs lounged under their umbrella!
We went back down by the shed for Jeff to get the tractor for a quick mowing while I put a coat of stain on the shaded side of the shed.  When he was done......miraculously, so was I!!!!  We washed up, put on clean, dry clothes and took a nap in the hammocks before packing up to leave.  Three hours til we arrived home to a pizza in the oven, courtesy of my stepson, Ryan!  What a sweetheart!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I LOVE this place!!!!

It was a magical weekend having guests at the farm again.  My daughter, her husband and their two small children met us at the farm on Friday afternoon.  Nadija, who is a textbook 3 1/2 arrived hugging her 3 "Pretty Ponies" with a big smile.  Kainen, who is JUST starting to walk was a bit less excited because he wasn't being allowed on the ground as much as he would have liked.
The very first things that we discovered upon our own arrival were a nest of baby mice in the bag that originally housed the toilet paper!  And a nest of baby wrens tucked into a roll of fencing in the attic of the shed!  And when Jeff moved one of the stones around the fire pit, he found a slithery inhabitant! A young Fox Snake.  I love this place!
The evenings were the most awesome part of the weekend.  As the sun went down, the entire landscape changed.  First the fireflies woke up and started to twinkle like tiny flash photographers everywhere we looked.  Of course we had to chase them and catch a few to hold in wonder and awe.  Then the stars poked through the dark blue velvet sky.  One by one they flicked on their lights until there were a bazillion over our heads.  After we were blanketed by stars, the bats joined us in the field, silently feeding on bugs in the night.  With a small fire burning, we sat, with big grins, watching the night show.  Much better than TV!!!  I love this place.

The morning brought breakfast by Nick.  Sausage, peppers and eggs over the fire.  A yummy way to start our day!  The guys went and did guy things and Rhyah and I "relaxed" around camp keeping two little ones out of trouble!!  The hammocks were a big hit and made great nesting places for napping children.  (The adults nap there, too!)

While the kids slept, I found a perfect, leftover board under the shed, and some leftover rope from the hammocks.  Four holes drilled in the board and a few simple knots and all we needed was a perfect branch.  Imagine the smile on a little girl's face finding she has her very own swing in a tree!  "More, Grandma!  Higher!"  It's the stuff good memories are made of!  Have I said "I love this place"?

When the guys got back from doing guy things, we all sat in chairs under the "swing tree" and rested in the shade.  That's when I brought out the old wash basin and filled it with water pouring from the field tile.  I can't believe how much fun those two kids had in such a small pool with no toys!  Why do we feel we need to bombard our children with so many colorful toys when the fun is really in the water and the company!
After his swim, baby Kainen got held up for a blessing by the "farm Gods".  Luckily his bladder wasn't full or there would have been a Christening, too!

Later in the evening, tractor rides were in order.  Kainen got his sitting still with Mama.  Amazing how little boys are drawn to machinery.  The minute he saw the tractor he started pointing and making "brrrum brrrrum" sounds.
Nadija got a full tour of the pasture with Grandpa.  "Faster, Grandpa, faster!"
The next morning, after the tent got packed up, kisses blown and they left, the place got very quiet again.  The peace was nice, but I missed them terribly.  So I went to pull weeds around my peppers.  I'll say it again........"I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!!!"  It seems to satisfy a hunger in all of us in a different way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I gotta tell ya, this weekend was a blast.  But more about that later......
Jeff and I were winding up the 3 day weekend working in the garden and the orchard in the hot sun.  The weeds had taken over the garden in the 3 weeks since I'd been there and the effort to pull them made a sweat ball out of me.  Off to the west were some full bellied, black clouds grumbling.  The wind started to offer some relief with the approaching storm.  We called it quits and headed down to the shed to get our supplies out of the weather......just in time.  The clouds cracked like morning eggs and dumped their contents in a desperate attempt to relieve their heaviness.  Opportunity knocked.  A bar of soap and a basin of water in pouring rain.  What could be better to clean up a "sweat ball"?????  I stripped down and took a "shower" under the watchful eyes of neighboring cows!!!!  Dried with a fluffy towel and dressed in clean shorts and tee shirt, it was time to swing in the hammock to the tune of the pouring rain on the steel roof.  No sweeter lullaby has ever been played.  I never wanted to come back to civilization!!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

A White Shirt Makes a Difference!

This was a very productive weekend!.....Finally!   Jeff got the new adapter for the power take-off to run the tiller from the old tractor.  He went over the remaining part of the garden and really tilled it up good.  While he was tilling the garden, I was back at the shed getting things ready for the evening.  It was pretty hot out and I figured we would probably sleep with the windows open this time and screens would be nice.  We had brought along screen fabric a couple weeks ago, but there was nothing to make a frame with.  I thought we might just tack the material around the window frame as a temporary measure, but then I started using my brain.  We had some old lath laying around that was used to stake the locations of the piers when we first started the shed.  Each one was 1 1/2" wide and about 4' long.  I measured the inside of the window frame and cut and mitered the lath to fit inside the frame.
I pushed screen into the opening in pushed the "frame" in piece by piece on top of it.  The miters kept the corners snug without any nails or fasteners.  They worked like a charm!!!!
   We retired early after stargazing and slept bug-free all night.  It was nice going to bed that night with a little bit of light.  I had purchased 2 cheap solar garden lights at K-Mart and brought them with.  They made a nice soft light in the shed while we got ready for bed.
   One thing that made this trip more comfortable was being able to wash up before bed.  We had an old enameled wash basin at home.  It was sitting, unused, under a table.  It now, proudly hangs on a nail on the back wall of the shed (in fact, you can see it in the picture where I'm sawing).  We keep a 7 gallon jug of water sitting on the picnic table in the sun.  By bedtime, it's nice and warm.  I never knew how good it felt to wash the dirt and sweat away with water heated by the sun.  I think the things that make me the happiest out at the farm are the ones that come about by using our heads and figuring out a way to do something with what we have available.  Something as simple as making a working broom out of twigs just makes me proud in my soul.  It's a good feeling.  One that keeps me going.
   The next morning we got up early and headed to the orchard for spraying and planting.  I brought a white tank top this time as the sky was cloudless and the temperature and humidity were both high at 8 am.  Jeff sprayed the apple trees while I planted the rest of the garden.  He had 120 trees to spray and I had 50 more jalapenos, 7 watermelons, 13 pumpkins and 3 rows of corn to plant!  We finished about the same time.  Jeff had bailed about 60 gallons of water into a tank to bring to the plants, so we gave everything a good drink and after 5 hours working in the hot sun, we could hear the hammocks screaming for us!!!! 

We had some lunch, took a nap in swinging hammocks, packed and headed home, smiling, after another working weekend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It was a HOT one!

I was dirty, sweaty and melting!  And I only had 26 of the 60 Jalapenos in the ground before I called it quits.  Stupidity got me into this fix.  I only brought a BLACK tank top and BLACK shorts to work in.  And I was  planting the peppers in BLACK landscape fabric!!!!!  OUCH!

I thought it might be age-related fatigue until I thought about what I was wearing and where I was standing!  No, I'm not THAT old, but I think I've lost my mind!  What makes me want to spend my weekends sweating my ass off in the hot sun instead of sitting on my porch in the suburbs sipping an ice cold Pepsi?  Dayle has truly gone bonkers, me thinks!  No......I'm just working hard at making a place where we can grow old and have good home grown food and quiet times.  After reminding myself that I could plant more next weekend, I joined Jeff down by the shed and we had a couple sandwiches and decided to take a nap in the hammocks I made. 

They were made for sleeping in the shed at night, but they didn't have specific instructions that said you couldn't nap in them!!!!  So nap, we did!  We were inside the shed with all the windows and doors open, listening to nothing but bird songs and swinging in the shady breeze.  Slumber came easily and dreams were good.  What a great way to end a weekend of hard work!!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Very Good Day

We finally picked up the new tractor 2 weekends ago.  Had to rent a trailer to get it out to the farm.  Our trailer wasn't rated for the extra weight.  This thing has more knobs and switches than any car I've ever driven.  And starting it is a whole new experience.  It's a diesel engine, so you have to start the glow plug for 5 seconds before you turn the key to start it!  We read all the instructions and got it started, off the trailer and hooked up to the cultivator and Jeff played with his new toy!

When we got the new garden expansion done, we headed to the shed to finish screwing the floor down.  As you recall, we beefed up the floor with concrete piers.  After the piers were in, Jeff put extra 2x6 joists between the piers.  These fall directly under the wheels of the tractor. Obviously it worked!!  The folded roll bar cleared the top of the door by 1/2"!!!!  Whew!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Things forgotten and Accomplishment

This farm trip was a good one.  We left here about 2:30 in the afternoon and got to the farm just before 5:30.  Enough daylight was left to set up camp.  We started "unloading" the shed.  We had stored a pile of 2x4's and a bunch of other stuff over the winter.  Most of it had to come out.  THEN.....the very first thing we discovered we had forgotten was the broom!!!!  The floor was filthy and we had to put our bed there!

I grabbed my pruners and cut a bunch of little twig "weed trees" that were popping up all over.  They were straight and small and had little leaves on them.  I bundled them together with string and swept the floor with my new broom!!!!  It worked really good.....not "Swiffer" good, but it got it clean enough to camp on!!!!

While I set up the "bedroom", Jeff cut firewood for cooking and warmth.  Jaeger got into the act and helped carry wood.  Jeff would put a small log in Jaeger's mouth and he would run over to me and drop it by the fire pit.  Then Jeff would call him back and repeat the process.  I think the boy carried 4 or 5 logs before he tired of this new game.

We took an old grill out of the shed and Dakota was giving it extra attention.  We took the cover off and discovered what had happened to most of the little rug we left there in the fall!  Some little mouse had a cozy home for the winter!  We covered it back up and left it alone.

We got the fire blazing in the fire pit and then discovered the second thing we had forgotten......the brats for dinner!  ugh!  BUT.....I had made a BIG batch of ground baloney with Miracle Whip and pickle relish for lunches.  Enough that we could have this for dinner, too!  So it was sandwiches and cole slaw for dinner.  The ambiance at this "restaurant" was much better than the food.  The moon came out in a clear twilight sky and then as it darkened more, a gazillion stars!!!!  It was a beautiful evening.

When it came time to retire, we went about filling the Kerosun heater we brought along and discovered the THIRD thing we forgot!!!!  The funnel....argh!  We always bring the tool bag, and in that bag is a nice pair of tin snips.  One empty Pepsi can and a pair of snips and, VOILA......a funnel!!  Heater filled and fired up, we had a pretty cozy night in the shed.  It was down around 30 outside and we had to be a toasty 45 or 50 inside.  We slept well.

After a breakfast of bacon and eggs, we had to take everything out of the shed......including the floor.  The reason for this trip was to reinforce the floor to accommodate the new tractor weighing in about 1000 pounds more than the old one.  We dug 42" deep holes and filled them with concrete up to the bottom of the floor joists.  How do you mix concrete where there's no running water, you ask?  Well, you take buckets to the creek and carry them back full of water!!!!  And since the floor was gone, we had to carry the concrete in buckets to the holes.  Jeff mixed the concrete in the wheel barrow and filled buckets for me to pour into the holes.  Yes, we did it the old fashioned way.  Hopefully this will keep the floor from caving in under the weight of the new tractor!!!!! 

All in all it was a good trip.  We accomplished all we set out to do.  We even made a list of things to remember next trip!!!!!  LOL

Today......we are sore!

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Tractor

The new tractor and mower deck are in!!!  I can't wait to use it.....like I'll have a chance with Jeff having his new toy!  We have to put a couple concrete piers under the floor of the new shed since this tractor is about 1000 pounds heavier than the old one.  Can you imagine us pulling it in for the first time and having it fall through the floor, taking the walls and roof with it????  Hence the concrete!  We need to pick it up soon so we can enlarge the garden and mow the orchard.  Are we nuts doing this????  Sometime I wonder!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pruning Time

Yesterday was the first trip out to the farm (for me) since November.  Jeff went out in December and put windows in the shed.  What a difference that makes.  And they open on hinges, too!  Next is doors.
In two weeks we get our brand new, Massey Ferguson tractor.  Our old International was on its last legs all summer and finally died the day we tried to put it in the shed for the winter!  So it is still sitting under a tarp in the pasture.  Poor baby will be sold off for parts, I'm thinkin'.

Yesterday's trip was made so we could get the apple trees pruned and fertilized before they blossom.  I think we've got about 110 trees right now.  It took about three and a half hours, but I got them all pruned while Jeff dug around each tree and applied fertilizer.  Here's a before and after shot of one tree.  I didn't pick a very good photo subject, but you can get the idea.  You basically take out any vertical growth.  Then train new growth by choosing where to make cuts to force new branches to grow horizontally.  This particular tree will take a couple years to get growing in the right shape.  I'm still no expert, but I'm getting a LOT of practice!
Most of the trees look like bare skeletons now.  JUST the way an apple tree should look in the spring!