Archive for September, 2009
This may sound really strange but, how many of us think of pen and paper as farm equipment? How many notes do we jot down each day to remind us of a piece of livestock equipment, feed and supplements, tools or fencing supplies that we need to pick up to start or finish a job?
Isn’t it amazing. The smallest things that we utilize everyday really plays a very important part in our businesses. We keep records of all our livestock , like all their offspring’s births, vaccinations, de-worming and weaning dates. We track their eating habits and their activities. Even with the adults, we track their habits and cycles so we know when the time is right to breed for the next year.
We take notes. I know we carry note cards with us to write any changes down that we encounter and then we record them in our computer on our farm program. Even our computer is part of our business so it is also considered as farm equipment.
Remember, there are all kinds of equipment and even the simplest items can be just that and they are tax deductible sometimes. Check with your CPA to be certain on what you can deduct come tax time.
At their most basic level, saddles can be separated into two distinct types: Western and English. If you’re ridden a horse with a high saddle horn, a broad sea and big stirrups, then you’ve experienced the comfort and practicality of a Western saddle. English versions, on the other hand, are flatter and feature a diminished saddle horn. They are slightly less comfortable for horses but a bit more comfortable for riders.
No matter your style of riding and your choice of saddle, you’ll need a safe, reliable place to keep the apparatus before and after use. Saddle racks are essential pieces of livestock equipment; they are a much better place to store the saddle and riggings when compared to the filthy barn floor or the shelf of a remote tool shed. As simplistic as their structure might be, these racks prove more than useful for regular riders and horse enthusiasts.
What is the main reason a person gardens? Is it because they like the fresh vegetables or they like the exercise and being outdoors? There are many reasons I suppose. It is a wonderful hobby for the weekend gardener that likes to work the soil and help make things grow and it is great for exercise but, I like it because I can provide fresh food for my family. The other reason is I enjoy canning and putting up fruit and veggies in the freezer for winter use. We have food year round that I know is healthy because I grew it and kn0w exactly how it was grown.
I look forward to my garden harvest. The fresh tomatoes is unbeatable on taste and the green beans, whether bush or pole, taste much better than from a can. Corn is so much sweeter when cut fresh from the cob and frozen. It is so good around the holidays with the turkey and ham. The cucumbers are even better fresh with their crisp mouthwatering flavor.
At first harvest we get our fill of the fresh produce and we eat it everyday, then we begin to tire a little of having the same things so we start trying new recipes and then we start planning for the months ahead.
The first thing is the green beans. I try to can as much as I can, since I do it for ourselves and our grown children. Then the corn is ready and we put it up in quarts. Hopefully with a good harvest we have plenty but this year wasn’t one of them. Too much early rain, not enough time to grow. During June through September we can tomatoes into juice, stewed, whole, diced and salsa. This year nothing. My tomatoes are just now coming on, we have had a few to eat but, not enough for canning. The cucumbers are the same.
I was really disappointed with my harvest. I am hoping that a late garden will work out better. I have several late tomato plants starting to bloom, new bush beans are coming up, my pole beans are just now coming on, the yellow squash and zucchini are beginning to produce and my peppers are doing great. I believe my best crop is going to be my sweet potatoes, they have just vined and bloomed everywhere. I did get my first ever crop of potatoes to produce well this year. Also, my cucumbers are blooming like crazy and I have several little ones coming on.
So even though my garden is late and is just now beginning, I still enjoy gardening. I keep my garden tool caddy close at hand and weed out my garden weekly, make sure it gets plenty of water and pray for the sun and heat it needs to produce the food to tide my family over through out the winter months. I acquired my greenhouse this year so I am anxious to see what magic I can produce in there this winter.
With my late harvest, I hope to do more canning and put up a few tomatoes and more beans. We will see how it goes.
So if you enjoy gardening, for whatever reason, I hope your harvest is plentiful and your green thumb blesses you with the wonderful pride you feel while you watch your garden grow.
On the farm there are many useful ingredients for making compost. We have cattle, horses, chickens and g0ats. I have read and also heard that horse and chicken manure is the best for this particular project so that is what I use, the rest goes out in the spreader to the pasture. Being that 2008, was my first try at this, I am still learning. So this is what I know.
I began to worry last Spring, when my compost didn’t seem to be composting. I wanted to spread it in my garden and use it in my planters mixed with potting soil to fertilize the plants but, it just didn’t seem to want to heat up. I finally figured out why. We had a pretty mild winter and I did not water my pile of compost. I did not realize that it needed to be kept slightly moist in order to heat up and also, it needed to be, at least, three feet deep. So in February, I began watering the pile every other week, unless it rained. I added some horse manure and then continued to pile on my kitchen scraps daily. Every week I would turn the pile in order to mix up the ingredients. Finally, after about four weeks it began to compost nicely and due to the fact that here in Illinois it rained all Spring, by the time I could plant and work my garden, it was ready. I was very pleased, it saved me a lot of money on potting soil. I used it in everything from my vegetables and herbs to my flowers and shrubs. It has worked out w0nderful.
Now that I have used up my supply for the year, last weekend my son and I cleaned the chicken coup and started a new pile. I had continued all summer putting kitchen scraps in the small pile but had done nothing with it. So we started layering with manure then scraps from the small pile and then more manure and so on. Now I have a nice 6′ round wire pen of compost to compost through the winter and a smaller one to add to daily. I will take some from the small pen and add to the larger one every other week as I water. By Spring, we should be ready to go.
I have gardened for years but, this was my first attempt of making compost. A lot of trial and error involved but we did it. Compost is a wonderful garden supply and it is inexpensive. If you live on a farm or ranch, why not make your own, it is definitely worth it. Also, many folks from the city that want to have a small garden will purchase some from you. It is all natural and makes the garden grow.
When you think about horses, what comes instantly to mind? Most people envision a group of wild stallions surging through the chaparral and sage of the Old West, or maybe a thoroughbred racing around the track on the way to glory. In any case, horses are usually associated with their fluid movement and powerful strides. All of these motions are facilitated by healthy joints.
In order to keep equine joints strong and fully operational, some owners and trainers seek out horse joint supplements. These help to bolster the function of fibrous, cartilaginous and synovial joints. Without a full range of movement, horses are restricted to loping along at a pathetic pace. Supplements ensure that they can live up to their full potential as steeds that gallop at breakneck speeds.
We all understand that there are many types/ breeds of dogs. We enjoy what we call, “Man’s Best Friend.” Their friendship, company and loyalty is beyond that of any other animal. We even have those that we consider part of our family. We love them, spoil them and even pamper them; they are our babies.
As farmers and ranchers we own dogs; some as pets but, usually, working dogs. Their purpose on the farm and ranch is to work, they are a part of our livestock equipment. They love and want to work and look forward to working.
We prefer Border Collies as our dog of choice. We previously owned three but, lost our two best dogs last year, one to old age and the other to the heat. We are now at a loss when it comes to working our animals. It is so different now that we have to go back to walking the pastures or saddling up to check the herd. We definitely took our dogs for granted. The saying is true that you don’t miss something until it is gone. Used to, we just said a command and the job was being taken care of. Now we really have to work with our young collie to get her to work. She just doesn’t have the heart to be a working d0g. She really just wants to play. It is amazing to realize how much time we saved by allowing our dogs to do just what they loved.
We are now in the process of wanting to find a new Border Collie. So to try to simplify the search, I decided to do some research. I read books, looked at magazines, surfed the internet and came up with some good advice on what to look for in a working/herding dog.
These are some of the tips that I found:
- Border Collies are structurally balanced and are medium sized
- They need to be strong, fast, light and agile – not large or heavy
- They should have substance and stamina, be balanced – giving the impression of effortless movement and endless endurance
- The best size is between 18′ to 22″ tall and slightly longer than their heighth – their sizes will vary but, this is the suggested size for working dogs
- The head of a Border Collie is pretty distinctive with its strong jaw line, oval eyes and pointy ears. Their working ability is not affected by the head as much as the rest of their body but, a subtle difference, such as eye color/pigmentation, can certainly bring about a change in its herding advantage. Example: dark eyes are not as intimidating as lighter eyes ( lighter eyes give off the creepy wolf stare).
- Straight and upright ears are said to be best for a working dog. They can hear better when commands are given and when predators are lurking. Also, they are less likely to have problems with infections.
- Their necks should be flexible so they can lie still yet, move their head to watch the herd
- They should have coats that are smooth because they are easier to maintain and they need to be able to shed well in the summer months
- A shorter coat is preferred because less is more, best for speed and movement. A long rough coat will hinder their performance.
- One deception is that all Border Collies are only one color but, that just isn’t the case. There are several colors and markings not just black and white. To a working farm/ranch it isn’t the color that is important, it is the performance and ability of the dog.
- One thing that needs your attention is the front build of a Border Collie. The angle of the shoulders is pertinent to their herding abilities. A sturdy front will hold up well with crouching and jumping, as well as, creeping low to the ground. They need to work 10 – 12 hours a day, sometimes covering 40 – 50 miles. They have to be able to move quickly, make turns and get out of the way.
- Check their pasterns to make sure they are slightly turned outward; this gives them the ability to move and will not break down as quickly.
- A good/great Border Collie is able to curl up in a ball allowing for its flexibility within its torso for quick change moves. They also use their tails as rudders for turning at high speeds, they carry them low while working allowing for their stealth like movement.
Border Collies have so much heart that they work non-stop, even if injured, through the pain and keep going. They are efficient workers and have a ton of drive, this is what makes a great working dog. They have to work; it is what they live for.
Now that I have done my research, we are going to begin our search for a new working dog for our farm. I never realized that there was so much to look at and for when trying to find the right dog. Now the work begins.