Today, as I sat here thinking of the upcoming holidays, I was reminded of the years harvest and that the farmers have finished bringing in their crops. The fields outside my window here are barren, corn stalks are all that is left and the grass is turning brown. The farm machinery is mostly put away for the season and the roads are clear of the slow traffic.
It is not funny when I think about it because there just wasn’t that much machinery on the roads this year. Even five years ago, there were just so many out there and now we are a dying breed. The farmers are disappearing; small farms can not keep up with the changing economy, the price of livestock is either outrageous or bottomed out; it is just too hard for most. It is mostly the larger farms and agriculture business that remain.
I wonder what is going to happen if the farmer no longer exists. Food will be so scarce and expensive that it will be hard for anyone to even obtain unless you are wealthy and that is a scary thought.
I enjoy gardening and would hate it if I could not grow my own food in the summer. I think we need to support our farmers and figure out a way to save the farms that are so much a part of our country’s history. This is just my thoughts.
There is always stress on your animals when you wean the little ones from their mamas. It does not matter the type or breed, there will be crying from both the mamas and babies. Besides all the noise the animals will want to get back together and they will look for any opening to do just that.
For at least three to four days they will walk the fences, try to jump the fences and try to climb through or crawl under any opening just to get back together. We always wean in the sign of the moon and have mostly good results but, there are always those few that just cannot get with the program.
So, what do you do when they get back together and you have to begin the process all over again? Really, I do not know what the best plan is. I take it one day at a time and go with the flow. Try as I might, I fill and close any openings that I find, where I think they are getting through and try again. Does it work? Sometimes but, not always.
I weaned my kids, baby goats, 2 weeks ago and have only had them all get out one day but Jillie has gotten out 12 out of the 14 days they have been weaned. It never fails, I go out to feed and she is back with Miss Dolly, her mama. She is such a pet, I spoil them awful, that it is nothing to get her back in with the others but keeping her in is a problem. It is hard not to think it is funny or cute but, she needs to stay in her pen.
Reinforcing the fencing is the best plan to keep them contained and having fencing supplies on hand is helpful. There are those moments, and I have a lot of them, that you just have to rig something up until you have the time when you can complete the job. Fencing wire, wire cutters, tools and the rest of fencing supplies are necessary livestock equipment to have on the farm and handy at a moments notice.
It is never good to put tools away dirty. They can rust and that shortens their life span. One way that I have always cleaned my tools is to wash them and spray a little bit of cooking spray, a cheap farm supply, on them before I store them for the winter. This will keep them from rusting and will be ready to use come Spring.
I, also, found a way to remove rust and that is to brew a pot of black tea, remove dirt from tool, submerge in the liquid and let set for couple of hours. Be sure not to submerge wooden handle. The tea’s tannic acid will remove the rust. Rinse and dry before use. If your tools are stored correctly then when Spring comes you can shorten your time by using them right away and not having to clean then before using.
It’s official, Spring is here. It is calving season at our farm. It actually started the first of March and we now have 9 little ones on the ground. It seems that it always takes longer when your are anticipating them.
Before the season starts, we make sure our tack and livestock supplies are ready at hand. We never know when we have to saddle a horse and go check the herd. Our cows make a trip to the house every other day or so. It is then when we start to see the little ones up close and get a head count of just how many we have. If any of our cows don’t come up or we haven’t seen them within 5 days, we saddle a horse and ride.
We have to keep our gear in good condition so that we can use it in a moments notice. For our saddles, we use saddle racks to store them when not in use. This helps keep there shape and off the floor. Same as with our ropes and bridles, they have their own assigned place in the tack room for each animal. Keeping the leather soft with oil is a great way to maintain your tack. This is good for you and also for your animal.
Not keeping your tack in good condition could cause problems not only for you financially, due to having to replace them but, also for your horse to keep them from getting sores from gear that just don’t set right on their back or in their mouth.
It is definitly that time of year, mud everywhere. It is a nuisance to walk outside to the car or to the mailbox and have your feet covered in mud. It gets all over your car and it ruins your good shoes. But what can you do, not much.
Out around the barn the mud is much worse and it can become a problem. If you feed outside the barn the mud will just continue to get more messy and harder to get around in. It is hard on the cattle and hard on you. Then when it freezes the ground is so uneven that it is difficult to walk on.
So, what do we do? I don’t know about everyone else but, the one thing we do is move our feeders around every few weeks to keep the mud from becoming a problem. If it does become an issue, there are times when we had to just haul in more rock. There are some areas around here that I know are 10 inches or more deep with rock that has been built up over the years.
The other way is to feed on concrete but that can also get messy and pretty quick. Then you just have to clean, clean and clean. And if not careful, it can get pretty slick. I know that when it does get in that condition it can be hazardous. The concrete can be as slick as glass and a broken leg can happen pretty easily.
Another thing we do is drag the ground area around the feeders. When the ground is still muddy yet a little frozen, we pull the drag behind the tractor and even out the ground. Now, I don’t do this myself, but Al does on a pretty regular basis. He usually does this at the same time he puts out hay for the cattle and horses.
We do the same procedure around the hay feeders. They are easy enough to pick up with the tractor and move every time we put out a new bale. This keeps the area from becoming too much of a mess and the grass will grow back come Spring.
Everyone does things differently but this just might give you another idea. I do know that a drag is a must on the farm and an important part of our farm equipment. We have ours made from 5 old tires, halved and attached together in a triangular shape with a chain that hooks to the tractors hitch. It does a great job.
In todays economy we have to make use of all the things that we already have on hand. We just cannot afford to go out and buy new stuff and put it on our credit cards anymore so we must improvise. It is amazing what you can find around the barn, house or yard that you can make use of.
On of the things that we have started getting a lot of use out of is a drop sided wagon. (Look in the background of the above picture in the doorway of the barn, and you will see our wagon.) If and when we need to haul several buckets of feed at once but really don’t need the truck or tractor, it comes in very handy. A bale of straw or hay fits in it just perfect and you can pull it with you right into the barn. This little wagon can go places that other equipment cannot even fit into. It has rubber tires and maneuvers well. Having a bad back, it has became one of the farm supplies that I cannot do without. It saves me from having to carry feed out to the cattle because I can just load the buckets and pull them out to the feeders in the wagon, unload and dump. The stress and strain is no longer a problem.
Another item I have made use of is a hard rubber water trough. I placed it up next to the house under a downspout and now collect rain water in it. I have discovered that by using rain water on my seedlings and plants in my green house is better for them than city water with all the chlorine. I bottle it in milk jugs and plastic bottles and store it to use for my house plants all year round. It really works great. Even in the winter, I’ll fill the jugs and keep my supply stocked. I only have a problem if it freezes.
Look around, see what you can use out of all the things you already have. You may be surprised.
If you have animals you will have to have some type of livestock feeders to feed them. Now, I do not mean cats and dogs, I’m talking cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs and such. Depending on the animal or animals you have will tell you what size you will need.
Goats, sheep and pigs usually need a low feeder where the trough is low to the ground or sits directly on the ground. This makes it easy for them to reach. Horses and cattle, unless babies, can be higher. High enough so that they do not have to eat off the ground and low enough that they can easily reach without struggling to reach their feed.
Once you have determined the size, how high and how many will be eating from this one feeder, you will need to purchase supplies. That will include lumber, treated or non-treated, some 2×4′s and 2×6′s, strong sturdy posts and some screws. How much of these will depend on the size of the feeder you want to build. Then you get your measuring tape, saw, hammer, if using nails, drill and begin to build. I am certain that if you do not have an idea of how to do this you can find instructions on the internet or contact your local farm bureau. It will take some time but in the end well worth it.
On the other hand, you can purchase livestock feeders at any online or storefront farm supply company. There are several to choose from, all shapes and sizes. If you are not one to build things or work with your hands, then this may be the way to go. Check out our website by clicking on livestock feeders and look around. Click out our affiliate “Barn World” and you will also find some feeders and ideas there.
Isn’t this beautiful? Winter is just around the corner, are you ready? I’m not ready for the cold and snow but I do believe I am ready for a break. As much as I love and enjoy my gardening, I am ready to settle down to a little rest.
I was dissappointed with my garden harvest this year, we had way too much rain in the Spring, and three plantings later my garden began to grow. I had tomatoes early and was really looking forward to a good crop, well that was a flop. After August, with the weather being so cool, the plants lacked the heat they needed to produce. My bush and pole beans done well for a fews weeks and then they quit producing. The squash and zucchini did not do well at all and my peppers only produced half of what they did last year. Since September we have had below normal temps and my 2nd (Fall) planting was doing well until it decided to fr0st last week. Now we are done.
I was getting frustrated at worrying all the time if my plants would produce and what I could do to save them. Now all I have is about seven tomato plants that I saved and put in my greenhouse for the winter. I am hoping that I can, at least, have a few tomatoes throughout the winter months. Cleaning the leftover debris of vines and old plants out of the garden now take precedence in getting everything ready for Spring.
Now that we are at the end of gardening season, the garden tool caddy, tool organizer, tools, lawn mower, wagon, tomato stakes and bean and cucumber supp0rts will all be put away. I keep out only the few tools that I need for my flowering plants and tomatoes. All of these plants are in pots so my small hand tools are all that is needed and a bucket for watering.
Each year I learn something new to try in my garden. Last year I started my own herb garden and it has worked out really well. Being diabetic I have learned a whole new way to cook with herbs and growing my own is inexpensive and healthy. This year, I mastered growing potatoes in tiers of tires. That was great! They did well.
I kept a journal this year of all that I planted, what location, the dates they were planted, what fertilizer, if any, was used, and how they produced. Also, I kept track of any problems, such as changes in the leaves color and growth period. This will help me next year in planning my new garden.
Looking forward to a new planting season after a much needed rest.
Fall has arrived and we are preparing for the winter months ahead. Now is the time to clean and winterize your tools and equipment. One thing that I have learned is to not put tools away with dirt on them. I never considered that a problem until it was pointed out to me several years ago.
I didn’t realize that I could prevent my tools from rusting over the winter months just by doing about 30 minutes of cleaning and maintaining in the fall.
For garden tools, shovels, pitchforks and the like, wipe them clean of dirt and mud and then wipe them down with vegetable oil or cooking spray. This will keep them clean and rust free. Waterers and feeders that are not in use during the winter months need cleaned thoroughly, dried and put away in storage until needed. The best way to clean these are to wash them down, if not able to immerse them, with hot sudsy bleach water and then rinse well and let air dry.
The same pertains to bridles, saddles, harness and reins for your horses. If not maintained during the times of non-use, they can grow mold and become dry and brittle. It is advisable to clean them well and use a product like Leather Therapy to keep them in good shape at least every six months. Depending on use of your equipment, you may need to do it more or less.
This process goes for just about anything that you store for several months at a time. Just like my Lawnmower tractor and wagon that I pull behind it to do yard work. I clean them, wash them down and then store them in the shed or barn out of the weather. This keeps them in good condition and ready for use come Spring. This also applies to heavy farm equipment such as tractors, hay wagons , hay racks, combines, disks, brush hogs and etc.
Just a little maintenance in the Fall saves a lot of work in the Spring.
When I was still in elementary school, one of my best friends lived on a cattle farm. My parents occasionally complained about driving down the long, dusty rural roads in order to drop me off at his house, but I certainly didn’t mind. Once I arrived, we would spend the entire day outside, running through the grass and even performing some chores around the farm.
My friend’s older brother would give us a ride to the barn, which sat back in the middle of a cow pasture a half-mile or so from the house. On the way, the beat-up pick-up truck would bump into a drive through gate, which would close immediately behind us. This kept the cattle from getting through, but it was easily a highlight of the day for my 8-year-old self.