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Showing posts from June, 2013

Sunday Post

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousnes…

Planting Beans

The unusually wet spring (and now summer) have made farming a challenge this year. Of course most years are a challenge for farmers--I guess the surprise comes in that the challenge is always slightly different. Remember last summer's drought? I do, and I've been caught muttering more than once that this is likely all of last year's rain, arriving late. 
With beans we have to wait until the soil warms up. And because we are organic, we want to till the soil lightly several times before planting. We want to allow the weeds to sprout and then till them out, over and over again. So we've done a lot of waiting for the right conditions. 

Finally, last week, The Farmer determined that it was now or never.  See the lovely sky? He planted one evening and then part of the next morning, in a hurry, before the next batch of rain came.

The seeds are supposed to be planted just under the surface. Sometimes near the end of the row, as the planter is lifted, the beans end up on the …

First Day of Summer

Seasons change, and life goes on. It's been nearly a week since we watched them bury our brother in law, and the strangeness has not worn off. So much is the same. And yet we know for our sister and her family, things will never be the same. 
Somewhere in this blur of the recent past, we celebrated a birthday, planted some corn, and moved sheep and cows to new pasture several times. The llamas stand guard over the sheep. The cattle, in another pasture entirely, are on their own. We have 3 cows that have given birth, with 3 to go. Somehow, I don't think a stray dog or coyote will mess with those black and white mamas.

Speaking of mamas, can you believe how old this lamb is, and still nursing? He has to kneel down to reach the bar. This is actually quite common. Eventually, the ewes will wean the lambs themselves, if we don't do it for them first by separating them.

We are predicted to get some heat soon, after a too-wet, slightly cool spring. Happy first-day-of-summer!

See You Soon

See you soon, Steve. We will miss you, and thank God for the time you were with us. 
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers,  about those who are asleep,  that you may not grieve as others who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,  even so, through Jesus,  God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  -- I Thessalonians 4:13-14 ESV

Friday Fun Farm Facts -- Buy Local

image attribution
Recently I've seen a rash of posts about how to keep strawberries fresh longer. While I have no idea if putting them in plastic bags with holes or rinsing them in vinegar water actually help strawberries keep longer, I do have one suggestion: 
Buy local. Ask when they were picked. Better yet, pick them yourselves. There is no reason right now to buy strawberries that have been shipped in from out of state. 
And that brings me to my Friday Fun Farm Fact: If every Michigan household spent $10 of their weekly grocery budget on Michigan food, over $37 million would stay in the Michigan economy each week. Of course this principle holds true if you live in another state or province, too.

Finally Planting Corn

There are many Best-If-Planted-By dates tossed around when farmers discuss planting corn. A lot depends on your location and what type of corn seed you're planting.

But most will agree that in our area, any corn seed planted past June 15 is wasted time and money. The pressure has been on for us, and we just keep getting rain.

Yesterday the ground was "close enough" to dry. We worked it once more (it used to be a hayfield and needed lots of working to break up all that grass). And then we pronounced it "good enough" to seed. Are you getting the picture? We could hold out for perfect conditions if we didn't have the calendar sounding its alarm.

Speaking of alarm, we were not happy to find that our seed dealer (finding the seed corn supply levels low due to last year's bad weather low germination rates) replaced part of our order with seed that wasn't what we'd ordered.

We use a corn planter with plates in it. Like the walk-behind garden seed plant…

The Last Home School Graduate

I am extremely proud of all four of our kids. They are all surprisingly different, despite my feeble attempts to use cookie cutter techniques while parenting.

I have not blogged a lot about our kids, out of a desire for privacy, and because that's not what this blog is about. But every once in a while it's right to blog about family things.

A week ago, we celebrated the last one's graduation. No, there is no diploma, and we had no ceremony. Like the rest of the educational process, this, too, is up to the family. And we decided that a transcript (in case of future education) and a celebration were what we'd do.

We held the celebration at our church, and displayed some of the things that our son was proud of. The kayaks that he and The Farmer have finished and are currently working on were displayed and admired.

The robot that the local public school's robotics team built for competition came to the open house, and some of the team members were happy to demonstrate …

Friday Fun Farm Facts -- Land Preservation

Michigan has over 10 million acres of farmland, with 33% of the total farmland in some form of preservation agreement.

Another Fencing Post

Last week I did a post on some fence we'd put up. It got to be fairly long, so I decided to split the fencing project over two blog posts.

Once the corner posts are set, one wire is run between them. This provides a straight line to set all the other posts by. We use a combination of sassafrass posts and steel t-posts. I think the t-posts are called that because when you look down at them from the top, they are shaped like a T.

With electric fencing, you need to run the wire through "insulators" so the electrical current is not disrupted or grounded. Here is a clip-on black plastic insulator on a t-post.

On the wooden posts, we attach the plastic insulators with screws.

Once the posts are all set, and the insulators are all on the posts, we start putting the rest of the wire up.

Here's where our little green 'Gator comes in handy. The coil of wire turns on a turntable on the back of the traveling 'Gator. One or two walking "grunts" hook the wire on …

She's Home!!!

Happy Ending Alert:

Today, just after lunch, we got a call from a neighbor. Someone had just stopped by their house, wanting to know if they knew of anyone who had lost a dog. We had visited that very neighbor yesterday, canvassing the neighborhood. So she knew Brinkley was missing and directed the people to head to the sheep farm just up the road.

Apparently their son had picked Brinkley up on Saturday. These people kept her tied up by their pole barn all weekend, bringing her inside the barn at night because they were worried about how cold it was. They were hoping that Brinkley's owners would drive by and see her. When that didn't work, they called the animal shelter. Perhaps they called before we got there, because they were not given our number. Today they had time to ride around and ask. And we are so glad they did!

Happy Ending.

Our Hearts Are Broken

Those of you who don't follow us on facebook have missed all the excitement over the weekend. On Saturday, our daughter was checking the sheep, and our dog Brinkley went along with her out to the field.

Before our daughter noticed it, Brinkley was gone. Sometimes she goes off on a rabbit trail--she can't resist chasing any bunnies she sees. Daughter returned home, knowing that Brinkley would follow soon enough.

Except she didn't.

We let a couple of hours pass, and then went looking for her. We spoke to a neighbor who had seen the dog, and then also had seen a car going very slowly down the road after the dog. With the door open.

And now she's gone.

Our hearts are broken.

Setting Posts for a New Fence

This is planting time--one of the busiest times on the farm. We have a small window of time when the crops must go in, and the weather's just right... except it isn't. We've been blessed with an abundance of rain, which was needed. But maybe not this much, not just now. Farmers in our area are a bit tense right now--many of them have crops in, but the cold and wet weather has the corn looking a bit sickly. Those of us who don't have our corn in are tense, too. We joke that if we hear one more meteorologist say, "Well, the farmers must be happy about all this rain," we'll go postal. 
But in every cloud there is a silver lining. We've been needing more fencing done for 2-3 years now, and with the addition of the beef cows, that need is more urgent than ever. A couple of days ago, with permission, we cut down a few sassafras trees from a neighbor's woods. The sassafras resists decay somewhat more than other trees, and is approved for organic use, un…