Sunday, June 15, 2008

More pics

The beginning of our new barn:

Graham & Owen walking through the tall grass:

And a montage of Benjamin eating with a spoon. Exciting, aye? Happy Father's Day!

Spring pics

Since the last post had no photos, I thought I'd put lots in this one.

Here's a picture taken earlier in May. It's our neighbor burning off his corn fields across the road. I'm a bit of a pyrophob, so whenever I smell smoke or gas I start getting panic attacks and running around the house looking for the source. On this day it came from outside.

Spring is the season for burning. At work, we have prescribed prairie burns. At the farm, people burn off their corn fields. Not all farmers do this; most farmers till their corn stubble back into the ground in the fall. Some farmers that do no-till or minimum-till in the fall just grind it all back in the spring. Burning it first makes tilling easier, and breaks down the nutrients faster. I understand that. But it is a little nervous watching a fire run past your property line.

Here's four days worth of eggs from our hens. Sometimes we leave town for a few days, giving our chickens plenty of food and water. When we come back, we have loads of eggs. If the weather is cool, we keep them and use them. If the weather is warm, we give them to the cats. I especially liked the two-tone one on the lowest right. Makes me wish I knew how to blow eggs (and had time to do it).

Pepper cat had her babies in early May; here they are at about two to three weeks old. We recently brought Calico's baby kittens to the humane society in Brookings, SD. They've got a great place there; I brought Calico's last brood to Brookings. This time they made me promise to spay Calico, which we did last week. Have you ever brought an outdoor cat to the vet before? I've never seen a cat jump six feet in the air. Needless to say, she was not a happy kitten. But no more babies from her! Our other two outdoor female felines, Pepper and SallyCat, are much too wild to catch. So we'll still have more kitties outside, just fewer of them.

And lastly, a picture of our ex-rooster:

He was a beautiful speckled sussex that one day decided he enjoyed attacking my boys. I knew he had to go. I've never butchered a chicken by myself before. So I asked my dairy farm friends if I could slip him in on one of their butchering days. So yesterday at 7 am he and I took a trip to the farm. I didn't do the actual deed, but I did gut him out. It was a momentous moment; he is the first animal raised, butchered and eaten at (or near) our homestead.

I know you city-slicker folks out there might be appalled at this, and that's your right. For me, I am appalled at some of the things I find for sale at the supermarket, and by the industrialization of our food supply. Chicken doesn't come from the grocery store; chicken comes from the farm. This free-range rooster had a far better and far longer life than 99.9% of the other chickens out there. Time to get past the squeemies, and to get to know your food.

Okay, sermon over! I'll put pictures of our boys in another post, so this one isn't so long. Ta!

P.S. Heres a link to the Brookings Humane Society:

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Well, thanks to a storm a few days ago I'm on dial-up internet, so that means no big pictures to download for this entry. Just a quick catch-up on things that are happening at our house.

Owen has just lost his sixth tooth, and the tooth fairy was feeling very generous and gave him three dollars for it. She was feeling generous because she missed picking up the tooth on the first night after it came out, and Owen had to leave it under his pillow a second night. We told him that she must have been really busy the first night. She's not Santa Claus, after all. She can't do it all in one night. There's nothing like the wave of parental guilt that washes over you when your seven-year-old wakes you up in the morning and tells you the tooth fairy didn't come. Owen was fine with explanation, and very fine with the extra money when the fairy did come.

Graham is my little garden and chicken helper. He helps me plant, hoe and water whenever he can. The first thing he wants to do when I get home is go outside and play with me and 'go get the eggs.' One of our roosters (a beautiful speckled sussex) has started attacking my boys whenever they get too close. Needless to say, said rooster is going to meet the sharp end of an knife in a couple of weeks. My dairy farm friends raise broilers and their first butchering date is coming up soon. They said I could bring my mean rooster along that day, and they'd do the deed. He'll taste good after several hours in a stew pot. Mean roosters lose their living privileges.

The other day Owen, Graham and I were in the yard when we realized we were missing a big blue ball, one of those that they sell from big bins in Target. We had a big storm a few days ago, so we went looking to see where it had blown. We walked around the yard, through the alfalfa, down to the neighbors slough. Couldn't find it. "Well, I guess that's that," Owen says as we head back.

Then I see a spot of blue in our old garden, near where our new barn is being built. It's the ball! Owen runs to get it and Graham follows. The area in front of the barn is bare, upturned dirt, and the boys make a bee-line into it. Did I mention that we had just had a storm, with lots of rain? Owen makes it out, but Graham gets stuck. There's nothing funnier than a four-year-old stuck in the mud. (My sister Kathy doesn't think so. When she was four she got stuck in the mud in our back yard, and we all mercilessly laughed at her while she was trying to get out. Eventually Dad went out and helped her. Man, that was funny. Boy, were we cruel.)

Graham got back to the house sans shoes, and both kids got a bath. There are still muddy socks and shoes drying on my deck.

Little Benjamin is fine. He's as stubborn as a mule. A mule in the midst of the terrible twos. No talking yet, but plenty of climbing, jumping, pulling, pushing, yelling, etc. He's learning the parts of the body. We ask him, 'where's the ear?' and he points to it. He's got most of the face and head parts down, but still gets mixed up on the others. The only recognizable thing he says consistently right now is 'O', when we show him a circle.

The garden is growing well, including my weeds. My garlic is 18" tall; peas, broccili and potatoes up to 10"; rutabagas, brussel sprouts, peppers and carrots at 4-6". My zucchini and watermelon have started their third leaf sets, and are all set for vining out. We even have a few sunflower seedlings coming up where the boys planted seeds. The tomatoes and cucumbers I started in my basement will be put into the garden this week.

Our hens are fine, giving us 7-8 eggs a day. The floor for our new pole barn is laid, and siding, roofing and lumber will be delivered this week. Just need to fix the fence and put in a gate, then bush-hog inside the fenced pen. Then we're ready for goats!

So much is going on, it's hard to keep up with everything. Not hard: impossible. There's always things that don't get done (mainly those that involve cleaning); everyday is an exercise in time management and priorities. I'm sure my priorities don't match up with others, but that's okay.