Monday, November 20, 2006

Winter Annuals

Conspiring with one of my neighbors last weekend we planted some winter annuals on parts of both our places.

We planted by simply broadcasting seed on pastures that had been deliberately over grazed this fall. Then we used a drag to try and cause better seed soil contact. We planted equal parts oats, rye grass and wheat.

They tell me that we should have done this a bit earlier according to the University studies. Considering we have had no rain since I was a good bit younger (or so it seems) I don’t see how it could matter.

Now we just have to wait and see what happens. If we do get rain I expect the resulting growth will help a lot in the early spring. Otherwise we just spread so much birdseed.

You pay your money and you take your chances, that’s farming.

This is the first time I’ve tried to do this, but it’s something that was commonly done in the area when farms were more self-sufficient than they are now.

It was also very common to make hay on a small scale the way I am doing it. These days most of the cattle farms just buy hay. This year there was a drought year and there is no hay to buy.

There will be a lot of brood cows going to market before spring.

We have hay, enough to get us through even if the winter annuals don’t perform well, barley. This is not because I’m smarter than most, but just because I like old hay equipment and doing things the way the old folks did them.

It’s better to be lucky than good.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Different Christmas Poem

I usually limit this blog to farming related topics, but that's my rule, so I get to break it. Enjoy.

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.

I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.

I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.

Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Farmers Market

After two weeks I judge the new farmers market to be a success.

No one is getting rich there, especially me, but it allows me to sell all my eggs and get some good face time in with potential customers for other things.

I need to get some pictures or the actual market.

It runs each Friday from 4 to 7 PM. Midmorning I go up and park the trailer as a sort of announcement. This is the trailer set up in my barn. I thought a hayride look would be good.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My public demands it!

My last blog post was quite some time ago indeed. Today I got this comment:

Cheryl said...

Now, you can't just leave your 2 blog fans in suspenders like this. How about an update? ;)

WA state
How about that? I’ve been missed. Time to get back into gear.

There have been lots of things happening on and around the farm with the obvious exception of blog postings.

We have established something of a new routine here with the sheep herd. At the MSA meeting (see previous post) we learned a lot about internal parasites and how to manage them.

The ofending vermin is Haemonchus contortus, commonly known as the barberpole worm.

This visious little beasty is a major problem here with our hot wet climate. We have lost several sheep to this bug.

One fact about how it works struck me. It lays on the ground and is rather inert until the grass becoms wet. It then “swims” up the grass blade where it can be eaten by a sheep.

If the grass is dry it is very unlikely that the sheep will ingest the parasite.

Our sheep tend to graze heavly right at daybreak, no doubt because it is cooler than later in the day. Dew is usually very heavy here. If you walk a pasture early in the day it will soak through your clothes.

Sheep in the dry lot

The new routine is this, in the evening the sheep get penned up in the dry lot not to be release til the dew burns off the next day, typically about 10:00 AM.

We are now at the beginning o f breeding season. The ewes are divided into two groups, each with one of the rams. The market lambs are in yet another group.

The ewes and the rams have been on opposite sides of a fence for a week or so. They have been making kissy noises back and forth all that time.

Judging by the activity so far, lambing season should be short and early next spring.

Three of the 14 market lambs have been sold to 4 different people, the ultimate consumers.

I'm still working out the logistics of getting animals to the butcher and meat to the customers but we will get it done somehow.

I just came back from a visit to the butcher shop I'll be working with. It is a very nice little operation. Clean and professionally run. I was impressed.