Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Farm Toys

One requirement for a farm toy is that must be "funky". Well, this one's funky.

This is an essential tool in wheelchair accessible farming, which as we all know, is a goal of just hoards of people.

This is what it looks like, and old electric golf cart. I use it to zoom around the farm.

Our farm is all flat grass land. This would be useless in steep, rough country.

It is set up so that I can toss my wheelchair into the back, the blue box behind the seat, without taking it apart.

Before I got this, I just used my pickup truck to get around the place.

That works fine, but I have to take the wheelchair apart and fold it up every time I get in and out of the truck. On a normal day of running around and working on the farm, that happens about a thousand times.

I like the gator UTV's and similar vehicles people use for this kind of task, but I'm just too cheap to buy one. This thing is old and relatively cheap. And funky, of course.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yard Birds

Several years ago when we started raising a few chickens we had one hen who would escape over my electronet fence and hang out in the barn and the adjoining barnyard all day.

Every evening she would go back over the fence and roost with the other birds.

Mama named this hen "Harriet" as in Harriet Tubman, on account of all the escaping she was doing.

Now any hen who goes over the fence is called Harriet.

This year we had a different hen that did that. This hen would also lay eggs in a mostly unused corner of the barn. We didn't notice the eggs at the time.

Eventually, she want broody and hatched some of the eggs.

She is now a yard bird. She show no interest in re-joining the rest of the flock. She stays out with her chicks all the time.
So this is Harriet.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Family farm, farming family

Some time back one of my brothers digitized a bunch of photos and other documents that had once belonged to my father. He sent us all a copy.

Thanks Jay.

I had not seen most of this before.

This first photo is my grandfather in front of his dairy barn. My guess is that the picture is from the 1930's.

I don't remember ever having seen this barn. I've been to this farm many times. By the time of my earliest memories it was my uncle Al's farm.

As far as I can recall, uncle Al never raised any livestock at all, just row crops.

My dad did talk about the dairy business a few times that I can remember. If you had asked him to list all the jobs he would never want to have, I'm sure dairy farming would come in first.

His beef (no pun intended) with dairy work was that it involved getting up WAY to early in the morning. Pop was one of the most completely nocturnal people I have ever known.

This is my dad with a dairy calf. It would be from the late 1930's, dad was born in 1929.

My dad was the youngest of eight children. The family farm was (and still is) in Southern Minnesota.

Uncle Al took over the farm from his father. Eventually my cousin Mark took it over from his dad. Cousin Mark lives and farms there still.

My grandfather never spent much time in school. He want as far as the seventh grade I was told.

He wasn't too impressed with what he saw formal education doing for his friends and other farmers he knew. Many times he had seen the children of other farmers go off to school and then come back and try to implement what they had learned at the Ag school at the land grant Universities.

This seemed to always result in that farm taking on lots of debt and eventually failing completely.

According to my dad, grandpa offered to pay him to stay on the farm and skip school.

No doubt that had a lot to do with why pop left the farm and went to school. He stayed at school so long he wound up with a PHD and a faculty job. Contrary runs in my family.

Still he could not stop being a farm kid. By the 1960's he had seven children, six of them boys. We lived in Southeast Ohio, pop was on the faculty of Ohio University.

He bought a farm, actually three adjoining farms, a total of 392 acres in S.E. Ohio. He would joke that it was either that or put a bail bondsman on retainer, to keep his kids out of trouble.

Very recently I read reference to a farmer stereotype. You know, some yokel with three teeth who is too stupid to do anything else.

That is not at all the way I was taught to view farmers. Pop said many times that in his line of work it was necessary only to know how to teach and to know a lot about whatever subject you were teaching.

A farmer, on the other hand, must know Biology, Agronomy, Meteorology, Economics, Chemistry, Mechanics, and a long list of other subjects. And if you got any of it wrong, or worse yet, just had a bit of bad luck, no payday for you.

It's a lot easier just to be a College Professor.

Anyway, that how I wound up bailing hay, building fences, chasing girls, and drinking beer during my teenage years. As opposed to just chasing girls and drinking beer like most kids I knew at the time.

That is why I still play at farmer. I blame my dad. And his dad, and his dad.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Farm Toys

A while back, my old friend Mr. Cooney came across a "disk plow" that he thought would work with my small tractor. We made a deal.

I had never heard of a disk plow. A plow, yes, a disk, yes, but never a disk plow.

On my dad's farm we made hay and we planted fence posts, but we never plowed anything.

This is a disk plow.

I used it to till the little garden patch where I grew corn and cow peas this spring.

It did a nice job I think, in this light sandy soil we have here.

The plan is to plant it into something I can use to help finish my market lambs.

I would like to get to the point where I don't have to buy supplemental feed for anything.

Finishing lambs is the first thing to do in that regard because I have customers that want meat that has never been fed any GMO or conventionally fertilized/sprayed feed.

Most customers don't need that but those who do will pay a premium for it.

American Farmer

Way back in the 18th century, a book was written made up of letters between an American Farmer and a European. It was intended, at least in part to explain Americans to those across the pond.

More information about Letters from and American Farmer. I had read it years ago as no doubt many of you have.

Anyway, a blog I often read that previously had nothing to do with agriculture is using this as a basis for a discussion thread that, from what I've seen of this blog in the past, will be interesting.

I have no idea where the discussion will lead, but it would seem that Mrs du Toit has "discovered" our little corner of the universe.

Having been in and around farming all my life, I forget what weird zoo specimens we must seem to be to those who have never been exposed to things agrarian, which is to say, most everyone.

Long time, no post.

Nothing has been added to this blog all summer. It's not that nothing is happening here, just that I got bored with the blog and seemed to always have something I'd rather do that create a new post.

So far I had mostly limited my posting to issues directly related to farming. I think I will not stick quite as closely to that rule as I have in the past.

I read lots of "How To" sorts of information on the subjects related to agriculture, and of course almost never put the suggestions made there into practice.

Folks write, as I have done in the past, about what they do on their operation, and of course it worked well in the situation described, but likely would not be a "best practice" in a different situation.

In farming there are almost always many, many correct ways of doing a thing. A farm is the ultimate cosmic gizmo and there are so many variables in play at any given time that no two situations are ever the same.

So, I intend to at least try to include a lot more than just the "what" but also "why" and all manor of musings that go along with the avocation of agriculture.