Monday, May 18, 2015

Road building–It’s about time

For the last two years we’ve been accessing our house via a dirt road/mud bog driveway. Every time it rains or snows Millie immediately says “Isn’t it time we get a road yet?” Followed but numerous grunts and groans about how how people can’t visit us and we can’t leave for several days and how “NO” I can’t buy a 4x4 truck just so we can leave the property.

It’s been a long wait but we have finally made the plunge.

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As the grader started pushing dirt Millie started getting cold sweats and worrying about whether we made the right decision to scar the earth with such massive machines. My Millie is very sensitive to the environment and I think she was a sunflower in her previous life. Camping 033

Our Grader Guy was wonderful. He gave a bunch of guidance, direction, and encouragement when Millie’s question became plentiful.Camping 026

We basically just scraped off the top soil and and flattened out road.

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In all reality the road was shaped in about two hours. That’s right. We waited two years for two hours of grader work. We (I’m) not that smart some times.Camping 025

The road is about 900 feet long and we plan on covering it with yellow bricks or some other form of precious aggregate.

We are pretty excited about the prospect of not having to hit the mud bog going 90 mph so we can get through. Millie has been giddy. She even mentioned the other day that maybe we should get a truck as any real farm has a real sized truck.

If I would have known I could get a truck as long as I built my wife a road I would have started shoveling by hand two years ago.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Clay plaster workshop

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since we went to this clay plaster workshop

Ever since then we have been telling our family, friends, and visitors the reason we are suffering through exposed drywall throughout our place is we are determined to do clay plaster on our wall and just haven’t had the time, money, or skill to pull off this feat. (I don’t think anyone believed my excuses. Everyone just thinks I’m lazy hillbilly. ha.)

We did mud, tape, and paint our bedroom a while back but ever since then Millie has been feeling guilty and nauseous in our succumbing to social pressures to have a finished bedroom. We did use super duper paint that smells like roses and cherries but it still is too stinky for Millie.

So in an effort to keep my promise to Millie we are going through with the clay plaster walls.

Of course I have no clay plaster skills and Millie won’t let me just do it so we decided to have Ashley and Heather from Dirt Craft come down and help us out.

We actually have a workshop scheduled at our place in June. Should be fun.

You can see by the pictures below, everyone smiles and has a lot of fun at these events.

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I even picked up a night of music from a local musician at a charity auction that I think I’m going to come and entertain the night of the event.

We are really looking forward to it.

It may take me two years to come through on my promise but things are looking up and we should have covered walls within a month or so.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

View from our front porch

We like the sunset from our house. As Dancing Queen says “we get a picture painted for us everyday.”

Here’s a few pics taken by our usually terrible phone camera.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Steps to graft on a calf to a Jersey milk cow

Step 1: Rosebud meet Rocky. Rocky meet Rosebudcouch 017

What? Were you expecting more steps?

I could add the following:

Go pick up a calf from any source available. We like to get calves from a local dairy as bull calves are fairly inexpensive.couch 030

Make sure your cow has enough milk. Rosebud was giving about a gallon and a half per day. (She caved in July a year and a half ago) The calves will take anywhere between half a gallon to a gallon a day to start out with. Increasing after that. The calf will start eating grass or hay very soon but will increase in need for milk as well.

I still milk once a day. I put the calf in a pen at night and milk in the morning. The calf takes the rest of the milk. I only get around half a gallon to three quarters of a gallon a day but that’s usually enough for our family. The nice thing is if we need to go anywhere we now have an automatic milker. If you are a simple farm like ours there is no help besides me and Milly and kids. There are not too many people now a days that know how to milk a cow. Having the calf allows us to take off whenever we need to since it’s way easier to say “can you check the chickens?” than “Can you milk my cow?”.

Rosebud was bred in October and will need to be dried up around the end of April which is when we’ll feel comfortable weaning Rocky fully. (he’ll be around 7 months)

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At first I kept the calf roped to the cow shed. I led him over to the electric fence quite a few times to shock his nose. Then I got lazy and now he runs all over the place. He’s small and we’ll put him in a real pasture with fences come April.

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Rosebud didn’t want anything to do with the calf for about 10 minutes. She kicked the calf a few times and I had to speak sternly to her a few times. But after a few hours with him she started having that momma moo sound (you know, MMMMMMMOOOOOOO, HE’S MINE AND I’M GOING TO KEEP HIM MMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOO) and was really protective of the calf.

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It’s nice to see natural instincts take over.

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You can see Rosebud starting to lick the calf and stand still while the calf gets accustomed to what to do.

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I had to stick my fingers in the calf’s mouth and lead him over to the teat at first but after about 5 minutes he was off to the races.

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The next day this was the site I saw out the back door.

Adoption complete.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Who in the heck is following me?

I’ve been a bad blogger over the past few months (year really) but I browsed out on my sight and noticed how cool I am:


I’m not sure who or why people are looking at this blog but for some reason there is constant traffic on the site.  Whoever you are, thank you for following and sticking with us on this journey.

To be honest we’ve still done a bunch of cool homesteading type stuff but a lot of my time has been focused on If you are a professor or a student that wants to use Microsoft Dynamics products but don’t want to buy servers or do the installation and maintenance yourself you’ve probably run into me. If not I’m not too sure how to tell you what I do so I’ll just say I work from home in my pajamas most of the day.

I still milk a cow every day and Rosebud has been bred to a nice big Gelbvieh bull so we are expecting a calf at the end of July. We got a calf from the local dairy a few months ago and grafted him on Rosebud so we can leave occasionally.

Our grey water is a success for the 3rd winter. We are pretty happy with the system.

It’s cold most of the time but we have our eye looking forward to a great spring ahead in…3 months.

The kids are growing like weeds and Milly is the new cub leader in our area.

I promise to be better with the blogging thing but drop me a line if you see this so I know it’s not just an automated computer response making me feel like I’m cool. I’m ok with not being cool but if I am cool I’d like to know who thinks so.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Collecting wood from the mountains

We start thinking about cold weather this time of year. It’s nice right now but the niceties can change in the course of a few hours. That being said we take every opportunity to collect wood from various sources.

This past weekend Ringo and I went up with some friends to the mountains to gather wood. We all pitched in together and came home with several loads of lodge pole pine firewood.

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I have trailer envy. Look at that nice big trailer compared to Grey Beards ski-doo trailer.

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Ringo is a good worker. He turned ten years old on this day. I asked him if it could get any better than being in the mountains collecting wood with his dad and he kind of grunted. He reminded me he had a birthday party that afternoon and we needed to work fast to make it in time. rototilling 006

Here’s our load. rototilling 008truck with wood

Not quite as big as the big trailer. We had to take off to make it to Ringo’s shin dig but I was told they filled up this trailer another time along with another couple of small trailers.

It’s quite a bit of work to drag out these poles but the wood is great and it’s fun to work with a bunch of guys instead of doing it all by yourself. truck full of kids

We made it back to the birthday party (late of course as we didn’t stop working in time) and filled up the back of the truck with a different kind of lodge pole pines.rototilling 012

Ringo wanted to head down to the river and have a hot dog roast for his party. The sun came out and all the kids jumped in the water although they didn’t last that long as it is mid October here and the water is quite cold this time of year.rototilling 017

But the kids are tough as nails as you can see by this guy. It’s nice to have a bunch of kids around on days like this because if one goes in the water they all have to so they are not out done. rototilling 015

After about an hour a wind storm came through and all the kids huddled around the fire. We though we may be stuck down there the rest of the winter. But after fifteen minutes the weather turned decent again and we were able to haul everyone back home wrinkled, sandy, but unscathed.

I’m pretty sure Ringo like the river portion of the day better than collecting wood in the mountains but I enjoyed the whole day tremendously. I think we’ll head up for another load soon before the snow flies.

You can’t have too much wood in our part of the world. You never know when you’ll feel like heading down to swim in the river and need a nice big fire to warm everyone up.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Garden Tilling

Millie and I are quite impressed with our level of preparedness this year. We just finished an indoor cold storage room in our basement and have harvested all our potatoes, carrots, beets, and various other sundry garden wares. We also were on the ball this year and had our garden tilled after depositing all the manure pile into the garden.

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We had a local equipment operator come in and haul the manure pile into our garden. The pile has been sitting there for about 6 months but we started it about a year ago.rototilling 027

I was tempted to do it by hand but the $100 to haul and till the garden was well worth it. It would have taken me two days to shovel the six foot high by 12 x 6 foot pile.rototilling 028

If you look carefully in the background you can see the source of this magnificent manure mound. She may look skinny but she sure does recycle an amazing amount of fertilizer.rototilling 029

We loaded the whole pile onto our garden.rototilling 030

I sure like the sky in our area. The smell from this side of the garden was a little bit sour but because of the composting nature of the contents it wasn’t all that bad. rototilling 031

Could you imagine me doing that all by hand. Some things are worth paying for.rototilling 032

While the tractor was delivering the dung Millie watered trees and enjoyed the view. rototilling 033

Molly dressed up as little green riding hood and collected rosehips. rototilling 034

After tilling up the moo mounds you can see the surface is smooth and fluffy.rototilling 035

We only did one pass through the garden as we didn’t want to make the ground too fluffy or it might blow away with the high winter winds we are bound to experience this off season. I will probably put up a pallet fence half way through the garden to decrease the erosion and hopefully catch more snow for ground protection and water collection.

As I said at the beginning of this post, Millie and I are not usually this on top of things. We still have a ton of things to do this fall to prepare for winter but it’s sure a great feeling to have a full storage room and the garden ready for spring.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Harvest time

It’s that time of year when it can be snowing and cold one day and be 21 degrees Celsius the next. It’s quite discouraging to look out the window in the morning and see this on the porch.

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We’ve had a couple of snow storms already, one of which included six inches of snow.Harvest 001I took the above picture in the attempt to make snow seem romantic and nice but in reality it’s just cold and ruined all my garden plants.Harvest 158

The potato harvest was pretty good this year. We planted Russets, Yukon gold and Pontiac reds. Some of the potatoes were fairly large. We were worried they might have hollow heart but not one so far has had that so we are pretty blessed.Harvest 153The kids have been great helpers this year in the harvest. Ringo turns ten years old soon and works like he’s sixteen. Harvest 152I think my kids are the only ones that would wear a coat but still be in shorts and no shoes. We get frequent visitors to our place and I often wonder if we are thought of as hillbillies as we are often barefoot running around the farm. Hopefully we are just thought of as trendy hippies who like to partake in Earthing. Harvest 149We ended up with nine apple boxes of potatoes which is about six hundred pounds of food. We also stored four boxes of carrots which is around 150 lbs of product. We usually store the carrots in sand but are trying sawdust this year. Sand works great but is awfully heavy. I’m getting old and can’t lift things like I used to so we are trying sawdust as it’s lighter. We’ll have to check on the carrots often this winter to make sure the sawdust is working.Harvest 148There is a picture of my dad when I was a kid kneeling down picking potatoes that is almost an exact replica of this photo. I always thought my dad was old and uncool. Thirty years later I realize that he is pretty awesome and hip. He’s still old though.Harvest 147Ringo thinks I’m old now but I keep telling him he better think I’m handsome as he’s going to look just like me in thirty years. Harvest 143Hopefully Molly will look like Millie in thirty year and not like me.Harvest 106Here’s our own Mrs. Potato head. Isn’t she beautiful?Harvest 107

We gave one of these potatoes to Dancing Queen. She wouldn’t take more as she said one potato would feed her and grey beard for two meals.Harvest 142Molly is a great helper as well. It’s fun to work with the kids. I think it’s probably more fun to harvest than it is to weed but that’s to be expected. Harvest 102We even grew cantaloupe this year. Look at these beauties. Juicy and wonderfully tasting.Harvest 105

It gives you an idea of how big the potatoes are. Harvest 103

Well, I should tell the truth here. The cantaloupes were wonderful just really small. We’ll have to start them inside next spring so they get a little bigger.

We are almost ready for snow to come full time. We are going to the mountains to get wood this morning and hopefully be back in time to play down at the river this afternoon.