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Archive for the 'Farm' Category

Farm Wanted

Posted by Mike on 7th December 2006

We have been renting a farm since last April. We are now looking for a farm of our own. Click here to see our flyer.

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Ready, Reado and Double

Posted by Mike on 30th May 2006

Friday started out with the job to move the herd to a new pasture. Everything seemed to go well. We were able to round up the cattle and get them to the lush grass. Cows and calves were counted as they went through the gate.  Trouble was, one calf was missing. It was one of the twins.  This is not the first time we had trouble with them.

Ready and Reado were born about a week earlier. I think that cows can’t count very well. Their mama (we call her Double) seemed to only recognize one at a time, although she accepted them both.  She is a strong cow with a good udder and able to nurse twins. Reado was the one who missed out, as Double walked off with Ready. Reado called for Double, but Double didn’t come as she already had her calf! It was now our job to get them all together. First, we caught Reado and brought him up to the corral and gave him some milk. He seemed to be a strong calf.  Then, we brought up Double and Ready to the corral for a couple days of bonding.  This worked out well and we let them loose.

The day of the move found Ready napping when the herd left.  It took us a couple hours to find him, as he was well-hidden. We thought that we could get him to walk to the new pasture, but a calf doesn’t understand such things. His instinct is to flee. He got around us and ran back toward the west fence, slipped through and was on the road.  Once again, we were trying to get him to walk to the new pasture.  Exhausted, we only got him halfway back before he got away again.

I should tell you that this particular pasture is about 100 acres with a lot of trees and ravines. It is rough territory to catch a calf. There are many ways a calf can get away and most of these ways wear out people. When Ready got away the second time, we decided to head back to the house and take a break.

A few hours later, three of us went back out in search of Ready. It took us about an hour to find him and this time we didn’t try to herd him.  Our strategy was to capture him. Ready was found in a ravine and the chase was on. Somehow we managed to keep him in the ravine, running up and down the sides, trying to get away from us.  After a couple near misses, I was able to catch him and wrestle him down. From here, we got him tied up and on a sled. We pulled him up and loaded him in the truck.  It’s back to the corral for Ready. He was tired and thirsty.

We gave him two quick bottles, which he eagerly drank down. He then looked at us in the strangest way. Somehow, he was trying to reconcile us chasing and catching him with the kindness of the milk.

It was back into the truck for Ready as we took him out to find Double and Reado. We located Double in the pasture and she started bellowing for her calf. Ready answered as we got him out of the truck. He went right over to his mama and started nursing! Reado came up too and now both calves were with their mama. It was a great feeling!

We drove off to head home after a long, exhausting day. Watching as we drove away, we could see Double, Ready, and Reado together as the sun set.

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Farm Update

Posted by Mike on 3rd August 2005

Last Saturday we stopped by the farmland. Don had told me a couple weeks before that he had finished the baling. I was eager to see my first crop. It look great! We had 18 round bales of straw and about 20 bales of hay. The pasture mix is coming along well too. Now that the oats have been cut and baled, the pasture can start taking over.

My wife and I took some time to envision where the house will be and where we might locate the drive. It is hard for me to see it, yet. I need to expand my head to hold this vision! 😉

(We also picked up a good number of chiggers. Nasty little bugs!)

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Posted by Mike on 21st May 2005

I stopped by the land tonight on my way home from a quick trip to Missouri. My seed has sprouted! It was nice to see green coming up where only dirt was three weeks ago.

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Posted by Mike on 1st May 2005

The seed is planted as of April 30! I was down at the land and talked with Don. He had to disc it again before spreading the seed and harrowing it in. But, it is done. Now, all I need is some rain and warmer weather. I will trust God for that.

Taci and I spent several hours at the land today. I picked up some hay for garden mulch. Taci let her pet garter snake go. She and Keagan caught it a couple weeks ago by our garden plots. We then planted some seedlings around the land that Taci had been growing since last year. A few maple, several ash, and one mulberry. It will be fun to recall this day, 20 years from now (Lord willing), and remember how these trees started out.

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Seed Finally Ordered

Posted by Mike on 19th April 2005

It took me a lot longer to get my seed ordered than I thought it would. I talked to several farmers and received a lot of good advice. The hard part was that the advice conflicted sometimes. I decided to take some of all their advice and leaned more towards the advice of the farmer that would be buying most of my hay. I figure that he has some preferences that will help me out in the short run, and I can always modify my approach in the future.

Here’s what I decided upon:

  • Oats 60#/acre
  • Orchard Grass 5#/acre
  • Brome Grass 4#/acre
  • Alfalfa 3#/acre
  • Birdsfoot Treefoil 2#/acre
  • Timothy 2#/acre
  • Red Clover 2#/acre
  • Alsike Clover 3/4#/acre

I have 15 acres to plant. It’s been rainy so the ground can’t be worked yet. I’m praying for a dry week so these seeds can get planted.

UPDATE: (4/20/05) I got a call from Don last night. (Don owns the farm across the road and is doing the field work for me.) He was able to get the field disced. His plan was to plant this morning, if it didn’t rain overnight. It did rain, so the seed will need to be planted another day. I’m happy for the progress!

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Planning for Spring

Posted by Mike on 24th February 2005

The update on my farming adventure is way overdue. I am busy trying to decide how to convert what used to be soybeans into lush pasture. The main problem with the ground where the soybeans used to be is that the previous owner planted some genetically engineered variety that you can blast with pesticides and it won’t die. I would mention names here, but after reading that companies’ terms of use for their website and the information contained therein, I decided it would be better not to mention names.

I’ve stated the main problem with the cropland, but there is a minor problem too. One small area didn’t get sprayed, so the previous owner left the soybeans and the weeds grow to feed the deer and other wildlife. (Yum, GMO-fed deer!) This area needs to be taken care of too.

I’ve been researching and talking to others who know something about natural farming and think that I have a strategy for the main problem. I plan on planting oats this spring. When the oats are ready, I’ll harvest the crop and either sell it or trade it. I’m going to make square bales out of the straw and save those for bedding. I will then plant my pasture mix this fall.

I think that the minor problem can be solved in much the same way as the main one. The only difference is that I have to get the old plant material out of the way and I’m not sure what I will do about that.

With all that in mind, I need to find a farmer with equipment to do the work. (I don’t have the equipment to do it yet.) I figure that I can trade the oats and some big, round, alfalfa bales for the work. This needs to be lined up in the next couple of weeks. Spring is coming soon!

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The Beginning

Posted by Mike on 13th January 2005

Last month I officially started my family on an adventure. Sure, we have been talking and dreaming about this for years. We even had one false start. This time it is for real. It’s our Farming Adventure. You might think that this is a strange adventure, but that it our dream and we are pursuing it. It is even more than a dream, it is the very thing that God wants my family to do.

Why become a farmer? I married a farm girl, but I have always been a city boy. My children dream of having a cow, some sheep, a llama, some chickens, farm cats, and a couple of dogs on our farm. It really isn’t a bad dream after all! I want to be able to provide more (if not all) real food for my family. We have been buying a lot of it direct from farmers. Having a farm is the next logical step.

Our farm is starting from scratch. We purchased 40 acres of Iowa farm ground. I won’t say that it is prime, but it is dirt. There aren’t any structures on the land, just trees, pasture, and some open acres where the previous owner planted soybeans. I plan to make that pasture too.

It is a big dream. There is a lot to do. I will share the progress of our Family Farm Adventure, right here, on mikesmind.com.

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