Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another Dodge and a Fall Garden Update

A neighbor thinks I need therapy but a screaming deal came to us on a 1991 Dodge pickup and we picked it up to flip. If your counting, we now have a black one (in the pole barn getting some work done), ole Blue which is my daily driver, and this new red one. I don't know why I like First Generation Dodge Pickups but I do. They don't have many aftermarket parts available so you have to hit the scrap yards to keep them going but they are easy to work on and when you see someone else with one (they are fairly rare around here) and he has a rusty cab roof, his truck wanders a bit on the highway, and he has the window down on even the hottest days because the AC no longer works you just knowingly smile and nod or maybe even wave in acknowledgement. First gen Dodge trucks were never cush and were technological dinosaurs even when new; I like that.
Its a 1991 D-150 with a 3.9L V6 (a 318 with two cylinders lopped off), 3 speed automatic, Air and that's about it. You have to roll your own windows up and down with a crank, it has rubber floor mats and a vinyl seat, and not a speck of rust on it which is very unusual for Dodges of this vintage (as you can tell from the 1990 next to it -old Blue).

It started life as an Air Force parts runner but was given to the State of Mo Dept of Conservation who in turn lent it to a Rural Fire Dept as a fire support vehicle and one of their stipulations was that it had to be stored inside, maintained etc (we have some in my dept with the same stipulations) which is why its in such good shape.

Just basic truck like they used to make and not even a tear in the vinyl seat. The heater and AC actually work but the genuine Chrysler radio has a mind of its own.

Everything works on the truck and the suspension is tight so its a nice driving little truck.

Holly likes the red paint mostly because it isn't blue and not rust colored. The red paint is actually just International Harvester red implement paint that we use in the fire service and its never going to be a show truck but it works great and doesn't look bad.

One of the benefits of a rig like this is that its never been molested or mangled by those who fancy themselves as mechanically inclined. The 3.9 of this vintage is pretty primitive and a bit lacking in smoothness and power but paired with the automatic is drives pretty good and its quiet. Everything is stock, all maintenance records are there and though we plan on selling this, it will be tough to part with it.
The fall garden is coming along and our carrots are going strong...

We have lots of beef steak tomatoes almost ready to harvest..

And the Spinach, broccoli and cabbage are in.

Its been hot enough that we have a bumper crop of hot peppers still and since we have purchased a small dehydrator now we plan on drying a bunch.

The second crop of snap peas are ready and selling well.

Even our second crop of cucumbers is doing well. All and all its been a good growing year this year and we feel pretty good with our productivity.

And finally, Whiskers and Piglet have taken to laying at the entrance to the barnyard to great any visitors. Its not a hard job but everyone has to pull their weight around here.


Its been a busy month here on the farm and as we close out summer we look forward to the bit of rest that fall always promises.

Fire Fighting school continues through 14 Dec and though it can be a pain to drive the 80 miles round trip to school a couple times a week I am finding that its rewarding in many ways. I am certainly learning a lot and I also like the camaraderie from the Fire Fighters from various departments. We have had some drop out but we all just finished the Hazardous Materials Operations level course which is a prerequisite to getting certified as a Level II Fire Fighter and I think the rest of us are hard core enough to stick it out to the end.

We have the fall garden going well, we are getting ready to do our second cutting of hay and as the title of this post alludes to..we have a couple of sheep now. We are also getting ready for number 1 daughter Jenny's wedding next month....and I for one am ready for things to slow down (what happened to the Simple Life?).

We have been getting rain on and off so things are still green here which pleases me as a farmer but its not making the bow hunters too happy...yes its deer season already though I don't hunt until the rifle season in November.

I enjoy these little vignettes around the farm and particularly in fall and spring. The haying equipment is staged waiting for a 4 or 5 day dry period so we can cut, dry, windrow, and bale. 

The Black Walnut trees are some of the first trees to start shedding leaves and though they aren't colorful, their scattering on the ground means fall is soon to come even though its still hot during the day. The weather people are saying that we will have a rough winter and a colorful fall...its time (actually passed time) to start thinking of cutting wood for the wood boiler.
We stated at the beginning of the year in a blog post that we were going to start fixing up the old barn this year and get electric to the pole barn shop and we have now started both projects. Maybe a little late in the year but we have been busy and sometimes things just get pushed to one side for awhile.
The previous owner had built barn doors out of interior grade tongue and groove paneling with no cross bracing and he attached everything with paneling nails. I guess it was an attempt but as you can imagine it didn't last long and we have been putting off fixing this issue ever since we bought this place. Holly and I have now replaced a couple of the doors with heavy 2x6 planks with Z bracing and the doors now open to the inside instead of the reverse like they were. Its satisfying work, very satisfying.

And this is why we finally got around to fixing up the barn and doing a bunch of fencing around the place. This is Tulip, a pregnant Dorper Ewe that we traded the old golf cart for (along with a little mixed Ram).
Tulip and Nike have adjusted well to their new surroundings and they have the run of the stall inside the barn, the barnyard in front and the two paddocks behind the barn.

Nike was bottle fed and is very affectionate and likes to be petted and have his ears scratched while Tulip is more reserved.

They make a bit of noise once in a while, Bandit and Rose have already made friends with them, and the cattle are curious as all get out and spend hours next to the paddock fence bellowing to them or just staring at them and watching everything they do. They add a lot to the farm and we hope to grow the herd.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Day on the Farm

We get lots of queries about how life is on our small farm and what we do all day so here it is:

We will actually start last evening. I am enrolled in a Fire Fighter II course and am going to class 2 to 3 times an week for 4 hours in the evening from 6-10. Last night we had HazMat which was BORING and Holly had a fund raiser meeting for the Fire Department (she is on the Board of  Directors) so it was a late night but Holly's meeting went well and I car pooled with my friend Ed who is also in the course so it wasn't too bad. We have a 70 mile round trip to the class site so its a big undertaking but to be honest I enjoy being with the guys and I am not really complaining. I will be done with the class after the first week of December......uggg.

I posted the above to show why we are so tired this morning. We got up at about 0700 and both of us slept okay though I was up for several hours due to my back and Holly joined me in having neuropathy of the lower extremities. We got up and it was my turn to make the coffee and then we laid in bed with a cup and talked, flirted, laughed, and decided our day. This is our normal routine and we finally get up each morning with a smile or a laugh. Oh, and in the middle of all that, Bandit (who sleeps on our bed) had to go out side for the bathroom so we jockied on whose turn it is to let him out and in and then we have to let have some kind of "bacon treat". We also heard a scratch at the door and Whiskers and Piglet had to be let in and then get on the bed and then......well, its a farm thing.

After a shower Holly fixed a great breakfast sandwich while I skimmed the news on the Inter webs and we then started the work day.
We took the GMC to a saw mill about 8 miles up the road and got some composted mulch for the truck garden. $20 for this load.

We had previously tilled this part of the garden so we spread the mulch, added some compost of our own and then tilled it again preparatory to planting winter wheat. If it looks like work it was and I got soaked with sweat.
I had to go in and cool off and ended up showering and came out to see Holly trying on her gown for Jenny's wedding. This gal doesn't wear makeup or like fancy clothes but man she shines up real nice!
We headed to the back pasture to do some fencing and Holly caught this picture which I think kind of captures our life. Simple, a bit of dirt, a truck, some calf skin gloves, and a love of the outdoors. 
We picked up some cattle panels that had been left in the new south pasture we just fenced..
And by fenced I mean T-Posts, corner posts and 5 strands of Gaucho 4 pt high tensile steel barbed wire. Our hired hand Kody is a HS Senior, he is a member of the Fire Department, and if he is what this new generation has come to......we will all be okay.

We even have the gate up which will allow us to start a rotational grazing scheme.

This picture? I just like Holly's legs.....and......its my blog.
We are always looking for new ways to enjoy our small farm and studying the many creatures that inhabit is one way we increase our enjoyment. Look closely at this walking stick we saw today on the chicken coop; just another awesome example of nature.
The web of this Missouri garden spider (harmless and beneficial to humans) was pretty massive and spanned the cross section of one of the raised planters we built this spring. We watch it every day and leave it alone.

This is from the back side......if you really look closely at what is around you there is no need to visit an art and art are all around you!
That spider web is at the end of this planter...can you see it?
Not every insect (yes I know a spider is an arachnid and not an insect) is scary. We have been blessed by an abundance of bees and butterflies this year and we just enjoy watching them.

Look at this fellow on some of our Basil this evening; and people watch TV why?
Early afternoon we feed the cows and little Buster is still trying to decide his place in the world. His mother Thelma bellows at him if he isn't right next to her all the time and the other heifers also keep him in line. 

Still a bit wary..

But kept in line by all of them...
In late afternoon we planted more of the fall garden and as you can see the flat light just looks like fall....ahhhhh

Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach...and more to come...

Our second planting of tomatoes is coming along well and a quick picking of tomato horn worms resulted in a couple to feed the chickens..
You get tired towards the end of the day and tend to take breaks; this is as good of a place as any.

For those who asked, the Chickens are doing well though in a lull with egg laying. We don't get near what we used to and I have been thinking about bringing out a big soup pot as a warning but Holly and Judy say no.
At the end of the work day the light is flat, its cooler, and we enjoy the feeling of a day well spent. Its hard to describe but for me its a throw back to a bygone era and I have never felt more satisfied in my working life.

When we lived in suburbia we landscaped to try and create various "vistas", nature does that for us here. 

And finally, after a game of yard darts we sat out on our back patio and saw Judy watering her garden across the way and I had to take this picture. Later tonight we will gather on our back patio to watch the bats swoop in and out of the Sodium Vapor light to catch flying can keep your cable or satellite TV...