Friday, April 30, 2010

Busy springtime

I finally got a chance to blog now that it just rained a little bit. This afternoon we were out cleaning up a yard for someone on the Lake. We have been working on things here at the farm as much as possible while at the same time helping to rake lawns, wash decks, clean gutters etc. There is lots going on this time of year.

A few days ago I wrote a long blog post about what I had been up to, but then blogger lost it and now I can't remember what all I wrote about (I lost it all when I clicked "Publish"!).

This morning Jonathan went to the post office and picked up a few hundred broiler chicks. He has them all doing well in the brooder now. He hasn't lost any of the ones purchased so far and hopefully he will not lose any. There is also another 75 layer chicks in a separate brooder too that are doing well.

On a different topic, we bought a brush cutter/grass trimmer from a neighbor yesterday. We had prayed a few days ago that we would be able to find a good deal on a professional size weed eater and a few days later noticed an ad in the paper advertising one! We got a good deal on it and it is in good condition even though it is 11 years old. It had only been used five times and it works like new right now. Mom also got a $200 pasta machine for $25 at the neighbors too. We tried out the brush cutter this afternoon while working on the goat fence out in the field. It works real slick!

More coming later...


Monday, April 19, 2010

Appleseed weekend

This last weekend went well here with the appleseed shoot. We had someone that had attended the Appleseed here last August bring a troop of boy scouts up to participate. We were kind of wondering how easy they would be to teach (most of them were probably 10-12 yrs old) and how well they would pay attention, but it worked out real well. There was another friend and his son that came at noon but had to leave about 4:00 so they didn't catch all that went on. Another homeschool dad and his three sons from Stanley came and stayed for the whole day and ate supper with us before heading home. There were a few people signed up to shoot on Sunday, but no one showed up! The instructors (Jonathan, Chris, and I along with the shoot boss Alex) did some shooting on our own and I tried out a rifle with aperture sights and scored 223 points. I don't think I could have done that well with the cheap factory open sights on my 22.

On Thursday the 15th, Dad and I went down south to Napoleon ND to meet with a legislator there about the upcoming bill to eliminate all regulation of homeschooling in ND. We met in the back room of the Napoleon auction barn for the meeting. Mr. B was there with us and after the meeting, we watched the auction for a bit. That was the first livestock auction that I've ever watched so it was fun to see how it works. Mr. B explained the process so we could follow along.

We had a delicious lunch at the Bs before the meeting! Thank you Mrs. B! Before heading home we loaded up a steer we bought from them and started back. We got back home late so Jonathan had to milk for me again.
The next morning we let the cow out from the trailer and into the fenced spot near the barn to keep it until the grass gets longer. It seemed to us that the pen would hold most any animal, at least if they were as easy to keep in as the milk cow, but we found out differently a few hours later. It doesn't take much for a 600 lb calf to walk over a CATTLE panel supported only by T posts every 6 feet.
I was going to go check on him about an hour after we left him in the pen and saw that he was out in the 4 strand electric goat fence beside there. I guess he wasn't used to electric fences and walked out through the wires like it was nothing. Jonathan circled around to try to chase him back towards the barnyard, and I headed through the bushes to the pond, trying to cut him off. When I had made my way along the bank beside the pond I spotted the cow ahead about 100 yards. I didn't want to chase him faster by continuing behind him so I cut out to the "big field" and Jonathan and I started down the four wheeler trail that connects the neighbors and our properties. We didn't catch any sight of him there, so Jonathan went to get the car and went to 19th to see if he could see where the cow might cross the road. I followed the edge of the pond for a ways and then came across a spillway between the two lakes where the tracks of the cow were plain enough heading southeast towards the road. I followed for a bit and then lost the trail and didn't find it again so I went out to the road where Jonathan had the truck and trailer.
I hopped on the hood and we rode down the road until we saw the tracks of the cow crossing the road about a 1/4 mile from 43. We went up to the pavement to turn around and spotted the cow trotting east, down 43 about 300 yards away. We drove up beside him and he turned into the yard of a house there and then we chased him back the way he had come. Dad was out in the car and Andrew and David were with him.
We lost the cow into the trees on the side of the road on the way back up 19th but somehow he managed to be in the yard when Dad and I drove in. He dove into the bushes again and Dad followed him while I went to get Andrew to bring the truck and trailer and to get the rope. When I got back I found where Dad had been following him, and helped herd him towards the barn again. The cow crossed the "beaver inlet" and I tried to get across as well by balancing on some fallen logs and stumps. I made my way about half way across but then came to a dead end (no more trees to walk on) so I had to jump in the water that was about three feet deep. I waded across and then stomped up the steep hill on the other side with my boots full of water. After making my way to the "clump of trees overlooking the valley" my boot snagged on some barbed wire so I had to go back and put it on again. I was pretty tired of running now but the cow looked as if it might take off again and I needed to be in front of him. He then turned and broke through the electric fence near the barn and seemed to be pretty happy there. He then went out again and around the other side of the barn where he walked into the barn through the door. We trapped him in there and put him back in the trailer until we could set up a better pen for him. Now he's happily chewing his cud in a pen on the SW side of the barn. I guess his name is Jefferson Davis, or Jeff or Jeffery.
We plan to show him how an electric fence is supposed to work before sending him out to pasture! He has settled down now and we are glad to have a beef to raise.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An inexpensive wire strainer


If you have ever put up electric fences before, you probably see how helpful it is to use a wire tightener. A loose fence doesn't look too nice. I used the store bought ratchet strainers but when you need to tighten four or more strands it gets expensive. They cost $5 each at Nodak. I came up with one now that seems to work fine and only cost me about fifty cents.

The sides are oak so they should last a while. If not, I can aways paint them before installing them on the wire.

We are pretty much all set with the range for this weekend. We piled a few logs behind the targets where we saw the bullets hitting, so I think that will solve the ricochet problem. It looks like it will be a more fun Appleseed shoot than usual. There will be a few memorial volleys fired at 3:00 on one of the days in honor of the men that died in the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19 1775. With over 100 Appleseed's going on across the country, and all firing their volleys at 3:00, I'm sure there will be thousands of rifle shots ringing out at one time! I think the shoot boss will also be handing out a few new fliers and people will do a few Red AQTs with a different course of fire. I'm looking forward to it. I have memorized the "1st Strike" and am supposed to tell that on Saturday if is all goes like usual. The 1st strike is as much as I can remember of the events leading up to the first musket shots fired on the Lexington Green, including Paul Revere's ride and a bunch more.
We will see if anyone brings their centerfire rifle to shoot this weekend. That is why there is more logs on this end for the higher powered bullets to get stuck in (hopefully!). This morning Jonathan was on 101.9, our local radio station, advertising the Appleseed shoot this weekend. We listened at home and it sounded really good! He was on the air for 5 minutes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

There's more to say but...

Hello everyone,

This past few weeks and the next upcoming weeks are going to be very busy so that is why I have not written sooner.

A quick review of some things that have been done, and then some of the things that are going to be done (Lord willing!).

Mom, Jonathan and David went all the way to Minnesota to visit my Grandparents and spent a few days there. Dad and Andrew and I were home to keep up on the farm things here. They had a good time there, and we had a nice time here. Planted a few rows of peas almost a week ago now, so I hope the frost stays away after they pop up. We are glad to have everyone back now!

The hoop house is up and as soon as Jonathan finishes slapping a few barrel stove parts onto a new barrel (to keep the chill off at night) we will plant a few seeds in the ground there. The bay in front of the house has thawed so it won't be long until we can put the pump out again.

We now have a bit of gravel on the driveway so the sleet we got this morning won't mess it all up. I think it's supposed to rain a bit more tomorrow so hopefully the grass to come up quickly. We're getting low on hay!

This morning Jonathan and I worked together on some Appleseed training techniques. We will be instructing at an Appleseed shoot here at our farm on the 17 and 18th of this month. If you can come you had better sign up! I practiced a few days ago at an AQT (army qualification test) and scored Rifleman again, so I feel like I am able to help other people learn as well.

We have gotten a few more calls from people asking us for help this summer with yard clean-up so that will be another thing to keep us busy this year.

I'll have to stop here now to eat supper, so that's all for now.


Friday, April 02, 2010

- Diamond cutting -

The trees are stirring in the afternoon breeze and the smell of spring is in the air. A chickadee flutters down and perches on the limb of a nearby chokecherry bush, singing it's happy tune as it watches me take another step forward through the slight crust of snow under my foot. Ahead, there lies a white, snow covered clearing, stretching out to the meadow beyond.

My eyes scan the scraggly clump of willow in front of me . . . searching. A hidden treasure rests just ahead of where I stand. A treasure that most would never think of as they passed by. Another step brings me closer to the darkened, weathered, moss covered, stand of willow bushes. The ground beneath has just barely been uncovered revealing last year's fallen leaves.

Making my way through the tangle of fallen limbs and sticks, I glanced down and saw murky water swelling up in the tracks my feet had made. I was in a slight depression in the ground, barely two feet at it deepest from the surrounding forest floor, that had accumulated an amount of snow. My boots were nearly sunken in to their top, and my left foot began to feel wet as the water made it's way through a crack in the rubber.

The wind swayed the trees that hung out over the clearing and I began to redouble my efforts of finding the treasure, fearing that I may have begun in the wrong place. There! Just a few yards to my left, I spotted it. Suspended by its long shaft that merged into the main trunk, was a curiously shaped bulge in the wood surrounded by numerous other "diamonds."


In numerous places on our property we have diamond willow bushes growing. Most of the bushes were flooded when the beavers dammed up the lake overflow, so many of them are dead and dried out. There are still some that are living in the wet spots and a few afternoons ago I went out and cut a few particularly nice shaped ones. Before the bark is peeled away, the stick doesn't look that nice, but in some places the wood is full of twists and hollow spots that are referred to as "diamonds."

A lot of people like to make canes or walking sticks out of diamond willow because of the unique red color of the wood and diamonds. When the sticks dry, the wood turns red, but if it is cut green and peeled, the wood is white and the diamonds are red making a really nice looking cane or walking stick.

This afternoon I boxed up some sticks with the bark on and will be shipping them out to Idaho soon for someone that ordered them.