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Sunday, March 12, 2006

More pictures

Still trying to figure out how to get pic's in here and put them where I want them to go with the text, ain't figured it out yet.

Busy weekend

Lots going on, got my long hair cut and donated the pony tail to Locks of Love, it used to touch my belt, seems strange to have short hair again.

Finally choose a name for the new heifer, we will call her Marjie.

Got another brooder done and the Delaware chicks really like the new set up, so doesn't Sheryl as she doesn't have to put up with the mess and smell in the basement.

Moved Olive the pig in to the lane way and then put another Port a hut in there for her, as of sunday evening at 4:00 PM she still has not had her piglets.

Moved Tammy the pig from Avery's place and put her with Olive, moved Cody's pig from his place and put him in with Avery's pig, these two pigs are due to go next Sunday.

The new windows were installed on Friday and we are so pleased with them even if we did think the whole window, frame, sash and all were going to be replaced, such was not the case...oh well live and learn. We have spoken to Bruce and have the plywood, tyvec and red cedar shingles ready to order so I can completly reside the cabin.

Cody, Shawn and I got a new gate put up, the cows moved in to the east end of the ox pasture and their water trouths moved in there, Kevin and Jeff got 50 pounds of pasture mix spread in the west side of the ox pasture. I reseeded the north and south five acre lot and Cody's pasture, will do the house pasture next and then the four acre lot.

SHawn and I cut down the Chinese Empress tree and the pine tree on the east side of the house, Jeff, Kevin helped us with the clean up.

Sheryl, Kevin and I took down our split rail fence and stacked it up for burning, next to go is the lookout tower, the place is really going to look different to our return customers.

I cleaned the chimney for the fourth time this season while Shawn and Cody built a fire in the outside fire pit and burned a lot of stuff that was just waiting for the right time.

Like I said, it was a busy weekend.



Friday, March 10, 2006

Grass seed & early Spring Cleaning

We have moved piglets and they are done cleaning the horseradish bed, so I moved them in to the peacock cage and that is about clean, next is the turkey area and then the piglets will be moved to the four acre lot to finish the clearing there.

Last Sunday I went to what is now my new favorite store, "The Barn Store of New England” in Salisbury, N.H., about a 3 hour drive to get there but well worth it. I arrived about an hour early and then had to drive another 10 miles to find a place to eat.

The purpose of the trip was to buy Portahuts and they are really worth it, we bought 3 huts, 3 fronts with out doors, one farrowing guard and one piglet roller, and three fronts that allow the attaching of portable fence sections, total cost was 1100.00, I should have purchased the fence sections while I was there but didn’t want to spend the extra money, I will head back up there later this year to buy 3 more huts and get more farrowing guards.

When I got back I put one together and set it out in the four acre lot, Olive has already claimed it as her own and Perry and Petunia are “out in the cold”. Speaking of pigs, both Thelma and Pearl have farrowed and the “squish” rate was not good which is why we decided to bite the bullet and spend the money for the huts, now we will build up the straw inside to provide bedding and extra heat as it composts.

We have really been moving hogs around in to all our pastures and we will be ready to spread the 200 pounds of seed we purchased from Welter seed out of Iowa.

Mix No. 9 - All Grass Pasture & Waterway Mix
All of our mixes are premixed, saving our customers the time and hassle during the busy planting season.
15% Duo Festulolium (perennial ryegrass & meadow fescue cross)
15% Rough Rider Orchardgrass
10% Lincoln Smooth Bromegrass
10% Paddock Meadow Bromegrass
10% Rebound Bromegrass
10% Tuukka Timothy
9.5% Bronson Tall Fescue
10% Rebound Bromegrass
9.5% Starfirer Clover
9.5% Alsike Clover
Product Type: Hay, Pasture Mixes

We’ll over seed the end of February first of march and expect to get a 25% germination rate by doing it that way. And all this with no seeder, no no-till drill, no plow or harrow, just some pigs, some frost and some walking!!

Meanwhile, Sheryl has been busy throwing out “stuff” and painting things, she is also pretty good with a hammer so she tends to fix things herself which certainly helps me focus on the farm chores.



The boys and the truck

Jeff and Kevin had the biggest smiles I have ever seen the other day, I had given them my old Jeep Commanche pickup which has run in about 5 years, I told them they could turn it in to a lot truck…Mom didn’t like the “I have had all four wheels of that truck off the ground” comment I made to them when describing how much fun they were in for IF they can get it running.

So they have cleaned, thrown out and de-moused the old truck (it’s an 86), fluids have been changed, tires pumped up and this past Monday we chained it to the tractor and made a trip up and down the road with the plugs out and the truck in gear to really free things up and get it all lubed up again. Next step is battery and then it’s time to bring her to life again if we can. The two boys were wide eyed and grinning as we made the trip on the road, I am sure they just can’t wait to get it over to the high line out of our sight so they can try a few jumps on their own. They can probably drive a mile one way and never leave our family’s property.

Jeff has a job now which he enjoys, he took media and loves being behind the camera, he has filmed a swim meet and a basketball game.
Kevin is also very much interested in being behind the camera and he is currently working on photo’s for his national 4H calendar entry.
Both boys have really been wonderful around the farm, never any attitude when asked to do a job and they have really been giving their tasks 100%.

Denison Farmers Market

The Denison Society’s Farmers Market is now a reality and will start the first Sunday in June and run until the last Sunday in Oct 12:00 till 3:00pm. I really hope each and every one of you come out to support this new market in it’s first year. If all goes well and we get good attendance both from the Farmers and the public the market will increase in size, foods available and educational presentations. I will be the Market Master for 2006 and do it for one year only. Sunday is the day my chicken customers come to the farm to get their birds that were processed on Saturday. A weekend commitment is not what I need but I am trying to support a good cause for The Denison Museum, The Nature Center and the consuming public.
You can get more information about the market at:

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Our First Heifer

After years of nothing but boy calfs, we FINALLY have a girl, born to Selina on Mar 4th at 12:30 PM.

A nice brown color and walking with ease this calf is what we have wished for for almost 3 years now.

The name has not been chosen yet although we do have some ideas, we don't want to "jinx" our first born girl by naming her yet.

Big Bob Marley

Many who know the story have asked about big Bob Marley so I decided it was time to take some pictures of him, I also got a picture of just one of his 30 girl friends.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The year of the house

The Year of the House material for my blog was written yesterday, over 3 pages worth and then the disc fried, urgggggggggggggggh, so I’ll try again.


I built our cabin in 1986 and besides a new roof two years ago not much has been done to it other than a yearly spray with gray fence spray. During the last ten years we have collected and collected and collected “stuff”, in the eves (we don’t have an attic) in the basement, in the sheds, in the yard, everywhere.

Sheryl and I decided it was time to have a year where we focused mainly on the house, with me seeing my 60th birthday I need to reduce my work around the house and farm, so we started by renting a dumpster, we filled it, now we have another that we are slowly filling with “stuff”, the house seems to have grown a few inches after being rid of all the extra weight of “Stuff” that we haven’t seen or used in years.

20 Ton of stone was purchased by my folks and I spread it on Laurence Eleanor Street which is our dirt road. That was done about two months ago and with all the rain, frost and warmth that we have had it needs to be graded again, luckily we have a grader blade for our tractor. All the pot holes and bumps do tend to slow people down but we need to maintain a nice drive what with all the visitors we have now.

Sheryl and I purchased 30 more ton of stone and we had it delivered to our parking area, the morning I was to spread it I started Jethro the tractor and noticed the fan was not turning….so we sent it out for a new fan, new clutch, starter work (which they never did do) and we also had them wire up four flood lights that I had put on to the canopy opur the driver seat. It sure is nice to be able to work at night and actually see in all directions.

Next we ordered all new windows with a “R” value of 5, these are being specially made and will be installed in the next month. Once they are in I will apply ½ plywood over the entire cabin and then install red cedar shingles. Our up stairs is not logs but T 111 so I will need to put shims under the plywood to bring the face even with the plywood face that will cover the logs. The ends of the logs will need to be cut off and from the outside you won’t be able to tell that our house is a log cabin.

Sheryl wanted a retaining wall built so as to enlarge our parking area for customers. I have that all done except to back fill and nail it all together. It is much easier now for people to park and back out.

When we are finished we should have a much more presentable place for our visitor to see, next year I hope to do something with the lawn and also get the gardenms all back in shape.

If only I didn’t need the Post Office job…..

Millie STILL has not gone home so she is going to stay a while, after building a pinch chute and spending $500.00 for materials I am frustrated at her reluctance to leave Newt the Bull. All the cows are now in the eastern most lot in the ox pasture and will stay in there until the fields have 6” or more in grass growth. Perry, Olive and Petunia who are in the four acre lot will stay there until right after I spread the seed, them they will move in to the lane way and stay there until the cows have been moved out of the ox pasture and the huts erected in that lot.

I am now working on 3 new brooders. With the removal of so much “stuff” we don’t want to start the chicks and poults in the basement as in the past, we actually might even start to finish the basement by painting it first. I’ll get some pictures of the brooders and also the port a huts and put them on here. I need to get these done this weekend as the first batch is coming next week.

We still have not had the time to build any more chicken tractors and we really MUST have at least one new one for the turkeys, I want to put them in to the house lot pasture this year and get them completely away from the chickens. I had hoped to build at least 6 for this year but with everything else there just isn’t time nor money right now and I expect once I start siding anything extra will take a back seat.

Jonathan from the Secchiaroli Piggery invited me over a week or so ago and showed me how to clip piglets teeth and a new way to castrate the boys all using a small pair of wire snips, it’s fast, easy and I don’t need to get anyone to help me. Now if I purchased the fence sections I need to attach to the new portahuts the other issue that is a problem would be solved. That problem is out running the sow when it’s time to take her piglets for ear notching, castrating etc. I have tried doing the deed when the piglets are a couple of days old because both Mom and baby are slow, but the testes are too small and sometimes hard to get “up”, I hate this task so I want it done fast and clean therefore I wait about a week before I do it, consequently Mom is a heck of a lot faster and for some reason my sows never read the book that a sow can be controlled with a bushel basket.

We tried a new cow feed during my last trip to CCC feeds and I am headed up tonight to get 1400 pounds of this “16 Treat” I mix it 50% with my wheat middling mix and can use it full strength for the pigs, plus it has quite a bit of molasses in it which my Grandfather always believed in.

One of the nice things about running a farm, having a web site and being available to the public is that folks who want to get in to farming contact us to learn more, we have had four such couples in the past year.

They come and ask questions, follow me around as I do my chores and sometimes even volunteer to come back and clear some brush although I have had only one person actually show up at a work party…dreaming is easy, doing is something else.
Anyway I try to not discourage anyone and always I make he point that I am just a rookie myself and I am learning everyday, changing every day and being humbled everyday by these great animals.

Next month will be a special month for us, the inspector from Certified Humane is supposed to inspect our farm as the second step in being able to call ourselves a “Certified Humane Farm” to me this is THE BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT Label there is. I’ll keep you posted on how we are doing.

Also before I forget I had a great conversation with the Ct Dept of Ag to be sure we are doing things right and to see if I could find a USDA certified slaughter house in the state that does pigs, they tell me there is none and the way we sell our pork is absolutely the best way to do it.
I am completely satisfied with Maurice’s Slaughter house in Canterbury Ct, they do a great job, are great people and close enough so that the pigs don’t have to be trucked far, I know the ride scares them and I don’t want it to take any longer than needed. I just hope we can get the processing paperwork done and have them inspected at the same time the farm is.
Some folks have asked what I am doing about the bird flu, as I see it there is nothing to do but be diligent and observant. Our chicken tractors do have tarps covering their “roof’s” so there shouldn’t be an issue with a overflying bird dropping something on one and spreading the flu. We have read that it is safe to eat a bird once cooked. We won’t do the chicken little thing but will watch wait and be prepared to do whatever is needed to prevent the passage of the disease on.

I did read that some countries in Europe have outlawed the outside raising of birds, that would effectively shut down that operation until the danger is over, time will tell but until I have reason to change what we are doing, it ain’t going to be changed. Someone should pass a common sense law in this country.

The bird flu

The following is something we all knew/suspected and very interesting reading.
David Smith Springfield Farm Sparks, MD ----------------------------------- Source: GRAIN-Information [edited] < > Report says global poultry industry is the root of the bird flu crisis - ----------------------------------------------- Small-scale poultry farming and wild birds are being unfairly blamed for the bird flu crisis now affecting large parts of the world. A new report from GRAIN shows how the transnational poultry industry is the root of the problem and must be the focus of efforts to control the virus. (1) The spread of industrial poultry production and trade networks has created ideal conditions for the emergence and transmission of lethal viruses like the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Once inside densely populated factory farms, viruses can rapidly become lethal and amplify. Air thick with viral load from infected farms is carried for kilometers, while integrated trade networks spread the disease through many carriers: live birds, day-old chicks, meat, feathers, hatching eggs, eggs, chicken manure and animal feed. (2) "Everyone is focused on migratory birds and backyard chickens as the problem," says Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN. "But they are not effective vectors of highly pathogenic bird flu. The virus kills them, but is unlikely to be spread by them." For example, in Malaysia, the mortality rate from H5N1 among village chickens is only 5 per cent, indicating that the virus has a hard time spreading among small scale chicken flocks. H5N1 outbreaks in Laos, which is surrounded by infected countries, have only occurred in the nation's few factory farms, which are supplied by Thai hatcheries. The only cases of bird flu in backyard poultry, which account for over 90 per cent of Laos' production, occurred next to the factory farms. "The evidence we see over and over again, from the Netherlands in 2003 to Japan in 2004 to Egypt in 2006, is that lethal bird flu breaks out in large scale industrial chicken farms and then spreads," Kuyek explains. The Nigerian outbreak earlier this year [2006] began at a single factory farm, owned by a cabinet minister, distant from hotspots for migratory birds but known for importing unregulated hatchable eggs. In India, local authorities say that H5N1 emerged and spread from a factory farm owned by the country's largest poultry company, Venkateshwara Hatcheries. A burning question is why governments and international agencies, like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, are doing nothing to investigate how the factory farms and their byproducts, such as animal feed and manure, spread the virus. Instead, they are using the crisis as an opportunity to further industrialize the poultry sector. Initiatives are multiplying to ban outdoor poultry, squeeze out small producers and restock farms with genetically-modified chickens. The web of complicity with an industry engaged in a string of denials and cover-ups seems complete. "Farmers are losing their livelihoods, native chickens are being wiped out, and some experts say that we're on the verge of a human pandemic that could kill millions of people," Kuyek concludes. "When will governments realize that to protect poultry and people from bird flu, we need to protect them from the global poultry industry?" The full briefing, "Fowl play: The poultry industry's central role in the bird flu crisis," is available at .