Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Yesterday was perfect

Yesterday was the kind of day my city friends think I have every day - it was perfect. The truth is days like that are one in a million - so I enjoyed every second of it.

I got up early, worked outside all day, then had a terrific salad from my yard for supper. Our weather has been stunning. Instead of the hottest time of the year we've had September-like sunshine and low humidity. At this point I don't even care if we have a early frost and winter - this weather is worth it. The forecast says it will be like this for the next week and I'm going to soak up every minute of it.

Everyone was outside and happy. The chickens clucked around, the little turkeys gobbled their glee, the goats were (mostly) well behaved, and no one died. Any day without a barnyard casualty is fabulous.

Today is all about making pickles.

Happy Monday everyone! Are you having a fabulous day?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Potato Harvest

You say potAto, I say potato, but either way it's time to take up those spuds! I'm still working on the potato harvest. This what it looked like yesterday....

It was kind of muddy but I took up 2 big buckets of potatoes. My boots were completely soggy by the time I was finished.

After it dried out I ran the tiller thru these two potato patches and planted beets and beans. Yep! I'm still planting. Have you seen this great "What to Plant Now" over on the Mother Earth News site? It's a great reference to keep your garden going.

I still have several more potato patches to take up - and I'll use those now-improved sites for fall and winter crops. The soil where the potatoes were really benefited from the deep layer of straw that used to mulch in the spuds - and using the pitchfork to turn up the soil while searching for the potatoes really helped my hard, clay dirt.

Today I'll be working on canning up these taters. We have a rain day so that works out perfecting - I can work inside and the beets and bean seeds will get a good soaking.

Happy Saturday everyone! What are you harvesting?

Friday, July 26, 2013


All my fretting and fussing over the little peach trees finally paid off - success!  Oh glorious day! Oh lovely fruit! Oh sweet nectar of the peach!


Yesterday I was weeding around the little peach trees and I looked down and - peaches! On the ground! I couldn't believe it! I hadn't found any ripe peaches because the side of the peach tree I had been checking (on the outside of the fence). But on this side - this side had tons of ripe fruit! They were just falling off the tree!

So I grasped my treasure and bit in..... it was heavenly. Standing there with the sun on my back and the peach juice running down my hand... oh happy day!

How extravagant that I could stand there, pick ripe peach, take a bite or two, and then toss it away to avoid the bad spot on the peach. I'm rich in peaches. I have so much fruit that I can afford to waste it just because I can. Of course I didn't really because today I'll gather up the downed fruit and give it to the chickens.... but wow what a day. Nothing is better than your own harvest. Nothing.

So many peaches - I'm rich in peaches!

Here was the biggest surprise - the peach I picked up was a white peach! The peaches on the other side - the unripe ones - were the normally yellow/orange/reddish ones. So not only did this this little grove of peach trees grow and produce - they are also different varieties! Wow!

Not bad for compost peach trees.

Normally I would go up to the local orchard and pay for some baskets of peaches but now... now I can check this success off my list. Anytime I want some peaches I'll just walk right outside. Cost of goods = zero. Free trees and free fruit for the taking. That feels like wealth to me.

And to all the haters who told me that these little trees would never produce or fruit. How do you like them apples... or rather, peaches. Either way - suck it, haters! Whoot!

I made my first peach crisp last nite with a handful of blueberries. I love summer sooooo much.

Happy Friday everyone - are you eating a big bowl of home grown peach and blueberry crisp for breakfast? Why not? Go out and throw some peach pits on the ground... it works!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


This is what I've been working on this morning.....

 Second turkey pen, same as the first. Ratty old hen for scale.

The second turkey pen is set up and half of the young turks have been installed. There was a lot of pipping and flapping but I think they like it. We hope to have less fighting and more growing with these new accommodations.

It's been like September here since the weather broke - sunny and stunning. This morning it was down to about 53* and low, low, low humidity. I have all the windows open.

I also got a tomato! Open the flood gates and let all that tomato-y goodness flow! This is the first of a small but vigorous crop. I can't wait to have tomatoes for every meal.

Happy Thursday everyone - do you have your second turkey pen set up? Did you get any tomatoes today?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More On The Peach Tree... and Farmer Liz's book give away!

I'm still standing by my earlier assertion that I will not complain about the rain no matter what.....

This poor little peach tree....

Altho..... The other side of the peach tree flopped over. Ugh! And wow what a rain we had! The other day we got about 2.5 inches. It still wasn't enough to knock the humidity out of the air but finally....last nite's cold front finally did the trick. Our 90*+ heat wave is over and now we have smooth sailing for the next week. I'll be able to get back to the garden just as soon as the mud swamp dries out.

Until then today is an all day Pickle Mania. More on that later.

But what I really want to tell you about is Farmer Liz's superduper book give away! Check out the round up she did for her series on "Getting Started With Growing Your Own" - the chicken edition. Great interviews with folks who love their chickens and how we all got started. I talked about my interview here.

Farmer Liz is giving away a copy of her favorite chicken book, which is also MY favorite chicken book, The Small Scale Poultry Flock by the best poultryman in the business, Harvey Ussery.

The giveaway is for Australian readers only, as Farmer Liz lives in Oz, but for everyone else you can find Mr. Ussery's stupendous book in my bookstore or by using the Amazon.com search box on the right side of this page.

Are you thinking of getting started with growing your own? How about getting started with chickens? Check out what other folks have to say and how they got started! Thanks, Farmer Liz for this great series!

Happy Wednesday everyone, anyone else have a hellacious rain?

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Great Garlic Haul of 2013

Remember back in October when I planted all that garlic? And it actually grew and produced lovely scapes?  Well now look at it!

Last week I took up one of the garlic plots - and this is just some of it! This is going to be The Great Garlic Haul of 2013!

Most of the bulbs are just lovely. Some of them are a little small but I think they will be just fine. I'll keep the biggest ones for planting - the rest will be cured and then will be ready for action.

One of the things that really bugs me about this part of the country is that there is shocking lack of fresh produce. The produce in the grocery stores is horrible - it's one of the reasons that we grow our own. I'm not sure if I'm just used to having a good selection from when I lived on the West Coast and we got tons of fabulous produce from California or what... but it's just a misery out here. You'd think that with these growing conditions you could final all kinds of local produce but nope. If you drive around here all you'll see growing is corn, soybeans, and wheat - not food.

The thing that really grinds me gears is how expensive garlic is in the stores - and it's almost all from China. Doesn't that seem a little crazy to you? Why do we have to fly it in from halfway around the world?  And it's terribly expensive. I think I got my $9 worth - which is what I paid last fall for the planting garlic.

I figure I have a king's ransom in garlic out there - and it's all mine mine mine. I'm going to take up all this lovely garlic, cure it, preserve it, and use it all up. Soon the meat chickens will be ready for dinner and I'll be able to make Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Oh happy day!

Happy Monday everyone! Are you taking up your garlic?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Raising Turkeys: Emergency Turkey Management

The funny thing about meat-style birds is that they seem to grow exponentially. We see this a lot with the creepy chicken meat birds but wow the meat style turkeys really surprised us. One day they were cute like this.....

Day One of the Great Turkey Project - new arrivals.

And over night they became this! So we had to implement an emergency turkey plan. We needed to get them out of the house.

They got bigger. Fast. They are now about a month old

As with most day old chicks, the baby turkeys (called poults) started out in a tub in the basement. The peeping is cute for about a day. But then the dust and the noise and the over-interested house cats kind of take the fun out of it. Then the other morning I found that the poults doubled in size over night.

Little turkeys are very small. And adorable. Shoe for scale.

So we needed to spring to action. We quickly shoveled out a spot in the garage and whacked together a pen. Our original plan was to move the meat chickens over to the chicken house and put the poults in the turkey house. But a rascally varmint changed everything. We still haven't caught that slinky mink but we brought in a huge rat haul. We still aren't taking any chances.

The tub set up inside. Totally works like a dream. Until they get too big.

The big differences between meat chickens and meat turkeys (this variety is called Broad Breasted Whites) is that the poults tend to be a little more tender requiring warmer and more stable temperatures...and... well.. the chickens tastes like chicken when its time for dinner.

The poults are also, relatively, very expensive. So you don't want to take any chances with these expensive and not-hardy birds. Starting them inside is a great idea. I got 20 poults for about $99 from Ideal Poultry - which included the tax and shipping. This is the best sale price we've seen all summer.

The new pen set up outside. Totally works like a dream. Until they get bigger.

We decided on an easy to assemble pen based on materials on hand. We used small sections of hog panels for the ends and one half piece for the side. We used fence stables to affix the sides to the posts in the garage and then just tied the side piece together with baling twine. This made a remarkably stable pen. A few shakes of straw and then we proceeded with the turkey transport.

We used fence staples to affix the hog panel sections. Bungee is not necessary but I am over cautious.

Initially we were only going to put half the poults out in the garage but when we saw how happy they were to be in the great outdoors - which they could see from the safety of their pen - we took the rest of them out. Once they were out of the house my allergies immediately improved about 85% so everyone was happy.

We tied the long side of the pen with baling twine. You can use this stuff for anything.

Because we've had the heat dome oppressing us we didn't need any kind of heat source for the poults and they were just about ready to feather out anyway... so they did just fine. We set up a fan in case they got warm but really it was just about the right temperature.

Their initial reaction was stunned silence. They they loved it. 

We are going to expand this pen for them so they have more room and because we figure we can just keep them in there for a while. Like most folks in the Mid-West we really only effectively use about 20% of the space in the garage - which is really a big 1.5 story pole barn. So now that we are properly motivated we are going to do a big clean up and we may just keep the turkeys in there until they are called to dinner.

I kind of had a funny image of opening the big sliding door and a herd of huge turkeys would come wobbling and gobbling out. So if only for laughs I'm going to get that garage cleaned out.

Meat style turkeys can be slaughtered at about 4 months. So by the time the weather cools we'll start hauling in the turkey harvest. But for now these little buddies are my milking partners. They are hilarious at this age - trying to strut and gobble - its very funny.

That's the update so far. Stay tuned for more on how to raise turkeys.

Happy Sunday everyone - do you have turkeys in your house? Garage? In the turkey house where they should be?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Wrap Up and Potato Digging

I have to say that 75* at 4:30 in the morning seems just a little inhuman - but that's how we started our day. This heat dome is about to burst but we have one more day in the Fire Swamp before we will get some relief.

Yesterday I dug some potatoes. It's totally the funnest thing ever.

I nearly cried when the weather guy said that the cold front is now coming thru Saturday afternoon instead of tonite. It can't get here soon enough. Again, my only goal for today is to keep everyone alive.  I have to bring in all the hay that I cut this week. There's not very much but I'm going to try and get it in early.

Look at this big one!

Everyone in the barnyard is doing the best they can. My big worry is the meat chickens - they are having a tough time. One of my pals asked if there is anything I can do for them and, ironically, the answer is to butcher them before they die. But I'll see if I can get them thru one more day - we won't have time to send them to their glory until early next week. The lone rooster volunteered to be first. I can't wait.

It's huge! A Yukon Gold of the most magnificent order.

I have fans going for everyone, "cooling spots" set up with buckets of ice cold water and where I have sprayed the grass with the hose, and I'm hosing down the turkey house to cool it as best I can. The sun is about to come up and I'm going to get everyone out early.

I got this bucketful from about 6 feet from one row. Dogs for scale. Kai helped.

Kai and Zander have been outside - pretty much the only outside time they'll get today - since 4:30am. They are currently barking their heads off. Do I feel bad about waking the neighbors? You mean the ones who thought huge booming fireworks last nite would be hilarious? Nope. Not at all. I know that guy doesn't work today so the noisy parade of geese should be just the right reminder that decent folks get up early around here. Jerks.

The easiest way to wash off taters? Using this iron mesh chair instead of a colander. So easy to wash the mud off into the gravel. Just don't have the pressure of the hose up too much - these tender skins will also come off!

Thing have really been hopping around here - just haven't had a lot of time for chit chat. The big story is that I've started another round of planting. Tons of beans for canning. The ones I planted earlier will be the stars of our summer dinners while this "late" round will be for canning. Isn't it too late? Says who!? These Blue Lake bush beans will be done in 50 days - that's just early September so I have plenty of time. I'm planting more beets too.

Some of those taters ended up in a starring role of this lovely summer salad. Along with beets and goat cheese. If only I had some chicken livers - then it would be perfect. Good thing that rooster volunteered. Soon.

We also finally got the turkeys out of the house - thank heaven. My allergy problems left with them so I'm thrilled. They love their new set up in the garage - we have them on cement and in a predator-free place. Little turkeys are just hilarious - some of the toms have started to puff up and strut. The little practice-gobbling is the funniest noise in the barnyard. The barncats couldn't care less about them but Kai thinks they look delicious.

Looks like the sun has just about cleared the horizon - I have a couple hours before it clears the trees so I'm going to get moving and get that hay down the driveway. My plan is to pile it on tarps and pull it down the driveway - like we did last time. But I need to make sure it's good and dry before I stack it up. I'm hoping the rain will get here early so I'm not taking any chances with this "green gold." Altho I've noticed that hay prices are dramatically lower than last year. Not to be a hater but ... harumph.

Keep cool everyone! Any body else having a heat index of over 103* today?

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I'm so glad I didn't go and cut those peach branches for the goats. The tree is still going strong!


Even the busted branches are still green and alive - and heavy with fruit. Soon I'll have a ton of peaches all grown right here in my yard - these were my compost peaches.

I talked to an orchardman and he said the tree would be fine and to trim it very hard next winter. Even the one that broke in half will be OK and probably better because it will have a root system for a tree twice its size!

Just look at them!

So I'm just waiting for these little beauties to be ripe. Then it will be nothing but peaches for every meal! I'm definitely making more of this! There will also be a lot of pie.

This little tree is totally hanging on!

Gotta go - the hot weather continues and the forecast for today is "Fire Swamp" conditions. My only goal is to keep everyone alive. Heat index will be over 100* for today and tomorrow. Looks like we'll get some relief - and some rain - on Saturday.

Keep cool everyone! Do you have any ripe fruit yet?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Little Gooses

No time to talk - it's going to be another hot one and I need to get everyone out as soon as possible. So here are some little gooses.

Small, medium, and large gooses.

I love this picture of one of the younger ganders, momma goose Cindy Lou, and one of the fuzzbutts. They are all roaming around the yard these days. The little ones are sturdy enough to be out and about.

 Aren't they cute? 

We are still keeping the little ones, Cindy, and OD in the hen house at nite because we have not caught that predator yet. In addition to our mink hunting efforts we went on a big rat killing spree - there was a huge rat harvest and our retribution was dire. We'll keep it up until there is no more strange digging in the turkey house.

They have issues a special weather statement "until further notice" that says it will be hot and horribly humid for a while. We are expecting temperatures in the 90*'s and the heat index to be around 100*. Don't forget to implement your extreme hot weather livestock care tips - including making "swamp coolers" by putting a bucket of cold water in front of a fan.

I'm getting the troops out early. I hope they wake up our bad neighbors. I'm still mad about finding that bottle rocket in my garden. Harumph.

Happy Tuesday everyone - are you keeping cool?

Monday, July 15, 2013

There's One in Every Garden

Giant Turnip of Doom. I've always got one somewhere.

Every garden has a Giant Turnip of Doom.

It has been a weed's paradise out there with all the rain so I'm getting down in the dirt this week. Weeding, weeding, and more weeding. That's all I'm doing. Sometimes it feels like the weeds are growing faster than what I planted!

These sunflowers are huge! They love the rain and hot weather.

And with the oppressive head and humidity it's just plain crazy out there. The plants love it.

Bee on sunflower - my favorite summer scene.

The bees are happy! I found this lovely lady gathering pollen on a sunflower.

So that I have a public record..... remember when I was all worked up about the stupid neighbors and their dumb fireworks and how they'd better not burn down our chicken house. Well. Here is what I found while I was out weeding yesterday.

What a surprise - said no one, ever.

Yep. That's a bottle rocket. In the straw mulch for my potatoes. Thank heaven it rained that night or there could have been a fire. Dry straw goes up like... well... dray straw for heavens sakes. Jerks.

I'm headed out for more weeding. Happy Monday everyone!  Have you found any surprises in your garden?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Find May!

Hi Friends, I'm taking a break from farm stuff for a minute to ask for your help.

 Photo: May is such a good girl!
Have you seen May?

My dear friends are desperately trying to find their dog in Gig Harbor, Wa. Do you live there? Do you know anyone who lives there? Will you post this on your Facebook?

Photo: GIG HARBOR, WASHINGTON:  Our beloved microchipped/spayed dog was stolen from the Gig Harbor, WA YMCA parking lot on the evening of July 5th. She is a grey and white medium sized dog that recently had a short hair cut, her tail is still fluffy and her ears are long. She is a shy girl (came from a shelter) but will come to you if you kneel down to her level. Her name is May.

 $500 CASH REWARD for her safe return, NO QUESTIONS ASKED--she is missed terribly.

 360-874-6653 or 360-516-3655 *call day or night*
Look what a fun life she has! We need to get May home!

This dog has been missing since July 5th from the local YMCA parking lot. If you can believe it, someone tried to steal the owner's car and they let May out of it. May was last seen running toward the 16 - some folks were trying to catch her. She is probably trying to find her way home and is probably between Purdy Spit and Glenwood. If you know anyone that lives in that general area Pine, Sydney, Wildwood, Glenwood or Lk. Helena, please pass this info on the them.

May is a best friend and family member!

May is a beloved family member and is well loved. She has a great life on a little farm and her family is devastated by this. May is shy and is probably terrified. And before you get a bee in your bonnet, no this was not some vigilantes letting a dog out of a hot car. These were thievin' bastards trying to steal the car. Unfortunately for them there was a second dog in the car who scared them off. But May was let out and just wants to be back with her family.

Photo: This is May's most recent haircut.  Her groomer gave her a Schnauzer look.
She just got clipped at the groomer. Look a that face!

The family is offering a $500 reward for May - no questions asked! Think about how terrible you'd feel if someone did this to your best pal - please, friends, if you know anyone who lives in the area ask them to look for May.

The family has been working with the local animal control and police department. May is spayed and microchipped. 

This page has the contact info for the family and more pictures and details. Or send me an email to: ohiofarm {aT]  gmail (dot) com.  Let's get May back home!

Please like this page! Someone has seen May - we just need to get the word out.

Happy Friday everyone - have you seen May?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beans and Beets

We got the first baby bean of the season!

 How cute is this little bean-lette?

I can't wait until this bean patch is bursting with bean goodness......

So many beans...

My goal is to can 50 quarts of green beans and to freeze some additional quarts. I'm hoping I planted enough. The beans at the produce actions are going for a pretty penny. But you couldn't pry these lovely beans out of my hands.

But today is really about beets. You know I love my beets. Never again will there be a beet crisis! Note that I didn't even property thin these babies but that's OK. Today they meet their destiny in a pickled brine.

I have my eye on this lovely apple. It's just picture perfect.

Yesterday we had a crazy, fast moving storm blow thru. The good news is that it shook all the humidity out of the air.... the bad news is that we are one big soggy mess. After the last couple days (or weeks really) of constant rain the weeds are almost completely out of control. My war on the weeds starts today. Or tomorrow. I gotta get me some beets canned up.

Happy Thursday everyone! How are your beans? Are you canning yet?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

First Storm Casualty

After last year's drought I swore that I would not complain about the rain ever again. So this isn't a complaint - it's just a point of fact.

We got our first storm casualty. One of my young peach trees broke under the weight of the peaches and the rain.


These are the compost peach trees that just grew where I threw out the pits a couple summers ago. They grew like the wind. But apparently the wind was just too much for one of them last nite. This tallest one just snapped.


On the upside..... doesn't look like I'll have to turn on the sprinkler anytime soon.

Anyone else not complaining about the rain? Might as well sing about it... Songs About Rain.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, July 8, 2013


I had one of those great bits of Americana the other nite. Not the cheap, weathered, fake product signs you can buy for a couple dollars at a discount store. But one of those little snippets of life that seem too good to be true. Like when you go to an old timey parade and the local police throw candy out the windows of their patrol cars and it makes the kids so happy? Or when you see a sign for an ice cream social at the local church and the parking lot is packed? It was like that only it was just for me.

I can't remember the last time I drove at night. Being so far out we never go anywhere, much less in the evening. We usually have an early wake up and it's a long way to get into town so we just don't go. I don't particularly like to drive – I'm not afraid I just don't like to be in the car. So I rarely drive and almost never at night.

I kinda forgot how great it can be in the summer time.

We had one of those crazy work schedule situations the other night where, three minutes before I was supposed to to go bed, my husband called and I had to go and get him from his job. So I drove. Nightdriving.

It was one of those hot, swampy, early July nights and the last of what was left of the sun was streaked across the sky. I followed the sun as it sank and the first evening star as it rose. The dark was coming up behind me but I was staying just ahead of it.

I don't have enough concern for worldly distractions or enough angst to listen to pop music. So I had the local country music station blaring on the radio. It was one of those patriotic songs, as was fitting for the weekend, and I sang along as I drove down that curving country road chasing the setting sun.

Toby Keith and I sang about this country while I drove from one town to the next, navigating from one water tower to the next between flat farm fields and through the little towns.

My old man’s that old man
Spent his life livin’ off the land
Dirty hands and a clean soul....

The town people had their homes all lit up with their night just beginning. But as the road crawled out into the quiet stretches the early rising farm folks had darkened houses – except for the kitchen light. It was always on.

...He’s got the red, white, blue
Flyin’ high on the farm
Semper fi tattooed on his left arm....

The darkness finally overtook me as I crossed the railroad tracks in one small town, but it was considered a big town by these standards because it had a gas station and a pizza take out place. The old homes along the main street all had flags still flying for the holiday weekend.

Spend a little more in the store for a tag
in the back that says “USA”
He won't be nothing that he can't fix
with WD-40 and a Craftsman wrench...

The lights from the gas station sign seemed a little harsh. So I was glad when I drove out of its glare and into the dark and then........ millions of flashes lit up the fields. Fireflies. Tons and tons of fireflies. Winking and blinking... thousands and thousands of them sparkling and twinkling. It was amazing so I slowed down to take it all in. Fireflies are the best part of summer in the midwest.

.Born in the heartland
Raised up a family
King James and Uncle Sam...

I made a turn onto what is considered a bigger road but really it's just two lanes with a number for a name instead of the two towns it connects. I headed for the next water tower and then something caught my eye. Fireworks. Across the fields and way over to the south a little town was having their big show. They were too far away to hear but I could see the fireworks blue against a black sky. It wasn't a huge production but I bet them folks were enjoying it all the same. They probably had a parade and an ice cream social.

So there I was with the fireworks and the fireflies. Nightdriving. Hot summer night heavy with humidity and me singing along to the radio. It was the perfect snapshot of a summer evening in this Good Land.

.Made in America
My old man's that old man
Made in America...

Sometimes my city friends make fun of me for moving out here into The Flyover. I wish I could package up that fair summer evening – the flags and the fireflies and the fireworks - and give it to them. But I'm not sure all those people understand nightdriving. 

Happy Monday everyone! Did you have a good holiday weekend? Anybody lose their livestock?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th - Don't Be a Loser!

Ah yes. The 4th of July. I just love it - except for all the fireworks. Do you know where your livestock is? What about your dog?  Your cats are probably under the bed.

Completely unrelated to this post - OD giving me the business. 

Some of my pals over on 'the facebook' have posted some reminders that the 4th of July weekend is the busiest for the local animal shelters. In the rush to run right out and be patriotic a bunch of folks forget about their companion animals. No one thinks their dog is going to get scared and run off this weekend - but a lot of them do. Don't be a loser - take precautions so you don't lose your dog.

What about your livestock? Where are they? Can you see them with your own eyes right now? Quick go out and check. Are your gates properly latched and locked? Does your stock have somewhere safe to go? Heck you might just want to keep them inside the barn - especially later today. Don't be the loser that has the craigslist ad tomorrow titled, "Have you seen my cow?"  Around here we see a lot of that. Make sure your livestock is secure and safe today.

Cindy Lou Goose and the little ones.

Our stupidhead neighbors started their dumbass fireworks about 10:05 this morning. You read that right - nothing like breakfast over ka-pows to start the holiday off right. Personally I can't think of anything more stupid than the general public and explosives so I've always been a hater. But with our particularly stupid neighbors the whole thing just makes me mad. I always pray for rain.

We never go anywhere on the 4th. No parades, fireworks, picnics, nothing, nada, no way. I've got all my hoses in place and pretty much later today one of us will take all the dogs downstairs to have a good old time watching the TV really loudly.... and one of us will be standing out there with the hose cursing those stupid neighbors and just waiting for them to burn down our chicken house with their foolishness.

If you live in farm country nothing is worse than a bunch of idiots lighting off bottle rockets....and your totally dry, almost ready to harvest field of wheat. Someone's field always gets burned down  and no one thinks it's funny. There's always one guy standing there saying, "But I didn't know that would happen." Yeah, well. The rest of us could see it coming a long way off.

So be extra careful today and double check all your gates. Makes sure your dog is at your feet. Having people over? Put your dog in a back room so the kids don't accidentally let him outside. Got a Thundershirt? Put it on your dog when he starts to get nervous. And for heavens sakes don't make your dog stay outside tonight! Bring him in and put him somewhere safe.

My Good Shepherd - can hear fireworks in the next county. Thinks they are stupid. 

Remember that just because you don't hear the fireworks it doesn't mean your dog, or your livestock, doesn't. He can hear them a good way off. So when it's just about fireworkin' time turn on the TV - and not to the fireworks coverage - to give your dog something familiar to listen to and to mask some of the noise.

And when those bombs are bursting in air and everyone is doing the "oooooooohhhh"  and "aaaaaaaah-ing" remember me. The lone sentinel out there keeping watch over the chicken house with my hose. So enjoy your 4th everyone.... but don't be a loser. Secure your dogs and livestock!

Now go and check your gates and latches.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


One of the great biblical truths  of all time is "Ask and it will be given to you..." Some people think this means it's like a big wishing well and then stand around in their disappointment when it doesn't work out.

A single helping was such a blessing....

But those of us in the know understand that the key is to ask for the right thing. You know you're doing it right when you get what you want and you want what you get.

Yesterday the dogs and I were in the upper garden standing in the weeds and really wishing that we had a huge truckload of mulch. Mostly I've been keeping up with the weeds but there are some spots - lots of them - that need a heavy mulch cover. As I was standing there asking for the Hand of Provision to be upon me... I heard it.

The highway guys.

I went running out there.

I closed the gate behind me and ran up on the work crew, smiling and waving. "Say, boys, go ahead and park in the drive if you need to - this is a dangerous hill." I said.

One of them walked up to me but he was really looking at Dog#1 and Dog#2 behind me at the gate. The dogs were putting on a fine performance of The Mouth and Teeth Show.

"No, no, we'll be done in a minute." He said, still looking over my shoulder. "What kind of dogs are they? They look pretty serious - do they bite?"  Dog#1 was officially losing his mind because his momma was out past the gate talking to some strange man.

"They don't bite me, friend." I said and we both laughed.  "Anyway," I went on, "Let me know if you need anything and if you want you can go ahead and dump all those wood chips right here." I said pointing.

He said that they don't really do that and so I waved and walked off. The dogs were happy I was back on the right side of the gate and we all went about our business.

...but a double portion was more than enough.

A couple hours later I heard a big truck and the distinctive big truck beeping noise. So I went running out there. The highway guys brought the Big Dump Truck and it was full of wood chips.

"The boss said I could bring you some. Where do you want this?" One of them hollered at me. I was agog.

I pointed, they got the truck turned around, no I didn't care about the grass... They dumped a huge pile of fresh wood chips. I smiled and clapped.

When they saw how happy I was one of them said, "You know, I could bring you another load if you can use them." I nearly passed out with glee. As promised they came back in a couple hours and I got a double helping.

To be sure this is fresh, mostly pine wood chips and needles. So I won't be mixing this into my soil  - it really needs to compost down a bit to work it's magic. There is a huge difference between adding soil amendments by mixing IN vs putting amendments ON the soil. I work compost INTO the soil  that is well composted... I put compost ON the soil that hasn't composted down yet. How do I know when its done composting and is ready to be worked into the soil? When it's nice and black and crumbly. So until then these chips and needles are just the ticket for my garden pathways and troublesome weedy spots.

I've been working double duty on a particularly difficult, hard pan, cement hard clay section of the garden that is riddled with horrible weeds. You can't till those weeds out because they seem to multiply when they get chopped up. So I'll just dump a couple inches of this fresh pine mulch on them to show them who's boss. By next year I'll have a lovely weed free area with lots of composted mulch from these weed chips. There is a great article about it here on the Mother Earth News website.

While I might be a little hesitant about getting mulch from cities and municipalities... I knew these highway guys were working right on my road and that the wood chips were from trees they were cutting down that day. I didn't need to worry that they were chemically treated old Christmas trees or leaves that had been laying on the street soaking up oil or what not. So I was thrilled to get this double huge pile of chips.

Now all I have to do is trolley out there with my favorite wheelbarrow and spread these chips around at my leisure. I'm exponentially increasing the value of these chips by cleaning out the hen house at the same time. So I'll put down a layer of barnyard litter then cover with chips. By the time next spring rolls around I'll have spectacular, friable soil just waiting for me. 

The great thing about this whole arrangement is that the highway guys didn't have to drive the chips all the way out to the local composting/recycling center... my house was on their way home and near their job site. They saved the fuel, I got the chips delivered, and it was about a $300 value for me!

So you know what I'll be doing all day. I'll be singing songs of praise as I'm tromping up and down the drive with the wheelbarrow overflowing with free wood chip blessings.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you asking and receiving? 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Solving Problems

We spent yesterday solving problems. The first problem that we needed to solve was to extend the new goat yard.

Dahlia in the daisies. 

Nibbles and the crew did such a great job of grazing down the initial area we set up for them that they needed more space!

The goats went nuts for all the new bramble. To make sure they headed for greener pastures I mowed down the lower goat and hen yard. This stirred up a lot of bugs so the hennies were happy also.

So many blackberry canes and wild roses - they loved it.

Setting up electric fence is pretty easy once you have the charger already installed. It's just a matter of  beating a path thru the tall grass, getting more push in posts set up, stringing up the hot wire, and connecting it all together. You can read more about it here.

These white push in posts are reasonably priced and easy to set up.

The only problem with this new bramble area is that I can't easily see the goats while they are down there. So I need to be vigilant with them out of sight. Technically the far perimeter fence line is not currently electrified so it will not keep predators out.  We'll work on that this week.

I also fired the first volley in my war on the new varmint - chemical warfare. I brushed the dogs out near the turkey house, on the side facing the woods. 

The dog did not explode. Just lots of brushing.

That slinky mink is going to have to creep over all that dog hair to make his way into the turkey house... only to find a trap set for him. The next prong of my strategy? I'm moving Debbie and Dahli over to the former goose house at night. Nothing to see there but angry goats, varmint, so just keep on going. No prisoners in the trap this morning.. but I'll get him.

Happy Monday, everyone! Are you solving problems today?
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