Like herding cats!

I gave up to the thought that we might still have some nice weather coming our way this fall and started to look outside what was needed to be done. I mean with this being our 3rd or 4th snowfall this year, I guess it’s time to face reality.

Driving home tonight it looked like this

So with winter coming, it’s time to move our ‘little’ chickens into the main part of the chicken coop condo. They’ve been locked up since spring and now will need to be mixed with the other chickens for the winter and hopefully by spring when they get left out in the yard that they’ll know not to freak out and fly away.

I like to try to set a timeline for any projects that I do, so this should only take maybe 20 minutes right? Yeah I know that there is over 30 chickens to catch and move, but with my handy dandy chicken catcher – I just might get this done sooner!

When I was walking over to the chicken coop, I had both dogs by my side just wondering what in the world was going on now! But as the chickens were literally screaming and flying past my head from one side of the coop to the other side as I was trying to catch the first chickens (who knew it was so big in there!) the dogs who were patiently sitting outside the door were starting to look a little worried.

Finally, the first one caught. I’m not an expert in setting accurate timeline goals, but after about 5 minutes and only one chicken now screaming on the top of her lungs as she was upside down and moving to the other shed, I’m guessing that 20 minutes is an unrealistic goal 🙂

So out the door, step outside and close the door, past the dogs, open the other side door, and let the chicken in. Yup, this is definitely going to take longer than I had expected.

Back to the other side of the coop and let’s start this over again.

By this time the chickens were totally FREAKED out. I think they remember the whole Cornish chickens episode when those chickens were only there for 8 weeks and then were caught and disappeared for life!

So I thought let’s try to slow everyone down and pick out an easy one. And guess who it was? Bernie the duck! Bernie was tucked away in the corner and was totally exhausted. Ducks have pretty short legs and Bernie is a little weight challenged too, so he’s got a double whammy on any plans of trying to escape. Well Bernie went over to the other side without any issues.

Even though it was taking me forever to catch the chickens, I was able to get a few of them with the chicken catcher hook. But holy cow did they scream! If you were our neighbors I’m guessing that you could hear them across the fields!

When one of the chickens escaped I thought that we’ll just have to be one less. I mean the temperature was going to be <10 degrees tonight and it was dark by now so our friendly fox who lives in field behind us was sure to find her.

Finally with everyone almost exhausted I tried catching the chickens by hand and it went so much better. They weren’t screaming as much either so I guess it was a win/win for both of us.

With everyone tucked away in the coop for the night, I’m guessing it’ll take awhile until they start being nice to each other. For tonight they’re staying on their own perch. As for Bernie? I just hope he comes out of the corner once in awhile!

*Update on the MIA chicken. Daryl caught him the next day when he found him hiding out in the now empty coop.

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I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m so excited – especially with the snow and freezing cold temperatures that we’ve been having.

Well the reason that I’m so excited around 11:30 pm on this Sunday night is that we are finally done shelling corn! I seems to have been not only a rough start this Spring with all the rain that we had gotten, but now we’ve been having a lot of trouble trying to get propane to dry the corn! Crazy right? They say that there’s a shortage because literally everyone in the Midwest is trying to get their corn out all at once. Yup, including Daryl!

But tonight we are relieved that all the corn is out of the field. We’ve been getting snow off and on these past few days which brings it’s own challenges to having any corn stalk bales made. But tonight- tonight we are happy that it’s done for the year. We’ll worry about getting those stalks done next week.

And how are we going to celebrate? Well first I’m sure that Daryl is now looking at his ‘to do’ list that he has been put on the back burner while working on getting the crops out. But for me? Well I’m planning a night out for maybe a nice meal and movie. Whatever we end up doing, I know we’ll be both glad and tired that this year’s crops are in and will be hoping that next year’s weather will cooperate better!

The picture below is the last night that the combine is out before it gets tucked away in the machine shed. Our combine isn’t the newest that you’ll see in the fields, but for now it has done another good job for us and is ready to be stored until next harvest.

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Noisy Fall

It’s that time of the year again when the fields are starting to look a little more bare. And when that happens you know that you’ll find Daryl heading over to the bin to turn on the fan! Now I’ve been around the block a couple of times to know that when you start to hear the fan running in the bin that it means that money will soon be leaving your wallet paying for all that fuel that it’s using. But guess what? I really don’t mind! For me to hear this fan heating up the corn is kind of comforting. OK weird right? But because you don’t start the fan up until the bin is full, it means that the fieldwork for combining is almost done and that things will hopefully slow down a little bit soon.
And with all that noise going outside, for some crazy reason sleep so much better. Maybe it’s because I don’t hear the dogs barking at whoever is teasing them at night, or maybe I’m just more tired in the Fall. But for whatever reason, I look forward this time of the year when you hear the switch being turned on and just for that instant it seems that the whole farm knows that it’s officially Fall!

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Field work in full swing!

Like all the farmers this year, we’ve been challenged to work on getting our crops out. So when we’re having this great weather and (keep your fingers crossed) all through the weekend, well it makes everyone in a much better mood!

After fixing a minor repair on the combine, it was full throttle ahead! There is some discussion that the weather is going to turn for the worse early next week along with the terrible four letter word – SNOW! So no one is wasting any time!

So when I gave Daryl a ride to pick up his combine and take it in the field tonight, he said he needed a couple of things and asked if I’d bring them out in a little bit. You bet! I haven’t rode in the combine yet this year, and call me weird but it’s kinda fun. Well at least if I’m not driving it or nothing breaks.

After checking on the chickens and doing some chores, I put on some sweat pants over my pants and grabbed a hooded jacket and I’m ready! Now it wasn’t the best look for me, but it was warmer than what I had on.

Now to ride along in our combine you have to get cozy. I mean real cozy. See we don’t have the equipment with the buddy seat beside the driver, so you have to kind of fit your backside behind the driver’s seat and stay there. It’s really not too bad and honestly I was just happy that I can still fit! Well I only rode one round and then I had to get back home to make some soap. Someday, yup someday, I’m going to spend more than one round with Daryl out in the field, and maybe even in the daylight! My only concern when that day actually does come, there’s no way that I’ll be able to get up the steps of the combine much less squeeze my butt behind the drivers seat!

Oh well, for now – Happy Harvesting!

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Mowing ditches

With the risk of rainy weather again, I was determined to get some more mowing done before the bad weather came. First thing first – make sure that the rider has gas in it and is ready to go for after work tomorrow night.

So after work tonight with the tank all filled up, I was determined to get most, or dare say it – all the lawn mowed tonight?

Off I went to the front of the house with the gas pedal to the floor of the lawn mower. Now it seemed like it was just a little off when I was mowing,  and when I took a closer look at the lawn – OK something was wrong. I was kind of scalping the lawn in places where I mowed. But it was one of those situations when you have the conversation with yourself – is it really that bad? Maybe I was being too critical? I mean the consequences of having it too short will mean that I’ll spend the rest of the night with the push mower. You know that kind of a conversation right? Well I decided to keep going for a couple more rounds – who know, it might get better. At the end of a couple more rounds it was obvious, it’s not going to get better and I will need to get the push mower out.

So I’ve already wasted time with my rider and with the sun setting earlier these nights than I like, the clock was a ticking! Into the garage I go and pull out the push mower. Not my idea of what I was going to do, but like I said with the prediction of rain I needed to keep moving.

It was going OK finishing up mowing in front of the house, and to be honest it wasn’t so bad. But as the last of the sun was slipping away, I found myself just starting on the ditches. But if it rains, I’ll NEVER get them mowed. So with my head down and determination I went for it! The first pass in the East ditch made me realize that I’ll need to change my shoes for boots. It’s going to get messy before these ditches are done.

Even though the sun was gone now, with the help of our farm yard light I was able to finish this ditch up. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

Then I realized it was going to be bad!

With my high boots on and not much light shining on the West ditch from the yard light – I was having trouble finding where I should mow. The only thing that I had going for me was that the grass was so long, and the ditch was so wet, that I was laying some pretty good tracks! By now the water in some spots were almost as high as the deck of the lawn mower but I was committed (or probably should be committed 🙂 ). This ditch was going to be mowed tonight! Just for an instant I thought about the snakes and turtles that I’ve seen in the ditch before, but then I thought why would they be out this late? (yeah, this theory didn’t really make sense to me either – but I kept telling myself it!)

And did I get both ditches mowed? You bet! And just in time. It not only rained – but it also started to snow! Summer please come back!

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Hello Liza!

Luna finally had her baby! We’ve been waiting for sometime now and excited when all of a sudden we saw a calf in the pasture! This new little girl’s name is Liza (like Liza Minnelli the actress and singer)  She literally was only an hour or so old and she was already posing for me to take a picture. I’m thinking we’re going to get along just fine.

Liza is the darkest of all our calves so far and I must say she’s pretty darn cute! But I’m not so sure that some of the other small calves in the cow yard are sharing that same opinion! But the big cows don’t seem to mind one bit that there’s a new calf tonight that was added to the clan. Especially Miss Scarlet. Scarlet always thinks that the hay is so much better on the other side of the bunk,  so she’s been focused on that right now. She looks like she’s stuck right? Well that’s what I thought too!  So I helped to get her head out only for her to go right back at it.

Yup, she’s on her own now! I’m going to see what Liza is doing instead.


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Counter top worthy

I’ve been putting off getting an Instant Pot for quite some time now. I mean, do I really need another gadget in the kitchen? I’ve been trying to downsize the house and simplify my life and having a new kitchen gadget just didn’t seem to fit that goal.

But wait!

I ended up buying one on a ‘super deal’ one day and for now I can’t go back! Before you judge, let me just say that I can agree that maybe it’s just a fad. I’m the first to say that I can go all in for a month or two on something new and better,  and then loose my interest just as fast. But this little gadget has been pretty cool to experiment with so far and if we end up gaining 10 to 15 lbs in my experimenting, well so be it! 

So what have I made these past few days? Well I made steamed eggs (Bruce you were absolutely right – steaming works great!) 5 minutes on steam and they’re done. SHAZAM!

I’ve made spaghetti also in it. I wasn’t thinking that this would be a show stopper but I wanted to give it a try anyway. I always use homemade spaghetti sauce and it is a lot runnier than when you use a commercial kind.  So would this even turn out? Now granted I don’t really like how runny my spaghetti is, but it’s homemade and I like canning, so it’s a win win. So first into the pot went some browned hamburger that I had leftover in the fridge, broke up a box of spaghetti noodles in half and criss crossed them on top, poured 2 pints of homemade spaghetti sauce on top, added another about 3/4 pint of water, salt, pepper, and some Italian seasoning – then closed the lid. Set it for 7 minutes and when the timer went off I left it set for a couple of minutes and it was done! Just like magic! And the best part is that the noodles soaked up most of the juice and it wasn’t runny at all! 

And last night I made some stew which was just as easy or easier. That took 30 minutes, but it’s also a keeper! 

Now I’ve made some banana bread that ended for the chickens to eat the other night. I was feeling kinda cocky with my little machine and so I made up my own recipe of cooking the bread. Yup, not so good. 

I’m hoping that my excitement wears down a little bit though these coming weeks, because we’ve got a lot of leftovers in the fridge and I’ve got quite a few things that I still want to try out. 

So at the end of the night when I’m shutting the kitchen lights off,  the little Instant Pot catches my eye sitting kinda proud on the counter top. See in our house, I really can’t stand stuff cluttering up the counter. But for now, while I’m still pretty excited with all the new recipes to try, she’s got her own little spot in the kitchen and is definitely counter top worthy!

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Secret to a great tomato crop!

Just like my flower purchases this year, my tomatoes were purchased off the sale rack on the end of planting season. Sometimes that’s just how you have to roll right? 

Well when I purchased the tomatoes they were looking pretty sad and were so long and had buds on them that the containers couldn’t even stand up straight. Not a big deal right? I put them on the porch with all good intentions of having them planted sooner than later. OK, that was a good plan but not necessarily followed through! The tomato plants at one time got so dry that they were on their last day on this earth. So I watered them hoping that they’d come around again and then stuck them in the ground. I did water them a couple of times while they were in the garden, and put some grass clippings down so I didn’t have to weed. And guess what? They grew. They grew a lot! And produced a lot! 

Now granted they are later than pretty much everyone else crop, but seriously who cares? I mean if you can get tomatoes like this without doing much at all – I’m pretty sure I’m OK with that. So what’s the secret this year to a good tomato harvest? For me – it’s call ‘buy cheap and hope for the best’ 

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Monarch Butterfly

It was so great to see the monarch’s in our back yard again. It’s been a couple of years now since they literally invaded us and when they do, it’s almost indescribable! 

A few years back we had the most we’ve ever had. I mean when you looked at our pine trees they looked like they were completely covered in pinecones. You almost couldn’t see any green at all on them. But when you got a closer look you saw that it wasn’t pine cones at all – it was thousands and thousands of butterflies! I even tried to take a picture of it, but it was just a big blur and you couldn’t see what it was. 

It’s been awhile since we’ve had that many of them, but ever year we do see some stopping by for a night and then the next day they’re off again. 

So when I was in the back yard tonight, I noticed a few of them stopping by again. Some were in the trees and some were just flying around me as I was in the yard. I heard that in Mexico in 2002 they had an extremely hard winter season that literally killed 10’s of millions of monarchs that could have been catastrophic to their existence. But fortunately with the help of a lot of groups out there, the monarchs are coming back and their population continues to grow. 

But this is what I learned today, that the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) also occurs when the monarchs appear. According to traditional belief, the monarchs are the souls of ancestors who are returning to Earth for their annual visit.

Whatever your belief is, we all look forward to seeing them this time of the year! 

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Getting ready…

It’s that time of the year again! It’s when you drive by almost any farm and you’ll see the combine, tractors, silage wagons, and just about anything else that might be needed in the fields these next few weeks or months just waiting in the yards and ready to go in the fields. In our yard we’ve got the combine taking center stage. Daryl needs to change the corn head to the bean head and then hoping to get out in the field soon! 

So on my way home from work today I was checking to see if anyone was in the fields yet (bad habit from driving around with Daryl) and I couldn’t help to notice how ugly the soybean fields have become. I mean just check out how nice they looked about a week ago. So yellow and colorful! Almost glowing in the sunshine don’t you think? 

Well now they are getting close to being combined and are turning brown with just a little bit of yellow leaves on themSo when they start to turn brown and their leaves are falling off they are drying down, and when they get to this stage  – well you might as well forget seeing your husband for about a month or two. Because once the beans are done being harvested they’ll roll right into combining corn. But it’s what they waited for all summer for and are anxious to see what kind of crops that they’ll get and also to checkout what everyone else was getting for their yields too! 

So as I’m writing this on my front porch late tonight with the two dogs by my side, the crickets are making quite a noise, I’ve got a blanket on my lap to take away the chilly temperature, and I can hear the corn rustling in the wind, I can just feel the cold weather season coming faster than I’d care to admit.  It won’t be long now and soon at night all you’ll hear will be combines working in the fields and tractors going by all hours of the day & night to one field or farm or to the other. I think it’s like the Farm Circle of Life.

Well it’s getting late and I’ve got an early morning tomorrow, so I hope everyone has a safe harvest and let the crazy schedules begin! 

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