Monthly Archives: February 2020

Winter Farm Update

Perhaps this post should be sub-titled “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” because we have seen a bit of each this winter.

Chickens

The chickens mostly fall in good category. Egg production slowed down in late November as usual and we were only getting 2-4 eggs a day, but as the hours of daylight have been getting longer egg production has been gradually increasing. We are now gathering between 7-10 eggs a day. We had more than enough eggs for us, so we didn’t have to buy any this winter. The lack of snow this winter has made the chickens happy because they tend to stay inside when there is snow on the ground.

The bad, or at least sad, part is that our rooster died on Thanksgiving. He was one of three birds left from our first batch of chicks we got in 2013. Toward the end of summer we noticed that old age seemed to be catching up to him, so we were not surprised by his death. So far the flock seems to be doing well without him. I was never especially close to Cocky because he seemed to feel that he had to protect his flock from me. I did learn, after being spurred in the leg by him a couple times, not to turn my back on him. We sparred many times over the years, but I did respect him as protector of our flock. While I don’t miss having to look over my should when I’m in or around the chicken yard, I do miss hearing his Cock-a-doodle-do’s.

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Cocky and Honey

Bees

Bees fall into the UGLY category. At the end of summer we had eight hives most of which seemed to be thriving. Over fall and winter we have lost all of them. We are baffled as to why the bees are dying. Every hive has had lots of honey in it, the hives have top ventilation to prevent moisture build up and our winter temps haven’t even been that cold so it doesn’t make sense that they are freezing to death. Some even died before temperatures got cold.

It is sad and it is frustrating to have so many losses, but we have decided not to give up yet. We have ordered three more packages of bees to arrive in May so we can try, try again.

Garlic 

At this time it seems that the garlic falls into the good category. The new location seems to be good since despite lots of rain and snow melt we have not had any flooding in that area.

The main reason that I am including garlic in this update is because several readers were interested in knowing how the weed guard that we used when planting the garlic worked out. (You can read about it here.)  Unfortunately it did not work out as we hoped it would. All was well until after the first big snow storm in early November. We then had a warm up, and as the snow melted, the weed guard became saturated. Then we began seeing rips in it. It seems the wind was getting under the exposed edges and ripping the wet paper. It became so tore up that we ended up removing it completely and mulching the garlic with straw before the ground froze.

If we use this product in the future we now understand it is important to make sure all of the edges are secured – perhaps by burying them in the soil.

Hoop House

This is another one for the good column. This new addition is currently under construction. It has come a lot farther since this photo was taken last week. Our plan is to have it ready so we can start our garden plants in it this spring. I plan to write a post on it’s design and construction once it is complete and will likely write about it’s uses in the future as well.

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The Boys

The boy’s also fall into the good category. Most of our time at the farm this winter has been spent with the boys, more specifically training Ranger.  This pup has so much energy that it is important that he get out and use it up. We have found that he requires a minimum of two hours a day outside, but on most day it’s three or more hours of walking, running and hunting.

We have been using a training collar that has three settings – a beep, a vibrate, and a shock. The collar, along with voice commands, is working well with training him to stay on our property, but it is going to take a lot more training and time before he can be trusted not to leave the farm. Beagles have a strong hunting instinct and if they pick up the scent of a rabbit or other small animal (there are many on our farm) it is difficult to call them off.

We are not hunters so we will not be training to hunt rabbits or squirrels.

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He and Trooper do enjoy hunting for field mice together. This is something that Scout and Trooper would do for hours at a time and we are happy that Ranger has become Trooper’s new hunting buddy.

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Watching the boys hunt mice can get a bit boring, but it is interesting to observe how they work together.

Trooper who is mostly a watch dog uses both his nose and eyes for hunting.

IMG_6222Ranger, who is a hunting dog, primarily uses his nose.

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So while Ranger has his nose buried in the dirt trying to sniff out his prey Trooper might capture it as he sees it trying to escape.

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Now what do I do with it?

After consulting with our vet we did have the boys immunized against diseases that they could catch from mice.

I think it is largely as a result of all this outdoor activity that Ranger has become such a great house dog. While at home is is content to settle into his or our bed for a nap, or he might seek out a little cuddle time from one of us. If he does get bored he will find a rawhide to chew on or bring his ball for a game of catch. He does however let us know when it’s time to get out a expend some of the built up energy.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to put him to the test. We needed to go grocery shopping so thought we would see how well he would behave if we left him out of his crate for a couple hours while we were away. Our strategy was to make sure he was tired out first, so my husband took the boys to the farm for about an hour before we went shopping. Before we left for shopping we also made sure that some of the things that might be tempting to a puppy (shoes, slippers, books) were out of his reach.

We were so happy when we returned home and found the house in the same condition that we left it in. The Boy’s, especially Ranger, were rewarded with lot’s of “good boy’s” and another nice long walk (run, play, hunt) at the farm. We have since left him  on three more occasions and have come returned home each time to find that he was a “Good Boy”. 🙂 It may be time to get rid of the crate.

Thanks for reading.

How has your winter been so far?

 

 

55 Things #7 – Celebrating Our Love

Click here to learn more about my “55 Things” series and here to view previous posts in this series.

February 17, 2007 my husband and I stood at the alter and spoke our wedding vows before God and our family.

I remember my husband asking “what if I forget our anniversary?” My reply was “if we celebrate our love every day then that one day is really not that important.”

This scripture that was read at our wedding reminds us of what love is.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Happy Anniversary Sweetie and Thank You for loving me – every day.

55 Things #6 – A Sweet Treat

Click here to learn more about my “55 Things” series and here to view previous posts in this series.

With Valentines Day just around the corner I thought I would share my secret candy recipe with you. Up until this point it is only a secret because I have not told it to anyone so now my secret will be out.

If you are a chocolate lover like me then you probably get excited when you hear or read reports about the health benefits of chocolate (cocoa) – right up to the point that they add something like “but all that sugar (and potentially other ingredients) in that candy bar are still bad for you so be sure not to eat too much”. 😦  What a let down!

So I decided to make my own chocolates using what I believed to be better ingredients.

Here’s my recipe:

1/2 cup dark cocoa

1/2 cup raw honey

1/2 cup cold processed coconut oil

Since coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees F (24 C) I put the whole jar in a bowl of hot tap water to melt. I then measure the amount of liquid oil I need and pour it into a bowl. I add the cocoa and honey and stir until they are combined. The mixture will be smooth and as the coconut oil cools it will become firmer. I line a pan or plate with wax paper and drop by teaspoon on the wax paper. I then pop them in the frig or freezer for a while. Once they are set I remove them from the wax paper and store them in a dish with a lid in the frig (because coconut oil melts at 76 degrees room temperature might be too warm for them).

To change it up a bit raisins, dried cranberries, coconut or chopped nut can be mixed in.

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I won’t make any claims about these being healthy but if you research the ingredients you can draw your own conclusions. I will tell you that they are rich in flavor and have a creamy texture that melts in your mouth. Yum!!! I also find that just one is enough to give me my chocolate fix.

I haven’t really given them a name but the first time I made them my husband told me they looked like turds so I told him they would be “the best s**t he ever ate”. 🙂

Are you a chocolate lover?

 

 

There Was A Farmer Had A Dog…

And Bingo Ranger was his name-er.

While Ranger is the name we gave him, it seems The Pup has already acquired a few nick names.

Maybe you already guessed the first one is The Pup or Pup. This one just seemed to come natural. He looks like a puppy and acts like a puppy and I often find myself referring to him as The Pup. Sometimes when talking to him I call him Pup as well.

More often when addressing him I find myself calling him Mister. I’ve noticed my husband does this as well. I think I began calling this because when he sits down and looks at me he looks like a little gentleman.

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As we know looks can be deceiving, hence another nick name. It was pretty early on when I began calling him Dennis, as in Dennis the Menace. He has that type of personality. Young, cute, innocent, always wanting to be right where we are and finding ways to get into trouble. He can be lovable and annoying at the same time. If Ranger is Dennis I think Trooper is his Mr. Wilson. LOL!

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The other nick name he has is Zippy. This is what my husband calls him, which refers to both his energy level and his speed. This one may get a little confusing because my husband had called Trooper Zippy since he was young. As a young dog Trooper had the same type of energy and speed that we now see in Ranger.

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So it seems Ranger has become Zippy too or should I say Zippy Two. 🙂

Do you use nick names for family members or pets?

55 Things #5 – You Never Know What You Will Find On The Internet

Click here to learn more about my “55 Things” series and here to view previous posts in this series.

Imagine scrolling through a website filled with random funny pictures and coming across a picture of yourself – a picture that you had never seen before and perhaps didn’t even realize existed. How would you feel?

This happened to my husband. He likes to visit a website called Dump A Day and one day he came across this photo.

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It was captioned “Men Are Crazy”.

When he showed me the picture I immediately recognized the guy standing up as my husband even though he was much younger and this was taken long before we met. He proceeded to tell me the names of the other guys in the photo and the name of the guy he remembers taking it (Dom says Hello Randy).

It was taken in 1979 while he was serving in the US Coast Guard. They were on a trip from Milwaukee, WI to Greenland on the USGC Westwind (WAGB 281).

It brought back memories of his Coast Guard days and those he served with, but it also begs the question “How did this end up on Dump A Day?”.

P.S. This is not the craziest thing he has ever done.