Enjoy your Turkey!
If you are not from Wisconsin, you probably don’t understand the importance of opening gun season weekend. Some of us who do live here don’t really understand it either. I do know that it’s a big deal though. There have been songs written about it. For a real treat, follow the link.
Deer hunting has always been a source of eye rolling and laughing, at the expense of the hunters, when my sister and I were younger. My father was not a hunter, so he didn’t care who hunted on our farm and would let any moron who wanted to come and hunt. Much to my sister and my dismay. A typical conversation with one of our hunters went something like this. “Hey, girls tell yer dad we are going back in the woods ta hunt.” “Cletus here is going to go over to the woods over there and scare ‘em out of the park. Then I’m gonna be waitin’ in that tree there. Hey, do you guys want to go over to the park and scare ‘em fer us?” “No!” *door slams* The comment that maybe they would shoot each other was made more than once.
Unlike my father, my husband really enjoys hunting, and does not let anyone hunt on our land except a few pre approved neighbors. They also hunt as a team and share what is shot. This is a great deal for me because I don’t mind a little venison, but I much rather cook with beef. I take what I want and the rest goes to the others who want it.
This year is the first year my little guy went deer hunting with dad. The jury is still out on whether he liked it or not.He enjoyed tracking the deer after they shot it. He didn’t enjoy the dead deer once they found it. Can’t really blame him. He told me all about it in great detail so I think there is a hunter in him somewhere. It might just be a few years before he gets used to it.
The Farm Wife
I live for autumn on the farm. It is a busy time and there is a lot to do, but it is so beautiful out that nature pays you back 100 fold for all the outdoor work that needs to be done. The other night we were riding around and the sun was setting beautiful pinks and purples in the west and there was a huge pinkish orange harvest moon in the east and the trees are shades of orange, reds, and yellows. I wanted to push pause and live in that moment for much longer than it lasted. Me and Cori were spinning around in our seats so fast trying to take it all in. “Look at these colors”, “no, I’m looking at the moon.”, “Look at those trees.” It was the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me, but I really don’t feel to bad about that because the camera would have never done the scene justice.
In high school, being invited to ride along in the combine was my favorite date night activity. It’s still my favorite date night activity except there are two little ones who share a remarkable resemblance to us who are riding along. Funny how that happens. Here is my combine date for the last ten years.
Happy fall everyone! Get out and enjoy!
The Farm Wife
Chopping corn is the game this year. The farmer has sold our corn to a local dairy to use to feed their cattle. The other night we all got in the truck and decided to watch our corn be chopped. This dairy has its own operation come in and chop the corn so that means the farmer is not combining and we don’t have a chopper so we can’t chop. It’s bitter-sweet for him. On one hand, he is happy to not have to worry about combining corn. On the other hand, I think he is a little sad that he doesn’t have to worry about combining corn.
Chopping begins when the corn stalk has a high sugar content. That happens in August. The chopper rolls through the field cutting 12 rows at a time chopping up all the material, cob, stalk, leaves, and spits it out through its arm into a wagon or semi that will then take it to a pile at the farm.
Meanwhile at the farm, there are several more guys driving tractors on the pile compacting it and getting in as much corn as the spot will allow. Notice the concrete weight on the back of the tractor. They take compaction very seriously!
There is more chopping to be done on the farm. With the growing season the way it was, with very little rain, we are happy to be getting something for our crop. There are some farmers in much worse shape than us.
The Farm Wife
Last night we were on our way to the other farm to take care of chickens and grab eggs. We usually make this a family outing if at all possible because first of all, the chickens need to be taken care of, and secondly the farmer enjoys looking at the corn as if it was his own flesh and blood. Although, I do know how he feels because I walk out to my garden every chance I get to just look at it and note its progress.
Anyways, last nights taking care of chickens turned into hot air balloon chasers. There is a balloon company in a popular tourist town about 20 miles south of us that gives hot air balloon rides. It is a rare occurrence that the balloons will get as far north as us, but it does happen. Well last night was one of those nights. There was a prevailing south wind and there were 2 balloons in the air that kept coming closer and closer.
When we first saw them, they were still quite a ways south, but seemed to be coming closer. I told the farmer to get closer so we started our balloon chasing adventure. We zigged and zagged down the country roads trying to get the best views we could get. We were having a good time and those balloons kept heading north so we kept chasing.
When is was all said and done the balloons ended up on our neighbors hay-field just across the road and about 3 football field lengths from our field. The deal is, if the balloons land in your field and you are there to witness you get free tickets to go up on a balloon ride. It was pretty close we were so hoping but when they started to descend we knew we were out of luck. It was still a fun Sunday night activity to chase a hot air balloon.
The Farm Wife
p.s. All these pics were taken with the farmers Iphone because I always break blogging rule #1. Never leave home without your camera.
One of the jobs on the farm that is my responsibility is raking hay. Raking is the second step in the hay making process. The farmer does the mowing of the grass, I rake, then we hire someone with a baler to come in and bale. My tractor for raking is the John Deere 3020. Raking hay flips the grass rows over to aid in the drying of the grass and makes two or more rows of mowed grass into one and easier for the baler to pick it up and bale it. The process of making hay takes several days and in those several days you hope for no rain. If your grass is not dry when you bale, there can be trouble. Like a compost pile, water aids in the decomposition of the compost material. In a hay bale, water will help the decomposition process and start to heat up the bale. Many farmers have lost hay bales to a hay fire. It’s very important there is no moisture in your grass.
This year we sold all of our hay to a local dairy. We had so much hay last year that we still have almost a shed full. I use our hay not only for my animals but also for my garden see my post Garden Install and Mulch. This hay is the basis for my gardening efforts. It will add organic matter to my soil over the years as it decomposes, it will save me many many hours of weeding as a garden mulch, also in the event of a dry year it will hold moisture in my soil for my veggies.
Then the bales are taken where they will be out of the elements until they are used.
That is a basics of making hay. There is a lot of weather watching before and during the whole process. With a little bit of luck, and a lot of work, you are rewarded with a great hay crop.
The Farm Wife
Our farm pond is one of my favorite things that we have done over the years to improve our over all farm quality. Ponds can be a bit of controversy as far as the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) are concerned. You can take the side that the pond is a disruption of the natural stream that it is built on. Or you can take the side that a pond is a place where migratory birds can come and stop for a drink of water, the deer have a spot to drink, it is an area where toads and frogs can call home, not to mention the kids love exploring anything and everything around the pond and is an awesome learning subject for them. Our pond is classified as a wildlife pond.
We talked to the NRCS about helping us out with the cost of building a pond (EQUIP money). They then have to get authorization from the DNR. The DNR has to come and take water measurements to decide flow and quality of the spring and stream. When those tests are done, the NRCS can start the process of designing the pond. This process usually takes a year from the time you decide you want a pond to the time the pond is under construction. When the pond is constructed, it and the land it sits on, is under a program called CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program). We are in a 15 year program and on our 8th year. What this means is we are not able to touch the land that the pond is on. We have to let nature run its course. No prairie plantings, no bird houses, no cabins. It’s ok because I have 7 more years to decide what I want to do with the area. Prairie and bird habitat are definitely in its future.
The reason we were able to start the whole pond building process is because we have a natural spring on that particular farm. Water from the spring comes into the pond (about 50 degrees) and at the other end, water goes out through a tube at the bottom of the pond and out to the stream on the other side of the damn. It’s a great design. I don’t think we will ever have problems with it. In 20 years, the pond will still be around and still look the way it looks today.
We have stocked the pond with fish and are able, this year, to start doing some fishing. Fishing is not my favorite thing to do, but I love watching the kids catch fish. They think it’s the best thing in the world. No matter how small the fish is, if my youngest catches it, we will eat it.
The Farm Wife
I learned my lesson a few years ago. Don’t put your garden in before Mother’s Day. It’s an easy rule to follow. A few years ago the weather was getting nice and it was wednesday before Mothers Day. I thought, what the heck just a few days early won’t matter. Yes, you know where this story is going. The night before Mothers Day the evening temp got down to 30 degrees. I lost all my tomatoes, basil, peppers and eggplant. I made two mistakes that year. I planted before Mothers Day and I didn’t watch the weather.
This year I do have my garden in and it is before Mother’s Day, but I am watching the weather. Since the spring trend has been warm I felt pretty safe in making my move to get my garden in last weekend. First, I looked at the 10 day forecast, 40 degrees is as low as it’s going to get between now and Mothers Day. Pretty sure I’m going to be safe.
I was very happy with my newspaper pots, and disappointed in my peat pots. I think that I will be using newspaper pots exclusively in the future. Above I have my pots in a egg collecting basket. This is a farm auction find for $1.00.
Between my tomatoes and peppers they take up 50% of my garden. The rest is peas, beans, basil, eggplant, broccoli, head lettuce and cucumbers. That is my main kitchen garden plot. I have another plot that is the strawberry patch another dedicated to onions this year and another that is the pumpkin patch. The farmer is in charge of the pumpkin patch. This is after everything is planted but before the mulch is put on. The stick structure is my bean pole. Here is my mulch. I used all of this and I am going to need more for touch ups. Thank goodness we had a good hay crop last year. We have some to spare. That is my sons favorite outfit. I can’t get him to stop wearing it. He does rotate between two different John Deere t-shirts though.After mulching. I have more mulch to install I am just going to wait until some plants get a little bigger.This picture shows how thick the mulch is. It’s probably a good 6″ thick. This mulch will cut my weeding time dramatically. I will have to weed in between plants until they grow and form a canopy to block the sun.
These are my tomato cages. They are bent hog fences. Don’t waste your money on the dinky tomato cages at Walmart. There are many other options to try. I have a friend who ties her tomatoes to a stake as they grow. Works well. I like these bent fences. This idea came from my neighbor Lynn. I got him the fences and he bent them for me.
Mulched onions. I have 4 rows of onions I could probably have 6 if I didn’t mulch. To me the loss of planting space is worth not having to spend all my time weeding. I also have a lot of garden space so that is not an issue for me. I enjoy the look of the hay much. In these pictures it looks real fluffy. It does compress as the season goes on and it’s easy to walk on with bare feet. It also shows the kids where the garden aisles are so they are not running through the whole garden when the plants are little.
I’m very excited about my garden this year. So far it is doing well. We have gotten good rain and good sunshine days. God has blessed us to have such great growing conditions. This is why I love living in Wisconsin. We can forget about winter for now.
The Farm Wife
It is getting towards the end of mushroom season here in Wisconsin. It has been a great season. Lots of mushrooms. I even made wild mushroom soup. It was absolutely fabulous. Real creamy, wild mushroom goodness in every bite. You can’t beat a wild mushroom. We hate to see the Morels leave us but we can say goodbye with this big guy I just found tonight.
This is the biggest one I have ever found. Of course I did not have my camera with me at the time. I was just going out to the field to get my son for dinner who was in the tractor with dad. When I got out there the farmer says “Rumor has it that there are mushrooms under that tree over there.” He didn’t have to tell me twice, I was on my way before he finished the sentence. When we got to the tree there were a few that had been past their prime but this one was still in pretty good condition. It had flopped over because it’s so big it couldn’t support it’s own weight but man were we surprised when we found it. What a monster. This will probably be our last one of the season. All good things have to come to an end. They will be back and when that day comes this farm wife will be back out in the woods looking for them.
The Farm Wife
Grandma, (second generation farm wife) would give me a good talking to if she came to the farm today.
You see, I let my Rhubarb go to seed. Oops! This is rule number one in the farm wife handbook. In my defense, I was planning on pulling it but then I forgot. I have my eye on a strawberry rhubarb jam recipe in this months issue of Midwest Living. So I am on Rhubarb duty until I have strawberry’s.
By the way, if you are wondering what rule number 2 is in the farm wife handbook, its help your husband load seed into the planter.
The Farm Wife