Archive for Life on the Farm

Kat Has A New Name

Kat is developing the habit of getting herself into pickles, precarious situations that she can’t get herself out of that are usually high off the ground. Today Summer again heard the distressed call…”meow, meow” and went looking for her.

And there she was, up in the eaves of a shed with no way to get down. She kept looking for a way down but the rafters prevented her from going to the next eave. Poor pitiful Kat was meowing for help!

Again we got the ladder out and rescued our the little fraidy cat! She really wasn’t up that high-maybe seven or eight feet but it was high enough she wasn’t going to jump. The only way we could see that she got up there was to climb one of the posts but she appeared unable to go to the next eave and there was no eave close to her!

When Kat appeared at our doorstep we couldn’t figure out what to call her and until we could up with a name we called her Kat. The name has stuck until today. I have now decided she is Pickles. Pickles Kat.

We had a book when the children were little called “The Fire Cat” by Esther Averill. It was about a cat named Pickles that climbed a tree and couldn’t get down. His owner, Mrs. Goodkind, had to call the fire department to rescue him. He ended up going to the fire house to live. He learned to slide down the pole, ride on the fire truck, helped unroll the fire hose and rode on the seat with the fire chief. The children loved the book and I read it many, many times. I think the name seems rather fitting to me!

Other adventures of Kat:

Kat Escapade #2

Kat has her own way of talking and it is distinct. This afternoon Summer heard the distressed “meow” that she knew was Kat’s help me call. Summer started searching and calling and Kat would answer “meow”. Finally Summer saw her in the big pine tree behind the electrical panel between the greenhouse and the store.

Kat how do you get yourself in such predicaments? Why do you like to explore high and unusual places?

We looked at her and she looked at us. We meowed to her and she meowed back to us. We told her she was going to have to find her own way down. She just looked at us with pathetic eyes. We called for help-Kat’s favorite.

Gene got a ladder and kept talking to her and coaxed her to jump down onto the roof. At least now she was where we could get her.

Kat is very independent. She disappears for a day or so and then shows back up, meowing loudly which means she is very hungry and wants food now. She loves Gene and he pets and pampers her. He is her buddy.

At first she played a little cat and mouse game.

She finally decided to give herself up and started inching her way to Gene.

This is the bigger view of where she was at. She was on that larger green branch hanging down.

The other adventures of Kat:

Cat On the Tin Roof

Yesterday afternoon while Summer and I were in the store, we kept hearing this very faint, soft “meow, meow”. One moment it sounded like it was on the right, the next meow on the left, then in the ceiling, in the walls, upstairs, and under the building. We had seen a momma cat with her kitten close by earlier in the day and thought it was probably her but we wanted to find her. The meow would come and go. Our search would go and come depending on where we thought the direction of the last meow came from. Of course while we were looking there was no meow!

This morning first thing we heard it again. Meow! We walked outside on the porch of the store and out of the corner of her eye Summer saw Kat peak over the edge of the roof.

Have you ever heard the story of the “Cat On the Hot Tin Roof”? We had a cat on the tin roof but fortunately it was not hot.

Kat came to live with us this summer. One morning when we got up she was sitting on the patio waiting for us. She was a beautiful kitty; hungry and a little skinny. She must have been scouting for a new place to call home and chose us. We called her Kat until we could figure out a name. She is still Kat! Gene is her favorite human.

Kat is not a cuddly cat but does like to be talked to, rubbed and given attention. She knows how to beg for food and is a social eater. She is an outdoor cat but if she sees us eating through the patio door then she wants to eat also. She will peer through the glass door and go “meow” until there is food in her bowl.

Somehow “Her Royal Highness” got herself into a pickle. She was on the barn roof with no way down. She likes getting on the warehouse roof and playing “pounce” with a pile of leaves. But there is a tree by that roof; it is easy on, easy off. I guess she saw the store roof as a new, thrilling adventure.

When we started talking to Kat she tried to come to us. She stepped onto the steep barn roof and almost slid off the gutter above the steps.

We tried reaching her from a step stool but just could quite reach her and she took off slipping and sliding to the end of the barn. She discovered claws did not give her footing on the metal roofing!

We tried to convince her to jump into our arms. Kat seriously considered that option but just could not make that leap of faith.

Should I do it?
I want to do so bad!
Nope, no way!

Finally “daddy” Gene came to her rescue with the forklift. Summer took the elevator ride up and got her.

Kat-Kat now has her paws back on solid ground and there are no more meows coming from unknown sources. Hopefully she learned that steep tin roofs can not be climbed as they are slick sliding boards that send you scooting downward, fast!

Check out the other adventures of Kat:

Mr. and Mrs. Goose: (Part 2) Harsh Reality

I suspect the one on the left was the female as it was the one doing all the honking.

Life can be hard and sad and the reality is that it is sometimes harsh. Mr. and Mrs. Goose are experiencing harsh reality.

Yesterday morning we notice both of them in the pasture behind the house grazing. It was a beautiful, cool, pleasant morning. The sun was shining, the cows were grazing and the birds were busy feeding.

I opened the patio door and Mrs. was honking as if she was crying as she ate. There were no little goslings in tow. A cow will stash her baby calf in the brush or tall grass and somehow tell him to stay while she goes off to eat, sometimes for several hours. When she comes back, the calf is waiting for her. But not geese. When the pond is probably half a mile away, through the woods and across several fields the parents do not leave their babies. Not for one second. But here they were, grazing without the goose children. Mostly one would keep watch while the other grazed.

I texted Mark. “Have you seen the geese? Has something happened to the babies. Mr. and Mrs. are over here grazing by themselves. Geese don’t do that when they have babies”.

The sad reply was, “No, they haven’t seen the babies for a couple of days and mama was on the pond yesterday making a lot of noise.”

It is nature. Survival of the fittest. Foxes, coyotes, turtles, hawks, and coons are all creatures of prey. Their next meal is a feast on something they just caught fresh!

But that didn’t keep Mrs. Goose from grieving over her lost. For a long time she honked. Finally they flew over the treetops towards the pond, honking as they went. Were they going back to look, just in case?

This evening they were back in the field again. It will be interesting to see if they nest again or eventually join other fellow goosers.

Geese mate for life and stick together through thick or thin. Hopefully the next time they will be more successful. It truly is amazing that they are able to ever raise youngun’s.

Blog post, Part 1: Mr. and Mrs. Goose

Mr. and Mrs. Goose

Several weeks ago one lone goose showed up in the pasture behind the house. Every evening we watched it wandering around and grazing with the cows. It seemed to be frantically eating as if it was really hungry.

The cows paid it no mind. This seemed rather strange and baffling as geese travel in flocks or gaggles. We do not have a pond on the farm but often hundreds of geese will land and graze and then fly with loud honks over the tree tops to where ever they go. You never see one lone goose by itself day after day. I took pictures and wondered if it was a Mr. or Mrs. I started thinking of a name; a name that could be a Mr. or Mrs. I considered just “goose” but finally decided on “Sam”. I figured Sam could work for either male or female. I wondered, was it injured and not able to fly, had it lost it’s mate, or was it’s mate nesting near by. It seemed a little unusual for a nesting pair to be on our farm with only a small stream meandering through the woods.

Last week on Monday evening I sat in my golf cart by the field until dark watching to see where Sam went for the night. I watched and watched and then suddenly it was too dark to see him. I drove down closer to where he was seconds before but he had magically vanished, right before my eyes and I could not find him.

The next evening (Tuesday) I went down into the field with my golf cart and eased up as close as possible. I wanted to see if he would fly away or whether he was injured. He was not overly afraid but became restless, alert, head up, watching me intently. When I was about 100 foot from him he flapped his wings, turned on his honker, and flew up and away over the treetops behind the barns honking his pleasure as he sailed. I suddenly realized he was heading straight for a neighbor’s pond. That ruled out option #1. He was not injured.

I called neighbor Mark Johnson and told him the story and wondered if he had a lone or setting goose at his pond. We were so curious to know the story on Sam. Mark did not think so but would be on the lookout. Sam was back the next evening (Wednesday) and following morning (Thursday) and then we didn’t see him anymore.

This afternoon (Sunday) I got a call from Mark. He suddenly has a pair of geese swimming on the pond with three newly hatched, fluffy, yellow goslings. Sam is a daddy goose!!!

With camera in hand we went over to the pond this evening to get the goose family portrait. Now we know the rest of the story!

Canadian geese mate for life.
I loved how they swim together, mom and dad, keeping their young’uns between them.
They parked to rest and think they are hiding from me!
The goslings had to really paddle to keep up but the did not fall behind..

Another blog post: Mr. and Mrs. Goose (Part 2) Harsh Reality

Hay Season Has Begun

Spring on the farm means fertilizing and harvesting the hay crop. Gene says all spring and summer he makes hay and in the fall and winter he feeds hay! His whole work load seems to center around hay one way or another.

Making hay is a three day process. This week, on Tuesday, Gene laid the first hay on the ground. This week was a narrow window for hay. They were calling for rain on Thursday evening so he cut a small amount. He also has some new equipment he has to get used to.

Can’t you just smell that freshly mowed hay?

Last fall Gene planted Wintergrazer 70 and Passerel Plus Ryegrass. The two mixed together make a really good early crop of hay. After it is harvested, Gene will let it grow back some before turning the beef cattle into the fields to graze.

Wintergrazer 70 is an extensively proven and widely adapted cereal grain rye. As a grain rye, it has superior cold tolerance when compared to other cereal grains such as wheat and oats. With its excellent cold tolerance and upright growth habit, Wintergrazer 70 is well suited for mixing with legumes, brassica, and/or other small grains such as wheat and oats.

Passerel Plus, an annual ryegrass that produces highly palatable and nutritious forage for all classes of livestock. It is excellent for growing cattle producing average daily gains of 2 lbs./head or more. Good late fall and excellent spring growth. It is is a late maturing variety that provides grazing long after many other varieties mature and diminish. Good cold tolerance and rust resistance.

Wednesday morning he tettered the hay, spreading the windrows out so that the sun could dry it faster.

Later in the afternoon he raked it back into windrows for baling.

Thursday, he baled and wrapped the hay. Tonight while it rains he will sleep well, knowing they hay is finished and wrapped.

The bales may look like big marshmallows in the field to the nonfarming community but wrapping the hay has numerous benefits. It saves time as it cuts at least a day out of the process as you want/need more moisture in the hay. Gene constantly monitors the weather patterns during hay season and often deals with narrow windows on good hay making weather. It improves the quality as the hay ferments inside the plastic making silage which the cows love. It improves the preservation as it cuts out spoilage and mold especially when storing the hay outside. In short, you can make hay faster with better quality and lest waste.

Gene bales a lot of hay, last year he made 2200 bales for his beef herd. He has a grinder, mixer wagon that he uses in the winter to grind/shred the hay before feeding it to the cows.

Checking the quality of the bale and hay.

Gene traded balers this spring and the equipment dealer (Spaldings) and the Kubata rep came on site to get him started. There is always a learning curve with a new piece of equipment, especially the computer technology. This baler has a new feature, it cuts the hay into small pieces as it bales. This will cut his grinding time in half this winter which will be a huge time saver.

Sample of the freshly baled hay.

Friday morning update: It was suppose to rain last night but since it didn’t, Gene was able to get the bales out of the field. He likes to move them within a day or two as the bales sitting on the grass soon make a dead spot.

His first cut was 39 bales. By the time the season is over there will be big stacks everywhere!!!

Red Got Fred

Remember my blog post on November 11, 2020 about Fred, our Mr. guinea? Click on this link to read his story…. “Fred“.

Fred become a beloved friend around the farm. Every day we looked to make sure he was still with us and at supper we talked about his antics. . We would find him running around the chicken house, feeding in the cow troughs, sitting on a hay bale, scurrying across the chicken house roof or exploring the fields around the barn. One day when Gene was loading calves on the trailer to take to market, Fred went fussing to the loading area and thought he had to get in the mix. He was not a help! Another day our employee, Tim, was running the chain saw behind the store and it was not long until we heard Fred back there just a fussing up a storm. He was not impressed with the chain saw. Fred had a lot of personality; it was loud and quirky but also unique and endearing. I am not a fan of guineas but I became a fan of Fred.

Last fall Red sleeked into the scene. He was the most beautiful, healthy, velvety red fox we had ever seen. It was kind of neat to see him passing through. He was huge, about the size of a German Shepherd dog. He would watch him stroll through our yard early in the morning. He was spotted in the woods during hunting season. We would see him running through the pasture or hunkered down in the grass. We all knew it was Red when we saw him, there was none like him.

I started worrying about Fred. We knew Fred was always on the move and very quick, but he also let it be known where he was at with his constant chatter. At first Red didn’t appear to be concerned with Fred, it seemed he was just passing through on bigger and better hunts.

This winter, especially the past several weeks, Red has become very brazen. He is leery of humans but also doesn’t seem to mind being close by and started hanging out around the barns. We would spot him on the hillside right behind the chicken house, just chilling out as if watching Fred. I became more and more concerned. Every day we made sure Fred was still around but didn’t really know what to do to protect him.

On Friday, February 12, Fred was running around and I warned him about Red. Friday night it snowed. On Saturday morning there was several inches of snow on the ground. All was still and eerily quiet on the farm. There was no good morning squawk from Fred.. I missed him but figured he was hunkered down in one of the barns. By the day’s end, we realized none of us had seen Fred.

Fred has not been seen since. There is a little pile of feathers by the chicken house door.

We have now determined that Red is calling this home. We are pretty sure we know where he is hiding out and it is just behind the chicken house. This evening he was running around the barns when Gene was getting hay for the cows and laid down in the middle of the driveway to watch. This is beginning to not feel to good.

Several days ago he was laying in the field along the driveway just surveying the landscape and looking straight at Tim’s cats.

There is circumstantial evidence….big bad Red, did you eat Fred?


One morning Fred was just here. We heard him squawking his howdy-do. We never saw him come and have no clue where he hailed from. He does not seem to have any intentions of leaving. The nearest houses are half a mile or more away with woods, fields and fences in between.  He appeared after a week of storms and wind in August. Guineas can fly up into a tree or rooftop but they can not fly like a bird.  Fred hasn’t told us if he got lost and wandered here or if someone thought it was a good place to dump him.

Fred is very territorial with home base the area round the chicken house. All day he runs; round and round and round, looking in on and guarding the chickens, squawking his commands. He is hyperactive max as he does not stand still one minute. He acts like he wants in the building but is very skittish and keeps social distancing from humans. He does not eat the chicken feed or cracked corn I throw out for him.

He is an interesting fella and we have fallen in love with him. In the evenings when the cows come up in the pasture behind the house, he runs out to greet them,  fussing up a storm and telling them all about his day. He likes mingling among the cows as they graze, picking for bugs and grain in their droppings. They watch him but don’t seem to mind his intrusion except to occasionally toss their heads at him if he gets too close.

One evening  a calf got her hoof stuck in the fence wire as she was being naughty, trying to sneak out and got caught.  Fred ran full throttle to her scolding and fussing. She was so scared at his raucous that she was able to kick herself free and run. It was hilarious. 

Sometimes we spy him on the chicken house roof running around and other times he has been spotted in the cows feed trough gleaming from their leftovers or pretending to be guinea king of the mountain on a round bale of hay.

I have tried to figure out where he spends the night. I have stayed out until dark watching him as he picks around the yard. He goes to bed late, we know not where. So far he has been safe from night critters that love snatching and munching on unsuspecting poultry.

Rain and More Rain-August 2020

The inches are adding up. After a hot, humid, July (we did get 2.2 inch of rain in July which is unusual) it is raining and raining and raining some more, and calling for more days of rain. As I write this we have had 12.2 inches of rain in August with 6.2″ of those in the last twenty-four hours.

This afternoon I braved the rain and went to Food Lion. Coming home on our road, there was a fair-size tree laying 3/4 the way across the road. Facebook is “flooded” with pictures and reports of flooded roads and downed trees in our area. Our driveway is one large water puddle!

During the night it apparently rained really hard. The picture below shows some gravel from our driveway in the middle of the road heading almost all the way down to Route 60.

It is a dreary, quiet, peaceful afternoon with nothing to do except for what I want to do-in the house. I was planning to process my second patch of sweet corn this afternoon, pick tomatoes and okra and finish mowing the lawn. Instead I have read the mail, checked email and facebook a dozen times, and pitter-pattered around the house, restless. Church is cancelled for tomorrow so it will be another long day. I don’t have any new puzzles to put together and I can’t convince Gene to play a board game.

The conversation went like this…

Me: Let’s play a game of Settlers.

Him: It’s almost supper time.

Me: It would be fun.

HIm: Supper?

After supper I announced I had fun eating supper and that the Blackberry Crunch in the oven was for those who played a game. I have a feeling he will still get his share of crunch, without the game! Where are my grandkids when I need them. Guess I’ll have to get motivated and make a batch of truffles.

One sad thing for us is the new creek-crossing and bridge we put in late February for cattle crossing and stream exclusion has been badly damaged-twice this month. I’ll show you some before and after pictures.

February 2020
You can see how far up the hill the water was. That steam is normally a trickle.
The bridge, early November 2018
The support posts on the sides of the bridge held.

Gaggles of Canadian geese have been feeding in the fields the past few days and the cows are grazing. The rain is not bothering them one bit.

Neither has it fazed Mr. Squirrel who has been savaging the seeds from the ground under the bird feeder.

At least we have not had wind or fire as some areas of our country are experiencing. Our damage is very minimal, the water table is being replenished and there should be a good hay crop this fall.

We are blessed.

A Beautiful Evening

After supper I mowed the lawn, and then I took an evening ride on my golf cart and enjoyed the beauty of the evening. I saw and enjoyed the glory of God’s creation.

The evening was perfect with a slight gentle breeze. The birds were tweeting their bedtime lullabies, a bull bellowed in the distance, a calf baa’ed for it’s mama, a horse snorted, and the tree frogs were starting to chirp. The bees were all gathering into the safety of the hive for the evening. A squirrel was stuffing his face with seeds from the bird feeder before scurrying to his nest in the treetop.

I saw the sun dip behind the clouds as it sank on the horizon and glory rays lined the clouds. It seemed a perfect time to see Jesus step forward and say, “Saints, come home!”

Storm clouds were gathering in the east.

The cows and horses were quietly grazing in the pasture, filling their bellies before they laid down to chew their cud and rest for the night.

I saw a rabbit resting in the lawn with his legs stretched out behind him. He let me ease up fairly close before he hopped off.

The fragrant yellow blossoms of the evening primrose are starting to bloom and at 8:30 p.m. numerous blossoms popped open as I watched.

When the store closes, everyone goes home, work ceases and all the equipment is parked for the night, the farm is a oasis of absolute peace, quiet and beauty. I love sitting outside, breathing in the fragrances of the farm and listening to the different animal noises. I see God’s handiwork in the flowers, wildlife and sky. I feel His presence in the stillness and love using the opportunity to thank and worship Him. For those moments, the busyness, worries, and stresses of the day and world fade and it is just me and God.

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