Saturday, December 29, 2012

A little snow

A few flurries around this afternoon.  Once in awhile we can get a few inches of snow here south of Nashville.  But this storm is barely sticking to the ground.  The pictures below were about 15 minutes ago, and as I look out now at dusk, the ground is a little whiter.
The downside is that we have had 7.5" of moisture in December and the corral is getting pretty muddy.  A project for next summer will be to get some drain pipe, a truckload of rock and rent a trencher to improve the drainage of that area.  It catches a lot of runoff and doesn't drain much at all.
I hate to complain about moisture when so many of you could use more....wish we could share!
Happy New Year to all - may you survive all the stuff being foisted upon us out of Wash DC; and remember the ONE who is in control of all.
Have a Blessed New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Winter Garden and Rain

The garden was "put to bed" for the winter earlier this fall. Because of the location and slope, the garden beds catch a lot of rain runoff, so I seed crimson clover as a cover crop to hold the soil from washing away.  Of course a clover cover crop has other advantages as well.  The following pictures show the 4' wide beds (with 2' grass walkways between) with the clover.  Most of it has been "mowed" by rabbits, but the root structure is still fulfilling its purpose.
Speaking of rabbits...we have had quite a number of them living and procreating on the premises!  We have even enjoyed seeing them scamper around the barnyard area and they haven't bothered any garden crops before attacking this clover. We occasionally find a nest in an unusual place, like this one I found in the mulch of a berry row when I was hoeing last summer.
These little ones were pretty dug in, but when disturbed they scampered away to the neighbor's fence row for cover.  I wished them well as they fled!
Actually, we are thinking of getting an air rifle or a 22 to discourage them as it is becoming a bit much.
The rows of berries have been mulched with wood chip mulch that I can pick up for free at the county recycling place.

And the asparagus beds as well.
We are having what we call "Oregon days".  There have been too many of them in 2012 for my liking!  No offense to our friends in Oregon, but the reputation of Seattle and Portland for gray days is well deserved and we had enough in the 20 plus years we lived there to last a lifetime.  To it's credit, there is nothing more beautiful than a 75 degree sunshiny day in May in the Willamette Valley.  Something like the Garden of Eden!  But there are a LOT of gray drippy days to suffer through to get those few perfect ones.
Typically, much of the rain in Tennessee comes quickly in large quantities with much booming fanfare, but this year has not been typical.  Over 6" of rain in December so far spread over 10 days.  We barely dry out a little before the next front moves in.

The weather does lend itself to staying inside and doing "Christmasy" things.  We are enjoying the season and wish you all a very blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


My original intention was to buy lightweight calves in the Spring, pasture them until Fall and then sell.....and do it over again the next year. So the first year I bought some mixed breed calves from a neighbor.
I over-wintered these calves that first year, buying hay and some grain. The spring of 2011 I sold them and prices were unbelievably high, which was good! But when I looked at buying lighter weight calves for the season's grass, prices were.....yep, unbelievably high. So I was able to buy 4 Angus bred heifers from a neighbor of a friend for $1000 each (400 pound calves were selling for $700 ++) .
We name all our cattle ( a habit from my childhood on the dairy farm). These 4 heifers became Big Mama, Little Mama, Lucky and Beauty. Basically descriptive names. These heifers were supposedly due in the Fall of 2011, but in July we had our first 2 calves. The first one was Big Mama who had a reddish brown heifer who stumbled into the creek right after being born, which is where I found her, standing in over a foot of water. She was fine, although Big Mama took a couple days to figure out the mothering thing! We named the calf Annie (after Little Orphan Annie) and we kept her to add to the herd. A few days later, Litttle Mama calved with a bull calf who we named Buster. We have kept him to be the herd sire for the next few years ( a little problem).
The above picture is Annie and Buster last year.
In November, at the expected time, Lucky had a heifer calf (Abby, also kept to add to the herd) and Beauty had a big bull calf, Biff, who was sold after weaning last May.
A good friend loaned me his Polled Hereford bull last winter for a few weeks and the result was Big Mama calving last month with a black white faced heifer calf (Pandy). A few days later Little Mama joined in with another BWF heifer calf (Mandy). The picture below was taken this week showing all 9 head.
Beauty and Lucky were bred by Buster and should be due next spring, followed by Annie in the summer and hopefully Abby in the fall. The plan is to keep 6 cows and the bull and market all the calves at about 6 months of age, after weaning.
Comprende ?
Thaaaat's all folks !

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rain and Drought

   This picture is taken from the back patio last May during a strong thunderstorm.  You can see the water pooling between the shop and garden.  This is a normal occurrence here....usually.
   We had what I would call a "mini-drought" last summer.  Nothing at all like much of the country experienced (and still is in some parts).  Our normal is about 48 inches per year, average of 4" per month, a normal range of 2.5 to 5.5 per month.Last winter was normal through January....February and March were 3" each, so a little dry.  Then just 1/2" in April and along with the higher than normal temperatures, things began to dry out significantly.  May had 2" early, than a long dry spell until 2 more in early June. 
   Now understand, this area has very heavy clay soils with a lot of rock underground (sometimes not that far underground, or even protruding). It drains poorly and then dries out fast.  So by late June, I was feeding hay to the cattle as the pasture literally looked like Rice Krispies.  The first cutting of local grass hay had not been good and prices doubled from $30-$35 per 4x5 round bale to $65 and hay was being hauled in from other states. 
   But then on July 4 we got some rain.  As July progressed, it rained more, the grass started to grow again and we ended July with 8.5" followed by 4.5" in August and a whopping 11" in September!  October was normal at 5.5", November was dry at 1.5" but so far we have 3.2" in December. 
   After the moisture returned in July everyone was making hay all the rest of the season.  I bought 25 bales of first cutting in early June for $30 and then 20 bales of good late season hay for $25 last month, so back to normal.
   I sure pray that this is a normal year coming up for so many of you in drought stricken areas and that you will enjoy many rainbows after the storm.

And many sunsets as beautiful as this Tennessee sunset !!

Monday, December 10, 2012

How we got here - a bit of history

  We moved to Tennessee in 2005 after a lifetime in Idaho, Washington and Oregon.  We bought a house on 1/2 acre about 8 miles from our present location.  I said then that my "farm" would have to be a half acre and a Craftsman riding mower would be my tractor!
  Then in 2009, our daughter and son-in-law moved down from Nashville and bought a 5 acre place just 2 miles from where we are now.  That led us to start looking around and through God's great grace we were able to sell our house and buy 5 acres here (followed by the adjoining 3 acres in 2011).

While putting together plans for the house, we moved into a RV trailer parked at our daughter's place and had a shop building built to store our belongings.

The house followed....working with a wonderful contractor advisor things proceeded fast and smooth.  First pushed dirt Sept. 29 and moved in Dec 10.

The last picture above is June 2012, along with the following from last summer.

I'll be posting often in the future about the garden and cattle, which is my real passion. But this little pictorial shows a little bit of how we came to be where we are.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

First try at this!

This is my first try at this!  I have enjoyed reading so many blogs over the past year or two, I will try to create something here that may be as enjoyable to others.  Bear with me!