Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stormy Weather

  We were awakened at 4 AM by the NOAH weather radio and a tornado watch.  We watched TV weather for an hour before it passed;  all the regular daytime weather people had been on air all night. It is a bit more scary when these storms hit at night.  You can't see what is going on and must rely on the radio and TV.
  Reports from around Tennessee say that 1 man was killed when a tree fell on the shed he was in.  An EF-2 tornado damaged buildings in Mt Juliet, east of Nashville.  Much of the damage was from winds of 50-100 mph.  We were fortunate in that we just had wind gusts of maybe 35-45 and 1.5" of rain.  The ground is saturated so the creek is out of it's banks and up on the pastures today. I have recorded 8.6 inches of rain in January, 4 more than normal.
  A cold front is moving in, but it stopped raining about noon and was still in the mid fifties, so I went out to prune some more roses.  I am halfway done now; 20 out of 40!
  I hope all of you readers in the path of these storms are safe.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Local Tour & Pictures

  Today is a nice sunny 52 with no wind.  A nice day to do something outside, so I started the rose pruning. We always grew roses in the Pacific Northwest but after moving to Tennessee we had trouble keeping them healthy.  So we now grow all Knock Out roses.  Granted, they are not the traditional deep rose we all love.  But they are profuse bloomers and virtually carefree.  We have 38 of them!  So that is a lot of trimming.  I trimmed 4 today...filled 2 garbage cans and that is about the limit of yard trimmings I can take at one time to the local "convenience center", or dump as I call it.  So 8 more trips and I'll be done!  I took some pictures as I drove, so here is a little pictorial tour, all within 3 miles of home.
  First, the rose bed before trimming, then after.

  Here is how they looked last summer.

  The cows had to come up to the fence to check out the activity and beg for grain.
The birch tree nearby has nice bark this winter.
  This area is an interesting mix of old and new, of fertile cropland and rocky wasteland. This rocky sinkhole is just up the road about 3/4 mile.
  Most of the open land in this county is either grassland for pasture & hay, or is wheat, corn, & soybeans; sometimes some cotton.  Virtually all the farming is no-till; spray, plant and harvest.  I must say I really miss seeing the soil turned and worked.
  The winter wheat and soybeans are usually double cropped, followed by corn the next year and then back to wheat and beans.
  Here is a nice winter wheat field which will be harvested in June and soybeans planted immediately after, and a bean field ready for corn in April.

   Here is an old barn in a new setting, part of a country estate with a huge house just out of view.

  Just up the road a few hundred yards, you cross this scenic bridge and creek.

  This county was once home to a few hundred dairies, but only a handful remain.  This was quite a showplace dairy a few decades ago.
 Now it is home to a small Angus herd.

  We have always enjoyed that old buildings are rarely demolished here; they are usually allowed to remain as a reminder of the history of the area.  Sometimes they are kept up and still used while others sink and crumble slowly away.

  Remember, all this is within 3 miles of home.  Quite remarkable, I think.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Looking for Hay

  After buying 25 round bales of hay last summer and an additional 20 last month, I thought I would have enough. But these gals are scarfing it in at a record pace! Yesterday, they were down to the "dregs" but I scattered some grain cubes on it and made them do cleanup work until today. They go digging for the cubes and eat hay in the process. But this morning it was pretty well cleaned up so I put out 2 more bales. Only 12 remain! Here is a picture of the cattle this afternoon. Bellies full of hay and basking in the sun.
  I have purchased hay from 5 different sources in the past 2 years and I'm still looking for someone to sign up with permanently. I made some calls this morning and drove about 10 miles to yet another farm and bought 2 bales. This fellow does practice weed control, so the hay should be clean. He stores them outside so there is some weather damage.  However, they are very tight and large bales...probably over 1000# each. So at $27 it's a pretty good buy.  We'll get the cow's verdict in a few days. I left messages for 2 other growers, so hopefully I can audition them as well!
  It's a sunny 43 outside now with no wind.  Very nice.   Upper teens tonight and low 30's tomorrow.  I plugged in the stock tank heater before I came in.  Much of the country is so cold right now, I'm not complaining.  I see Boise is 14 right now and back to 0 tonight.  I feel for you folks!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Little Ice

   Low 30's for a few days here, night and day. 5 inches of rain in the last week. There was a big scare for a quite severe freezing rain & ice situation , mostly west of Nashville, last night. Many schools opened late in anticipation but it never really materialized. I took this "tiny icicles" picture Tuesday morning.

  That is Annie, the 18 month old heifer, showing off her jewelry.  I caught her last week as she was "sharing" nursing duties with her little sister Pandie. She did that once before about 6 weeks after she was weaned.  Hadn't seen it since, but she definitely is still bonded with her dam, Big Mama. So I ran her into the chute and  applied a weaning ring again.  She didn't like it!  The ring is very effective and low cost.  It has a screw that tightens it down without piercing the nose. It flaps around so the animal can still graze and eat hay, but when they try to nurse, the sharp prongs make the cow walk away.
   I moved the cattle into this south pasture Monday as the corral was just too muddy.  I'll need to do some reseeding this spring where the hay rings set. The hay bales are lined up on the edge of this field, so I pounded in a few posts and ran 5 strands of electric wire around the hay before I turned them in.  I didn't run electricity to it as I would have needed to shovel about 30-40 feet to put the insulated wire underground.  Thought it might fool them, but this morning the 2 nursing calves were inside the fence and a little later Buster was in there too and had broken some of the strands.  So I went out and made repairs, then did the shoveling to make it hot. After I went over to plug in the fencer, I counted about 30 seconds before Annie tested it and bellowed when I heard a loud snap.  About 20 seconds later, Mandie, one of the little calves, tried her luck.  Another loud snap, a beller, and she galloped halfway around the pasture!  With the ground so muddy and wet, the electricity almost jumps at them when they get close.  Hope that fixes the problem!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weather and Grandkids

   I've had computer problems the past week....struck by some malware.  My son-in-law IT pro got me pretty much back to speed, but still some problems with a few programs.
   The weather is wacky, same as in much of the country.  We had several days with highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s.  My page shows local as well as Eastern Colorado and Boise, Idaho.  I have family in both places and keep track, ya know?  Several mornings last week when I got up it said we were 65-68 and Boise & Vona were 3-5.  Brrrrrrrr! But starting today we are back to more normal 40s / 20s.
   We have had rain for 6 straight days, total of 4 inches; another inch or more predicted for tonight and Tuesday before a drying spell.
   Sunday afternoon we had a tornado warning.  Nothing came of it in Middle Tennessee, but these pictures show how fiercely it rained for awhile.

   Taken from the back patio; the yard was a lake for awhile. The picture below shows part of the corral and in the distance, the temporary lake on the neighbor's pasture.

   Sunday we celebrated grandson Jackson's 9th birthday.  In just about 6 weeks we will celebrate Brittany's 16th and Katie's 13th. Wow, how fast they grow up!  We are really looking forward to the arrival in March of Jackson's little brother, Caleb.  How fun to have a baby in the family again!

   While on vacation in Oregon at Christmas, Dave, Katie & Jackson visited the Tillamook Creamery and sent this "cow" picture to Grandpa. Pretty cool....thanks Jackson!  Wish I could have enjoyed some cheese curds and an ice cream cone with you!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Old School

From time to time, I hope to inject a little family history into this blog.  I'll start with some pictures of the old school in Eastern Colorado that my Dad attended as a boy.  It is amazing to me that it still stands, forlorn, in a wheat field.  I like that.  Too many historical places are torn down just because they are in disrepair or are "in the way".  Also pictures of the old church a few miles away from the school.  Quite a walk back in time.

Even the old attendance board, just the way it was when last used, many years ago.
And the old piano.  Can't you just hear the voices echoing off the board walls?
And the bulletin board.  

   The old church I attended as a youth in SW Idaho is still standing, but it has been converted into a coffee house.  It is still somewhat the same, which I appreciate, but yet.......... Just makes these pictures of an earlier generation even more meaningful.  I took these pictures in 2008.
   I hope you walked a little with me down memory lane.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gray Skies and Spring Dreams

So, to start the New Year, here we have another drippy day....ugh!  Sunday was a clear sunshiny day and I do absolutely love those days!  Weather report says we will get a few of those coming up before a 2 week stretch of drip the middle of this month.  Rita says it's a "man thing" to be obsessed with the weather and with gas prices.  I guess so.  I'll have to do a post one of these days on gas prices!
So what does one do on these gray days? There is always hope for Spring......
 In addition to the usual trusty varieties I like to try several new things each year.  For 2013 I'm looking at Canesi or Argonaut butternut squash, in addition to the faithful Waltham.  And a Japanese Long cucumber from Baker Creek Seeds. And the Fortex pole bean which several bloggers rave about, in addition to Blue Lake (no more bush beans around here).  Maybe a yellow fleshed watermelon and a few sunflowers.  I saw a nice red sunflower I might try. Most of our cantaloupe are Hale's Best, but I always try something new as well.  Onions will be Walla Walla and Candy but I'll also try the Red Candy.  Potatoes....I think we'll just stay with the Yukon Gold; they do well and we love them. I buy the seed potatoes at the co-op by the pound.  I can pick out the smaller ones about 1-2" diameter and then I don't need to cut them.
 I plant the sweet corn in the 42" wide beds and thus far have put 2 rows per bed.  I'm going to try a 8" spacing on the square....increased plant population and maybe better pollination.
 As you can tell, January is my least favorite month.  But it may be the most hope filled month and it passes quickly. I'll be pruning roses before you know it!