WitnessTree Land & Livestock Farm - Preserving the Old Ways
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About Time for a New Post!
Make Every Day Count
The Growing Season Started Early
Entering the cold season...
Every Day is Busy....

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About Time for a New Post!

Here it is, Spring of 2016. and my first blog in quite a while. It's often very difficult to find those moments of totally free time to play catch-up, especially when you run a farm. It's a before-daylight to beyond-dark work schedule, and when I finally sit down at night, the show is over and the steam is exhausted. Today, however, I am a bit ahead, the wind is whipping around outside, and so I decided to park myself, have a cup of coffee, and churn out a few words.
This is a spectacular year for spring blooms---everything is in show-stopping array. It's an amazing color palette, from the intensely blue skies on down to the green blades of new grass. This is also the time of turning over the garden spots and farm fields in anticipation of planting new crops. The one snafu ironically is the weather. The crisp, mild temperatures can swing wildly, bringing in rain after rain or a late frost, delaying those planting plans. It's a game of timing, for sure. If it all works out, the newly-planted seeds or starts won't drown or freeze. It pays to be patient, and wait out the freezes and downpours before sinking those precious future harvests into the ground. Do-Overs are not fun, and can be quite expensive to repeat more than once....
The baby goat count this year is a baker's dozen (13), and if you are looking for some free entertainment, baby goat antics can't be beat! We do sell stock from time to time, so if you are in the market for some top-notch, sociable brush eaters, get in touch with us. 
The windmill project is coming along nicely. It's a vintage Aermotor that will be mounted over one of our cisterns to provide an additional source of water for the livestock. The thought that went into the design and guts of these machines is a wonder to me. I feel the same way about the mechanisms of old watches and pre-phonograph music machines. Amazing stuff. Great minds definitely were at work in those days. 
Don't forget to check out the "Keeping It Simple" page for information on our annual October event. This will be the 20th year (!!!) so be sure to come join us if you can. It's a wonderfully good time for all ages.
Coffee is gone, so time to get back to work. Fixing fence, that ever-present chore, is waiting for me in the horse paddock. Of course, the horses will quite willingly help in the endeavor.....help WATCH, that is. Good day to all! 

Make Every Day Count



                                     
Let's face it....Spring is a trade-off. Life regenerating, which brings forth everything new:  leaves, flowers, grasses, babies of all types, flying, crawling, walking, swimming....the abundance of Spring is evident all around.  Temperatures tend to be comfortable day or night, planting and gardening are in full swing, mushroom hunting is a full-time sport, and kicking back with a glass of iced tea is a regular feature of a break in the daily activity. But along with the many benefits of Springtime is the Jekyll/Hyde personality of the weather. Extremes are a given. Right now in numerous areas, destruction from massive tornadoes has left people, animals, and property in chaos. Prayers are in order....the pain of this type pf tragedy is unfathomable. If you have a way of offering help, do so. Neighbor helping neighbor is a generations-old tradition, especially for those of us who are located in rural areas. None of us know when an act of Nature will cause harm. It is wise to prepare for any emergency before an emergency happens. Have plans in place for people and animals, to the best of your ability and update them as necessary. Giving some thought to this NOW could make the difference between life and death for you and all you love. Enjoy the gentleness of Spring, but along with that, be prepared for its alter-ego.....and with that said, I am going out to view my beautiful irises and peonies, and listen to the birds and rainfrogs sing. 

The Growing Season Started Early

What a strange weather pattern we are in. This has been the earliest spring most people can recall in many years. Everything bloomed out early, budded early, hatched early. We already have first-cutting hay in the barn, and it isn't even the end of May. Very unusual, but I'm not complaining, especially about being able to put up hay when we aren't yet into the extreme extended heat of summer. Now we need rain, and it appears we are going to get it in the next few minutes. This will give the meadows another round of much-needed moisture to regrow and give us our second cutting of---you guessed it---hay. We had some nice babies born this year. Three baby goats (a set of twins and a single), a beautiful heifer calf, LOTS of chicks, and two baby geese. The geese are especially watchful parents. Heaven help anything that even resembles a threat to those goslings, as the adults mean business when it comes to child care!
Got my sorghum seed in the ground a week ago, but have been waiting on the aforementioned rain to come so it can germinate and get growing. I'm hoping for a really good crop so we can cook a couple of times, once before, and once during our fall event. Growing sorghum cane is a challenge, and growing it organically is VERY labor intensive. You must first decide what date you want to harvest, so you can figure out exactly when to plant the seed. Then you hope the seed will germinate, grow, not get eaten by anything, and when it is tall enough you then hope that a high wind will not flatten it or that an early frost will not freeze it, as this can render the stalks you have waited for all season to be unusable. If all goes well and it is time to harvest, you must then walk down each row and strip off all the leaves from each stalk by hand. The seed heads must be cut off (these can be saved to collect the seed for next year, or they can be fed to the chickens). And finally, each stalk is cut as close to the ground as possible and carefully laid on the wagon with all the stalks pointing in the same direction. This makes loading them into the cane press much easier when the time comes. Once the stalks are collected, if you don't plan to run them through the press right away, you must be careful to store them where they can stay cool and out of the drying sun. Ideally they should be milled right away, but they can be stored as mentioned for up to two weeks. However, if they are exposed to too much heat the juice in the cane can sour, or the juice can dry up, and once again the stalks you have worked so hard to harvest will be unusable. Did I mention labor intensive? But once you've had biscuits and butter with sorghum syrup, it will have all been worth it!
And the rain has arrived.....

Entering the cold season...

Winter is trying to make an appearance, but today the temps are in the 60's and rainstorms are imminent. The most time-consuming part of rainy weather is fighting the mud. It collects on my muck boots and adds 100 lbs. of weight to each foot as I go around doing the chores. And getting hay out to all the critters is a real challenge in this kind of weather----can't use a tractor and loader to get the hay to all the pastures, since it will just get stuck, so each square bale must be carried by hand to wherever it needs to be. I like for the animals to have fresh, dry hay each day which negates putting out round bales, but after distributing all the squares each morning of a muddy day, I am exhausted for a couple of hours. Have been thinking about one of those DR power wagons--they are like a self-propelled big wheelbarrow-type outfit that just GOES when you engage it. Anyone out there have one they aren't using anymore??I am actually delighted when the temps drop below freezing since it means I can walk around without collecting boot mud and without sinking into the ground at all. Even the tractor can go when the ground freezes :-) I truly do love real winter weather. I adore the snow. When snow is falling, the world somehow becomes instantly more peaceful. There is no site more lovely than  snow on the ground under a full moon. Even at midnight under such conditions, one can see as if it were midday. I then feel like a nocturnal creature going out to play. It's so quiet and bright and energizing. Try going out into the snowy night under a full moon and see if your negative outlook towards winter doesn't change! Leave all the electronics behind and walk out into the natural winter landscape, take a deep breath, and embrace the peace. You will be a better person for it.

Every Day is Busy....

We are in the throes of haying season, and since we put up square bales, we need at least 4 straight days of dry weather to get it cut, air dried, raked, baled and put into the barn. No small task, I assure you. And just to add to the enjoyment of the job, usually it takes place when the temperatures are well into the 90's, along with our renowned Missouri humidity. We're always looking for volunteers who want a real farming experience, so if you feel like pitching a few bales and want a guaranteed workout, get in touch with us....

Spent the better part of today putting together lots of new boxes and frames for my bees. The colonies are growing and need new housing lest they fly off to seek better accommodations, so their landlady (me) had to hustle and get with the program. Two coats of linseed oil on the hive bodies and twenty new frames freshly wired and with new wax foundation and we should be good to go for tomorrow's beeyard visit. 

Was thrilled to see the indigo buntings back for the season. Such stunning birds. We have a great variety of bird life here, and I always take the time to stop what I'm doing if I see or hear a bird that catches my attention. It's like taking a quiet time out from the busy-ness for a little bit of soul refreshment from nature. 

Be sure to carve out time each day to unplug...the wild world has so much to offer.



  
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