2017-07-07

Thistle Down and Downed Thistles

It has been hot and humid, and we have had plenty of rain recently. The fields of native grasses and clover are doing very well .. and so are the thistles.  My current job is to take the six foot mower and cut the thistles out of the fields.  They are about to seed out, and that is bad, bad news.  There are 150 acres that have to be gone through before the damn things seed out.  They are already at full bloom, which the various pollinators love, but which means that in a few days, there will be thistle down everywhere.

This should have been done more than a month ago, but I ended up in the hospital for a week, and then Mom died.  So needless to say, May and June were not very productive from the perspective of the Farm.  On top of it all, we lost half of our North cattle shed to a wind storm.  Ahhh well.  That is farming.

The plan moving forward is to mow down all the blooming thistles, and when they start to grow back, which they inevitably will, to then spot spray to hopefully kill them off at the root.  I am estimating this will be between 70 and 80 hours spend in the fields in the next month.  That is a lot of tractor time!  I hope my body holds up... :-D

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I spent this morning doing a little wiring in the shop.  We are short on outlets in there.  Now that I installed LED workshop lights and we can actually see something ... It is time to start really organizing it. Removing all the old metal and getting rid of that which is no longer needed is about 85% done I would gauge.  At least in the workshop: I will exclude the rest of the buildings for now. Anyway, once the wiring was done, I went through the tractors and added oil and coolant where required and generally checked the rest of them over. All this takes time, and when I was done it was past noon and my back was feeling the three hours of activity...and complaining loudly.

I am in the milkhouse now, which is where I stay when here at the farm.  I converted it to a three season living space for myself.  It is a bit rough by some standard I suppose, but it works for me. I pilfered a gas oven/stove from the camper I used to stay in, so cooking is no problem.  There is a small microwave and a mini-fridge.  The bed was also stolen from the camper and is set up as a Murphy bed, so it is easy to get out of the way so I have more room to work when I need it.  The original 50 gallon stainless steel sink is still in place where it has been for more than 30 years, and it works just fine!  I have a fairly solid network connection on a wireless bridge from the house.  My tablet and a cheap sound bar make for all the stereo I want to listen to.  All in all, it is pretty comfortable.  I have stayed here when the temps were below freezing, it is not bad, but it can be a bit challenging.  The only downside to the milkhouse is the lack of a bathroom.  For that I have to walk up to the house.  No big deal...

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My uncle Bob will be coming soon. He needed to get out on his motorcycle and I was his excuse. He will camp here at the farm for a day or two and it will be good to have him here.  Bob is not only my uncle, but also one of my best friends.  I don't know why, but he has always had time for me, at every stage of my life.  And he is still making time for me.  Family....a good thing.

Jeff came by this morning and started getting his oats out of the Harvestore.  He won't need that storage this year, so I will have to try and rent that storage space to someone else.  Same with the small grain bin.  That is 10,000 bushel of storage available for someone. I hope I can find them...

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I drove over to Ezra's place yesterday, picked him up and brought him over to the farm to estimate some work I want done and can't do myself.  Ezra is an Amish man and a joy to know.  I just met him a week ago and already find him to be intelligent, open minded and with a propensity to smile often.

He is one of those folks that one feels confident in.  Not only in his skills in carpentry and construction, not to mention mechanics, but also in his ability to engage in conversation about anything.  I am going to enjoy working with him I think.  As it turns out, Ezra's eldest son does small engine work, so now I have a place to take my chain saws and other small engines.  Ezra used to do the work, but he has taught his son.

As I looked around Ezra's small farm, I saw what I want my farm to look like.  Not that our Farm looks all that bad, but it needs some TLC. And I simply can not do it by myself.  That said, Ezra's place is neat and tidy.  A nice big garden, a greenhouse to get plants going early in the spring, a good solid barn, and a great workshop.  The wind mill pumps the water for the place and is located perfectly to catch the wind no matter what direction it is coming from.  Their place is on one of those ridges that are the main feature of the Driftless Area.  There is often a cool breeze.

Ezra is starting to do beekeeping also.  He has three hives and a book entitled "Beekeeping With A Smile" written by a Russian guy who is located South of St. Petersberg Russia.  I will be getting that book....

As we walked around our Farm, Ezra offered up suggestions about how things might be done better than what I had planned, or in some cases with a lot less money.  Turns out Ezra was the guy that put the metal roof on our barn back when Nola was alive. That is good to know. That roof job was well done and gives me confidence because of the fact that Nola had hired him and that I have an example of his work right in front of me on the largest building on the farm!
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