November 14, 2006 – New Pastured Poultry Breed – Finally!

I’ve been hearing rumors for years of a chicken faster growing than the standard breeds, but not quite as fast as the cornish-cross confinement-style chicken. I believe these birds were developed from some french stock. There are four different breeds with slightly different characteristics. They are distributed by a Canadian company, but there is a hatchery in West, Bend, IA. The prices seemed very reasonable as well.

For all you chicken growers out there looking for a hardier, even tastier, bird that takes only a couple of extra weeks to finish, check out the “Freedom Rangers” website.

one year ago…

November 13, 2006 – Windows (not the Bill Gates kind)

Things at the farm are in a constant state of needing attention. This summer, a couple of windows in the barn lost some panes of glass. Years ago, I would painstakingly reglaze and repoint the window panes into rotting wood, then paint – all told a job over a few days time. Then I got smarter and bought the pre-primed frames and just had a couple of coats of taping, painting, and scraping. Now, I’m a firm believer in the PVC/Vinyl windows for the outbuildings. No painting, no scraping, no waiting, just put them in. (However, I’m not a fan of them for the house!)

Here’s the broken window.

The path to the broken window from inside the barn. I was fortunate it was over the loft, so the ladder journey wasn’t as far.

Finally, the completed fix. I put two new windows in the barn – need one more for the corn crib.

In unrelated news, I was fortunate the battery to the van died in the K-Mart parking lot! I could walk in, buy a new one, and install it on a nice day. I was fortunate in it wasn’t when Linda had the van and kids somewhere on a cold, windy day.

one year ago…

November 12, 2006 – Sunday Night Tradition

Sundays are one of the few days of the week with a fairly reliable schedule around here. Usually it’s church in the am – after that grandma jo fixes lunch at her place in Ames, perhaps an errand in town or socializing with others, then the Sunday night movie ritual.

The kids get to watch a half hour of TV/or computer each day except they get a movie on Sunday night with a plate of macaroni and cheese in front of them. Now that there is such a great age difference, Martin usually watches a different show on a portable DVD player. Right now, he is into the old “Superman” original animated episodes (like from the 50’s). Looking at his face while he watches is so interesting. First he looks so intent, so worried, as thought the world was about to end, then relief! These episodes have the cheesy graphics, story of bad guy/monster conquered by good guy. It’s perfect for his age. The DVD was in a discount rack at Target for a buck.
Mom and Dad watch a movie after the kids go to bed, and if they are too tired to watch a movie, they get out an old episode of Star Trek or Arrested Development. Linda makes pizza from scratch.

She’ll make a batch of dough all at once and throw them in the freezer. The corn stove is a good place for it to thaw. Sometimes, it’s the simple, reliable, regular things that wrap up the week and allow us to get ready for the upcoming week.

one year ago…

November 11, 2006 – Game Day

A fairly unscheduled Saturday led to a serious spat of house cleaning in the morning. In the evening, the Marshalltown pep band played at the Iowa State basketball game in Ames.

See Claire?

After the game, she posed on the court after the 68-40 victory.

Another milestone of first – the first dormer side was sided today and I keep plugging along with the insulation.

one year ago…

November 10, 2006 – Shirtsleeves One Day, Snow the Next!

Today turned winter – started with rain and wind, then sleet and wind, finally, snow and wind.

It was not a comfortable day to be outside. These times of transition, we’ve made up our own family myth of sorts to explain why one day you can be out in shortsleeves one day and the next day in winter coat.

The myth is that the seasons are fighting with each other. Every once in a while, winter tries to sneak into fall. Winter keeps trying to push in. Fall remains strong, but every once and a while fall isn’t vigilant and winter sneaks in.

Then fall returns, But winter keeps pestering and the interludes of winter in fall become more frequent, until finally, fall tires and winter comes. But fall, with its last gasp, manages to come back, infrequently, until spring makes some forays into winter… and so it goes, season after season. There’s not so much a calendar day that defines the seasons, but this seasonal tug of war on a teeter-totter as each season ebbs and flows in turn.

one year ago…

November 8, 2006 – Short Shirt Sleeve Day

Today might be the last day in the mid-70’s for a while. I used it to take care of lots of nagging little jobs. Fixed the oyster shell dispenser that was leaking oyster shells on the ground outside of the coop, painted the south side of the peach trees white, moved all the chicken tractors in the barn along with most of the summer outdoor furniture, started on rabbit guards on the new trees, put another coat of poly on some bookshelf shelves, and so on.

My favorite task is “pruning” the fall raspberries

Here is a row before pruning.

This is the row after pruning. The “pruner” in this case is a riding lawn mower! This beats the heck out of individual cane pruning the summer bearing berries. I’ll just throw some compost on, and they’ll be ready for next spring.

one year ago…

November 7, 2006 – Election Day

This is as good day as any to share some of my ideas for reshuffling government holidays.

Idea #1 – Election Day should be a national holiday. Move or get rid of Columbus Day and instead make Election Day a holiday to give everyone a chance to vote easily.

Idea #2 – Make Veteran’s Day a holiday for veterans. Why do postal workers and government workers get the day off while veterans have to go to work? Let’s honor our vets by giving them the day off and making every one else got to work!

one year ago…

November 4, 2006 – Politics Gone Wild!

I’m not sure what the political climate is around where you live, but in Missouri it was a whole ‘nother level. I realized certain things are taboo around here. One is political signs/advertising by businesses. It seems that putting up a political signs would offend about half your customers. In Missouri, lots of businesses had signs up in front of their establishment. At the gas station, the little computerized message screen that tells you “Begin Fueling Now” told me how to vote in the election!

Today, Linda saw Joel Salatin speak and I went to some shorter sessions and we are full of great ideas for our farm. We ended with an evening reviewing this year’s financials and setting some priorities for next year.

one year ago…

November 3, 2006 – Small Farm Conference

Today, we drove down to Columbia, Missouri to attend the National Small Farm Conference and Tradeshow. We’ll also use it as our “annual meeting” of high hopes LLC. The conference is a real interesting mix of people, some so far around each end of the political spectrum that they meet up here.

It was a nice drive down, we took some county roads (T61 from Eddyville to hwy 2 was a great drive and we avoided driving through Ottumwa).

I was able to listen to Joel Salatin talk about pasture-based farming. Joel is the poster child of ecological, community based farming. He was the hero of the best seller “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

Perhaps some other day, I’ll summarize his presentation, but I do want to share one story.

I asked him if had any corrections or comments regarding his portrayal in the “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” He gushed a bit about Michael Pollan and then came with one little thing that raised his hackles. Pollan notes the lack of coffee at Polyface Farm, and seemingly begrudges, or at least can’t understand why there is not any coffee. Salatin says that is not true – there is indeed coffee on the farm, and if a guest asks, they are happy to brew a pot! Had only he asked, there would have been coffee.

one year ago…