February 28, 2009 – Sheep Bling

Today the lambs got their bling – new earrings.  Only one stud for both boys and girls.  Ear tagging is a new process for us and it seemed to go well.

Here’s Linda with number 16.

And me with number 17. I went into the local farm store (Theisens) earlier in the week to get the tags and thought they were a bit pricey at $28.00 for 20 sheep/goat tags along with $26 for the applicator tool.  I didn’t get them and checked our favorite fencing supply store, Premiere Fencing and was able to get 40 tags for $8 and the applicator tool for $9.00.  So, what I would have paid $82 at Theisen’s, I got for $17 at Premiere.

one year ago…”Mango Farm”

February 27, 2009 – What’s Your Type?

What’s your type? Soil type, that is.  I stumbled upon a great web site by the NRCS that allows you to zoom into a piece of planet earth.

Here’s our farm from the air, via the NRCS web site.  Once you navigate to an address, gps coordinate, or legal description, you draw on the map the area you want soil mapped and the following pops up.

This photo shows the different soil types superimposed on the aerial photo.  To the left is a link to the description of the soil types from the county soil survey.  The detailed soil explanation lists the soil types, the soil characteristics, the suitability of the soil for different crops, building foundations and much more!  There are even little wands you can use to measure segments of land, determine area or rectangles or hand-drawn polygons – useful for estimated acres of a part of a farm.

one year ago…”Mango Farm”

February 23, 2009 – Winter Willow Nursery

I’m a little bit pumped about our willow nursery.  It’s taken off and I am even more excited to try expanding the willows as browse for the goats and sheep.

As soon as the ground unfreezes, we’ll cut these down and plant many more in the back pasture.  The test plantings we did last year, just into deep pasture grasses survived year one, and the willows offer great food for the animals, so we’ll try doing more this spring.

one year ago…”InBIO Park”

February 22, 2009 – Claire to Girls State

Claire was selected for another honor this week – “Girls State” sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary.  The best description I’ve got is the following from the acceptance letter.

Congratulations on being selected to attend Iowa Girls State. You are joining an outstanding group of young women from across the State of Iowa dating back to 1946. During this week you will experience government coming alive through a hands-on process. It will be a special week in which you will make many new friends while learning that you can do things you never thought you could do!

If the week deals with government and meeting new people, Claire will have a great time. The event will be held in Ames in June.
one year ago…”Costa Rican Organic Farm Tour”

February 21, 2009 – Late February Snowbanks

Although most of the “flatland” snow has melted, the county is still working on the roadside drifts.  We’re back in the deep freeze with lows in the single digits and highs struggling to reach 20.

They came by with, using the correct terminology here, a Big Scoopy Machine and pushed the big drifts all the way off the road and into the ditch.  So, now when it snows and drifts, the drifts will have a few more feet to grow before they impede the roadway.

one year ago…”Arrival in Costa Rica”

February 20, 2009 – Hangin’ with the Ewes

All the ewes and lambs are together now that moms and babies know who each other are.  Everybody got their tetanus shots and one boy was banded – the two others will have to wait a few more days as they are not quite old enough yet.

I can’t wait for it to green up and get these folks out on the pasture!  The lambs are frolicking and jumping like good little lambs do!

one year ago…”Attic Progress”

February 18, 2009 – Calling the Turd Herder

OK,  so this won’t be the most fuzzy and warm news from high hopes gardens, but it’s February, so expectations cannot be too high.  The last couple of weeks whenever a toilet flushed, other drains in the house have gurgled.  It most likely means that the vent is partially or completely clogged, or the septic tank needs attention.

The vent was the first thing to check. The roof of the house is about 30 feet off the ground and the extension ladder is 28 feet.  So, I put the ladder in the tractor bucket and raised it up a few feet.  I crawled up there and on the north facing slope, saw some ice, a steep slope, and encountered a general unwillingness to make the full crawl up on the roof.  I thought it would be best to call a plumber.

Then, just two days later, when liquid started backing up in the basement floor drain, and I made the call to the “Turd Herder.”  Well, the herder had had the unfortunate experience of having a 300 lb cement lid to a septic tank land on his foot the day before, but he thought he could make it out when his boy got out of school at 3:00.  He called shortly after and said he wouldn’t be able to make it after all, so I had to call AAA Septic.  Somehow, it seems like a letdown to call AAA Septic after having a chance at the Turd Herder.  But AAA was fast and efficient.  Here’s a view into the opening of the tank.

To make a short story long, he relayed the “good news, bad news.”  The good news was that we could flush, the bad news was that he couldn’t get the bottom 2/3 of solids out of the tank and said we’d need to hire a backhoe this spring to dig the tank out to the bigger cleanout six feet under.  Because we have discovered we have a rinky-dink system (a 500 gallon tank, draining through an old cistern and then through one drain field), instead of that fix, we signed up for a new system this spring.  So, you could say the the backup in the basement was our stimulus package.

one year ago…”Same Story, Different Day”

February 17, 2009 – Book Review in Wapsipinicon Almanac

The 15th edition of the Wapsipinicon Almanac is now out and this issue features a book review by yours truly.

I reviewed the book The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa (Bur Oak Book) by Cornelia Mutel.  I’ve always wanted to be a contributor to this funky publication. The journal is still made on an old-fashioned linotype machine with editorial content somewhere between the New Yorker and Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Thanks to a reader from Texas for this link to Eldon Meeks running the Linotype at the Wapsipinicon Almanac on youtube.

one year ago…”This is Getting Redundant”

February 16, 2009 – Tank’s a Mommy

Tank finally had her lambs. She had triplets – each of them seems very vigourous. The previous triplet birth last week, we eventually lost the runt of the batch, but we’re hopeful about these three.

These seem to have perhaps a Romanoff or other Daddy ram as they have more curly fur than their barnmates. After a few more days alone, we’ll finally get all the ewes and lambs together in one spot.

one year ago…”Thinking Ahead to Spring”

February 15, 2009 – Claire to Debate Nationals!

Yesterday our in-house debater earned a trip to the national competition!  She competed in the District tournament in the Quad Cities (Davenport/Bettendorf/Moline/Rock Island) and won her house of Congress.

This particular debate event is organized around the format of the U.S. congress and participants propose and debate bills.  Over the course of the day the judges pick the top members of Congress based on the presentation and content of their arguments.  After the adults pick the finalists, the Congress, or students, pick the winner from the participants selected by the judges.

She has a date sometime in June in Birmingham Alabama for the national contest.

one year ago…”More Fun on the Road”