First Day of Spring

Seems I get more excited about spring rolling around than I did awaiting Christmas as a kid.  A white vernal equinox just doesn’t elicit the same joy as a white Christmas.  The cold weather and fluffy stuff was short lived.  We’re cleaning up our fall messes and repotting starts.  Potatoes are in and some cabbage and candy onions have been planted.

Yesterday was a wonderfully warm and sunny day.  We spent almost all of daylight cleaning up flowerbeds, spreading mulch, moving some plantings, fixing fences and cleaning out spent blackberry canes.  The forecast is calling for some patchy frost for post Easter.  I’m hoping that will be the last of the frosts for the spring.


We are very happy that one of our sows had a litter 0f 13.  Unfortunately we lost four but all the remaining are healthy and getting to know their surroundings.   Katy has a pair of show pigs mixed in with our mess.  They’re the good looking little muscled up hamps.

Hootenanny 2015

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Another wonderful weekend  of music, food and friends has passed.  Can’t wait till next year!

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Close To Home

The last few days my wife and two grandsons spent a mini vacation at a friends cabin on the river.  Not quite a mile from our house, we enjoyed getting to see our neighborhood from a new angle.  It’s tough to do much fishing on the river with a six and ten year old.  The attention span just doesn’t reach from shore to shore.  I did manage to hook a nice smallmouth on my ultralight rod.  They do present an awesome fight!


The sunrise on the porch with my coffee was my only quiet time.  A six year old has so many questions and so much energy that it can drain the life right out of my brain.


The boys found many treasures.  Rocks that look like rocks, cars, rockets, cats, fish, bowls and a triangle.




Yesterday was a very warm and muggy morning.  I woke up at my normal time of around 4 a.m. Not that I have to, but I am very much a creature of habit.  Vacation time or not my clock doesn’t change much.  Coffee, check the weather on the puter, skim the news and look to see what y’all are doing on your blogs and bookface; generally that is the order of business.  Then out for a morning walk around the house, garden and barn with coffee in hand. Occasionally I’ll pack the camera for updates on garden progress and critter culture.

After church we hit a breakfast buffet to visit with some folk from our little congregation and catch up on what’s going on around their lives.  I love to be able to share a meal with my mom and these people.  They are a huge part of what makes our little corner of the world so special to us.

Having promised an older widower neighbor that I would cut a trio of dead oaks from her yard, I reluctantly grabbed my chainsaw and pulled the trailer down the hill.  It was already hot and getting hotter.  Not my idea of wood cutting weather.  I made as quick a work of it as I could dropping all three across each other so sizing up firewood lengths would be easier.  Dropping them together is like having saw bucks.  Start at one side and work my way across the pile, tossing the logs onto the trailer as I go.

I finished up pretty quick and cleaned up the yard so she doesn’t mess up her shiny John Deere mower.  She turns into a Nascar driver when she gets on that ride.

Hauled the load up to my wood pile and thanked God and my friend for use of his dump trailer.  I was wore slick!  Came in the house to cool off and rehydrate.  I swear I left twenty pounds of sweat in my socks, jeans and shirt. I was just about ready to hit the couch and watch me a baseball game when my lovely reminded me we still had 70 bales of hay left to pick up and put up in the barn.  Damn it!  Rain was in the forecast for early evening, so off we ran.

The two of us made short work of loading the trailer, but putting it up in the loft is my least favorite.  I just can’t swing a bale like I did in my teens and twenties.  I haven’t had too in a very long time.  After I tossed what I could we switched stations and I dropped a rope with a length of short chain and a carabiner in the center with a pair of S hooks on each end of the chain.  The rope ran through the carabiner with an overhand knot on the end to keep it all together.  Theresa hooked the baling twine with the S hooks and up the bales went.  We were both dripping with humidity and sweat. The last bale went in and ten minutes and a glass of ice water later the rains came.  And I mean they came!

We both stripped down to our drawers…hers can’t really be described as drawers; and showered right off the front porch.  Hell!  I hadn’t stood out in my skivvies in a rain storm since I was five.  It felt so good to let the raindrops peel the dust off of me and cool me down.

I love moments like these.


I’ve been on vacation from railroading for the last two weeks.  My July sabbatical; I have always tried to take off as much of July as my seniority would allow.  The first week has been dedicated to our county fair, where my daughter has shown market hogs, turkey and chickens through 4H.  This year was a tad different since she moved on to FFA.  With her move came a bit of relief for me.  I had volunteered as the swine leadership for her 4H club in the last five years.  I took it pretty serious in the sense that I was to be available to help the kids and their parents with dang near every aspect of raising up their pigs for show.  We had many new people come and go through the hog barn.  Some got into it and really helped their kids enjoy a great learning experience,  others not so much.  With my daughters move to FFA I was relieved of the title of swine czar and relegated to normal fair going peasant.  Lucky me!  I actually enjoyed much of the fair I had missed before.  I did get to have several of the kids from her club come find me and escort me hand in hand to view their entries.  Very satisfying!

My daughter took charge of her entries fully this year.  She did a pretty damn good job considering she did not realize how much we had done to help her out in the past few years.  Stepping back and letting your kids make decisions on their own can be tough sometimes.  I still offered suggestions when asked, about her course of action.  I feel fortunate that she did not always follow my advice, even though it was frustrating at the time.  It’s all about teaching them to think and seek out new ideas and learning to learn.  I love watching her think.

She spent much of her time working with her favorite gilt Hampshire.  Not so much with a blue butt barrow that ended up placing second in the class he landed in.  Her hamp didn’t make weight.  She was extremely disappointed, but didn’t show her displeasure publicly.  With the blue butt placing high in a class that moved her way up in the sale order at the auction.  That’s always a good thing when folks are bidding and there are 86 entries to sell.  She has been very good at marketing her projects for the sale with hand written letters to potential buyers and making appointments to deliver her letters,  greeting the bidders and telling them a little about her project and the work she puts into it.  That aspect of the project paid off with a $4.25 selling price on a 242 pound pig. We have excellent community support for our youth in agriculture.

She also competed in a business pitch competition.  She partnered with another FFA member and presented a farm to table livestock business with an aspect of agri-tourism and education involved.  They did a dandy job with the presentation and won!  There was a cash startup prize awarded but I’m not sure what the amount ended up being yet.  There were eight proposals presented and the judges split the cash awards by placement.  Apparently she will be building some of her own fence shortly.

With the fair week behind I moved on to resurrection of our weed garden.  The almost constant rain;  28 of 33 days in one stretch, had left our patch a mucky muddy puddle of gelatinous goo.  Too wet to walk even on the tractor paths.  As the week marched on the rainy pattern took a rest and the brush cutting commenced.

A terrible start for our tomatoes and peppers, but I’m sure they will start to catch up and give us enough of what we crave.

I like to jump around from job to job with my full menu of projects I have going.  I’m trying to get our house painted.  A warranty claim with James Hardy siding has delayed a steady progression on painting until resolved.  So I get done what I can and make progress on the long list, some to completion, some closer.

Wrapping cedar trim around all our windows


Finishing interior window trim and baseboards from the floor replacement in bedroom/bath/closet and washroom

Framing a wall for new plumbing install in the basement


New hydrant in the barn

Finish hanging windows in the barn and putting hardware cloth screens in openings


Building new hay feeder in the barn for the goats

Hauling hay

Hauling manure for the compost pile


Cutting wood

Hopefully this coming week will be a bit slower since my grandsons will be out for a visit. We plan on spending a couple of days at a friends cabin on the river.  Fishing will be on the top of next weeks menu.


IMG_9092 I wasn’t quite ready to pull our garlic.  We’ve had a lot of rain on a regular basis, so the ground has been totally saturated.  I feared that the bulb would start to rot if I didn’t dig them.  Full panic mode set in when the first handful of bulbs were waterlogged and rotting.  Fortunately that handful was all that had gone south.IMG_9096


I ordered package bees for two hives that I bought this winter.


So far, I’ve been very excited and pleased with how the hives have grown.  I added a new deep super to the stronger of the two yesterday.


I’m learning on the fly.  Over the last two years my reading has been mostly about the beginning beekeeper.  There are so many books written on the subject that I found myself skimming through much of the regurgitated basic information.  Now in practice, I’m finding nuggets of information on review.

IMG_9033There are as many opinions on beekeeping as beekeepers.  For right now my attitude is hands off, observe and listen to the old head beekeepers.  I’d love to hear from all the folks, novice and expert, who are keeping bees.  It takes a long while for new information to soak in to the dusty gray matter between my ears.


I’ve been impressed with the gentleness of the bees.  Other than the first day, installing the packages in the hives, I have remained unharmed.  I haven’t found the need for a veil, gloves or even a long sleeve  shirt.  I’ve used the smoker and they’ve remained well mannered.

IMG_9031I can see now how people get hooked on beekeeping.  They are very interesting to watch in their work.


End of May

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Nearing the end of May we have almost everything in the ground we intended.  The last few days we’ve had a pattern of rain that prevented me from doing anymore tilling, but I was able to sneak in and get a patch done for our sweet corn.  I still need to plant our sweet potato rings and some of our squash.

Theresa has been freezing, drying and jamming a mess of strawberries the last couple of days.  Many more berries to go.

Plant Swapping


We had our annual Plant Swap here Saturday afternoon.  It’s a fun way to thin out your perennial beds, cull your seed starts and pick up some new starts of plants that you might not have.  Mostly it is an excuse to get together with some old friends and meet some new ones, catch up with what’s going on in the county and sit and tell lies.


I still can’t get over the feeling that this swap is a kin to shoplifting at the plant nursery.  There is just so much that folks bring out to trade.  We had a beautiful day blessed to us for the gathering.  The storms threatened, but never appeared.



The garden is waiting for much of what we started.  The greenhouse is holding our peppers and tomatoes until the soil warms a bit.  Maybe next week I will get to put them out.  We had a touch of frost yesterday morning, so there isn’t any big rush on my part to ruin what we’ve started by getting too anxious.

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