Trail Cam

When I was a kid, and we used to hunt on the farm, there was plenty of game on the farm. Rabbits, pheasant, quail, and squirrel. Over the years, farming practices, and the fact that many farmers removed any and all trees from their property to make more room for crops, the wildlife population has dwindled quite a bit. You will see a rabbit once and a while, and it is not out of the question to see or hear a quail or pheasant. It is a treat to hear or see a quail or pheasant in the area.

Today, wildlife has taken on a different look. Lately, there has been an uptick in rabbits, I think the fact that we let the pasture grow now has helped with that. Today though, it is more common to see deer, a lot of hawks, and an occasional heron in the area. Of course, there are plenty of raccoons, and with the increased deer population, there are plenty of coyote running around the place as well. I haven’t seen any, but there have been reports of bobcats in the area as well. What a treat that would be to see one trotting across the field.

A couple of years ago, I was walking the creek when I saw something really odd for the area. It was obvious that there was a beaver on the farm. Not once in my lifetime, had I ever heard of a beaver in the area. I was excited to say the least. I did some poking around, and I found the beaver den, and after more investigation, I found the dam “Bucky” was building. It was hiding, right in plain sight at the south edge of the whistle/bridge over the creek. Now my excitement is growing.

I started to read up on beavers and their impact on the environment. Most of their impact is actually quite good. The negative in farming area’s is the potential for flooded fields. More reading, and I discovered ways to help control that so it would not be a problem downstream. It was going to be my plan to put those measures into place in the creek, so that we could let the beaver maintain his home and hopefully we would get a little beaver pond along the creek bed. It was all very exciting for me and the rest of my family. I had all kind of plans on documenting the beaver and his work as he worked forward.

Part of my efforts to document Bucky would be to collect pictures via a trail cam mounted close to his den so that I could catch him coming and going. The camera would also catch activity along the creek bank to see what other wildlife was hanging around the farm.

It didn’t take long to see that one of a couple of things happened with Bucky. Either he was trapped in the area, or he decided there was too much human activity in the area so he moved on. Maybe a coytote got him. Who knows.

Never did get any pictures of Bucky. We did however, get some pics of some of the other critters wandering around by the creek. It looks like an otter or maybe mink, some raccoons and one of the most beautiful coyotes I have ever seen.

On a positive note, there is more wildlife in the area, and with any luck, we will do our part to see that population grow, at least on the farm…

Dad’s Tractor

Early on, Dad found an old International Model H tractor, much like one that Uncle Jim would have had back in the day. It ran, didn’t look fantastic, but not bad. He drove it all the way from home to the farm. Quite a ride, well over 25 miles. He stuck to the back roads to avoid as much traffic as he could, but most farmers will understand, not everybody in a vehicle was happy with him being on the road. It made for an interesting and nerve racking drive, but he got it done. That was Dad. If it needed to be done, he would do it, period.

The farmer that farmed the place at the time gave him an old sickle bar mower which he used as much as possible (the mower was old, and required a lot of additional attention, plus it tended to get plugged up quite a bit. Again, Dad would do what he had to do to keep mowing. He wanted to keep that farm looking sharp, and he accomplished that despite any roadblocks put up by machines. He had the farmer gene in him, when it breaks, don’t whine about it, fix it and move on. Not that he didn’t get a little bit “tee’d off” at times, but what else can you do, you drive down 25 miles one way to mow, the mower breaks, you fix it so you didn’t make the trip for nothing.

As time moved on, it became apparent that the old tractor and mower were more trouble than they were worth. He broke down and got a riding mower and continued to maintain the park like lawn in the front end. He still kept the tractor running, and he cleaned it up and painted it, not to show condition, but it still, to this day, looks pretty good, dusty maybe, but good.

The old tractor became the center of fun for Dad during family celebrations. All the young kids took their turn riding with grandpa and the look in Dad’s eye’s told a story of complete pride, contentment and happiness, a feeling that he had all the time, but it really showed at the farm.

Uncle Jim and his corn cob pipe

Our Uncle Jim lived life to the fullest. I am not sure that I ever saw him that he wasn’t laughing or had a big smile on his face. He also was very adventurous.

As it turns out, our love of balloons may have been inherited. Except that Jim used to jump out of them. Yep he would travel with a team, and parachute out of (may have been gas ) balloons. if memory serves me, he said they had a trap door in the floor of the basket, and once they got to altitude, he would open the door and make his descent back to terra firma. I loved to hear his stories.

Uncle Jim was also a painter. He worked for a local paint shop, and he painted gold leaf on the ceilings of several old churches in the Springfield area. He had a lot of stories to tell about that too. Again, he enjoyed life, and what ever it was that he had to do, including farming.

One of Jim’s other loves, was his pipe. It was rare to see him without it. Corn cob pipes to be precise. He would smoke them until he burned a hole in it, then go buy him another one. The new ones, he had to smoke them a lot to get them broke in. He didn’t care for the taste of a new pipe. Kentucky Club Tobacco was his choice of tobacco”s, pretty strong stuff from what I remember. Even in his final days, he had to have his pipe, to hell with the Emphysema.

One of a few times Uncle Jim didn’t have his corn cob pipe. Looks like the dog “Star” and my brother Jim were hanging with him . This is in the back yard of the house, I think that the cinder block building/garage is about where the current metal shed is located, and the old outhouse in the background is about where the apple tree used to be.

What Blizzard?

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and before you know it, it will be New Year’s eve. The Big blizzard never happened, at least in our neck of the woods. Yes it got very cold, and the wind was horrible. The snow, just a dusting. While I am glad that people were basically able to get to their holiday destinations, I am disappointed that the snow was so weak.

There was enough to make it a “White Christmas” maybe an inch or so (a little more than a dusting as I described earlier). It is all gone now, today the temps are close to 50 and we will have more of the same thru the New Year weekend. For somebody that loves snow, a bit disappointing. Hopefully we will have a good snowfall in January.

I didn’t even try to go to the farm to see how it looked with the light snow, with the wind, there probably was not much laying around.

Before the Christmas 2022 Blizzard

This image courtesy of my brother in law, John Luparell

For the first time in I can;t count the years, we are poised to have a white Christmas. I am all for that, I really like snow. The problem is the timing. This year, the “blizzard” is poised to hit us right smack dab in the middle of the Christmas travel season. There will be a lot of people who will not be able to get to their holiday destinations. For them, I am sorry, but I am looking forward to a Christmas with snow. Maybe in that sense, a normalcy may be working it’s way back into the season.

In anticipation of a weekend of no power and frigid temps, my brother in law, John Luparell and I headed down to the farm to grab my generator, just in case. The day could not have been better. It was sunny, there was absolutely no wind (that is so rare), and the temps were comfortable.

We loaded up the generator, and a space heater to bring back home (yep, I am getting old, and I need help lifting generators and space heaters into the back of my truck. John isn’t much younger than me, but between the 2 of us, we could muster up enough strength to load both items into the back of the truck, and then into my garage. Now we wait and see.

While we were at the farm, we decided to take advantage of the nice day, and we did some walking around back in the pasture. We went up and down the creek, I saw signs of critters at the creek, paw prints from raccoons, and I thought maybe an otter or maybe a mink, sliding into the water, to swim away from the danger of 2 old farts, walking the creek bank.

John discovered a couple of old bottles back along the fence, I am thinking they were from the early 60’s, but they were cool, so John took them home to my sister Kim. Nobody has said anything about them getting broke over his head, so she must have liked them. A little cleanup, and they will probably make a nice vase. Pretty sure that at one time, those glass vessels sit in the pantry of Aunt Millie’s kitchen. Pretty cool.

Now, the big question is; Will the Christmas 2022 Blizzard happen? Or will it be another all hype weather event, with a lot of “cold air”? Time will tell, I just know that the snowblower is ready, We have plenty of ice melt, and are as prepared as we can be, so we just wait and see. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. I hope that the coming year is a good one for all. Don;t forget to follow my blog so you can continue to see my updates, and thanks for visiting.

Party Line

Who remembers party lines? You know, everybody in the area on one line, each address with a different ring so you can tell which calls are yours? Everybody knows which ring belongs to who, and everybody only picks up on their ring, right? NOT. People worry about privacy with their devices today, but even with old school technology, there were privacy issues. We all have a built in curious side, so it is safe to say that if you received a call, it would be listened too. You had to be careful what was said on the phone, or you may be feeding the gossip machine. Entertainment, courtesy of early 20th century technology.

Aunt Millie had a party line. It was fun to watch her when the phone rang. She liked to listen into a call or two now and then, just to see what was going on for the other folks. She had the scoop on pretty much everybody in the area. They all “had her number” as well.

The party line did serve them well though. One summer while Dad was staying on the farm, a fire broke out in the barn. A call for help was put out, and when a phone rings late at night (it still brings a chill when this happens), everybody picks up to listen. All the neighbors showed up to help with the fire. Unfortunately, they were not able to save the barn, but imagine what could have happened had they not be able to contain the fire in the barn.

A tough but simple life

When we look at all the modern conveniences that we have today, it is interesting to look back to life as Aunt Millie and Uncle Jim lived it on the farm. While it was not an easy life, it was simple. They probably had their own brand of stress, but at the end of the day, they pretty much had what they needed on the farm. If not, they made it out of what they had on the farm. Here are some tidbits from Aunt Millie’s cookbook that kind of give you a look at just how simple life was on the farm.

From Aunt Millie’s Cookbook

Let stand for 24 hours before use as a liniment

½ cup turpentine

1 cup of vinegar

1 egg

Mix well

Let stand for 24 hours before use as a liniment

Plant potatoes when sign is feet in the dark of the moon

Plant Squash after June 10th to keep bugs off

Put slice of onion on Bumblebee sting

Mantles Fish Bait

⅔ cup of Rye flour

⅓ cup of corn meal

Make a still dough with a little water

Flatten to a cake, boil till floats

For foundered horse

A teaspoon of pulverised alum. Put as far back as you can on horse’s tongue so horse gets it all.

Help for sore Bunion

Take 1 tablespoon fresh lard and 1 small teaspoon common baking soda. Mix and bind on bunion or rub on. Two of three applications usually sufficient

Going Hunting with Dad and Pop

Hunting is, and probably always will be a right of passage for many young men. I haven’t been hunting for years, but one of my favorite memories from the farm, was to go hunting for the first time with Dad and Pop. It was that day, that I felt like I was grown up.

I was still pretty young, so I could not actually carry a gun, but I had the important job of being the “bird dog”. My job was to stir up the pheasants or quail in the grass along the edge of the field. (No, I was not put into harms way, I had to walk behind, I was too young to know that I was just tagging along).

None the less, it was a great day, trudging thru the snow, quietly, I might add, waiting to see that pheasant or quail, or maybe even a rabbit, come out of the grass, and then find it’s way to our dinner table.

The best part of the hunting experience was coming back to the house. After an hour or so, the cold soaked into your bones. We all were looking forward to getting back to the house, getting out of our hunting garb, and backing our fannies up to the stove in the living room, by now, Jim had that thing glowing red, and I have to tell you, it felt mighty nice to soak up that heat. Of course once we got warmed up, the heat in the living room was pretty intense. Jim liked a warm room……

More about field tile

In my previous post, I mentioned that with a 1 inch rain, an acre of ground receives about 27000 gallons of water. Once the ground becomes saturated, there is no place for the water to go but to run along a path of least resistance, washing away topsoil and fertilizers that have been applied. This creates erosion, and fills our lakes and streams with unwanted chemicals and silt that will eventually fill in a lake or stream if not corrected. Not only is this an environmental issue, think of the cost for cleanup and and the lost crop inputs creates a huge financial burden for not only the farmer and the governmental bodies that are responsible for cleaning up our waterways. Don’t forget, that cost filters back to the consumers in higher taxes and higher costs for consumer goods. Not a good situation, no matter how you look at it.

By placing field tile in the fields, the fields will drain, allowing additional rains to soak into the ground. This allows the applied nutrients to be drawn into the soil, to the roots of the plants where it is needed. as the soil processes thru the soil, it is filtered, so that when it comes out of the tile, it is clean water, free of chemicals and much more beneficial to our water supplies.

There is a lot that goes into placing tile, both in cost and in labor. The payoff is in many forms. When Mom’s fields were tiled, the farmer was able to get in to the fields much earlier, allowing the plants to be in the ground, ready for the timely spring rains, which resulted in a beautiful crop. It also allows more flexibility at harvest time, as the rains of fall create muddy field conditions. With the tile in place, those fields will dry quicker, allowing more access to the crop, and a much easier harvest.

Again, the trickle down of all of this is something that benefits all of us, the environment, the farmer, the consumer, and our taxing bodies.

The next time you drive down the road after a heavy rain, take a look at the fields. You will be able to see those that have great drainage, could be natural, could be because of placed field tile. No matter, those are the fields that will be the most productive. As you take your drive, you may notice that more and more fields are being tiled, further proof that it works.

Placing Field Tile

A farmer’s work is never done. They are always trying to make things better, both for improved crop production, but also to do it in a more environmentally friendly fashion, both to save our resources, but to also increase their bottom line.

Having a front row seat to the farming process, I am amazed at the effort put into making the farming process better. Placing field tile to improve field drainage was a huge investment in time and resources, but it also had a huge impact on the farm, and on crop production.

As I visited Don and his crew, I learned a lot about the process and it’s impact on our environment. One of the most interesting facts that I learned was that a 1 inch rain drops over 27000 gallons of water on an acre of ground. Totally blew me away with that stat. No wonder you see fields with small lakes after a huge rain.

Those ponds and lakes on productive fields do nothing but cause problems for the farmer. If they are lucky, the field will dry out in time to replant if the area is large enough to bother. Many times that does not happen. This cuts production and profit at the end of the year. Not something that makes a farmer happy for sure.

There is a lot of information to share on this topic, so stay tuned for additional posts on the subject.