August 27, 2006

Falls Mills, VA

Baleing hay again. I haven't had time to post here for some time, we have been so busy getting hay put in the barn. We are begining our second cutting here.

Thumbnail by Virginian
Falls Mills, VA

Thats the neighbor pulling my baler with his tractor. We got 640 bales out of this field. It hadn't been fertlized in a few years, we plan to apply lime this fall and fertilize in the spring. My neighbor told me that this field used to produce more than 1000 bales per cutting when he was in high school.

Thumbnail by Virginian
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Good to "see" you again - Love that baby-blue tractor :-) So wonderful to see that you all will be bringing this field back into prime shape and production!

For less than a buck, I picked up seeds for several different varieties of basil from the BigLots the other day. They are stamped for 2006, so hopefully I'll get enough to germinate next spring to have a whole bed of different types of basils next summer. I let one of my lettuce leaf ones go to flower this year, and it was very pretty. I may use some as ornamentals in the backyard.

Garlic is on order - DH is supposed to build me another bed today, since there were bearded irises that looked healthy at WalMart the other day, and they are now occupying the area of the veggie bed that was supposed to be for garlic... that bed looks like it is actually slowly (or rather more quickly) becoming a bed of annuals, with the irises trying to take over.

Grasshopper shredded beans are actually producing some beans. I ate some really tiny, barely half the width of my pinky-sized ones right off the plant yesterday - figure that way I'd get some before the bugs. Mmmmm.

Tomatoes not happy. First 107*F days and 90*F nights, now 90*F days, but mid50*F nights. Plants look healthy, lots of flowers, but no fruit set. Well, at least the plants are pretty, bushy and GREEN. And, apparently, grasshoppers don't like them :-)

The apple tree that DH saved from a construction site bull dozer and hauled over the Sierra Nevada to me actually looks like it might live. It finally has a fair amount of leaves (it had major transplant shock, being done in the middle of 100*F+ days), and had a few blooms (which I hear is not too unusual for a plant that has been stressed).

Fall tree planting season is comming up fast. Thinking of adding gambol and burr oaks, some more pines, and maybe a Southern Magnolia and several dogwoods. I love drip irrigation on timers!

Fayette, MO(Zone 6a)

We have had some wonderful wonderful rain here. The grass is starting to turn green again..

I helped some grape growers harvest grapes today.. It didn't take us nearly as long as I thought it would.. It seems to pull everyone together.. I met some new people.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Keith, great harvest with just more to come.

My grapes are ripening.

Falls Mills, VA

It is good when neighbors are able to work together on projects. Seems like when I participate in something like that I always learn something new. Wouldn't it be great to participate in a barn raising, as the Amish do? While I was on vacation I toured the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. The round barn there is just awesome.

Darius, I never have any luck with grapes. I have been able to get one to survive last winter and looks like it has chance of making it through this winter. Maybe I have turned the corner. Glad to hear you have some ripening. I have a few apples getting ripe. The cows are getting fat and slick, their fur is shiney....just like you poured oil on them.

Picked two bushels of sweet corn Saturday and put it in the freezer, along with four quarts of October beans. I think we have about 24 quarts of Octobers total, along with 24 quarts of peas and 54 quarts of snap beans.

Dug three bushels of potatoes today.

Plumbed up a new spigot to give the cows water closer to the house. They come to the fence at that spot everyday and peer into our yard. We have given them 'treats' there in the past....corn shucks, squash, cukes. It amazes me how much a cow can eat. All that corn I mentioned above, it was two rows, 100' long each. As we picked the corn we cut the stalks and pitched them over the fence. The cows stood there and ate each and every one!

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Virginian, I look in awe at the scenery. where in VA are you located (n,s,e,w)? I had just mentioned to my DW that we needed to start thinking about an area in the US to buy land and someday move on to. I know VA is one of her likes and also TN and West VA. She took a trip when she was in high school to VA and fell in love with the these states and the the mountains when she drove through them.

Texas is nice but the droughts can reek havack on a homestead/small farm. I would like to get me about 17-20 acres and homestead/ self-sustaining agriculture. Something small for me and my family. A legacy to pass on.

calvin

Falls Mills, VA

Calvin
I am in southwest VA. Tazewell county to be exact. We have some steep land here....and some land that can be plowed. Thats what I am attempting to do too....self-sustaining agriculture...and a self-suffficient life style.

TN is nice.

Parts of WV are nice....but if you are in the coal fields the water is often iron/sulfur water. Try to locate over limestone.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I would move to TN or back to GA in a heart-beat if I could drag the rest of the family there. We just sold some property earlier this year a little south of Sparta on HWY 70 in TN. Broke my heart. Very green - of course, that means lots of rain and BIG bugs. That part of TN is colder than where I used to live in GA - there were Really Big Bugs in GA as the winter didn't freeze any out. We have an office in VA and I drove from Philladelphia to Baltimore to Portsmouth VA during the 17 year cicada invation - icky, icky, icky. Crunching on the roads. Icky, icky, icky -- and I LIKE bugs... The aquifers in TN are sweet and the water soooo tasty... I lived in Grandbury TX for a while - Drought is the Norm in TX, I think - a rainy year is the exception! But what can I say - we definitely had more rain in TX than I've seen here in NV. I hightly DON'T recomend the Great Basin Desert of NV for homesteading -- unless, of course, you really like beating your head against a brick wall. (I married a Marine, so what can I say - I DO like hitting my head against brick walls :-)

Sweet corn, mmmmmm. Dreaming luscious thoughts....

Take care. Karla

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

didn't know about the coal fields in WV. I am not familiar with that area just seen pictures. they never show the coal fields. I used to live in GA. Ft. Stewart/Hinesville to be on point (US Army). Got out of the Service and returned to Tx. I think GA is way more humid and wet than TX even east Tx. I felt I needed to live in another area of TX so we moved to San Antonio. I really like it here, but There is no way to be able to self-sustain with the water situation the way it is. Not even collecting Roof run-off from rain would be enough to support Family and crops and livestock. The annual rain fall is way to low on average. Plus the land is mostly rock/limestone. everything would have to be raised beds and all. great habitat for goats and cattle, but not too good for chickens and ducks and all. I really want some where that has 4 seasons and good soil( not great soil I can always amend the soil with drops and skat.

I have done searches for land online inTN and VA but not too many listings to get an idea of land costs and taxes and all. I guess I will have to travel. That gets expensive though room,board,gas,and all. Maybe I can save enough in a year or 2 to take a trip.

calvin

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Calvin, I live just a few miles from Virginian, in Smyth County VA. Moved here this summer. My sister and I had been looking in the Appalachian mountain areas of NC, TN and then VA for over a year. Most of NC was too expensive and we ruled out TN because their Medicaid (TennCare) sucks and I have some health problems. This part of VA has some cheap land and some expensive land. But it IS gorgeous.

We found a decent one where we can grow our own vegetables, we have a spring, decent house, etc. and paid $89,000 for it. Nothing fancy but it's 19 acres and like Virginian said, much of this area is steep. We probably have 3 or so really useable acres.

If you make some DG friends, many will open their homes to you on a trip.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Hi darius,

When ya'll say steep land do you mean that ledge planting and terracing is not an option. I mean 19acres and only 3 of that is usable, that seems to me a little loss. Not good for livestock and other farm animals?

calvin

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Calvin, if I could afford to fence it, I could have cows or goats up on the hill. Oldtimers used to but the fence has rotted. With money, I could terrace lots of it, and probably will do some for fruit bushes and trees next year. Someone sold off the timber a few years ago and what has grown back isn't worth much.

Don't overlook the fact that I am 65 and not so agile and handy as I was once.

Falls Mills, VA

To me 'steep' means that the incline is too great to safely operate a farm tractor over. Flat land, to me, means it can be plowed without washing too bad when it rains. We try to mow hay on the flats and pasture on the steep areas.

The photo attached is of a hillside hay mow. I was at my limit here. Any steeper and the weight of the baler pushes the tractor.

V

Thumbnail by Virginian
So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Okay, Keith... so much of mine is "steep", LOL.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

darius, I bet the birds think the regrowth trees are priceless :-)

virginian, good thing I've got my own New Hollander or I would be lusting after your tractor, for sure! i know what we do is nothing like farming in nearly any sense of the word, but when i'm on my tractor clearing firebreaks or something, i feel so, so - uhm, rural and, uh - farmy. i can do most everything except dig tree holes and move trees with an ATV, but somehow the feeling isn't quite the same. i had not quite imagined the uses that DH had for it, but apparently there are less "farmy" things to do with a tractor, too

Thumbnail by kmom246
Humansville, MO(Zone 6a)

but Kmomthat is farming thing all farmers have to have their shop and toys aaaaa equiment to play eeeeeg work on

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

DH also said that you had to have a few toys, too -- and those old Dodges are more plentiful than the fruit trees in the orchard :-) ... (If you look carefully, I think you can see 5 old Dodges (one is stripped down to the frame) in this photo... trust me, there are more...)

Dreaming of hay (in the desert on sand?) and hay mowers... but for the moment, it's almost time to sow winter rye in the future pasture/current sand pit - meaning, of course, this would be a great weekend to go churning up some tumbleweed!

Falls Mills, VA

Kmom:
Doesn't that end loader just come in soooooo handy? I find I use it more often than I had ever dreamed. It has saved my back numerous times.
V

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Looks farmy to me, too! I mean, when you use the lawn tractor to move the portable hay elevator around, the big tractor and hi-lift must also be for engine work. Stan was using his hi-lift yesterday to elevate the through the barn elevator (the outside part) 6 inches so it would go over the roof he's putting over the straw pile in front of the barn. The poles are set, the rafters are up and he's putting the cross beams on. I think our GS might learn a little about roofing today. Of course, there's also the last bit of third cutting to mow and tedd.

It looks like we might get some sunshine, finally. It's coming up through the ash and butternut tree in the side yard and the sky to the southwest is looking mostly clear. I'm sure there will be plenty of partly cloudy. When you live this close to a great lake and the weather is first muggy and rainy and hot and then cool and clear and dry, the clear becomes partly cloudy before breakfast is over.

Falls Mills, VA

Kathleen:
Could you post a pic of the new construction? I am collecting ideas for building a new barn.
V

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

This is what it looked like at choretime last night. He says he doesn't plan to up walls. We'll see. He also says it's to save money on tarps. Hmmmm.

Thumbnail by Kathleen
Falls Mills, VA

That barn looks a lot like what I have in mind to build. What would you change about it if you could? Wider doors? Height between floors? Ventilation?

Is the basement constructed of cinder block or concrete?

thanks

V

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

The barn was built in 1945. It's post and beam, with the beams all pegged with wooden dowel and there's a lot of mortise and tenon joints. They had to get a permit to buy nails because of the war, and so the old guy who built it used pegs as much as possible. Stan moved the heifer shed on the side from my family's farm - it's a pole building like the area Stan's working on now.

The barn is all wood, with metal cladding on the outside of the stable. The storm sheds were built for much small tractors than we have now, but we've added a 20 cow single story addition on the back, so if we really need to get in there (like this morning when he had to haul out a cow that died overnight) we use the back door. We put curtains on the addition, and that accounts for the large part of ventilation. If it were feasible and we were earlier in our farming life, we'd remodel the old part of the barn with curtains. We have to run a fan only in the hottest part of the summer, and then only for the old section. The new part is generally quite pleasant except on the rare day when there's no breeze.

I'll take the camera out and see if I can get a shot of the structure in the haymow. It's going to be tough. If you look close, you can see the hay is stacked up to the windows in the top of the mow.

Falls Mills, VA

Yes, I can see the hay stacked inside the door. Its like money in the bank isn't it?....knowing that the hay loft is full. Looks like the barn has good dimensions...it is pleasing to the eye.


Rain here last night and again tonight...thunder storms both evenings.

V

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