Wow!  I knew I had not posted in awhile, but I would never have guessed 3 months!  My sincere apologies!   Lets see, most of my not-so-recent posts were about building the dock.  The big news there is that the lake, which we expected to fill up over 2 years, completely filled by mid June.  This was, obviously, much faster than expected and came with its own series of challenges.  The first of which was the fear of a 5″ rain causing it to overflow!  Our cattle had free access to the entire farm during this period and naturally gravitated to that nice fresh grass growing on the dam and in the spillways.  Fortunately, the fence guy we had talked to previously came through and prioritized fencing off the lake.  That, combined with merely a few inches of rain a week, has given that grass a bit of a chance to recover.  We are going to keep the animals off for a year or so just to be safe.

Oh, we had a pair of geese come by and raise a flock of young ones while the pond was half full.  Later, after it filled, a pair of ducks came and did the same.  Kind of cool, although those geese were noisy!


For those following the deck work, here is what it looked like when I called it “finished”.  Still shy a board (can you spot where?) and shy the metal swing we put out on it.  Also shy a ladder – something I’ll be addressing next time I come out with the truck.

Will also need to treat the deck.  Thinking of using outdoor paint with sand mixed in to keep it from being too slippery. 

Adult cows ignore it, but the young ones seem to think its neat.  Alas, their hooves are tearing it up a bit.  Fortunately, they will not have regular access to it.


City work has been light (honestly, TOO light) this spring.  The upside to that is that I’ve spent a LOT of time here.  May was spent spraying things as they came into season.  Fairly early in that process was my efforts against multi-floral rose.  Easy to kill with 2-4D, it is sneaky and proliferate.  Ignore it for a year or two and you get bushes like the one in the photo.  Blown in by the wind, and dropped by birds, this is not a war I can win, but a battle I must fight every year.

After I attacked the multi-floral rose, I went after the normal thistle plants, again using 2-4D.  Going to stop doing that after this year.  The 2-4D knocks the thistle back, but doesn’t kill it.  A mix called Pasturegard does kill it however.  A lot more expensive than 2-4D (think $160/gal vs. $20/gal), and requiring surfactants to be added to the tank mix, it does seem to get the job done.  This was demonstrated when I received a panic call from Frank Oberle in June, telling me he spotted a patch of Canadian thistle – a noxious weed.  Called John Murphy, my MDC private land conservationist,  and he came out the next morning.  Sure enough, I had a patch of several square yards of the beast.  This is a plant that can spread very quickly:  Like 1 plant can cover an acre in 3 years.  Nuked it with Pasturegard, and happy to report that 4 weeks later I apparently have a complete kill.

During John’s visit, we toured the rest of the farm, and spotted a monarch butterfly on some blooming milkweed.  John shot this photo with my cell phone:


There has been other goodness as well:  we have enough berries now (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, currants, etc.) that a breakfast or lunch of berries is no longer unusual.  Mostly its just a matter of carving out time to gather them.

Spent an interesting week with some help:  One of my wife’s Ukrainian parents were in town.  The father did not understand our culture well (“Why do you have grass lawns?”  To mow them… and fertilize and water them so the grass grows quicker so we can mow more often…)  (“Nice pond in your backyard (subdivision retention pond).  Do people fish in it?”  Yes, but they throw the fish back…)  He had a point, sometimes we are a bit odd…  The concept of having cows and not milking them was odd to him as well, but he had some farming background, so we decided the two of us would head up to the farm and spend a few days working, to be joined by Evia and the kids a few days later.  The challenge?  He didn’t speak much English.  The solution… more or less… a “speak and translate” program on my iPhone.  That worked somewhat well, although there was a 30-60 second delay per attempt.  “Nick” is a few years older than I am, and we worked each other to death.  I found out afterwards that he presumed he would be helping for a few hours a day.  We got up at 8 and worked until 8 for 4 days straight.  A few times we took time off for an afternoon tea, but not always.  I was told that he collapsed for a couple of days after getting back home.  I did too!  That said, we did get the frame up for the chicken coop/playhouse.  This will be a replacement for the kids old playhouse, which the wind had blown over twice.  It supported my weight as I took it down, but anything near the ground was pretty rotten.  Reusing a lot of the special parts, like the slide, rock wall, climbing rope, etc.  We will have room for about 40 chickens when we move out here.  Until then, it will make a nice little storage shed, and the kids will enjoy their 2nd floor playhouse.  Alas, that is still a project in progress.

Wife and I came up, just the two of us, for the 4th of July weekend.  We worked on the Chicken Coop a bit, and sprayed some more.

This weekend was mostly checking in, and sleeping in the rain.  We have had a LOT of activity going on – so much so my neighbor joked we might not know where to stop when we came up.  In the past 3 weeks:

  • The old, barely holding together, southern barb wire fence was mostly replaced with new 12″ woven wire fencing.  Rather unique is our use of pure hedge post for that project – the way things used to be built.  We literally have folks stopping to look at it.  It should last 40 years, at least.  All class 3 galvanized wire and staples.
  • Our old barn was torn down to make way for a new one.  I had salvaged a lot of cattle panels off the old one, and pulled a few post out in the process – they were mostly rotten.  I suspect the old barn would have collapsed within a few years if we had not torn it down.
  • More fencing projects were completed – we now have a run between our southeast field and our south field without needing to run the cattle through the lake field.  We also added a 5th wire to the fence along the Shoop property – that looks a lot better than the electric wire I added to keep our cattle from jumping it.
  • A new 30×40 pole barn has been constructed where the old barn was.  That still has a bit of tweaking to do, but is under roof.  This is large enough that I could store 64 round (6’x6′) bales of hay under roof if I put them 2 high.  I seldom stock more than 48, so will have some extra space.  We are adding a pair of gates, and some additional railing on the open side, so that we can herd a cow or ten in there should we need some temporary place for them (like if someone gets sick and we need to call a vet).
  • My office/workshop (24’x48′) has been raised and put under roof.  Windows and doors coming this week.  We just had the shell built.  I will finish off the inside.  A power pole was placed at the beginning of July, and Donny ran underground cable from it to the back of the workshop last week.  He also connected water to a freeze-proof spigot that is in the workshop side of the building.  That is there in case I want to wash down the floor.  Lots to do on this project, but the “bones” are built.  Amongst other things, I should be able to use it to store a lot of furniture when we move, until the new house is complete.
  • The same Amish folks that built the pole barn and workshop put a roof over the working section of my cattle corral.  They did a GREAT job – I couldn’t be happier.  We grossly over-sized that so that I can now place the trailer under roof, and have a nice dry spot to store implements.

The only downside to all the new buildings is that my metal storage shed is now an eyesore.  Suspect I’ll empty it and move it behind the workshop.  Then use it for something other than to store the tractor and Kubota RTV in.  Well, at least I’ll move it.

Coming back next Tuesday afternoon.  The Amish are suppose to finish things up on Wednesday and would like to be paid (10% down is all they required to do the work!).  Hoping to get some more work done on the chicken coop.