summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Equipment

Glenn bought himself a new farm toy. And, this is the reason I drive an old car.  Farm procurements take priority over most anything for me.  After all, I am a hermit.  Why would I need a newer, not new, vehicle? The answer is simple…I don’t!

A super-duper headgate/chute portable cattle working area.  Check this thing out.  This is how it looks when being transported.

a happy farmer

The first thing on arrival, Snowball christened the behemoth with a pee to the tire.  I guess this apparatus met with his approval.  After all, dogs are pretty easy to satisfy.

Over thirty years ago when Glenn and I bought our first Virginia farm, Glenn made his first headgate and chute out of wood.  It worked. Not well, but it served its purpose.  When we moved to our second farm, we had a metal headgate permanently attached to the end of a wooden chute.  Glenn constructed that chute as well.  The factory-fabricated headgate was an improvement for us.

Today, we own this totally transportable, heavy-duty metal complete cattle working area. The bells and whistles are amazing. This is a plus for us since we raise cattle on three separate farms.

The theory is that one person can work (attach ear tags, pregnancy check, castrate, etc.) livestock without any other help.  And, that person can work with ease…on a cow, on a bull and even on a calf.  Even, a getting old person…Glenn.

Although this theory has yet to be tested on our farms, I am sure it will pass the test.

 Just as long as I am not the one person working the livestock.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

First Swim

Sunday was the first day of the 2017 season that Glenn and I actually visited our swimmin’ hole.  Mid-May is an early start for us, with early June being more the norm, but Mid-June is the latest we ever began the swimming season.


 I visit our farm pond almost daily on my walks, but I do not get in.  I take my walks early in the morning when the air temperatures are still cool and my activities, at that time of day, include feeding the fish and watching birds.

This spring was cool, and lately we have been having a lot of rain, so I thought the pond water would still be on the cold side.  But, I was proved wrong.  The water was ideal. I floated on a huge tube until, suddenly, a dark cloud moved in with surprising speed. The rain began.  I have been caught on the pond before during a rain storm and it gets pretty down-to-the-bone chilly.  So, I retreated to get into the shelter of the pond house quickly.

 The rain was short-lived and soon the hot sun was shining again. 

I went back into the water, first with a short swim before returning to my relaxing float.  Because of our biting fish and two resident snapping turtles, I am guarded. I make sure Glenn is swimming at my side for protection.  I love to swim and tread water at length but the pond does not provide the perfect conditions for my active water recreation. I float more on top of the water than I am in the water.  Nevertheless, I enjoy the peace and tranquility of our small pond. I can float for hours.

As I floated, Glenn made a few casts to try to catch dinner.  He was after a catfish but caught a medium-sized bass instead and decided to keep it for dinner.  I am not a fan of our catfish, they are big and ugly, but I was willing to try the bass.

Once home, another storm materialized and Glenn was unable to grill outside.  The bass, now fileted, had to wait.

My next pond visit…sooner than later, I hope!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

In A Fog

I was in a fog during today’s walk.  Literally, in a fog.

I could not see as far as I normally can.  I could not take any bird photos.  In fact, I barely saw any birds.  I heard a lot of chirping and tweeting and warbling, but I did not see the birds that made those sounds.

Walking in a cloud is mysterious, but also a bit scary.  What would I do if I walked up on a bear?  It is possible and this thought put a bit of fear into my usually pleasant outing.

 Even the dogs, my two and my daughter’s one who I happening to be sitting at the moment, were a bit leery.  The dogs have free rein and usually run off in all directions.  Not today.  These three stayed within the short sight of me.  Of course, their close proximity made me feel a bit more relaxed.

The heavy overcast certainly kept the temperature at a comfortable level. 

At the pond, I could see the large silhouette of a Great Blue Heron in the top of a tree.  He was motionless and just about my only bird sighting of the day.

As soon as I returned home, the fog dissipated, the sun shone brightly and I was hot. 

The fog was definitely an interesting change.  But, I prefer a wider field of sight.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sour Cherries Galore

The sour cherries are ripe.  And, very plentiful.

small tree with tremendous yield

one regular-sized pie and one smaller tester pie

I made my first cherry pie of the season by processing the cherries right off the tree. Glenn did the picking and I did the pitting - ugh, and pie-making.  I used my usual pie crust recipe with a twist/tip I had just read about.  When rolling out the pie crust, roll the dough in whole wheat flour for a bit of crunch.  Great tip!

Now, I still have a tree full of cherries to process.  One pie made no dent in the abundant harvest.

I decided to try small batches instead of the marathon pitting sessions that I did last year.  I am thinking that the job will not be so overwhelming.

I processed my first batch of cherries two days ago.  Glenn picked, and I pitted and froze three pie-sized bags of cherries.  Yesterday, I processed four more bags.

Now, I have about 15 more bags (estimating) to go.  I know I will freeze three more, but 15? 

How many cherry pies do we need in a year?  Not 15.  Besides, I do not even like cherry pie, so I barely indulge in my efforts.

The cherry pies are almost totally for Glenn.  Cherry pie is his favorite kind of pie.

Normally, Glenn is not a dessert person, but he does enjoy my homemade cherry pies…from time to time, not all the time.  So, I am guessing 15 pies are over the top.  Besides, I still have frozen cherries from the 2016 season.  Yet, I hate to see these beautiful fruits go to waste.

Today, I decided to try a batch of sour cherry jam.  I have made both strawberry and grape jams, from our homegrown berries and grapes, of course, but I have never tried a cherry jam.

I am running of time today, so I will just process the cherries – pick (by me as Glenn and Becky are busy with the cattle), pit and chop in a food processor.  I will refrigerate the cherry mash until tomorrow when I will make the jam.  I will let you know how that turns out.

I never thought I would say this, but maybe the birds will start eating the cherries. They have not to date. We do have plenty of birds that hang out in the orchard area.

Come on birdies…help me out!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

It Just Keeps On Growing

This year is definitely the year of grass.

Our pasture management combined with ample rain has produced the proverbial ‘bumper crop’ of grass.

Normally, the cattle move onto fresh pasture every day or every other day.  Sixty days later the herd returns to the same pasture.  Sixty days provides an ideal time for the pasture to rest and to regrow.  This year, Glenn is finding that the grazed pastures have recovered in 14 days.  The cattle will never keep up with the grass this year.

As much as the exceptional grass is a benefit to our cattle, the main priority, it does prove challenging to me for my daily walks.

Early in the year, the grass was just over my ankles.  As the weeks progressed, the grass grew taller than my knees, then my hips, then my waist, then my armpits and finally, in some places, over my head.  Not only do my shoes and socks get wet from the heavily dew or moisture laden grass which is the norm, but so does the rest of my body.  More importantly, walking in the tall grass is dangerous.  I have slowed my pace to keep as safe as possible, but that grass just reaches out and grabs my shoes and causes me to trip.  I have asked Glenn to bush hog a trail for me, but he says he does not want to waste the grass.  News flash Glenn…there is an abundance of grass.

Today, even though I was walking at a snail’s pace, I fell to my hands and knees. Fortunately, I was walking uphill; otherwise, the fall might have been much worst…like head first downhill.  And think about it…the ground is much closer to a fall uphill than a fall downhill.  I really hate to fall uphill or downhill.  I think I am OK, but my wrists are a little sore.  I do not want a repeat of that little incident.  Glenn promises to get a trail bush hogged, but I am not confident.  He has plenty of other more pressing work to get done first.

My safety…low on the list!

Update:  After my fall, Glenn actually bush hogged a trail for me because he was in the same general area bush hogging a grazed pasture.

Much better!