Footsteps Farm Journal, Continued
September 7, 2004: Well, we really dropped the ball on
this one, we have been so busy clearing land and acquiring animals that
there has been no time for journal entries. Now that we are ready to
publish our web site, it is time to bring you up to date.
Lot clearing: still at it! We have the north 5-acre Lot
done, although I do have to raise the umbrella of the trees. You
shouldn't have any branches below 20 feet so the shade will move
quickly and hence the cows will move more often, thereby spreading out
the manure piles and internal parasites more.
The House Lot is coming along, everything is cut down
and pretty much cut up, now it all just has to be moved to piles so we
can burn them this winter after there is snow on the ground. A lot of
the wood will have rotted by then, helping with the fertilization.
The South 5-acre Lot needs work, it is about 2/3rds
done, the 4-acre Lot is about 1/3 done and I need to spend a lot of
time in there dropping trees this winter. By the time we move all the
animals into the House Lot for winter (it's easier for watering and
hay) it should be all cleared, then we hope to borrow a york rake and
rake it all.
The Ox Pasture's first paddock area has been fenced in
and the trees dropped but not yet cut up. The stone guy came in and
purchased a lot of stone from us including our stone piles that were
made when our ancestors and the slaves and servants cleared the land. We also had the Ox Pasture
timbered and he took most all of the oaks and some hickory, and left
all the maples for tapping. Cody's Lot is about done, a few pieces of
brush to pile up.
The Lane Way is all cut but again the brush needs to be
piled up and burnt, then the whole thing needs to be gone over with our
Stihl brush cutter. The hogs did a good job in there when they weren't
The pastures were soil tested last October (2003) and we
were told to put down 5 tons of lime per acre, we could only afford 5
tons over all of our pastures. It did make a difference and we hope we
can afford to do it right in 2005. We did use some fertilizer and that
also made a huge difference given that the pastures have been neglected
since the 1960's.
I took a seminar from the Stockman Grass Farmer and went
to TN, to learn an abundance of information. The most important part
was that it would take at least 5 years to get our pastures in shape.
We had considered having a herbicide (Crossbow) spread but decided
against it. I really don't want to use that kind of stuff because if
there was any wind drift my two brothers and my cousin could loose who
knows what in their flower gardens, including their bees, etc.
The idea of a "Roto-wiper" came up but the cost just
wasn't justified, besides we would rather be patient and let Nature do
her thing. With the animals help we can eventually get rid of the milk
weed, poke weed, ivy and other weeds that now crowd our lots.
In February we again let nature help us by naturally
seeding 65% perennial rye, 10% white clover, 10% red clover, 10%
alfalfa and 5% timothy.
In February, we lost Mr. Williams, our 1 ½ year
old bull. He bloated, and I found him one morning just before I was to
leave for work. I stuck him in the back with my knife and let the air
out (we had not yet found a good vet) but about a hour later he bloated
again. I made up a tube out of copper pipe and duct tape, stuck him
again, and put in the drain. After about 2 hours Penny the cow came
over and looked at me, then stuck her horn under Mr. Williams. She
stepped back and looked at me, then did it again. I said to her "Penny
are you trying to tell me something?" I then rolled him over, he blew
air out of both ends and in 45 minutes was up drinking water.
That was on a Thursday. That weekend Christine Bomster
my transportation gal and I went to Up-State New York to pick up our 3 Tamworth Hogs, Perry, Pearl, and Olive, and when
we got back Mr. Williams was dead.
Pearl had her litter in April, but we were too nice to
her. I had built an A-frame farrowing hut but gave her too much hay so
she built a nest outside of the hut. She had a litter of 10, 2 were
still-born, she crushed 5, and 3 made it though.
We have since built a new farrowing house, and Olive did
great in there in June. She had 2 still-born and the rest made it.
Do not skimp on fencing, we have used aluminum wire and
tried 3 different types of fence chargers. The
first was 5 joules, the second was 10. The piglets when pastured in the
Laneway kept getting out from under the fence, so we now have a 15
joule charger purchased from Kencove Fence. (You can find them in our Links page.) You need to put down one ground rod
per joule, especially when it is dry, so we have 15 ground rods.
We use step in-posts, and these are also available at
Kencove, so far we have spent $2,193.43 for fence supplies and that
price does not include the $500.00 we paid for the new charger,
shipping and ground rods.
In March we got some more chicken but still have not
been able to hook up with any one who can sell us Red Dorkings. Once we
find a supply we will certainly become a breeder of them.
We did get some Bourbon Red Turkeys. We had seen them
where we got the hogs (from the Hubels in NY, GREAT people) and fell in
love with them. We now have 10 and just yesterday we heard our first
gobble and saw our first "strut".
Both the turkeys and the chickens will be
pastured and we have included a photo to give you an idea of how we are
doing it. Right now the chickens are out all day and go in by
themselves at night. The Turkeys have free access to our asparagus bed.
We had built trap doors so the fowl can get in to different areas, as
we wanted it weeded.
In May we purchased Selina from Nat. She is due to
arrive in September, and this will bring our herd to Selina, Penny,
Monique, Sarah, Bullseye, DeNiro (named after Robert Deniro in "Raging
Bull"), Isaac, and Elijah.
In June, we got rid of one Dorset ram and one ewe
because they didn't respect the fence. Perhaps if we could have had
them sheared more often they wouldn't have gone under the wire, or if I
could have afforded a good set of clippers it would have solved the
problem...oh well, live and learn.
Also in June, we purchased Newt, a handsome bull from
Mr. Robert Lowe. We paid good money for him but it was worth the cost
as we have seen his offspring. One of Newt's heifers who was the same
age as Isaac is at least 6 inches taller. They make our cows look like
skinny small misfits; however, to be fair, our cows were raised in this
manner as the breeder was trying to breed to get back to the original
smaller size of the true old Highland Cattle.
We picked up Newt after our vacation, so he came to our
farm in late Jul. It was this month that we also SAVED Kate, a lone
sheep, after two dogs killed the rest of the flock of a friend of the
We had our 4 bulls castrated by Doc Hoffman, a true
old-time vet who comes to the farm and gets the job done. We have had
his family here knee deep in cow manure and all working together to
give shots and make steers out of bulls.
we received a call from a friend who wanted us to "save the goats," so
to make a long story short we now have 2 goats—Nilla (the white one,
short for vanilla) and Cocoa (the brown one)—who originally belonged to
our transportation gal Christine. She had sold them to an elderly man
who ended up not being able to care for them. I hear now that he has
been looking to purchase a heifer...
Our finances are tracked on "Quick Books" and I highly
recommend it. Our CPA is one heck of a great guy and well worth having
him on board. The best part is that he is a farmer and knows the
We have changed our insurance to cover our farm and all
of its many facets. We are changing our land designation from
Residential to Farm and will soon be getting Farm plates on my truck.
We have already paid for our winter supply of round
bales from George Robinson, who is also a farmer and great guy; in fact
it was George who took me to Mr. Banker's place to learn what I was
doing wrong after Pearl lost so many piglets. Farmers are just the
greatest bunch of people and always willing to help out.
Two days ago, on Labor Day, we welcomed a new kitten
into the family, Charlie. Charlie had been snatched from the stables in
Van Cortland Park in the Bronx (New York), and was found a half-mile
away in the park at an old colonial home. He was taken home by our
friend and webmaster, Sarah, who emailed to see if we wanted a new cat.
When we responded we wanted an orange tabby, she replied that is just
what she had, in an adorable long-legged bundle with orange eyes. It
was FATE. Already, Charlie and our other cat Sly are best buddies and
bad boys, and he is a fantastic addition.
This brings you pretty much up to date on where we are.
I didn't include an almost daily occurrence of brush cutting and
hauling, the weekly fence checking and repairs, and the upkeep of
buildings (we have painted almost everything we own in the last month).
The family (Sheryl, Jeff, and Kevin) have all taken a very active part
in this enterprise by helping in the monumental task of clearing land.
Sheryl in particular does all of the TAXI MOM stuff, football,
baseball, 4H, school trips, band concerts etc.
Kevin is 11 right now and has bees. He enjoys them but
doesn't like getting stung. He is more in tune with the farm and really
likes working with the animals. Jeff is 14 and raises worms for
compost, etc; he also is a great help when he isn't busy with sports.
Having a farm is worth all the work when you have great
family members who help out, add this to the awesome experience of
working and living with the animals, and life is GOOD !!!