Category Archives: pets

On and On It Goes

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Another week of life being relentless… I’m tired and I can’t keep two coherent thoughts together so this week’s blog will be basic highlights and a bunch of photos.

*I did finish planting corn. Except for about 2 acres that are wet. But I’ll get to them soon.

*Working on planting soybeans. Hoping to finish on Saturday.

*The college show opened on Wednesday and the paint was dry and it’s a good show. The set isn’t my best, but it works.

*We’ve had 4 sandhill cranes hanging around.

*The lilacs are looking – and smelling – so good!

*Every morning, I let Humphry out, and Bailey comes in to get a morning greeting and some attention for a minute. Then she’s happy to go back out.

*For the first time ever, I kinda got tired of music in the tractors. I listened to podcasts: Moth Radio hour, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Radiolab, and my frequent standby: Light Talk. (Imagine the Car Talk guys, doing a show about lighting).

*Kelly and I picked up some very large limestone rocks using an old thing called a ‘Slip Scraper’ or ‘Buck Scraper’. Clyde, you ever use one of these? This has been behind the shed for years. It’s missing some handles, but we made it work carrying rocks.

*The coop applied fertilizer for soybeans.

*Next week is all about lighting the next show in my schedule.

*My last day at the college for this academic year is May 31. I probably won’t have all my work done; I may have to stop in the next week just to finish what I don’t get done this week.

But then, THEN, the pace will slow down and I can start working on my new shed space.

Have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day weekend!

Here are photos:

Planting corn, the tracks in the dirt, my tractor buddies one day, my view from the tractor front and back, a rock shaped like Minnesota (that was really heavy!), Kelly and her second load of rocks, the “buck scraper”, A goofball, the coop’s fertilizer spreader, loading soybean seed from the trailer, Another tractor buddy, and the camera’s showing the seed in the drill.

Where and what was the best burger you ever had?

(The first time I had a ‘blue Burger’ ((blue cheese on a burger)) was at a bowling alley and it was FANTASTIC and none have compared to that one.)

Getting to Know You

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque!

Baboons, meet Phoebe our Corgi puppy.   We are getting to know her. Corgi puppies are reputed to be terrors, and that would be true of this puppy.  She is now 9 weeks old.   Ever curious, she gets into all possible crevices and  under and behind furniture.  Her little hind end is really cute sticking out of whatever trouble she has just found. When I let her come outside with me to “help” me garden, she discovered digging.  She also appears to be a food-driven dog, stealing Bootsy’s food at every opportunity.  She is smart.  She is learning to ring the dog bells at the front door, and already gets that anytime she is outdoors, she should do her potty duty. 

The morning frenzy is a challenge.  When I get up in the morning she wants to be fed, to be petted and cuddled, sit on my lap, bark and yip.  And bite.  This dog’s baby teeth are razor sharp resulting in little cuts and abrasions on our hands.  A short walk down the block and back seems to help a lot.

Bootsy, the elder Corgi, seems to have recovered from the deep offense of this puppy moving in, graduating to sniffing and stealing the puppy’s chew bones, then hoarding them on the couch.  At least I know where to find them.  She also makes forays into the dog bed we acquired for Phoebe.  Bootsy had her own which she snubbed for years.  She is making friends with the puppy.

She is fun and challenging in the manner of puppies.  The neighbors are noticing her and come to play and admire Phoebe, too.

Who are you getting to know lately?

Hard Facts

Today’s Farm Report comes from Ben.

Have you heard the phrase “If you want something done, ask a busy person”. That’s been in my head lately. I heard it a long time ago and I think it’s true. The reasoning behind that must be that a busy person will fit something else into their schedule. Good time management I guess… when it matters anyway, maybe not so much when it doesn’t (as evidenced by how much time I spend watching YouTube.)

I found out on Monday, that the two slabs of concrete I am expecting this summer, the indoor slab will be coming Friday. Uh…. Crap! I mean GREAT! I spent Tuesday moving machinery out of the shed. I pulled out the fertilizer wagon and that will have to sit outside for a while. I condensed the 5 boxes of crap my dad put in the shed when they moved out of their house, into one small tote worth saving and the rest went to metal recycling or garbage. Sorry Dad. I put some pallets out and sorted lumber into nice piles, and I moved some down to the barn where there’s another pile of 6×6 posts and left over Trex Decking.

I moved all the machinery out, moved the two smaller tractors out, moved the lawn mowers out, moved the 100 gallon oil totes, then started replacing machinery in such a way I can still get to the seed wagon, and have room for the corn planter and soybean drill and still be able to get them out, while keeping the North end of the shed clear and open.

There was a lot of smaller stuff to move yet. Wednesday I moved Ladders, storage racks, jacks, wood blocks, the old oil barrel stand, and cut 4’ off the end of the work bench.

FYI, I have a LOT of wood blocks.

It’s always surprising to me how many wood blocks I have. They are one of those things you just never know which one you’ll need, or how many of what size, so we have lots. It might be out in the field and the ground is soft, so I need multiple long blocks to make a base, then a few to support the jacks. It might be blocks to support four corners of a wagon box while I change the running gear under it. Sometimes that’s a 6×6, sometimes it’s a 4×4, and sometimes it’s just a 2×4 to block a tire. It’s crazy that I have this many blocks. Perhaps I won’t put them all back. Bet I will.

As the day went on, I found myself spending more time sitting in the tractor, ‘thinking’,  when I moved to the next job…I’d sit there for several minute before I could get myself out and moving.

Keith, the man who was Best Man at our wedding in 1990, stopped to visit. He lives out in Stamford New York now, but had a business meeting in Minneapolis, so he spent an extra day and came down. We hadn’t seen each other since about 1995. It was really nice to see him. And he helped me move some of that extra stuff.

Circa about 1990 and 2023.

As the day went on, there was less ‘sorting and stacking’ and more just tossing it out of the way. Like any home remodeling project, I won’t be able to find what I want for the next month…

There’s been a pheasant strutting through the yard like he owns the place. The dogs lie behind my car and watch him. We hear a lot of pheasants calling not too far away. They don’t come out for corn anymore like they do in winter. And I’ve seen some out in the fields that don’t seem to be too scared of me or the tractor. But this one in the yard, he’s strutting his stuff and he doesn’t seem to care who sees him.

Saw a couple Sandhill Cranes in a field. Saw the Northern Lights on Sunday night. Happen to look down between the back door and the deck and discovered 30 or 40 chicken eggs.

Shoot. Someone is gonna have to shimmy under there and get them. Come July, I don’t see this being a good situation. I blocked the hole on the side of the deck that I suspect is where the chicken(s) was getting in. Maybe that also explains why Bailey hasn’t eaten her food in 3 days and I found an eggshell in the front yard.

I got the road graded using all three hydraulic options on the blade and it was very nice. Tilt, angle, shift. I cut down the edges so rain water will run off the road, pulled in gravel from the winter, and I unintentionally pulled in a lot of dirt too. Left it all on the edge of the road to settle for a few weeks, then will grade it all back onto the road.

One of my former work study students from the college stopped to visit with her 2.5 month old baby girl. That was a nice visit. And Krista made the egg run and it was good to see her.

Last of the college shows this weekend. Music concert at the college next Thursday with Choir, Band, World Drum Ensemble, and a new Chamber Group. And then it’s onto Commencement. I’ve been coordinating, scheduling, and doing paperwork for that. We’ll hang a few lights next week before the stage is placed.

I don’t know about farming this week or next. We shall see what we shall see.

Doing some local straw deliveries too.

One day at a time, one day at a time.



Give It Up

Husband came home Wednesday from his work day in Bismarck to find his right big toe was swollen from gout. He drives to Bismarck on Tuesday nights, stays at a hotel, and works at the Human Service Center all day on Wednesday. Sometimes he takes lunch with him from home in a cooler, but he often just scrambles for lunch on the fly from the grocery stores. Wednesday it was hummus.

Chickpeas are really bad for gout. He knows this, but really loves hummus. He still eats it. He also is seriously allergic to cats, but we have had cats in our home for 35 years. A dripping nose and sneezing are more tolerable to him than the absence of purring. A swollen toe is worth some hummus. I know I could never give up down pillows or comforters if I became allergic to feathers.

My Uncle Alvie, the poker player, always broke out in hives when he ate fresh strawberries. He always feasted on his wife’s homegrown strawberries though, no matter how itchy he got. I know that allergic reactions can be serious. I had a graduate school friend who would go into anaphylaxis if she walked into a home with gerbils or guinea pigs. A work friend recently got a bunny for her son and after a few hours her eyes swelled shut and poor Coco had to go back to his breeder. They were heartbroken.

Do you have allergies? What would be hard for you to give up for allergies or health issues?

The Sky Is Falling

I was sitting at the computer at home Friday afternoon when I heard a loud crash outside. Some investigation led to the discovery that a very large chunk of ice had fallen onto the deck from the pergola atop the deck where there are lots of grape vines.

One of our snowstorms deposited more than two feet of snow on the deck and west roof of the house. The warmer weather over the past couple of weeks had melted the snow which turned into solid ice, which now was falling through the open spaces on the pergola.

The ice chunk that fell could have injured us or the dog. There were lots remaining atop the pergola, so I stood in the doorway and poked the ice through the pergola with a broom handle until it all fell down .

I have always loved doing things like this. It was so oddly satisfying, poking those ice chunks so they crashed onto the deck, comparable to clearing blocked channels of water and unstopping clogged surface storm sewer grates. Odd, I know, but there it is. I would probably love doing demolition work. I also love shooting off fireworks. Perhaps they are related.

What do you find oddly satisfying? Ever been in an avalanch or had a concussion?

Late Bloomer

Today’s Farm Report comes from Ben

Another sign of pending spring is the ice at my machine shed walk-in door finally melted enough I could get the door shut again. It’s works all winter, but then, due to some poorly executed land grading that I did without forethought, as the snow starts to melt it runs into the shop and the door freezes shut. I used to play a guessing game on when all the doors would freeze shut and try to get them opened the day before. There were a few times I missed that day, and it took a lot of chopping ice with an axe to get the door open enough I could get in. And, more importantly, out.

Three years ago, I added an overhang that solved the ice problem at the big doors. This summer we will regrade the driveway and that will fix the water running through the walk-in door.

We had a Thunderstorm and some hail on Monday.

The drain tile down by the barn that fills the duck pond is running heavy. It doesn’t run this heavy very often. Usually that means the frost is out. The tile is a good thing as all this water would be coming out on top of the ground otherwise and it would be all spongey down there. I’ve had that other years prior to the tile.

Kelly and the dogs took a long walk around the pastures and fields on a warm day. The dogs found a hole they were VERY interested in, and they’ve gone back the last couple days to dig more.

Humphrey got a shower after this. He doesn’t like them. But he doesn’t figure out he should stay clean either.

For some reason, I’ve got a chicken laying smaller eggs. They look like beginner eggs. Shouldn’t be any beginner chickens at this point in time but maybe we’ve got a late bloomer. I know I’ve mentioned before how they seem to like groups of three. More often than not, I find a clutch of eggs in batches divisible by 3.

(Photos this week all from Kelly)



Dog Talk

One of the most trying aspects of our Grandson’s two week stay has been managing his interactions with our dog. Kyrill is a terrier, therefore terribly intrusive and curious. Grandson doesn’t like the way the dog invades his space and hovers. The dog just wants to be a part of everything. He also seems to be anxious, and when he isn’t following Grandson he is sitting in my lap. I am never alone. That has been stressful.

I found that the best way of helping Grandson understand the dog’s behavior is to talk in what I imagine the dog’s voice would be, explaining my (the dog’s) motives and feelings. The dog’s voice is lower than my regular speaking voice, with some difficulty saying his L’s. Grandson is young enough to suspend reality and have conversations with the dog (me), explaining how he feels about the dog’s behavior. Sometimes Grandson will say something, and then tell me “Oma, I am talking to Kyrill”, letting me know I have to answer him in Kyrill’s voice and from Kyrill’s point of view. Like us, the dog has been glad for our Grandson’s stay, but, like us, also looking forward to having things back to normal.

Do you have a particular voice you use for your pets? What would your pets say to you if they could talk? What were your best and worst childhood pets?

Slip Slidin Away

Today’s farm report comes from Ben

This week has seen warmer temps, snow melting, mud coming, and more daylight!

It has also seen a loss of some ducks. February 5th, we were missing Rosencrantz, one of the new ducklings from last summer. The next day, the two older black ducks were gone and there was a pile of feathers just off the pond. Next day the white poufy duck was gone. The next day three mallards were gone. And the next day, another mallard. There are only 2 left, a male and female mallard.

Shucks. It’s really kinda sad… This happened late February last year too; lost several ducks then. The pile of feathers would indicate an owl (just because it seems to happen at night). I’ve only seen a hawk attack a duck once, and that was middle of winter and the pond was iced over and the hawk had it right there. Possibly bald eagle, we have them flying around, but never seen one try to get a duck, and again, not sure they could carry it away. So, we always assume coyotes when our critters are ‘gone’. But we don’t understand: the mallards can fly! Why don’t they fly away?? Are they sleeping that hard? To lose two or three in a night, is it a pack?
There doesn’t seem to be any disturbance; Bailey isn’t raising a fuss, Humphrey isn’t trying to get out. One night, just as we went to bed, there was a fuss and Kelly went out with the flashlight and she could see some ducks flying around. I still hope those are just hanging out somewhere else for a while.

I did find another pile of feathers up the road, but that seemed to be a pigeon. I just hope these two ducks survive. Our ducks have never learned to come in at night. You may remember when they were little, the trouble we had trying to get them inside. And then once they’re older and out on their own, they just never have come in. Some stay closer to the house, and you’d think this batch would have figured that out by the second attack. I hadn’t seen the flock of wild ducks flying around lately, but then Thursday afternoon, eight of them were here. It was so interesting to watch them circle. First one came down by the other two, then two more came down. Then 3 went over by the barn and the corn I spread over there. And another with the first ducks and the last one back by the barn. “You go first!” I don’t know, but once the ducks are gone, we can only assume the predator will move on to the chickens.

I walked back to the pole barn one morning and all those pheasants that had been coming in and eating corn were back there in the barn. Sure surprised us when they came flying out, goodness.

As we’re all dealing with ice, our driveway has become an issue.

Those of you that have been here may remember how long and twisty it is just before the house. We joke it keeps the riff-raff out. It also keeps us home when the weather is bad. As we’ve all been saying, the multiple snows, some rain, some packed snow, it’s all combined to make ice on the entire driveway. A few days of sunshine and nice temps this week helped a lot, and I used the loader bucket on Monday and managed to scrape a lot of ice off. Bet you didn’t know I had a sun screen in the tractor. It was an extra.

But it was also extra slippery, and I almost got myself into trouble on one of those corners. We call it “Above the barn” and we mean it literally. There’s a good row of oak trees along the fence line, and then a 30’ drop down to the barn and cow yard. The trees are there to stop you going over. More than once I’ve been in a tractor that has slide over into the fence and trees. Once I broke the entire glass door of my Deutz tractor. Once I ripped out a fence. This time I didn’t hurt anything; just had to stop, and catch my breath, and make a game plan. Took two tries, and I was out. No issues.

The snow melting off the shed roofs either makes a frozen lump on the ground or puddles up until it comes into the shed. I’m hoping next year, after the concrete project, I’ll get some landscaping done enough to prevent this.

Sometimes the entire side of snow will slide off the roof and then I have a huge pile of snow to move. Thank goodness for tractors and loaders.

And as the ice melts, the mud isn’t necessarily better. I’d venture it’s slipperier. And I’m not sure how well zak-traks work on mud.

It’s gonna get better. Another few weeks, and it will go fast and soon we’ll be smelling the rain and seeing the grass greening up.


Made It!

Today’s Farming Update comes from Ben.

Should be warming up by the time you’re reading this. My mom’s mother’s birthday is February 8, 1899. (She died on February 8, 1990.) and mom always said, by her mom’s birthday you could tell spring was coming and the days are getting longer.

But boy, the wind on Thursday. Blowing out of the North and it’s COLD, yet the sunshine is so nice.

15° but there’s mud on the south side of the shed, and that’s what’s so cool about the weather. The sun sure is getting powerful as we move toward spring and April showers and it will be here before you know it.

We were at supper with friends the other night and comfort food came up. I hadn’t thought of an actual food to call comfort food and I was kinda stumped. Popcorn was a big one though. Lately I’ve been making coleslaw at home. Met a friend at the grocery store one day and he had a bag of cabbage mix in his cart, and I thought that sounded good. A little vinegar, sour cream, mayo, pinch of sugar, some salt and pepper, garlic and onion, and Kelly and I are really enjoying it. I can’t figure out why. I think it’s such a good mix of crunchy, creamy, with just a little ‘zing’ too it. Some of you that know your way around the kitchen better than us; should we replace the bay leave that’s been in our flour container since 1997??

Egg production is down a bit with these temps, but everyone is surviving. I’ve got my new hooded jacket, zak-traks for my new insulated boots, and wearing nitrile gloves under my regular gloves and were doing fine.

This cold weather has me thinking of watering calves when I was growing up. Baby calves were kept in the barn with the cows. (Which is frowned upon but now; too many germs spread from cows to the calves that the calves are not old enough to handle yet.) They were warm and I had a simple float on a bucket for their water. When they were about 3 months old, I moved them up to the other barn. They’d be about 300 pounds and boy, that was a rodeo. It’s only 50 feet from here to there, but they didn’t know where they were going, and after burning the horn buds off they were all riled up and it was all I could do to get them up there. It was uphill. Both ways. I just hung on for the ride and tried to head them in that direction. Course once in that barn, I still had to get the rope halter off them. I was younger then thank goodness.

And in this barn was an old metal water tank. 400 gallons or something. One of those galvanized oval metal tanks you’ve all seen. In the summer it was outside with a hose and a float to keep it full of water. In the winter, it was inside. Dad didn’t believe in electric waterers nor was there an outlet in the barn and the calves would have gotten into it and that would be a whole big thing.

Sometimes I would use a hose to fill the tank. And then drain the hose and it hang inside the feed room door, so it was on the warm barn side. But if I didn’t want to use the hose, I used 5 gallon buckets. Carrying those buckets of water built muscle and character. Carrying 2 did it even faster. Remember it was uphill. Depending on the weather, it might take 4 or 6 buckets to fill it. When it was this cold it all froze solid except maybe a depression in the middle so it would only hold 5 gallons. Eventually I’d have to knock out the ice to make more room. The calves, like any outdoor animal, is fine in the cold as long as they can get out of the wind, and they have enough food and water to keep their energy up. When it got to the point they couldn’t drink I could bang on the outside using the backside of an old axe, then chop out a bunch inside, then pound some more on the outside. Mind you, eventually I’d cut a hole in the metal. Sooner if I forgot to turn the axe around. Then it held less water…

As the weather got warmer, eventually Id be able to get the water tank out of the frozen manure, and flipped over all ALL the ice knocked out of it and those ice chunks would last a long time.

So now in winter I haul water in 8 quart buckets to the chickens. It’s downhill all the way to their pen. And a longer walk of 150 feet. (summer we use a hose and multiple buckets) I can carry two buckets in one hand, and corn and water in the other. I have strong fingers. Maybe from all those 5 gallon buckets?

Chickens don’t like bread crust either. But they didn’t eat the cantaloupe, which is weird. We’ve always said we have fussy chickens.

I’ve mentioned we have electric heat. When its below zero, it might cost us $12 / day and I have to think, how much is heat worth to me? Do I want to be cold or do I want to pay the $12.

Good thing this cold spell didn’t last too long.

What Is your favorite cabbage recipe? What is the longest cold spell you remember? What is your ice removal strategy? What do you do with old spices?

Pet Guilt

Husband is an oldest son with younger siblings, and is a real caretaker. This extends to a sense of duty that he has toward our pets. He is currently feeling very guilty because he can’t give our dog the three walks a day that he has become accustomed to. Husband just doesn’t think that vigorous indoor play is sufficient. The problem is that there is so much treacherous ice coating the sidewalks that it isn’t safe for him to walk the dog right now. He cracked his wrist last Friday by falling on the ice while walking the dog.

Kyrill is very spoiled, in terms of the dog treats he gets and the attention that he is paid, by both me and Husband. Husband carefully reads the ingredients of the treats we buy, and we seem to make weekly trips to Runnings and the pet store in search of just the the right chews and toys. I don’t remember Husband spoiling our children like this, although he was always playing with them and keeping them busy.

Husband decided to brave the ice last night and try to walk the dog. He made it half way down to block and came back home as he was afraid of falling. I am afraid that there will be terrible ice for some time, as there is tons of snow, and as the weather warms during the day it is just going to melt and then refreeze into more ice.

I heard from a friend yesterday that the city street department has sixteen vacant positions that no one will take due to a reportedly toxic work environment. I don’t foresee the city stepping up to remove the snow and ice, so Husband is going to have to deal with his pet guilt for many weeks.

How does guilt factor in how you deal with your pets? How well does your municipal government function? What are the best and worst city governments you have dealt with?