The first Farm Report of 2023 comes to us from Ben.
I’m happy to report my 1940’s radio station is back on XM radio, thank goodness.
We seem to have picked up some extra ducks; there’s 14 now. And there’s more either female or younger pheasants coming in for chicken corn. I sure wish Steve was here to clarify those things for me. One day I watched our dog Bailey walk right past a pheasant and neither one paid any attention to the other. I understand Bailey ignoring the pheasant, I’m surprised the pheasant ignored Bailey.
I am finally driving again. I park my car over in the old machine shed and there’s a lot of sparrows in there. A night or two isn’t bad. But I parked for two weeks, I had bought a tarp and some cheap bungee cords back in January when I knew I was having shoulder surgery, but the car actually sat out that whole time. This time, when we got it out, it was evident I should’ve had a bigger tarp. The hood, front windshield, and most of the roof was OK, the back window and sides were pretty disgusting. And they were really cheap bungee cords, there’s no stretch left in them. The tarp will still be good… once it’s cleaned off.
I’m back in the tractor! There was a minor mishap trying to move snow one day. It was wet and heavy, and we were trying to go the other direction and, well, one thing led to another, and pretty soon we were in the fence. I told Kelly, I’ve run into a lot of things, broken some fences, dented some steel siding, and broke some stuff; that’s just how you learn. Didn’t damage anything on the tractor, and the fence can be fixed. A few days later trying to cut down the snowbanks, I snagged the fence a couple more times with the blade. Just loosened the fence a little bit. There’s a bit of a learning curve to this that I’m still getting back. I move a lot of sod before the ground freezes. (For the record, Kelly hardly picked up any sod. Somehow, I’m still picking up sod.) And I may have re-arranged our fire pit a little bit. Oops.
We have some pretty good banks on the sides of the road.
That’s the issue with using a blade and not a blower. If I’m up to it, one of these days I’ll hook the blower up and use that to cut the banks down. Unless they melt first. On the township level we have the county Highway Department clear our snow. After the first couple snows and the county trucks clearing the roads, we get some complaints about road rock being thrown into people’s yards. Well, that’s pretty hard to avoid on these first snowfalls. The next complaint is about the snow – or the plow- hitting mailboxes. To avoid those mishaps, a few years ago the county replaced all the mailboxes on county roads with swiveling pipe stands. When the plow or heavy snow hits the mailbox, it swivels out of the way. Seems like a good plan. Except when there’s mail in the box. Then it’s like ‘Crack-the-whip’ and the door pops open and the mail sails off into the ditch. I stood on the edge of the road looking at the open mailboxes (both ours and our neighbors) and looked at the mail down there by the pine tree and thought, “maybe, I can get down there.” Nope, one step into the deep snow and I knew my knew knee wasn’t up to it. Kelly had to go rescue it. And it turned out it was all our neighbors mail.
It was 2 1/2 weeks before I put real pants on again, and three weeks to the day before I wore real shoes again. I’m doing stairs, and I can just barely get the left foot up on my right knee to put my socks on! Making progress!
Movies this week have been Monty Python and the Holy Grail, (because it showed up on Netflix so how could I not?) So many quotable lines! The one I use on daughter often is when trying to wake her up in the mornings. I tell her I’ll come back and “…taunt you a second a-time-a!”
And Ferris Buellers Day Off. And The Big Lebowski. I saw part of The English Patient on TV one night. Thumbs up or down for that one? I remember liking the book.
I got the book ‘Wild Pork and Watercress’ by Barry Crump for Christmas; read that in 2 days. Saw the movie adaptation last summer, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and liked that. Then the book. As usual, the book was better.
Kelly’s car had more miles last year. Probably from driving me around all summer. My car and truck had less miles of course, and all the tractors had less hours. I didn’t do my own fertilizer last year so that accounted for some less. And I only had half as much straw to bale as usual, so that was less hours. The big tractor, doing the heavy tillage, had 37 hours. My other one, the one I use for planting, baling, blowing snow, and mowing, that one had 113 hours. The gator, being our first full year with it, had 468 hours and 455 miles. Since that was my main mode of transportation for a couple months, it did add up.
Speaking of airplanes and deserts, (The English Patient), Anyone seen ‘The Little Prince’ at the Guthrie? How is it?
Did you play Dodge Ball in School? What was the most terrifying playground equipments?
Our dog’s toy arsenal has been quite limited because of his post-surgery cone, and he has had to adapt to continue to have fun. Some toys just don’t work with a cone. I am happy to report the horrid cone comes off today. We and he are heartily sick of it.
One toy that has proven a continued delight for him is the large, orange tennis ball in the header photo. I placed a smaller red ball next to it so you could see the size difference. The orange ball is about 7 inches in diameter. He plays with it in several ways. He loves to peel the orange cover off it. That orange cover is glued on really tightly, and I am amazed at the strength of his jaws and teeth. He also likes to slam the ball on the floor while holding the fabric scrap in his mouth, then shaking it violently. He rolls the ball and chases it all around living room. We like it because it is too large to roll under the furniture. He barks and whines for us to retrieve smaller balls. He also likes to have us hold the ball while he tugs and tugs the fabric scrap. A ball lasts about a week.
What have been your pets’ favorite toys? What were your favorite toys as a child.What toys would you buy for a child these days?
The cabinet guys come on Monday so I’ve been slowly but surely emptying the kitchen and breakfast room so they can do their work. In the breakfast room, along the windowsill, I found one of those temporary hooks filled with face masks. Various designs, although a preponderance of black. This kind of “put up a hook and hang stuff of it” is right up YA’s alley so the only surprise was that I hadn’t noticed it earlier. This is in addition to various other places we have masks, including a little pocket of them in my car.
Then later the same day, an Amazon package got delivered and YA came up stairs with two boxes of covid tests (I almost typed COVID-19 because that was the protocol at my job but now I don’t have to, do I?) When I asked YA why she got them she said “we’re running out”. There was a lot of testing around here when YA had covid in July and then we were seriously exposed the end of August, and then the first weeks of December to make sure my cold was really a cold.
In the last two weeks I’ve been to the theatre and to a concert. The concert required a mask and the theatre recommended (and I complied). YA and I mask on planes.
The new normal feels like it has snuck up on us, although considering we’re 3 years in, it’s kind of a silly way to think. But if you stop to think about it, most new normal do sneak up on you. I could never have imagined today’s technology and medical advances when I was a kid.
Anything you never thought you would ever get used but eventually did?
Yesterday while it was still snowing, my neighbor to the north got his snowblower out and worked on his driveway. A couple of hours later YA headed out with a shovel to do the steps and back sidewalk. Across the street my neighbors were struggling to get their snowblower going. One neighbor to the south was out doing her steps as well.
Me? I’m sitting inside in sweatpants and fat socks, watching tv and sipping my beverage. For some reason I have always been and “wait until it’s over” kind of person. I would rather do 8” once than 4” twice.
And this works out rather well for me most of the time. For example, as I type this, my other neighbor to the south is currently doing OUR driveway (for which he will be rewarded generously with homemade cookies). My neighbor to the north did our front sidewalk when he was out (cookies for him as well). So by the time this ends and I finally venture out, I’ll have less to deal with!
I’m not hugely adventuresome when it comes to food. Once I find something I like, I tend to stick to it. Almond Butter Granola Waffle at Black Coffee & Waffle. Vegetarian Reuben at Pub 42. Blueberry Pancake at Lowbrow. Quattro Formaggio at Punch. It’s not that I’m afraid to try something new, it’s just that I can’t imagine not having my favorite in that moment. There are a few things I’ll always try: tiramisu, sticky toffee pudding, anything made with macadamia nuts.
Although Hawaii is not the actual birthplace of the macadamia nut (and isn’t even the world’s largest producer of the nut), the 50th state has certainly taken the macadamia to heart. I will say that every time I’ve traveled to Hawaii – I work hard to make it worth their while. And the restaurants on Oahu and Maui did not disappoint this trip.
I learned to love macadamia nuts for breakfast years ago. I was breakfasting with clients and the hotel sales person when I discovered coconut syrup on the waffle bar, along with chopped macadamia nuts. Can we say “heavenly”? I know in this global economy I can easily get nuts and syrup but I never get around to it so I was really looking forward to loading up on fat bombs (what a friend dubbed macadamia nuts long ago).
Our very first morning in Oahu, we hiked about 15 blocks to Eggs `n Things:
We had a great table out on the balcony, looking over a pretty park and they served me the Fresh Fruit Rainbow Pancake. With macadamia nuts. The photo is in the header above. It was delicious and outrageous – how can anybody eat that much in one sitting? Well, I showed them how it was done. It was a good things we had a lot of walking to do that day.
We went to a different breakfast spot every day of our trip and I found pancakes with macadamia nuts every time – but only found coconut syrup once. Aaaah well, the vicissitudes of travel!
When we were planning our trip to Hawaii, we were using “award credits” from our company. YA had quite a few and I had a small fortune, all of which had to be used within a certain amount of time after my retirement before I would lose them. This made it easy to plan things that would have seemed atrociously expensive if it were coming out of my checking account (and have I mentioned how expensive everything is in Hawaii).
Adding a rental car on Maui was a no-brainer. It’s a 45-minute drive from the airport area to the two major resorts areas (Lahaina/Ka’anapali in one direction, Wailea in the other). Even getting around once you are in the resort areas isn’t all that easy. No sidewalks, no buses, a few rare shuttles and extremely expensive Ubers. As YA was scrolling through rental cars on the award credit site, she was looking for small, inexpensive models. When I said “get a convertible” she just about fell off the bed. When did her mother EVER advocate for something more expensive? But there is backstory.
I’ve been is the islands many times over the past 30 years for work. Yes, work. And my job, even in paradisical places like Maui, was work. Early on, I decided that one of the ways I would take care of myself was a convertible. Usually it turned out to be cheaper than private transfers but while I used that as my “excuse”, the main reason was that for the day or so that I had on my own before clients showed up, I had the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. In addition, Maui (and the Big Island) are fabulous for someone who is directionally challenged… so few roads!
When we got to the rental car center at the Maui airport, they sent us down to the big parking lot, saying “turn right and pick your convertible”. There were three to choose from, all three white Ford Mustangs. Easy peasy, right? The two gals who had met us, helped get the luggage into the first car and said their goodbyes. YA was hanging back as I got into the driver’s seat and then suggested that we “look at the other cars”. I’m not at my best on travel days and I certainly didn’t see what there was to look at; they all looked identical to me. She was adamant however and after poking through all three models, she announced that the farthest one was bigger inside and had leather seats. Despite some whining on my part, I let her move the luggage to the bigger/leather interior. I figured if the rental car company didn’t care which one we took, I shouldn’t care either.
I can’t tell you if this was a better car but it made YA happy and as we rounded the first hill on the West Maui Mountain Highway, coming upon the sun shining on the water, it made me happy as well. This is why you want a convertible on Maui:
How do you keep your hair from getting mussed with the windows open or the top down?
The end of another year, pretty fitting that it happens on the last day of the week. It just fits the calendar so nicely and it feels so right that the last day of the year, the last day of the month, also ends on the last day of the week. And then we begin another month, another week, another year on the first day of the week. No open squares, it just all seems better that way.
The end of the year, all the old hackneyed, banal phrases of closing out another chapter, turning the page, another chance to try it again. But they still apply.
On the farm I will collect mileage from all the vehicles and the hours on the tractors and the lawnmower, the four-wheeler, the gator, and even the total gallons on the diesel barrel pump. I put all the data in my spreadsheet to compare with the other years. (At one point I believe we had to report the mileage to our accountant and there must’ve been a deduction for farm mileage or something. Now it’s just all under the standard deduction but I have always enjoyed keeping track of things like that). I also have our farm balance sheet that I will spend the next month working on. It’s fun for me; I like compiling the data and seeing the changes, adding pretty colors, and formatting it.
During 2022, I kept track of how many dozens of eggs I moved out of the house. It was easier keeping track of the dozens going out then it was the eggs coming in. The last few weeks I haven’t actually moved very many, so counting the eight dozen I have on the counter now, I moved 320 dozen eggs. That’s kind of impressive. That’s 3480 eggs. Which averages 10 eggs per day for an entire year. Back in October I only moved about 10 dozen, while between March and August it was upwards of 30 per month. If you count all the chickens around here, which is somewhere between 40 and 50, 10 eggs per day doesn’t seem like enough. I never said I was looking for efficiency, I’ve always said it was a chicken retirement farm.
I’ve also been getting crop inputs finalized for next year. Prepaid some fertilizer, locked in prices on some other products, and finalizing my seed orders. It’s discouraging that fertilizer and chemicals are as expensive this year as last. Hope for another good year of crop production and prices. I expect prices will have to crash and we’ll all take a loss one year before things will come down again.
A lot of the stuff we do before the end of the calendar year so that I can take the financial expense this year. There’s also typically a discount on pricing when you order sooner. My seed company discount goes until mid-January, and I expect to be driving again by then so I will get that done at that point. We paid off all of this year‘s crop loans, paid off another small loan on my truck, and paid a good chunk of an operating loan. Also, at the end of the year the equity checks come in from the various co-ops that we belong to. March 2023 will be 19 years since I sold the milk cows. The dairy co-op that we sold to, AMPI, has a 20 year payback on their equity and so for the last 18 years I’ve been getting a check for a few hundred dollars from the dairy co-op even though there has not been a milk cow on the farm. The check this year was for $200. There’s $2.48 remaining in my equity. Seems to me it would’ve made more sense to just add it on too this year‘s check. But whatever, one more check from the milk cows.
We are all glad the weather has finally warmed up. The ducks finally got out of the pond and actually came back up in the yard. Chickens, squirrels, pheasants, and lots of birds are out and about and enjoying it. The show has melted off the deck so I can go out there and walk around a bit.
I am getting along very well on my knew knee. (Gnu G-knee!) And the 37 staples were removed from the incision on Thursday. The doctor gave me a good report. A few days prior to that Kelly took me out for a ride in the gator, it was just nice to get out of the house. She even took me over to the shop and I got up in the tractors. Just to say I could. Again, after all the trouble I had the spring and summer, I didn’t really think this would stop me, but it still felt good to get in there. I sort of expect to be driving again this weekend and I may have to take over snow clearing duties soon.
Prior to the surgery I had to remove the two earrings that I wear. I asked daughter to put them in. She doesn’t have pierced ears, and she’s never done earrings before and I thought this would be good practice for her. As a guy, I can’t get them in myself, I generally ask Kelly. Daughter got one in and Kelly got the second one.
Years ago when I was giving a farm tour to some elementary school kids, a little girl asked me about the ear tags that I put in the calves ears. I was kneeling down and face-to-face with her and I told her it was like getting your ears pierced. I have a very vivid memory of her looking to my ears at the same moment I Iooked to hers. I had earrings, she didn’t and I thought to myself, this is a fascinating little discussion and I wondered if she’s going to go home and ask to get her ears pierced.
One of the movies I watched this week was ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. One of those movies I’ve heard about and seen bits of, but never seen the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I also watched ‘All That Jazz’ for the 349th time. I was home alone so I had it loud to make it the best it could be. And I picked some new bits out of it. I never get tired of that movie.
Kyrill, our Cesky Terrier pup, was neutered on Tuesday. He was really good at leaving his incision alone at the Vet Office, but started licking it once we got him home, so I got a cone from the vet.
Kyrill hates it. It is made even more awkward by his shape. Kyrill has a long snout, so he needs a good sized cone to keep that long snout away from the incision. His legs are really short, though, so unless he holds his head up high, the cone drags on the floor. The cone also pushes away or obscures things he wants to pick up. This makes eating and drinking difficult.
We tried a soft cone that looks like a life preserver, but it wasn’t wide enough and allowed access to the incision.
I considered a dog recovery suit just for this purpose, but I couldn’t find one in town, and if I ordered one, it would take too long to get here. I also didn’t relish the idea of wrestling him into an infant onesie every time he needed to go outside. We can’t crate him easily with the cone on, so he hangs with us and looks miserable. We hope for quick healing so the cone can go away.
What are your experiences with the cone of shame? How do your animals handle being under the weather?