Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Just In Time To Beat the Snow

A couple of weeks back we had about what seemed to be non-stop rain for days on end.  The farm had become a mud pit.  Almost like Spring, but without the flowers, grass, and other plants popping up and sucking up the excess water.  So...we had mud, in some places several inches deep.

Just about this time we determined it was time to move the hogs into their winter home attached to the barn.

When we first moved the hogs into the garden for their "Fall tilling excursion," we had all three of them in the same cage.  Not so anymore!  They grew quite a bit while removing all the old roots and grubs and other bugs from the garden.

We were able to get the first two up onto the trailer wihout a problem.  The third one almost broke out of the cage, so we had to wait to move him until we got these two guys settled in.  Check out the rooster along for the free ride!  He rode in on the trailer all the way from the garden.

We backed the tractor right up into the barn and then...

...unloaded the hogs.  A couple of curious hens accompanied the rooster and came out to watch us try to lift, drag, push, and pull the cages down the length of the barn.

It seems we got the hogs moved just in time, for that rain gave way to some snow and we were graced with our first plowable snow of the season.  Moving these guys in 4-5 inches of snow would NOT be fun!

Glad to see we got the "thumbs up" from our little supervisor! 


Rain Gutters = Dry Pigs

One of the projects that was on the slate this summer was to install gutters along the front edge of the barn.  Mainly I wanted to keep some of the water out of the pig pen, but also I wanted to try to keep the rain splashing on the barn sills to a minimum. 

We decided to run 1/2 of the legnth of the barn to start.  This would take care of the pig pen area and also it would be pretty hard to run more than 50 feet of gutter all in one direction.  Too much water would get in there and there would be overflow.

Pinning up gutters seemed like an easy task:

1. purchase gutters
2. install them on barn

Not SO simple, it turns out.  This project called for lots of pre-steps before we even got near the gutters.  One step was even involved paint (I loathe painting, anyone can tell you).  I mean, seriously, putting up gutters involves PAINT?!  What the heck...

We first had to install some trim work upon which to attach the gutters.  There was only about 1" of existing trim, not enough to provide the angle we'd need to run 50 feet.  So we tacked up some  6" pine to make a nice surface.  But, then we had to paint it.

Lucky for me, my kids love to paint!

They did such a great job that I only had to touch up areas here and there...I know where to turn ANYTIME I need any painting done.

I'm not sure how it happened, but I got more paint on my clothes than the kids did!

101 feet, 8 inches of "gutter-mount" painted and ready for the gutters...

The next step was the kids' favorite.  When I was building the new out-building, we often used the chalk-line.  They love snapping it and then reeling it back in.  We snapped a 51 foot chalk-line and proceeded to mount the gutters.  We bought these nifty little clips that simply clip into each channel of the gutter and then screw in with a power drill.  Nice and quick!  What was not nice and quick was all the sealing that had to be done to the seams between gutters, to the downspout, to the gutter end, etc...I dislike the caulking gun almost as much as the paint brush.  It especially becomes a chore on the third try at sealing it all correctly to keep it all from leaking.  Pretty soon, though, the kids will be able to handle the caulking gun, too.

The gutters are now up (ironically all the rain has gone away) and we're all ready for some dry less-wet-than-before hogs for the Fall.  Next time it rains, the gutters will whisk the water away to the edge of the barnyard where it will soak into the ground without making mud.



A Day Out with the Tractor (What Mud?)

It all started when we decided it was time to claim the firewood we'd stacked from cutting down some trees last summer.  It was time to haul it up to the front of the yard nearer the house so that my dad has something to do when he visits (He's a professional wood-chopper, in case you didn't know).

We'd hooked up the tractor to our trailer and things were moving along first.

I'd cut about four trees to make access to the wetlands and the brook just after we moved in last summer, so the pile was somewhere between 1-2 cords and it will be perfectly seasoned for heating and cooking.  We'd had a lot of rain, but drainage seemed to be no problem.  Things were relatively dry and we did not overload the trailer so as to avoid getting stuck.  (It did start to mist, hence our hats!)

While Liev and I piled wood, Violet roamed about looking for flowers.

She found quite an assortment.  I think that she ended up feeding them to her brother's steer, Mr. Greenshoes, who was watching on as we worked.

Liev helped load and then took his position at the front of the wagon ready to make the drive up to the house with the wood.  He's tipping his hat to Mommy as she takes some photos.

After loading a few times and being sacked by thousands of tiny black ants, Liev decided a change in job was due...Check out his new green web belt!  My favorite of all belts!

We'd made great progress.  As you can see below, the wood pile was almost gone.  I think it took us about 4 or 5 trips as we did not want to put too much weight into the tired and old, yet rustic trailer.

We'd made a small rut in the mud with all the loads coming and going, but we had not gotten stuck.  In fact, we were mentioning this wonderous fact when...

We had moved all the wood.  I'd removed my cap as the rain ceased.  And we decided that we would take one more "joy ride" around the field.  This time the mud got us!

I think that the problem was that the trailer's axle had dug deep into the mud, but I tried a series of back-and-forths in a vain attempt to unstick the tractor.  No such luck.  I also think that we need to get a better set of tires on the tractor, but that is for another day.  (Check out that nice new exhaust system!)

Luckily, all was not lost.  The kids had a joyous time romping in the muck, even as the trailer sank deeper and deeper.

In the end, it took a substitute driver (Erica) and a whole mess of chains and come-alongs to pull the tractor out.  We have the whole works anchored to the tree on the far left of the photo.  A small cherry tree, in fact.  We almost had one more tree for firewood, but it held in the end and we pulled the tractor to dry land.

A small family victory as nightfall approached!




Farm Trucks

So, one of the first things we did when we moved into our new farm was change the sign on the truck.  In fact, I ordered the new town label as soon as we found out that the closing was going through. 

We love tooling around in our pickup truck.  This is actually our second one.  We had a 1985 F-150 for several years and must say that it was the perfect truck for us.  It was a "self-oiler" and the only maintainence that we performed for the four years we had it was adding new oil. 

Our new truck (1991 F-150) was a step up environmentally as well as in terms of its relative usefulness.  This "new" one has 4 wheel-drive.  Woo hoo!  I've never had to load up, find out I'm stuck, and then unload an entire truckload of wood since this fine acquisition!  They say that heating with wood warms you several times...the cutting, the splitting, the stacking, etc.  Well, with a 1985 2 wheel-drive truck, you get one or two extra heatings with all the pushing, pulling, digging, and reloading when you're stuck in the mud.

Now that we have two kids, though, we have a hard time fitting into the bench seat of the truck.  Luckily, my wife's friend just gave us a 2000 Ford Ranger.  That's the newest vehicle we have!  With the dump truck purchase impending and the new Ranger, it is time to start thinking about a new logo for the doors.  I hope that I can fine that same font.  I think it's quite fetching.


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