A small, family farm in Wisconsin

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Farm News October 2013

We had a fun and busy summer here on the Zills Farm.  We did some traveling, and had a wonderful time at the wedding of our granddaughter in Oklahoma City.  Most of our family was there and it was a renewal of our family bonds.  I’m so proud of my family and what good people they are.
We’ve been fortunate to be able to spend lots of time with various family members this summer.
Lee has been busy and even managed to get a new roof put on the old farm house.  His next project is replacing a couple of windows in the farm house, and most of the windows in our house.

 

Corn is not dry yet.

Corn is not dry yet.

Actual farming has been delayed due to the weather.  The soybeans and corn have been slow to dry so are still waiting to be harvested.  We had a very wet spring so the fields were planted later than normal.  Consequently the late harvest.
Here’s something new.  Lee found an enormous Giant Puffball mushroom.  I’ve never cooked or eaten them, but he really wanted to try it.  I sautéed some for him to put on the pizza we were having for dinner and he liked it.  I did not.  I thought it tasted like soggy bread.  I’m going to try cooking it differently by slicing it into “steaks” to fry in butter. See the picture below.
The hummingbirds are gone.  Most of the sandhill cranes are gone.  We have a robin and a couple of kildeer still hanging around and I’m not sure why.  I hope they get moving soon.

I’ve been trying some new recipes, so stay tuned!
Have a happy fall!

 

Giant Puffball.  This one was as big as a soccer ball.

Giant Puffball. This one was as big as a soccer ball.

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May and June Catch-Up

blossoming treeIt’s been a crazy spring.  Cold and wet.  We’re closing in on the middle of June, and  the fields are not fully planted yet.  Lee has been planting as the fields dry out, but he still has to plant around the wet spots.  It’s raining again today so no planting for a few days.  We just haven’t been getting enough time between the rains to let the ground dry off.  We just have to be patient and wait and see how it all works out.  Lee’s definitely feeling the pressure.

The good news is that the rains have brought lush growth to the pastures.  Too lush for the minis, but the sheep are benefiting from all the lovely grass.  Of course we went from seldom  mowing the dry, brown grass last summer to frequent mowing this spring.

It’s been fun watching my bird feeders this spring.  So many colorful birds.  I had two indigo buntings coming to the feeders for a few days.  They must have been just passing through because I haven’t been seeing them lately.  I saw at least half a dozen orioles in a tree just in front of the house.   It was before the tree had fully leafed out so it was a gorgeous riot of color in the tree.  The orioles have been using the nectar feeder I set up for them.  Lee’s favorite birds are the cardinals and he also likes blue jays.  I think because he can easily identify them.  We’ve had lots of turkeys, our sandhill couple is back to nest here again, and we’ve been seeing deer come out of the woods every day.  We can sit at the kitchen table and enjoy seeing the wildlife while we eat a meal.

charlie collarCharlie has a new collar, which has a QR Code tag.  It can be read by any smart phone that has a QR Code reader app.  It also will send you to a website if you don’t have a reader.  On the website is Charlie’s ID page, which has contact information and health history.  It was very inexpensive.  The collar with tag was $10.99, I think, and you can get just a tag for less.   Just go to FurCode.com, or they also have a Facebook page.

Charlie is 10 years old now and he’s begun to have some health problems as he ages.  Recently he injured his back, but healed quickly, thank goodness.

We are going to Oklahoma in July, and we’ll have to board Charlie at a kennel.  He’s only been boarded a couple of times and the last time was a bad experience so I’m  nervous about doing it again.  We’ll be taking him to a different kennel this time and I got references from the vet, so I’m really hoping it will be okay.

The family are all doing well.  We’re so excited to be going to OKC for Leah and Craig’s wedding.  It’s turning out to be a wonderful family reunion too.  I just can’t wait to see everyone, and this will be the first time in years that I’ll be together with all 3 of my kids at once.  It’s going to be fun to have Lee coming along.  It’s so hard to get him to leave the farm.

Here are fairly recent pictures of Carys (at her archery lesson), Payten at 3 years old, and Noah.

Carys archeryPaytenNoah

April 2013 Newsletter

Cravings-Buffet-at-the-Mirage

Shirley and I made our annual trek to Las Vegas.  Fun and relaxation were had by all.  Our only disappointment was that the Donny and Marie show was cancelled and we had been looking forward to it.  We did go to Blue Man Group and that was a fun and very loud show.  We had good seats, and we enjoyed the show.  Weather was a bit chilly on the first couple of days but it made for very comfortable walking.  We had some excellent meals, including the Cravings buffet at the Mirage.  We visited the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay.  It’s an aquarium.  We got free tickets through the MLife Players Club rewards game , My Vegas.
I have an album of photos from our trip on Facebook.  Here’s the link. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200307594110975.1073741826.1187642981&type=1&l=44bed9c791
Weather has been the topic of conversation all month.  Wet and cold!  I don’t know when the fields will be dried out enough to begin spring field work.
lamb smudgeLambing began mid month, and there are still 2 ewes left to lamb.Again this year there are triplets and twins.  We had one poor ewe who had toxemia and lost her twins, but Lee was able to save the ewe.  It seems like lambing season is never trouble free.  I’m not sure how many lambs there are, but I’m guessing 22.  Mostly boys!  The little guy in the picture was born with the huge black spot on his hip.  It will fade with time.

 
Collin is back on American soil, back from Afghanistan.  It’s a huge relief.  We’ll see him in July, along with the rest of the family, when we go to OKC for a wedding.

 
Star 4-13The horses are shedding!   They’re itchy and need to be bathed and brushed, but it’s too cold.

I’m enjoying the return of the migratory birds.  I’ll bet the birds aren’t all that happy to be back.  Kildeer are nesting on the cold ground.  Robins are finding worms now but I wonder what they ate while the ground was still frozen.  The barn swallows are here, but we don’t have any bugs yet!

Where Are They Now?

Photo credit Debi Plekan

Photo credit Debi Plekan

I’ve recently read an article that mentioned the American Quarter Horse Association‘s Full Circle Program.    I’m not sure how it works, but I think it’s supposed to help track previously owned horses, thus possibly preventing the throwing away of unwanted horses.  It’s a great idea and I would love to read that other breed associations are also providing this service.  One very compelling reason for me to stop breeding and selling miniature horses was that I hated losing control over their welfare.  No matter how carefully prospective buyers are screened,  stuff happens.  Every person who bought a horse from me was told that I would appreciate the right of first refusal if they ever needed to sell the horse.  I even put it into sales contracts, but it’s not enforceable.   I can remember 2 buyers who actually did let me know that they were selling their minis, and although I wasn’t in a position to buy them back, I was able to help find good homes for them.   Every horse that was sold from this farm was registered, but I can guarantee that if I look for them via the registry’s stud books, I won’t be able to find most of them.   I often wonder about the babies that were born here, and what kind of lives they’ve had.  Why don’t people keep them registered?  Isn’t it their birthright?  Don’t they deserve to  have the chain of ownership recorded?   I believe they do deserve to have their registration, papers, and heritage stay with them forever.  I can’t single handedly make that happen, so I just don’t contribute any more.

Cody, a Miniature Horse

About 10 years ago Lee and I decided that it was time to downsize our miniature horse activities.  We stopped breeding and showing them, and sold  most of our best horses.  The ones we kept were minis who had special needs.  It’s hard to imagine anyone else giving the kind of care we give to these needy ones.  Of course that’s an arrogant way of thinking and I know that really there are many people in this world who would do a good job with them.  What I ended up with was a small  group of miniature horses with health problems, so I knew that I would be dealing with lots of nursing care and special diets with supplements,and extra vet and farrier visits.  I also knew that my little herd would dwindle.  In the 10 years since we dispersed the main herd, we’ve euthanised 3 of the chronically ill minis, and now this week makes it 4.
Cody was born here.  At the age of 17 he dies here.  He had a chronic, we think genetic, condition involving his trachea.  His dam had the same problem. He also had chronic bouts of laminitis, although not since last winter.  Recently I became aware that he was having other, very serious problems.As he got worse I struggled with making the decision to euthanise him.  This week I realized we couldn’t make him better, he continued to go downhill,and I couldn’t bear to think he might be suffering.  Although we don’t know exactly what was going on with him (we didn’t do a necropsy) we do know that he had something bad.  At the end his blood pressure was sky high, his abdomen was bloated and full of fluid, he was dripping in sweat in the mornings in the last few days.  The vet guesses heart or liver, maybe both.  The last thing I did before the vet got here was to take Cody in the grass so he could graze for the first time in years.  Grass is a no-no for laminitic horses.  He loved it.  He never lost his appetite.
He was my little trick pony who answered questions with a nod or a shake of his head, and gave kisses whenever he was asked for them. He loved kids and they loved him.

Thanks so much Dr. Anne Clary for your compassionate care of my minis for all these years.
Please enjoy this slideshow of pictures of Cody, from his birth, through his show career, to his most recent pictures at the age of 17.  Cody was loved by many and he will be missed so much, especially by me.

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September 2012 Newsletter

Another season rolls in.  Here in Wisconsin the leaves are turning, the air is sometimes crisp, sometimes warm.  On the warm days the yellow jackets, hornets, and box elder bugs come alive and they’re everywhere.  We’ve already had a killing frost, so our growing season is over.  Lee is out on the combine harvesting soybeans.  Grain prices are up because of the poor crops in much of the country and world.  Hog and lamb prices have gone down.  I just heard today that there is going to be a pork shortage worldwide.  We’ll see.

Collin left for his deployment and called last week to say that he’s settled in.  My goal is to send him a box from home every month.  His birthday is in October, so that box will celebrate his birthday, with a little Halloween/Autumn thrown in.
Some of the other grands have relocated.  A couple have transplanted to new cities, and one to a new apartment.  It seems there’s fallout, a domino effect when families go through traumatic times.

For me, I’m learning that I need to live my own life and not worry so much about the others.  I can only do so much, and the older I get, the more draining it becomes.

We’ve had some very windy days lately and on one of those days a large tree limb came down in Cody’s pen.  I didn’t think he had been hit by the branch at first but later I realized that he did get either hit or grazed on his head.  His left eye was very swollen and the eyeball was hemorrhaged.  Fortunately the swelling went down and I could see that the blood in his eye was reabsorbing.  By the 4th day he was nearly as good as new.  Poor guy.

The kittens continue to grow.  The little female calico went to her new home and is doing very well.  They named her Luna.  I still have the 3 males.  I’ve been advertising them on Freecycle, but the only takers were no-shows.  They’re so entertaining and I waste so much time just watching them play.  I love baby animals 🙂

 

August 2012 Newsletter

This month has brought us some much needed rain.  The soybeans and corn are looking OK, although there are some areas in the corn that have been stunted.  Prices are still looking pretty good.  Hog prices appear to be going down.  Lee made 3rd crop hay and it yielded better than 2nd crop because the rain helped it to come back.

West Nile Virus has been rearing its ugly head.  There have been so many human cases all over the country.  Horses are also susceptible to West Nile, but there is a vaccine for horses.  I wonder why there isn’t a vaccine for people yet?  The horse vaccine has been available for years.

We have an adorable litter of 4 kittens.  Unexpected!  I hope to find homes for them.  One calico female and three tabby males.  I’ve been documenting their growth in pictures I’ve posted on Facebook for my friends.  Everyone loves a kitty picture 🙂

Kay and the girls were not able to make the trip to visit this summer.  We were really looking forward to seeing them so it was disappointing when they had to change their plans.  I’m hoping that everyone will make the effort to attend a planned family function in OKC next summer.  It would be so nice to have them all in one place!

In news of the grandchildren, Lexi was here very briefly  and we were so happy to spend a little time with her.  She’s  nearly an adult and really is such a nice person.  We miss her, and all of our family members who have moved away.  Meredith was here from PA with her husband and little Noah.  I was crushed that we only saw them for a couple of hours, and I didn’t even get to talk to Meredith.  It was kind of a drive-by visit!  Noah is a beautiful little boy. Alora has moved to Virginia (I think) to be a nanny.  It was a sudden departure, and there were no good byes.  Sheesh!  Collin was home on leave and has now returned to his base.  He leaves very soon on  deployment and I’m so sorry to see him go again.

It’s still very warm here in Wisconsin, but Fall is in the air.

There is a slideshow at the end of this post.  Thanks for reading, and see you in September!

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