A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Posts tagged ‘Sandhill Crane’

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.

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

July 2012 Newsletter

The wheat has been harvested, and most of the straw has been baled.  The wheat yielded about 65 bu/acre.  The price is high right now, sadly due to the misfortune of farmers everywhere.  Now we’re seeing the sandhill cranes and Canada geese gleaning our wheat fields and probably finding bugs and frogs in the stubble. The next crop related job will be cutting and baling a small field of hay.  The lack of rain and high temps have burned up our pastures (and lawn) so we’ll be needing more hay than usual.  The sheep aren’t getting anything out of the pastures now, and Lee’s had to supplement them with hay.
We are still very dry.  Last night while all around us rain was falling, sometimes in gully washer proportions, we got a measly 1/10″!  It didn’t even settle the dust and only served to raise the humidity levels.  There are more chances for rain in the next few days and we’re hoping some of it will fall on our farm.
Even with the lack of rain, the roadside weeds and wildflowers are still abundant.  One of my favorites is wild chicory.  Its flowers are such a pretty shade of blue.
This summer has been hard on the farm cats.  We started this spring with 10, and we’ve lost several, either to illness or the road, or just unknown causes.  One of the kitties was dead on the road the other day and it’s the first time I’ve ever lost a cat that way and known it, in all these years.  We have more traffic on our road lately because we have new neighbors building a house and there’s lots of construction activity.  Well anyway, I think our current cat count is 5 or 6.
We’re anticipating some family visits in the next few weeks.  Collin will be home on leave soon, and Meredith and her family will be here for a few days in August.  Kay and the girls will be coming in August too.
Here’s a slideshow of photos I’ve taken in the past few days:

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Farm and Family Newsletter May 2012

I started this blog to keep in touch with family and friends who are scattered all over the world.  My intention was to write about the farm and our family, keeping everyone up to date on everyone else.  We all know what can happen to good intentions.  Somehow I’ve become scattered and eclectic, writing about whatever pops into my head, and throwing in a bunch of recipes to boot.  I don’t think that’s going to change because my thoughts and my focus tend to bounce around.  I do think that I should make some kind of commitment to the original premise so I’m going to try to write a monthly newsletter that will stick to actual family and farm news.  Good luck with that, right?

So here we go!

Lambing this year was busy!  We had 18 pregnant ewes and all but one of them has delivered.  There were several sets of triplets and we have 32 lambs.  The lone hold out ewe will probably have a single lamb any day now.

There are 2 lambs being supplemented by bottle, and they’re doing well.  They will stay with their moms and just get a bit of extra help from us.

All of the ewes did well, but we did lose 2 lambs.  One was stillborn (a triplet) and one was deformed and dead in the womb as well.

It’s no secret that the weather has been crazy and unpredictable this year.  We had hot weather in March and then in April it cooled back down.  Now in May we’re getting a lot of rain.   Lee was able to get his wheat fertilized early and he did some digging, but it’s now too wet to do any more.  Some farmers in our area planted corn in April.  That’s very unusual.  The strange weather has caused serious problems for agriculture here.  Specifically, the fruit trees blossomed and then the blossoms froze so apples and cherries in particular will be scarce.  Maple sap ran so early that the taps weren’t in place yet and so there won’t be much maple syrup made in Wisconsin.

My horse pasture greened up very early and I was able to get Star, Irish, and Artie out on the grass in March.  Unfortunately, even though I was careful to let them graze for short periods, Irish has foundered and his grazing days are now over.  He’s doing well now.  He was sore footed for  a few days but is feeling much better now.  Cody never gets to eat grass because he has chronic laminitis (founder) and will get sore on the tiniest bit of grass.  I’m down to 2 horses that can graze the pastures for a few hours each day.  I see lots of mowing in our future.

The early spring brought many of the migratory birds back early.  Specifically the killdeers and barn swallows and robins were here in April.  Sandhill cranes were back a bit early too.  Just in the last few days we’ve been seeing orioles, and Lee thinks there was a hummingbird buzzing around him when he was installing our new bird feeder (made by cousin Ron, and it’s a very nice feeder!).  I haven’t seen a hummer yet.  I’ve been keeping the nectar feeders filled for both the hummers and the orioles.

Lee and our brother-in-law Mick put a new roof on our house a couple of weeks ago.  We’re so happy to have it done, and I’m especially happy to have the hammering on  the roof finished.  Project #2 is the remodeling of our guest bathroom.  It has been gutted and Lee installed a new shower.  No more tub in that bathroom.  The shower takes up the same space that the tub did, so it’s nice sized.  Everything in the room will be replaced so it will look completely different.  It’s been a challenge because it’s a tiny bathroom.

Another remodeling/repair project will be new steel siding on the barn.  It’s on the contractor’s to-do list but it may be a while until he gets at it.  Lee and I had a discussion about color and he was leaning toward  grey, while I think that  a proper barn should be red.  Red it is.

In family related news….Aubrey, Josh, and Carys, and Josh’s mom Sally, are in Hawaii on vacation.  They’re having a wonderful time and posting pictures to Facebook  daily.  It’s fun to see what they’re doing there, and I have to say they all seem so very  happy!

 

 

 

Shirley and I will be leaving on Mother’s Day for Las Vegas.  What a great Mom’s Day present!  We’ll be there for 5 nights, staying at the Monte Carlo again.  It’s become our favorite hotel in LV, mostly due to its location and ease of getting around.

We’re looking forward to seeing Alora soon.  She’s going to be coming back to the US from Scotland and we’ve missed her and can’t wait to see her.

That’s all for this May update.  Wish me luck in Vegas!

 

I Don’t Get It

It’s the State of Wisconsin and the Federal Governments that have me baffled.  Is it just me, or is the thinking really skewed?  The thing that has me scratching my head these last few days is the news that one of our Wi Senators would like to see a sandhill crane hunt here, and to that end he is circulating a bill that would require the DNR to create a sandhill hunting season.  From the Fond du Lac Reporter “State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, an Oconomowoc Republican and avid duck hunter, began circulating a bill last week that would require the DNR to create a sandhill season.”  Proponents of this bill are using farmers as their reason for wanting to kill sandhills.  They’re saying that farmers would be happy to see these beautiful birds hunted and killed because of the crop damage they cause.  Lee and I are farmers.  Yes, we’ve had some crop damage, but the treated seed helps with that.  We don’t want to see a hunting season on cranes.

The thought of going from this:

to this: really makes me sick. Click to see the pictures full size.

Sandhill cranes were once on the endangered species list, and they only raise one or two chicks per year.  I just think it’s a crazy idea.

Along the same line of thinking, Gray Wolves were also on the endangered list and were recently delisted in WI.  Now, according to some of our neighbors, gray wolves have been documented right in our neighborhood, by people using trail cams.  We have sheep and miniature horses and we sure don’t want wolves anywhere near them.  Why didn’t the government just leave it all alone.  Now they’re talking about allowing limited hunting permits to kill the wolves that do damage to livestock.  Why build them up so you can knock them down?  Crazy!

PS:  This is my 100th post on my blog!

 

March Musings

      

 

      

     Getting closer to Wisconsin spring, but not quite there yet. I don’t let my winter guard down, don’t get my spring hopes up until May. I’m encouraged to see so many migratory birds back home on the farm. I’ve seen an abundance of sandhill cranes and Canada geese. Robins and killdeers are brightening my mornings with their songs. The cardinals are singing their mating songs. I’ve sighted Tundra Swans 2 days in a row. They landed at the back of the farm, near a very large puddle. There’s a lot of water standing due to snow melt and recent rain. I always worry about the birds when we get the inevitable return of winter. This week will be very cold again, with wintry precipitation. Living just on the edge of the Horicon Marsh is a bird watcher’s dream.

Yesterday I found Tiger, dead, behind a bale of hay.  Tiger was Lee’s favorite kitty, who lived in the hog barn and followed Lee around like a dog.  Sadly, farm cats don’t live long lives.  Tiger was probably 4 years old.  We don’t know what caused his death.  RIP Tiger.





 Payten turned one year old on the 20th.  She’s so precious.  Paige and Lucas had a party for her, and she had her own little cake to smoosh, which was the top layer of the birthday cake.  She really wasn’t interested in  eating or smooshing that cake and had to be coerced to dig in for the photo op.Eventually  Payten did make a little mess and was  removed to the bath tub before opening her gifts.

Click on the photo thumbnail to see the full size versions.

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