Monday, January 31, 2022

Eagles! The Farm Report 01-27-2022

The Farm Report

We have Bald Eagles at Oakdale Farm! They are HUGE, and magnificent birds. Actually, for a bird that was nearly extinct when I was a boy, we have a LOT of 'em now. 

So this guy, my Good Neighbor Ron, called me up one morning and said, "I've got something for you." OK, I'll bite. Bring it over. What he brought was a road kill deer. We put it out on the top of a little terrace strategically located so I could watch it from my coffee spot in the kitchen.

OK'd with the powers that be - and OK with Rudy, too, we put out the carcass for the eagles - away from the roadside where they could be smashed by a car. That's Rudy next to Ron. Rudy is a German Shorthair Pointer pup who is going to be one super bird dog. Right now, he's busy pointing eagle bait. What I got to see was Rudy ON POINT all the while Ron was pulling the carcass off the trailer. Rudy did not budge one inch! Rock solid like a statue.

Just like Annie Oakley has it in her DNA to herd and push people around, Rudy is all about finding and pointing. What fun! When I was younger (which was a very long time ago) we hunted pheasants and quail. One of my uncles was a country vet in a prime bird area in Iowa. He knew the farmers, he knew where the birds were, and we had a ball every fall. One of our hunting buddies was the rural mail carrier in the area where my uncle worked. He trained bird dogs for a hobby. So we always had a set of birders to take with us. Some were setters, some were pointers, and we nearly always had a retriever or two with us too. Rudy would have fit right in.

Within 3 hours (or less) the eagles found their dinner buffet and started in. We saw 3 mature baldies at one time on the carcass, and 2 immature birds too. So, we had at least 5 eagles working out in my fields.

How long did the fun last? Four days. After the second day, we took a Ranger Ride around to see how things were progressing. From what we saw, I'm thinking maybe the eagles might have had the same feeling I get right after a big Thanksgiving dinner. On the third morning, we checked again to see if the coyotes were going to barge in. Nope. They had dragged the bones around, but didn't take much meat. Day 4? Gone. Not just meat gone from the bones; gone! What the eagles didn't get, the coyotes did. There was not as much as a hoof or rib bone to clean up. I'm sure they're buried somewhere for later, but Mother Nature has a way of cleaning up on Aisle #1.

We've had some nice weather, so we decided to go split wood one day. Annie loves wood splitting in the timber days. Usually, I back the Ranger up to the splitter tray and just do a fill up for the night's heat. Annie thought we should go big or go home since it was such a nice day, so I got out the old M and we went to town.

You've seen all this before, but I keep wanting to be warm, and this is how the cycle flows out here at Oakdale Farm. I love the exercise. I love being able to 'grow' my own heat. I love being out in the woods.

It takes a lot of gear to be able to burn free firewood though. I'm not complaining, mind you. I just don't want to let anybody have the idea that firewood is cheap heat. No. Firewood is great heat. Firewood is fun heat. Firewood is my mental therapy. It ain't cheap though. A guy's gotta have equipment.

So I have this 'Bumble Bee' hauler for Old Emmie. I call it the Bumble Bee because it doesn't look like it should be able to fly. All that wood - and it is heavy! - is just hanging back there in this box suspended on the 3-point hitch. Usually, when it is full of wood, I have power steering. Farmall M's did not come with power steering. So what do I mean? I mean there is so much weight on that hauler hanging back there that the front end is coming up off the ground. I never fill it so full I can't steer, but I could!

One of the perfect things about the Bumble Bee is that it will flip over and dump! No offloading firewood by hand for me.

Here's what it looks like from the other side. I just pull one little pin and FLIP over goes the box. Then I drive away and go get more.

This was our day's work. Actually it was our afternoon's work. We don't hit anything too hard anymore. I'm  an old retired guy remember. 

Well, Annie Oakley isn't retired yet. She had to run every trip with every log with every Ranger Ride with every time a bird made a noise in the woods.  I've never seen Annie so tired! It was great.

If you didn't know better, you'd say she was 'dead' tired. She just collapsed! Of course, after a 30 minute nap, she was ready to get back at it.

Remember the rose cuttings I stuck a few weeks ago? (December 6 to be exact.) They have been sitting in a tub of diatomaceous earth with a heat mat underneath it. I'm a guy, so I had to pull one out to check. Bingo! We have roots.

We have roots coming out from both sides where I scuffed the bark. I'm chuffed! I'm doing this so I will hopefully have some grafting material for a class I'm going to be teaching in March for the Master Gardener's conference. One time I had to tie yarn on the bottom of a stick to let people know which stick was 'roots' and which stick was tops. Maybe not this time.

I've been out collecting 'tops' for the project, too. Correctly, they are called 'scions.' Scions are the good fruit you want to grow on top of the root stock down below.

I'm also trying to direct root some of the scion wood. 
Labeling is super important when you do this!!!!!!

Again, I scuff up the bark so the stick thinks it needs to heel itself. I soak the cut parts overnight in a growth hormone solution. You probably don't really need to do that, but hey! Any help I can get, I take it.

Same song, different  verse. Stuck in DE and LABELED!

This is one way I label things when I need to be sure the label won't wash off or fade away. I write on aluminum with a ball point pen and a firm hand.

Here is that label from the other side. Yep! It is just a Mountain Dew can cut into strips. I use a paper punch to make a hole for the twine. Easy-peasy.

I'm using old plastic coffee cans here. I filled them with DE, and added the labeled stick bundles after dipping  them (overnight soaking them, really) in rooting hormone solution.

Just to make sure they have water, but don't drown in it, I like to drill a little drainage hole about an inch and a half up on the side of the can.

This is a pan of grape starts. The ones in the middle are the famous wine grape, Riesling. It is a zone 6 grape, and I live in zone 5 (or 4 sometimes). If I can get them to grow, I have ideas for making them my greenhouse indoor buddies. Crossed fingers!

Things were getting out of hand in the shop, so I decided to 'repurpose' this little scaffold and make it a potting station. Major overkill, but I had it and.....

Remember those daffodil bulbs I started forcing  back in November? Well, here is one pot of 'em. Right about now is when I get spring fever and need to see some flowers. Forcing bulbs is so easy and so much fun. 

"Tim. It's January and it's cold outside. Couldn't we just stay here and sleep in today?" Well, no Annie, we can't.


My Oakdale Farm Officer in Charge of Spic and Span showed me this pic she took of 'them' while I was out working and she was polishing up the place.

"Whaaaaaaa?! Deb said she wouldn't tell on us! We've been ratted out!" 

Sorry Annie and OJ. You're not allowed to be up on the bed - even when Deb says it's OK. They both look pretty comfortable though, don't they? I guess just this one time, it will be OK.

We're all pretty comfy here at Oakdale farm. We all have spring fever, too. Hope all is well with you, where ever you are!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Happy New Year! The Farm Report 01-05-2022

 Happy New Year!
The Farm Report

How's this for the World's Laziest Guy's Cheap Way Out?!

A 'hand made' card/note and not even enough effort to actually make a graphic image of it, done properly. Ah well, as they say, 'You pays your nickels and you takes your chances.' I have actually mailed a few of these in the USPS service. But then I thought for all the rest of you, I should really use this means to say a Happy New Year to you, too. So here it is.

From all of us out here on the hill at Oakdale Farm, we really do wish you a Happy New Year - and we really do want to say a giant Thanks! for staying in touch with us.

The flower pic is one I lifted from a poster on the Harry Dodson Facebook page I belong to. It is antique, and I liked it. Plus, it is a rose - and that flower is so very special to me in a number of ways.

Here is the obligatory newsletter that goes with these sorts of notes. It is hard to read in the pic, so here is the text - for those who need added fodder to encourage sleep during these cold winter nights:

"Well, I’m late again as usual. I’ve been told I was the type who could be expected to be late to my own funeral. I’m still alive but still behind. ‘Nuf said.

However, just because I’m a lap behind the calendar doesn’t mean I don’t care. For all of those of you who bothered to send me a card or a note, ‘Thank You!’ I do appreciate your staying in touch and thinking of me. I really do.

I’ve not really much to add this year. It has just been one more of many. Hopefully one more of many more to come! I’m still kicking out here at Oakdale Farm. I miss my sweetie all the more of course, but I am fine – with too many projects and too little time.

Of the projects I enjoy, gardening is near the top of the pile. The pic in my missive is an antique one I lifted from a post on the Harry Dodson Facebook Group page I belong to. Harry Dodson was the primary presenter on the Victorian Kitchen Garden series the BBC produced back in the 1980’s. You can still watch the shows via Youtube. I highly recommend them. Harry was among the last of the great Estate Head Gardeners in England and a deep well of historical gardening knowledge. I enjoy participating in the Iowa State Univ. Extension Master Gardener program. I’ve agreed to do a fruit tree grafting presentation this coming March for the Master Gardener Spring Conference. I am also studying up on Victorian Walled Gardens. That’s where Harry comes in. I am preparing for a possible presentation about Victorian Walled Gardens at the 2023 conference.

My doings this year? I laid low due to Covid and became even more of a hermit. I did travel off to Wisconsin to visit my kids and grands. I’ve avoided political discussions like the plague (although I do vote). I wear a mask when I go shopping. I get my jabs regularly – now 3 and counting – and take my vitamins. I write my Farm Report blog ( on a mostly monthly basis, and I have all the fun I can. I hope you do, too. Cheers!"

And that's it for this time. All is well at Oakdale Farm - but COLD!