Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Broccoli and a Bloated cow

Planted some broccoli with Joel this morning.  Not a bad morning..was a bit overcast but any morning on the farm is a good morning in my opinion.  He is moving his cows tomorrow from their winter pasture to their spring/summer pasture.  I'll show up extra early to help him corral.

I like mornings where I pick up valuable skills or experience something rare that every farmer wannabe should experience and today was one of those days.  We were walking up the road to the garden this morning when I noticed a cow laying on it's side.  To me it looked dead, I say that because it was bloated and laying kind of downhill not moving, but I haven't been around cows enough to really know when one is sleeping and one is dead.  Well, I must have a pretty good instinct because not long after Joel noticed the same cow and said "OH NO"...so apparently he thought it was dead too..and I mean dead.. because he didn't run over he just slowly walked towards the animals shaking his head..."Aw man" he said....I told him I didn't think it was dead because I had just noticed it twitch it's ear...Joel perked up and started making his way over there quickly and I followed likewise..."Help me roll her over" he shouted...I walked over and noticed her ear twitch again and saw her eyes were open but bulging out of her head...she was laying on a slope with her belly and feet facing "uphill"...He grabbed her back legs I grabbed her front legs and we rolled her over down the slope so she was facing the other way now...he and I pushed on her back and finished rolling her onto her belly....she perked her head up and let out a cow sized burp and a cloud of warm breath bellowed out of her meeting the cold morning air...Wow..drama and adrenaline...She slowly came around and it wasn't long till she stood up and started to regain her composure..

So what happened?  I'm not an expert but the jist is this:  Cows have four stomachs and sometimes the gases caused by digestion can become trapped if a cow lies down in an awkward way.  Meaning the gasses can't go from one to another.  What this particular cow did was probably lay down because she had found a nice spot, but because it was on an angle the gasses in her system built up and threw her off balance and she couldn't recover..and of course the longer she laid there the more gas built up and...well you get the picture...she was bloated and unable to move.  Joel checked the cows before bed last night so this must of happened a few hours before we got there...he said if it had been a couple hours longer she probably would have succumbed and died...another important lesson learned by experience.  

So... much like every day on the farm..eventful to say the least..peaceful work interrupted by episodes of near death experiences..haha..I love farming.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back at it

Back on the farm again for another growing season..today was day one.  Planted onion seedlings with Joel.  It just occurred to me that this will be the THIRD season on the farm...where has the time gone?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Farming and Trapping

Spent the weekend learning about the art of trapping fur bearing critters.  I completed my Maine Trappers Safety course over the weekend.  It's a course designed to educate folks on all aspects of trapping fur bearing animals as well as the science behind the art.  This course is required before anyone in my state can obtain a trapping license.  I'm sure you are asking yourself what trapping cute little furry "innocent" critters has to do with farming...well quite a bit actually.  

As a farmer I will need to be an expert in the area of husbandry...meaning I must be an expert in managing and conserving resources.  I will be responsible for raising crops and livestock...being a land owner as well, I must practice healthy land management and sustainable forestry (hence the forestry workshop I took last year)...If I am raising critters and crops there are going to be other critters who see my critters and crops as a free meal.  Any self respecting farmer will know how to "tend his flock" so to speak.  I see trapping as a great tool for pest control as well as pest management. I'm not going to lie...I can make some $$ at it as well..to any farmer that is extra income and very much welcomed.  

If any of you have ever tried to stop a coyote or fox from grabbing your chickens it's hardly a matter of walking outside and blasting them..or tracking them down...you must be familiar with their habits, know what time they are coming in for "breakfast" and where they sleep...the best pest control is active management  before they slay 20 of your egg layers...Plus you have to sleep too..what are you going to wait up all night every night waiting for a fox or coyote to walk through?  I doubt it..you could, but that's a hard way to live life.  Instead set up a trap line to work while you sleep..it's just good business.  

Keeping the population in check not only benefits me, but the pests as well.  The best way for me to learn the habits of those predators is to trap them...after a couple seasons of trapping you will be an expert in animal behavior as well as the woods....

If you have a population of coyotes growing out of control like we do here in Maine..you have a dangerous scenario brewing.  

One: coyotes are going to eradicate the deer herd and other creatures competing for food..

Two: coyotes are now going to become more desperate for food so they will take greater risks like coming into urban areas and farms more frequently..they will lose any fear of humans..

Three:  When coyotes are starving and lose their fear of humans...well...then it's time to keep your kids inside.  By this time you have a serious problem.

The best way to prevent anything like this happening is proactive management.  I don't mean to pick on the Coyote because they aren't the only animals giving people trouble.  Beavers, fox, fisher you name it.  You could apply the same scenario to any out of control population growth from Bears to field mice. 

A lot of farmers hire out their pest control to outside folks.  My philosophy of a small scale low impact sustainable operation means I must limit the amount of things I import...pest control being one of them.  I need to take these duties on myself in order to save $$$ and be profitable...plus it get's me outdoors and walking around in the woods..my favorite place to be.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's all in the name...#organicfarming #maplesyrup #food #agriculture

Well the wife and I have come up with a name for the farm..  "Dirt Rich" Farm...It stems from my wife being worried that if I decided to farm we would be "dirt poor"..haha..I have since (hopefully) convinced her that I would not drive us into poverty with the farming venture.  Instead we will be dirt rich and have rich dirt!  I bought the domain dirtrichfarmstead.com  and yes if you type it in it directs you here...because hopefully when we find the right piece of property and buy it, this blog will turn into our farms website at first until we get something more proper. 

The labels for my maple syrup will have the name on it this year.  Very exciting.  It's like it is all coming together little by little.

now if I could only sell the damn house!

Follow me on twitter!  @mainiacfarmer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Feels like spring..

Feels like spring today in Bangor, ME.  A big melt and rain has me thinking about getting out my maple syrup taps and equipment....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


My wife and I Looked at a 50 acre farm in Newport, ME last weekend.  Not quite..poor pasture and the house was falling apart.  If it provided a better wood lot I might have thought twice, but at least it was nice to be looking!