Monthly Archives: September 2013

6C8644044-130815-bees.blocks_desktop_mediumFriends of the Earth has releases a new study by The Pesticide Research Institute. In the study they found that many “bee friendly” plants sold at Home Depot, Lowes, and other large garden centers contained neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids which could harm or kill bees and other pollinators. 7 of 13 sample garden plants purchased at top retailers contained these toxic compounds.

The EPA is taking action to protect bees by developing new pesticide labels that indicate ingredients that may harm bees. The new labels will have an advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. The labels will contain warnings for products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

Here's a great TED Talk by Marla Spivak - Why Bees Are Disappearing


Praying Mantis Aren't welcome HereKeith came into the house wearing his work boots, as a general rule we don't wear work boots in the house. I thought he must have something very important needing immediate attention. He was carrying his phone and asked if I could guess what he found in the tall grass. Since I've lost a fence post pounder, and a collection of other tools, over the years, I figured he'd found one of them with the hay mower. Luckily, that wasn't it.

Keith likes for me to guess things like, “Who do you think I got a call from today?” Or, “Guess who I ran into?” Then there are the, “Guess what I found in the pasture?” questions. He also likes to stump me with trivia, too. He'll ask me,“Do you know how many kernels there are in a bag of seed corn?”

“Eighty thousand,” I'll answer casually. I'm smarter than I look.

“That's right, you're pretty good.”

Actually, I'm not smart. I have a great memory. He's asked me the same trivia questions over, and over, again.

He started telling me about the swishing sound he heard in the tall grass. It wasn't loud, but it was distinct. When he parted the grass blades he noticed grasshoppers and crickets. Then he saw her; the Praying Mantis. She rested on his hand for a while. He took her picture then got rid of her. We haven't seen too many Praying Mantis over the years, which is a good thing. Praying Mantis aren't welcome here. Praying Mantis kill humming birds.   Keith's pictures were terrific, so, unlike the Praying Mantis, I will not be biting my mates head off, especially over something as insignificant as dirt tracked through the house.

Praying Mantis

Treating Pinkeye in Calves

This is 'Patches', Clarisse's calf. He was born a few weeks ago. He has pinkeye. We thought we'd gotten ahead of it with the rest of the herd, but patches eye was teary and we didn't want to take any chances. At the first sign of irritation we start treatment. The protocol we follow consists of a booster shot of vitamins A, D, & E,  cod liver oil (administered orally), cleaning the surrounding area with tea tree oil, and spraying the eye with Vetericyn HydroGel Spray  A patch, glued in place over the eye, will fall off in about three weeks.  By that time the eye will be completely healed. Through trial and error, working with our veterinarian for a couple years, this is the treatment that's been most effective for us. Dry weather and tall grass seem to exacerbate pink eye. We aren't milking Clarisse during Patches' healing time. We don't want him stressed. When his eye has recovered,  Clarisse and Patches will be separated at night. She'll be milked first thing in the morning and reunited with Patches during the day time.  The past two summers' weather has been a challenge in more ways than one, but Patches is doing great, now.

Using Tear Mender and old denim Keith makes a patch which he shapes to fit the calves eye.  We buy livestock tag adhesive to adhere the material to the calf.




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Successful Farming Magazine May, 1952
Successful Farming Magazine May, 1952

This is the cover of Successful Farming Magazine for May, 1952. Notice where the sows are?  They're living outside. The tractor's moving the house to new ground.  That's successful farming!

Here's how the caption describes the picture:

"It's pasture time on the Williamson farm in Indiana. The first to go are the sows and pigs. Right behind them are the houses, feeders and waterers. Willimson likes to have the farrowing houses close at hand for winter farrowing, but pasture gets the nod for late-spring and fall pigs. They're farrowed right out on the alfalfa-brome-Ladino pasture.

Pictured on this month's cover is one of  Williamson's individual-type farrowing houses being moved from the winter location to pasture. The pigs seen in this picture were farrowed in early April. After weaning, the pigs are shifted to range houses, making the individual houses available for June-farrowed pigs.

The pastures are rotated each year as a precaution against disease. ...All equipment, including feeders, waterers, and houses, is on skids and can be easily moved."

Here are pictures of sows in the current method used on most hog farms...Is this what successful farming looks like today?

Leg of lamb roast
Leg of lamb roast

Omega 3 fatty acid is essential for human and animal health. It plays a vital role in boosting immunity, disease resistance, creating anti-inflammatory responses to infection, and reduces the risk of heart disease and blood clots. Leading British ruminant nutritionist Cliff Lister says, “Grass-based diets encourage lean muscle development rather than fat, meaning that grass-fed beef and lamb is typically leaner than meat produced from silage or grain-fed stock and contains a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids.”

Click here for Roast leg of lamb Recipe

Forest Hill Farm's lamb is 100% grass fed. The sheep graze in our organic pastures.



Looking across the field to Norway Lutheran Church.
Looking across the field to Norway Lutheran Church

Everyday I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful place.  This picture was taken at sunset looking across our field to the Norway Lutheran Church, which is a truly beautiful place, too.

"I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own." -Andy Warhol


Making Hay
Making Hay

Rusty Little was cursed. He was blessed in all areas of life except the weather. It never cooperated with him. His neighbors who made hay were blessed by this curse. Watching Rusty's field they knew when, or when not to, mow hay.

There's a little breakfast spot where the farmers meet for coffee after morning chores. Rusty was always there laughing, talking, and making deals. The discussion always turned to each farmer's schedule. When you drive through the countryside you'll notice how many farms have hay laying in the fields at the same time. When Rusty Little made hay his was the only field mowed. When Rusty announced, “I'm making hay today,” every farmer would nod, making a mental note to wait a few more days before mowing their fields. Nothing ruins hay like rain.

I'd never know Rusty to get through an entire season without at least one hay crop getting rained on. Like everyone else, Rusty watched the weather religiously. No matter the forecast, Rusty's weather luck always ran out. A pop-up shower would stall above his field, letting loose. The other farmers were grateful that Rusty carried the curse. Sad, but grateful. They made better hay because of it. A typical conversation between farmers would go something like this:

“Hey, John. I was thinking of going Walleye fishing today if you'd like to join me.”

“Thanks, but I'm making hay this week. It looks like perfect weather.”

“Rusty's mowing hay this week.”

“Oh. When's he starting?”

“This afternoon.”

“Well, I guess I'll go fishing instead. Thanks for the heads up, I appreciate it!”

“Poor Rusty.” Both men would say, shaking their heads.

A few years ago Rusty quit making hay. Now the entire group shares the curse. No one farmer carries it alone. Yesterday our friend Ron mowed his field. Last night half an inch of rain fell. Bless his soul, Rusty's finally ahead.

How many different types of honey is there in the United States?

The bees are active again after the morning rain
The bees are active again after the morning rain

The color and flavor of honeys differ depending on the nectar source (the blossoms) visited by the honey bees. In fact, there are more than 300 unique types of honey available in the United States, each originating from a different floral source. Honey color ranges from nearly colorless to dark brown, and its flavor varies from delectably mild to distinctively bold, depending on where the honey bees buzzed. As a general rule, light-colored honey is milder in taste and dark-colored honey is stronger. Source: The National Honey Board