Monthly Archives: January 2014

Goats eating Comfrey

Goats are wonderful about eating brush, shrubs and weeds, but you have to control where they graze. I've tried to grow blueberries without success for the past several years. One year my friend mowed them down with his bush hog, he thought they were scrub trees. I replaced them.  When they started to flower the goats escaped and ate them down to the ground. Again, I replaced them. Despite fencing them in, surrounding them with electric wire, and doing my best to protect them, the goats have ruined them several times. Once the goat problem was solved rabbits took over. But, I haven't given up, someday I'll grow blueberries.

Staking goats in areas with scrub brush and weeds eradicates the problem within a few days. We've remedied a giant rag weed crop and controlled burdock by grazing goats and sheep.

For a second year O'Hare International Airport, in Chicago will control brush by grazing goats and llamas grazing the 120 acres surrounding the airfield. The animals will eat brush, reducing and destroying the habitat of nesting birds and other wildlife which can cause serious danger to aircraft. The grazing will begin in August when the birds are finished nesting and beginning to migrate. When the birds return in the spring they'll find their nesting area destroyed. Without nesting space they'll relocate off the airport grounds.

In 1999 Carson City, Nevada experimented with grazing herds of sheep to reduce the risk of wildfires. They didn't continue the program until the  benefit of grazing became evident. In 2004 a  wildfire threatened the west end of Carson City, but slowed down when it got to the area where the sheep had grazed five years earlier. Carson City resumed the grazing program in 2006. Starting this April, 780 sheep and 900 lambs will begin feeding on Cheat Grass. They'll eat it down before it gets dries and adds dangerous fuel for wildfires.


Spring is only 7 weeks away! This was the scene yesterday afternoon.DSCN1638We beat this blizzard home by about 30 minutes. We were heading home from Minnesota when blowing snow caused a whiteout. By the time the livestock were fed and watered the storm was raging. This is the view of the peach trees yesterday, January 26, 2014.




Here are the same trees last spring.










This morning the storm was gone and another beautiful Sun Dog greeted us.


farmer-veteran workshops
 Keith's dad, January 1943
After the war he enjoyed growing tomatoes

Farmers - Veterans Workshop

When our friend Hal returned home from WWII he was searching for something. He had a variety of jobs, nothing felt right.  Then he started helping a friend farm. He also started gardening. He began to feel his worth again. He'd found a challenging occupation. Keith's dad enjoyed growing tomatoes. It was a rewarding experience.  Are you a veteran  interested in farming? The Farmer Veteran Coalition is holding a series of 4 farmers -Veterans workshop to help veterans interested in starting a farm business or finding agricultural related employment. Here are the dates and locations of these workshops in Iowa:

February 20, 2014 Ottumwa, IA

February 22, 2014 Waterloo, IA

March 13, 2014 Red Oak, IA

March 15, 2014 Storm Lake, IA

Here's a calendar of events with more information.        DSCN0005-150x150 (2)


This morning it was -19 below zero when we went out to do chores. In the eastern sky the sun had just risen, a beautiful sun dog greeted us. It was spectacular!







Yesterday afternoon, just before sunset Keith was checking on the cattle. He called up to the house asking for some help. A calf was stuck between two small trees.DSCN1584





DSCN1583 Garrett tried pushing the trees apart, it didn't work. Keith and Garrett tried lifting and pushing the calf to free her, but that didn't work either. Garrett and I held her still, keeping her legs and head away from the saw while Keith cut down the tree. That's how to free stuck calves.





DSCN1582We've had to free  stuck calves  before. It was simply a matter of waving our arms and walking straight at him until he stepped back on his own. This case was different. Everyday brings something new.