Share Your Tough Jobs

We all have jobs around the farm, ranch or cabin that we’re avoiding. Or, completed jobs that make us especially proud. We’d love to hear about the Tough Jobs you’re tackling, or avoiding, this summer. Just submit the form IMG_0330below and we may feature them here.

What a great way to help others learn from your experiences or gather suggestions on the best way to get those projects checked off your list.

Good Neighbors Make Good Fences

Most people say “Good fences make good neighbors,” but in our area, I think it’s the other way around.

Cows always seem to think the grass is greener on the other side.

Cows always seem to think the grass is greener on the other side.

Last fall, our cows decided they really liked the cornfield that borders our pasture. Cows are naturally curious – and always looking for a meal. The old fence was dilapidated, the wooden posts were rotten and the green, lush corn was too enticing to let one electric wire keep them out.

A group of young heifers decided to make a break for it and have a corn buffet. By the time we rounded them up, they had knocked down a few rows of corn and made an even bigger mess of the old fence.

Some neighbors would have been angry. Some would have billed us for any perceived damage to the corn. Some may have even called the police. But in our community, we worked together to move them to a different pasture and make a plan to replace the fence this spring.

The country rule for paying for fencing in our area is to meet at the middle point of that section and both look right. You’re responsible for that section of fence.

This Tough Job requires the big equipment.

This Tough Job requires the big equipment.

Now, it’s time to replace that fence and we’re working together again. Our neighbor owns the heavy equipment so he was in charge of the tear-out. We had to pull out all the old posts, barbed wire and trees that had grown into the fence line over the years.

 

Next, we’ll be replacing wooden posts, driving in t-posts and stringing the wire. Check back to see the result of this Tough Job. The lush new pasture is calling!

This calf wants to be a dog, laying by the house instead of in the pasture with her Mother.

This calf wants to be a dog, laying by the house instead of in the pasture with her Mother.

There’s Nothing a Big Rock Can’t Fix

Growing up on the farm we learned to make due with what we had around us. Everything had a purpose or could be rigged to accomplish another task. After spending hours picking rocks in the field, they were placed in the fence row or ditch to become the treasure trove for later.

In 1979 I was so proud of mowing the massive front lawn.

In 1979 I was so proud of mowing the massive front lawn.

We would use those discarded rocks to block wheels on the wagon, prop open the calf barn door while hauling feed pails or plug up a hole dug by a snake/muskrat/mouse or some other creature we didn’t want to think about.

But I must say, my favorite use was when we were quite small. Little kids are always so ambitious and helpful. We wanted to help mow the lawn but we weren’t heavy enough to keep the blades going. My Dad would help us get situated on the mower and then carefully place – a big rock in our lap.

When kids mow you sometimes get crazy patterns.

When kids mow you sometimes get crazy patterns.

Now, I know that would never fly today but we were in heaven! The safety mechanism still functioned as it was supposed to and we got to help – the best of both worlds.

Today there is no need for a rock but with several acres of lawn to mow, the job can take three to four hours per week. We’ve always had a lawn tractor, several over the years, and gotten pretty good at maneuvering around trees and other obstacles.

This year our old mower was ready for semi-retirement, like any good farmer we can’t get rid of something that still runs. We decided it was time for a ZTR (zero-turn-radius) mower. We ended up with a Woods FZ22K with a 54-inch deck. Though we thought about the larger deck, we decided to trade size for agility.

Mowing with the Woods Mow'n Machine is even fun.

Mowing with the Woods Mow’n Machine is even fun.

I haven’t mowed in a long time – not back far enough to need the rock, but pretty close. Now I’m going to be doing it more often. It was so easy, and almost fun.

I was able to quickly maneuver around all my trees and flowerbeds and finish the whole thing in half the time it typically took. I even felt safer doing the ditches since this mower includes a seat belt and roll bar. It was able to handle the ditch grass that had grown way too long and get close enough to the trees to cut down on the trimming.

So I guess the rocks can stay in the field and the kids can find their own ride this summer – the mower is mine!

Farmers – The Ultimate Optimists

Farmers are truly optimistic by nature. Every year, we breed the cows for new calves in the spring. We plant seeds in the ground with the expectation of a successful harvest. We do all that needs to be done with the faith that there will be a positive outcome.

New calves are a source of hope and joy on the farm.

New calves are a source of hope and joy on the farm.

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Over-seeding to improve pasture quality for our cows.

Even with the terrible drought of 2012, when we started feeding silage in July because the pastures were all burned up, we never thought of throwing in the towel on farming. We just made due and pushed through to the next year – knowing that things would be better.

 

This year is no different. We had some terrible losses throughout the very tough winter, but we’re moving ahead with sowing the seeds of success for another year – literally.

Though we don’t have any corn or soybean fields, we’re always hoping for a bumper crop of pasture grass. So far the season is looking good with plenty of moisture and a few warm days that have really jump-started the growth.

This week’s tough job is focused on seeding. When over-seeding a pasture, you don’t have the luxury of tilling the soil. We’re looking to quickly and easily improve the quality of the pasture with an infusion of some alfalfa and a grass mix.

We received our first submitted “tough job” this week. Listen to Darwin from Wisconsin tell us about his seeding job.

Tell us about your Tough Jobs this summer. Submit your stories and photos to kimj@tanbarkconsulting.com.

 

Potholes and Washouts

Looks like fresh gravel in just two passes.

The first job on our repair list was the driveway and it turned out to be the quickest fix of the year. Since the potholes were so deep we decided to use a grading scraper with scarifiers. This is the first time we’ve done that and it worked like a charm. We thought we would need to bring in several loads of gravel to get it back in shape, but a few passes with the scraper and the driveway looks almost perfect.

The scarifiers did a great job loosening the gravel base and the frame kept all the gravel where it was supposed to be. It looks as good as new!

We even had a friend stop by and comment on how great it looked. He has a new shed in a remote location and just added two loads of fresh gravel.

Though we’re focusing on jobs around our farm, we’d love to hear more about tough jobs you tackle everyday. Please send your projects and photos to kimj@tanbarkconsulting.com and we’ll share some of them here.

 

Tackling the Tough Jobs – Introducing our Family Farm and all that goes with it.

Everyone has heard stories from their parents and grandparents that involved “walking uphill both ways through snow drifts 10 feet deep.” Sometimes, that’s exactly what it feels like to accomplish all the jobs around the farm.

Welcome to our view of rural living and small farm maintenance. This summer we’ll feature all the tough jobs that need to be done around our 28-acre farm. My name is Kim and along with my husband, BJ, and our six children, we manage a 25-cow Hereford beef operation, run two businesses and try to keep all the balls in the air at once.

manure clean up

Our spring break

Spring break at our house doesn’t mean a trip to the beach or the first camping trip of summer. It means cleaning out from the ravages of a tough winter. And, though the kids grumble a little – well, maybe a lot – we always seem to pull together to get it done. This year, not only did we need to clean out the barn and outside lots, but our ¼-mile driveway and fence line didn’t quite survive the devastation of the snowplow and 15-foot drifts.

 

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Potholes almost as big as the house.

With potholes big enough to swallow the car, most of the gravel in the ditches, a barn and pens full of the winter’s bedding and fiberglass fence posts snapped like twigs, what would typically be several week-long projects for the whole team turned into a long weekend of team work and using the right tools for these big jobs.

This year we had one person on the skid-steer cleaning out pens, one on the tractor grading the driveway and the rest in the field working with Dad on fences. Divide and conquer means it all gets done faster.

The Summer’s Tough Jobs

Woods Equipment is focused on delivering the tools you need to make your life easier and get your jobs done more quickly. We call it “power to be more productive.”

This summer, Clippings will feature several new products and a few of our tried and true workhorses that showcase our commitment to

Kim Jones and her family run a beef cow/calf operation on 28 acres in southern Wisconsin.

Kim Jones and her family run a beef cow/calf operation on 28 acres in southern Wisconsin.

high-quality attachments and implements for those of you who enjoy working the land. You’ll see posts from Angela Kay Larson, our primary blogger, as she completes landscaping projects around her farm in northern Illinois and tells her story as a farm wife. We will also feature guest blogger, Kim Jones. She and her family run a beef cow/calf operation on 28 acres in southern Wisconsin. Kim will tackle tough jobs around the farm, as well as share adventures showing cattle and raising kids in the country.

Spring is in the Midwestern air (finally) and many of you are itching to clean-up the yard, dig in the dirt, mow the pastures, and tackle the tough jobs of summer. Share your progress with us through comments on Clippings, or posts on Facebook. We’d love to see how you are using Woods power to be more productive.

Locally produced, locally consumed

My sister Maureen and I are exploring New England, one local food at a time.

Our first stop after landing in Vermont was a Richmond diner for spinach salads tossed with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette. We then moved on to Woodstock and Vermont Cheddar (my sister’s new-found love) from Sugarbush Farm. We paired it with an Argentinian Malbec because, according to the man in the pink polo at Mac’s Grocery, “Best to stay with what you love.”

Before we headed east to Portland, we stopped for lunch at Simon Pearce in the village of Quechee for their reknowned Vermont Cheddar Soup and fresh-baked Brown Bread and Cheddar Scones.

Our first stop in Maine: the Maine Diner in Wells (as seen on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) where we indulged in Lobster Mac and Cheese and a Codfish Cake. Next door at the Maine Diner Gift Shop, we snagged a bag of chocolate covered Wild Maine Blueberries.

Last night at Ri Ra Irish Pub (every stop isn’t local), we devoured a bowl of fresh-caught mussels, paired with Magner’s Pear Cider.

This morning, we’re sipping coffee at The Holy Donut in Portland and relishing a couple Maine Potato Donuts: Chocolate with Sea Salt and Triple Berry. Maureen now refers to this shop as Mecca. We’ll be back.

Tomorrow, we begin our drive up the Maine coast toward Bar Harbor in search of more seafood, cheese, and berries.

AKL