Something Bugging You?

Last year, our backyard was filled with mosquitoes and other biting insects.  I often thought that there had to be something we could do to reduce the bug population and bug bites without using some sort of insecticide.  I may have finally found an answer.

Recently, there have been a multitude of articles and blogs about how to deter mosquitoes, either with bug sprays or certain varieties of flowers, herbs and other plantings.  Personally, I would rather go with the more natural method of planting things.  There is a perfect location in our backyard to do just that.

Here are some of the plants that may help with your bug problem:

Ageratum Garlic Pineapple weed
Basil Lavender Pitcher Plant
Cadago Tree Lemon Balm Rosemary
Catmint Lemon Grass Scented Geranium
Catnip Lemon Thyme Snowbrush
Cedars Lemon Verbena Stone Root
Chrysanthemums Marigolds Sweet Fern
Citronella grass Mexican Marigold Tansy
Citrosum Neem Tea Tree
Clove Nodding Onion Vanilla Leaf
Eucalyptus Pennyroyal Wild Bergamot
Floss Flower Peppermint Wormwood

Check out this site for more information on how and where these beauties grow best.  Some of them may do better than others in your area.

We are going to try Marigolds, Catnip, Basil, Chrysanthemums, Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender and Garlic.  By the end of summer, I’ll have plenty of “research” completed in this war against biting insects!

Chirp Chirp

The local Tractor Supply in our hometown sells chicks every spring.  A few weeks ago, we bought a dozen of them.  They were chirping and dancing around in their little box, anxiously awaiting their new home.Chicks

 

Sadly, we lost one chick within the first three days so now we are down to eleven.  The rest of them were looking healthy and growing fast. Food and water are provided for 12 hours and then removed for 12 hours because these creatures will eat themselves to death if you’re not careful. We can’t let that happen!

They spent the first few weeks in an old cart that we covered with chicken wire. We chicksHalfWayadded a heat lamp for those chilly spring nights and put some pine shavings in the bottom of the cart so they were comfortable and warm.

Last weekend, the chicks moved to a larger home.  The idea for this movable outdoor area came from… It’s a great way to allow the fast growing chickens to enjoy fresh grass and all
the bugs they can eat. The yard gets a little extra fertilizer too.

In about three weeks, they will be full grown chickens and it will be time to prep them for the freezer.  That will make 11 meals in the freezer and we’ll start the process all over again in a few weeks.

Until then, we’ll enjoy our farm fresh eggs that we’ve been lucky enough to have for about the past five years.

eggs

Katie’s first mow

Our niece Katie and her husband Andy recently returned to the family farm. Katie is trading her city girl roots for Andy’s deep roots as the fifth generation of our family farm. Today she’s learning how to operate a tractor and rotary cutter to get the weeds under control at their place, Ten Men Farm. She’s getting her “I can mow!” farm girl badge today!

Angela Kay Larson
Sent from my mobile

Weeds are as High as a Cow’s Eye

The weeds were taking over the pasture.

The weeds were taking over the pasture.

On our farm, every decision and delay has a direct impact, and domino effect, on everything else. Our fencing project was delayed due to the wet weather, which meant the cows couldn’t go into the front pasture, which led to the back pasture being a bit overgrazed, which caused the front pasture to grow too long. Wow!

 

These flowers are easier to pick than the thistles.

These flowers are easier to pick than the thistles.

Now we’re dealing with blooming thistles and weeds taller than the baby calves. The little boys think the thistle flowers are beautiful and even tried to pick some to accompany my dandelion and violet bouquet. Unfortunately, the thorns stymied them.

Big weeds called for bringing in the big guns. We would typically use our small rotary cutter to cut the 10-acre pasture, but this job was a little more than it could handle.

Enter the Woods Batwing 180. This 15-foot Batwing is about 10 years old but still tackling everything thrown it’s way. It even made short work of a plastic bucket that ended up in the field.

Happy cows. Beautiful pasture. And hopefully, a stop to the domino-effect.

Woods Batwing tackling the tough weeds.

Woods Batwing tackling the tough weeds.

 

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.

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.

 

Aftermath

Tuesday morning’s storm blasted through Northwest Illinois with lightening, rain and straight line winds. Our drought weary fields were in need of rain, but we could have done without the wind and its damaging forces.

We called in a tree service and asked him to take down the treacherous limbs and trim the low-hanging branches around the house. Now the yard is littered with limbs, twigs and leaves, so I’m wondering, “I need one of those new Woods Scrap Grapples!” Bring on those 3,000 lbs of clamping force and that unbeatable visibility — we’ll have this yard cleaned up in no time!

For now, it’s just me and a pair of work gloves facing the aftermath.

AKL