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Joe and the great white deer December 29, 2006

Posted by Joe in Farm.

Many years ago, I thought deer hunting was hard. Of course back then, it truly was hard for me. I had to get up very early in the morning, drive 2 hours to some public land just to hunt for a few hours at a location that I’d never even seen before. I usually ended up sleepily sitting in a tree in sub-freezing weather, wondering what I was doing out there. It wasn’t much fun so it’s no wonder I gave it up when I discovered duck hunting.

But since then I’ve learned that like real estate, deer hunting is all about location, location, location.

Deer are everywhere in this part of creation. You can see them most any time of the year. There are so many, in fact, they are considered a major nuisance by most folks around here. The deer love to eat your crops long before you’re ready to bring in the harvest. For example, they stomp holes into your watermelons and take a few nibbles to see if it’s ripe, then move on to the next one. They also eat your tomatoes, beans, peas, corn, and anything else of any appeal in your garden.

This year, I’ve harvested two large deer and have had several other opportunities that I’ve allowed to just pass by. And the funny part is that I haven’t been hunting yet. I’ve yet to spend the first minute in a tree stand.

All of these opportunities came while I was doing something else, usually playing with the kids in the family room. I’d look out and see some deer in the field. So, I’d quickly don my camouflage garb and head out to stalk the four-legged thieves.

Last year I shot one with my rifle from my back porch; but what fun is that? Now I enjoy seeing how stealthy I can be. I’ve stalked to within 25 yards of the beasts with both bow and rifle. It’s a game for me to see how close I can get to them without being discovered.  Maybe in a few years I’ll get good enough to hunt with a bowie knife.  🙂

I don’t hunt for trophy; I firmly believe that you should only hunt what you intend to eat. So when I harvest a deer, I bring it back to the house and process it myself. Last year, Laura helped me field dress one. This year Benjamin helped with another.

Here’s a picture of Benjamin helping me skin the deer. I didn’t include the picture in the blog itself in consideration for those who’d rather not see it.

We made roasts and ground venison into sausage. Very good stuff, if I do say so myself.

Benjamin and Rachel both helped grind it.

We saved the skin of one of them intending to tan it, but unfortunately we never got past step 2 – it’s a very time and labor intensive process that takes more than a month to complete.

Late this afternoon, I again spotted some deer in the field. As before I quickly gathered my hunting apparel together and headed out to see if I could sneak up on them. I did.

But much to my surprise, I saw something I’ve never seen before today. In amongst the other deer was an albino deer as white as snow. It was a sight to behold! I just sat there, well within shooting range, and watched it. Albino’s are protected in this state, but I wouldn’t have shot it anyway. What I sight!

I hope to see it again. Next time, I’ll head out with my camera.


They don’t make them like they used to December 22, 2006

Posted by Joe in Uncategorized.
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In years gone by, car owners could expect to get a good 30,000 miles on an engine, if they were lucky and maintained it well. Now days, a set of tires can go twice as far as the cars of yesteryear.

As you can see, my 10 year old pickup truck just rolled over 200,000 miles! I, for one, am glad they don’t make ’em like they used to!

One Stange Bird December 19, 2006

Posted by Laura in Farm.

My husband has often asked me why we bothered to name our blog “The Farm Chronicles” when he claims more than half of my postings (and nearly all the photos taken on our digital camera) are of chickens and turkeys.  He feels something along the lines of “The Poultry Pages” would have been much more accurate.  I have TRIED to bring a little more balance to the subject matter of my postings, but you know, the only livestock we HAVE right now is poultry!

Remember that dear little lone turkey poult that was the only hatchling from a clutch of eggs a broody hen had been setting?  When she was big enough and feathered out, I moved her into the henhouse and she settled into a low, yet peaceful, place in the pecking order.  Having been tended by me twice daily for so long, she became my little shadow when the birds were released to forage.  She would fly across the yard when she saw me and land on my shoulder, singing “Tweed, tweed, tweed!”  It was so cute and endearing! I became very fond of her.

A week ago Sunday, I heard all the roosters at once call out a very specific warning cry that I have come to recognize as a “hawk alert.”  When I went outside to check, Turkey Baby was gone.  I looked for her everywhere, but she was nowhere to be found.  She didn’t turn up for the evening feeding either.  I was so upset.  Two days later, one of our dogs, Daisy, came trotting out of our woods with her carcass.  The tail feathers were intact, so I knew it was her.  Losing favored animals to predators has never gotten any easier in the two years we’ve lived here.  And somehow, the predators always pick the ones I’m fond of- the ones with names and distinct personalities.  Why is that?  Don’t they all taste the same?  Couldn’t they pick the boring black mutt ones that even I can’t tell apart?  Or better yet- hunt somewhere else altogether?


This past Sunday morning, Joe went out to open the little chicken sized door in the henhouse (that we close at night to keep opportunistic opossums, raccoons, and snakes out).  The chickens went streaming out into their pen as usual, but there was a guest in the yard already.  This one lone guinea was walking around like he owned the place.  When Joe tossed scratch out for them, he didn’t hesitate to chase even the roosters from what he thought was his fair share of the free buffet.  Some nerve!

We’ve never had any guineas.  We’ve thought about hatching some eventually, but they are notorious for wandering, so we haven’t made them a priority.  They have a reputation for being noisy (sometimes considered a good thing since they sound the alert for the presence of anything out of the ordinary).  One of their reported good points is pest control, though- they are known to keep the tick population in check (which our chickens also do a marvelous job of) and even attack and eat small snakes.  They come in several interesting colors, including lavender, but I have to say that I think they are very odd-looking birds.  Huge rounded bodies and pin heads with strange protrusions on them.  This particular one has a common plumage pattern that is called Pearl.  No telling who it belongs to (if one can truly “own” a guinea 🙂 ).

Since guineas are known to roam, we weren’t surprised when it wasn’t in the henhouse with the chickens at “lights out.”  This morning, however, he was out in the yard again, bossing the others around.  We figured he must have slept in a tree nearby and returned for the free eats.  No telling how long he’ll be around, but he’s an interesting addition for the meantime anyway.

By the way, you have to ask Joe to tell you the story of The Great Guinea Massacre of ’78.

Cat fishing December 17, 2006

Posted by Joe in Family, Farm.
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Right now, it’s rather pleasant outside. It’d say the temperature is in the low forties. But a couple of weeks ago it got cold! For two or three nights in a row, the temperatures dipped down into the low teens, around 13 each night! That’s pretty cold for these parts.

Our animals fared well during the cold, though a couple of the rosters in the chicken tractors appear to have a bit of frost bite on their combs.

Some animals even enjoyed the cold spell. The ponds had frozen over and Patch and Coco decided to go exploring. We watched as they tentatively walked out on the ice. We tried to stop them, but to no avail; you know what they say about a cat’s curiosity.

Soon, since the ice was relatively clear they spotted fish beneath them. With only a thin, transparent, piece of ice between the predator and the prey, the cats decided they could have fish for breakfast. They chased the fish all over the ponds, slipping and sliding at every turn the fish made.

It was all fun and games (or maybe it was extremely frustrating – it’s hard to read a cat’s expression), until one of the cats got too close to an air pocket near the edge of the pond and broke through. A wet cat has no sense of humor. So that was the end of the cat fishing.

As a consolation prize, however, the kids found a frozen bream along the pond’s bank. We offered it the cats and they seemed to enjoy their fishcicle.

3, 2, 1, we have lift-off! December 9, 2006

Posted by Joe in Scouts.
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Over the past few weeks in cub scouts, we’ve been building a rocketship. This is not the rubberband and propeller driven model of last year. No this year we opted to build a real rocket. This year’s model has a real engine with solid fuel propulsion.

To Benjamin’s slight disappointment, though, it was not a life-sized vehicle that would propell into in low earth orbit. Last Saturday, we had the launch.

These models go skyward approximately 1000 feet in about 3 seconds.