Monthly Archives: October 2013

Something Scary!

There is something quite scary on our farm!  And I’ll warn you; its a little gross too.  So if you’re brave enough to keep reading, here ya go!

Something scary on the farm!  {}

I told you.  Gross.




But don’t worry.  Nothing is actually wrong with any of these chickens.  Believe it or not, this is actually healthy and normal.  Well, normal for chickens.  I still think its just scary looking myself.

These ladies are molting.  Most chickens do this in the fall; they drop old feathers and grow new ones.  During this time they stop laying eggs and put all their efforts into growing new wardrobes.  And well they should because this look is really just disturbing.

For comparison sake, here are some non-molting pics.

Scary chickens on the farm.  {}

You can raise your own eggs

Picture of chickens growing up on the farm

Nice, sleek, smooth with full tail feathers and, well, clothed necks.  This is how chickens should look.

But this time of the year?

Well, chickens are just scary.


Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Its Planting Time!

Yes, I can see that it is fall.  There are pumpkins on my counter top and apple cider in my fridge.  But I promise, it really is planting time.  For wheat anyway.

Planting wheat

This is the field behind our house.  Cory is using the drill to put the wheat seeds into the ground.  It was so windy and the dirt is so dry I couldn’t get a great photo of the equipment, but here’s one of the drill planting beans in the spring.

drilling beans

It may look a lot like our planter, but a drill is quite a bit different.  To a farmer anyway.  A planter precisely places seeds in the ground.  A drill is for crops that are much less picky about their conditions, but no matter how you put them in the ground, these wheat seeds need to be planted in the fall.

Planting wheat

The weather man says its going to rain next week, which would be great for our wheat crop.  Ideally it needs to be planted in cool temps, but with enough time to grow a little before freezing weather hits.  The field will hopefully sprout green in a few more days and then be ready to go dormant when the snow flies.  Some wheat needs cooler temps than others, which is why you’ll hear of wheat being grown in states like Montana.  Other types are fine here in the Midwest– mostly in Kansas. 😉

Wheat is one of my favorite crops and I love having it grow in the fields around our house.  It will be among the first signs of spring and long before our yard looks lush the wheat will be several inches high.

growing wheat

I snapped this shot on March 27, 2012.

So harvest continues.  Hand in hand with planting.

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Preschoolers and Pumpkins

I know October is almost over, but I had to share this pumpkin unit I did with the preschoolers at our homeschool cooperative yesterday.  Actually I plan to share all of the lessons I did with them, but this one is time-sensitive. 😉

We’ve been learning Nursery Rhyme, reading them over and over each week, but focusing on one in particular every Friday for the three hours I have them.  This week we did Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater of course!

Pumpkin puzzles are a favorite both in my house and here on the blog.  I tried making them several ways, but these horizontal rings are your best bet for holding together.

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

Since everybody (who doesn’t have to clean it up) loves glue, the pumpkin mosaics were popular.  I could have cut pumpkin shapes out of cardstock or whatever, but I’m a believer in process over product when it comes to this sort of thing.  Time is money.  Less is more.  Whatever.  The kids loved this station best and that’s what I care about!

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

We also used unifix cubes to measure pumpkins.  These kiddos range in age from almost three to five years old, so for some of the older ones I encouraged them to measure the pumpkin, then the stem, and add them together.  I also allowed free play with the cubes and we ended up with pens for some My Little Ponies.  Just think what they’re learning about area and diameter. 😉

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

For art I cut these great little pumpkin shapes on my Cricut and left them at home.  So I quickly cut out some hand-drawn pumpkins and the kids ignored them almost entirely since the paint was such fun.  After all, it isn’t everyday someone lets you paint with straws!

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

I helped them make a small mound of paint with regular water colors and then blow the paint across the page to make vines.  This little artist had the coolest vines which he choose to cover up with the only one of my hand-cut pumpkins to be used.  This is both the joy and the irony of working with children.  I thought about making my own so I could show you how cool this project can be, but if you do this with preschoolers, this is what theirs will look like, so why lie?  And unless you can figure out how to isolate the green in the water color pack they will also use all the colors.  Just being honest.

We also read the Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater poem from two different books and (who knows why) these kids were amazed at how different the artists’ renderings were.  We had an in-depth conversation about actually living in a pumpkin and if it could have a window box with flowers.

If you need more great ideas, check out the unit I did with my son for kindergarten last year.

Pumpkin thematic unit for preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade. {}

And leave me a comment if you’ve got some great pumpkin activity up your sleeve.  I’ll need it for next year!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Have Combine, Will Travel

You are probably used to seeing pictures of combines looking like this: happily harvesting through fields with the sun setting in the background.

How a harvest crew travels!  {}

I posted this pic to Instagram. For more day to day farm life follow me @daddystractor!

And while this is a good look for a combine, it’s a bit overdressed for traveling.

Traveling with a harvest operation can be a BIG DEAL.  You’ve got to move the cart, the semis, the fuel trailer, the combine, and the head wagon down roads lined with overgrown tree branches, mailboxes and telephone poles.  When this bad boy heads for the highway its tires can touch from one white line to the other.  But that’s just the combine.

The head (on our combine) is much broader than the combine itself.  In fact, it’s actually 35 feet wide!  So before heading off into the sunset the head must be removed and loaded onto a wagon.

How a combine travels down the road!  {}


This is best done with at least two, if not three people.  Here you see Wayne (the newest addition to the farm) helping direct Grandpa to line the grain head up with the wagon.  Cory is on the other side doing the same.

How a combine travels down the road!  {}

When the head is properly lined up Grandpa can set it down and release it from the combine.

How a combine travels down the road!  {}

Then the truck can pull the head wagon down the road.

have combine, will travel

Looks a bit different, don’t you agree!

How a combine travels down the road!  {}

It’ll still be a task to maneuver this massive piece of equipment down the road, but at least we won’t take out every mailbox between here and the next farm!

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

The View from Here

A harvested field {}

Yesterday the harvest crew descended on the field around our house.

This is now my front yard.

Could be a whole lot worse. 🙂

Categories: Family | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

More to Fall than Harvest

Fall is, of course, one of the busiest seasons on the farm.  But harvesting crops isn’t the only thing that keeps us busy as the temperatures drop.  Fall is also the time to prepare the fields for spring planting; tillage work, repairing terraces, and especially building up the nutrients in the fields.

There's more to fall than harvest!  {}

Plants naturally soak up the nutrients in the soil to help them grow, leaving fewer nutrients for next year’s crops.  Throughout history farmers have dealt with this in various ways.  The Egyptians had the Nile, which over flowed its banks, leaving new silt to plant in each season.  In the Bible farmers were given instruction to let the field sit empty once every seven years.  Today’s farmers have the resources and knowledge to replace nutrients like you see in the pictures here.

There's more to fall than harvest!  {}

This is Daddy, unloading lime with his dump truck.  Lime changes the pH of the soil, helping the plants maximize the fertilizer.  Not only does this create good crops, it also important for sustainability.  That’s a buzz word we hear a lot, but around here it means we improve the land so someday it will provide for our son’s family, and his son’s too.

There's more to fall than harvest!  {}

After Daddy made his lime pile the local Co-op came out with a team to spread the lime across the fields.  First they brought out this small loader which was used to pick up the lime from the pile and dump it into the compartment on this conveyor belt.

There's more to fall than harvest!  {}

Then the belt picks up the lime and dumps it into the bed of the spreader truck.

There's more to fall than harvest!  {}

When the truck is full it heads to the field to spread the lime from a spinner at the back.

There's more to fall than harvest!  {}

The lime is soft, like powder, and floats behind the truck.

There's more to fall than harvest!  {}

Just one of the jobs keeping us busy this fall!

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Did You Know? Fueling a Combine

There are several reason you won’t see this at your local Casey’s.  Um, very often.

Fueling the combine {}

Obviously, most gas stations have a shelter over the pumps that would seriously get in the way of a piece of equipment this size.  And gas stations tend to be either in towns or along highways and not convenient to slow moving vehicles in fields in remote locations.

So how do you fuel all that harvest equipment?

With your own fuel tank.

Fueling the combine {}

Our farm has those giant fuel barrels filed with dyed fuel (for farm vehicles only), but they stay at the farm’s home base.  This trailer is a newly-traded addition to Daddy’s collection which allows him to haul fuel right to the combine.

So much easier than pulling up to the pump at Quick Trip!!

This trailer has two pumps, just like the ones you’d use to fuel your car– except at little bigger. 😉  They wind up on a hose reel, which is what you see in the photo above.

Fueling the combine {}

The tanks are in the rear of the combine and you have to pull the hoses up the ladder to reach them.  And while some pieces of farm equipment (semis) actually have two diesel tanks, that’s not why you see two hoses in these pictures.

The second, smaller, hose actually fills the combine with something called DEF.  This fluid is the secret to making our red equipment environmentally green. 

(If you’re interested in learning how this combine is reducing emissions into the air, try this previous post.) 


So now you know.  This is why you won’t see tractors or combines in line at the local Conoco.  Very often…

Categories: Science, Technology | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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