Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Almost harvest time

I can't believe the pumpkins are almost ready!  It still seems to me that it's a little early, but I looked up some pumpkin sites on the internet, and it's certainly possible the are REALLY ready.  And we've also learned that many other pumpkin farmers are harvesting and shipping already.  Pumpkins can stay good for MONTHS after harvesting if they are properly cared for. 

Here is one of the mammoth pumpkins... they are huge, and hopefully getting bigger.  They can be recognized by their light orange color and their smooth skins.

The jack-o-lantern pumpkins are smaller, and they have a bright orange color.  Most of them have ridges in their flesh. 

Pumpkins are ready to harvest when they quit growing and when the color is a deep, dark orange.  I don't know if they are done growing, since we haven't measured them.  But I think they are seriously close to being all grown up!

We found some that are mostly orange but still have some green lines on them. 

And we have a few that seem large enough, but are still mostly green!  Maybe that's a good thing though.  We'll harvest the solid orange ones within a couple of weeks.  The others can wait a little longer.  I think in the future we should plant twice... one harvest can be around the first of September, but the later ones could stay on the farm for people who want to bring their kids and pick out their own on the vine.

Since the vines are starting to turn brown and wilt, we are finally able to walk among them into the middle of our patch.  I'm not sure how many pumpkins we have, but one thing is certain ... we don't have as many as we would have liked.  We have hundreds, but since we planted 1000 seeds, it would have been nice to have had at least that many pumpkins.  We've been studying the art of pumpkin farming, and most farmers have to self-pollinate their pumpkins using a pipe cleaner or similar devise to do the job that bees should be doing!  Steve has even mentioned buying a bee hive.  We have learned what all farmers know --- you live and learn!

This is Alec next to one of our largest jack-o-lantern pumpkins.  This one will make a great carving!

Anyone wanna pay in advance and lay claim to this big guy? haha

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The finished head gate

Steve's masterpiece is complete!  The new head gate is all he's worked on for the past couple of weeks, but he's finally finished.... well, it needs a few touch-ups, but it's usable now. 

Steve and Lewis actually took it for a trial run over the weekend when they vaccinated the cows.  It worked pretty well, but a full grown cow actually got turned around in this chute, so it's gotta be modified just a bit.

Steve is proud!  He's really been after me to post pictures and write in the blog about his new head gate.  It WAS a lot of work.... in the sticky heat of mid-August.  We've had temperatures here in the upper 90s.... a few days reaching 100 degrees, and the humidity has been high, so it feels like 110 every day.  So, it's no wonder Steve feels a sense of accomplishment of having finished this thing! 

Lookin' good Honey!  Smile!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Beth Ann

Beth Ann putting her own candles on her DQ Oreo Blizzard cake. 

Beth Ann is my only girl.... well, actually she's my step-daughter, but she's still our only girl.  She's been a part of my life since she was 14 years old and in the 8th grade.  It's hard to believe she is a beautiful, independent 21 year old woman now. 

The birthday cake with all 21 candles.

We had a wonderful weekend.  Saturday Beth Ann and I went to get our nails done in pretty summer girlie pink, and afterwards we went shopping for her back-to-college clothes.  Saturday evening Steve and I took her to eat at Bob Evans, then to a movie.  Then yesterday, we celebrated with the cake and "Happy Birthday" song. 

Beth Ann making her birthday wish before blowing out her candles.... she's putting considerable effort into this wish... wonder what a beautiful young lady who appears to have everything would wish for?

She blew all 21 candles out so quickly (and forcefully enough to blow cookies off the cake!), that I didn't get a shot!  But I did get a picture of her gleefully clapping her hands because she managed to get them out in one breath!  I guess her big wish will come true!

Beth Ann playing "dress up" with the goat.  I love this self-portrait of her! 

We're so accustomed to having teenage boys around, it's a pleasure and sometimes a mystery to have a girl around again.

This morning she packed up her new clothes, all her pretty scarves, and all the "girl stuff" in the bathroom that the boys had complained about... and Steve took her to Charleston to spend the rest of her birthday with her mother.  Then off to Morgantown and back to college life, even though fall classes don't start until next Monday.  I can't imagine what the allure is for a 21 year old girl in a college town... I think we liked it better when she was here on the farm putting scarves on the goat. 

Happy 21st Birthday Sweet Elizabeth Ann Bolte.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summertime news from the farm

We sliced into our first garden watermelon this week.

We grew small icebox watermelon, which are round and dark green.  The inside is a beautiful bright red. 

Steve modeling with our first watermelon of the season.

I don't really like watermelon, but I wish I did.  I think they are just gorgeous to look at.  They just LOOK refreshing on a hot summer day.

In other news.... still no name for the goat.  She's kind of starting to grow on all of us though, so a real name will have to come soon.  The naming will ultimately be up to Lewis since she is technically his goat.

And look at this beautiful cloud I was able to photograph at sunset the other evening. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Safe in the U.S.A.

Steve's son Charlie is HOME from Iraq!  After spending six months in Iraq with the Army,  he is now in the United States. He is safe at his home in Baltimore with his fiance Kristin. 

This picture of Charlie and Steve was taken this past winter in Baltimore. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer scenes

Steve working on a fence.....

Mo cat-napping on our bed .....

Summer evenings on the farm .....

Monday, August 9, 2010

Little Miss Cuteness without a name

Do you see what I see?

When I got home today, there was a goat at the house.  It was looking at me and making that baa--baaaa noise that goats make. 

Lewis has been visiting friends and working on their farm for a week, and when he came home today, he brought this goat with him.  Isn't it cute?  It's a she.... a doe.  But she doesn't have a name yet... well... Lewis calls her "Steph," but I'm not fond of that for a couple of reasons.  One, that name is taken... eh hem.  Two, she needs a goat name... a name that is unique and all her own.  What's a good name for a goat?

We've already discovered that she loves corn on the cob.  Alec was in the back yard husking corn for supper, and little Miss Goat here tried to help herself.  And she loves to take walks.  Lewis got Chloe's leash and led her around the yard.  She followed him around like a dog.  I don't know where we're going to put her.  Since we don't have a goat-proof fence anywhere on the farm, she'll have to stay tied up.  I don't know what we'll do with her, but she sure is cute!

What's a good name for a goat?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A "hole" lotta work

Whatever happened to the lovely notion of Sunday being a day of rest?  We did go to church this morning, but as soon as we got home, we worked outside in the blazing sun all afternoon. 

Steve bought this rusty old thing last week.  It is a head chute for cattle, and apparantly, with the exception of the rust, it is in excellent condition.  And apparantly it will eventually work wonders and make our lives much easier.... but not lying on the ground.  We gotta get it properly installed first.

The first step is to dig a big hole using this post hole digger on the back of the tractor.

The hydraulic digger on the tractor made this hole, but then we had to dig it deeper and deeper with the manuel digger. 

Then we had to drag this massive post, drop it in the hole, and pack the dirt all around it. 

The entire process.... the digging, the dragging, the lifting, the packing... was repeated for the second post. 

Steve did some measuring and decided that the first post on which we spent an hour of hard physical labor, was crooked.  It needed to be lined up just so, and we were slightly off.  So, to my dismay, he hooked it to the tractor and pulled it right back out of that hole we had just filled in! Noooooooooo......

I was slightly upset to have to dig the same hole and reset the same post AGAIN!

Eventually we managed to finish.  They were lined up perfectly and ready for the head gate.

This friendly black cow stepped out of the barn to check things out.

She stood there, surveying the situation, and letting us rub her back and belly.  She's a total pet.... she's a holstein cross that we plan to sell eventually. 

We always have fun with her because she's so tame.

She checked everything out, then she started licking Steve's arm. 

Back to work.....

The EXTREMELY heavy head gate is then lifted into an upright position and bolted onto our two posts.

So eventually when we're all finished, we'll be able to herd the cattle from the barn, through this gate, then to the new head gate. 

They'll stick their heads in here, and the gate will close tightly.  Then we'll be able to work on them... vaccinating them, worming them, dehorning, castrating... whatever needs done.  Steve says this system will ultimately save us hours of time in working the cattle.

It was a HARD day's work. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Road trip to visit family

I just got back from a little road trip.  I went to Hartville, Ohio with my brother, Josh and my mom to visit family.  For whatever the reason, we don't visit often enough.  My mom had 10 brothers and sisters and half of them are now gone.  My mom will be 78 in December.  Life is short.  Why don't we spend more time with those we love?

This is a Nichols family reunion photo which was taken about 6 or 8 years ago.  From left front:  Uncle Kenny;  Uncle Jack (RIP);  Aunt Pat (RIP);  Aunt Evelyn (RIP).  Back row:  Aunt Barbara; Uncle Gary; Aunt Berdeal; Uncle Don; Mom; Dad (RIP); Aunt Lue (RIP);  Uncle Howard;  Aunt Mary;  Uncle Boyd (RIP).

So we took mom to visit her little brother... my Uncle Kenny.  He's been confined to a wheel chair for 20 years from injuries received in a motorcyle accident.  He is paralyzed from the waist down. He is an AWESOME guy! 

I love this picture.... Uncle Kenny is laughing so hard at a comment someone made.  I have no idea what was said, but I love his laugh.  He laughs all over and with so much expression!

Here he is looking at pictures of his only granddaughter.

Here my brother Josh shares funny stories with Uncle Kenny.  

We had a good visit with Uncle Kenny and his wife Connie.