My friend, Chris, and his son, Nick, came up to the farm and started the baiting process for their bear hunt that begins in a few weeks.
Nick had scored two 55 gallon barrels of bait. One full of frosting, and the other of mixed goodies (nuts, gummies, graham crackers, trail mix, granola, etc.)
Chris hollowed out a log with his chainsaw. This is where we are placing the bait. On top of the hollowed out log, he puts a board and then a heavy container to keep the raccoons out.
Also, in effort to get the bear to come into the bait sideways (broadside) we put up logs to the side of the bait. This should force the bear to walk around the logs and come in from the side. That will give Nick the best opportunity to shoot the bear cleanly with his bow.
I will be refreshing the bait daily. As I do, I will post the pictures here for everyone to enjoy.
The temperatures are flirting with the upper 60’s. Almost all of the snow is gone. The willow tree buds are starting to poke out (usually the first sign of life on the farm)
Our day on the farm was spent hauling branches that broke off the great white pine, opening up the farm house windows, checking our trail cams that were placed a couple weeks prior, and having fun shooting some skeet/trap with our shotguns.
When we arrived, we were greeted to a fresh layer of fallen branches from the great white pines in the yard of the house. Some of the branches were 4” in diameter and 20’ long! Ethyn decided to use the ATV and chain to haul them down to the gravel pit. He wants to save all the good branches/wood for a bomb fire that will be lit during his going-away party for the US Army next year. He made several runs to the gravel pit, hauling many broken branches. It should be a wonderful bomb fire!
Since the outside air was warmer than the air inside the farmhouse, we opened up most of the windows. The house has been sealed up since late November, so it was nice to get fresh air circulating inside. The sun beaming in through the windows made the farmhouse feel alive again. I love this feeling. We brought a fresh supply of bottled water for our day trips out to the farm.
After unloading the ATV from the trailer, we took a ride to the north 40 to check my Cuddeback – AttackIR trail cam. There appeared to be fresh sign of deer everywhere (droppings and hoof prints imbedded into the mud and leaves). We expected to find a lot of new pictures of Wisconsin Whitetail crossing the trail cam’s view. To our surprise, there was only one. All the other pictures were of us hanging the camera and clearing brush from the future pictures.
Next, we took off and headed out to the west 40. All of our land is blessed with many different species of wildlife. This 40 acres seems to be the most active. I was certain to retrieve many photos captured by one of my Cuddeback – Expert. It’s an older camera, but still takes wonderful pictures, especially at night. This camera uses a traditional flash, not an IR flash, therefore the images at night are in full color. The bright flash does startle the wildlife, but not as much as you would think. The trail cam had a great deal of photos. Mostly deer, but there is one of a bear. Small bear, but I am sure he is very hungry after the long, cold winter. Also, we were a little surprised by how much water is still in the woods. The ATV ride back to the camera was a blast. I took a couple of videos of Ethyn tearing down the trails.
Finally, we had some fun with our trap launcher. The first use after a long winter proved to me that it needed some lubrication. I took off the main launcher of my Do-All Trap Dual Launcher (half-cock) and smeared fresh grease on the pivot shaft. Earlier we picked up a couple boxes of biodegradable clay pigeons (traps/clays) and a 4 boxes of 12 gauge shells. Ethyn and I shot a box of shells at the clays. Good thing we started practicing early. We both did rather poorly. After we were done, Ethyn went out and picked up all the unbroken clays and he came back with over 50% of the clays we launched. This was proof we suck – for now! After a bag of BBQ potato ships, 2 boxes of shells and many unbroken clays, we called it a day.
The farm is showing signs of spring, and I am getting very excited for our new adventures on the land. With new fruit and nut trees, revitalized vegetable garden, and planned earthworks, the farm will never be the same. This a good thing. I am finally building a future on our farm. A sustainable bounty and a place to live forever. This is an exciting journey, I am happy you are along for the ride.
Ethyn and I had an interesting time out at the farm. We started the day with joy that the driveway to the farmhouse was drivable for the first time since December.
Even though the snow is mostly gone and the top few inches of soil are saturated (mud), the soil is still very frozen.
We opened the farmhouse and fired up the propane heater. While it was busy warming the house, we measured the future location of the Rocket Mass Heater. Next, we walked down to the burn pile and located a couple (non-shot) barrels, which I measured for the Rocket Mass Heater project. We have two good candidates (barrels) for the heater. A little sanding and high temp. paint should clean them up nicely.
We then took the truck to the west field and deployed one of our trail-cams. We ended up walking the entire highland perimeter of the west 40. We flushed up two single grouse and a grouse covey (two birds). It looks like the grouse population is coming back in strong. That is a great sign.
Next, we drove to the north 40 (north of the farm house) to deploy the 2nd trail-cam. Ethyn and I found a great place to stage the Cuddeback Attack IR. It is at a point where two heavy deer trails cross. This is a new location for our trail-cams, so we are excited to see what crosses its path.
On the way back to the farmhouse we had to cross the stream in the valley behind the house. While crossing the stream, the tires broke an ice sheet they were on and prevented me from steering. The tires were riding on a thick sheet of ice that continued downstream – opposite of where I was steering. I applied the brakes and the truck slide into the ditch next to the crossing. I was fearful that the truck wouldn’t back out, but it did easily. All was well – so we thought. When we stopped at the farmhouse Ethyn said there was an air leak in the front right tire. Sure enough, I heard it leaking very fast. We quickly loaded up and secured the farmhouse. We made an attempt to get back to Merrill before the tire went flat. That ended up being futile. The tire went flat in 10 minutes.
We were able to get the spare tire (undersized) down from the back of the truck. However, the front tire would not disengage from the truck. I have 1.5” aluminum wheel spacers on all four wheels to push out the oversized tires I use on the truck – this prevents tire rub inside of the wheel wells. We beat on the tire with a log and it wouldn’t budge. Ethyn and I used our feet and tried to kick the wheel off, with no avail. We ended up calling a tow truck to get us back to town.
$200 tow bill later, we were able to get the tire off using a large tire iron.
The day wasn’t all bad. At least we hung up two trail-cams and were able to get the measurements for the Rocket Mass Heater.
I already have about ½ of the materials I need to start fabricating this heater. From what the Wisner’s say, it’s best to build the heater in the spring so that it is all hardened up by the fall when you want to start using it.
Placement of this Rocket Mass Heater will be starting where the existing chimney is in the living room and then it will extend along the wall, under the window by the kitchen/dining room table. The barrel (the hottest item) will be located just out from the existing chimney so it is more centrally located. Look at the following graphic of my plan.
Here is what I want to accomplish this spring/summer:
Here are some examples of compete Rocket Mass Heaters and how beautiful they can be:
I planted Tomatoes, Peppers, Acorn and Butternut Squash, Sugar and Snap Peas, and Green Beans. Since there is still snow and ice on the ground and the ground is still frozen, I am starting them under my grow lights in my basement. I plan on starting more later this week. This should give me a full 1-2 months head start on the growing season. May 26th is the average last day of frost.
I spent a little time tonight putting some thoughts to images. I logged onto a couple sites (Bing and Google) to get recent images of our farm.
Below are several images that will help everyone understand the scope and size of the project I am working with on our farm. I am new at permaculture and new at growing most of the plants and trees I am planning on with my design. I am excited to share with everyone my experiences with what I learn and my failure and successes.
The following image outline our entire farm (160 acres) with the red lines and the highway at the bottom of the image.
This next image displays the location of our farmhouse (soon to be remodeled) and the location of the springs in the north valley of our farm:
The following photo shows three colors one the map.
The GREEN color is the location of the first year project – mostly fruit trees.
The BROWN color is the location of the existing conventional garden.
The RED color is the location of the 2nd year plantings. I hope to expand the fruit trees and black and raspberry bushes.
The BLUE color is where I predict the new pond will be located after we dam up the existing spring at the road crossing.
It’s early spring, and it is not letting the remnants of winter go. Two foot snow drifts still block the 350 yard driveway to the farmhouse. The only way in was on foot. It’s too warm for snowmobiles and the snow is too deep for the ATV.
We carried our guns, ammo and accessories across the crusted snow. Luckily, we mostly stayed on top of the crust of snow and didn’t fall through.
While at the farm, I took several photos of the outside of the farmhouse and surrounding land. This was an opportunity to document the house and land before any updates are started. Take a look through the pictures to see more.
We did a little hunting and exploring. We found a coyote den on the north side of our gravel pit.