Working With Mother Nature And The Bullhead Catfish.

A picture of our creek flooding that happened a few weeks back.

Here at Milligan’s Gander Hill Farm we have learned the hard way to try and work with mother nature instead trying to work against her. Take for instance our pond. We have tried to have our pond be clear and full of bass, crappie, blue gill, and channel cat fish, but that hasn’t worked out. Mother nature thinks we should have a Bullhead catfish pond, so thats what we are going to go along with because just like with my wife, mother nature usually gets her way anyway no matter how hard you try otherwise.

Another look at our flooding.

With the flooding that brings in the Bullheads to our pond and the river otters eating our other game fish, we come the the conclusion its a waste of time and money trying to keep our pond stocked with the other game fish.

Our neighbors house and driveway.

After careful thought I think our pond is better suited for the catfish. It is only about 8ft deep at its deepest and the bullhead can live with less oxygen when the pond freezes in the winter. They also breed easily in a farm pond and you can always catch bullheads anytime of day or night.  Even though the bullhead doesn’t have a very good reputation with most game fisherman they are very good to eat especially in the spring and fall when water temperatures are cooler.

The species of Bullhead we have is the yellow Bullhead catfish.  Most pond owners don’t want the bullhead to get into their pond because they breed very fast and can quickly take over a pond. Also with the bottom feeding habit of this fish it keeps the mud on a pond stirred up which causes water clarity issues.

Bullheads eat just about anything, insects, tad poles, vegetation, snails, minnows, dead fish, marshmallows, pieces of hot dogs, worms, chicken livers, shrimp and catfish stink baits. We use night crawlers to catch ours. Right now there are so many bullheads in our pond, you can cast out a line and catch one in just a few minutes so it’s a very good fish to introduce fishing to new comers to the sport. The only trouble is there are so many fish that they have eaten up most of the natural food in the pond and are not very big because of it. Our solution is to start feeding the bullheads with a commercial floating game fish food that some catfish farmers use.

 

We are using Purina Game fish Chow but I have herd others using dog food with great success.

We have also just stocked our pond with 5 pounds of fathead minnows. The bullheads and other game fish will eat these too.

The fathead minnow is a prolific breeder and will start breeding once the water temperature reaches 64 degrees F and will keep breeding until water temperatures drop below 64 degrees come fall.

Like most things here on our farm we don’t have any experience with this and are learning as we go. I would like to hear from others who have had similar experiences with their farm pond. If any body would like to catch a mess of catfish, come on down, ya hear!

 

 

Posted in Farm Report | 8 Comments

Learning How To Plow

I recently bought this two bottom plow to put in our garden and to put in food plots for deer on our farm here in south central Iowa. I have been excited to finally get to use it so this past Sunday it was warm and dry and I thought I would plow our garden.

Now remind you, I was raised in the city and never have done any farming whatsoever, so I was learning as I went. First thing I did was to hook up the plow to the tractor and that was no easy task. It took me almost an hour to get it hooked up. I learned when you set it down on the ground it is best if you put it on a level surface. I didn’t do that when I had taken it off the truck and set it down. This plow probably weighs close to 400 lbs and once the plow tips sink into the ground it is hard to move it around to hook it up to the tractor’s  3-point hitch.  So with much effort I was finally able to get it hooked up and hopefully next time I use it, it won’t take as long.

Once I was able to start plowing it went pretty good. I wasn’t sure of the angle I needed to set the plow and did it the way that looked right. I must have got it right because it plowed very well, and my tractor pulled it easily.

This kind of plow is called a moldboard plow and as it goes it plows the ground and flips the top of the ground over onto its self so any sod on top is buried under soil and then the sod dies out. That’s if you go at the correct speed and as you can see by this photo some of the sod didn’t get turned over. I wasn’t going fast enough there but learned quickly and got better at it as I went.

After I got the the area plowed, as you can see by the pictures, the ground is really rough looking. Now you have to smooth it out and break up any dirt clods. That is where the disc comes in.

 

I bought this 6 ft disc just a few days after I bought the plow.

You can see by the picture below how the disk is angled to make sure it breaks up all the dirt clods.

I went over the ground I plowed 2 or 3 times and I was amazed how well it did. It really smoothed out the ground.

It’s not perfect but it was my first attempt at plowing so I won’t be too critical of my efforts. I know I had fun playing with the tractor and the implements and can’t wait until spring to do some more.

What I thought about was how my Grandfather who was a farmer that had a farm by the town of Lacona only about 20 miles from our  farm here. He used to plow with this same type of plow when he went from horse drawn implements to his first tractor early in the 1950’s. He had a 160 acres and I couldn’t imagine doing an 80 acre field with a two bottom plow. Some how doing this has made me feel more connected to my grandfather and more connected to our own land.

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Starting To Think About Farming

Milligans Gander Hill Farm Plow

As I am taking a break from working on our house I started thinking about our garden this coming spring and how I would plant it. This will be the first time we have planted a garden here and will have to break sod to do it. I found this 2 bottom plow on craigslist and thought this is what I needed to get us started. Milligans Gander Hill Farm Plow

This way I can also put in a food plot for deer hunting. I am starting to collect a few implements, but still need a few more.

Milligans Gander Hill Farm Implements.

I have to buy a disk next so after you plow you run the disk over the ground to break up dirt clods. I also would still like to buy a loader for my tractor, so if any of you know of a disk for sale that has a 3 point hitch and is 6 or 8 ft wide please let me know. With all these implements laying around its starting to look like a real farm around here. 🙂 Here in the country you see these farms with all kinds of farm implements in the yard, mine are just a little smaller.

 

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Up Stairs Is Done

Our new sectional sofa

Our new sectional sofa

I am happy to report that our upper level living space is done. We do have a few odds and ends to finish up like some small pieces of trim but basically it’s done. Now that we are done with the upper-level we have to finish the basement but we are going to take a long break first. We have been working hard on our home since April 14 and need a break. I do have to finish the stairs in the foyer but I plan to take my time with that.

Unfinished stairs in the foyer.

Unfinished stairs in the foyer.

Since we posted last, we got some work done. We finished the master bath, the spare bedroom, got our counter tops, cook stove and added some back splash tile in the kitchen and love how it has turned out. Take a look at some more pictures below.

Our kitchen with counter tops and cook stove.

Our kitchen with counter tops and cook stove.

For those of you who have been following this blog for a while know we wanted to create the hunting lodge look and I think we pulled it off.

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The cabinets are from IKEA and the stove is from A J Madison.

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We are thinking of calling our home “The Red Cedar Lodge” for the many eastern red cedar trees that grow wild on our property.

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I also got my deer back from the taxidermist and love how that turned out as well.

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We wanted some thing more than just a animal head on our wall so we selected to have it mounted this way because it was more like a work of art.

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Counter depth refrigerator, to me regular size fridges just stick out too far and don’t look as good.

Its all in the details that turn a good kitchen design into a great kitchen design.

Its all in the details that turn a good kitchen design into a great kitchen design, like this wine rack.

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We did splurge on our cook stove but with all the money we saved by doing the majority of the work on our home ourselves we could afford the cost. Plus I have always dreamed of a stove like this with the griddle in the middle and this is my retirement home so if I didn’t do it here I didn’t know when I would.

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My wife turned this old dresser into our master bath vanity, turned out nice.

My wife turned this old dresser into our master bath vanity, turned out nice.

My wife used rustic tile for the shower and tub in the master bath.

My wife used rustic tile for the shower and tub in the master bath. She got to design our master bath and I got the spare bath. She did a great job.

Spare bedroom

Spare bedroom

 

 

We now plan to sit back and enjoy our home for the time being. What we have left is the rec room in the basement and do some final grading and landscaping on the outside that has to wait until spring.

 

Posted in Buildng our home. | 31 Comments

A Look At Our Farm

cattails on our pond

cattails on our pond

As the wife was grouting the tile in the master bath today I thought I would take time out to walk around the farm just to get out of the house while the weather was still in the 40’s.

Come along and I will show you what I found.

Our apple trees after I trimmed them.

Our apple trees after I trimmed them.

I should say that I wasn’t just taking the day off, I did have some excuse to be out there. I had been neglecting our apples trees and had not done any trimming of them since we planted them in 2011. I also had to cut two of them down that I planted in 2013. I bought those two when they were at a big discount at one of the big box stores. I didn’t know at the time but they were infected with apple scab. They were so heavily infected that they hadn’t grown much in the last 3 years and they were starting to infect the 3 trees I had planted earlier. I will have to treat the 3 remaining trees with a fungicidal spray this coming spring and throughout  the summer.

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Beaver den to the left up against the hill and his pantry of sticks on the right.

Remember the beavers I reported last winter we had on our pond.  Well it didn’t end too well for them. They went across the fence to our neighbors and started cutting trees down onto the fence that separates our land. This was allowing the neighbors cows to escape onto our land. It didn’t bother us but the neighbor asked if he could get someone to trap the beaver. With us wanting to be good neighbors we said it was okay even though we felt bad for the beavers and loved to watch them on our pond. Some pictures below of beaver activity.

 

This was one of the trails the beavers were using to go from our pond to the neighbors.

This was one of the trails the beavers were using to go from our pond to the neighbors.

In this picture you can see some of the beaver damage to our neighbors trees.

In this picture you can see a few of the trees the beaver cut down.

More beaver damage

More beaver damage that my neighbor cleaned up and tried to burn.

The trapper ended up getting seven beavers on our pond. After the last beaver was trapped, it was less than a day before we noticed some river Otters had taken over the beaver dens and were happily eating the fish we stocked this past spring. We were not too happy about these new developments but what are you going to do? They were sure cute and we liked watching them too.

I found a dead Otter along our pond.

I found a dead Otter along our pond.

While walking around I did find a dead otter by our pond. I don’t know how it died but did find it interesting. It was a family of 5 otters that we saw on the farm so hopefully the rest are still there.

While I was down there I spotted some tracks of a big Bob Cat.

Bob Cat track

Bob Cat track

The tracks lead to the remains of a calf.

The tracks lead to the remains of a calf. He had stripped the hide down and all that remained was hide and bones.

The dead calf he was eating on was very small and couldn’t be that old. I don’t know if he had killed the calf or if it died during child birth or what.

The Ice on our pond was just over 3 inches thick and made it easy to walk on.

The Ice on our pond was just over 3 inches thick and made it easy to walk on.

I always love going for walks to view this beautiful land and I always feel so blessed to be the caretaker of it the short time we will be the owners.

I look back at our home and think last year at this time it wasn't there. We have sure come along way.

I look back at our home and think last year at this time it wasn’t there. We have sure come a long way.

our creek

The creek that runs along our north border.

Well I hope you enjoyed walking along with me on our farm. We are still waiting for our counter tops and cook stove to be delivered and will show them once they are installed. We hope everyone enjoyed the Holidays and till next time, goodbye.

Posted in Farm Report | 12 Comments

House Building Update

We got our master bedroom done.

We got our master bedroom done.

I want to get you up to date on our home building progress and I am happy to say we have our master bedroom done. We splurged on a very good king pillow top mattress because after sleeping in our camper on a very thin queen size camper mattress for 7 months it now seems like we are at a resort and we are loving it.dsc00236I am also happy to report we have our refrigerator and kitchen cabinets in and are waiting for our granite counter tops and our cook stove.Our kitchen

We are now cooking in our home instead of having to go out to our camper. The camper is now winterized and we will put it up for sale come spring. We have done enough camping for a life time and at this time don’t plan on camping again anytime soon.

Our Island

The Island took some time to do but we love the way it has turned out. It is basically just a two by four wall with paneling and some pvc trim surrounding 4 cabinets as you can see by the picture below.

The start of our island

We have ordered a new sofa sectional and should be here in about 3 weeks.

We have ordered a new sofa sectional and should be here in about 3 weeks.

We have been enjoying our venison and made some venison liver and onions on our temporary cooking arrangements.

We have been enjoying our venison and made some venison liver and onions on our temporary cooking stove.

This is our first winter here and I think of how blessed we are to see these views everyday.

Winter at Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

These calves got loose from our neighbors pasture to romp free like teenagers. Their mothers were on the other side of the fence keeping an eye on them.

These calves got loose from our neighbors pasture to romp free like teenagers. Their mothers were on the other side of the fence keeping an eye on them.

Well that should do it for now. Next time we should have lots to show you of the finished kitchen and living room, I know we can’t wait for it all to be done. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Posted in Buildng our home. | 18 Comments

Just finished our wide plank pine flooring

floor-sanding

This is me using an orbital sander on our wide plank pine flooring.

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Like she has this whole build, my wife has really been a big help.

We just finished installing and finishing our hardwood flooring. It wasn’t that hard but did take a lot of time and labor.  I can’t believe we are this far along and can really now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After we received our flooring we let it acclimate for about two weeks before we started laying the floor. We wanted to make our flooring as tight as possible so we used a bar, scrap piece of flooring and a 2×6 that we screwed into the sub-floor. This way its hard to see where the seems are. We decided to face nail the flooring using our trim nailer and we put 3 2 1/2 in galvanized nails every 16 inches where every floor joist was.

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The finished flooring really looks good.

We used a dark tung oil to finish the flooring the way they used to do years ago before chemicals.

We used a dark tung oil to finish the flooring the way they used to do years ago before chemicals.

Now just a little bit of baseboard and we are ready for kitchen cabinets.

 

Posted in Buildng our home. | 18 Comments