Farm Report May 6 2013

Milligan's Gander Hill FarmSorry I haven’t posted in a while because we bought a Class A Motor home that  has been a lot more work then I had planned on. It has sure been a lesson in what to look out for when buying a Motor Home and I will do a post about it some day to explain all the stuff I had to do to this thing.

Recently a friend of mine Johnny Copsy and I went to the farm to check on things and see  how the trees fared during the winter and to see what damage the recent flooding did on the farm in April. My wife couldn’t get the time off work so I talked my friend into helping me out.

The drought is officially over in Iowa. The farmers were concerned about the ground moisture going into spring, but with all the rain, snow, and flooding there this spring that is no longer a concern. I got there on Monday May 6th but on Friday May 3 they had 12 inches of snow on the ground, but it was all melted by the time we got there thank God

The first thing we did when we got there was to get out the tractor and drive down to the bottom ground where the trees are planted and check on them. I let John drive my tractor (That’s how I talked him into helping me) and I drove my pickup truck there with all the new pvc stakes that I brought with us to change them out with the bamboo stakes that are on our tree tubes that are starting to rot. I didn’t get more than ten feet on the bottom ground before I got the truck stuck. The tractor wasn’t having any problem so I thought the truck wouldn’t either but I was wrong. We went to the neighbor and borrowed a chain and the tractor had no problem pulling the truck out.

My tire tracks where I was stuck in the mud.

My tire tracks where I was stuck in the mud.

The tree tubes in the front section looked pretty good a coupe stakes had broken and the tree tube was still there being held in place by the tree that was still inside.

You can see the little Northern Pecan seedling to the left of this pvc stake that had its tube missing. This tree was planted last year to replace one that had died. It hadn’t grown much from last years drought.

Some of the tubes were also missing, but the tree was still there, so I put a pvc stake to mark where it was at so we wouldn’t accidentally mow it over and it would help mark the row. I think I may have made a mistake by doing this because I know deer are curious and they will come over to check out the white pvc stake and see this little tree and it won’t be long before they  figure out were there is a pvc stake marks a young tasty tree. I am not too worried during the spring and summer with all the fresh new grow of vegetation for the deer to eat but come fall I may move the stakes a couple of feet to one side of the tree in the row so it don’t mark exactly were the tree is. I also may spray on a chemical called Deer Guard that makes the trees smell and taste horrible to deer this fall.

I noticed from debris piled up against the tree tubes that the flooding was about a foot higher this year than it was in 2010.  When we got back to the very back part of the property were we had planted trees,  half the tree tubes were either gone or knocked over. The trees were all still in place were the tube used to be and the ones knocked over were being held in place by the tree. We went about removing the knocked over tree tubes from the trees and we staked out the spots with a pvc stake. I couldn’t put the tube back over the tree at this time because they had mud on the inside and were too dirty to reuse. I will clean them up this fall and may put them back on in October so the deer and mice can’t get to them this winter.

This is the picture from last spring, you can see how many more tree tubes we had compared to whats left this year.

This is the picture from last spring, you can see how many more tree tubes we had compared to whats left this year.

The after picture of what was left of the tree tubes.

The after picture of what was left of the tree tubes.

I am not distraught because we lost very few trees, just tree tubes. The tree tubes have done their job and without them the trees would not have survived up to this point. Most of the trees have now had over two years of growth. I don’t have to mow around them any more to keep the weeds down because the root system on the trees are now deeper then what the weeds are.

For the trees with tree tubes still standing we added a pvc stake to the existing bamboo and tube. We got lazy and did it the easy way instead of pulling out the old bamboo stake.

You can see here where we just ponded in a pvc stake next to the bamboo stake and then used zip ties to attach to tube and both stakes.

You can see here where we just pounded in a pvc stake next to the bamboo stake and then used zip ties to attach to tube and both stakes.

The fruit trees we planted last spring are looking very well, thanks in part to my friend Tom who watered them for us all of last summer during the drought.

We planted 2 peach, 2 cherry and a pear tree last spring, along with 3 apple trees we planted the year before.

We planted 2 peach, 2 cherry and a pear tree last spring, along with 3 apple trees we planted the year before.

The shade trees we planted last spring up on the building site are also doing well.

We planted one Colorado blue spruce and several varities of maples that will add brilliant fall colors on the building site.

We planted one Colorado blue spruce and several varieties of maples that will add brilliant fall colors on the building site and put them in tree tubes to help protect them against critters. You can’t put pine or spruces in tree tubes.

All in all the farm is coming along nicely and we are still counting the days when I retire and move there for good. Until next time, that concludes this farm report.

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About Gordon Milligan

I am a conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I plan to retire to in 3 yrs. I want to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
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11 Responses to Farm Report May 6 2013

  1. I’m so glad your trees made it through the drought and winter okay. It would have been too bad to lose 2 years’ worth of time. Things are looking really great! Keep ticking those days off!

  2. Thanks for commenting Susan, I always appreciate it when you do.

  3. Tamicia Coleman says:

    Glad your trees are surviving. I planted 10 new white pines last weekend, 5 peach trees the weekend before and my black walnut from last year is doing great! – miss seeing you on the train.

    • Hi Tammy, glad to hear you planted all those trees, it will be fun watching them grow and enjoying the fruits of your labor with the peach trees. I should be back on my regular train Tuesday.

      See you then.

  4. Will says:

    Gordon,
    Again – really appreciate the blog overall, provides me with inspiration that we can do it too. Had a question on the insulation factor for pole barn homes and you may have addressed it before; but, it’s been a while since I read through the entire blog. Are you going to use spray foam for insulation? What about attic? I want to try to maximize insulation to cut heating/cooling costs so am looking for good advice.

    Thanks. Will

    • I will be doing what Blake did in his pole barn house, I will use spray foam insulation on all the metal walls and roof on the inside. I put it on the roof for sound proofing and so condensation does not form on the underside in the attic space.

  5. John says:

    When I was a kid – – really a small kid – – – maybe 3 or 4 years of age – – my Dad planted two maple saplings . . . one on either side of the very small sidewalk that ran from our front door to the gravel road. I watched those trees grow til I was 7 years old and we moved to a nearby town from our little cottage in the country adjacent to a farmer’s field.
    I went back a few years ago (I am 74 now) – – and I was totally amazed that the house was still there – – and the two maples were still there also – – – grown up just like me – – They are huge now! I couldn’t believe it! But I was moved to tears by it!

    And getting stuck in the mud reminds me of the time I was running a giant tractor on my friend’s farm in a 500-acre field – – – we were getting the ground ready to plant his annual soya bean crop as I recall.

    As I was driving the rig slowly along – – – not a care in the world – – – I did notice what looked like a dark spot – – – a damp spot – – – in the field near an outgrowth of Night Shade plants but I paid it no mind – – – until the tractor sank to the wheel hubs when I attempted to drive over it.

    I guess I learned something about where to drive a tractor that day!

    I hope things are going well for you on your quest for your dream farm. I do like to sneak around from time to time and read what you are writing because some of what you are describing takes me back to when the air was 50% fresher over the entire United States than it is now – – – to days when I could lay in the front yard with my Grand Pappy and listen to tree frogs in the distance – – – on warm summer nights – – – with mosquitos buzzing – – – the moon full – – – a dog barking in the distance – –

    A tear now forms and I must go.

    Keep up the great writing and know that I am praying for you to achieve your dream while you are still young enough to enjoy it.

    God Bless.

    • Thanks John for your kind and generous comment, I wished I was half the writer you are. I hope you have a book in the works and if and when you get it done please let me know. I would love to hear more about your life experiences.

      • John says:

        Thank you for the wonderfully encouraging words and I assure you that it is YOUR writing that opens the portal to re-living and remembering the wonderful experiences of my youth – – and it simply doesn’t get any better than that. You have a way with words that allows the reader to virtually “Breathe the country air” that you so accurately and lovingly describe and the experience you provide through your words is priceless.

  6. Chris young says:

    I am curious because I am interested in the same model pole barn from
    Apb pole barn
    If u ever got your home started or have posted floor plans yet
    Thanks a bunch chris

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