Growing A Farm

North Pasture

A picture of our north pasture after we mowed it.

Awhile back one of my readers made a comment about our farm growing and at that time it occurred to me that we are growing a farm and our farm is like a seed we have planted and it is slowly emerging  from bare land. When we were on or vacation in October working on our farm, we saw it grow a little more. I have all ready posted about having our farm pond dug out, but we got  a lot of other work done In spite of being bitten up by chiggers and having the flu while we were there. We were able to use our new mower and mow a lot of our pasture ground to keep all the willow trees from taking over the pasture.

When we were there last year in October we noticed there was thousands of grass hoppers in the tall grass, but this year we only saw a few. I was wondering what happened to them but when we started mowing the pasture we spotted the predator that was keeping the grass hoppers in check. In our tall grass were hundreds of praying mantis that kept flying up as we were mowing. They were huge and we felt bad about cutting down all the grass and taking away their habitat were they had layed their eggs for next years crop. We were also surprised by all the birds who were also living in the 4 foot tall grass. We are trying to make our farm a permaculture  and in our farm design we want to include the birds and the helpful insects that help control the harmful ones. We have decided from now on we will not mow the whole thing at once but rotate the mowing so parts are only mowed once every two years. This way there will always be some tall grass for the insects and other animals can over winter in. We did leave about five acres in the back forty that did not get mowed this year.

Our neighbors cows stopped by to say hi. They have a beautiful Hereford bull that you can see on the right of this picture with the white face looking at us. If you click on picture to get a closer look.

We also planted some more trees while we were there. We added two Honey Crisp apple trees. This gives us 5 apple trees altogether now. I hope by the time we move there in 2 years some of the trees will be bearing fruit.

These are our 2 new honey crisp apple trees we planted in October.

These are our 2 new honey crisp apple trees we planted in October.

Apple trees we planted 2 years ago.

Remember the 2 cherry trees I said were dead from the drought in my last farm report. They are not dead, I noticed new growth on the bottom of the trunk of the trees. I don’t know if they will make it but I am hoping they do. I don’t know what caused them to die back and will do a better inspection the next time we are there.

Blaze Red Maple

Blaze Red Maple Tree that we had grown from seed from trees in our current neighborhood.

We also planted a bunch of baby trees that I had planted in our garden a year ago last fall. I went around in our current neighborhood and found the most beautiful trees with the most brilliant fall color and gathered lots of their seeds. I gathered some brilliant red and yellow maples and some thornless honey locust seeds.

The baby red maples and thorn honey locust trees after I dug them out of the garden.

The baby red and yellow maples and thornless honey locust trees after I dug them out of the garden.

We planted several of the maples up by our building site and the rest along with the Honey Locust down on the bottom ground. We like the honey locust because our cattle will eat the sweet seed pods when they drop in the fall along with the wild life that make our farm their home.  We protected these baby trees with a wire cage around them.

Some of the trees I got seeds from.

Some of the trees I got seeds from.


Sugar Maple

The Yellow maples are Sugar Maple

This concludes this farm report.

About Gordon Milligan

I am a retired conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I now live in and have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I have built from the ground up. My wife and I are trying 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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13 Responses to Growing A Farm

  1. Jewels says:

    So interesting about the grasshoppers and the praying mantis, and that’s a really great idea to rotate the mowing so the beneficial insects can keep some of their habitat.
    Boy, I love me some Honey Crisp apples, they’re my favorite!
    Also, what a great idea to go around the neighborhood during the fall and gather up seeds!
    Great farm report, Gordon! 😀

  2. Hello Gordon
    Stumbled upon your blog awhile back. Enjoy it – makes me appreciate the life I have even more than I normally do . Live in the area of your farm and lucky to be somewhat experiencing your farming dream.
    Anyway, thought of you the other day when I drove passed a farm for sale. I believe it is listed privately. It is located in Wayne County – just south of Lucas County. East of Corydon 2 miles on the north side of Hwy 2. 40 acres, house, outbuildings. There was a homemade sign in the yard. Did not get the phone number.
    It is a small world. I am familiar with both Iowa farms you have posted. Fished both ponds, knew previous owners well and know Swede well enough to know he is quite the character. Maybe the karma will continue and this farm is THE one.
    Let me know if I can be of any assistance. Just shoot me an email.

    • Howdy neighbor, nice to know I have someone in the area that follows my blog. I hope we can become friends. My wife and I would love nothing more then to develop friendships from people in the area. Langela at Iowa Farmerz wife is also lives in the area, she is the blogger who has commented below this response.

      That is cool you know Swede, he is quite the character and that’s why we love him so. I would love to hear more about your place and the farm that is for sale and will email you latter to day. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Langela says:

    It seems so long ago that it was fall and still mowing season! I love the falling snow on your page. How did you do that?

  4. Zephyr Hill says:

    I love your idea of rotating where you bush hog. You are already doing such a great job of growing your farm even before you even move there! If those tree seeds breed true you should have some beautiful fall color around your house!

  5. Bill says:

    A few years ago we stopped bushhogging our fields as frequently as we had when I realized how the wildflowers were benefitting the bees and how the “weeds” attracted insects that would otherwise live in our gardens. I realized that I was mowing just for looks. As long as I do it once a year or even once every couple of years, that’s enough to keep saplings down. These days I wait till November to mow some and the rest I’ll mow in late spring.

    I’m enjoying your blog. Several years ago we planted fruit trees, as you are doing now, and now they’re starting to bear fruit. I’m glad we did it.

    • Hi Bill, thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean by attracting more insects to your gardens by cutting down the weeds. I was wondering if I might be doing the same type of thing by cutting down all the willow trees and if this might attract more voles and mice to the trees we have planted. I hope not, we always lose a few trees every year to mice and vole damage, but will find out this coming spring if we have more than normal girdling of our small trees.

  6. Mark Williamson says:

    Tree’s are assume. But they will not grow on Eden Farm. We have such weather ex-streams here. We planted 100 Colorado spruce this year. Crossing fingers they survive the winter. Keep in touch . Merry Christmas & God Bless

    • Hi Mark, glad you stopped by. I hope your trees make it too. That will be pretty cool if they do, I love the look of the Colorado blue spruce. I will have to check out your site to see if you did a post about them. Mary Christmas to you and Beverley too.

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