Farm Report April 2014


Our pond we had dug out is starting to fill up.

Our pond we had dug out is starting to fill up.

We made it down to our farm recently to check out the pond and to plant some grass seed where we had it excavated. We also checked on our trees that we have planted to see how they fared through the winter and to check on our pole barn and all it contents. I am happy to report all is well.

It was nice to see the pond with about two feet of water in it. There on the farm we didn’t get nearly the snow we did here in Chicago, if it had it would have been full by now.

We put down about 100 lbs of mixed grass seed altogether. My friend Tom put down about 40lbs for us, but  he didn’t think that was nearly enough and he suggested we put at least another 40lbs down. So we drove to the farm and put another 60lbs down.

After putting out the grass seed we then we put 9 bales of straw on top of it to help keep the birds from eating it all and the straw helps keep the seed moist so it has a chance to germinate. It was a lot of work and I hope it gets enough rain to germinate and then grows and gets established before the area floods which it has done at least once a year since we bought the place in 2009. It was a two-day job but we managed to get it done. The soil where we planted the seed looks really good and very black and is some of the best looking soil I have ever seen. It was also light and fluffy and we didn’t drive on the ground to keep from compacting it. I think the seed will grow good if given enough moisture.

Straw on our grass seed.

Here we are starting to put the straw over the grass seed.


There was a little erosion on the embankment but nothing to worry about yet. We have to keep our fingers crossed and hope it all gets established before the heavy rains and flooding comes and causes major erosion.

I took our battery charger with us just in case our tractor wouldn’t start after sitting all winter, but there was no need. The tractor started right up. They only thing that worried me was a mouse ran from up by the engine compartment through my legs under the seat somewhere. I am not afraid of mice for myself but only worried about them chewing engine wires on the tractor. The next time we go back I will need to get something that will get rid of the mice, not sure what to do, I don’t like to use poison because that could kill other animals that would eat the mice. I am thinking my best plan of action is to get several different kinds of traps and use some bird seed to lure them in.

We checked on our tree tubes and fruit trees while we were there and the pvc poles we replaced the bamboo poles with on our tree tubes have held up well. We didn’t see one tree tube toppled over. I am glad we did the extra work and replaced them all, it was well worth the effort.

This is one of the Honey Crisp apple trees we planted last fall.

This is one of the Honey Crisp apple trees we planted last fall.


We also looked at all of our fruit trees while we were there and every one of them including the two Honey Crisp apple trees we planted last fall are looking good. I have to admit I was a little bit worried that when we mowed the fields next to all the trees we planted and cut down all the small willow trees that we might be asking for trouble and all the field mice and voles would head to our trees and girdle them. We didn’t see any evidence of that and will do a better inspection the next time we go to the farm in May.

Every thing is looking good at the farm and we can’t wait until the day we retire and move there for good.

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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16 Responses to Farm Report April 2014

  1. Langela says:

    Looks like we’re to get a good inch or so of rain soon, so that should help. Also, we use poison in our barns and have cats and a dog, etc. and nothing bothers the poisoned mice. I’ve always been told that other animals can smell or sense not to eat them. Just a thought since you aren’t living there and able to check and empty the traps. I’d think they’d fill up or get set off and then you’d still have them running around. Mike works at the Case dealership in Corydon and he says there’s always electrical problems caused by mice. They even cause fires because they build nests and the engines get hot and start the dry nest materials on fire. Anyway, glad you got a lot accomplished and enjoyed your visit.

    • Thanks Langela, I think the cats are the best solution for the mice I am sure we will end up with a few even if we don’t get any. I hear people dump dogs and cats in the country when they are no longer wanted. I definitely don’t want wire problems on our tractor and may take your advise and use poison at least until we move there.

  2. Jocelyn says:

    An amazing amount of work in a couple of days. The pond is looking great. Thanks for the update.

  3. Zephyr Hill says:

    You guys worked hard! Isn’t it satisfying to see all your previous hard work coming to fruition? I hope your grass seed gets some rain and takes off!

    • Me too Susan, for the money it cost us in gas to drive there and stay in a motel two nights and the price of grass seed and straw I will really be disappointed if it don’t grow.

  4. Jewels says:

    Glad all is well! 😀

  5. Thanks Julie, I hope all is well with you too.

  6. John says:

    Dear Gordon:
    That is one nice-looking “Pond” and is just the thing for your new farm. I wonder if it is deep enough to put a small row boat on?

    I knew a guy once who had a big pond on his farm and he had a little pier and a row boat on it and I used to go out on the boat at night and listen to all the sounds of the night. He had his little lake stocked with fish and there were the frogs who sang too.

    Somehow his pond had attracted a lot of birds and some catty-nine-tail plants and it was all so very magical.

    I spent a few nights of my now-flown youth sleeping in a big canvas tent next to that Farmer’s pond in that lovely lonely field under the pure glassy protection of a star canopy and the most fairy-tale-looking summer clouds ever imagineable and it was pure joy. I think it added years to my life.

    It looks to me like all your hard work is turning into something truly magnificient.

  7. Thanks John for your comments. There is only about two feet of water in the pond now, but I just talked to my friend Tom who lives by our farm said they got about 4 inches of rain this weekend and there has been some flooding. He don’t know if it flooded by our farm, but hope to find out.

  8. Mark says:

    Looking Great Gordon. We have started our spring project. Our new Barn. We are very excited to get it done before next winter. I’ll Keep in touch.
    Mark & Bev

  9. Mark says:

    Things are going well. Winter just wont let go here this year. We got 9 inches of snow last Sunday. New Barn is completed. Now the real work starts the inside finishes. But the structure is up. Garden will go in soon as I can get a day of sunshine. House has stopped for most part. But this years goal is to insulate attic, finish walkin cooler & get the rest of the solar panels on roof. Well take care stop in when you are in the neighbor hood. We always have room waiting for ya & a good meal.
    Mark & Bev

    • Thanks Mark for stopping by, I always look forward to what’s happening on your farm. I might take you up on your offer some day and visit you two. Wyoming is my favorite state and I would love to have a reason to get there again. Throw in a few cocktails and you just might have us.

  10. Gordon, I can’t get to your new post about the flooding. I get an error message. Any idea what’s going on?

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