Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Farm Toy

A few posts ago when talking about our good farm week I alluded to another good thing that happened that week that I would save for another post. Well, this is that post. I wanted to wait to talk about until I found out just how good of a thing it was. Since moving out on the farm, Margo and I have talked about how nice it would be to have a 4 wheeler (I will from here on out refer to it as an ATV). We could use it to go around and check on stuff, haul wood or rocks or hay, take it deer hunting, and many other tasks. The past 2 years we have been using the truck to haul wood out which is hard on my truck and I want it to last for a long time and not tear it up. We use the wheelbarrow to haul rocks, dirt, or hay. When we were putting up fence, I had to carry the big wood posts and metal posts up the hill behind our house by hand to the back of the property because I had no other way to get them there. So you can see how nice it would be to have an atv to do a lot of that stuff with. The main reason we had not got one yet is they are expensive (even used) and we did not have the money to spend on one. Over the past 2 years we have been saving any money we make on the farm whether it is by selling wood or selling goats. We have been putting that money in a "farm" savings account to use on some large item we needed to buy for the farm at some point. We decided a while back we wanted to use this money to buy a used atv. We looked for a couple months and realized that even a decent used atv was expensive and cost more than the amount of money we wanted to spend on one, but we kept looking hoping that God might smile on us and we would find a good one we could afford. Well, one came along a couple weeks ago. It was really cheap, but it did need some work. It is always scary buying something used especially when you know it has some problems but don't know what they are or how much it will cost to get them fixed. We decided to go out on a limb and go ahead and get it. It was kind of funny because we were the first ones to look at it and there were 2 guys there staring at us that wanted to buy it if we didn't. So we got it, and then we took it to a dealer to have them check it over and fix any problems it had. We finally got it back this week. They had to put a new starter, solenoid, belt, and adjust the clutch and now it works great. After buying it and paying to have it fixed we came in under what we had planned on spending on one (which means we can buy some accessories like a small trailer to pull behind it) and it is better than anything we thought we would be able to afford. In fact based on the money we have in it, we got it for less than half the price of what kelley blue book says it is worth. We are very excited. This post is getting long so I will cut to the chase and tell you what it is exactly and show you pics.

The Specs:
2003 Polaris Sportsman 500HO 4x4
liquid cooled engine
push button 4 wheel drive
independent rear suspension
Towing capacity 1200lbs, almost as much as Margo's CRV
ground clearance 11.25 inches, that's just crazy
up to 60mph which is way to fast on an atv for me, I had it up to 40 today on the county road and it was just cruising along but I think that will be my max speed.
engine braking system- this means the engine will slow itself down if you let off the accelerator even when going down a hill. I tried it out on our really steep hill on the county road. I was going down at about 20mph and let off the accelerator and it immediately started slowing it down to about 3 mph and kept it there all the way down the hill.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Magical Fruit

Question. What fruit can you both eat and predict the winter weather with? Answer. The Persimmon. Let me explain about the winter weather part for all you yankees out there. What you do in order to know how bad the winter is going to be is take a persimmon seed in cut it in half long ways. Inside the persimmon seed there will be an outline of either a fork, a spoon, or a knife. If it is a fork that means it is going to be a mild winter and not much snow and ice. A spoon means that you are going to be shoveling lots of snow. A knife means it is going to be terribly cold and icy and the wind will cut through you like a knife. So yesterday, I picked some persimmons from the few persimmon trees that I have and I cut a seed open. It showed a spoon which means lots of snow. I love snow, so it is perfect. As I mentioned, you can also eat persimmons. Just wait for them to ripen and get soft in the fall, you don't want to try one when they are green. That is a favorite prank of my dad's, tricking people to eat green persimmons when they don't know any better. It is actually pretty funny. They taste pretty good when ripe but there is not a lot to them. This year, I decided I wanted to try out a recipe that uses persimmons so I made some persimmon cookies. They turned out very good but I can barely taste the persimmon so I think next time I will put more persimmons in them. And the cookies are all mine to eat because Margo won't eat them because they have cinnamon in them.

Here are the persimmons

Here is the seed cut in half so you can see the spoon

Here are the yummy cookies

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Help me, Help my garden

I think fall has officially sprung. I think fall might be my favorite season. The weather has turned kind of cold. If fact tonight we made our first fire in the wood stove. Having a fire inside means we can have smores whenever we want. Very Nice. Another great thing about fall is the leaves changing which brings me to my main point. Have you ever asked yourself....How can I help the Farm of Hale? The answer is simple: donate. Donate leaves. I use lots of leaves for mulch in my garden. I have a chipper/shredder that I run them through and put them in a big pile until I am ready to use them. I have lots of leaves out here on the farm to use but that requires me raking them which I don't mind doing if I have to. But I know that a lot of people rake their leaves to make their yards look nice and then they bag them and have them hauled off. If any of you who read this do rake and bag your leaves and live close to Fayetteville, I would like to have them. I will come get them. Or you are welcome to bring them out here to us and in exchange I will give you a free personal tour of the farm and maybe a free meal (if it is meal time).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The bad and the ugly

On our blog I tend to mostly share the good things that are going on, or the projects that we completed successfully. I thought for once I would post something that we tried that did not work out, so that you all would know that not everything works out perfect here on the Farm of Hale... I know that may be shocking to some of you. We decided to try making soap, goatmilk lye soap to be exact. We thought it would be cool to try out and see how it worked. The recipe we had called for lye, goat milk, lard, honey, and oatmeal. It was actually pretty easy to go through all the steps to making it. The hardest thing was trying to find someone that sells lye.

Here is Margo stirring ingredients, it's looking good so far.

Here it is after we had mixed it all up and poured it in the soap molds, still looks pretty good at this point. It has to sit for 2 days to harden up before you take it out of the molds. Then it has to cure for 4-6 weeks

After 2 days this is what it looks like and it is even worse looking in person. We think we may have had too much lard or somehow the ingredients did not bind together or whatever. If you are an old person who reads this blog and has made soap before or any other person who has made soap before maybe you will help us out and tell us what we did wrong.

So, this little project did not turn out so well. We are going to try it one more time and see what happens. If it does not work the next time we may abandon our great soap making plans.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Good Farm Week

Last week was one of our better weeks for the farm. A few really good things happened. I will tell you about two of them in this post and save another one for a later post. The first good thing that happened is we sold all of our wood. We had sold 4 of the 12 ricks of wood so far and had not had many calls the past week or two which is weird because last year we sold out in a few days. We had advertised on craigslist and in the local newspaper classifieds. Then on Thursday I had a guy call me and want to come look at the wood. He liked it and decided to buy the 8 ricks that I had left. So, we sold all our wood which is good for us. Then, I guess since it is starting to get a lot colder, I had like 6 calls on Saturday of people wanting to buy wood. I wish I had more to sell them but I am pretty much done cutting wood to sell. The next big thing that happened is we sold 3 of our calves at the Fayetteville livestock auction last week. If you remember we bought 4 calves in the spring to raise and get bigger in order to sell in the fall. We put them on our neighbors' land because they did not have any livestock over there and it would help them not have to mow and it would help us make some money... hopefully. One of the calves we are going to keep until next year to butcher. The other 3 we sold and our plan was to hopefully make enough off of the 3 we sold to cover the cost of the one we were keeping so we would not be out any money for a cow to butcher this year. But, we ended up having a problem with the calves during the summer. They contracted pinkeye around the time we went on vacation to Ohio and we did not discover it until we got back home and by that point it had become really bad. We had to give them antibiotics to treat it and I put eyepatches on their affected eye to protect it from dust and sunlight so it would heal quicker. We had pirate cows. The pinkeye went away put they still had white spots on their eyes which is pretty common after a cow has pinkeye. At livestock sales, if a cow has these white spots than they don't bring as much money. Bad for us. We were really worried that we were going to have a hard time even making our money back on those three because of this. Anyway, we sold them last week and they did sell for less- about 80 cents a pound instead of $1-$1.15 a pound. But they ended up being a lot heavier than we thought they would be. When we got them they were around 250 pounds and when we sold them they averaged 455 pounds. This equaled out to them gaining over 1.25 pounds per day, just eating grass. That is pretty good. So it ended up that even though we made less per pound than what we wanted, their weight helped us to make more money and we ended up making enough off the three we sold to cover the cost of what we paid for the one we are keeping, and we had money left over. We were really excited. Now we just have one calf that we will keep until next year sometime. I think his name will be GOB (pronounced like Job from the bible).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rockin' Video

As I have mention on here before, one of my good buddies has a band called Heypenny. They are really good. Their live show is excellent, so if they are ever playing in your area you should definitely check them out. They are working on a new album currently, but in the meantime they have made a music video of one of their current songs that I thought I would share on here, it is funny. It just got released the other day. They also released the song as an official single on itunes and I think it is being promoted on the radio. The only thing is, you have to live in the UK to get it. That is kind of where they are trying to get promoted real big so for now you can only buy the song on itunes in the UK. But you can listen to it and other songs on their myspace by clicking here. And here is the video for all of you to check out.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Being federal employees, we did not have to work today for the holiday. We decided to take a little weekend trip. Friday night we drove down to Mena (my (Josh) hometown) and stayed with some good friends, Steve and Kathy. We had a really good time hanging out with them Friday night and Saturday. Friday night we tried out a amazing new beer called Samichlaus (thanks for recommending it Justin) that I highly recommend to all you beer drinkers out there (it is a little difficult to find). We also had some really good wine that Steve and Kathy had discovered on their recent trip to California wine country. On Saturday we drove around Mena a little, not much has changed since I moved away almost 10 years ago. Wow, it is crazy that is has been almost 10 years. We also got to see some of their latest works of art. Steve fixes up awesome old cars and Kathy makes pottery in their shop. They are both really good at their respective arts. Although I was unable to acquire an antique car from Steve, Kathy was more generous with her pottery and gave us a couple pieces. The pots are really awesome.

kitchen utensil holder

Garlic pot

That's right Sarah, Annie, and Molly, I moving in on the pottery, that's what you get for moving far, far away.

After parting ways with Steve and Kathy, we drove up to Queen Wilhelmina State Park, which is on Rich Mountain, which is the second tallest mountain in Arkansas. It is only a few minutes drive from Mena and has awesome views. Unfortunately it was a little hazy on Saturday so I couldn't get many good pictures, but it was still a great drive. I highly recommend taking a trip there if you have not been, especially now that the leaf colors are starting to change. Here is one pic I did get, You can see the road winding along the top of the mountain.

Our next stop on our little trip was Waldron which is just north of Mena. My cousin and aunt have recently moved there so we went to see them and spent Saturday night with my aunt and uncle and went to church with my cousin on Sunday. I have a lot of kin folks on my dad's side that live near Waldron in a little community named Haletown. That's right there is a little town in Arkansas named after my family. We had a nice relaxing visit with all of them, it was nice to see family we have not seen in a while.

That concludes the tour of our weekend. The whole weekend was really great. Thanks Chris.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I am sure I have mentioned it previously this summer, but I grew luffa this year. It was my fun think to grow in the garden this year to see if I could and see how it turned out. Luffa are the sponge like things people use to scrub with in the shower and other places. A lot of people don't know that luffa is a gourd, it is in the cucumber family. They grow in vine form and the vine gets really big. I grew them on a hooped cattle panel and they took up all the space on it and then started spreading over the garden. The vine was really pretty and made nice yellow flowers, that attracted not so nice bees. Here is a little photo tour of the progression of the luffa throughout the summer.

This is the vine growing on the cattle panel

This is the luffa gourd growing on the vine

After they mature, they turn brown and dry out on the vine and that is when you harvest them. We have been harvesting 2-3 every few days for the past few weeks. It took me a few times picking to figure out when the best time to harvest was. Here is what they look like when you harvest them.

To get to the sponge, you peel the skin off kind of like a banana (b-a-n-a-n-a-s). Then you wash it with a water hose with a strong stream to get all the sap like stuff out. And here is what you get.

You can put them in some bleach water for a few minutes after peeling them and then rinse them if you want them to look nice and like they do in the store or you can leave them natural which is a little more brown color and has some spots and stuff. To cure them you leave them in the sunlight for a few days until they harden up. Most individual gourd make two sponges, we probably have 14 or so sponges so far and will have at least that many more. Here is some of the finished products.

Here is Margo demonstrating the use of the luffa.

Some of you might be getting one of these as a gift. I guess you could interpret getting one two ways. Either we think you are a friend or we think you need to take a bath.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Keep the vampires at bay

As some of you may remember I planted way to much garlic this year. We used some of it in our salsa and spaghetti sauce canning. I also used some to plant for next year. But we still have lots and lots left, more than we will ever use before we harvest next summer. So, I thought I would offer it to you my loyal readers if you want any. The best time to plant it in my opinion is in the fall and probably sometime in the next couple weeks. You can also plant it in the early spring but I don't think it gets as big. If any of you want some to plant for next year in your garden or flower beds let me know. You can come and get it or I can bring it to you.