Ted’s essays

Autumn on our homestead

With four days of rain predicted and reasonable certainty that both the summer and the Indian Summer are history, I saw this morning as my last chance to seed the areas my construction projects this year laid bare.

I have been trying to buy or borrow a real harrow to work the seeds under cover, but nothing worked out. So I made my own along the lines of cheap, scrappy farm yard stuff. Old boards. Fence scrap. Screws. Chain. Ingenuity. It worked just fine.

It has been almost a decade since I sold off my 20-year business, The Gentleman Farmer with tractors, implements, good-will and customer list.

Our Bunkhouse homestead demanded a snow plow so I have a Polaris Sportsman for that purpose. Turns out I can do quite a bit of ‘tractor stuff’ with it, too… oh, and I do try to take it out for the fun of it every once in a while, but I’m not so much a “fun guy” any more.

Driving to various scalped parts of our ten acres with buckets of sand and seed, then harrowing over after I have hand-broadcast them was a nice fit for ‘the new gentleman farmer tractor’.

The mix of seeds varied DRAMATICALLY in size. The seller recommended spreading each by itself to insure even distribution. NAH. Way too many trips walking the barren areas broadcasting one at a time.

Enter farm-hand-trick #2: I have a pile of rock crusher fines that resupply trace minerals wherever it is spread. Using that as a foundation, I added the whole spectrum of seed, stirred some and spread sand and all of the seeds in one walking pass over each area.

This year has seen me operating a backhoe once and three times on an excavator (aka: track-hoe). I have ripped nature’s cover off quite an area. I did want to put some interesting seeds out there so the invasive thistles and knapweed in the area don’t get the red carpet welcome. I blended several hearty grass seeds, wheat, white, and red clover into my sand medium to give nature some good choices.

In our neck of the woods beauty is easy to find. I took a few photos that I share here. It would be sad to be so focused on getting stuff done that I don’t appreciate nature’s beauty around me.

Next Spring should be interesting. I’m rooting for the Rose Clover, White Dutch Clover, wheat and various restorative browsing grasses to grace my re-sculpted landscape.

An under-rated bonus are all the apple trees scattered around the place. The only limitation is our abilities to harvest and preserve what the ragged old trees offer up to us, the deer, bears and elk who share our country spaces.