Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Hunter

Over this past weekend our son celebrated his tenth birthday. Among the many wonderful gifts that he received was his first firearm, a .22 caliber rifle. When he was about seven, he learned to shoot a BB gun. At about eight and a half, he moved up to a pellet gun. He has enjoyed shooting both of these guns for target practice, but has yearned for an actual firearm. So for his birthday and accompanied by numerous stipulations for its use, he is now the proud owner of a .22 caliber rifle. For now, he will shoot his new weapon under very close parental supervision. However in the long term picture his love for shooting can be quite beneficial to a farm operation like ours through the elimination of destructive varmints such as ground hogs, racoons, and squirrels. Anyway I am getting ahead of myself because that is a few years down the road.

The following is my first ever YouTube video upload showing our son describing the use of his new firearm:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

California Trip Recap

I was hoping to provide more frequent updates to this blog during our California trip. However, here it is Sunday already and it is time to head for the airport this evening so that we can return to Virginia. Unfortunately not a single update was provided during our stay out here. But even though I haven't been writing, I have been busy snapping pictures and we have been busy with all kinds of activities while exploring the Los Angeles area.

The photo album shown via the slide show in the previous post has been updated with all of the pictures that I have taken this week. It was easier and in the long run will make the most sense to have all of the trip pictures in one photo album rather than a separate slide show and album for each day of the trip.

After the pictures from the flight out are pictures from our second day of the trip when we visited the South Pasadena skatepark. My son was really looking forward to doing some skateboarding in California and so we planned on visiting several skateparks for him to try. There are lots of skateboarding pictures in the photo album.

On our third day we visited the Vans skatepark in the suburb of Orange which is south of LA. Vans is a popular shoe and apparel manufacturer for skateboard enthusiasts and they have an awesome indoor skatepark here in Southern California. The pictures in the album will show the diversity of skating platforms provided at this facility. In the end, I think this was my son's favorite skatepark that he was able to try during the week.

The day after that was more skating in the eastern LA suburbs of Chino and Chino Hills. We found two very nice skateparks to try. The park in Chino Hills we had all to ourselves and the larger one in Chino had very few others skating, so there was plenty of space for everyone to do their thing. From the Chino Hills park, we had an interesting view of a forest fire which was occurring on nearby Mount Baldy.

On our fifth day, we diversified our activity. First we went to a top-rated skatepark in Glendale where no one else was skating during our time there. After skating we went to nearby Griffith Park where we visited the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Travel Town train museum.

The next day was spent chilling out. Both our son and one of our hosts are guitar enthusiasts. So it was nice for them to play guitar together and learn from each other. Actually the whole week was spent chilling out and visiting with our incredibly gracious hosts when we weren't out exploring. We had not seen our friends for several years, so it was nice to have a whole week for visiting and catching up on what has been going on in our respective lives. On this day we attempted to visit the planetarium and observatory at Griffith Park, but the road to the observatory was closed that afternoon due to a brush fire in the vicinity.

By the seventh day of our trip, the weather was getting pretty hot during the day, so on this day we went to the beach. Just twenty miles inland from the beach, the temperature was pushing 100 degrees, but at the seaside, it was a comfortable 80. During our drive home we got to experience Friday afternoon Los Angeles traffic. So to keep occupied, my son took over camera duties to snap shots of downtown Los Angeles and other sights that piqued his interest during the drive.

The beach day was so much fun that we went back the next day as well and my son tried his hand at boogie boarding on the waves. For safety, I went out in the water with him so I was unable to capture any of his wave riding on film. That day also happened to be this blog author's birthday, so after our trip to the beach, we enjoyed an evening of cooking out and visiting in our hosts beautiful backyard.

So here it is Sunday now and we will leave in a few more hours for the airport to return to Virginia and conclude our California adventure. It has been a great trip with many lasting memories for us both. I have embedded a photo slide show into this entry which should be viewable in most web browsers. Just after that is a link to an online album that should be availble in all browsers and might be the best way to view the pictures that were taken during our trip. By viewing the online album, you can see the pictures in a much larger format.

Click this link or on the picture below to view the web album online which will allow you to see the pictures in a larger format.

California Trip May 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

California Trip Day One

This blog is implementing a change in scenery for the next several days as the blog author and his son leave the manure shoveling behind for a week in order to enjoy a visit to Southern California. Instead of pictures showing progress with the various ongoing farm projects, we will endeavor to show those who follow this blog some of the sights and activities from our stay in the Los Angeles area. The following slide show contains some pictures from our flight across the country. Everything went smooth on the flight out with no major delays and our luggage even arrived at the destination at the same time as we did!

Click this link or on the picture below to view the web album online which will allow you to see the pictures in a larger format.

California Trip May 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grazing Again

One of the first posts published in this blog showed the operation and described the benefits of spreading mule manure on pasture to naturally fertilize the soil. It has been about 6 weeks since that application and I thought it would be nice to show the current pasture condition. In that time we have had some good rains and warmer weather, that when combined with the fertilized soil, have allowed the pasture grass to grow up to a good grazing level.

We have sectioned our pasture into three grazing paddocks. Each paddock is approximately one-half acre in size. By allowing the animals to graze about 3 weeks in each paddock, we can achieve a six week rotation.

Here is a picture of one of the grazing paddocks as we were spreading the manure right at the end of March:

At that time, the animals were rotated to the neighboring paddock in which they grazed for about 3 weeks. They were then rotated to a third paddock at which time the second paddock received an application of manure. The animals then grazed in the third paddock for about 3 more weeks. During that 6 week timeframe, the pasture in the first paddock shown in the picture above was left alone to receive rainfall and sunshine which allowed the nutrients from the manure to enhance the fertility of the soil. The grass in the paddock responded nicely and is ready for grazing again as can be shown in the following pictures.

This three week rotation will continue as long as the weather cooperates. The variety of grasses that are planted in the pasture tend to grow best during the relatively cooler weather of the spring and early summer, and then again in the fall before the freezing weather sets in. However during the heat of July and August, the grass grows much slower such that we sometimes have to add a fourth paddock to the rotation.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Visit from the Blimp

This afternoon provided an interesting sight flying above our farm - The Goodyear Blimp! I am used to seeing the blimp flying over major sporting events, but not over our little old farm way out in the middle of Floyd County, Virginia! I would imagine the blimp operators had a spectacular view of the spring green landscape on this beautiful 70 degree afternoon that we were blessed to experience.