Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Today we took the show on the road for the last time in 2011. Our travels took us to blistery Lemont, Illinois. It was so cold that we got the teachers to allow us to move the cider pressing and wheat grinding indoors. No such luck with the tractor ride so that made for a long day. As evidence by the pictures, the kids still had fun today.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Late this past summer we noticed that some of the shingles from the farmhouse roof were coming off. This was a bit strange since the roof is only about 10 years old. When we got on the roof to do an inspection we found that the nails were totally gone. Rusted away to dust. We called in a roofing expert and they said that there was a brief period where the material used in the nails was of just really poor quality (yep, from China). Additionally, he said that some of the fireproofing on the shingles when mixed with water contributed to the corrosion of the nails. With that new information it was time to attack the job for a second time in a decade.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A while back I was given a box of old post cards from my great grandfather to my great grandmother before they were married. She did a lot of traveling around the Midwest, especially for the era in which she lived. One of the cards caught my eye immediately. It is of a bountiful harvest of apples in the little Michigan town of Baroda. Being a historian, I wanted to find out a little more. Ends up Baroda and the county of Berrien is one of the major fruit producers in all of Michigan. Those 15,000 bushels of apples would take up three and a half semi-trucks if loaded up today. To get an idea of how many apples this is, it takes on average, 126 apples to make a box (which is equal to a bushel) That means, in this picture there is about 1,890,000 apples. Wow. This harvest was definitely picture worthy.
As you get ready to have your Thanksgiving feast don't forget where your food comes from and those that work so hard to put it on your table.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
With the end of the school program year it is time to send Lilly up to Golden Oaks Farm for the rest of her lactation cycle. Something I bet most people don't know, dairy cows are on a pretty strict schedule. The way it is supposed to go, a cow freshens (giving birth), then milks for about 305 days. At that point she takes two months off and stops milking. In this period she is called a dry cow. At the end of that two months, she will again re-freshen and the cycle starts again. This little circle of life is fine when everything goes smooth. If a farmer is really lucky the cow will have a handful of heifers and then you can grow the herd. However, like everything in farming, nature plays its hand in the game. Lilly was bred a couple of times this year and did not take. This failure means she needs to keep milking until she catches. Here comes the trouble, the longer a cow milks the less she gives. At some point she will actually just quit making milk. Lilly gave birth to Daisy back in February. According to plan, she should right now be going into dry and having a calf in March or there abouts. Well, so much for planning. Lilly is one of those All-Star girls like Gibson that is a great milker and loves the public. Hopefully we will see her back down at WF soon.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Last week the Glenview Park District published their 2011 survey results. Under the heading of highest participation by survey respondents, the Glenview Farmers Market came in second behind the 4th of July parade/fireworks. Fifty-three percent of those asked attended the market. That was really neat to read.
In a somewhat unrelated topic, the survey showed that more people found out about GPD offerings through e-mail blasts that any other way. Guess this on-line stuff is here to stay.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The farm got a little help with fall work as Cody brought his new (1950's)John Deere model A over to start discing corn stalks. Once the crop is harvested we need to cut up the what is left of the plant. In this case, there is a lot of the plant left that goes back into supplying nutrients for the soil. After discing the field some farmers went ahead and plowed the ground so it is ready for the coming spring planting. Other farmers left the field with the disced stalks on top so as to minimize erosion over the winter and spring. With our fields being on the small side we will wait to plow until closer to April.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
When I was walking to the farmhouse today I spotted one of our chickens and a goose having a conversation. No really, they were just cackling back and forth. I wonder what they were talking about.
Did you hear the one about the guy who walked into a bar with a goose under his arm? Well, did you hear the one about the real reason the chicken crossed the road?
If we only knew.
Monday, November 14, 2011
This weekend we had another historic dinner booked in the farmhouse. With Sarah out of town we called in Mary Beth and Claire to fill in and act as the hostesses for the evening. They did a great job and we all had a good time. Before our guests arrived we were playing around in the parlor with the organ and making jokes. I thought the pictures were fun. We were trying for our best old fashion stoic face. Claire really isn't very good at the serious look.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
While you would think getting the Dunbar wagon to the farm would have been the hardest part there was still one more mountain for us to get over before the wagon could be resting at it's new home. We needed to get the wagon off the trailer and down our mega steep ramp to the basement. On this end we are lucky to have a Bobcat that is plenty powerful (thanks JT). Using the Kubota we slowly pulled the wagon to the back of the trailer. From there we used the Bobcat to bring it down the rest of the way. The hitch on the Dunbar wagon takes a 2" ball so we drilled a hole in one of the Bobcat forks and inserted a trailer ball. With this set up we could basically steer the wagon any direction. As we approached the basement ramp we took binder straps and secured the wagon to the running gear and then started the decent. With it really muddy out there was a little worry that the wagon might actually pull the Bobcat down the ramp and in turn would smash the wagon if we lost control. To safe guard against this we chained the back of the Bobcat to a pick-up truck that followed us down the ramp. Quite the operation. I'm happy to report the Dunbar made it safely down the ramp and is now parked next to the 1932 Studebaker truck and enjoying the warm, dry Wagner Farm basement! Now on to start the research on 1909 Dunbar Popcorn wagons.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Stressful would be a good description of the overall feeling we had while working to get the Dunbar wagon back to Wagner. Because the current(non-correct) carriage is so far under the body we had to use a Bobcat to pull it out of Hartung's shed. The clearance between the top of the wagon and the bottom of the shed could have been measured with playing cards. It was quite the sight to see five guys stuffed into the wagon to weigh it down so we could get out of the shed. Once the wagon was out then came to task of getting it on the trailer. There were numerous suggestions on how to load it but the professionals from the auction company came up with with the idea of lifting the wagon with Bocats from both sides and then backing the trailer under it. Once on the trailer, we lashed it down carefully and made the slow trek back to the farm.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
This past week the town of Glenview was surrounded by the excitement of Leroy Hartung's estate auction. Even within Lee's hometown most people did not know the man. His collection however was world famous in automotive circles. Lee was a scrap-man who started keeping odds and end that he came across in the late 1940's. Someone would call him and ask if he would please take some old car or other vehicle. These calls would at times yield gold like when he was given a 1912 Harley-Davidson single cylinder motorcycle. Other times he just got junk like when we gave him the Wagner's 1954 Chrysler Windsor car. This was the only time I ever met Lee and I remember thinking he was going to hurt himself as he laid under the jacks holding up the car and pounding on the brake drums to try to get them to free up. He finally got the wheels to turn and drug the old rusty car back to his shop. We later learned that Lee even considered the Wagner car too far gone to keep and it was sold as scrap metal.
Lee died this past May and the fate of the collections was in doubt. During the late summer huge white tents went up on the property and we all learned that the entire collection would be auctioned off. It took the auction company almost three months to sort through and catalogue all the items in Lee's shed. By the time they were done they had over 80 cars, 26 motorcycles and more than 2,000 lots to be auctioned.
Thanks to the generosity of one of our friends, Ron Bernardi, one of those items will be calling Wagner Farm home, a 1909 Dunbar steam powered popcorn wagon. While it does not have the original carriage it is one of the most complete examples of this model in existence. It is our plan to do a frame up restoration on the wagon and use it to sell popcorn and peanuts at our events and maybe even sometimes at the farmers market. Who knows,we might even start growing our own popcorn!
If you would like to see the items that were sold and what they brought check out Auctions America website According to the local newspaper the auction brought in over 4 million dollars!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Not long after I started at WF I met Jami. She was a De Paul University student looking for an internship in large animal care. Jami impressed us from the start by being one of those people who always went above and beyond to get the job done. After the internship we hired her on to help out with everything from doing chores to school programs and even starting the farm's gift shop. During those days she bonded with my daughter Cassidy to the point that whenever we saw a jeep like Jami's Cassidy would yell out "hi Jami!". After graduation she went to the University of Connecticut and got a Masters degree in Bovine Lactation that she has put put to use in her different roles at some of the biggest milking machine companies in the world.
While she hasn't had the chance to make it back to the farm for a while many of the staff and volunteers around here still remember Jami. This past weekend she tied the knot with her best friend Michael. Best of luck and good wishes from all of us at Wagner Farm
Saturday, November 5, 2011
The other day Jeff and I were walking up from the farmhouse and we noticed a bunch of the leaves on the ground had a jet black spot on them. When you looked up in the tree all of the leaves there too had the spot. I quickly sent our local tree expert Fred a note asking about it. He said that it is called a tar spot. Ends up it is not harmful to the tree or other trees as it is a fungus that attaches to the leaves in the spring.