small farm tales

Do’s, Don’ts, and Some Things to Contemplate, for the Rural South and Farm

(c) Jeff R. Filler, April 2022, and ongoing!

977.  If it takes a tractor to do or start a project, then it will take a tractor to continue or maintain it.  Then you’ll also need to keep a tractor maintained.  Just saying.

978.  I keep two old mountain bikes fully operational at all times.  I use them for quick biking out to turn on the electric fence, herding my birds back onto the property, running security, camera checks, and so on.  Beats starting up a combustion engine and waiting for it to warm up; plus I can use the exercise.  Our farm is now big enough that a lot of things are no longer a short walk.  I just need to make sure I don’t crash.

979.  Snake gaiters also seem to work against `chiggers’, over long pants.  They provide one more layer of protection.  Just remember to take them off when you come in, along with pants, boots, socks.

979.  If something seems bad, chances are it is.  If something seems good, give it a chance, maybe it actually is (good).

980.  Don’t kid yourself; a rooster protecting his hens can peck you hard enough to draw much blood, and leave a scar.  (Ask me how I know!)

981. … Guinea Hens … Yeah they make a lot of noise, and are complete clowns (idiots) … but they seem to keep the snakes away, and I’m told they eat ticks.

982.  Guinea Hens, continued: if you do happen to get tired of them, or if there are too many (they are prolific), they do make fantastic table fare.

983.  Rattlesnakes … if you’re worried about running into them on your daily walk in the woods … just go out before it’s 65 or so degrees, or wait until it’s raining.

984.  Copperheads … they don’t rattle, and they do look exactly like the ground. Learn what they look like, from photos, or dead ones … and train your subconscious mind to be on the lookout for them. Same with rattlesnakes, except that they do rattle, but not all the time.

985.  I’m told that Water Moccasins (Cottonmouth Snakes) are aggressive. Rattlesnakes and Copperheads, on the other hand, won’t bother you, if you don’t bother them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t kill them if you run into them.  Just be careful doing so … as `killing’ can be a form of `bothering’.

986.  Concrete and `cement’ are not the same.  Cement is an ingredient of concrete, along with sand, gravel, and water.

896.  Yeah, if you’re working with concrete … adding water makes it easier to work with.  But it will weaken the concrete, and there will be more shrinkage (shrinkage cracking).  It’s best if you keep it pretty stiff, if you want fewer cracks, and to have decent strength.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

897.  Linda says below 70 degrees the Chiggers go down in the ground.  She also says that, when they do come out, they like the shade.  So, if I want to avoid Chiggers, I’ll try and get out there before it hits 70 … and if it already has, I’ll hang to the sun instead of the shade.

898.  Modern firearms are actually quite safe. But they need to be handled safely. Never cross over a fence with a loaded firearm. Go through a gate, or around. Some would say that you should unload the firearm. I disagree, unless you are done using the firearm. If you plan to use the firearm once on the other side, you will be reloading it. If you must, do so deliberately and carefully. Loading and unloading … that’s where accidents occur.

899.  Loading and unloading of a firearm is noisy. I’d rather go around (the fence), or through (a gate), than make all that noise … (and scare the deer away)!

900.  A lot of things happen at night … most of them bad.

989.  The moon rises about 45-50-ish minutes later each night.  About 24/30ths of an hour.  The moon and the sun, together, make a Vernier of sorts.

990.  Incidentally, hen chickens lay their eggs about an hour later each morning … until it’s not morning any more; then they take a break, and start over.

991.  You can tell a lot by looking at the moon.  A full moon is visible for the full night; it rises in the East as the sun sets in the West crosses the night sky, following the sun, and by morning is setting in the West as the sun rises in the East.  If you look up and the full moon is directly overhead, then it’s midnight.  If you look up and there’s only a half moon, it will be visible for only half the night.  It will be straight above at sunset, or sunrise.  If it’s just after sunset, then the moon is following the sun.  It will be visible for the first half of the night and set about midnight.  In a couple weeks it will be just the opposite.  Wake up at midnight and a half moon will just be rising, in the East.  It will travel westward.  It will be directly overhead at sunrise.    Similar things can be said of quarter moons, and so on.  If, just before sunrise, the moon is a crescent, low on the horizon in the eastern sky, the sun is not long to follow.  The sun will rise shortly, and they both will move across the daytime sky, roughly in the same relative position, and the moon will set before the sun does.  You can see a crescent moon during the day, but you often don’t, because you’d be looking up toward the sun.

992. … you can kinda tell what time it is by the phase and location of the Moon. If it’s a half moon, lighted half facing the East (toward sunrise), and it’s halfway between the (Eastern) horizon and directly overhead, then it’s half of half of the nighttime before sunrise … ½ x ½ x 12 hours … is 3 hours … before sunrise. Sunrise is `nominally’ 6 AM, so … it’s (about) 3 AM. This all depends on time of year (length of night), where you are in your time zone, and Daylight Savings Time, or not.

993.  You can do the same with the stars. The stars (constellations) move across the night sky from East to West … in the Northern Hemisphere, rotating around the North Star. Note where, say, the position of the Big Dipper, say, at midnight, and then go (forward or backward) from there. But realize that the constellations, in addition to `rotating’ daily, also rotate annually. So the position of the Big Dipper at midnight in August is exactly opposite (at midnight) … 180 degrees different … in March.

994.  Of course it’s more difficult to use the Moon if it hasn’t risen yet, or already set.  And both Moon and stars are hard to use if it’s cloudy.

995.  If you know where to look, and when, you can see the planet Venus during the day.

996.  Of course you can also estimate the time of day by position of the Sun.  It races across the sky about 15 degrees per hour, or 30 degrees per two.  Gotta keep in mind Daylight Savings Time, or not.  About all you need to know is where `South’ is.  If you run out of things to do, make a sundial.

997.  The `Dew Point’ is the temperature at which the surrounding air will produce dew on plants, grass, car windows, etc.  If the humidity is high, the Dew Point will not be much lower than the current temperature.  If you’re headed into the evening and it’s high humidity, and no significant weather change is ahead, you’ll probably have dew in the morning!  At the Dew Point the air is at 100 percent humidity.  The water in the air condenses on the plants, car windows.  If the temperature is at or below freezing … aha! … frost!  Dew and frost can appear a bit above the Dew Point, or freezing point, when the heat in the plants, etc. is radiated out into (sucked into) outer space, such as on a clear night.  Sometimes when it’s really cold, and clear, the temperature can be below the dew point, and beautiful ice crystals form in the air … so small and light that they hardly even fall to Earth.  This doesn’t happen much in the South – it’s more of a thing in the (drier) West.  But what does sometimes happen in the South … in the dead of summer, and in the heat of the day, it can rain on a blue-sky day!  Obviously, fog is when the humidity is at 100 percent, and, the air temperature is at the Dew Point.

998.  Early Spring is when the baby (Timber) Rattlesnakes seem to be out and about.  Don’t be fooled.  They don’t have rattles yet – but they still have fangs and venom.  They are about a foot long at that stage.  Apparently the bite of the young snake is worse than that of the old: they don’t let go; they deliver more of their venom.

999.  If you get into poison ivy, or even suspect it, spray yourself (skin) down with ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), within 30 minutes of exposure.  Seriously.

999.  Same goes for fire ant bites – spray down with ACV within 30 minutes, 20 might even be better.

1001.  On Chiggers: sulfur powder – dust yourself down before going into chigger country … shoes, pants, and around the waist.  Tuck in your shirt.  Chiggers are nasty.

1002.  The ticks in the South are small liddle buggers, smaller than small moles in the skin.  Learn to feel them on you, so you can brush them off, before they cause mischief.

1003.  The thing about farm animals … if you leave a gate open, they will find it, and rather quickly!

1004.  Slow down.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Be careful, darn it!  These are not good times to have some accident, and end up having to go to the Emergency Room. Take it easy.  You have all day.

1005.  Use cash; that way someone can’t steal your card number.  Don’t give your phone number to someone you don’t know, or your email address.

1006.  A farm has its joys, and heartaches.  The heartaches seem to come about on their own, unannounced.  Be sure to take time for the joys.

1007.  Modern phones have a camera … great for capturing the joys of a moment on the farm!

1008.  A cell phone, or other communication device, on your person, is a good idea as you are out and about on a farm.  You might need to call someone for help,  or summon to come share the joy of something cool unfolding, unannounced.

1009.  Deer seem to know when you’re hunting them, as opposed to just observing and enjoying.  Same with farm creatures; they seem to know when their day for … has come.

1010.  Don’t operate machinery, or swing heavy or sharp tools, or run a chainsaw, when you are angry, frustrated, or overly tired.  Take a break; chill out.  You have all day!  Or leave it tomorrow!

1011.  As adorable as farm animals are … count the cost.  Make sure you don’t go in over your head.  Don’t get more of them than you can feed.

1012.  Raccoons are way meaner than they look.  Don’t underestimate them.




2021 Farm Animals (2022 Alabama Farm Animals CALENDAR … here)

… and here are the pics, with bits of descriptions … (months shown are on calendar, not necessarily when photos were taken)

Hen turkey on hidden nest (`January’)


Baby pigs napping in food bowl (`February’)


Deer caught on game camera (`March’)


Geese hanging out in the shade in front yard (`April’)


Baby birds in nest in fern on front porch (`May’)


Mommy bird on chair waiting for us to leave so she can feed babies a bug (`June)



Cows and goats mowing back yard (better than me doing it) (`July’)


Marilyn (goat) in chicken coop (`August’)


Calf Lucy in grass (`September’)


Cows (Libby and Ruby) with calves (Lucy and Buster) (`October’)


Muscovy duck with ducklings (`November’)


Marilyn with just-born Nelly (`December’ – Public Version)


Linda’s 1-year old pug Molly (aka `Poofy’) in Linda’s chair (`December’ – Family Version)




Wadder1, aka water, is a major issue on a farm. Farm creatures need water. Big animals need lots of water. Water is also heavy. Carrying water for the farm creatures can be quite a labor. Fortunately, farm animals do not necessarily need tap water, even though some do get it. Generally we deliver water to them via hoses and then buckets, from the water faucets at the house. But rain water also works just fine. Pictured are a line of various buckets, basins, etc. lined up under the eave of a goat barn I just built for my wife. They catch the rain as it runs off the low end of the roof. It rains here … I mean really rains. These basins filled quickly in recent rains. And the goats can drink freely from the basins. Between rains the water might get a bit murky and apparently becomes part of the cycle of mosquito and other life. The captured water may or may not be enough to last between rains in the drier part of the year, and we plan to install gutters and bigger catchment to catch and store more. We also plan to add a couple cows. And until then, even though it looks like there is a lot of water captured, a LOT goes to waste. Let’s see …

basins to catch rain water

… in the past 48 hours we have received 7 ½ inches of rain.

The `plan area’ of the roof is 14 feet (ft) by 27 ft, or 378 square ft (sq ft).

An inch (depth) of rain falling on the roof, or 1/12th of a foot (depth) of rain, on 378 sq ft of roof, is …

1/12th ft of rain times 378 sq ft of roof equals 31.5 cubic feet of rain.

There are 7.482 gallons in a cubic foot (of water) …

So, 1 inch of rain (20-minute downpour) delivers … 7.482 x 31.5 equals 236 gallons!

Whoa, just filled all those troughs (1 inch of rain).

Seven and a half inches … 7 ½ x 236 = 1768 gallons!

We’re thinking of using `totes’ that can carry 330 gallons each …

That will be 1768 gallons divided by 330 gallons per tote … 5.36 … 6 totes!

That’s a lot of totes … a lot of water.

But goats, and soon cows, need lots of water.

Update – we just got the cows.

Oh, here’s a calc … we own 32 acres total. One inch of rain drops … check my math …

236 gallons / 378 square feet – inch of rain = 0.624 gallon / sq-ft-in. …

So, 32 acres x 43,560 sq-ft per acre x 0.624 gallon / sq-ft = 870,278 gallons (per inch of rain) …

Other Update – Monday … we got downpour after downpour … our rain gage topped out at 5 inches; my wife said we got 8 inches that day … `wadder’ everywhere! … `rivers’ across our property. I expected to see salmon flopping their way upstream!

8 inches of rain, on 32 acres! … 6.96 million gallons!



Update … getting some `catchment’ going …

wadder catchment @ goat barn


1Pronunciation `wadder’ is taken from Lord Grizzly, Frederick Manfred, 1954, the account of Hugh Glass, mountain man, attacked by a grizzly bear, and left for dead.