Welcome to Antler Valley Farm

Kudzu???? Really???

So the beginning of August brought a lot of rain that made the grass beautifully lush, but also made the weeds try to pop up everywhere.  I couldn’t keep up with all the mowing at both farms!

 I love the beautiful sunrises of August, but the crazy growth of the grass and weeds were a bit much for me.  Especially since we are still doing yardwork at our old house.  

There was this one little stubborn vine that kept trying to grow across the end of the driveway.  It was always coming out of the bank that came down from the highway. It never seemed like a big deal so I kept cutting it with a shovel and throwing it in the ditch. How stupid could I be? Apparently, pretty stupid because it took me almost a month to actually see that it was kudzu growing down the bank from the highway and trying to cross the driveway.  Yes, kudzu!  My nemesis.  Seriously, Kudzu is my nemesis right now.  I have declared war on Kudzu and it has laughed in my face.  We are now sworn enemies.  There is no backing down now.  It’s on!

One day I declared, “I will defeat you, my nemesis!”  The kids all laughed and then asked what a nemesis was.  Then I laughed, thankful that I had said something G rated in front of them when I was thinking something not so G rated.  Well, now Camden walks around calling everything his “nemedis”.  It’s so adorable!!  I just hope he doesn’t say that to the wrong person and they actually understand him.  Yikes!!  I’ll have some explaining to do…..Ahhh,  I’ll just blame it on the Kudzu! Ha!

So back to my nemesis.  My evil nemesis!

 This is our beautiful driveway that I dearly love. I mean, seriously, I fought really hard to keep most of these trees!

 It’s hard to see the Kudzu in this picture because we had already found the vine and chopped it out of the ground but there is more lurking there.  Evil, I say, Evil.  

 This was some of the Kudzu we were trying to kill.  How did it grow so fast and we didn’t notice it???  What, are we blind??? Apparently so.  

Well, Labor Day is supposed to be a time to relax and take a break from labor, right? Well, this is the Carter house and I’m kinda neurotic so we didn’t really take a break from labor on Labor Day. Nope. We pretty much labored all day much to the delight of our lovely kids. Yeah!  I’m sure they will NOT nominate me for mother of the year this year.  Nope, not likely. But honestly, when have I ever really been a serious contender in that category?  Ummm…never!

So, on Labor Day, we crawled around in the woods beside the driveway and searched for the vines climbing up the trees.  Then we followed them back and cut them out of the ground.  It sounds easy enough but I assure you, it isn’t.  Kudzu is super sneaky and the vines can be so tiny they are hard to see on the tree trunks. Kudzu is just crazy!  I mean like super crazy.  But it hasn’t met me yet! I’m so determined to defeat my nemesis that I’ve been doing research every night and formulating battle plans.  It really is all out war here!

Here are some crazy kudzu facts that I have learned recently (in no particular order other than this is the order my brain spit them out. Ha!)

Kudzu is not native to North American and originally hails from Asia.  Just a fun fact I suppose as it really has nothing to do with how to kill Kudzu but it’s something I’ve learned among my research so I thought I would share.  How nice of me, huh?  Kudzu was brought here as early as 1876.  Yep, that was a long, long time ago.  It was marketed as an ornamental plant and an excellent protein source for cows.  (How could they know that back then???)  Then the government stepped in to use it as erosion control during the Dust Bowl and later to help control the erosion of slopes in the South.  Big mistake.  BIG mistake.  H-U-G-E!  What were they thinking???  Well, Kudzu is now nicknamed “The Vine That Ate The South”.  Funny?  Not really.  Not when Kudzu is trying to eat your beautiful new farm!  It’s not the least bit funny, but it is true.

Before I tell you how much I hate kudzu, I should probably be fair and tell you that kudzu might have benefits to others.  Not to me, but maybe to others.  Kudzu can be eaten by various livestock and they seem to love it.  It might even be a good source of protein for them.  But I don’t care.  Some people eat the vines, leaves and roots.  Apparently it adds a lovely flavor to honey.  Again, I don’t care about that.  In Asia it is even used for medicinal puporses.  So maybe it’s not completely evil to everyone, but it is to me.  So, okay enough with playing nice, now I will tell you all the reasons I hate the stupid vine!!

Kudzu loves the sunlight and will only grow in the shade to get to more sunlight.  It goes into stealth mode and creeps along under the leaves and near the roots of the trees until it emerges on the sunny driveway while searching for a new victim to strangle.  Trees, shrubs, grape vines are all easy prey to this vicious and fast growing plant.  How completely evil.

Some studies show that Kudzu hates heat and other studies show that certain fungi can kill Kudzu.  Hmmm, I think we need more studies done on this monster please!  I don’t think I can order a certain type of fungus on the findings of 1 study that states it’s “okay” for the surrounding environment if I use it.  Are you sure it will only kill the kudzu and not my cow.   Ummmm, yeah, they haven’t done enough research to confirm or deny that yet.  So, yeah, more research please!  And the heat study result??  Well, apparently you can increase the potassium in the soil which leads to soil solarization.  Yeah, I don’t really understand that either.  My biology classes did not teach me that.  I was robbed.  I couldn’t ever find wether this soil solarization kills other plants as well.  Please keep researching scientists!

Round up will kill Kudzu and everything else around it including you.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures people.  I can see why people would spray with Roundup, but I really don’t want to resort to that yet.  However, this stuff will drive you mad.  When Kudzu has already climbed the trees Roundup won’t kill the Kudzu if you can’t get to it, so it’s kinda pointless for us.  So, we decided to keep plugging along trying to find the roots and chop them into a million pieces.

Kudzu takes over and kills everything in it’s path.  Everything.  Nothing is spared.  It grows these tentacles that climb everything in it’s way and then turns around and grows back to the ground to completely strangle the life out of the trees.  That’s so wrong.  So, so wrong and so, so evil.  Do you see why I hate this stuff?

Kudzu will jump and spread to areas that are hundreds of feet away. Apparently kudzu has some super powers.  How else does it grow 1/4 of a mile away from the original vine???  There is no way that I could get grass seed to spread that quickly.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  Repeatedly.  But Kudzu uses it’s super powers and jumps or flies to new places and new victims.  I refuse to believe that innocent birds or other adorable creatures could be a part of spreading theses seeds of disaster.  Nope, let’s just keep all the blame on the evil Kudzu plant.  Ha!

Vinegar and salt solutions don’t work on kudzu unless you buy 10% vinegar and apply about 5 times a day for the rest of your life.  Who has that kind of time and money?  Not me.  I had hoped it would be an alternative instead of Round-up which I still refuse to use, but it didn’t work.  How sad.

Kudzu will give you the finger.  Ok, not literally….Well, almost literally. If you cut the vine it can grow up to 4 more shoots from that same spot.  So I guess it’s really giving you multiple fingers.  I’m telling you, it’s an evil, evil plant.  So you really have to chop the root out of the ground.  Repeatedly. How fun!  You have to keep chopping the root in the ground until you exhaust the plant as it tries to grow back again.  This is my battle strategy in a nutshell. So, I spend all my weekends crawling around in the woods, listening to cars whizzing by above my head, and search for the roots of the vines.  Said vine will give me the finger or multiple fingers and grow back a half a dozen times before it dies.  Okay, so I have chopped down a few dozen vines and dug up about as many roots.  I should be winning.  Right?  Right.  I will be victorious…eventually….I pray…As long as tiny little Kudzu plants quit popping up hundreds of feet away, I might have a chance.

Okay, so maybe that’s enough about my war against kudzu and my hatred of the plant.  I will now skip to something a little nicer so that I don’t seem like a completely insane person.

On a happier note, our hens started laying eggs!

 Our very first egg from the little fluff butts, as I call them.

Well, some of them did.  And others continued to be freeloaders.  Every morning I would lovingly talk to them and explain that they had plenty of food, fresh air and sunshine.  All they had to do was sit down and plop out a little butt nugget for the kids to collect that evening.  It was a simple and encouraging pep talk.  Some of them listened and some of them did not.  So I had to get a little firmer with my pep talks.  I went to a not so peppy talk and then I went to threatening bodily harm if they didn’t stop lollygagging through life.  They needed to realize their potential and lay some eggs, darn it!!  Well, that message was met with mixed emotions….

 I was greeted by this “stink eye” a few times but I think they understood my requirements for eggs on a regular basis.  

 I think I got my point across because they upped their game a little each day.  I’m glad we understand each other now, ladies. 

 One bird laid her eggs in the old mailbox, which I found charmingly adorable!  This is actually the mailbox from the old coop we tore down last fall. 

 Remember this cute old chicken coop, complete with it’s very own delivery system for eggs?  The chickens laid eggs in it and they collected them just like they were checking the mail.  Win, win!  I thought the idea was cute and kept the mailbox.  We put it in with the chickens as more of a joke but one of the meat birds liked it and laid her eggs there almost daily.  Cool! This was one of the last pictures I have of some of the birds.  Sadly we said 3 goodbyes in one week.  That was rough.  I might talk a good game with the chickens but I’m pretty attached to all of them.  

The middle of August brought really hot and dry days.  So hot that our 2 sweet meatbirds both passed away.  It may sound a little morbid but I had to weigh them.  They were so huge that Maylin could no longer pick them up.  I was curious to see how much they weighed.  Well, it’s no wonder they died.  They weighed 22 and 24 pounds.  I am not lying!  I have eaten turkeys for Thanksgiving that weighed less!  I was very surprised they had lived that long.  We were all sad to see them die but it was well past their time.  About 15 pounds and 3 months past their time actually.  They were 6 months old, which is quite a long life for meat birds that are usually slaughtered at 8-10 weeks.  I really do miss the sweet chirping of those large ladies though.  And I miss them sitting on my feet to block the others from eating the food!  I have to admit that they were by far the sweetest of the birds.  I think they were thankful we were letting them live….or maybe they were just thankful for the extra food.  Regardless, Sunshine and Yellow Dots will be missed.  RIP ladies.

A few weeks before we had noticed that Bumblebee had became increasingly more aggressive with the hens.  He would run up to them and twist their necks and throw them to the ground.  Mostly, they all ran from him all the time.  I had hoped it was a phase he would outgrow, but he didn’t.  Then he attacked Maylin one afternoon.  She was down there alone feeding them and Bumblebee flew up at her.  It scared her pretty good but she wasn’t hurt.  I went down there immediately and the rooster seemed fine, friendly even.  Maylin avoided him after that though.  I hoped it was an isolated incident but it wasn’t.  A few days later the kids were feeding the chickens and collecting eggs when Bumblebee attacked Camden.  He flew all the way across the pen and went for Cam’s face and neck.  Cam had some red marks and scratches on his chest and neck but fortunately nothing serious.  Sadly, that was the last straw for beautiful Bumblebee, so he is now resting peacefully under a shade tree with the meat birds.  Sorry, buddy.  You had a second chance and you blew it.  We will always have fond memories of Bumblebee as a chick and of his crowing contests with Jim.  Yes, we will miss Bumblebee too.

This is the chickens new access door to the pasture.  They really like being able to roam free every day looking for bugs and seeds in the pastures.

 Maylin worries about her buddies being carried away by hawks, so she checks on them hourly it seems.  The hens are always happy to see her and normally a few of them run to the fence to greet her.  How sweet!

   Meet Gaston.   He might look familiar because I last introduced him as Evie.  Well, he is not a girl, so we needed a new name.  

We also discovered that sweet little Evie is acutally an Evan.  Well, the girls didn’t like the name Evan so they changed it Gaston.  I checked the rabbit shortly after we brought it home and declared I thought it was a boy, but no one believed me.  They kept their trust in the lady from the feed store who had promised it was a girl.  She had raised and shown rabbits her whole life so she must have known what she was talking about, right?  Well, maybe she was having a bad day.  It seemed pretty clear to me that he had boy parts early on but I knew time would tell.  And it has.  Gaston definitely has boy parts now.  This is the second time we have gotten a rabbit and someone has claimed it’s a certain gender and it’s not.  I think next time I will check myself.  Then I only have myself to blame, right?  At any rate, he is still a sweet little rabbit.

One of the funniest things that happened in August was this scene.  Please take a minute and absorb this photo.  Yikes, right?  Now, the funny part….. is that I had nothing to do with it!!!!

Did you know that you can get a bulldozer stuck??  Well, Yes you can if you’re a Carter!!

Yes, you can get a bulldozer stuck!  I laughed myself silly over this.  I am always the goofy one getting in these situations-not Jim.  But this time-This Time– Jim actually did this all by himself!   Of course, then he asked me to bring the tractor and try to dig him out.  That’s when I got the tractor stuck.  Of course!  You should have expected that from me.  And the laughs just kept coming!

I was at the house and started taking these lovely pictures of Jim working to clear a path for the fence along the creek.

 He was doing such a great job!  It looked lovely.  Just lovely.

 Then, he turned the dozer off and started yelling for me to bring the tractor and a chain.  What??  Why??

 Oh, this is why!  The dozer is completely stuck in the creek!!  Notice that Minnie is enjoying the show.  She just laid there for a few hours watching us idiots try to solve the problem.  It was too funny.  

Well, we tried to dig the dozer out with the tractor and I managed to rip the lid of the fuel tank of the dozer.  Then, I got the tractor stuck.  See?  It’s normally me who does the crazy stuff, not Jim!  The tractor was easy to pull out with the truck though, but I was done at that point.  A huge storm was headed our way and the dozer was wedged in the creek in such a way that it was blocking the flow of water, causing a damming effect.  The water was getting higher and it was going to get to the engine and electrical system of the dozer in an hour or so.  We were in trouble.

So, I suggested calling a tow truck.  Thankfully, Jim knows the towing guy down the road whose truck is big enough to tow heavy equipment.  He raced over to our house and pulled down to the creek just as the rain started.  A few minutes later the dozer was pulled out and the tow truck guy drove away.  It was raining so hard at that point that the towing guy didn’t even wait for us to pay him.  He called Jim and said to bring the check by on Monday.  The bill was more than reasonable and saved us a huge amount of money from having a flooded dozer. I think one day Jim will laugh at the situation.  One day….

 After the storm passed, we had this amazing rainbow.  God’s promise to his people. 

 A few days later it was finally dry enough for Jim to fix the mess at the creek.  It looks amazing now.  

Absolutely amazing.  Who would ever know that a dozer was stuck in there a few weeks ago?  Me!  And now you.  Ha!!

I was even able to fence across the creek for Minnie’s new pasture.  It’s almost ready for her!!

A few days later we drove to Morganton to pick up more gates and fencing.  On the way home the back tire tread blew out on the stock trailer.  A few days before that the spare tire blew while sitting in the driveway.  That was crazy.  Obviously, new tires are in order.

 The sad part is that these tires are not that old.  

As homeschoolers we see everything as a chance to teach something.  So I differed to Jim to teach Maleah how to change a tire.  As a Mom I have learned to delegate duties as well!  Ha!

 How many people does it take to change a tire?  Well.  A man who knows what he’s doing, 3 kids and a dog.  Where’s the 3rd kid you ask?  Ummmm….

Oh, yes.  Here she is, off playing as usual.

 Ta-da!  We have new tires, a wider creek, an unstuck dozer and tractor, new pastures, more fencing, less Kudzu, less chickens and more eggs.  Whew, that was a busy month!





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