Staying Busy

It is a familiar theme on my blog the last few years – I show up and post some updates and then disappear again.  I really do not have any good excuses, except that life is busy and blogging falls to the bottom of my “to do” list.  I always imagined that life would slow down and get less busy as my parenting duties decreased, but that certainly has not been the case. Our motivation for buying and moving to this little hobby farm 15 years ago was to create an interesting life for our small children and to give them a taste of the country life we experienced growing up.  Well, those children are not small any more and in fact, two of them have been out of the house for a few years already. We only have one remaining at home and in only a year, we will be empty nesters.  Maybe then I will have more time?

In defense of my latest absence in the blogosphere, my spring and summer has been an especially crazy, chaotic and wonderful one.  Our oldest son graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May and we spent a week out in New York for all the graduation week activities.  Family and friends joined us to celebrate our son’s accomplishment and we could not have been more proud to see him achieve his goal!


Immediately after the graduation ceremony, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.  Another proud moment for our family.commissioning

After returning home from our amazing week out east, we immediately refocused our attention on preparing for that same son’s wedding at the end of June.

See?  I was not exaggerating when I said it has been a busy spring and summer for our family.  Like graduation, the wedding was wonderful and the day was filled with friends, family and so much

Despite all the preparations and celebrations in our life, we did manage to get our vegetable garden planted this spring and it is coming along quite nicely.  We have already enjoyed an abundance of asparagus, lettuce, arugula, and spinach this spring.  Soon we will be harvesting more delicious and fresh produce to eat.

Here is a view of our onions, string beans, carrots and beets.  My sunflowers are shooting up along the fence.beans The climbing plants, cucumbers and squash, are starting to make their way up the supports that Jesse built for them a few years back.  I go out there every few days to try to direct the newest growth up the wire.climbingveggies According to the old saying, if all is going well, corn plants should be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.”  Our corn plants are clearly doing well, because they were armpit high by the Fourth of July this year!  Now if we can protect the crop from the raccoons we might just get to enjoy some sweet corn in a month or so.corn2We planted tomato plants before leaving in the middle of May to drive out to West Point for graduation week. We knew it was risky because the rule of thumb around our area of Minnesota is to hold off planting until after Memorial Day.  Not surprisingly, we did have a hard frost while we were gone and almost all of our newly planted tomatoes froze out.  Upon returning home, after Memorial Day, we replanted.  The new tomato plants are happy and thriving in the heat and we should start getting some cherry tomatoes soon.


After a disastrous infestation of potato bugs a few years back, we opted out of planting potatoes for two years afterwards.  We planted one row last year to see what would happen and all went well.  This year we increased to two rows and so far, we are all in the clear.  No sign of potato bugs and the plants are going crazy.potatoes A similar experience with squash bugs made us take last year off from all members of the squash family. We did not plant any squash, zucchini or pumpkins.  Taking a year or two off from planting crops that experienced bug infestations has worked well for us in the past, and like the potatoes, the pumpkins are doing well so far and showing no signs of those disgusting insects.  We will keep our fingers crossed that they do not make an appearance later in summer.pumpkinsBesides our vegetable garden, I have been busy in my flower gardens and there have been some other new projects around here that I hope to share some time soon in another post.

In the meantime, I hope your summer is going well and that wherever you are, that you are enjoying the warm summer days and nights!

Staying busy, but happy, in Minnesota…


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Filed under Daily life, Gardens, Kids, Vegetable

Capturing the Splendid Fall

Although the weather has turned cooler the past few days, the month of October has been a series of one lovely fall day after another here in Minnesota.  The temperatures were above normal, the sun was almost always shining, and the fall colors seemed more vibrant than usual.  Like many, the weather drew me outdoors and I often found myself reaching for my phone to capture some of the beauty just outside my front door.  All the photos below were taken with my iPhone 5s and edited in Instagram.

This first photo was taken in the evening and features a small border garden along our granary with Sedum and ornamental grasses.  All of the red hues captured my eye.


Outside in the garden one morning, I stopped to take a picture after noticing the rays of sunshine highlighting the yellow maple, contrasted with the still-blooming shrub roses and Russian sage in my garden.  The barn in the background was the perfect backdrop.


The lovely morning sunlight caught my eye once again a week or so later, as it lit up the Autumn Blaze Maple outside my bedroom window.


And finally, this picture is from the woods that surround our home, spilling down the hillside to the river and to our field.  In the evening, as the sun would start to set, the warm light would shine through the yellow canopy of leaves and the scene felt so magical.  For about a week, I made sure to step outside each evening to take in the spectacle of light.

IMG_2989Wherever you might live, I hope your fall has been equally as splendid.  While the leaves have all fallen off the trees now, perhaps we will still be blessed with a few more days of warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. Once can always hope!🙂


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Filed under Barn, Flower, Gardens, Photography

A New Planting

Where has the summer gone?! Here it is, late October, and I have failed to give any updates on what has gone on around the farm this summer.  Taking the time to document our projects through blog posts is important to me because in addition to keeping my blog current, we often turn to these posts at some later time to help refresh our memory on the timing of a project, the outcome, the method or tools we used, etc.  As much as we think we will remember things, we simply do not.  At least not the details.  This post is my first effort at “catching up” for 2014.

After about a decade planted in alfalfa, the field around our house had become mostly grass and weeds, so last year we had our neighbor work it up for a new crop. Due to the irregular shape of the field, he decided it would be easiest to plant and harvest a soybean crop.  The wet spring delayed his planting and the ensuing lack of any significant precipitation in the remaining summer months made for a pathetic yield.  Besides the poor harvest, the field looked like thunder most of the summer with spindly looking soybean plants and abundant weeds.  We decided it was best to return the field to hay this year for both aesthetics and utility.

Like last year, this past spring was soggy and we were unable to get into the field early in the season.  After consulting various sources, we determined it was best to plant the hay later in the summer anyhow.  In August, Jesse finally borrowed the neighbor’s tractor and disk harrow and spent an afternoon working the field to knock down the weeds and break up the sod that had developed in the low spots.  I can assure you that although this may look like “work” to many, getting out from behind the desk at his day job and behind the tractor wheel was pure pleasure for this farm boy.


The weeds and grass browned up after a few days and then it was time to try and smooth out the field.  Jesse used our small tractor and an old abandoned disk the neighbor had sitting in his woods.  It was small, but it fit on the tractor perfectly and got the job done.


We decided to use a hay and pasture mix that contained alfalfa, clover and timothy grass.

IMG_2611Jesse used a brillion seeder to plant the crop.

DSC_0207We lucked out with the weather and enjoyed some nice shots of rain after the field was seeded, which helped it sprout quite nicely.


The overlapping seeded rows are visible in this picture.IMG_2715

This photo from yesterday shows how robust the plants are looking now.


We are keeping our fingers crossed that the new planting fares well through winter and comes back strong in the spring.  If all goes well, our bees will be have a great summer surrounded by a lovely crop of flowering alfalfa and clover.


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Filed under Daily life, Miscellaneous

Gardening Rewards

After another long absence, I am happy to be back on my little blog to share some pictures of one of my favorite times of year….Tomato Time!!

What is better than a garden fresh tomato?  Not much, I would argue.  Of all the crops we grow in our vegetable garden, the tomato is a top contender for the most rewarding to harvest and feast on.

Our garden got off to a late start this year because of all the rain and cool temperatures this spring.  I was out in the garden yesterday doing some cleanup when I spotted some ripe tomatoes buried deep in the overgrown tomato plants.   The varieties shown here are Celebrity, Lemon Boy, and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes.




The cherry tomatoes did not last long sitting out on the counter and we enjoyed the rest of the tomatoes today for lunch.  This simple Caprese salad is just sliced tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top, some fresh mozzarella pearls, fresh basil, and fresh ground pepper and salt for seasoning.  “Delizioso!”


As summer winds down, I hope to get caught up with some posts on what has been happening around here on the farm.  It seems challenging to find the time to sit down at the computer when there is so much work to be done outside!


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Filed under Gardens, Vegetable

May Flowers

Just a quick follow-up to my last post…

All of those April showers finally brought me some May flowers!  The tulips are in their full glory now and I absolutely adore them.  What a beautiful way to kick off the gardening season.
photoWherever you live, I hope your spring days are brimming with color too!



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Filed under Flower, Gardens

Tulip Time

Despite the continuing cold temperatures, spring has sprung around here and my tulips are ready to delight me with color.  It is just the start of the spring flower show and I could not be more ready.



I just snapped this picture with my iPhone 5s as I was strolling around the yard this evening, all bundled up.  Temperatures were only in the high 40’s today.  Things are looking up for the weekend though.

I hope you are enjoying some spring color in your neck of the woods!



Filed under Flower, Gardens

One Week to the Next

This weekend was not exactly balmy, but it was warm enough to continue melting the snow.  What a difference a week makes during spring in Minnesota!  It was only 9 days ago when we were dumped on and school was canceled because of all the snow. (See my last post).  Besides a few random piles here and there, all the snow is now gone.  Hooray!  (It is Minnesota though and more snow over the next month is a definite possibility).


Last weekend our vegetable garden had a foot of snow covering it.  Today?  No snow in sight and the rhubarb is even peeking out of the soggy soil.


The chickens were finally able to escape the coop and do some free-ranging after a long winter.  They headed for a dirt pile that we have and got busy scratching and doing whatever it is that chickens do.DSC_0115

The warmer temps allowed us to get outside and start working on all those spring chores.  I spent a lot of time walking around with my garden shears and cutting back various plants, like the Annabelle Hydrangea along the pole shed…

DSC_0110…And the ornamental grass, Sedum, coneflower, and miniature Joe Pye weed along the granary.

DSC_0120Jesse helped me clean up our raised beds with strawberries and blueberries.  We raked out the dead leaves, pulled some random weeds, and raked up some pine needles to freshen up the mulch.  This will be our third season with the blueberry plants and we are hoping that some of the big bushes finally produce a good amount of fruit.

DSC_0118We also found time to prepare for our baby chicks that are due to arrive some time at the end of next week.  They will be inside the house in this box for the first five days so that we can keep an eye on them and make sure to keep them warm and drinking water.

DSC_0122Jesse also cleaned out the brood boxes for his beehives and they are all ready for the new bees. We are not exactly sure when to expect them, but likely at the end of April.

Spring is definitely rolling along here in Minnesota and we could not be happier.  :-)



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Filed under Animals, Chickens, Daily life, Flower, Gardens, Vegetable