Tag Archives: farm

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.

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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.

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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.

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The overlapping seeded rows are visible in this picture.IMG_2715

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

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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.

Lynell

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A Winter Blast

Our progress towards spring suffered a setback last night, as we awoke to around 8-9 inches of fresh snow.  School was canceled and we once again face the task of clearing and piling snow. Ugh! snow1 As discouraging as it is to see, with temperatures forecasted to reach into the 50’s and 60’s next week, we know this scene is only temporary.snow2 I decided to step out on to the porch this afternoon to capture a few pictures of the white stuff.  One of the things I enjoy about blogging, and one of the primary reasons I do it, is that it allows me to document events like this from year to year.  I always find it interesting to look back at pictures from earlier years to see evidence of late snowfalls and later proof that spring and summer eventually do arrive.  Last year, we received a big snow fall on April 18th.  A week later I posted and shared pictures of the dramatic changes that can occur in Minnesota during the spring time over a short period.  (See the post here).

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Below is a shot from our porch towards the river.  Grudgingly, I must admit that it is a pretty sight today.

snow3Nonetheless, I am hoping that it looks very different by next week.  I am SO ready for winter to move along so that I can get outside and into my gardens.  Spring cannot come soon enough!

I hope spring has arrived in your neck of the woods!

Lynell

 

 

 

 

 

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Boys, Books and Boats

One of our big challenges and frustrations of parenting in this modern world is managing our time.  It is a constant struggle to try to find some balance between work, activities, school, screen time, etc.  Like most parents, we constantly battle and negotiate with our children over their use of technology and the time spent with screens.

Through the years, Jesse and I have often discussed our childhoods as farm kids.  While there was always work to be done, we both agree that we had so much more time than our kids do today.  Time to be outside playing, exploring, and just being kids.  By moving out to the country, we hoped to give them the opportunity and inspiration to spend more time just being kids.

Now, I won’t even pretend that we have been entirely successful at creating an idyllic and carefree childhood for our children.  Our kids are involved in all sorts of activities that keep us running all over and like most families, we have tv’s, computers and video games.  Our older two kids also now have cell phones with unlimited texting plans.  Over the years, however, I do believe that our life here has allowed them to enjoy being kids in ways that would not have been possible in the city.

The woods, river, and wide-open spaces that we enjoy here have often successfully been able to draw the kids away from technology and inspire them to pursue some good old-fashioned kid activities.  Some of their ideas have come from a few great books.  The first book of inspiration, The American Boy’s Handy Book, was given to our oldest by my in-laws four or five years ago. According to the book description:  “First published in 1882, this is a wealth of projects and games, with practical directions on how to make them, by one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America. The ultimate pre-TV, anti-couch potato activity book, it answers the question, ‘What’s there to do?'”

After the excitement over this book, we also purchased The Dangerous Book for Boys. The foreward in this book begins, “In this age of video games and cell phones, there must still be a place for knots, tree houses, and stories of incredible courage. The one thing that we always say about childhood is that we seemed to have more time back then.  This book will help you recapture those Sunday afternoons and long summers-because they’re still long if you know how to look at them.”

Our oldest son in particular was thrilled with these book and quickly started planning projects to work on, marking the important pages for later reference (finding these handwritten tags on the pages when I dug the books out to photograph made me smile).  Over the winter he experimented with advice in Chapter XXVII from The American Boy’s Hand Book on snowball warfare.  In the spring he attempted various animal traps and snares described in the book (I am happy to report he had no success).  His biggest undertaking, however, was to construct a “scow boat” described in Chapter XII on home-made boats.

After conferring with his dad and modifying the plan somewhat, he started building his boat in the pole shed.  His interest and enthusiasm in the project fluctuated through the summer.  With some “encouragement” from his dad to finish the boat (i.e. get it out of his pole shed), he finally wrapped up the project in the fall.  It was time to move the boat down to the river for a test run.

It was extremely heavy and I was skeptical that the darn thing would float.  They used the garden tractor to haul it down to the river.

The other kids were curious about this boat after watching it being slowly constructed by their brother over the summer. Everyone came along to witness the scow boat’s maiden voyage.  And I was wrong…although there were a few slow leaks, the home-made scow boat did float.

After confirming that it was seaworthy, the other two kids wanted a ride in the new boat.

Another project inspired by the river, the woods, and perhaps a chapter on “How to Camp Without a Tent”, was this structure built by the boys a few years ago.

It was one of those warm, thawing spring days and the kids were home from school and I was home from work  The boys headed out towards the woods in the morning after a lecture from their “paranoid” mother on the perils of the fast-moving and cold river water.  After they had been gone for a few hours, coming back to the house occasionally for various items (matches, a hatchet, a can opener, a can of beans, etc.), I decided to check out what they were up to.  I found them underneath this little structure, warming up a can of beans over a small fire they had built.  After forcing them to pose for a picture, I left them alone to be boys in the wilderness.  As I walked back towards the house with a light heart and a huge smile on my face, I thought to myself that instead of watching tv or playing video games, this is exactly the kind of thing that boys should be doing on a warm spring day.

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Winter Walk

Due to the cold temperatures and the heaps of snow that were dumped on us over Christmas, we spent a lot of time around home and inside the house during winter break.  Despite the frigid weather, we were determined to get outside for fresh some fresh air.  We went for a walk down to the meandering river that runs through our property.  Our dog Sofie came along, happy to be with us. 

 

 

The river is always quite unpredictable and we never make any assumptions about its safety.  We felt fairly confident that it would be frozen quite thoroughly, but still proceeded cautiously as we walked along the ice up the river.  The only questionable areas we found were along the edges and around downed trees. 

 

The areas of ice that were not covered with snow were covered with beautiful ice crystal formations. 

 

During the summer months, the farmstead is not visible from the river bottom.   Taken from the far side of the river, this picture shows our barn through the trees. 

 

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