April 16, 2005 – Just one more…

Today was the tree planting day. The trees were mostly all too big to spade an and some were 3-4 ft tall, so we ended up digging a lot of holes in the black soil. It was rainy/drizzly most of the day until about three. So we went through 2-3 sets of clothes through the day and didn’t have any pictures in the rain, but took a few in the afternoon.treescene

We had reinforcements come near the end of the day for that last boost over the hump.

tom and linda

We even let Kraig take one break in the afternoon.


A special thank you goes to Emma, who spent many hours with us digging holes and fetching water!

April 15, 2005 – Tree Planting Begins

We got a jump on the tree planting planned for tomorrow – brother Kraig down from Twin Cities.kraig
We had many hands tonight working on the northern pine border. emma digging
We planted Canaan Fir today, Iowa’s best equivalent of Balsam Fir. pineplanting
Even the smallest hands helped haul water. Rachel and Martin brought us buckets with a gallon or so of water at a time from a stock tank on a trailer. They also helped move carts.
rachel and martin
Photos courtesy of Claire.

April 14, 2005 – A Good Day

Today Linda burned up a use it or lose it personal day. It was a pleaseant, not windy, sunny day. We ripped out most of the fence around the cement animal lot and put in a new one. We mulched the remaining unmulched chestnuts and put fence around the ones along existing fences.

The first fruit trees are setting out flowers. Here’s a cherry tree showing off its splendor.
cherry bloom

In preparation for the tree planting, our neighbor came over and loaded all kinds of conveyances for hauling wood chips (saves us a lot of scooping). wood chips

The first things are coming up in the garden – spinach, radishes, lettuce, and onions. onions

The rains of the last few days filled up the mudhole, but did not flow through it, which I’m hoping is good for the marsh seeds I planted the morning before the rain.

The girls were exploring the drainage a few hundred yards downstream from the mudhole and found a big crayfish. I didn’t think anything was living in there!

April 13, 2005 – Those Gone Before Us

Springtime has seen the death of many of my relatives. I’ve been the one asked to write and give the eulogies for my father, grandfather, uncle, and great uncle. I guess since I’m the only writer around and my experience as an alter boy specializing in funerals makes me the logical pick? When I was in grade school it seemed that Patrick Endres (wherever you are now) and myself were the only reliable alter boys who would not snicker and laugh during funerals. I’m not sure why the others couldn’t keep a straight face – maybe it was how they were able to handle the grief???

At any rate, I’ve had these eulogies just sitting on my PC and thought that it would be good to have a “cyberspace” presence for them – for family members and others to read. Even I am surprised at what is contained in the eulogies – what I have already forgotten about the men who preceded me. The eulogies and other essay-type writings by Linda are on a special high hopes page.

April 11 – Goat Girls and Spiderman

Here’s today’s rainy day shot from in the barn of the the two goats and a couple of kids.
goats and girls

The girls learned about the not-so-cute part of goat husbandry today. As every parent knows, newborns have a predictable, if not variable excrement pattern. The first “discharges” are tarry and black, and once they start nursing, the semi-solid yellow follows. Well, shall we say the goats don’t have good “clearance” and much of the yellow stuff ends up stuck on the little guys. But other than that, they’ve been faithfully monitoring to make sure they are getting enough milk and getting the hang of nursing.

This morning there was a break in the rain, so “Spiderman” (a.k.a. Martin) and “Green Man” (a.k.a. Dad) went to work. We planted 11 more potted chestnuts and seeded and covered the mudhole with marsh seeds. Today’s rain has been just perfect (so far) that it hasn’t washed away the seeds. Spiderman was very good at fetching trees, putting empty buckets back on the wagon, and putting the empty containers back as well. Spiderman and Green Man actually worked faster than Green Man could have worked himself. Martin is fascinated with Spiderman, – I’m not sure where he came into contact with Spiderman, but according to Martin, he is half good and half bad. His Mom was a spider and his Dad was a Dad.

April 10, 2005 – GoatBabiesRUs

The mama goat finally decided to let loose her kids today, 5 days past her due date.

When we got back from church, they must have been only a few minutes old, a half hour at most. They are both boys (last year she had triplet girls).

I’m not sure what we’ll do not going out to the barn in the middle of the night. One of the girls usually checked around midnight and Linda around 3 am or so. What a feeling it must have been for the girls, to be up so late, walking out to the barn alone at night in the dark, wondering if when they opened the barn door, they would be the first to see the new baby goats and run back to the house to report the news to the family.

The first flowering shrub broke open today – the viburnums on the south side of the garden.
viburnum flower

April 9, 2005 – SpringBurst

Spring is bursting all over. Here’s the rhubarb: (compare to March 30).


The aspargus popped its head up yesterday:


Today we ate the first garden produce. We had fresh chives in our twice-baked potatoes. The radishes and lettuce are up. Today was the last “Growing Your Small Market Farm Class” for me for until next fall. The last class is next weekend and it is tree-planting weekend, so I won’t make it.

It was extemely windy today. Too windy to plant, to windy to spread mulch, the kinds of day that uplifts swirling dust clouds from the road. So, it was a good day to fetch the last 100 fenceposts from town and pound a few more into the ground. I got what is affectionately and oh-so-creatively called the mudhole fenced off. We bought a marsh seed mixture from Ion Exchange and need to get them in soon. The turf around the mudhole is slowly being broken apart by the cows, so the fence and planting should help it recover.

When the wind died down a bit near sunset, the kids got the home-made kite out and played with that. We were watching the three of them, the two dogs, and the kite out in the back pasture and I commented to Linda “there’s the reason we moved here.” We never have to worry about who’s in the park. Here’s a picture Emma took of her kite (a 4-H project) and the best kite we’ve ever had.


Martin was holding it for a while, until he let go and although there is a substantial piece of board to wrap the string up, it lifted all the string and the board over two fences and about 20 acres away. I came back to see them and saw Emma far-far away with kite in hand and Martin clinging to the fence.

April 7, 2005 – Book ’em

This is a day the blog streak almost died. For better or worse, every day I’ve been offering thoughts. Today was ‘town day’ and the goat is 2 days overdue. The goat was supposed to be the story – I didn’t think I’d need anything after the goat kids came. It would have been hopeful had they arrived the day after Frankie died.

I booked our flights and car to Austin, TX, for the end of May. That’s just two tickets! Linda is presenting at a conference and I’m there just to hang out.

Did you hear about the programmers who worked for Apple until their project was cancelled and they kept sneaking into the building (without pay) to finish it! It’s at http://www.pacifict.com/Story/.

April 6, 2005 – Material Handling

It tried to storm all day, but the storm just hung and hung to the southeast, with barely more than a brief promise of rain.

Material handling is a vastly under-estimated (at least by me) part of the farm. Moving stuff to the farm, off the farm, and around the farm takes about as much time as anything. A testament to this is all the types of contraptions with hitches farmers have to move things – hay wagons, manure spreaders, grain wagons, stock trailers, flat trailers, and the list goes on. Today I hauled three pickup loads of old hay from a neighboring farm to use as mulch for the garden. I also made two trips to town to haul the rest of the cattle panels that were not reserved for us – so I put the boat carriers on top of the truck and brought home 19 at a time.

I just need a day to catch up (I know this is a fantasy for 1 day) – catch up on planting and mulching the 10 unplanted chestnut trees, to update the business plan, to get more stuff in the garden, to begin looking at cleaning up the attic for the construction this summer, finish the tile around the upstairs tub, put in the kitchen floor. I fear that lawn-mowing season will soon arrive and take a couple of more hours out of the week. Linda promises me a day off from work where all the kids will be gone and we’ll have a day to catch up sometime this month.

April 5, 2005 – Claire Goes to DC

Claire is guest blogging today!
senator grassley's desk
Here I am sitting in Senator Grassley’s desk. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in. I had a great trip to Washington D.C. One of my favorite places was the Jefferson Memorial. I also liked all of the Smithsonian museums that we went to. My favorite Smithsonian was probably the natural history but the air and space flight simulator was really fun too. We stayed at the Embassy Suites hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. Three of my best friends and I were in a group and shared a room. Daylight savings time was not a helpful thing especially after going to bed at 11:30 and waking up at 6. We had a great tour guide and a nice bus driver. Some interesting things we saw were the Ruby Slippers from THE WIZARD OF OZ movie, Mr. Roger’s sweater, Kermit the Frog, and the Original Star spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem. The only thing about the hotel that wasn’t good was the pool. I think our rooms were bigger then the pool. Grandma Jo was our chaperone who we eventually called Pepperoni (first it was chaperone then chaperonee and them Pepperoni).

April 4, 2005 – Frankie :(

Early this morning when Linda woke up and went to check on Paullina, Frankie was lying on the ground, stiff, only moving his eyes and his ears. We got him to the vet, but he didn’t last much longer. Evidently he suffered some sort of auto-immune reaction which caused liver and other organ failure. In hindsight, we look back and Emma recalls he didn’t want to jump over the dog agility apparatus on Sunday – I recall seeing him try to throw up something (of course, the dogs frequently try to throw up something, so I didn’t think twice about it.) Emma is crestfallen. We’re going to bury him in his favorite blanket and put one of the branches form the shrub he rested under on top of him so he will be surrounded by familiar things…
His last photo March 25.

April 3, 2005 – Light!

Now things can happen after dinner outside! Today 10 of the chestnut trees found a home but need to be mulched yet. We continue digging out Martin’s playground and moved the dirt to the chicken yard which has become denuded of grass, in part due to the trenching for new water a while back. So we laid down a thin layer of soil, and spread some grass and clover seed and some hay.

Linda had a meeting with a woman who received a grant to help entrepreneurial immigrants get started in agriculture. There was not a big turnout as expected because there were fears the INS was around and people, even legals, were keeping a low profile. Seems the INS and Swift (the packing plant) have a cozy arrangement. Swift hires illegals, doesn’t pay for health benefits employees for the first 6 months, the INS comes in or is rumored to come in, large numbers leave, and when they come back, they start over for seniority and benefits.