July 31, 2005 – Strange Days

Today was a strange day. We had a small chance of rain, it started about 6:30 am and I ran out to get the laundry. At about 10:00 I checked the radar and there was only a narrow band. By one the narrow band was still there and the last drops fell at 5:00. Two people said the clouds today were the weirdest they had seen. A neighbor called and left a message to look at the clouds to the north (I love the neighbors who alert me to this stuff) and my Mom sent me an e-mail saying they saw some weird clouds north of Ames. Here’s what they may have looked like, as I received both messages a bit after the fact.

April flipped out today. The lightning, although not frequent, dragged on for most of the day. She freaks out is storms ever since she was caught in a hailstorm that dropped hail big enought to break windows a few years back.
door
This is what she did to the back door before we heard her! This was an ouch on the paws as the broken wood is sharp!

July 30, 2005 – More Corn

I have not yet mentioned Emma’s return home. She was very homesick (you may have seen some recent comments from her at late hours of the night communicating with us when she was a way and sleepless at night). She is home for a couple of days before going to 4-H camp.

Yesterday, we set up the outdoor kitchen and got about 25 bags of corn frozen.


We had a little help from my mom who helped husk and my sister, who brought all the kids in town to see a movie! I also tried freezing some onions. I have not tried it yet and am curious as we had some onions that were damaged or had soft spots that would not store.

July 29, 2005 – Only in Iowa?

This week, I’ve been fighting the internet service. It’s been slower than dialup, fails to load web pages, refuses to send attachments in e-mail, or upload photos. I updated my spyware, anti-virus, and did a full system scan all to no avail. Called my internet provider to see if they were having problems on their end. Said, he could not “see” my connection on the tower and was surprised I had service at all. I’ve got a wireless connection from a small antenna on the first floor roof to the tower in Melbourne, three miles away.

He asked if the antenna had moved. It looked like it was in the same place. Then he asked if I could see the tower, and my answer was this week – no. We had been commenting how walled in we felt with the tall corn across the road and we could no longer see the Melbourne skyline (water tower and grain elevator) from the yard. The corn is so tall, we no longer have a line of sight to the tower and thus the degraded internet service. So, how many people can blame their poor internet service on corn? So, my options are to wait it out until the corn starts to die back, or pay them 95 dollars to move the tower to the 2nd story. That is complicated by the fact that we want to re-roof and build a dormer this fall and there is a big tree that would need branches cut. So, if there is inconsistent entries and a lack of photos for a while, you can blame the corn.

July 27, 2005 – Cart-o-Veggies


Today was root crop day at High Hopes. We dug all the potatoes, and the remaining onions and garlic. Just as importantly, pulled all the weeds and planted buckwheat where everything was pulled. The weather is still pleasant and it was a good day to work.


We moved the turkeys out of the cramped chicken tractor and got our first electric netting fence up and they had a good time stretching their wings. They were quite hilarious flying up and discovering what the fence does.

July 25, 2005 – Garlic Bread!

Today was the last hot day for a while – so it was a good day for a dentist visit and to clean the house to get ready for an appraisal for a refinance. It’s nice to have a clean house. In the evening we cut some of the black-bearded wheat we planted for ornamental value. Martin, however, is convinced we are going to make wheat flour with the wheat, so here’s a picture of “garlic bread” for Martin.
garlicwheat

July 24, 2005 – Back at the Ranch

Today, we find out what the place looks like after 10 days away. It looked like nobody had lived here for a while, pretty shaggy looking. I guess the upside is that it shows us how much we actually do while it seems nothing is getting done. Other than that, it was a day of laundry, putting stuff away, sorting mail and getting things back in order. We dropped Emma off in Minneapolis for a half-week in Minneapolis with her cousins and another half week with Nana in Rochester.

July 23, 2005 – Last Day at the Cabin

Saturday marks the last day at the cabin.

Here, the kids concentrate on a game of bocce ball.

The girls pose with their “search and rescue” shirts and sweaters to commemorate Emma’s return to civilization!

Finally, the last picture of the crew before the 520 mile trip home.

July 22, 2005 – Solitude (well, almost)

Although the time at the cabin is filled with activity – there are a few moments of solitude. Just past sunset, I dragged Claire off for a walk. Her reluctance soon waned as we walked down a trail and took a turn off through the brush. We encountered an animal trail and ended up in a spongey bog at the headwaters of a small lake, with a stream meandering through it. Our expressed purpose was to look for moose, but we did not see any. Claire appreciated the sparseness, strangeness, and solitude, even with the bugs. She commented that she doubted there were too many people ever in that bog, let alone wearing pajamas.

Another time of solitude was when I had a chance to fish in the middle of a riffle, with water pouring out on both sides, the fish in the boiling water less than 10 feet from my feet.

One night, just after sunsset we were out on the dock when a pack of timber wolves started howling. Martin’s eyes got very large and he burrowed into his mother.

July 21, 2005 – Lake Superior/Emma Search & Rescue

We started the day off with a lunch on the shore of Lake Superior. Of, course, swimming was part of the deal.

The water’s a bit colder, but still fun to wait for the waves.
After lunch we hiked the 1.5 mile path up the Baptism River to the High Falls, the highest waterfalls in Minnesota.

Dad and Martin hiking across the river. Martin earned a t-shirt of his choice by walking the entire way – there and back. We all wished we could walk one mile less than our age in an afternoon!

We had a bit of a project, building a dam across the river – you can see we got about 15 feet of rock dam built before it was time to go. It’s never too early to embed a love for civil engineering in a child.

On the way back, Emma was separated from the group, and at a fork on the trail, headed on the Lake Superior Hiking Trail, instead of the trail back to Lake Superior. Linda, Martin and I were the last ones out and when we got back, the rest of the party said – where’s Emma?

So, Linda and I drove up highway 1 where the Lake Superior Trail crossed the road, Mike and Lori, retraced our steps, and Grandma stayed at the vehicles with the rest of the kids. It’s rather unnerving, walking through the woods, calling out your lost child’s name. We made it back to the falls with no sign of Emma. All the things that run through your mind – she fell in the river, fell off a high place, was abducted, or just dazed and confused and lost. Near the falls, we talked to a party that had seen a young girl in a swim suit go up over the falls, to the footbridge, with another party. That trail, went to another campground, so I took that trail, gave Linda the keys to the van, she went back to the ranger station, and I continued on to the Tetteguche trailhead.

Emma was found shortly after we left – she said the trail suddenly climbed up a steep stone stairway before coming to a big rock outcrop and she knew it was the wrong way. So she turned back, took the other fork, and found her way back to the lake. There were some moments of apprehension for daughter and parents!

July 19, 2005 – Blueberries

It is a good year for blueberries in the northwoods. Always the foragers, we brought our canning kettle and canning jars and canned and froze blueberries (can’t get the farmers out of us, I guess). Grandma Jo even made a fresh blueberry cobbler.

The berries were particularly luscious this year. We went out a couple of times and got about 3 gallons of berries. My grandfather, Walter, was an avid blueberry picker, who did not live too far from where we were. I find comfort in the spongy, sphagnum places the biggest berries grow.

July 18, 2005 – Fish

Fishing is another fun part of the trip. This year Martin, set up with a bobber and worm, caught his first fish, from hooking to reeling in, from the dock.

Just watch, I can do this.

Wow – I did it myself!

The big fish of the week award goes to Claire for reeling in this northern pike. She dethrones her father, whose three year big fish streak was broken.