December 31, 2005 – Corn Crib Renovation

Another one of the “b list” items off the list today. The corn crib has three interior sections – one on each side used to store the corn and a middle section for equipment. We’ve already converted the middle section to a basketball court.

The two sides have large boards running diagonally like large X’s from the outside to inside walls to help keep the walls from bowing out when full of corn pressing against it. As I cannot imagine this ever holding corn on the cob like they did in those days, I wanted to reclaim that space for other uses. Here’s what it looks like before reclamation.
insdie crib
The boards are very wide, probably at least 10 inches wide, and secured very well. With a little bit of prying, sawing, and pounding, they can be convinced to come out and offer more wide open space.
insdie crib

December 30, 2005 – ICE MONSTER!

Martin received a DVD of very old Superman cartoons. The quality is reminiscent of Ed Wood low-budget “b grade” horror movies. But the stories are simple (monsters vs Superman) and the outcome predictable – perfect for a 4 year old.

Martin has taken to the “ice monster” episode where a giant monster encased in a giant glass refrigerator at a museum predictably fails, the temperature warms, the monster escapes and wreaks havoc until Superman appears. Martin also got some sponge pills that “grow” into dinosaurs when soaked in water for a while.


Martin has taken to freezing the sponge dinosaurs in a dixie cup and waiting until the ice melts around his monster and releases it from its icy suspended animation.

December 28, 2005 – The Beautiful Side of Drab

The days of freezing fog have left behind many wonders.

Wonder on the maples…
icy maple

Wonder on the pines…
icy concolor

Wonder on the fence…
icy concolor

We got a “b” list item completed today – moved the fridge from the garage into the basement. It will use less electricity in the summer and be functional in the winter.

December 27, 2005 – Like Living in London?

Since Monday night, we’ve been socked in with fog and temperatures hovering around freezing. There was a short time when the fog lifted and we were treated to a beautiful view of the thick, grey, unrelenting, never-ending stratus cloud deck above!

I’m not sure it’s exactly like London, since it may be a bit cooler. The fog is the price we pay for the relatively warm temperatures, snowpack, and Pacific air.

December 26, 2005 – Time with Family

We were able to get away and spend some nice time with family in Rochester and the Twin Cities. This is the Barnes crew in Plymouth.
From the “out of the mouth of babes’ department, while we were passing by an elk farm, Martin tries to impress us with his holiday and animal classification skills by saying “Those (the elk) are cousins of the reindeer, cantelopes are too.”

December 23, 2005 – Dr Barnes, Goat Medicine Woman

We’ve had an outbreak of Pink Eye amongst the goats, both those visiting and resident. The treatment is similar to humans, ointment in the eye. You can imagine the fun it is to administer ointment to a goat’s eye twice a day. We had a few who had an especially bad case and needed shots of anti-biotic to help them recover. Here is Dr. Barnes, Goat Medicine woman, before administering the remedy.
goat shots

December 21, 2005- Party on the Farm!

We’re now over the daylight hump – the days get longer and the mid-winter is passed. We help it along with a giant bonfire and party.
solstice bonfire

Throughout the year, all the trees than get blown down, old boards from cleaning outbuildings get thrown on the burn pile in the pasture, to be lit on the longest night of the year. We have an open invitation for folks from church and around the neighborhood to come for the fire and bring a dish to share for potluck. We’re not quite sure, but there must have been about 110 people, give or take. Folks really seem to enjoy coming out. We make ice luminaries, the house is only lit with Christmas lights, and despite cramming over 100 people in the house, people return year after year.

December 20, 2005 – Cold Winter’s Night

It indeed is a deep, cold winter’s night. As I was doing my best Clark Griswold-lite Christmas lighting addition to the barn, I thought of all the things that could go wrong. I’m tip-toeing on a mound of icy snow that swooshed off the barn, allowing me to reach the gutters without a ladder. At the end, I need to crawl on the 1100 gallon water tank with rounded surface and icy coating – thinking “this probably isn’t a good idea to be stretched out to my full length, supported by an icy surface.” This time I was right. No incidents to report and a single strand of white lights now adorns the west side of the barn.

The was a large temperature discrepancy between Des Moines and Melbourne (50 miles) today. There is no snow cover in Des Moines and it was 32 degrees and at the same time in Melbourne, it was 16 degrees.

December 19, 2005 – Latke Night

Tis the season for Latkes (potatoe pancakes). The kids engulfed the pancakes topped with applesauce this evening.
I know, I should have taken a picture of a kid eating a latke, instead of shooting a cake on the griddle.

December 18, 2005 – Neighborhood Barns #2

Not all the barns are in as good shape as the Aberdeen Angus barn of yesterday. This barn is in exactly the same place (first place on the right) as our place and the Aberdeen Angus barn on three consecutive roads.
jessup barn

This barn is typical of what happens as farms get bigger and fewer people live on the land. This place is rented out and not kept up very well. Old barns are becoming more rare. Since we’ve moved in, there have been two barns within a mile that have been bulldozed and burned. There’s a group dedicated to saving the disappearing barns, the Iowa Barn Foundation.