March 31, 2006 – Jr. Beekeeper

Martin has shown a great affinity towards the bees and seems to understand and play out the different roles of the different kinds of bees in a hive. Grandma Jo wanted to make sure he was comfortable around the bees – here he is in his new beekeeper’s suit that arrived today.

I’m guessing he’ll be the only beekeeper at Halloween next year.

We missed out on all the severe windstorms last night, but got a good downpour. Since it is not forecast to be below freezing through the entire forecast period and it was very windy today, I took the cover off the cold frame (purchased at Theisens a few days ago.)

March 29, 2006 – The Ultimate Pruning – A New View!

Today was the day two of the three old apple trees were cut down.

This is the view before the cutting.

After the cutting/Before the hauling.

This is the view after the cutting.
The apple trunks were cut into logs and ends sealed with wax to prepare for Shiitake mushroom spawn in a few weeks. The branches (all four loads) were hauled to the burn pile. It was with both sadness and relief that the trees were cut. They were very bland tasting apples and the trees took longer to prune than the rest of the trees combined and picking up the deadfalls was a pain. However, they were part of this place for a long time. We kept one of them as it has very early (July) apples great for sauce and we’ll give it one more year and graft some branches to new rootstock to continue it on this place.

If you look closely, you can see the first raised bed in place – I’m going to build a bunch of raised beds where the trees used to be for more gardening space. Right now, there is a chicken tractor perched on top – we’ll use that to create the soil.

We also put up a small cold frame to get a jump on lettuce and early spring crops.

March 28, 2006 – Off-Topic

Every day at High Hopes cannot be about the farm. Many news services have picked up on the story today of a Drake student who hung out in a Des Moines Wal-Mart for 41 hours without being detected over spring break.

I don’t think it’s THAT big of a story to warrant Letterman, Good Morning America, etc. For my money the story is Nathan Bush. On his “amazing” web site, Nathan documents with grainy photos and appropriate commentary the Wal-Marts, K-Marts, Pamidas, and Fareway stores of Iowa – all while he dreams of the day he becomes a supervisor at Wal-Mart. Nathan confides in us that he snuck out of town to make a pilgrimage to a new Pamida store over 50 miles away from his house without his parent’s permission!

In addition, I learned that Nathan has posted photos of himself at “” and invites readers to rate him. I’m adventurous on the web, but just cannot take that jump!

March 27, 2006 – Destination Imagination

Today was a gloomy, brown, drizzly day. The kind of day to get inside work done. It was a good day to go watch Emma. This morning Emma’s Destination Imagination team competed in the State Finals at Grinnell College.

They have practiced for months after school and advanced from the regional competition in Ankeny while we were in Santa Fe.

Here’s a part of the skit where the TV broadcasters present the news and weather for Paris.

Here, the judges ask questions and congratulate the team on its performance.

March 26, 2006 – Goat-Proofing Barn

Ok, so “goat-proofing” may be too optimistic a term for what we did today, but it sure sounds hopeful! Every once in a while, the goats climb over the feed bunks in the barn and get in the main part of the barn. Today, we put up cattle panels above the bunks to help them decide to stay on their side of the barn. Again, with goats, this is all theory.

If you look closely, you can see the panels up on the far wall. We also fixed one of the doors that the Billy knocked off, and fixed one door that had settled and did not close. So, now we are more ready to the kids – Paullina is scheduled to deliver this Friday.

March 25, 2006 – Seeding the Universe With Chickens

Today we had a visit from the good people at Gracious Acres. They put up a brand new chicken coop in the past few days and were ready for some hens. Our hens have been outproducing our egg demand, so they came over to get a half dozen. That’s two more than we were seeded with nine years ago when we moved here and had an empty coop and no clue what to do with chickens. We’ve now sent (live) chickens to two states!

Martin had a great time as one his his “classmates” came to his farm and he was able to show his farm.

The fun begins as the chicken round-up begins.

The chickens safely tucked away in the truck are ready to go.

I’m not sure how to caption this one – other than what more could a little boy want than a little girl who has a big truck!

March 24, 2006 – It’s Still Not Spring

As the snow s-l-o-w-l-y recedes with highs only in the upper 30’s, the garden springs to life in the basement.

A statice pokes its head out of the soil.

The wonderful starting stand we have was given to us by someone who was moving – it has some nice trays, fluorescent and incandescent lamps, and wheels. It works great for seed starting.

March 22, 2006 – Barn Time

Today, a student from Iowa State came out to visit our barn. The class was doing a project and was looking at “Adaptive Reuse” of barns. She came out and asked some questions, took some pictures, and we lamented about the vanishing barns

Here is a collection of blog entries that show renovation in progress or other interesting local barns.

Here’s the link that shows the “before” and “after” chicken coop

Here’s some before and after of the inside of the corn crib

Outside of Corn Crib Renovation

Here’s a pretty picture of the barn in winter

Here’s some pictures of a neighborhood barn in good shape

Barn in bad shape

Here’s a really cool posting from one of our friends whose barn burned down due to lightning.

March 20, 2006 – Tree Cutting

This morning was a morning of efficient town trip. I ordered some mushroom spawn (shittake) and need some logs to inoculate with the spawn when it arrives. The three old apple trees near the driveway need to go away – they take so long to prune and only one produces decent apples. When we moved in they were old and had reached about 8 feet over the power line and I had pruned them back to 5 feet or so under the wires, but they were a lot of work to keep there and produced lousy apples. The other two just make windfalls that have to be constantly picked up. So, they’ll be cut down and used for multiple purposes – spawn logs and goat browse. One of them will be grafted onto new rootstock for a new tree.

So, I wanted to make sure my chain saw blades were sharp and one was dull and the other was quickly dulled by cutting up the remains of a big walnut that blew down in a big windstorm years ago. I cut until the blades were dull. It was one of those things that is “on the list” it doesn’t necessarily take that much time, it’s just that so many things are on the list! So we got all but the biggest log sawed up.

Then we took the truck and dropped off the load of scrap metal, dropped off the chains, stopped by Big Lots going out of business sale and by a stroke of luck, bought a split queen box spring as our box spring will not fit up the stairs to the attic after the remodeling is finished. Then off to the lumberyard for more cedar for another raised bed.

We had our first appointment regarding Emma’s orthodintia and one of the options was to saw her jaw, move it forward and re-attach it. That didn’t sound like a great idea, even if it would immediately “fix” her mouth. Since there is not a health reason, just a cosmetic reason, we all agreed it was a bit excessive. Emma was very relieved. So I took her to the ISU women’s NIT game and watched them lose in OT to Marquette – but it was a hard-fought, exciting game.

March 19, 2006 – Seed Starting

The last few days Linda and Martin started seeds in the basement – things like tomatoes, peppers, some cut flowers, and soybeans. Soybeans are for Martin. Last year after harvest we walked in the field adjacent to the farm and Martin picked up some seeds that the combine had missed. Unknown to us, he had saved them, remembered where they were, and wanted to plant them. So, not wanting to discourage a budding seed saver, we planted some of his beans.

Martin ready with the row markers for the newly planted seeds.

March 18, 2006 – Full Farm Press

This afternoon we engaged everybody in completing some tasks. Martin and Linda scrubbed the chicken waterers.

Claire and I destroyed the old composter, separated the composted from the uncomposted and put the new composter around the pile. Linda and Emma cleaned out chicken doo-doo from the hog barn.

Claire taking out the last of the rotted wood from the “temporary” composter we built when we moved in nine years ago.

Claire putting the cedar slats to separate the “done” from “undone” sections in the new composter.
Early this morning, the buck goat went to the sale barn. In the evening we were recipients of a wonderful St Patties dinner at Two Friends farm, featuring real corned beef, Irish soda bread, potatoes, cabbage and goat milk cheesecake!