April 30, 2006 – Relentless

The low-pressure system has been relentless the past few days. Wind. Rain. Repeat. Not heavy rain, but we’ve got about 2 inches over the last 3 days. A good soaker. About one more day left.

Here’s the view outside the window near the computer. Despite the rain, life went on – finished with the spawning, loaded a bunch of rough cut oak boards that we had been storing for the owner who was in Alaska the past three years into the back of a U-haul. Linda and Martin worked on some french-milled soap. I got a bit more insulation up in the attic and bought a literal truckload in town. Spent some time working of flyers and mailing lists, so all in all it was a bit of a break from the springtime outdoor frenzy.

April 29, 2006 – Spawning

We started the mushroom “planting” today. The dowels innoculated with shitaake mushroom spawn arrived and the logs were previously cut and ends waxed and ready to go.

Martin is holding the bag of spawn.

First holes are drilled in the log to one inch with a drill and collar. They are spaced about 6 inches apart in rows about 2 inches apart.

The dowels are pounded into the logs next.

Finally, wax is put over the holes to seal them up as the log needs to stay moist. According to the directions, we should move the logs into a shady spot, keep them moist, and in 6-18 months the picking should begin! This is a job that requires many hands and everybody can help.

April 28, 2006 – Looking for Morels

Although the weather’s been a bit variable (a touch of snow on Tuesday) it’s about time to look for morel mushrooms. Here’s a happy picture of Martin on the woodland trail. I like to see the little kid out in the big world, happy, singing, and safe, even at a distance from his parents.

It wasn’t a good outing as far as finding mushrooms goes – only a small handfull of small morels, but it is nice to get out and let the kids run and explore.

Here’s a group of walnut leaves popping out of their big bud (no consultation with in-house botanist on this description!).

April 25, 2006 – Got Milk?

Here’s the output from Blaze and Paullina (still with three kids nursing between them). We’re just milking once a day now. It’s time to put milk away for soap and making yogurt!

April 24, 2006 – Boys and Their Toys!

Today was a day long in coming – the arrival of a scoop tractor to high hopes! Isn’t it a beauty? It’s a 1967 John Deere 2510 with a nearly new Westendorf loader, a category 2 three point hitch, and wide front end. I’d been looking at tractors for a while and finally found this one. The arrival of a tractor ranks in importance somewhere between a new car and new house.

The next three pictures are a story of three photographers. The picture above was taken by Emma.

Mark took this picture.

Here’s Martin’s picture! As a young boy, he made sure to get all tractor and cut the people off the top!

I’m excited about the tractor for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my back. Lots less lifting and moving of heavy things with the back. Able to move a big bale when the time comes. Many folks made the tractor possible – “financing” by Grandma Jo, pre-sale inspection by Linda’s Uncle Wayne, and finally driving the beast home by Two Friends Farm. Curiously, the tractor was for sale about 16 miles away alongside Hwy 330. As we were driving it home, Claire was coming home from Des Moines with her TAG teacher, Grandma Jo and her partner for History Day competition at the State Historical Center in Des Moines and they passed us and waved wildly!

Also got five new apple trees grafted from the old near-dead tree in our yard onto new rootstocks courtesy of Two Friends farm. I just put them in the garden for this year to get established. It’s a very early apple – mid-July and makes great sauce and is in the right season to make raspberry-applesauce.

April 23, 2006 – American Gothic – High Hopes Style

Emma and Martin pose their version of American Gothic. The load of straw they are standing in was thrown from the 2nd story of the barn into the truck by just Martin and Emma. We found out after the fact that Emma invited Martin to jump from the 2nd story door into the truck filled with hay. They are now clear that is not a good idea! With this load of straw, now all the new berries are tucked in.

Got a little more planting finished today – about four varieties of zinnias, some beans and cosmos – along with a little more lettuce and radishes. The peach trees are showing a few blossoms and cherries are just beginning.

April 22, 2006 – Mystery

Today we had some friends over and one the games this group of kids play is “mystery.” They dress up and we have to guess who is who. Quite frankly, Martin is usually fairly easy to guess. Here he is in one of the get-ups today.
There was a wonderful moment when Linda and I took a break from planting the north garden – there was Martin, Emma, two dogs and a blanket under the white pines, reading and looking at books. Today we got the peas, some turnips, the rest of the blackberries in.

April 21, 2006 – Planting Raspberries

Today, among other things was raspberry planting. I ordered about 75 feet of fall berries, golden and red, along with 75 feet of blackberries. We hope these spread our berry season out a little more and offer a little more variety.

Here I am using the wheel hoe to make a shallow trench to plant the berries. Yes, I do feel like a horse. The berries are being planted in the place we had the paper and straw laid down on sod last year and had tomatoes planted.

Here are the newly planted berries. The new plants will come up from the roots, not necessarily from these stumps.

ere’s Claire helping put a little mulch along the side of the berries to conserve moisture and help keep weeds out. We lucked out and had some calm winds at nightfall, so were able get the paper down and mulch.

Martin had an interesting few days. We had been getting him ready for Kindergarten roundup today and he was very apprehensive saying he “didn’t want to sit at a desk all day.” He goes to day care two days a week and is home the rest of the week, and at day care, he was hugging everybody and saying good-bye (including getting in trouble with his friend – see here at this blog entry) by hugging her and not letting go! He thought he was saying goodbye to eveyone at Tiger Tots forever as he thought Kindergarten was starting today, not next fall. In his mind, he was saying good-bye forever, and everyone else thought he was saying good-bye for the day. At any rate, he was excited about school after going through an abbreviated day of books, recess, singing, and snack in the lunchroom.

April 19, 2006 – Lawn Work

Here are the tulips up against the compost pile.
Today was a day of some “lawn work” is what people in town may call it. I don’t have a lot of time for the lawn, although I have a lot of it! Today was the first lawn mowing of the season – a day I face with some trepidation. It means lots of wasted time and points out to me that I haven’t yet implemented enough food naturescapes. Each year we lose a little lawn, but not fast enough.

One of the big tasks was moving the walnut logs that were cut up. I rolled many of them out of the way, hauled some of them away on a low trailer, and dragged the biggest one down the burn pile with the tractor. It’s nice to have the open space there to access that part of the farm without squeezing between trees or drive over the septic tank.