June 30, 2006 – Martin/Daddy Matching Tractors!

Today is Martin’s 5th birthday. Many of his loved ones went together to get him a battery-powered scoop tractor, just like dad’s!

He’s having great fun helping around the farm – moving mulch, carrying tools, straw, or whatever else needs to be hauled.

He has not yet mastered the art of backing up with a trailer – maybe another day.

We also got for more lambs today.

Here’s Emma with one of the lambs. Now we have a total of six.

June 28, 2006 – Grain Grinder

A few years back I bought this grain grinder on E-bay.

It works great for small quantities and grinds a range from coarse to flour. We use it occasionally, like today when we need some creep feed for our bottle lambs and all the feed in the farm store was laced with anti-biotics. So, we have to make our own.

Here’s a sample of the coarse grind. It takes about 15 minutes to grind up about 50 lbs of corn.

June 27, 2006 – Early Summer Garden/Musings

It’s now officially early summer. Here’s a view at some of the garden.

It’s much easier to focus on what’s going wrong or not according to some plan, so today, I celebrate the things that are on track.

I suppose we’ve all got those mental lists of things to do – fix that, organize those photos, clean that. But amongst all those things, kids get raised, good work gets done, and the world is improved little bit by bit.

I’m paraphrasing a quote I heard a few days ago – I think it was attributed to an old Cherokee saying:

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”

This goes along with a magazine my mother dropped off this weekend that I had not yet seen – here is the philosophy of Countryside magazine:

“It’s not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family nurture and community cohesion; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money…and a taste for the plain and functional.”

These are eerily like our wedding vows (we celebrated 17 years last Saturday). I like to think of it as our mission statement as a couple – I like to re-read them at least once a year to see how we are doing. So here are the thoughts that were read at our wedding – our wishes for ourselves concerning our marriage and life 17 years ago.

“First of all, we wish for you a love that makes both of you better people, that continues to give you joy and zest for living, that provides you with energy to face the responsibilities of life.

We wish for you a home–not a place of stone and wood, but an island of serenity in a frenzied world. We hope that this home is not just a place of private joy and retreat, but rather serves as a sacred place wherein the values of your life are generated and upheld, We hope that your home stands as a symbol of humans living together in love and peace, seeking truth and demanding social justice. We hope that your home encompasses the beauty of nature–that it has within it the elements of simplicity, exuberance, beauty, silence, color, and a concordance with the rhythms of life. We wish for you a home with books and poetry and music–a home with all the things that represent the highest strivings of men and women.

We wish for you children–children who will not be mere reflections of yourselves, but will learn from you your best traits and will go forth to re-create the values you shall have instilled in them. We hope that you will give your children the freedom to find their own way, that you will stand aside when it is time for them to seek their personal destinies. But we hope you will pass on to your children the concept of family, not as an economic unit but as a transcendent force which brings people close in time of joy and in time of need.

Finally, we wish that at the end of your lives you will be able to say these two things to each other: Because you have loved me, you have given me faith in myself; and because I have seen the good in you, I have received from you a faith in humanity.”

So how are we doing regarding the children finding their own way?

I’m not sure I would have selected “Bob the Builder” underwear as a hat – but so be it!

June 25, 2006 – Jammin’

Today was a jammin’ day. We made a bunch o’ jam yesterday and today.

We made strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, and cherry. All day the rain danced around us – there was enough to make puddles in Melbourne (3 miles away) it rained in Marshalltown for a few hours (12 miles away) and we didn’t get any until a small cloud gave a brief shower and we got 1/10 of an inch! At least enough to settle the dust for a day or so. It also added 100 gallons to the storage tank that runs off the barn.

June 24, 2006 – We Saw Rain!

We went to Des Moines this afternoon and drove through sheets of driving rain. However, the rain at our place is more like the desert “1 inch rainfall” – drops 1 inch apart.

Here’s the view of the day’s heaviest rainfall – the drops evaporate before they can wash the dust off the back window of the van.
The chickens are nearing their final flight into the freezer.

They are enjoying the sunny days. Today the girls stocked up on baking materials for farmers market, getting sugar and flour in 25 lb bags!
Nana came down for an early birthday party for Martin and made dirt cake in the back of a toy dump truck – very popular!

June 23, 2006 – StoryCorps

Perhaps some have you have heard about StoryCorps, the oral history project modeled after the WPA oral histories of the 1930s. There are two mobile recording studios that travel the country, and Ames, Ia is one of the stops. A friend alerted us to the stop is Ames, as I never imagined it would stop so close. By the time we got to the web site to register, there was one time left in the three weeks it would be there and we would be home – 5:30 Sunday July 16.

I’m going to interview Linda and to keep it somewhat spontaneous, not give her a list of specific questions, but themes and topics instead. The recordings will all go to the Library of Congress. Imagine hearing a history of someone in your family or the same place you live from 80 or more years ago.

June 21, 2006 – Longest Day of the Year

Well, it’s over now – from here on in the days get shorter! Neighbors had a summer solstice gathering with potluck, fire, singing and everybody was invited to share a piece of poetry or other thought.

I’m hoping to save a bunch of time on wood chips this year. Rather than driving to pick up and load and unload by hand – the utility trimming truck came to the farm, I can load them with the tractor loader.


I saw these guys last week and asked them to dump at my place, but they never showed – they came this week and to entice them back they got a carton of freshly-picked strawberries!

June 20, 2006 – Shh, Don’t Tell the Chickens it’s Not Raining!

I found a new way to convince the chickens to go inside the night-time shelter other than shooing by hand or with sticks – virtual thunderstorms!

I just spray the hose into the air and as the “rain” comes down, they scurry into the shelter. No more convincing chickens it’s time to go inside. It works like a champ.

June 19, 2006 – Summer Fencing

Today was a day for some fencing configuration. First we put up the portable electric netting fencing.

Martin is hauling over the “power posts” for the netting. You can see it is all laid out, the path is mowed, and today’s good fortune was that the 164 foot length was about perfect from the side of the chicken coop to the fence next to the pine trees. It was also close enough to the electric fence in the main pasture to hook onto that instead of putting the solar charger out.

Here’s the fence ready for action – works on chickens and goats alike. Love this stuff.

We also took an odd portion of the main pasture and fenced it in with cattle panels to keep the cows out. Thought it was time to put the goats on a different pasture for a while, plus there are some mulberries they’ll mow down first.

What more could a guy want than a tractor to do the heavy lifting and a wife to do the pounding! It was nice to have the tractor to save the back by pulling out and putting in posts.

June 18, 2006 – Cherries are In!

Even though the strawberries are still coming in, the cherries have arrived.

Linda picked them to make her favorite jam – cherry jam. Today to celebrate Father’s Day we went to Ledges State Park – a place we used to hang out when we lived in Ames. I didn’t have my camera so no pics.

We walked down the creek, surrounded by rock cliffs and lots of greenery. Nice place on a hot day. The road that winds through the park, occasionally goes through (instead of over) the creek. Kids line up and urge cars and trucks to drive fast through the water to splash. We also climbed up to a rocky outlook over the Des Moines River and felt nervous with a four year old.

There were lots of people there today picnicing, the most notable, an “absent” father who had a sun shelter set up watching TV! Even the natural wonders and his family around him were not enough to lure him from the TV and watching the cars going around in a circle over and over…