September 16, 2006 – Thunderhead

Weather phenomona is always fun. At sunset Emma snapped these pictures of the skies.

Here’s a view to the west of some thunderheads. Just for kicks, we checked the radar to see how far away they were. The closest two were about 100 miles away, and the smaller one to the left was over Omaha, Nebraska. This reminded me of the night we saw lightning all the way from Southern Minnesota. Seeing weather coming is one of the advantages of living in one of the large flat states!

This is the view due east at the same time the first photo was captured. You’ll notice the streaks in the sky, I’m guessing due to the sun dipping below the horizon, but not yet below the top of the thunderhead and the streaks are the “shadows” of the thunderheads in the atmosphere.

September 15, 2006 – Peaches and Raspberries

Our raspberries refuse to surrender. We’ve been picking since mid-August. On Monday we picked 2 gallons and today (Friday) 6 more quarts. This is from a 50 foot row!

The oldest peach tree was ready for harvest as well. Three crates of peaches from it this year – about 1/2 or less of last year’s harvest from the tree, but still lotsa peaches.

So, time to make more jam, and depending how the mood strikes us tomorrow – canned or dried peaches. I would not be disappointed if it froze tonight (it won’t for quite some time yet). I’m ready for something else besides picking and putting food up (at least for a while). I don’t think I’d do very well in a place without seasons. It’s nice to anticipate, enjoy, and exhaust each season. I look forward to fall – typically a time to fix up buildings/create contrivances in the workshop after the gardens die.

September 13, 2006 – Fencing

Recently the cows crashed through the cattle panels and ate all the leaves off the second year hardwood trees I’ve been babying. Now that the broilers are gone, the solar charger is available and so I strung wire around the enclosure and turned it on.

This SHOULD work to keep the cows out.

September 12, 2006 – Say What?

Here’s a picture of the modem cord from an IBM laptop.

A “Do Not Open” warning is on the plastic bag containing the modem cord. I guess IBM does not want me to use this cord!

An explanation may be that the “Please do not open” and “ferrite cord case” on separate lines may be meant to be one complete sentence “Please do not open ferrite core case.” But this leads to more questions – why make part of the “sentence” a larger type face? Or better yet – why not put the warning directly on the ferrite case instead of the throwaway plastic bag?

September 11, 2006 – 5 Years

Does anybody remember it’s been five years since the Twin Towers came down? (kidding!) I’m not sure the best way to commemorate the occasion. I didn’t have a connection to anyone who died that day and am skeptical of politicians who try to use it to promote their own agendas.

I remember vividly that we had a rare fall trip planned to Kawishiwi Lodge, in northern Minnesota, a few miles from the Canadian Border. Our week there started a few days after 9-11, when there was still a great deal of uncertainty and disbelief in the air.

It was a great place to be – to connect back to basic things – trees, water, and family and far enough away from everything to lift some of the veil of uncertainty away for a while.

We stumbled across a description of our kids that week written by someone else this summer. Each cabin has a journal where guests can record their thoughts and experiences for the future guests to see. We usually stayed in the same cabin until we switched this year to an adjacent cabin. We remember an older couple staying in that cabin the week of 9-11 and hoping our young and boisterous children were not ruining this older couple’s peaceful week in the wilderness.

Imagine our surprise when Claire was reading through all the comments and figured out the comments written in the journal were about her five years ago! The sentiments were very sweet, the couple remarked about current events, juxtaposed with the joyful sounds and actions of the children next door, who they evidently eyed with gratefullness at their joy and happiness at a time when the adults were not. It was rather sweet to think of this couple getting joy from our kids, when we thought they might be annoyed!

September 10, 2006 – I-Renew Energy Fair

Today I went to the I-Renew energy fair near Iowa City. I was a bit disappointed there were not more solar/wind vendors there, but I did get some useful information and made what could be some fruitful acquaintances.

One neat web site I found out about lets you put in your freezer or refrigerator and find out who much electricity it uses. Time flies, and I was shocked how much our freezer we bought at a wedding gift uses – about 1050 kwh a year – nearly one month’s electric usage for us. A new similarly sized freezer uses about 300-459 kwh.

One person suggested looking at how much energy our most energy intensive applicances use and said it may be better to first upgrade those appliances before trying to power the house with wind/solar. So, I will be shopping for a new freezer, looking at a front-load washer (saves water, and thus electricity to heat the water and uses less energy) and leaves the clothes much drier because they spin so much faster and cause dryer to use less electricity for the 5 months we can’t hang clothes outside, and replacing the old full-size extra fridge in the basement with a smaller, newer one.

September 9, 2006 – Market Goods

Here’s a sample of what we bring to market. This may be one of the last weeks as the garden winds down.

As Martin’s Kindergarten class was discussing colors this week, nobody believed that peppers were purple. (Doesn’t anybody teach “Peter Piper picked a peck of purple peppers anymore?) So, for share day, he brought in some Purple Beauty peppers to show.

Some of the fall bouquets are striking with the dark reds and browns.

Our fall raspberries are just going nuts this year – lots and lots of big berries.

September 6, 2006 – Chickens Gone and Farm Tour

This morning, for the last time, for a long time, the sound of roosters crowing woke me up at 3:30 am. about 45 minutes later, with a view of an orangish-pink setting moon, I drove to the locker to bring half of our chickens. On the way home, the sun was rising. GJ came out and since these chickens were for us, we cut up most of them and froze them.

In the afternoon we had another farm tour with students from MCC as part of a livestock class. We were also recorded and captured on video for possible future classes.

Here a student tries to milk!

September 5, 2006 – Show Us Your Fridge

A recent post at Sugar Creek Farm’s blog showing the inside of their refrigerator has inspired me. So without further ado, here is the fridge at high hopes.

The fridge cam has so inpired me, that I hope it may someday become on the list of everyone’s useless web sites. Things that separate this fridge from other people’s fridges:

1) 2nd shelf from top – mason jar with goat milk
2) 2nd door shelf from top – opened jar of 1/4 full home canned tomatoes (waiting to meet the compost pile
3) 4th shelf from top – plastic grocery bag with grapes from farmer’s market getting pre-crushed.

I have created a secondary blog, just to record the inside of people’s fridges. Please visit If a guy can make thousands of dollars by selling a pixel of his screen at a time, the sky is the limit with the fridge pics.

September 4, 2006 – Gift of Heirloom Apples

Today Helen Gunderson stopped by the farm and dropped off two Wealthy apple trees she grafted from an 80 year old tree on her childhood farm. I’ll have to ask her where the tree was in this arial photo shown in the previous link.

We were able to pick two of the trees to plant at High Hopes. To facilitate this project, Helen learned how to graft and brought these trees from grafted twigs to these nice potted trees over the summer. She is spreading the apples around the state, a modern-day Johnny Appleseed (except the true story of Johnny Appleseed involves lots of hard cider and profit, but that’s another story for a diffent day).

September 3, 2006 – A Room with a View

The big progress on the attic project this week was getting the windows in. Two of the three windows are now in and a dark, lightless space is now flooded with light.

This is the view east over the machine shed, corn crib, and chicken coop and pastures and beyond.

Here’s the view out the south window, looking southwest – most of this view is into the upper reaches of a large maple tree.