November 29, 2006 – Dormer Done Outside!

The handy man from Two Friends Farm finished up the outside of the dormer today. We still have the older, smaller dormers to side, but the big new one is done on the outside. I am a very happy boy that I will never have to crawl up there to paint again. I’m not happy about artificial siding, but I tried to pick the lesser or two evils.

We decided to go with a creamy yellow color and put shake shingles on the dormers and regular lap siding on the rest of the house when the time comes. We’re happy that with the color and look so far – it’s not in your face yellow, but has a pinch of flair.

one year ago… the computer was dead.

November 28, 2006 – Blast from the Past!

We were rummaging through some deep storage the other day and Claire ran across this newspaper featuring her father’s photo on the front page!

It shows me with the trophy for the “Ugliest Truck Contest” at the Central Iowa Fair in 2002. I inherited this truck many years ago from my father and it had over 200,000 miles on original engine, clutch, and transmission before it died.

Here’s what the photo caption in the paper says: ” Mark Runquist of Melbourne earned a dubious honor on Saturday afternoon at the Central Iowa Fair with his winning entry in the “ugliest truck” contest. Runquist brought his 1984 Mazda to the competition. His truck comes complete with corn stalks growing in the bed. He was awarded a trophy that looked a lot better than his vehicle.”

one year ago…no entry

November 27, 2006 – Same Old…

Not much new to report. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Today I moved the scaffolding to the north side of the corn crib and started working over there. About 8 hours of climbing up and down, lifting and dropping – a good tired at the end of the day. It was a bonus day – it was in the 60’s and was supposed to rain, but only ended up with some occasional drizzle. More importantly – no wind, so the siding sheets were easy to handle alone. So I neglected everything else as it might be the best day for a long time to do this kind of work!

one year ago…

November 24, 2006 – Working off the Feast

There’s nice park nestled within the city limits of Rochester, MN called Quarry Hill. There are ponds, nature center, old quarry relics, caves, lots of fossils, and a huge unmarked cemetery.

Not many November 24 days when shirtsleeves are appropriate attire in Minnesota! Here are the kids after the hike up to the top of the quarry. It stopped producing in the 1950’s.

There are also many caves – some of the bigger ones which were used by the state hospital for food storage from the 1880’s to the the 1940’s. There’s a big field within the park where the state hospital buried patients who died. There are over 2,000 people buried in the field, without markers. They were buried until 1965 when the hospital closed. There are efforts to mark the gravesites appropriately.

There’s also a great 20 acre Oak Savanna on the highest point overlooking the city.

November 22, 2006 – Way too Gross for Me!

Never one to pass by a better and creative way to feed animals, I was intrigued with the post on the “whizbang chicken plucker” Yahoo group – a place where many people with small flocks of chicken post questions, problems and answers.

I’m able to pick up a few things here and there on this group – but the posting describing “free feed” went over the edge for our operation. It described growing maggots for chicken feed. I think maggots would be a great chicken food – however the growing method described – get beaver guts (or other dead animal) and hang in a plastic bucket over the chicken yard and let the maggots fall down to the ground. According to the author, it wasn’t bad unless the wind was blowing toward the house. Don’t think I’ll risk it!

one year ago…

November 21, 2006 – Thanksgiving Turkey

Here’s one of our thanksgiving turkeys. Today was the day they went to the locker – so they are fresh for Thanksgiving.

It was a rough start to the turkey season – first 10 of 15 of the poults arrived dead from the hatchery this summer. As the replacements weren’t sent for a month, we were worried about the turkeys getting to size. Then a feral cat, ate some of the other turkeys out on the range. At $5 a poult, it adds up in a hurry. We ended up with 9.

The biggest two were about 26 lb and the rest were 12-16 lb, which wasn’t too bad. We kept two – one 16 lb for Thanksgiving and the biggest one Emma cut up and vacuum-packed for many meals. We traded a couple of turkeys for some berkshire pork from Eden Farms. We fried up some chops tonight and they were the best I’ve ever had – literally melt in your mouth chops.

one year ago…

November 20, 2006 – Iowa Organic Conference

Today was the Iowa Organic Conference in Ames. I helped man the Wholesome Harvest booth and got to talk to many producers looking for markets for their meat. I was heartened that the director of the Iowa Organic division within the state department of agriculture requested as addition of four staff positions to the staff, all were approved by the out-going Secretary of Agriculture, who now sits in the Lieutenant Governor’s office – so there is great hope that those additional positions will be filled.

one year ago…

November 19, 2006 – Auction Goods

The biggest (and heaviest) item we bought at the auction was this big bale spear for $55.00.

We also got a pile of hog panels for $22.00.

A group of wooden folding chairs for $6.00.

An old doghouse for $2.00 (this saved me from having to make one for Maizie this winter!)

Other buys included a stetson hat nearly new in original box with a box of 100 file folders and 50 hanging file folders for 2 bucks.

A bunch of serving bowls and dishware, including corelle, a french mill coffee press for 2 bucks.

A box of piano, flute, and other instrument books and a pile of sheet music from the 40’s for one dollar.

About two dozen wine glasses for $2.

A huge white igloo cooler for $2. There’s a few more things I can’t remember. All in all, worth spending the better part of a day.

one year ago…

November 18, 2006 – Auction

Today I was able to get to a farm auction. It was a complete farm auction – household and farm – they even sold the house! Since there was lots of stuff, I stayed all day, Linda most of the day, and the kids about half the day. There was a big collection of firearms, evidently auction sales don’t have to follow the same rules as retail dealers

It was a deep, cold day. You can tell it’s a cold day, since most of the farmers are actually wearing their hoods or stocking hats instead of baseball caps. We got chilled to the core, it seemed like it wasn’t until late evening that our cores got warmed.

We ended up with a lot of stuff – I’ll post pictures tomorrow. It was sobering to see some of the stuff we got that at one time had great meaning, but now that the people are gone, it’s no matter. There were boxes full of stuff, and I would only want one item and have to take the whole box of stuff I didn’t want. In the boxes were hand-stitched pillows with baby handprints inked on with greetings, presumably from a child to grandparent. There were hand-made Christmas stockings, with the names outlined in glue and glitter. There were notecards of encouragement to family members evidently going through a personal challenge.

one year ago…

November 17, 2006 – Fruit Tree Problems

This year, a number of our fairly new peach trees developed wounds on the south side of their trunks. While I was at the Small Farm Conference I spoke with someone from the Missouri experimental fruit station after a grafting workshop who told me to paint the south sides of the trunks white because the hot winter days followed by cold were causing the splits in the trunks. He said you don’t need fancy paint, interior latex works as well as anything.

It looks kind of strange to see all the white trunks offering striking contrast to the autumn browns.

one year ago…