April 29, 2007 – New (Old) Bookcases

Yesterday Grandpa Dave and G’ma Ann came down for Grandparent’s Day for Martin’s Kindergarten class. Martin had a great time showing off his classroom. But Linda got the biggest surprise of all, two stacking barrister bookcases circa 1906. They were originally her grandfather’s furniture and have been from Iowa, to Arizona, to Minnesota, and now back to Iowa.

They look great in the living room, flanking the entertainment center and just seem to belong. Linda can still smell her grandmother’s house in the bookcases!

one year ago…

April 28, 2007 – Starting to Plant 150 Trees

Over Saturday and Sunday, we managed to get 150 white pines in the ground.  All the kids were out of the house on Saturday night, so after a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, we got 55 in before heading off to church!

Here’s Linda near the end of the row along the east pasture.  Notice the two boards used to measure the distance between trees and the distance from the fenceline.

Stage two is watering the trees – the mobile water hauler (stock tank and garden tractor) work better than the big tractor when it is this muddy and wet.

one year ago…

April 27, 2007 – Not in our House?

In the 10+ years we’ve lived here, we’ve never had water in the basement.  I attribute that to the siting of the house, on the highest point of land on the property, even if it is a little closer to the road than most farmhouses. 

Driving home from swim lessons with Martin on Wednesday night, I jinxed us when after driving home and seeing all the full ditches, temporary lakes in fields, and overflowing creeks, Martin asked if our house would flood.  I said no, we never had any troubles because our house was build in a good place.  Thursday morning there was water in the basement and the floor drain was not working.  I think the water in the drain field is higher than the level of the basement, so it has no where to go.  It also looks like the water is coming up through the floor.  There is good sloping all around the house and new gutters and downspouts, so I think it just may be a matter of super-saturated ground.  We’ve had more than 6 inches of rain in the span of a few days before, but not on top of an already satured soil.

So Linda came home from work at 9:30 to see if the level was rising or falling and it was rising, so I left work and stopped at a Menards in Des Moines to look for a pump.  The whole aisle of pumps, sump and otherwise was cleared out.  I stopped at another one on the periphery of town and they had a small pump to attach to a garden hose, so I used that to get the water out. There wasn’t a lot of water, perhaps 2 inches deep, so things aren’t floating, so it could be worse. Â (all of you that have had water in a basement know what a pain that can be.) It seems like as of this morning, the inflow has stopped, but now it’s off to get a new dehumidifier as the existing one ran all night and didn’t produce any water. Meanwhile, the 150 trees wait to get planted…

April 25, 2007 – Fruit Blossoms = 3 Day Rain

It seems like every year you can pretty much expect a 3-4 day low pressure system to bring constant rain and wind during the peak of the fruit blossom time (hampering the bees from pollinating).  This year is no exception. Only this year’s rain is a lot harder than most years (5.5 inches of rain so far the last two days, and one more day to go).  About 0-2 times a year the low spot in the back pasture becomes a river.  Today is one of those rare days.

You can see what’s left of the willow mulch in the left-center part of the picture – looks like about 3/4 of it was washed away.  Willows were planted there just because of such periodic events.  I just hope the ground doesn’t stay under water for an extended period while the willows are getting established.

I ordered 150 windbreak/Christmas trees yesterday and they arrived in the mail today!  But, by the looks of it, no trees are going to get in the ground today.

one year ago…

April 24, 2007 – Congrats to the Hermnivores!

Yesterday, Claire’s “Envirothon” team from Marshalltown High School (The Hermnivores) competed at the state Envirothon competition. Here’s a description of the program from the sponsor web site:

The Envirothon is a team competition for high school students. In the field and classroom, teams of five students are challenged to use their knowledge and critical thinking skills to conduct hands-on investigations, solve real-life scenarios and answer written questions covering five categories: Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife, Soils, and Current Environmental Issues. The Iowa Envirothon is a state-wide program developed in conjunction with the National Envirothon policies, with the top team in the state representing Iowa at the Nationals. Past participants have equated the Envirothon to the competitions Odyssey of the Mind, and Mock Trial.

Claire’s team placed 2nd in the state, just behind Decorah, and ahead of Iowa City (any time a school from this part of the state can beat a school in Iowa City, it proves things are right in the world)! It is nice to know that Claire and her peers can stand academically with any other school in the state!  If for any reason the Decorah team can’t make the national competition, the Hermnivores will go.

one year ago…

April 23, 2007 – Apple and Nectarine Blossoms Appear!

At least some of the apple blooms will make it.  This tree is the most hopeful. 

Blossoms as they are about to burst are a beautiful bit of magic.

The nectarine is the happiest of all the trees this year.

And as an aside for those of you who know me well – you’ll all be pleased to know I got through an entire physical, shot, blood work and all, remaining alert and conscious through the entire procedure!
one year ago…

April 21, 2007 – First Round of Garden Planting

Today was a rare day.  The spring garden was ready to receive plantings, we were all home, all day, and all the equipment ran as expected.

Here’s bit of a new idea for us that you probably can’t see too well yet.  In the middle is a straight trellis of sorts for sweet peas for cut flowers – on either end are cattle panels “hooped” up to make tunnels – vining crops can go up the trellis and we can plant spring crops like broccoli and cabbage underneath.

Today, among other things, we planted potatoes, onions, and the rest of the strawberries (Claire dug the last 70 holes).  I filled up our 2 new raised beds that some chickens were perched over last summer with black soil, put a locking latch in the barn as Nellie has learned to unhook the latch with her nose! Sharpened the blades on the mower deck and even had to mow part of the yard where the grass was getting long.

one year ago…

April 20, 2007 – Putting Down Roots

Once you figure out which side is down and up, even a five year old can be a great asset in planting strawberries.  Out current patch is starting to decline as some grasses have invaded from the corners and rather than burn them out with grass herbicide, we will move the patch to fresh ground and cover the old patch with cardboard and straw to kill the old berries and grass.  It takes a couple of years to get a patch into production, so this will be the last year for the old, and will give the new patch a time to settle in.

The roots on strawberries are fairly long and each one needs a hole about 6 inches or more deep.  We ordered 200 new plants and put about 130 in today.

The varieties we put in today are Earliglow, Honeoye, Mesabi, and Jewel.  We order our strawberries from Nourse Farms – they provide a handy variety comparison chart for berry varieties.  We’ve been happy with their berries (straw and rasp) over the years.

We also got 5 new fruit trees in the mail the same day (4 peaches and a nectarine) to replace the trees we lost in the ice storm and got those in the ground as well. 


one year ago…

April 18, 2007 – Martin Brings Home a Tree

Today Martin brought a tree home from school.  He said everyone got a tree in his class.  He didn’t know what kind it was.  sually, the kind of tree would determine where to plant it – how big it may get, its effect on other plants etc.  He said there was a note on the tree.  The note said it was in honor of Arbor Day and was donated by the Izaak Walton league and if it isn’t planted today, keep the roots wet.  No mention of the type of tree on the note. Â Not wanting to discourage the budding arborist, we found a place for it.


He was sure we could find a place for it on the farm as he remarked “Dad has planted millions of trees.”

one year ago…

April 17, 2007 – Coming out the Deep Freeze

The last few days have been back in the 70s after the long early April cold snap. We still are not sure how far along the fruit tree blossoms were when the cold weather came (teens at night and 3 days without getting above freezing).  We should know in a few days to week or so if they saved the flower buds.

The rhubarb will be fine, it’s already sending up new growth from the growing point, even though the first few leaves are brown and dead.

one year ago…