June 16, 2007 – All Dressed Up (Kind of)

Today we had the pleasure to attend the wedding of one of the faithful blog readers.  Congratulations to both of you!  It was an outdoor wedding overlooking a lake, so it was a nice setting.  Special commendation to the groom for enduring the 90 degree day in the black tux!  I’ve often heard the advice to newlyweds “Never go to bed angry.”  I’d like to amend that slightly to be “Never go to bed without telling your spouse what you are angry about.”  So much for the unsolicited marital advice!  Now go have a great life!

It’s hard to know exactly what to wear for an outdoor wedding on a hot day, so here are the kids after the ceremony.

Our anniversary is coming up in a few days – 18 years this June.

one year ago…

June 15, 2007 – It’s Hot, Must be Haymaking Time!

Now that the temps are in the 90’s – that means just one thing – it must be time to make hay!  We were invited to help at Two Friends Farm this weekend.

How’s this for a date?  Sitting on an empty hay rack after the unloading 100 or so bales is a good rest.

Starting out a new rack after one was under our belts.

Even Emma and Claire were enthused about helping and took their turns on top of the racks.  It’s great to now have kids old enough to handle a bale of hay.  We figured we handled about 8 1/2 tons this afternoon.
one year ago…

June 13, 2007 – Native Grass – “Needlegrass”

It must be time for some roadside botany!  The weather has turned hot and sultry.  Just a few steps down the road from our driveway a native grass is nearing the end of its seasonal lifecycle.  Needlegrass is a very ingenious native plant with a great seed planting strategy.

In this picture, the mature needlegrass is the grass that has turned brown and silvery. It’s a cool-season grass which means it matures early in the season.

Here’s a picture of one of the seedheads.  You’ll notice the sharp point on one side and the braided stem alternating dark and light bands.  When the seed falls off the plant, it lands point side down, then as it dries out, the dark and light bands wrap around each other and “drill” the seed into the ground as the light and dark bands dry at different rates in the sun.

one year ago…

June 12, 2007 – Workin’ on the Farm

On Monday, it was a bit of rare day that all of us were home!  We set everyone out with a job. 

It’s Emma’s summer to learn to paint.  She wants to paint a side of the barn, so we are starting her out on an easier painting task, the north side of the hog barn, which doesn’t require much ladder work. Here, she is scraping off some of the old paint.  There’s really not much left and we sprayed it with water first to keep down the dust.

Claire is assuming more of the mowing duties on the farm.  While the regular mower is in for repair, she gets to use the old lawn tractor.

Linda gives me a boost in the attic, completing some of the insulation in the east dormer.

one year ago…

June 11, 2007 – Cherries!

We have one cherry tree that produced this year (we are grateful as many trees around here have no fruit because of the late cold snap).

This photo shows cherries in various forms of processing – cherries right off the tree, cherries pitted, and the cherry pitter full of pits.  These cherries are destined for cherry jam.

Martin insisted on getting in a picture as well!

one year ago…

June 10, 2007 – Fathers and Daughters

Emma spent the last three days in Ames at the Iowa State Women’s basketball camp. Â I was struck how she and her campmates all tended to share a similar physique and posture. It was not a place for overweight teen-agers!

Emma had a great time playing with others who want to improve their game, got to meet the ISU women players and coaches, and as a bonus, her team at the camp won all their games.  Coach Fennelly urged them all to practice and read this summer.

Emma morphed from a player in the morning to a dancer in the evening. Â Sunday night was a father-daughter dance in State Center and I was able to take two daughters dancing!

Claire and Dad shake it up out on the floor. Â  It was a fun evening, we left with sweaty bodies, flush faces, and a promise of more dancing!

one year ago…

June 9, 2007 – (Close to) Home On the Range

On Thursday everyone but me went to Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City, Iowa, about 45 mintes south of us. Â The refuge contains over 5,000 acres of reconstructed prairie, with funding to add about 2500 more acres.  It’s been about 17 years since the first reconstructive plantings, so it is starting to look like a real midwestern tallgrass prairie!  There is an engaging interpretive center, appropriately built low into the ground as to fit into the open spaces. Great place for kids and adults alike.

There’s not many places in the US you’ll see a sign like this!

The bison currently graze about 800 acres of the refuge.

It’s nice to have a peek at what the original landscape may have looked like – although it is thought that this part of the tallgrass prairie was home to more elk than bision.  There are elk in the refuge, but this trip the bison were out.

Photo Credits for this day go to Claire.

one year ago…

June 6, 2007 – Corn Transfer

Lots of little projects were completed today.  In getting ready for a couple of tons of chicken food to be delivered, we had some leftover corn from the corn-burning stove season in the gravity wagon that we needed to move to make room for the chicken feed.  The gravity wagon is the easiest to get a few buckets of feed at a time with, so we transferred it to a different wagon. 
Here, Emma is controlling the door to fill the bucket (we don’t have a corn auger)

Loading it in the tractor bucket – about 15 buckets per scoop.

Finally, dumping it into another wagon.
one year ago…

June 5, 2007 – Farm View Series #2 SE Corner

Today is the second in a series of views of the farm. I went to each corner of the property (and the midpoints) and took photos in different directions. The following views are from the SE corner of the property.

This is from the SE corner shooting diagonally towards the NW. You’ll notice the corn crib is reroofed and all but about 80% of one side resided – that’s a fall/early winter project. The project that is next outbuilding-wise is the renovation of the south side of the hog barn – the north side is tight and re-roofed, but the south is falling apart.  Right now my time is devoted to the house, so it will sit a bit longer.

This is the view looking due west from the SE corner. Just over the rise is a small orchard, trellised berries and a garden.

Finally, this is the view due north from the SE corner. It shows the first row of trees along this boundary.

one year ago…

June 4, 2007 – Farm View Series #1 NE Corner

Today is the first in a series of views of the farm.  I went to each corner of the property (and the midpoints) and took photos in different directions.  This view is from the NE corner of the property.  I did some of this a decade or so ago, but wish I had been more thorough as the shots are kind of hit and miss. 

This is from the NE corner shooting diagonally towards the SW. You can see the brush piles from the ice storm and an old granary in the back pasture.

This is the view looking due west from the NE corner.  It shows three rows of trees, this year’s planting furthest to the left.

This is the view due south from the NE corner.  It shows the first row of trees along this boundary.

one year ago…

June 3, 2007 – Chickens Movin’ on Out

Yesterday we moved the chickens out to pasture.  They are a little over 3 weeks old. Here’s a chicken tractor full of new laying hens.  These ladies will be with us for 2-3 years.  They will be in the chicken tractors until fall and then they’ll join the laying hen flock.

They’ve got everything they need in here – fresh grass to live on (moved to fresh grass daily), food, water, and protection from predators.

This picture compares a laying hen chick (dark) with one of the cornish-cross broilers (white) at about three weeks of age. You’ll notice a big difference in size and agility!

one year ago…