April 16, 2008 – Milo and Fern

We’ve been anxiously awaiting Nellie’s first birthing experience as first timers can have problems until they figure it out. Paullina gave birth 2 1/2 weeks ago. Here are Milo and Fern – a girl and boy. They are very small but seem like they might be ok. Nellie has an “oh shi#*” look in her eyes, but seems to be licking the kids and murmering to them in the proper goat way.

Here they are a few hours after birth, Fern on the left, Milo on the right.

Compared to their barn mate Solo (being held by Emma) they are shrimps. Solo was born 17 days ago and was not a multiple birth and so he looks like a giant.
one year ago…”New Driveway Gravel”

April 15, 2008 – Utility Boy-to-Be?

The last cleanup from the March ’07 ice storm is taking place. I saw the utility trucks picking up some old poles that have been laying in the ditch and asked if they could bring some over (you never know who or when you could use some 20+ foot poles)!

They dropped some poles off at the end of the day and just left the truck parked at our place. It gave Martin a chance to see what it feels like to be behind the controls of a cherry picker.
one year ago…”Wendell Berry/Barn Burning”

April 14, 2008 – Christmas Tree Pruning

A few Christmas trees are a new crop for us, so I am learning as we go. I had a vague notion that as the trees got bigger, they should be pruned in late summer. Well, it didn’t happen last summer and the trees shot up some leaders that were 22 inches tall. I called the nursery I bought them from asking if I could still prune and got the go ahead – so pruned the top leader and started shaping the trees.

Here’s a before pruning photo.

Here’s an after pruning photo.
one year ago…”Finally, A Day”

April 13, 2008 – Six Pounds of Bees

It’s time to replace the evil hive that was invited to fly away on a 3 degree morning and start some new hives.

gj brought out six pounds of bees. It looks like a bee prison you might see in the “Bee Movie.”

Each box contains about 2000 bees and a queen bee. They will be put into the hives tomorrow. They were to be stored in a cool dark place (not a problem this spring!)

one year ago…”New Committee Duties”

April 12, 2008 – Local Food Challenge

Over the past few years there have been a number of web sites that challenge people to eat local foods. One I remember was a site where each week people posted a photo of a locally-sourced meal and told about it, giving mileages for each item. It’s harder in the midwest to do that at the end of winter, but tonight we had a meal I thought I’d share.


Egg drop soup with real free-range eggs from our farm and the first green harvest of the year – some chives from the herb garden can be seen adding a splash of color to the soup.


Second course is egg foo young, featuring, eggs from the farm, and chicken from last year’s broilers. We look forward to an increasing percentage of farm-raised ingredients in our meals.
one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #67″

April 9, 2008 – Paragon Prairie Tower

There’s a new landmark on my way to work – the Paragon Prairie Tower in an office park in Urbandale, IA.

The placque adjacent to the tower gives this as part of the explanation of the tower.

“The Paragon Prairie Tower rises from the landscape as a dynamic symbol of the the accomplishments and aspirations of the people of Iowa and the Midwest…The Paragon Prairie Tower recalls the presence of agricultural structures such as grain silos, where for generations we have traditionally stored the bounty of our harvests.”

The description mentions that the scene is of native prairie plants dancing in the wind – but I also see human figures in the tower.

The tower is made up of hundreds of thousands of glass fragments from Ravenna, Italy and stands 118 feet tall.

Here’s a close view of the individual tiles that make up the mosaic of the tower.
I just wish they would honor the tower by planting the native grasses depicted on the tower in the grounds around the tower instead of the same old irrigated kentucky bluegrass and fescue that is ubiquitous around every midwestern office park!
one year ago…”Equipment Day/Fresh Air”

April 8, 2008 – In the Bag

I have another scrounging success story.  I saw bags like this giant bulk bag outside a local feed mill.  It looked like they were throwing them away.  They were, so I picked up a few.  I think they are called spout bags.  These bags carried one ton of dried whey.

You may notice the round cut-out on the bottom of the bag – there is a sleeve that a sheet of hard black plastic slips into, as to regulate product pouring out of the bottom of the bag (or not, if it remains closed).  The bags have heavy duty straps on top (after all, the bag held 2,000 pounds of whey) and a couple of straps and fabric to enclose the tops of the bags.  They are envisioned to be used for storing the corn cobs we have lying around and they’ll be good to store and transport wood chips for future tree planting.  All I need are a couple of forks to attach to the loader bucket and I’ll be able to easily move them.  The price is right!
one year ago…”Easter Day”

April 6, 2008 – Tree Gone

After a day and a half of cutting, dragging, and hauling, I had removed all the portions of the tree g that are reasonable to handle for firewood.  I was left with a big long stump.  Since it is a soft silver maple, it is not good for lumber, so I needed to drag it away.

This is one of the invaluable tractor tasks!

I was able to drag it down to the near the burn piles, where we can sit on it for many years or throw it in the pile, however we see fit.  It was nice to get the site cleared and lots of wood added to the shed.
one year ago…”Cold!”

April 5, 2008 – Cleanin’ Up

Today the cleanup of the tree began. Martin and I started and worked on it from about 10 to 5 and Linda pitched in during the afternoon.

We got to play with many of the farm toys today – chainsaw, truck, tractor, hay wagon, and trailer. The truck is connected to a hay wagon full of branches, the trailer is full of cut-up wood and the tractor is there to help when the chainsaw gets pinched in a log and needs a lift.

So far, we stacked about a cord of wood in the woodshed. Today we stacked the short row we are sitting on and the row behind us. There’s still a lot out there, primarily the bigger pieces near the bottom of the tree.
one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #66″