November 16, 2008 – Pulling Glads

Even though it was a cold, blustery day, it was time to get the gladiolas out of the garden.  It’s always a cold blustery day when the glads come up.  This year Emma was drafted to help.

Poor April doesn’t know she was caught unceremoniously squatting in this photo.

Emma shows off a couple of glad bulbs.  Many people just buy new each year, but we dig ours up as we increase our supply as the bulbs often multiply.  After a few days in the house, we’ll pull last year’s shriveled bulb off the bottom of these, wipe the dirt off, make sure they are dry, and put them in the basement for the winter.  If we were really ambitious, we could pull the little round bulbs off and grow those up too, but we’ll just let those go.

one year ago…”Making Money the Old Fashioned Way”.

November 15, 2008 – Home-made Cider Press Info

I’m all for do-it-yourself when you can. I found this great idea for a home-made cider press on the blog of the Deliberate Agrarian.  It looks feasible to make and is ingenious in using an old scissors type car jack as the pressing mechanism – if you’re interested click the link.

The “inventor” is also the same guy who brought us the whizbang chicken plucker.  I ordered the plans for that and we go round and round as to whether we want to butcher our own chickens.  We’re getting closer after our local locker stopped doing chickens and now it’s a half-dozen Sunday drives to the nearest locker that still does chickens.  I suspect that sooner or later I’ll have a whiz-bang!

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #95″.

November 14, 2008 – 2008 End of Season Pantry

OK, here it is, the 2008 winter pantry in the basement.  These are all the canned goods from the summer’s bounty!  Of course, we also have two chest freezers with meat and frozen vegetable and fruits, but the canned goods are much more visible.

Some of the highlights of this year’s effort include the following:

60 quarts tomatoes
72 quarts peaches
51 quarts applesauce (most mixed with raspberry, peach, or blackberry)
12 quarts plum juice
12 quarts whole plums
14 quarts apple pie filling
7 quarts beans12 pints dilly beans
62 jelly jars of canned whole raspberries
smaller amounts of pickled beets, bread and butter jalapenos and more I’m sure more I’m forgetting

We’ve also got about 24 dozen jars of jams with fruits from the farm, which most will find their way into gift baskets and holiday gifts.

One of our goals is to feed ourselves first, before selling to others.  The wet spring made our fruit trees abundant, giving us more fruit than we’ve ever had, but a few less tomatoes, but all in all, one of the best putting food up seasons in memory!

one year ago…”One Step Closer to Wind Turbine”.

November 11, 2008 – Turkey Predators?

Yesterday afternoon I went out to the pasture for something or other and found an unwelcome sight. Something had killed and started to eat one of our 15 turkeys. As I was walking down, a hawk flew away, but I’m not sure that is what got the turkey.

I know not everyone would like to see the turkey remains as I found them, but for those who are curious, just click the Turkey carcass link to see. Whatever it was, it ate the head and neck, picked at one leg and wing and a lot of the breast skin and some of the breast meat. We tithe 10% to nature before taking action, so we hope it was a one-time attack so we don’t have to confine the turkeys in a building the last week or so of their natural turkey lives.

one year ago…”Corn Crib Phase Finished”.

November 10, 2008 – Romantica and Carrie Rodriguez

It’s been a good, rare run of music lately.  Tonight we saw Romantica for the first time – I wasn’t familiar at all with the band, but they were quite good – anytime you’ve got a lad from Belfast as a lead singer, a bass player in dreadlocks, and pedal steel guitar in a Western shirt, you’ve got yourself something you won’t hear on top 40 radio. It was a Monday night, so it was a thin crowd, so we were able to sit in the front row.

The band lives in St. Paul now and their latest album was listed in the top 60 albums of the year by Paste magazine.

Romantica – The National Side

Their latest video is just above.

The main act was Carrie Rodriguez, fiddle player extraordinaire, who played this gig with just an upright bass player and lead guitar.  Carrie mostly played fiddle, but here she’s got a 4-string tenor guitar.  She also played a 4 string electric guitar.  You just can’t move those fiddle players up to six strings. Carrie is one half of the duo of one of my “desert island” CDs Red Dog Tracks with Chip Taylor.

Here’s a clip from her recent appearance in Austin City Limits.  Turns out her stepfather was a former Iowa State student back in the day, so she was interested in poking around campus.  They played at the Maintenance Shop on campus, a great venue that has a history of booking great underground and up and coming artists.  It won the W.C. Handy award a few years ago as best Blues Venue in the US.  Since we moved from Ames, I don’t think we’ve been to a show there, but when I heard Carrie was playing, we were there!

one year ago…”You’re Invited to Watch a House Burn Down”.

November 4, 2008 – More About Mavericks

I’d like to join in the national discussion about Mavericks. There are a long line of Mavericks on both sides of our family. We haven’t always been proud of the Mavericks, but ironically, even though the Mavericks were on both sides of the family, and even though the Maverick owners never met because one lived in the backwoods of northern Minnesota and the other in a Twin Cities suburb, ironically, it came to pass that the Mavericks on both sides of the family were eventually replaced by Thunderbirds.

Linda’s family had a Maverick during her formative pre-teen years. My Uncle Dick was the biggest Maverick that I’ve known. He had at least three Mavericks that I remember and may have had more. He found them cheap and had his own salvage yard of parts so he could replace parts as they failed. He realized that buying a dead Maverick was much cheaper than buying an alternator, for example, and because he had the room to store the cars, had his own junk yard and drove the Mavericks for many years. The nameplate in the photo above is from one of my uncle’s Mavericks.

My uncle Dick also liked to visit the “Hinsley Mall” as he called it. He was a recycler decades before it became trendy. The Hinsley Mall was an old-style dump on Hinsley Road – the kind that has been replaced by “sanitary landfills.” Here, stuff was not immediately buried. He picked up all kinds of aluminum, scrap metal and other things to collect and in some ways acted as a metals speculator, keeping piles of sorted aluminum, copper, and iron until he thought the prices were high enough to cash in. The Hinsley Mall was also a great place to watch wildlife, including the black bears that frequented the dump near dusk most nights.

It pains me to this day to go to the sanitary landfill and see all the good things that have been thrown away. I keep thinking I’d like to make a deal with the landfill to scrounge and give them part of the profits from reselling goods from the dump that are still good. I’d call the store the “Hinsley Mall.”

one year go…”More Child Labor”.