April 15, 2009 – Barn Windows and Raccoons

There were three windows that needed to be replaced in the barn and by far the most challenging one was the highest one on the south side of the barn.

In this photo the window is replaced as you can still see the sticker on the top window (no, I’m not going back up to take it off).  There is a rickety old ladder inside the barn that leads up to the window.  I was climbing up it and had Martin as a witness to watch and serve as a witness and run for help in case something went terribly wrong.

I was nearly to the top of the ladder when simultaneously, as I’m grabbing for for the last rung Martin yells out – “Dad a raccoon!” and I see a raccoon scurrying a couple of feet away from my hand. The raccoon scuttled a short distance away and I pulled up the window with a rope and got it installed.  I wish I had the agility of the raccoon at great heights.

one year ago…”Utility Boy-to-Be?”

April 14, 2009 – Shed Deconstruction Continues

We continue to pick away at the shed deconstruction. All the asphalt shingles have been hauled to the dump and unfortunately, most of the lumber is too far gone to save.

So it gets nails pulled as well as we can and hauled to the burn pile.  After this piece is done, we can collapse the next section and then think about putting up the new end wall.

one year ago…”Christmas Tree Pruning”

April 13, 2009 – New Blackberries

When I read about the first variety of fall-bearing blackberries, PrimeJim, I knew those would go in the 70 foot row I had prepared last year.  This is the first type of blackberry that can be mowed down every fall instead of pruning 2nd year canes out of the patch.

So, I did the old trick of laying down some cardboard and old straw and punched holes it to plant the berries – with the mulch conserving moisture and keeping weeds down.

one year ago…”xxx”

April 12, 2009 – Shed “Implosion” Part 1.

I’m usually the last guy to tear down old buildings – I’ve received some serious guff for saving some pretty decrepit buildings, but this one was too far gone.  I’m saving the “good half” which has white roofing and tearing down the rest and can use the cement foundation for some other purpose, like a lean-to or the like.

Here’s what the shed looked like after I ripped of all the board and batten siding from the part I planned on imploding first.  I saved the boards, which would look nice in someone’s rec room.

The first pull was to remove the center post, via a tractor and long chain.

Martin was instructed to try to get a photo while the building was collapsing – here’s what he got as I was pulling out the corner post.

In a quirk of good luck, the collapse went just as planned – no more, no less.

The collapsed roof.  Now the fun part starts.  I won’t burn the asphalt shingles, so will need to tear those off and send them to the landfill before deciding whether to disassemble or just burn the remaining wood.

one year ago…”Local Food Challenge”

April 11, 2009 – Serious Garden Progress

Today was a serious garden day.  I bit the bullet and got the tiller attached to the lawn tractor.  Since it seemed to be running so well, I surprised myself and let Claire drive it.

I don’t suppose there are too many 16-year old girls who are dying to till a garden, so I did not waste the opportunity to relinquish the seat.  Much of our garden is mulched and not tilled, but part of it is tilled.

Even Martin and Nana got into helping by cutting the seed potatoes to dry before planting.

Again, knives and 7-year old boys have their place in cutting potatoes with Nana, but not many other places!

Today we got in some early spring crops -potatoes, onions, lettuce, radish, spinach, and more that escape my mind at the moment.

one year ago…”Photo Friday – Fragile

April 6, 2009 – Top Shelf, Middle Shelf, and Bottom Shelf!

Here’s what about 4 truckloads of steel shelving looks like!  The organic and natural food co-op and Ames moved to a bigger store and donated the old shelves to the not-yet-built packing shed/multi-purpose building for ag program at school.  Until the building is constructed, the shelves will live in our shed.

In addition to the shelves, a stainless steel sink and other goodies came along with it.

one year ago…”Tree Gone”

April 5, 2009 – April Snowstorm

When we left Duluth just after noon, it was sunny and mild.  We called home to check on the weather and found out that the Blizzard Warning had been downgraded to a Winter storm warning, but I-35 had been closed in central Iowa.  Parts of the state were getting 5 inches of snow per hour.  We stopped at my brother’s in the Twin Cities to check the road conditions and decided to keep going since things had improved.  We did follow the storm out of the state and by the time we arrived the roads were clear and just wet.

Emma took this ironic photo during the day.

one year ago…”Cleanin’ Up”

April 4, 2009 – Conference Day Two – Ice Breaker

The second day of the meeting was highlighted by singer/songwriter Peter Mayer.

Peter spent time talking about and playing his music

In the afternoon we wandered down the downtown skywalk and found by pure serendipity that a US Coast Guard Ice Breaker was docked at the port and open for public tours.

The ship was the Mackinaw, a fairly new ice breaker to the fleet. The ice breakers don’t “slice” or cut the ice, but rather the bow of the ship pushes up on top of the ice and the weight of the ship collapses or breaks the ice.

Some of the heavy duty chains on deck.

This has got to be a top of the line coffee maker! (and spill resistant as well).  Another item that did not escape my attention was a big Weber gas grill strapped to the aft deck rail of the Mackinaw.

Linda and Claire from the top deck of the Mackinaw overlooking the aerial lift bridge.  It was great fun to get a close-up look at such a unique piece of Great Lakes craft.

one year ago…”Photo Friday – Far From Home”

April 3, 2009 – Linda’s Keynote

On Friday evening Linda gave the keynote address at the Prairie Star District Annual conference, this year in Duluth, MN.

The conference theme was “Our Blue Boat Home” and Linda’s talk was accompanied by photos from around the farm and Midwest.  The talk was well received and Linda got a standing ovation from the 320 or so in attendance. A rebroadcast of the speech (1 hour and 15 minutes) is available online (go to the conference page and click the video box below the talk description – Linda is first introduced by Rev Brian Eslinger in the video.

To loosen up our speaker, we went down to the lake before the talk to “center” the speaker.

Claire with some rounded ice chunks from the lake.

The ice is a wonderful arctic blue pushed up along the shore.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #112″

April 1, 2009 – Wind Turbine Output Update

On March 18, our wind generator guy stopped by to upgrade the software in the turbine to allow it to spin at higher RPMs before shutting down in self-defense. It now can go in a wind 10-15 mph more than the previous cut-off and this month, it made a big difference. Until this month, the most the turbine produced was about 360 kwH. In March, only having the update for 12 days, it made 482 kwH.

So according to our meters – the power company says we used 668 kwH off the grid, but we returned 178 kwH, so we will be billed for 490 kwH, much less than our pre-turbine billing use of 900-1400. Someday when I have more time, I’ll put out all the numbers month-by-month.

one year ago…”Coppicing Willows”