Archive for December, 2009
One of our Christmas gifts was this bottle of wine from Italy.
Since Italian wines are not used to the cold Midwestern weather, the bottle came adorned with the absolutely darling cap and scarf!
One of the best things to do on a cold winter night is to go to a college basketball game. The girls have season tickets that have been passed down to us through two other families for second row seats behind the scorer’s bench at about mid-court.
Here, current star Allison Lacey puts up a three – she is one of the best point guards in the country – she is averaging about 19 points, 7 assists and only 1.5 turnovers a game.
Kelsey Bolte is another hot-shot, second leading scorer and deadly from the outside.
Of course, it all starts with Coach Fennelly – he has a rare lifetime contract, has brought two teams to the Elite 8, and has the women off to a 10-1 start this year. Last year, only two teams in all of college basketball had a higher average game attendance – national champion UConn and traditional power Tennessee. The games are fun, the team play up-tempo, and many of the starters are from Iowa high schools.
My month off from the regular gig at Wells Fargo to work for Practical Farmers of Iowa for a month is over. It’s a nice program that Wells Fargo offers and it was a nice change of pace to work in a place where change can be immediate. To find out more about Practical Farmers of Iowa, attend the annual conference January 8-9!
We had about 2-3 inches of what I call “stagecraft snow” Saturday night.
The gentle, large fluffy flakes that lazily fall down on a calm evening.
They gently rest wherever they fall and adorn everyday objects with a new look. Whether it be a hat on top of a fencepost.
Or a symmetrical snow carbon copy on the barn handle.
And even a few moments of the fluffy flakes glinting down in the sunlight.
One of the treats during the break is that we get a pan of home-made sticky cinnamon rolls that appear about twice a year.
A while back, I bought some new laminate flooring for the kitchen and today was the day to rip out the old floor and put the new one in.
Here’s what the old cork flooring looked like – it just didn’t hold up, scratched, gouged and discolored. It’s the only house remodeling regret/failure that we experienced.
Don’t tell anyone, but I barely had enough to finish – I was about 3 inches short of completing the the job, but just put the last piece on the fridge wheel track. It only took about 7 hours to rip out the old, install the new, and reinstall the trim, which seemed to take longer than putting the floor in.
The new kitchen floor – now clean and shiny for a while!
The family with the traditional pose under the tree.
For the last 36 hours or so, we’ve been waiting for the rain/ice to turn to snow. Rain all last night.
Now the driveway’s a pond and I’ve had to make drainage paths to try to drain as much water as possible off before the temperature drops one or two more degrees and the water becomes glare ice.
There has been a well-advertised storm en route/here. The forecast is very vague something like “periods of rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow.” Repeat for about 3-4 days and add some strong winds at the end. The predictions were from 1-3 inches of rain, freezing rain, or 12-30 inches of snow.
Today, first came freezing rain to coat the branches and power lines, followed by rain that knocked the ice off all the branches.
One of the simple, yet elegant features winter offers are ice luminaries.
These are easy to make – just put some water in a large plastic yogurt container and put it outside until it freezes an inch or so around the edges – turn in upside down and release the ice, break off the thin shard of ice on the bottom, flip it over, put a candle inside and voila!
I had great concerns about getting the bonfire lit. To start with, it was buried in a four foot snowdrift with lots of wind-blown snow inside.
I had a few old pallets lying around the farm, so I stuffed those with newsprint and piled them on top of the fire.
We had youth from the church come over early and they helped stuff newspaper in every possible gap in the pile. About three gallons of old fuel oil from the tanks int he basement completed the incendiary preparations.
Dr. Rev Eslinger led the procession with the playing of the pipes.
Brian shared a few stories, words of the season, and offered a time to reflect on the year past and year to come around by the blazing yule.
Combustion! A rousing success as the fire overcame the snow. I was relieved as the 120 or so attendees mark the bonfire as the highlight of the evening.
Martin and Hayden helping to light up the longest night of the year.
This is literally the path to the light. We’ll soon light our winter bonfire and welcome the return to lengthening days!
But for now, the bonfire is in the distance, the tractor cannot clear this snow on the slope, so it is a matter of shoveling the heavy snow to get to the light. We all hope that the bonfire buried in a four-foot snow drift and full of windblown snow is able to light.
It’s now time for hay feeding of the animals (it has been for about two weeks now).
In the foreground is Tank, our favorite Katahdin ewe – she’s just solid, chunky, and robust – we call her Tank.
This is the year we have been waiting for – the first Christmas tree grown on our farm. This summer Martin and GJ put an orange tag on the best tree after much deliberation.
On our way down to get the tree, we thought we might be in trouble when the snow started rising almost high enough to bury the fenceposts!
When we got to the tree (or at least we thought it was the right tree because the orange flagging was buried!) we saw we were in for some digging!
With shovels and hands around the branches, we started trying to release the tree from the snowbank, being careful not to break branches.
The digging crew after they had dug down to the ground.
Martin stands in the excavated hole where the tree used to be. After we dug down a couple of feet, we found the orange flagging! In addition, there was a bonus as there is a bird nest in the branches.