July 17, 2010 – On the Big Water

We drove down the winding and scenic highway 1 from Ely to Lake Superior one day.

shovel point

This is a view of Shovel Point from near the mouth of the Baptism River.

kids on lake superior

The water in Lake Superior is uncharacteristically warm this year – the surface temperature this time of year is usually 39 degrees, but this year it is 59 degrees!

boy at shovel point

Rocks, water, boy – a winning combination!

Emma practices her stone skipping.

baptism river mouth

A view a bit up the hill of the scene of the previous photos.

one year ago…”Rain, Rain”

July 16, 2010 – BWCA Day 2

The promised threat of rain held off overnight, so we remained dry.

What a nice place for a mother and child to sit and watch the world wake up.

Of course, a cup of coffee in the morning helps.  It was refreshing to wear a sweatshirt when back home the weather was in the upper 90’s!

boy fishing

Martin at the scene of his first catch with his new fishing pole.

largemouth bass

Dad with the largest catch of the week – a catch and release largemouth bass – a bit of a rarity in this neck of the woods as smallmouth bass dominate the rocky shorelines.

teenagers paddling

The road home turned first blustery, then rainy, they thunderstorm.

portage puddle

By the time we arrived at the portage between Lakes One and Two, the raindrops got bigger.

wet portage

They finally gave us a good soaking.  We ended up huddled at the end of the portage for about an hour while the electrical storm passed by.  Of course, you could have easily predicted the only lightning storm of the week would pass by when we were out far away from the cabin.

one year ago…”International Wolf Center”

July 15, 2010 – BWCA Day 1

With the oldest two girls absent from our party this year, we were all able to make a foray into the BWCA.

Entering Lake Three

Here Emma rides the helm with her friend.  They shared a canoe and paddled with strength and confidence.

Two People in Canoe

Mike and Lori take a break in a narrows along the way to the campsite.

Lake Three Campsite

On Lake Three, near the portage to Horseshoe Lake, sits this wonderful island campsite – here’s the view from the water.

Lake Three Campsite

Here’s the view from the land.  This site offered lots of nice rocks, plentiful tent sites, and nice overlooks of the lake.

The crew assembled for a quick lunch upon landing.

One of the nice overlooks on the site.

Emma and Kate cooking their own gourmet wilderness meal!

hang food pack

And finally, a great tree to hide the food pack away from reach of hungry bears!

one year ago…”Touring Soudan Underground Mine”

July 14, 2010 – On the Land

Away from the water, the wild blueberries are abundant this year.

Some fun with a camera setting that just detects one color.

Wild blueberries in full color. Picking blueberries is rather relaxing and it’s a great excuse to get out and tromp around the woods, sphagnum bogs, and powerlines.  There’s a fine line between getting lost and not knowing exactly where you are!  I also managed to scare up a covey of young ruffed grouse.

Blueberries collected for human consumption!  We had blueberries on pancakes, blueberries in mixed fruit salad, and Linda made a blueberry pie as well.

Of course, we couldn’t go a whole week without picking and preserving some food!  In addition to the berries we ate fresh and froze, we canned over 30 jars of these delectable little morsels!

one year ago…”Overnight in the BWCA in the Rain”

July 13, 2010 – On the Water

A great part about vacation is quiet water activity.

boy in kayak

There are no boats making wakes, no buzzing jetskis, so the lakes are great for kids to swim across, fish, or kayak.

teenager in kayak

Emma paddling back from the beach via the water route instead of the shore path.

boy on dock

Most years the biggest fish is caught off the dock – not true this year – but it’s worth a try!

Dock jumping never goes out of style!

Nor does sitting on the dock with a book and refreshing beverage.

one year ago…”Something Fishy”

July 12, 2010 – The Resort

I think resort probably isn’t the right word for this place.  “Lodge and Outfitters” is probably much better.  There are not any golf courses, on-site restaurants (or probably not any within 20 miles), no pool, and no spa (although I think you could get a massage). Instead, what you get is a cabin in the only resort on a non-motorized lake in the Boundary Waters.

Kawishiwi Lodge

This is the main lodge where the latest concession to modernity is free wi-fi, which is a stark contrast to the old pine and national park-like interior to the lodge.

Cabin 11, Kawishiwi Lodge

Here’s our digs for the week – cabin 11 with 3 bedrooms plus a loft that sleeps four and a couple of bathrooms – really a spacious cabin with a screened in porch.

A late-night card game with everyone except Martin!

Cabin 7 Kawishiwi Lodge

One of my favorite cabins along the lakeside trail to the lodge.

one year ago…”Settled in at Kawishiwi Lodge”

July 11, 2010 – “End of the Road”

Being on the farm, to get away to a place more remote takes some driving!  About nine hours north of us, literally at the end of the road, we exchange our automobile for a canoe and cabin.

This sign is nearly to Canada, in far northern Minnesota and the area is affectionately known as “the end of the road.”  The local community owned radio station WELY is a hoot!  Charles Kuralt was so enamored with Ely and the station from discovering it during his “On the Road” show that he purchased it to keep it going.  It is now owned by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and maintains its eclectic programming including Lutheran Hour, The Old Town Polka Show, 80’s Night, and this description of a Wednesday Night show called The Feast:

Following Quote by Chris Godsey at Secrets of the City

Dark evergreen silhouettes loom against a wash of indigo sky on both sides of Minnesota Highway 1. Driving southwest out of Ely, toward Tower, the early autumn moon is so bright, so close and full, that driving without headlights seems only appropriate.

After a news update from ABC Radio, the voice of late-night DJ Brett Ross takes over. Ross sounds surprisingly present: “From Alan Watts,” he intones, “‘When everyone recognizes beauty as beautiful, then there is ugliness. When everyone recognizes goodness as good, then there is evil.’” Ross’s conspiratorial baritone is the night’s perfect complement: ominous and comforting and mysterious; distant, yet intimate.

An electronic beat—a tune called “Salted Fatback” from a DJ named Mocean Worker—begins pulsing in and around a sound collage of snippets from the First Amendment, Martin Luther King, Jr.—“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord!”—and other revolutionary sources. After the beat runs on its own for a minute or so, Ross is back: “End of the Road Radio W-E-L-Y,” he announces, “at 94.5 over the FM airwaves, streaming live at w-e-l-y.com, around the globe on the World Wide Web.

“It’s The Feast. So very good of you to drop in for another course.”

That’s WELY as in: owned by Charles Kuralt in the 1990s; saved from Minnesota Public Radio homogenization by a local buyer after Kuralt’s death; now owned by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa; it’s a station that is inevitably compared to KBHR from the TV show Northern Exposure, primarily because they’re both eclectic community bastions in wilderness towns populated by plenty of delightfully eccentric and intellectual people.

Introductions accomplished, Ross launches into an hour of music and words: “Rolling” by Soul Coughing; “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)” and “Life During Wartime” by the Talking Heads; Pink Floyd’s “Fearless.” He reads Emily Dickinson’s “To fight aloud, is very brave” over the tune “Invocation” by an Italian ambient-electronica duo called the Dining Rooms, then spins Pearl Jam’s “Footsteps” and “W.M.A. (White Male American),” Sara Softich’s “Whiskey,” and “When the Ship Comes in” by Bob Dylan.

Perhaps none of that would be remarkable anywhere, on its own or during daylight. But late at night, driving through a forest in northern Minnesota, it’s perfectly unique, unexpected, and thrilling.

More about the trip later…but thought I should make an appearance for the faithful.
one year ago…”10 Hours in the Car”

July 10, 2010 – Goat Milk Cheese (Chevre)

We have (finally) produced a cheese that makes excellent use of our goat milk. Here’s the culture as it looks after sitting for about 24 hours. The liquid is whey and the curd is the more solid, cheesy looking stuff. We fed the whey to the chickens.

This is what it looks like after the curd was allowed to hang in the fridge for a couple of days.

This makes the cheese more firm as the last of whey drips out. We found this to be delicious on crackers. Some we mixed with garlic and chives, another with dill, and a third we made with salt and pepper. These can be frozen too.

one year ago…”Corny”

July 9, 2010 – Buckwheat Already

Although it might look small or not apparent here, there are thousands of tiny buckwheat seedlings starting to grow. After we pulled the garlic, we replanted just 5-6 days ago with buckwheat and it’s already up!

Buckwheat is a great summer cover crop because it loves the heat, provides good late summer forage for the bees, and lays down some nice seeds for the chickens to pick and scratch in late fall as they lay down next year’s fertilizer!

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #170″

July 6, 2010 – Hauling Garlic

Today’s news flash is that all the garlic is curing up in the barn. I didn’t get photos of the entire process, just the getting it up in the hayloft portion.  With a rare break in the weather, it was time to get it out before the next rains waterlogged the soil even more.


Looks good!

Here’s a bit less than 1/3 of the crop freshly pulled out of the ground.

One of the loads was picked right in the tractor loader and the bucket lifted up to the 2nd story loft door of the barn.

Unloading the loader bucket and ready to haul to the drying screens.

Martin, the ever-cheerful worker!

Here he is again, about to lay down a big load on the drying racks.  It’s a good feeling and even better smell to get all the garlic up in the loft, harvested, and ready to cure.

one year ago…”First Pear”

July 5, 2010 – Hauling Lumber

Now that the garage is down, it’s time to put away the salvaged lumber.  There is a good amount of 2×4 and 2×6 lumber that can be reused around the farm (I’d still like to build an implement storage lean-to and a few mobile animal shelters for the pasture and…  OK, let’s stop right there.

In the meantime the lumber has to go somewhere.  I made some “lumber racks” in one side of the corn crib to be able to slide it in and out as in a a lumberyard.  My time-saving idea this time was to write the lengths on the ends before putting it away, so when I need one, I won’t have to slide many out of the pile to find a certain length.  Here they are, ready for transport to the crib.

one year ago…”Old Machine Shed Progress”

July 4, 2010 – Are You Smarter Than The Dean of Agriculture at Iowa State?

Before you read, quick, what have cows eaten for the last few thousands of years?  Remember that later on in the post.

Iowa State deservedly so received a black eye in an article regarding the search for a new director for the Director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. The Chronicle of Higher Education – the flagship journal of those in higher education wrote an article about the botched search.

In a nutshell, the search committee, composed of a broad range of people, selected four candidates to interview on campus. Of these, they recommended two to the President. Ricardo Salvador was the preferred candidate and another was acceptable, while two were deemed unacceptable. The job was offered to the 2nd candidate and at the same time the 1st candidate was sent a flush letter. The 2nd candidate eventually declined and the university was left with no other options. Now the hiring process has been hijacked by the hiring of the 2nd consecutive “interim director.”

According to the article in the Chronicle, an comment Ricardo made during a presentation that “cows evolved to eat grass” is counted as his downfall (this is a state whose agriculture is dominated by corn and confinements and feedlots that feed ruminants corn; the emperor did not appreciate this comment that suggests there was a lack of clothing.)

The Chronicle interviewed the Dean of Agriculture and asked her if she believed that “cows evolved to eat grass.” She said she had no opinion. (As though this is a question that is one of opinion!). The Chronicle continued to push her and finally she said something to the effect that she was trained as an entomologist and should not be expected to know about everything! Hmm. I’d think for $227,000 dollars a year, a Land Grant university could find some genius who is underemployed who is not an animal scientist who might have a broad understanding of agriculture that includes the knowledge that cows are ruminants.

Obviously, the Dean knows the answer, and no matter who was in that position might have answered the same. There is a structural problem. The problem is that the concept of a Land Grant University funded by public taxes, no longer serves those who pay the taxes, but captains of industry, much like many politicians in Washington serve who do not vote for them.

Somehow, this seems appropriate on the anniversary of our democracy. There’s still work left to do!  A recent billboard for Iowa State urged students to “Change your zip code and change the World.”  If the University blocks progress on changing less than 2% of Iowa farmland and intercedes to maintain the status quo, there is no hope the world will change anytime soon.  There are many bright faculty and students at Iowa State – they deserve leadership that allows them to do just that –  change the world.

This may be in Iowan’s DNA.  A Boone city councilman mulling over an ordinance to allow wind turbines:  “I think it’s really wise that we don’t jump into this until we make darn sure that everything is proper and there’s not going to be issues down the road, because it could really come back and haunt a lot of people,” Councilman Gary Nystrom said. “There are a lot of ideas that come up, but we don’t need to be the first ones to test them.”  Yep, let someone else get all the money and benefits of new technology and we’ll be happy here with our abacus and flint tools.

one year ago…”Happy 4th”