February 27, 2011 – This Old Shed

We’ve descended into a dreary, cold and borderline icy low stratus/fog weather period. We were going to go hear Michael Perry (Coop, Truck – a Love Story, and Population 485 ) speak tonight, but the roads seemed a bit dodgy to drive 45 minutes both ways. We did go to a panel discussion about literary agents and editors yesterday, part of a writing symposium at ISU – the panel consisted to agents, and editors from Milkweed Press, and Orion magazine.

So what we did do was head down to the pasture to keep hacking away at deconstructing the old granary.

Inside there are some nice boards that will be beautiful once they are planed down a bit.

Most of the nails are the old square-headed type. We’re saving as many as we can, especially the interior nails which are still in pretty good shape.

one year ago…”Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference”

February 26, 2011 – Humorous Freecycle Postings

If you’re not a member of your local freecycle group, it’s a great place to find a home for things you no longer want, but know someone can use. A plus for me  are the email messages that make you smile. There have been a couple in particular the last month that have caused me to crack a smile.

[marshallcountyiafreecycle] OFFER:4 Jars of Grape Jelly
I have 4 jars of grape jelly. Only serious takers only. Need to get rid of ASAP. Email me back if you want them.

(I hate to think of what might happen if these aren’t gone ASAP!  I also worry about people emailing who aren’t serious about the grape jelly and just jerk her around and ask if she might have raspberry jam instead of grape jelly)

Or this one:
[marshallcountyiafreecycle] Offer: one Night stand (Marshalltown)

(This one might have attracted the wrong kind of attention – it’s not often night stands are separated like this)

Enough of the freecycle. On another note, isn’t it curious that the day after our visit to the Accordion European restaurant, the “year ago” is entitled “Accordion Skywalk Player.” Just must be something about this time of year and accordions!

one year ago…”Accordion Skywalk Player”

February 25, 2011 – Belated Valentines Day Dinner

Monday night didn’t seem like such a good night to go out for Valentine’s Day, and tonight was the first night that Emma could watch Martin for us to get out.  Where to go?  How about the “Accordion European Restaurant?”

When I first proposed a visit to this restaurant in Valley Junction in old West Des Moines, Linda asked if I looked up a food review.  My response was “any restaurant whose web site has in broken English “We have live music performance every night” and brags about “extended accordion show” doesn’t need a review of the food!

I’m assuming this is Sergey Lozovich.  In the Des Moines Register, under type of music it is listed as “alternative.”  Sergey was also the cook, and when there was a break, he would come out and play a bit.  He had a this button accordion and a Hoehner with the keys on one side.

It was a nice meal with some European brew and some food you usually don’t get.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #197″

February 24, 2011 – Thingamajig Thursday #247

Here’s this week’s thingamajig Thursday. Guess where this is.  Some of my co-workers may find it a bit ironic, given an incident that an ex-president dodged in a foreign land.

Also check out the last thingamajig answer.

As always, put your guess in a comment below.

Look for the answer in the comments after next week’s thingamajig is posted.

one year ago…”When I was Growing Up”

February 22, 2011 – Tree Down

Wow, the giant tree was felled!  I wish I was home to see it crash to the ground (and not on any buildings).

Martin stands by the trunk for scale.

It was a whopper of a tree and provided lots of shade for grazing animals in its day.  Looks like there will not be a shortage of wood for winter bonfires.  I think I’ll also get a bit of firewood from it, and a bunch of mushroom logs as well – think of it as a kinder, gentler version of the Giving Tree.

The space around the tree – compare to yesterday’s post to see the last known photograph of the tree.!

one year ago…”Snowbanks Along Hwy 20″

February 21, 2011 – Uh-Oh

When we started tapping trees, I noticed a big uh-oh on one of the giant silver maples near the back pasture.

The tree on the left is the tree that is about done for the world.  It’s about 15 feet in circumference at my chest, which makes the diameter about 4.5 feet across!

On the back side, a new crack has developed along the portion where the two main trunks split. Much of this potion overhangs a shed. These maples are inherently weak, so I had a tree service out today and it’s scheduled to come down tomorrow. Better now than falling on the shed, or breaking the fence when the animals are out and we’re not home.

one year ago…”Old House Problems”

February 20, 2011 – Let the Boil Begin!

The week in the 50′s and 60′s that melted all the snow, also started the maple sap running.

Here Martin checks out the new old stove, one that we borrowed from the good folks at Morning Sun Farm, who upgraded to an even bigger stove. This one works much faster than last year’s model.

Just look at that cloud of evaporation as the sap boils away.  In addition to tapping the trees, Martin has been excited about chopping wood – he puts the wood up on the chopping block and stacks it.  It’s been a good team this spring!

one year ago…”New Blog Host”

February 18, 2011 – Early Tap

Can you believe it’s February 16th and the sap is flowing?   Last year at this time, the snowdrifts were still to the tops of the fenceposts!

We’re trying a new collection method this season.  I bought a few of these collecting bags to try.  You just put in the tap and then hang the bag holder and tap on the tree.

Martin putting the bag in place.  As the season goes on, we’ll keep you up to date.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #196″

February 16, 2011 – Farm Fixture April Has Chased Last Rabbit

Today was the day every pet owner dreads – having to willingly drive to the vet to put a long-time pet away. April had slowly given up the will to live, not eating as much, then not eating at all, not drinking water, and finally the last two days, not moving from her comfortable place in the hay in the barn. So it was time.

April had been on the farm before Martin was born.  The girls were three and five when we retrieved April from the shelter.

For 14 years, April has been part of the backdrop to the farm.

She took seriously her animal guarding duties.  Whenever we packed up livestock, she spent the night close by, instead of in her usual spot.

In her younger days, she accompanied us to cut a Christmas tree.  We’re guessing she was a mix of Golden Retriever and Collie.  We called her our Marilyn Monroe dog.  She was laid back and non-barking – things I prize in a a dog!

Like everyone, she had her faults and quirks – the biggest one was her terror of thunderstorms.  When she was young, she was caught in a hailstorm, and rather than seeking shelter, she ran around in the hailstones – some big enough to break windows in the house.  After that, she would stop at nothing to get into the house during thunderstorms.  She destroyed two doors, before we learned to call her into the house when storms were coming and put up steel doors, so she couldn’t hurt herself or the doors if a storm came when we weren’t home.

It was a good life on the farm – sunshine and children to play with.

April always insisted on being part of the first day of school photos.

Everyone in the family had a chance to say goodbye to April.  Last night,  Claire even did when we put the phone up to April’s ear so Claire could say good-bye and April could hear her voice one last time.

Each child in this world, if they are lucky, only gets one good dog to grow up with.  For our kids, we can thank April for being that special dog that they shared their childhood with.  Thanks April.

one year ago…”Sheep Bagging Up”

February 15, 2011 – Footprints in the Snow

Isn’t the world’s most popular poem about footprints in the sand? Well, there’s not much sand in Iowa in February, unless it’s clinging to dirty snowbanks on the side of the road. But there is snow – and footprints.

Martin and I went on a surveying mission in the back pasture yesterday.  The day before this photo, he walked through the back “pond” through many feet of snow.  When we came back the next day, we saw his footprints led to nowhere, for if you look in the center of the photo you can see the dark remains of footprints that were implanted in deep snow the day before are now under water.

It’s a good time of year to get out and move around a bit.  Water needs to be channeled and drained, trees need to be  checked on for winter rabbit damage, and boots need to get wet.

The foreground of this photo shows some of the willow cuttings I just stuck in the ground in this low area and didn’t mow or graze the last year. They were able to compete with the dense sod just fine.  So, I will continue this spring with their advance down this drainage.  Goats will be very happy to have browse!

one year ago…”Feeding Chickens in Winter”