July 31, 2011 – Bees Gone Wild

We have a couple of beehives at a friend’s farm. The hives are at the edge of a woodlot adjacent to about a 20 acres of prairie. Lots of flowers and pollen out there.

beekeeper next to hive boxes

Today we went and checked, and had to add some more supers to the hives. They’re almost as tall as Linda. Should be a good year for honey, even if it isn’t a good year to get all dressed up in a bee suit.

one year ago…”In Theory”

July 29, 2011 – Exploding CDs!

When I was trying to burn the CD by Warren Zevon entitled “A Quiet Normal Life” to my Itunes, when it reached the song “Excitable Boy” it was all that as what sounded like a gunshot came from the PC. I was ready for smoke and flames to start pouring out, but instead I found a CD drive that was locked up.

After removing the CD drive and disassembling it – this is what’s left of the CD. Always the optimist, Martin wanted to try to super glue it together!  It’s time to order a new one from Newegg.

one year ago…”Buckwheat Cover Crop”

July 26, 2011 – Harvest from the Heart of Iowa

Tonight we hosted the quarterly dinner from a new local foods group – Harvest from the Heart of Iowa.  I’m working on the group’s web site and I hope to have it live in few weeks.  I’ll post the URL when it debuts.

It was an all-local meal, with beef and  pork burgers, bison hot dogs, eggplant/summer squash feta cheese casserole, sweet corn, of course, and raspberries and whipped cream over pound cake.  About 60 people braved the hot and humid weather for the meal.

The speaker was Lois Reichert of  “Dairy Air” (don’t think about that name too long!)  She’s the owner of a goat cheese dairy with national honors for her cheeses.

one year ago…”An Open Letter to the Rainmaker”

July 25, 2011 – Welcome, Daisy the Goldendoodle!

As we lost our Golden Retriever mix April after 14 years on the farm this late winter, it was finally time to get another dog. I’ve been reticent about getting and indoor dog as one of my housemates is allergic to dogs.  But then they found these that shed much less, if at all.

Here’s Daisy –  named so by Martin on occasion of his 10th birthday.

She looks like a big teddy bear.

Daisy and Martin relaxing on the couch – Daisy is half poodle and half golden retriever – she’s supposed to be about 50 pounds full grown.

one year ago…”A Quiet Day in the Country?”

July 24, 2011 – Dilly Beans

It’s that time of year – time to start putting food up in earnest.  One of the first to go this year are the “poor man’s pickles” or dilly beans.

They’re a “snap” to make – just put some galic and dill in a jar, cut the beans to length, and stuff the jars and seal with a vinegar mix.

You can even add a hot pepper if you’d like to spice things up a bit.

Here’s the Recipe we use from the USDA canning guide:

4 lbs fresh tender green or yellow beans (5 to 6 inches long)
8 to 16 heads fresh dill
8 cloves garlic (optional)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
4 cups white vinegar (5%)
4 cups water
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
Yield: About 8 pints
Procedure: Wash and trim ends from beans and cut to 4-inch lengths. In each hot sterile pint jar (see page 1-14), place 1 to 2 dill heads and, if desired, 1 clove of garlic. Place whole beans upright in jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Trim beans to ensure proper fit, if necessary. Combine salt, vinegar, water, and pepper flakes (if desired). Bring to a boil. Add hot solution to beans, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process.

Process 10 minutes in boiling water (15 minutes above 6,000 ft elevation).

one year ago…”Rockford Fossil Quarry”

July 23, 2011 – We Offer Service Projects!

We were pleased that a group of students from the Marshalltown High School Honor Society saw fit to come out and give a burst of cleanup this weekend.

In this weather there’s only so much you can do a day, but multiply it by more hands and things happen quickly.

We’re hosting a local foods meal for up to 100 next Tuesday, so it was nice to have the help to get us over the clan-up hump and have full access to the yard.  Here they are being pulled on a hay wagon in the pasture after emptying a load

Thanks again to the kids for coming out to lend a hand.

one year ago…”Carrot Experiment Harvest”

July 22, 2011 – Slow Progress

Did I mention that it was hot out? Did I mention the town just south of us recorded it’s highest dewpoint ever this week? The work goes on short bits at a time.

Much of the yard north of the house is now such that you can pretty much walk wherever you’d like.

The area behind the chicken coop is uglier than I first imagined, now that the first few downed trees have been removed – there are many more down and limbs suspended in air, as if by a levitation curse.  That’s where a long chain and tractor some in handy

 one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #217″

July 19, 2011 – Cleanup Begins

OK, so this isn’t my greatest moment, but ‘ll share anyways.

These massive ruts are from getting the tractor unstuck.  I was hauling branches out to the burn pile and was turning around with an empty wagon, on a part of the field not usually soft.  You can see that I was in no manner near the bottom wet part of the pasture (and you can see my original unstuck path coming in on the upper right of the picture).  At any rate, The JD 2510 broke through the sod and that was about it.

Descending into a realm of quagmire and muck.  Once the initial rut started, the only way out was straight back, towards the low spot. It was the first time I’ve been on the farm that I buried the tractor.  It’s a bit of a helpless feeling.  Thankfully a neighbor stopped with his Bobcat by to see how we were doing as he was taking a break from cleaning up at his place.  By a combination of using the loader bucket to push the tractor back a few feet at a time, we eventually got it close enough to solid ground that we could hook a chain up to it and pull it out.

I hadn’t realized that some branches the thickness of a man’s thigh had found their way into the adjacent field.

Unloading branches on one of the many bonfire piles.

one year ago…”Tank is Gone”