March 30, 2012 – Procrastination Pays!

The storm last night saved me about $300.  Back behind the chicken coop is a basswood tree that had three large limbs broken off in last July’s storm.  Although they were still mostly upright last week, I had meant to call the tree service over the past few months because it seemed dangerous to have so many unstable limbs high up in the air.

We had a big thunderstorm wind gust last night and it put all three limbs on the ground.  Now, it’s a self-service job –  all I have to do is drag them to the ground with the chain and tractor and then cut them up.  It must have been after we were asleep as we didn’t notice – it also blew over the gas grill on the patio.

March 28, 2012 – Peach Blossoms – 5 Weeks Early!

The peaches are in full bloom.

peach blossom

Flowering is about five weeks ahead of normal. The last two years the peaches were in full bloom on May 8 and May12.  Linda’s walking into class, delivering her lecture and thinking that the class is way behind, because usually when things look like this, it is near the end of the school year.

From the “oh well, good thing I never got around to it department” this cherry tree that was flattened by last July’s storm (and I haven’t got around to cutting “down” yet) decided it feels good enough to boom profusely.  It will be easy to pick cherries this year from this tree!

March 26, 2012 – Skystream Record Day!

I can feel it coming in the air tonight – a new daily Skystream production record in the air today!

Today the Skystream produced 51.4 kwh of electricity. It beats the previous best day by about 10%. We are a lock to beat our monthly record of 622 kwh. If, and it’s a big if, the average daily production of this month holds the next five days, we’ll be looking at around 680 kwh.

Yesterday wasn’t the windiest day we’ve had, but must have hit a high, steady, sweet spot that didn’t trip the wind overspeed shut-off too many times.

March 25, 2012 – Prairie Fire

We helped out at a prairie burn this afternoon at Two Friends farm. I’ll mix it up and take you through the burn backwards.

prairie after burn

At the end of the day, about five acres of prairie is torched.

boy in burnt prairie

Sending Martin out batting cleanup while we go try to find some cold ones (not really).

prairie fire

After setting the backfires, the main fire gets rolling.

ring of fire

A burning ring of fire!

fire flapper

Martin with a flapper to help smother flames along the edge of a fire.

man in prairie fire

Nice flapper work on the right side of the photo!

Starting the fire nice and slow – a back burn against the wind before starting the main fire.

March 22, 2012 – Early Spring Blossoms

The first fruit tree blossoms decided to unfurl the last few days.

This plum is first out of the gate.

Just for a reminder – here’s a shot from exactly today four years ago today!

And this is a shot of our road from earlier in March 2008. All the 80 degree days this March have made snowy Marches a memory.

March 17, 2012 – Man v. Chainsaw

With the advent of the warm weather, I’m behind on the pruning.  Today, I thought I might catch up by speed-cutting down the willows by using the chain saw instead of the hand pruners.  Perhaps the execution was faulty.  While I failed to separate my leg from my body, I did manage to turn it into an ER room visit for 6 big stitches right near the inside of a knee.  Claire was home, and while I felt I could drive, I wasn’t sure I could drive home, so off she came with me.  The two hours there went quite quickly as the basketball tourney was on the waiting room TV and the suturing room TV, which was decorated in a Nemo theme.

The doc said it was easy as chainsaw stitch-ups go as the chain didn’t “bounce” two or three times making a road rash like some chain saw incidents.




March 16, 2012 – Happy St. Urho’s Day!

Today is the day all Finns look forward to – the day of celebrating St Urho chasing the grasshoppers of out pre-glacial Finland and saving the grape crop.

“Ooksie kooksie coolama vee
Saintia Urho iss ta poy for me.
He sase out ta rogs so pig unt kreen
Praffest Finn I effer seen!
Some celeprate for Saint Pat unt hiss nakes
Putt Urho poyka got what it takes.
He got tall unt trong from feelia sour
Unt ate culla moyaka effery hour.
Tat’s why tat guy could soote tose rogs
What crew as pig as chack bine logs.
So let’s giff a cheer in hower pest way
On May dweeny fort, Saint Urho’s tay.

Bad news in Sebeka and Menahga Minnesota as many of the St. Urho activities have been cancelled or changed due to warm weather.

The Kolf Tourney, sponsored by Menahga Fire Department moved from Spirit Lake to the Blueberry Pines Driving Range.

The dog sled rides at the football field have been cancelled, due to lack of cold white stuff.  Parade starts at the Cottage House Cafe at 12:20 p.m as usual.

March 10, 2012 – ‘Tis the Fighting Season

Every spring Mr. Cardinal finds an enemy he needs to fight somewhere on the farm.  In year’s past, a male cardinal spent hours of the day banging into his reflection in the front picture window.

This year, he has found his rival to be a bit more clever and found him hiding inside the mirror on the car.  I sure hope humans don’t spend the same amount of time and energy fighting phantom enemies!

March 8, 2012 – A Capital Day: Three Capitols, Three Barnes Women

Our family had three Capitols covered today – Iowa, Minnesota, and the nation’s Capitol!  Linda was in D.C.,  Emma in the statehouse in Des Moines, and had it been a normal day, Claire in the Minnesota Capitol at her internship in the Governor’s office (but Claire had to skip work to go to Chicago for Mock Trial Super-Regionals)!

Emma was up at 4:45 am to get ready for her day.  She’s part of the Iowa Valley Leadership, a group of about 25 people who “believe that community vitality depends upon individuals who commit to learn about critical local issues and engage in influencing change.”  It was a combination education and lobby day at the Statehouse.

At the International Women’s Day event in D.C., Linda and Bonnie Campbell were the Iowans in attendance.  They spent most of the day visiting the offices of Congressmen Steve King and Tom Latham and Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley.  Many Iowans will remember Bonnie as state Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate.  Time magazine named her one of the 25 most influential people in America in 1997.  Linda and Bonnie had a great day together swapping yarns.

March 7, 2012 – UU Sisters of the Planet

Linda’s first full day in D.C. for International Women’s day commenced today.  You may expect that many women of faith may gather for an event aimed to help poor and starving women around the world, and the Unitarian women are no exception.

Among the 70 or so invited women, there were at least five UU’s that Linda found in attendance.  From left to right are Pam Person, TBA, Judy Beals, Dana Jackson, and Linda Barnes.

Pam is from the Maine League of voters and is a co-founder of the Coalition for Sensible Energy and serves on the U of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative.

Judy Beals is from Boston and is Oxfam’s Campaigns Director.

Dana Jackson, a Kansas native who is currently Sr Advisor of the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota,  Dana co-founded the Land Institute in Kansas, served on the Kansan Rural Center’s first board of director. She has continued her commitment to building a sustainable agriculture and food system as an activist and author most recently “The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Nature.”

They spent the day learning from women working against incredible odds, including the Prime Minister of Haiti during and after the hurricanes, the Agriculture Secretary of Libya, and many other women facing and overcoming great challenges.  In addition to hearing these stories, they prepped for visits to members of Congress and the Senate the next day.

March 6, 2012 – Linda Counted Among the Powerful Except by Hy-Vee

This morning I dropped Linda off at the airport for an event in D.C. she was invited to participate in by Oxfam – here’s a press clipping about the event:

More than 70 powerful women from around the US and the world, including actor Kristin Davis (Sex and the City), former Haitian Prime Minister Michelle Pierre-Louis, Top Chef Masters competitor Mary Sue Milliken and many more, will join international relief and development organization Oxfam America for a Sisters on the Planet Summit on March 7 to mark International Women’s Day.

The women will also meet with Members of Congress to advocate for policies that support women farmers around the world.

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, will offer keynote remarks to the morning gathering. An award ceremony and reception in the evening will honor Kristin Davis for her work to raise awareness on global hunger and poverty.

The following day, International Women’s Day, women leaders including former high ranking government officials, civil society leaders and veterans and farmers from across the country, will take to Capitol Hill to advocate for reforms to the US food aid program in the Farm Bill that will save money and lives.

Here’s where Hy-Vee comes in – the not-so-good part. On February 28, she dropped off her D.C. clothes at Hy-Vee to be dry cleaned. She asked me if I could pick them yesterday up when I brought Martin to piano lessons. The clothes were not there on March 5. I asked what dry cleaners they were at, so I could go there to pick them up – they said all their dry cleaning drop-offs for the week are sent to Cedar Falls on Fridays and returned the following Tuesday – so it could be a week or more. So I had the privilege to call her as she was enroute to Ames to stop at Younkers before she came home to make a new wardrobe purchase!

March 1, 2012 – Thingamajig Thursday (kind of) #280

OK, what’s in the picture?  Strawberry soft serve or ground beef?

Since it seemed too easy, you probably guessed ground beef – you are correct.  McDonald’s recently announced they would no longer use this “product” in their hamburgers.  Evidently, that left a big opportunity for the USDA to buy 7 million pounds for our kids in the school lunch program.

Excerpts from an full article are below.

Made by grinding together connective tissue and beef scraps normally destined for dog food and rendering, BPI’s Lean Beef Trimmings are then treated with ammonia hydroxide, a process that kills pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli. The resulting pinkish substance is later blended into traditional ground beef and hamburger patties.

… two microbiologists believe that the product is just not “ground beef” or even “not meat.” Gerald Zirnstein, who first coined the term “pink slime” in 2002 after a visit to BPI said he did not “consider the stuff to be ground beef.” Retired microbiologist Carl Custer says:  “We originally called it soylent pink. We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”

Bon Appetit!