October 28, 2012 – Linda Speaks in St. Paul

Here I am, a few days behind. It’s refreshing, though in a way isn’t it? No worry from me about instant tweeting or posting to facebook from a phone, just old-fashioned days behind real time.

We were in St. Paul this weekend to bring Claire back to school after a short break.

While we were there, Claire facilitated for Linda to speak at the small UU church a few blocks from campus that she attends.  Even though we hauled up “bio-orb” a rolling composter for Claire’s house, a case of Annie’s macaroni and cheese, honey, garlic, and a lemon tree, we still were on Claire’s bad list since we elected to spend the night with some folks I’ve known for 30 years instead of staying in her house with her roommates.  Bad parents for that move, but we’ll all get over it!

October 23, 2012 – Emma’s XC Season Wraps Up

Even thought she battled through a number of injuries, Emma’s X-C season ended tonight.  She was happy to letter and be elected a captain of the team.

I know this shot is from track, but it’s a teaser of what some of her graduation pictures will be – this one is in the track stands with the roundhouse in the distance.  I love this photo as it captures Emma’s track season of disappointment and determination.

October 20, 2012 – Emma at World Food Prize

After attending the Iowa World Food Prize symposium at Iowa State for students in Iowa, Emma was selected to be part of the Global Youth Institute as part of the World Food Prize activities.  Emma had a great few days where she was able to rub elbows with many global leaders working on food issues.  Her roommate was from Tanzania, she had lunch with the Mexican Undersecretary of Agriculture, and listened to many discussions and approaches to solving world hunger.

At the culmination of the youth portion of the conference, the students are broken up into groups of about 10, present their research papers to each other and an expert panel. In Emma’s case the panel included the grand-daughter of Normal Borlaug, currently serving at Texas A & M, and Dr. Surinder Vasal, 2000 World Food Prize Laureate.  After presenting their papers and answering question from the panel an other students, the students are tasked to find themes that run through the papers and come up with a three-minute presentation to the assembled students, their teachers, former Laureates and other international scientists and researchers.  They also select a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the group.  Not surprising to me, Emma’s gentle leadership led her to the podium to speak.

Emma with another student from her school that also was selected to speak for her group (not surprising as she is a veteran of two national speech competitions!)

Finally Emma greatly appreciated the words of this year’s laureate, Daniel Hillel, pioneer of micro drip irrigation (who refused monetary reward for his systems, designs, or techniques).  Emma called him a “Lovable Grandpa.”  Here are just a few comments from his address:

“My joy at receiving this award is tempered by the realization that the work it recognizes is far from complete. Despite all obstacles, there are already hopeful signs of progress. We must build upon and enhance these beginning in the interest of insuring long term harmony of the community of life in our one and only planet.”

“The Midwest is the breadbasket for the United States, for North America and it is in many ways the breadbasket of the world. It’s helping to feed the world and yet there is room for improvement. We must be concerned over our resources, the proper use of resources, the sustainable use of resources, the cooperative use of resources. We share the atmosphere, we share the oceans, we share water resources. We share the future of the world.”

For over 40 years, Dr. Hillel has sounded the alarm that climate change could reduce the amount of rainfall in already dry environments – warning of possible food shortages while developing innovations that help to feed a growing population.

October 15, 2012 – Fall Berry Maintenance

Since our blackberries were so good to us this year, I thought I should take good care of them this fall.  So, even though it is one of the most unpleasant jobs on the farm, pruning blackberries it was.

Here’s the rows of blackberries and raspberries before pruning,  The blackberries are very vigorous, and have a tendency to grow side shoots that are at a 90 degree angle from the main stem.  Pulling them out is irritating as your head often times get scraped as you are hunched on your knees, huddled under the canes, trying to cut the old canes out at near ground level while trying to pull out the old cane.  After it’s done the row looks much better.

Although this “after” shot doesn’t show it well, the blackberries are pruned of this year’s fruiting canes and all the raspberries are pruned as well.  That “pruning” is much easier, since all it consists of is mowing down the entire row!

October 14, 2012 – Lettuce Cage

For the first time, we’ve had a problem with rabbits eating OUR vittles this fall.  So, this small patch of lettuce and spinach gives a chance to repurpose a farm item for a new use.

This was originally a turkey tractor, but I thought it might do a good job of keeping the rabbits out as well, and it has without the hassle of building a separate rabbit fence.


October 12, 2012 – Drenching the Trench

It’s time to get the garlic in the ground.  It’s so much easier to dig a trench with the tractor than by hand!

Here, the trench is dug and the garlic is going in the ground.  It did take a bit longer to plant this year because it is so dry.  I didn’t want to put the garlic in a dry soil, so after I pushed the cloves in, I dumped buckets of water from the rainwater collection tank, covered the trench with the soil from one side of the trench, then soaked that again before covering it up.  Hopefully the moistened soil will help it sprout and be better insulated when the ground freezes.

October 8, 2012 – Fall Cleanup

OK, the growing season, except for chard, beets, lettuce, and kale is over.

It’s time to pull all the dead plants from the garden and dispose of them.  It’s both a relief and disappointment when the last garden vegetable dies for the season – a relief because the work of eating, harvesting, and preserving is over for the year and a disappointment that there are no more fresh goodies from the garden.

October 7th, 2012 – Chickens to the Freezer

Today we were grateful most of our chickens made it safely to maturity (unlike the 10 turkeys this year who all perished by deformed leg problems, storm, or dog).

Martin hauls the chickens to the killing cones, where I deftly make a cut on the side of the neck where they bleed out.

Next, it’s a few dips in about 150 degree water. The chickens are ready to scald when wing feathers pull out easily.

The chickens before the plucker spins.

About 30 seconds later, most of the feathers are gone.

Then the chickens go to a different pair of hands for cleaning and later cutting up into meal-sized portions.  I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly fun day, but it is rewarding have control of the chickens from chick to freezer  – knowing how they’ve lived and been processed.