January 18, 2014 – A Night on the Town

The Maintence Shop on the Iowa State Campus has brought the best upcoming acts for 40 years. Last night we saw the latest in a series of great shows in the small intimate setting. This time, it was the Lone Bellow.

Mark and Linda before the show.

We “double dated” with Emma and Jacob.

The Lone Bellow was a rare group that could alternately get the crowd amped up and vice-versa, could command complete silence, depending on the song. In the second song of the evening, the lead singer broke a guitar string and relayed a story he hoped not to share. At a show in Chicago last night, his guitar was ripped off. Now a guitar is a pretty initmate thing to a musician. He was playing his spare guitar, and now was down to 5 strings. Of course, the opening artist hopped up and offered his acoustic guitar – and he used it and a few songs later the roadie had restrung his guitar.

Instead of being angry, he said, he had to think that the guitar was going to lead to some great song that comes from the person who stole it. A nice, optimistic spin on the heartbreaking loss. At any rate, a video of the band follows.

January 16, 2014 – 2013 Wind Turbine Production

It’s time for the annual Skystream wind turbine update.  The good news is that 2013 was the highest year of wind turbine production and just as importantly was the lowest year of energy use.

In 2013, the Skystream produced 4,684 kWh, an average of 390 kWh per month. The farm and household used 9,346 kWh, an average of 778 kWh per month. The Skystream produced 50.1%  of our energy, a net improvement of about 1.5% over the previous year.

annualprodAnnual turbine production – the boost in 2011 was due to a software upgrade.

avemonthlyAverage monthly kWh produced.

annualuseThis chart shows our average annual kWh use over the last 11 years.  Some of this is due to better appliances, some due to children leaving the house, and increased awareness of energy use.

January 8, 2014 – View from Above

I thought it was time to see what our place looked like in Google Maps, and thought I’d show it on the blog.  It simultaneously doesn’t look as open or tree-filled as it does from the ground.

Now, for a view with some annotations of some features visible from the air.

1) Fruit Trees (3 groups)
2) Annual Gardens (2 groups)
3) Burn Piles (5 groups)
4) House Windbreak
5) Field Windbreak/Christmas Trees
6) Native Hardwoods
7) White Pine Windbreak
8) Native Marsh planting, with willows to the south of the box
9) Tractor ruts from a bad experience!
10) Raspberries and Blackberries
11) Giant Rainwater tanks (2)
12) Animal Composter
13) Chicken Tractor (can see the  daily “tracks”)
14) Old Granary
15) Barn
16) Hog Barn
17) Corn Crib
18) Machine Shed
19) Chicken Coop
20) Old Machine Shed
21) House
22) Garage
23) Wind Turbine
24) Cranberry Hedge

January 2, 2014 – A Peek back at 2013

It’s time for some of my favorite or most important shots of 2013.

January.

Still January.

February.

March, hope.

April in Iceland.

May.

Well-earned State Track Berth.

June on a big lake.

June on a little lake.

July.

The Summer.

Fruitful August.

August Vultures.

September.

Fall pie.

October.

November.

December.

Ready for New Year!

January 1, 2014 – New Year’s Meander

Even though it was a balmy 5 degrees today, we decided to get out for a while.

We returned to a small creek near its confluence with the Iowa River and brought Daisy along for the adventure.

It looked a bit different than a visit to the same place at the height of summer.

The trees adjacent to the river still show the marks from this spring’s highwater flood mark.  All in all, a brisk walk to start out the new year.