I certainly didn’t get an official White House greeting card, but someone else in the family did!
And no, certainly not because we contributed any money, but as a reminder of when Linda was honored at the White House where she met with the Secretary of Agriculture and President as a “Champion of Change” for rural America last year.
Early and mid-December has thrust us into deep winter with snow and cold. The last week was officially the coldest week in the last 4 years.
This is the view out my home office window this morning. Less than two weeks until winter begins for real!
We made one final trip to Wheatsfield Grocery in Ames to sell Christmas trees. As in final-final. When we planted our field windbreak years ago, we planted the trees 5 feet apart instead of the usual 20 feet apart to account for trees that might not mature or get thinned for Christmas trees. The windbreak is now pretty much thinned and/or the remaining trees are too large.
It’s a great experience to have in December. I sold trees as a college student, I sold them now as middle-aged, and with any luck I’ll be able to sell them again as an old man.
Martin had a number of choices for a school project, and decided to take the 30 day challenge – two pictures a day for 30 days.
You can follow him at 30days60pics.blogspot.com.
It was time to rip the 30-yr old entry deck off the front of the house. In addition to its age, it was too small to allow comfortable seating and entry into the house. Sooooo… the newest addition to the house – a deck/pergola conbination.
I didn’t want to make a normal suburban deck on the house. Why be normal?
I wanted to tie in both the farm and the prairie style, mission-lite features inside of the house into the deck.
Cattle panel railings tie in the farm with a few cross-bars cut out for some additional creative style.
The ceiling of the pergola was a labor of love – ripping cedar deck boards into one inch strips and then staining all four sides.
Leaving the house, here’s the view from the front door. It’s nice to leave the house in stockings and take a seat outside. All this work has taken up all the recent weekends, thus the dearth of postings lately.
Linda was excited after walking a laryrinth this summer and I said – “You want a labyrinth, I can make you a labyrinth!”
A few minutes mowing inthe back pasture and there you go! Although you can’t see it well in this photo, the center focal point is an old glass ball and lightning rod.
Emma played the good daughter when she said she’d come home from school Sunday afternoon to help us move 40-some chickens from outside to the freezer. It certainly kept the line moving much faster than it otherwise would have. Linda and Emma cut up all but about 10 of them for parts for quicker meals than a whole roasting chicken, but we left a few to roast or BBQ whole.
The plucker does an amazing job of taking the feathers off. A just-plucked chicken must be the model for a rubber chicken!
It’s nice to know where the chicken we eat comes from and have a year’s worth of chicken in the freezer. Especially now that the U.S. made it ok to sell chicken processed in China in the U.S. without having to reveal county-of-origin labeling laws.
The food preservation extravaganza continues! This weekend was no exception.
The tomatoes are just beginning. These four baskets are enough to make 14 quarts of canned tomatoes.
Here’s our Sunday afternoon haul. After church, Martin and I started in earnest – 14 quarts of tomatoes, 10 pints of pears, and two batches of blackberry applesauce. We had the tomatoes skinned the day before and the apples were peeled and frozen in the freezer, so we didn’t have all the prep work.
After the last two days of 101 and 99 degrees (the latest in the year it has been over 100 here), we were treated to some dramatic skies.
The first few little thunderstorms skirted just to our south.
The soybeans provide an interesting striped pattern in the field.
Although it may look like a mushroom cloud over Ames, this was the first of a few small cells that passed over us, leaving us with a bit over a half-inch of rain.
Maybe a sky shot without contrails? A nice sunset.
We are going to replace the small front entry deck with something that affords ample room to actually sit on the front deck. But first, out with the old. After prying off all the decking boards and railing, it was time to enlist the help of the tractor to pull out the posts.
Any day you get to fire up the tractor to destroy things is a good day, and the ease in which this lifted up was a delight!
Martin is at it again offering up this challenge. Can you balance 16 nails on the head of one nail? You can affix the nail that the other nails balance on to a board or some other device, but other support is allowed. Think about it, or try it and scroll below to see the solution…
Elevation from above.
Elevation from below.
Posts have been a bit absent lately. I’ve been imprisoned by the abundance of the garden and fruit trees.
This is the last of three pendulous peach trees. Although officially sick of peaches for the moment, we’ve got canned peaches, peach pie filling, peach jam, dehydrated peaches, frozen peaches, grilled peaches, peach smoothies, and even some rotten peaches rotting in the sun.
In addition to the peaches, the plums are right behind, the green beans are being transformed into dilly beans and frozen beans, and blackberries and raspberries continue the march to ripeness and the next variety of apples is coming into season.
Today was a serious putting food away day.
I have to lead with the most perishable item, this Dutch apple pie that Martin made with a jar of apple pie filling that didn’t seal.
But 11 others did seal for winter-time fruit pies.
A dehydrator batch of dried apples.
A couple of canner loads of various sizes of blackberry applesauce. For blackberry fans, this combination, with a few splashes of lemon makes a great applesauce. Plus three more gallons of peeled, sliced apples went into the freezer.
Almost as an afterthought, some beans and broccoli were blanched and frozen.
In case none of this tastes good, a liter of brandy soaks up some sugar and blackberry to fend off winter colds!
This poor little guy survived the storm last week.
You would not think that blackberry bushes would provide the sturdiest of homes.
Martin was worried during the storm for the bird and relieved to find it still in the nest after the wind had passed. Amazingly enough, nests had fallen out of some big trees, but this one survived.