March 29, 2014 – Last Year’s Chores

Finally getting a wrap on last fall’s chores that were left unfinished.

squaw creek

Here’s what the pruning of a 60 foot of blackberries looks like!

Other mundane spring chores that aren’t really noticeable by anybody but me include picking th remaining deadfall apples, pruning the fruit trees, picking rocks out of the grass moved by plowing snow, finishing the under deck skirting to keep critters out, cleaning up the dead tomatoes and taking the cages out, moving big rocks and cement blocks lying around to a consolidated neat home, cutting out windbreak trees that were not sold as Christmas trees that were planted 5 feet apart and need to be 20 feet apart when mature, cutting down mulberry trees is fencelines, and best of all, getting the first planting of lettuce, radishes, spinach in the ground.

March 9, 2014 – Two, Count ‘Em Two, Signs Spring is Near

Finally!

Tapped a few maple trees today.

The stream in the back pasture willed itself into being today.

Only a couple hours before this, you can see Linda stepped through the snow to get some pussy willows – a few hours later, a couple feet of water appeared, burying her tracks.

But there’s still a lot of snow to melt – in some places the drifts still barely reach over the top of the pasture fence.

And a garden bed is still a long ways from planting.

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

December 24, 2013 – Together on Christmas Eve

It’s getting to be rare when all five of us are at the same place at the same time.

Here we are after the Christmas Eve Service – a rare family photo.

The traditional shsot of the kids in front of the Christmas tree.

With Linda in minister training and at two Christmas eve services, it is time for some new traditions mixerd with old.  First out of the gate was the girls preparing the clam chowder and potato soup, along with goblets of beverage and yummy apple dumplings for a late Christmas eve dinner.

December 12, 2013 – I Didn’t Get a White House Greeting Card

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.

November 30, 2013 – Last Day for Christmas Tree Sales

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.

October 13, 2013 – The Deck/Pergola Addition

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.