March 22, 2015 – Close to Having to Turn in My Man Card

Had a couple of vehicle incidents that both almost required I turn in my man card, but eked out of both. First, I buried the CRV in the field.

This is a bad photo taken with my phone as I walked away defeated. I USUALLY take a walk to make sure it is not to soft when I drive here, but since we’v had no precip in March and the pond and wet area in the pasture have been bone dry for a week or more, I thought things would be firm. Wrong – once the wheels break through the sod into the black gumbo, you are done. I tried propping boards under the tires to run up on. No luck.

I then went to get the tractor, but all I left with was making these ruts with the tractor. I was able to get the tractor out, but my chain wasn’t long enough to pull from a firm area. Had I buried both the CRV and tractor, I would have had to forfeit my man card.

Here’s the rut from the front wheel of the CRV. Our good neighbors came over with an even bigger tractor and even longer chain and said about dragging it out “The tractor didn’t even know it had a fish on the line.”

The other incident was a problem with the car. Emma reported that she thought she might have left the lights on, but got a jump and got home fine. Next day I drove her to Ames and when I went to leave, again, nothing, not even a turn over. I figured the battery was dead and was eager to get on with my day and called AAA and asked to use the “bring you a new battery and install it” service so I wouldn’t have to mess around with all that. After I made the call, I then popped the hood to indicate to the tow truck where we were. It was then that I noticed the battery cable had come loose from the battery and was resting slightly above the battery terminal. I just put it back on and everything was fine and cancelled the AAA call. Would also have had to turn in my man card if the AAA service man had popped the hood to put in a new battery and found it just unattached!

March 7, 2015 – There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear

The basement door is open, the loader bucket is attached to a chain. What’s up on the farm today?

When we moved in about 18 years ago, one of our first upgrades was to replace the aging fuel oil furnace. While the furnace is long gone, the three fuel oil storage tanks are not. We’ve been using the oil left in the tanks to persuade bonfires to start over the years and finally the tanks are empty.

We tried manually moving the tanks up the basement stairs. No go. Wasn’t thrilled about cutting them in half in the basement. Enter a long chain, a tractor, and a three member team to guide them out without taking out a doorframe, door, or wall.

Victory is ours as tank #2 is dragged to the tank graveyard.

It’s a dirty, ugly, smelly job, but now they are finally gone.

February 1, 2015 – Winter Arrives

Well, it first started out to be a 3-5 inch snowfall, then less than one inch, then back to 3-5, and when it finally arrived, 12-14 inches of snow.

The house nestled in the new fallen snow.

Along with the fresh snow, the moon was full, making for brilliant light-filled nights. Can you find the cat in this photo?

The cat abides, and follows me in the night, hoping for a treat.

Finally one more shot in the moonlight.

August 16, 2014 – Farm Aerial

Here’s a shot of most of the farm from the air. It looks so much smaller when you are not in the midst of a pasture, near a tree, or facing a row of vegetables and weeds.

Things that jump out at me are all the visible changes since the first farm aerial shot we have.  All the white roofs on outbuildings are new. All of the trees less than 60 feet tall or so are new.  The garden beds in strips are new.  The wind turbine is new.  The mowed labyrinth in the pasture is new. There are also a few things missing – old decrepit buildings, many trees that blew down in storms or were cut down.  It is fun to look and see a different perspective on progress.

August 3, 2014 – Catching up

After returning home after an absence of longer than a week, you get an appreciation of all the things that you do, even though you feel like you are never caught up.  Seeing what the farm looks like with a week of inattention brings home how much really does get done.

garlic

Garlic was ready to pull.

Onions wer ready to pull.

Sunflowers went wild.

And we finally got around to introducing Martin to firearms training – one of the many rural skills that have eluded him to date.

July 6, 2014 – Mother Nature’s Fireworks and Funnels, Oh My!

Once again, dramatic skies in the neighborhood.

midwest storm

Looking to the tornado-spawning clouds to the south before sunset.

midwest storm

Same place as the sun set. This is the same tornado-spawning cloud as in the earlier picture.

barn and storm cloud

Clouds and the barn.

farm building and storm cloud

Clouds and the hog barn.  This cloud made tornadoes by Tama.

funnel rock creek

A view of the tornado near rock creek park in Jasper county. No wind here, and only a sprinkle of rain.

June 20, 2014 – Seems Like a Rerun

Every few days it seems a storm rolls through.

This is looking east in the late afternoon, with some funky rays streaming up (or down?).

The back pasture is lush (and mostly thistle-free).

More passing clouds over the barn.

This is the first year we’ve had deer problems – here’s one of them we scared out of the back pasture on on her way away somewhere else.

A look across the fields to the west after the storm.

Martin *was* building a tree fort in this grouping of basswoods when one of the three limbs of the just-started fort came down.

June 8, 2014 – A Walk Around the Back Pasture

Today was a good day to get things done on the farm. It was only about 70 degrees, Linda offered to take Martin to Decorah for his music camp, so I was left to catch up on all those things that never seem to get done. But first a break as we check out the back pasture.

This wonderful little pond was just a black dirt mudhole when we moved in. We fenced it off, planted some wet prairie/marsh seeds, and now it does its part to clean water as it runs off the neighboring fields before heading down to the gulf.

blue flag iris

One of the beauties is this blue flag iris.

tadpoles

The pond gives us great evening sounds, among other things – we can fall asleep to the sounds of the frogs and toads in their little home. Today, however, I was in for a surprise when I scared up a snapping turtle about the size of a dinner plate.

The alleyway of trees we planted in the middle of the pasture are close to creating yet another micro-environment on the farm. The walnuts, bur oaks, and black cherry are really starting to take off.

May 1, 2014 – Doesn’t Look like Much…

The picture does not belie the effort needed to arrange the photo.

This wagon is the new home to about forty 16 foot-long cattle panels.  They were protecting small trees from grazing animals and now the trees are larger and there aren’t as many grazing animals, so it was time to take down the fences so the trees wouldn’t grow into them.  It is amazing how much grass and soil accumulated around the bottoms – in all cases the first row was buried and in some places, they were buried up to the second cross row.  Who needs a gym membership when you can instead rip these out of the sod and drag them to the wagon (uphill of course!)  The fenceposts that were pulled are in a different pile.