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.

April 3, 2013 – Willow Revenge!

Many of you may remember that last year when I was cutting down the willows, the chain saw took a slice out of my leg (allowing me to recover and watch the first weekend of the NCAA BB games without guilt).

No such luck this year.  After donning the chaps and steel-toes, I was able to cut down all the willows.  This is a shot after the fact as we are collecting them all for the burn pile. I’m keeping them coppiced for ornamental and forage purposes.

August 15, 2012 – Hazelnut Harvest

Like many things, hazel harvest seems a bit early this year.

basket of hazelnuts

Here’s the yield from about a 15 foot row of hazelnuts.


Some of them are completely dried down, others have a bit more time to go, but with the recent spotting of a new squirrel in the yard, it was time to pick (the squirrel can have all the acorns and walnuts).

boy picking hazelnuts

Martin picking the low-hangers.

Linda looking at the higher nuts.

November 29, 2011 – Christmas Tree Season is Upon Us!

This year, we will be once again selling Christmas trees at Wheatsfield Grocery in Ames and off the farm.

Weather depending, we’ll be at Wheatsfield Sat Dec 3 from 10-4, Sunday Dec 4 from 12-4, and Sunday Dec 11 from 12-4.  The trees will be cut on Friday December 2, so they’ll be a much fresher than the ones at Menards and Hy-Vee that were probably cut early to mid November.  We’ll also sell them from the farm as cut your own by arrangement.

October 18, 2011 – Fall Color

Here’s the little tree we planted in the front yard – growing up quite nicely.

We planted an ash, maple, and oak along the north side of the driveway many years ago to grow up to replace the old spruce, and two maples.  With age and all the wind of late, the spruce tree blew down this summer, and one maple is down to about 25% of its original branches from storm damage.  So, it looks like these trees might add some meaningful shade on the south side of the house by the time the other trees are gone.

one year ago…”Mini-van Driver No More”

April 6, 2010 – Spring Willow Work

I finally made it down to the willows and coppiced them all off so they wouldn’t get too large.  It was still a bit murky, but with rain forecast for tomorrow and Saturday, it was probably as dry as it was going to get.

willow bud

I also continued the march of the willows down the drainage by sticking about 40 new cuttings into the squishy ground.

one year ago…”Tiller Attached and Tested”

March 25, 2011 – Spring Put on Hold

After a nice week last week, we have plunged to days 15-20 degrees below normal.  Some days it’s struggled to get above freezing (when it is “supposed” to be in the 50’s).

It looks like the maple flowers might have taken a bit of a hit.

This flower is rather bizarre looking – with all the flowing red tentacles it wouldn’t look out of place in a deep sea documentary.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #201″

February 22, 2011 – Tree Down

Wow, the giant tree was felled!  I wish I was home to see it crash to the ground (and not on any buildings).

Martin stands by the trunk for scale.

It was a whopper of a tree and provided lots of shade for grazing animals in its day.  Looks like there will not be a shortage of wood for winter bonfires.  I think I’ll also get a bit of firewood from it, and a bunch of mushroom logs as well – think of it as a kinder, gentler version of the Giving Tree.

The space around the tree – compare to yesterday’s post to see the last known photograph of the tree.!

one year ago…”Snowbanks Along Hwy 20″

February 21, 2011 – Uh-Oh

When we started tapping trees, I noticed a big uh-oh on one of the giant silver maples near the back pasture.

The tree on the left is the tree that is about done for the world.  It’s about 15 feet in circumference at my chest, which makes the diameter about 4.5 feet across!

On the back side, a new crack has developed along the portion where the two main trunks split. Much of this potion overhangs a shed. These maples are inherently weak, so I had a tree service out today and it’s scheduled to come down tomorrow. Better now than falling on the shed, or breaking the fence when the animals are out and we’re not home.

one year ago…”Old House Problems”

February 15, 2011 – Footprints in the Snow

Isn’t the world’s most popular poem about footprints in the sand? Well, there’s not much sand in Iowa in February, unless it’s clinging to dirty snowbanks on the side of the road. But there is snow – and footprints.

Martin and I went on a surveying mission in the back pasture yesterday.  The day before this photo, he walked through the back “pond” through many feet of snow.  When we came back the next day, we saw his footprints led to nowhere, for if you look in the center of the photo you can see the dark remains of footprints that were implanted in deep snow the day before are now under water.

It’s a good time of year to get out and move around a bit.  Water needs to be channeled and drained, trees need to be  checked on for winter rabbit damage, and boots need to get wet.

The foreground of this photo shows some of the willow cuttings I just stuck in the ground in this low area and didn’t mow or graze the last year. They were able to compete with the dense sod just fine.  So, I will continue this spring with their advance down this drainage.  Goats will be very happy to have browse!

one year ago…”Feeding Chickens in Winter”

December 22, 2010 – Finding a Home for the Trees

Now that Christmas is almost upon us, I have about 10 trees that remain unsold.  Most people preferred to cut their own tree, even when they cost $15 more.

I contacted the Salvation Army and listed them on Freecycle, with no takers. I finally contacted a church in town and they were thrilled to take them to give to folks who couldn’t afford a tree this year.

one year ago…”Ice Luminary”

December 4, 2010 – Tree Sales

It was a cold, blustery day today at Wheatsfield selling trees and gift boxes.

We sold about half the trees we brought – like anything, it takes a while to get people used to buying them in a new place. Many people thought they’d be back next weekend.

A Christmas tree on top of a Subaru – perfect for bringing the tree home!

one year ago…”Snow and Yech”