June 30, 2005 – Martin’s 4!

martin b-day
Today’s the much-anticipated 4th birthday! Martin has been 3 1/2 for a long time and looking forward to this birthday for a long time!
martin b-day
Some of Martin’s favorite gifts were a farm flap book, water table, corn auger, and Thomas the Train DVD.
Emma’s last softball game is tonight – we gave a quick weed to some errant weeds in the newly planted pines, the final coats of paint are on the trailer, and my new glasses are in. I wanted some that were a bit narrower, but alas, the bifocal prescription did not allow. Older and wiser, right?

June 29, 2005 – 8-Track Repair

Today we take a break from the events at High Hopes and give some love to a friend with a unique sideline. “Paul” (his real name) recently sent me this picture of his newly created “State-of-the-art 8-track repair facility” he has set up in one room of his house. 8-track
In addition to this now “ready for business” repair facility, we have been brainstorming via e-mail corollary services he could provide. One is to provide aftermarket 8-track accessories.

grandtorinoLet’s say you’ve got this screaming piece of Detroit from 1974. This Grand Torino is mint and you don’t want to mess with the original equipment. To you, messing with the original equipment would be like painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel beige. The Torino comes equipped with an in-dash 8-track player. The trouble is, you’ve got your 10,000 favorite songs loaded on your ipod.
grandtorinoWhat you need is an 8-track adapter that lets you plug your ipod into the 8-track deck. Paul is your man.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, or just can’t throw away that malfunctioning ABBA, Herb Alpert, or Bread 8-track that you played when you proposed (or were proposed to), Paul is your man. Contact me privately for his contact info as I don’t want to flood his mailbox.

June 28, 2005 – Soul Searching

Throughout the winter, we took a class Saturday mornings entitled “Growing Your Small Market Farm.” The culmination of the class was to write a business plan for your farm operation. Along the way, we formed High Hopes Gardens LLC for legal and financial protection of our non-farm assets, learned a great deal, and met some good people. We began writing a plan for an on-farm store – thinking that we spent too much time driving to and sitting at farmer’s markets and that our time would be better spent selling at retail from our farm – with poultry as one of the main draws.

The poultry processing rules put a kibosh on that aspect, but we still went ahead with a survey to other on-farm stores nationwide and to about 200 local consumers to gather info on profitability factors of on-farm stores and attitudes of local people towards shopping at an on-farm store.

Although not totally discouraging, we realized that it probably wouldn’t work on our location on a gravel road. So although we did lots of research, much of it original, we did not think it would work. We had our on-farm visit from our instructor last Friday and had looked at our schedules and life and found no room for a business. In some ways, Linda is starting a business in getting the sustainable and entrepreneurial program off the ground at school. The time in feeding ourselves, raising the kids, and having two other jobs doesn’t leave a lot of room for new adventures. Another challenge is that if we wanted to take the leap, having about three acres of hilly ground would be hard to replace one off-farm income.

So we’ll not have this immediate expectation of starting quite yet. We’ll look back and see if we’d like to do more long-term crops (christmas trees, nuts, lumber) or just try a short season at market with fruits, flowers and berries, or perhaps off-season hoops.

Deciding to let this drop, if even temporarily does not come easily or without its own angst. We’ll try it on for a while, breathe for a few seconds a day, and see where it brings us.

June 27, 2005 – After the Storm

Tonight’s fun was a thunderstorm that passed by just before sunset. It left us with rainbows and dramatic post-storm skies.
We didn’t get much rain with this storm – we got enough this weekend for a while. The rain must have come so fast that a culvert got washed out on the blacktop just a 1/4 mile from our place. I drove down to see what the progress was since I could hear them working all day. Looks like they just dug a big hole (the roadbed is about 20 feet above the culvert, so to dig down to replace it is lots of digging). I’m glad it rained to calm the dust due to the extra traffic on the road as people drive around the construction. It makes the 3 mile trip to Melbourne 8 miles, with 5 on gravel.

Today we finished the playground by putting the last ground anchors in and the slide. Also got the metal primer paint on the trailer and Linda spent about 4 hours weeding the garden this am.

June 26, 2005 – Summer Colors

Today after lunch, brother Kraig and family left, Linda and Claire went to Iowa City to drop Claire off at a two weeks writer’s workshop, and Grandma Jo took Jill and Emma, so it was the boys most of the day. We mowed some grass, stained the wood for the trailer and sanded the metal to get ready for primer and cooked dinner.

The clematis on the garage is going nuts this year. Here is a view from afar.

…and a closeup.

While I was mowing near dusk, I happened upon some interesting sights. First was this grass laden with yellow pollen. (Allergy sufferers, it must not be quite so beautiful) and then a Great Blue Heron set its wings over the back pasture and swung around a couple of times. I was flattered that the small wet spot we fenced away from the cattle was even being considered by a heron. Later, near dark, I wandered down there and the Heron was roosting in one of the big maple trees on the edge of the pasture.