Still Growing

Today’s post comes from Ben

I’ve got this young man helping me out this summer. Fifteen years old and has his drivers permit. Great kid and we get along well and he’s just fun to have around and I guess he enjoys being out here too.

On his first day he was stumped by the shift lever on the steering wheel of the truck. It’s an automatic, and I hadn’t realized that was unusual, but I guess most cars are on the center console now. Lucky it wasn’t a ‘three-on-the-tree’. Although I do wish I had a clutch for him to learn.

And then his second day, we were driving around in the gator and he said, “Doesn’t this thing have windows?” I said yes, and he realized it had a crank and it was “Oh. OOOOhhhhh!” yeah, I knew the crank was a pretty far out concept for kids today.

I talk about crop development and since he’s always in shorts, he better learn what nettles look like. He knows wild parsnip. Nettles: I got a bad rash from them as a kid, but nowdays, if I don’t scratch it when it first burns, it goes away and doesn’t bother. I’m not sure that works on everyone and I told him I don’t want him to find out. Anyone know about nettles?

We measured out 17.5’ on the corn the other day. (that being 1/1000th of an acre on 30” rows. Then count the plants in the 17.5’) Actual stand is about 30,000 plants / acre. Theoretically I was planting corn at a rate of about 33,000 plants / acre based on gear ratios used, which dictate how fast it drops seeds, and the amount of seed I used on the acres I had. Then you expect some won’t germinate and the planter skips a few here and there, and that’s why I measure out the final stand to see what the actual rate is.

We dug up some soybean plants and it was really interesting to see the root development in comparison to the size of the actual plant. And there are already nodules on the roots that are converting nitrogen to the plant from the air.

I cut open an oat plant the other day. The kernels are coming; they’re in the top third of the plant and I’d expect them to start heading out any day now.

Corn is growing fast, it’s already knee high, and can be considered ‘lay-by’ in another week or two. Not that it matters to me; I’m not in there doing anything with it. The header photo is a few days old the corn is twice this tall.

The chickens enjoy making holes in the yard and taking dust baths.

Ducks are still doing well. This photo doesn’t show all of them, but it does show two guineas, a dog, a chicken, and some ducks A little bit of everything.

We’re cutting the roadsides this week and hope to get them baled up in the next few days. Hoping the rain predicted for Saturday doesn’t happen just so I can bale. My helper and I got the haybine out and greased up, and got the baler greased up.

Any fun stories about getting into the weeds?

79 thoughts on “Still Growing”

  1. Oh Ben, I am sitting here being so happy that it has just started to rain and now I read your comment about you wanting the rain to hold off. So sorry.

    And I’m not sure I can talk about weeds without frothing at the mouth. I know that most of what I consider weeds other people consider groundcover But in my world, if it’s growing where I don’t want it, then it’s a weed.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Thanks so much for sharing, as a “I’m not from the country but I got here as fast as I could” sort, I really appreciate the photos and explanations of what you are looking for. ❤ – 'lost and found'

    Liked by 6 people

  3. On patio with coffee. Spitting rain and lowering clouds. Security lights even came on. On our farm weeds were everywhere. But the only real noxious weeds were the thistles which we attacked as much as we could, but surrounded by woods, it was a lost war. My mother loved hoeing. We cultivated her gardens routinely with the horse. I would ride the horse and control him. It was a draft horse, broad of beam and fully harnessed and I was young to start this, 8-9. My legs would ache the whole time and awhile after. Our horses loved thistle. They would bite it off at the ground and eat it backwards.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. As a city girl I don’t really know the difference between thistles and nettles. But I have in my mind that they’re both kind of nasty and scratchy?

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Fron the MM Board of Water and Soil Resources:
          Minnesota has many varieties of thistle species, some are native and others are invasive. The three most common invasive thistle species are: Canada thistle, bull thistle, and plumeless thistle. All three are identified by the bright purple flowering head, each with a different inflorescence.

          Liked by 4 people

        2. The Musk Thistle, which grows a long slender shoot with a big 2″ purple blossom on the top, was the one my dad hated most; we were always killing those. All the rest were basically ‘bull thistles’ whether they were or not. We killed them too, but only as an after thought.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. I see a lot of Canadian thistles. The bees love them if they’re allowed to flower. They’re kind of a pain to pull, though, if allowed to drop seed and they proliferate.

          I once had a single thistle on my boulevard that might have been a musk thistle. I let it flower and then saved the seed, but it never grew again from the seed. The blossom was huge and very pretty.

          Globe thistle is a nicer, better behaved thistle.

          Liked by 3 people

      1. Nettles grow in wooded areas or at the edge of woods. They have fine hairs that brush off onto your skin and the hairs contain a substance that produces a burning or stinging sensation and sometimes a rash. Thistles are prickly. You can see the prickles and thorns all over the plant. They’re a large, tough plant with pretty lavender flowers.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. My birthday is in late April. In a good year, the first nettles appear all around the neighborhood at that time. I make the rounds of the local alleys, wearing rubber gloves, and harvest a big bag of them. The leaves make a delicious soup after they have been thoroughly rinsed and blanched in boiling water. Once blanched, they’re safe to handle with bare hands.

          Liked by 4 people

      2. Thistles give you ‘slivers’ and they have spikes you know. They can be pretty when the purple blossoms all show. And I’ve seen fields of thistles full of goldfinches and I really struggled with leaving the thistles for the goldfinches or mowing them off.

        Nettles, ‘Stinging nettles’ just make your skin burn. No points or slivers to see, they just burn or give you a blister rash on contact. (I guess there are very fine hairs on the stems, that’s what breaks the skin and makes it burn).

        Liked by 6 people

        1. Stinging nettle, for me, causes a burning sensation at first, then tingling and a little numbness. I don’t get a full-blown rash. I think after you’ve been afflicted a number of times in a single season you develop some level of resistance, theoretically, but I am not eager to test the theory. If it is possible to develop resistance, I don’t think it is a durable resistance.

          Liked by 4 people

  4. In our world in the fall you manured the field to be planted in oats. The manure was left in the pile all summer to rot but it still had seeds in it that had passed through the cattle. Then in the spring you plowed, disked and dragged the field before drilling the seeds. We pulled a three row cultivator through when the oats were young, or not. Then you did not touch it until harvest. There were no chemicals to use. The binder cut and bound weeds with the oats but not as many as you might think. Then the threshing machine added some weed seeds into oats mix but we only fed it to our livestock. So done seeds passed through the cattle to be planted next year. Our real enemy for acres of gardens was quack grass.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Not quite a weed story, but funny:

    Back in college (late ’70s), I took my soon-to-be-wife, Sandra, on a motorcycle camping trip to Wisconsin Dells and back (to Mpls.). Young and foolish cannot be stressed too much as it was literally her second ride on my motorcycle (a Honda CB 175) For those of you wno know bikes, that equates to barely street-legal compared to the big mofos that run in the 1000 cc engine size.

    Two rather light people such as my wife and I on that bike are plenty of weight, but we loaded it with a tent, two sleeping bags, clothes & personal items, a bit of food, a Coleman camp stove, and basic cooking gear. It got so heavy that when we hit any sort of bump at speed, the fenders would bottom out on the tires. Going up steep hills was 50/50 that we’d make it without having to push with our feet.

    ANYWAY (this does have a weed connection, I promise). One of our stops was Lake Wissota St. Park near Eau Claire. It was June, and we went on a hike in the park on a lovely day. Part of the trail went through tall grass (or what my wife would consider WEEDS), and we might have also gone off trail a bit for a photo op or something.

    For those who live around here, June is, of course, prime tick season. And ticks LOVE tall grass (WEEDS). Needless to say, we noticed several ticks on each other after the hike. Sandra is an absolute bug-o-phobe, so the ticks really set her off. We picked off the ones we could see on our clothes, and then of course did a more intimate inspection later on in our tent. 🙂

    Tick problem solved? Sort of. That night we drove into Eau Claire to see a movie. Mainly to get some air conditioning and for her to not have to even think about getting a tick or other bug on her. After the movie, we returned to our campsite in the dark. As she stood patiently waiting for me to find our flashlight so we could secure our campsite, she suddenly shrieked, “Something’s crawling up my leg!” and dashed into the middle of the access road for the campsites.

    “It’s probably just a tick,” I said, trying to sound patient and caring but annoyed that she is such a fraidy cat.

    “NO! It’s NOT a tick! It was crawling up my leg. And it was big!”

    “Honey, you’re just freaked out because we had ticks all over us this afternoon. I’m sure you’re overreacting.”

    “NO. It’s NOT a tick.”

    *SIGH* “Okay, I’ve got the flashlight, let’s check.” I clicked it on, shined it on her pants leg (lesson learned about covering skin during tick season), and did a cursory inspection. No obvious ticks but she was still shaking and nervous.

    “Look around for something else. I swear it wasn’t a tick. It was some sort of animal.”


    “Yes, like a squirrel!”

    (At this point I should mention that when she was a student at the U of M and walking across campus to class, she stopped to talk to a friend/or classmate and had the nightmare-inducing experience of having one of those darn college-educated squirrels climb right up her leg in the middle of the East Bank Mall! )

    *Forehead slap* Here we go.

    “Okay.” I shined the light around the ground and a moment later, her stalker showed himself.

    It was a baby rabbit.

    And he once again tried to climb up her leg. (Mama?)

    Our hearts broke because we knew Mama was probably either road kill or some predator’s dinner. The little bunny wouldn’t leave us alone, going so far as to try to get into our tent with us. When we zipped the door closed, Bugs Bunny nosed his way around the outside looking for a back door. It got so pathetic, Sandra said, “Walk into the woods a little bit so he’ll follow you, then dash back here. Maybe he’ll get lost and wander away from our tent.”

    (Yes, I know, not the brightest idea, but she was panic-stricken, and I wasn’t about to say no and incur the wrath of a woman who at that moment wanted nothing more than to be 100 miles from any living creature other than me.)

    So I led little Bugs about 20 yards into the forest, then dashed back to the tent as fast as I could without running into a tree. After diving in and zipping up, we had about 30 seconds of peace and quiet before we heard the sound of a tiny nose and tiny paws batting at the tent material.
    Talk about heartbreaking. Bugs finally gave up after about 20 minutes. We, of course, had a guilt-filled night of sleep. Sandra actually considered letting him into the tent, but I said no, we can’t be sure he doesn’t have rabies, or that Mama is looking for him, so it was better to let nature take its course.

    End of “weed story.”

    I like to think Bugs wandered off to a safe spot that night and that Mama found him before morning. Then he went on to live a long, happy life in Lake Wissota State Park, making friends with more unsuspecting campers in the dark of night.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I am sure that was the course of Bugs’ life. Don’t think about it any further.

      Speaking of motorcycles, last week Lou tipped his red Suzuki 1000 motorcycle in the backyard as he returned home from a ride. I was on my way home from the Lake Okoboji High School Girls Weekend. The neighbors intervened and got him to the ER where the Dr. stitched up a deep 3” gash. After 55+ years of motorcycling, he says he is parting ways with the bike. At age 78 yrs I think this is wise and I am glad I did not have to pester him with my opinion about this activity.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Ouch. Glad he’s okay. I had three close calls while I owned my bike (one with Sandra on back) and decided enough was enough. Three strikes and I was out (of owning a bike). But on a beautiful summer day on a quiet country road, man oh man do I get the urge to go for a ride on a big Harley or similar.

        C in O

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Motorcycles are entirely outside of my comfort zone. That’s not a sensation that holds any appeal for me. I’ve never driven one and only ridden on the back of one once or twice. I was terrified the whole time, moving that fast with no protective shell. I don’t even like being around motorcycles on the highway, for fear than one of them will spill on the road in front of me.
        I’m glad Lou’s mishap was (relatively) minor.

        Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks, Ben. Call it a small payback for all your interesting/educational stories about your farm. You’re crazy to do it (Because I can’t imagine being a farmer myself), but bless you for helping to feed the world.


        Liked by 4 people

        1. Ha!
          Did you hear about the farmer who won a million dollars in the lottery? When asked what he was going to do with the money, he said “I’m going to keep farming until it’s gone.” 😂

          Liked by 6 people

      1. 🙂 My wife was torn between taking him home and leaving him in the park. Thankfully, we only had the motorcycle so there was no way we could easily transport him. She’s a sucker for baby animals.


        Liked by 2 people

  6. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    I am fettered with my weed pulling for another 5 weeks. I cannot bend past 90º for fear of dislocating my new hip until it is fully healed. Apparently gardeners are particularly prone to this because of how we bend and the motions needed to weed. My son and DIL are arriving tomorrow to assist, but there are more weeds than time to do this. I did not realize how much time I spent weeding in the summertime until I cannot do it.

    Ihave this long handled device that allows me to twist one weed at a time. Not enough. And now the chiggers are out so I am not weeding and I am itchy all at the same time.

    So unsatisfactory,

    Liked by 6 people

  7. My eyes automatically “sort” things as I’m walking through our yard and garden, and I am constantly stooping to get the errant weed out of the raspberry patch, the crushed rock up by the foundation, and esp. the sidewalk cracks. Even walking in our neighborhood, I try to get the most egregious ones in the sidewalk cracks as we pass, but this would be a full time job to do any real good. I figure these larger roots will eventually help break up the sidewalks from underneath… it’s become a bit of an obsession. : |

    There is a getting-into-the-weeds story from when Husband and I were very young, but this falls into the not fit to print category.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. We got 1.7” rain overnight. Thank you KTTC weather for telling me to expect a couple tenths. And no thanks to my left knee for not hurting and warning me about it!

    Liked by 6 people

  9. I guess I stopped calling plants ‘weeds’ a long time ago. A weed is just a plant that’s growing in the wrong place as defined by a human. There are lots of benefits to the plants we call weeds. Dandelions, nettles, purslane, chamomile, wood sorrel and many others have beneficial nutrients. The only one I really don’t like is ragweed. I haven’t been able to figure out its purpose and it grows everywhere. It’s the only plant pollinating in late summer or early fall and so it’s the cause of late season allergies.

    When I stopped mowing sections of my yard in Waterville to see what native plants would show up, I got one that I wished I had not encouraged. Virginia waterleaf. It’s pretty when it blooms but that doesn’t last long and it really isn’t pretty at all after that. I don’t want to call it a weed because it’s a native plant and I thought it would make a good ground cover but it kind of failed at that. So I guess it did become a weed by my own definition because it was a plant that was growing, prolifically, in the wrong place. I did nothing to eradicate it. It was my fault it was there. I just mowed it before it went to seed and controlled it that way.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I have some Virginia waterleaf back by the garage – so far left it because it doesn’t seem very invasive… The one that’s driving me nuts and taking over the front yard is monarda (bee balm) – the pale lavender variety. But I guess I can just mow that too before it gets too big.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If it’s pale lavender it’s a native called bergamot. It’s the ingredient with the delicious flavor and fragrance in Earl Gray tea. It’s very beneficial to pollinators like monarchs and bees!

        Liked by 5 people

    2. I did something even more stupid than that, Krista, I actually planted Virginia waterleaf in my garden. The first couple of years it was OK. I stayed pretty much where I had planted it, so I left it alone despite its very short period of actually looking good. After all, it is a native. Then when I wasn’t looking, the damn thing took off. At this point, the lawn mower is the only way to deal with it. One of the few plants I actually dislike, that and snow on the mountain.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Oh, if you’re looking for something to compete with your horseradish, I can recommend lovage. Besides being a strong grower, you’ll find that a little of it goes a very long way. You’ll have oodles to give to your unsuspecting friends, who’ll have no idea what to do with it.

          Liked by 4 people

  10. Our neighbor to the north finds plants, trees, evergreens, and shrubs in their pasture on the outskirts of town and plants them in this large expanse of their yard. They are weak, scraggly things, and most are noxious weeds that invade our yard. I detest them, and they have increased our yardwork by 30-40 percent. She also has an Englemann Ivy growing on the fence that separates our yard, and the ivy grows all over their ash trees. They own the fence, so they can do what they want with it, but the second that ivy reaches the ground on our side I remove it. It invades our garden beds, and I have found it all the way on the south side of our property. They are the neighbors who yell at us when we trim the ash tree branches that hang over our roof. They can’t accept that anything hanging over our yard is fair game for us to cut. Am I fed up and bitter? You bet I am. They are our age. He is in poor health with a bad heart, and she had a stoke several years ago, so I try to be compassionate. The fence is about 45 years old and wooden, and almost falling over, and when it does we will offer to replace it and then we will make the rules and there will be no ivy growing on it.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You have my sympathy, Renee. That was the situation we had with our late neighbor, Parky. After he and his wife both died, we had to negotiate with one of their adult daughters, to get permission to bring in a professional to cut off a large branch (at our considerable expense) that was hanging over our upstairs bedroom. Equipment used in the process left two tire tracks, not deep ones, in their lawn, which wasn’t anything to write home about to start with. The tree is now so lopsided that it looks terrible, and I’m sure its a threat to the new owners’ house, and they seem completely oblivious to it.

      Liked by 4 people

  11. I am about to go do battle with the weeds in the back yard. I know I will not get them all. I pulled up an entire bag full along the north side of the house over Memorial Day weekend – you would never know it now. I have a few things growing out front that I am still playing the “plant? Or weed?” game with this year – one clump may be something Dear Departed Husband got and plunked in without thinking about how or where it might spread… Played that same game a few years back with something else – after one rainy weekend followed by a bit of sun in shot up to something about as tall as Ms S (she was about 10-11 at the time). Have a photo of her holding it once we yanked it out – has the same sort of look one has with a prize fish. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I remember one time getting mom to help me chase cows in. She was in shorts and asked if there were weeds and if it would be a problem. Heck, I didn’t know, but I’m sure I said it wouldn’t be (I just wanted help getting the cows back in). There was probably wild parsnip and I remember later seeing the blisters and her putting lotion on her thighs. Sorry about that mom.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. We had lots of yard work to do today-replacing the tomatoes and peppers we lost to hail, laying down soaker hoses, weeding, but the wind is gusting to 46 mph, and we did as much as we could before the wind drove us indoors. We will plant tomorrow.

    Cannabis grows wild in Rock County. Best friend’s dad was a farmer, and it often got as tall as the seat on his tractor. He mowed it down since it made the cattle in the pasture sick .

    Liked by 4 people

  14. i had an evil cousin who told all us young kids to have a race from here right down to the river and back knowing we had to run through itch weed both ways
    funny guy
    i got my first weed gratuity yesterday
    i must look like an old hippy or something
    go figure

    Liked by 4 people

  15. This evening the Twin Cities Danish community celebrated Sankt Hans Aften (two days late) on a lovely farm in Rosemount. It’s our annual celebration of midsummer. It distinguishes itself from other Scandinavian midsummer celebrations by the burning of a witch on a big bonfire.

    At the Rosemount celebration there’s a big cookout. Everyone brings their choice of something to grill, plus a dish to share. It’s always an impressive spread with lots of both Danish and American specialties. The food is laid out on long tables at one end of the barn.

    Bales of hay along the walls of the other end of the barn provide seating from which to observe the folk dancing which kicks off once people are done eating. Dances are taught to kids and adults who need a refresher, but for most of the old-timers, these dances are in their blood. Live music is usually provided by a rag-tag bunch of Danish musicians, some who just happen to be passing through.

    Meanwhile, there are hayrides on a wagon pulled by a tractor through the property, which borders Lebanon Hills. Adults of all ages sit around on the expansive “lawn” overlooking a meadow with horses grazing around a small pond, conversing in Danglish. Parents teach their children the intricacies of making “snobrød” over an open fire. All biding their time for the main event.

    As darkness falls, everyone strolls to the site behind the barn where a huge bonfire, with a witch perched on top, stands ready. A torch is inserted near the bottom of the structure, and as the flames take hold and lick their way toward the top and the witch, we all sing Midsommervisen. That’s followed by a few other Danish songs suitable to the occasion.

    Tonight was a perfect evening for this traditional celebration. Temperatures were moderate, a slight breeze kept the bugs at bay, and as the sun set and the flames took hold, a warm glow reflected off the faces of the assembled Danes. What a sweet celebration.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Every year I wonder about that tradition, Jackie, and do a little more research, but have yet to find anything conclusive or convincing to me. As with Giuliani’s claims about election fraud, there are lot’s of theories just no evidence.

        The witch burned is, of course, not a real one, it’s as fanciful a scarecrow as the creator can conjure with some sticks, branches, old clothes, and a hat. Think Halloween witch. Lore has it that the burned witches – which represent evil – are dispatched to Bloksbjerg, supposedly somewhere in Germany.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I think the only way anyone in that crowd would have had access to a MAGA hat by any means other than stealing it off a stranger’s head, so no, it was a pointy black hat made for the occasion.

          Liked by 4 people

        2. Mostly I was teasing you about the witch. I was shocked to learn that this women, who would have been an aunt of that generation, was part of it all. Years ago Kirstie Alley played in a made for TV movie about her.. When I found the article about the incident on, I discovered that my direct grandfather of that generation is the one who turned her in and testified about her witchy powers. I suspect that the Danish tradition came from similar practices in Europe at the same time. I researched it and discovered that Europe went through a number of outbreaks of convicting women as witches too.

          Liked by 3 people

        3. I do know that witches, both male and female, were burned at the stake in Denmark. But that goes back way further (16-1700s) than the tradition of burning a witch on the Sankt Hans bonfire. That apparently didn’t become a practice until the late 1800s, and I’m struggling to find a reasonable explanation for it. Not that I ever thought there was a reasonable explanation for burning or otherwise executing people.

          Liked by 4 people

  16. Ben, thanks for this weekend’s blog. I’m learning that farming is way more complex than most of us realize. Hat’s off for the work that you do, and your kind and gentle spirit. I’m learning more from you than you realize.

    Liked by 4 people

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