Category Archives: gardening

Goats in the News: COVID-19 Edition

I was tickled to read about the Kashmiri goats running wild in Wales. during the COVID-19 lockdown there.


There are more than one hundred of them wandering around town. They were described as “quite naughty” by a local.  I gather they have come to town on other occasions, but the lack of people has made them even more curious to check things out. And oh, my, those horns! Fiber for cashmere comes from the neck region of such goats. I have several cashmere sweaters, and I love them.

What is your favorite sweater?  What are some bright spots in the news or in your life over the past several days?

Animal Helpers

Luna, our grey cat, gets very excited whenever I change the sheets. She leaps onto the mattress and starts clawing at one of the corners, as you can see in the header  photo, and then jumps on the sheets and blankets as I try to flatten and adjust them.  You can see the excitement  in her face in the photo. Sometimes she lets me cover her completely  with the sheets and blankets,  leaving a distinct,  cat-shaped bump in the newly made bed.  She also helps Husband as he packs and unpacks his Rez suitcase, rubbing all his clothes and sitting in his suitcase. She is such a help!

Our terriers were great supervisors, always so curious about what we were doing and wanting to be part of the action.  When we would dig in the garden, they would dig along side us, sometimes digging up what we had just planted. So helpful!

How have your animals helped you?

Great Minds

We spent the day in Bismarck on Tuesday with short, but eventful, episodes at the eye clinic interspersed  with notable periods of down time  in which we could shop and eat.

We hit the mall after Husband’s pre-op appointment  to search at Penney’s for an extra long ironing board cover (No luck. I will have to order one). Then to Target for lubricating eye drops, therapy art supplies, and shampoo, and then to the grocery store. Our grocery list consisted of roasting chickens, Maggi Seasoning Sauce, and barley malt syrup for bread baking.

The Bismarck  grocery store we like to go to is rather higher end than the ones in our town, and we both made a bee line to the produce section as soon as we entered. I said “I think we should look for a Savoy cabbage”. Husband said “I was thinking the same thing!” Neither of us had mentioned Savoy cabbage to the other, but it was on both our minds as we drove to  Bismarck that morning.  Husband has anxiety  about getting enough fresh greens during the winter. I do not have vegetable anxiety, but I have had my eye on a recipe for Fischrouladen, which is cabbage rolls stuffed  with savory cod and  topped with  a winey mustard cream sauce and fresh dill. It calls for Savoy cabbage.

Sure enough, they had Savoy cabbage but not any of the other things we wanted. Those will have to wait for a trip to Fargo. I think it is funny we both thought of Savoy cabbage. How weird is that?

Who thinks like you?

Idle Curiosity

I mentioned in a comment on the Trail  on Saturday that I was enjoying some Veuve Clicquot champagne, and that led to some research on my part that I found fascinating.

I noticed on the bottle a portrait of a woman. I don’t speak French, so I looked up the name and found it meant “The Widow Clicquot”. I went on to find that in 1805,  at the age of 27, this woman inherited a champagne vineyard and business upon the death of her husband, and was the only woman to run a champagne house.  Her father-in-law insisted that she do an apprenticeship in champagne production, and she went on to be wildly successful. She invented a method of champagne production that is still in use today. She was the first to make Rose champagne. She was a friend of Napoleon, yet she made a point of smuggling champagne into Russia. Here is part of the Wikipedia entry for her:

On 21 July 1810, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin launched her own company: “Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin”.

Barbe-Nicole exported the vast majority of her champagne out of France.  Unfortunately, she was facing naval blockades that kept her from sending her wine abroad. Furthermore, Czar Alexander I banned French products.

Facing bankruptcy, Barbe-Nicole took a business gamble: she decided to send her champagne to Russia, when peace returned ahead of her competitors. While the war’s naval blockades paralyzed commercial shipping, Madame Clicquot and Louis Bohne secretly planned to sneak a boat through the blockade to Russia.

With the French monarchy restored, Madame Clicquot and Louis Bohne put the plan they had been preparing for five years into execution. In 1814, as the blockades fell away, the company chartered a Dutch cargo ship, the “Zes Gebroeders”, en route to Königsberg,[6] to deliver 10,550 bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne to the Russian market, taking advantage of the general chaos, while their competitors still believed such a move to be impossible. The boat left Le Havre on June 6, 1814. Meanwhile, Russia had lifted the ban on importing French products. The whole shipment was quickly sold. A few weeks later, another ship left Rouen laden with 12,780 bottles of champagne destined for St. Petersburg, which were sold out as soon as they arrived. When the champagne reached St.Petersburg, Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia, Czar Alexander I’s brother, declared that Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin champagne would be the only kind he would drink. Word of his preference spread throughout the Russian court.[11

During the years that followed, Russia continued to buy Veuve Clicquot wines. Sales rocketed: from 43,000 bottles in 1816, they climbed to 280,000 in 1821 and increased until the 1870s. Within two years, the widow Clicquot had become famous and was at the helm of an internationally renowned commercial business.

I just love looking up stuff like this. It makes me no richer, but it makes life interesting. Research is sort of like finding out the juicy gossip about neighbors, but it is less damaging and hurtful.

What do you like to find out about? What were you doing when you were 27?

Spaetzle vs Schnitzel

Our local Walmart store management  tore  out most of the checkout aisles and installed several dozen  self-checkout kiosks.  I refuse to use them, which means I have to  put up with long lines and long waits while my icecream  melts.

Husband and I were in line the other day conversing about a spaetzle-aspragus recipe, when the woman in front of us asked what exactly  spaetzle was. She and her husband had been chatting up the cashier, who happened to be from the same Hispanic community they were from near Bakersfield, CA.  She said she had heard of it but didn’t know what it was. I explained, and then cautioned her that it was different than schnitzel, and then I explained what forms that could take.  She had heard of that, too. Behind us in line was an elderly neighbor from a block over from our house who takes long walks in the neighborhood and wanted to know if we got our produce in. She said she loved watching our garden.

Shopping is a social outing for us, and reinforces our sense of community. We aimed to be Community Psychologists, so I guess things are working  out.

What communities do you belong to?




Day of Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving.

  • I’m grateful that thanks to Mother Nature, I don’t have to worry about any more raking for awhile. Or pruning.
  • I’m thankful that although I don’t have a working chimney right now (until repairs in spring – maybe), I do have a working chimney liner, thus heat.
  • I’m grateful that Nonny is still spry and vibrant, and coming to visit in a couple of weeks.
  • I’m thankful that YA’s foot is healing nicely and she can now get around on her own, drive and go back to work.
  • I’m grateful that most of my friends and loved ones afflicted with the big “c” have beat it back with a stick and am thankful that this community was able to surround the friend and loved one who didn’t with caring and support.
  • I’m thankful that I haven’t thrown my new cell phone out the window (yet).
  • I’m grateful that usually once a day a stranger shows me kindness (even if it’s just stopping on Lyndale so I can either pull into or out of my driveway).

Enough about me. Anything good on your grateful list this year?

2019 Crop Wrap Up

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I hear lots of farmers saying “2019,” and they sigh, “It is what it is. And it needs to be over.”  Yep.

For me, it was December 15th, 2018 when the guy ran into me and totaled my car, and from there it was the leg infection and the rain and now the kidney stone and this year just needs to be over and I’m going to start fresh on December 16th 2019! With Jury duty!  A whole new experience!

I was big on having ‘Experience Adventures’ when I was younger. I quit using that term at some point, but I’m still up for an adventure or experience and they keep coming. Attitude is everything. 

Got the soybeans out. Yield was terrible. Mostly just the weather caused that. No one had great yields, but some were OK. I had that one field that was short. The one I said made me sick to my stomach every time I looked at it. That entire field yielded 89 bushels. Well heck. That was a 10 acre field. Should have done 45 bushels each ACRE! Should have had half a semi load from there! Should have had 450 Bushels! I had some fields here at home that ran 40 – 50 bushels / acre. Don’t know what was up with that one field. Planted same day, same variety of bean. Too wet, too many deer eating the tops off, too cool… it is what it is.

Overall, my beans averaged 28 bushels / acre which is about half of what they should have done. Crop insurance will kick in and cover some of the yield loss. At least they got combined before they got snowed on. Price was on the lower side. But test weight was good and soybeans are almost always dry enough that they don’t need to be dried so all that was good.

Corn was done last week. I knew the yield looked good. Which is pretty amazing considering again, it was planted late, it was cool, it rained, it had windstorms, and then it froze early. It averaged 167 bushels / acre. Above average for me. It doesn’t make any sense considering everything done wrong, but it is what it is. With the raccoons pulling stalks down and wasting the corn, deer knocking them down and eating the corn, and turkeys pulling up young plants, it’s a wonder any survives. Every night you’d see deer out there eating. And as I rode in the combine and he finished the last field, we chased 6 raccoons out of the last rows.

And it was wet, but we knew that. The combine was saying 25% moisture. Delivered corn to the elevator (where it really matters) and the loads were between 24% and 28% moisture. It has to be dried to 15% to store it and that cost me $0.50 / bushel to dry it down. Cost a few thousand dollars for drying. Price wasn’t great to start with. It is what it is. A good year, better soils, less deer, it’s not unusual to average 200+ bushels / acre on some farms in some places. The “Pie-in-the-sky” goal is 300. Takes lots of management to make that happen.

My dad, before hybrid seeds, got 50 bu/Acre so he’d be impressed with the 167.

Crop insurance may kick some in as a price insurance coverage. (because I can buy “revenue” insurance too. NOTE: In fact, the agent was here. No payment on corn because even though price was low, the yield was good. They always get ya).

It froze before I could get any fall fieldwork done. I thought maybe with the warmer weather the last few days maybe it would go; I hooked the chiselplow up and ran out and tried and no. Three inches of frost yet and I should have known but I would be mad at myself if I didn’t try.  2019 – It is what it is.

I’m wondering if the warmer weather the last few days might have helped take the frost out? But it rained too and it’s too muddy to try. Oh well. It is what it is. Next year will be better.

I got some cool pictures of the combine at night.

In the end we didn’t make as much money as we do some years. But I’ve been saying we’ll be OK. And we will; We won’t go broke.

The difference between me and the really big farmers is a matter of a few more zero’s on our checks AND bills.

I asked Craig, who was combining my corn, how much they had left to do. He grunted. “A lot” he said. Later on I asked again. About 900 acres he figured. Yikes.

And of course, the propane shortage we had wasn’t helping but I think that’s passed. Even the coop elevator was shut down because their natural gas was turned off. No one had ever heard of that before. Forty years, no one has heard of that. Craig said they use 1500 gallons of LP / day to dry. One day they got 500 gallons. So they just have to wait.

One guy I watch on YouTube (Mn Millennial Farmer) has a huge, multi-thousand gallon tank and contracts his LP for the year. Yep, he has a contract, he just can’t get it delivered either. He wanted a semi-full, got ½ a load.

I’ve heard it was Illinois’ fault. They usually are a month ahead of us combining corn and they don’t usually need to dry it. And it’s not usually this cold this time of year. It is what it is.

Next year will be better!   Right??