As of Sunday morning, I am re-retired! Although I’m doing a few hours a week of finish-up, my programs ran last Friday and Saturday and were a big hit, so I’m done. Phew.
I knew before I went to bed Saturday night that one of my treats to myself would be a trip to Gertens. YA and I got most of our plantings already (we’re big Bachmans supporters) but there were just a couple of things we still needed. I slept in, had a late breakfast and then headed out. I knew that it would be crowded; it was a gorgeous morning and the first nice weekend day we’ve had to far this “spring”. And I was correct, it was very crowded; even the overflower parking lot across the street was full, with folks waiting for others to leave in order to snag their parking spot. It felt as if everybody in the Twin Cities was there shopping. All 12 outdoor cashier kiosks were open with lines at each one and the place was crawling with customers and employees. I saw at least four different young men retrieving carts from all over the place.
I only needed plants for 3 baskets, including Dragonwing Begonias (which I adore) and I also wanted to check out raspberry canes. The winter was not good to our canes and I thought I’d get a pot to fill in a sparse spot.
As you can see from the photo, I came away with much more than I intended. A pretty yellow peony, a beautiful dark purple iris and two dual-color dianthus jumped onto my cart while I was pushing it around. And the raspberry canes looked good, so got three pots instead of one. I texted YA to say I shouldn’t be allowed to go to Gertens by myself!
Any places you are too tempted by to go by yourself?
I heard the song the House of the rising Sun on the radio the other day. Why is that song so cool, so iconic? I know it’s about avoiding a life gone wrong, but it’s so fun. I love that guitar opening, the organ, the rhythms, and the harmonies. And there are so many bad covers of it. (Dolly Parton? Really? Really. Her version is barely recognizable.)
A busy week again. I did finally get concrete in my shed. It’s going to be awesome. We thought it would be last Thursday. Thursday turned into Friday turned into Monday turned into Tuesday and finally Wednesday before concrete actually showed up, but I have cement! Thursday they checked it out, Friday they excavated all the dirt. Monday rock was delivered and they moved that inside and packed it and put rebar in place. Nothing on Tuesday and then concrete delivered on Wednesday. Two trucks, 18.5 yards. Thursday they came back and took the forms off and backfilled the dirt. And Friday, yesterday, they plan to cut the lines in it. I shouldn’t drive a tractor on it for at least two weeks while it fully cures. Concrete is a fascinating material. Magnesium trowels smooth it out, but steel trowels bring the paste to the top. I don’t understand why that is. They had to go rent a power trowel and they bought a soft cut saw. They have a lot of this equipment, it’s just down in Florida, where the boss is starting a second branch. Business is good in the Concrete world.
Barn swallows came back on May 2. The sandhill cranes have been around again. The pheasant is still strutting his stuff. All of those things remind me of Steve.
And unfortunately, the coyotes are back too. Bailey had a good eye out early one morning, and Kelly got a shot at one of them. Surprising, the coyotes ran a half a mile away, and made a second attempt. I fired again just to scare them off, too far away to think I could actually hit one. The dogs spent quite a while following the scent. The next day, the dogs chased them away again before they got so close and they haven’t come back since then. Yet. Good dogs, good dogs. Extra treats for you.
Kelly got a sore throat last Tuesday which turned into Covid by Thursday. A few days later I got a sore throat, but I’m still testing negative and other than a runny nose and cough, I’m doing OK. Thankfully. I have things to do. And I’m starting to get a complex. Back in 2019 I got through commencement and then I got cellulitis on my leg and spent a week in the hospital and wasn’t allowed to get in the tractor for a month. And then, of course, last year and everything. I’m starting to think it is commencement that messes me up. I didn’t have any issues in 2020 or 2021 when we didn’t have commencement ceremonies or any of this spring business.
I put the outdoor faucet back on the well house and hooked up the hoses so it’s a little easier watering the chickens. This week at the college was the concert, just the one on Thursday night. Because band rehearsal is Monday and Wednesday and choir rehearsal is Tuesday and Thursday, I never see a full rehearsal of both groups so I have to make up a lot of stuff as I’m going. It’s just the way it is. Educated guesses are helpful. This is nothing new…it’s been the norm for a few years. But at least I don’t go to my office after the show and pout anymore. Or come home and drink.
Next week Monday and Tuesday is set up for commencement. Wednesday morning is l nurse pinning ceremony on the commencement stage, and that evening is the regular college commencement. It all comes down Wednesday night and Thursday I’ll see what else I can find to do. Takes me a few days to get everything put away at the college theater.
Haven’t had any ducks now for a while, even the two males that I had flew away I think. Chickens seem to be doing OK but they have started hiding eggs in random places so my daily collection is down. I have to check all the corners and dark places to see if there are eggs hiding in random places.
Still have seven guineas. Baby chicks will arrive June 1.
The oats finally started to appear on Wednesday when the temps got up to 60°. Finally getting that green haze that makes me so excited. Whew. Sure is nice to see it growing and know I didn’t screw it up.
Got the snow fence down one day. It was kinda fun; between my knee and shoulder, the snow fence has been a pain. Literally.
Watching corn prices, it’s been over $6 / bushel since last fall, and usually drops in the spring as this year’s crop acres are predicted. I had 2000 bushels in storage from last fall. I sold that this week; missed the highest price, but it’s sure better than when corn was $3 / bushel. Predictions for this year’s crops are 91.99 million acres of corn and 87.51 million acres of and the “experts” say they’re not worried about the late spring in the northern states.
I see a few people cutting grass. That’s coming next.
I’ve done some fieldwork with my tractor buddy Bailey, and I’ve got the planter ready to go.
The co-op spread corn fertilizer late Thursday so I can start planting corn if the weather cooperates on Friday. Between my three meetings and a show Friday night.
Several years ago, YA came home with an unpainted plywood birdhouse; I don’t even remember where she found it. It sat for a couple of years before she dragged out some of my paints and made cheery design in bright colors. Then it sat for a couple more years until I put a layer of marine varnish on the outside of it and finally hung it up in the backyard.
I only hung it up for decoration but was amazed last week to see that there are birds using it! Assuming there are or might be baby birds; I’m terrified of what might happen if baby birds end up in the yard during their in-flight training. So far I’ve been searching the back of the yard for any signs of life before letting Guinevere out.
Never have I ever had birds in a birdhouse to contend with. I’m happy but anxious.
I live about 40 miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is situated in the North Dakota Badlands. Teddy had a ranch there, and there still are lots of ranches that surround the park. It is home to bison, coyotes, deer, mountain lions, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and big horn sheep. And horses.
For decades before the park was formally established in 1947, ranchers would turn out horses on the open range to live and breed, and just round up horses when they needed them. That ended after the park was fenced in 1954. After the fences went up, horses remained in the park, overbreeding. Every few years the Park Service would round up what horses they could and sell them at auction. They even tried horse contraception to reduce the herds.
The Park Service decided recently to change policy and remove all non-native animal species from the park, specifically the horses. This led to a very emotional reaction from locals who have a very romantic notion of the horses and believe they should stay. The Legislature passed a bill to maintain livestock in the park. It is ultimately up to the Secretary of the Interior to decide what happens next.
What is your favorite National Park? Would wild horses be a draw for you? What animals do you get emotional about?
Have you heard the phrase “If you want something done, ask a busy person”. That’s been in my head lately. I heard it a long time ago and I think it’s true. The reasoning behind that must be that a busy person will fit something else into their schedule. Good time management I guess… when it matters anyway, maybe not so much when it doesn’t (as evidenced by how much time I spend watching YouTube.)
I found out on Monday, that the two slabs of concrete I am expecting this summer, the indoor slab will be coming Friday. Uh…. Crap! I mean GREAT! I spent Tuesday moving machinery out of the shed. I pulled out the fertilizer wagon and that will have to sit outside for a while. I condensed the 5 boxes of crap my dad put in the shed when they moved out of their house, into one small tote worth saving and the rest went to metal recycling or garbage. Sorry Dad. I put some pallets out and sorted lumber into nice piles, and I moved some down to the barn where there’s another pile of 6×6 posts and left over Trex Decking.
I moved all the machinery out, moved the two smaller tractors out, moved the lawn mowers out, moved the 100 gallon oil totes, then started replacing machinery in such a way I can still get to the seed wagon, and have room for the corn planter and soybean drill and still be able to get them out, while keeping the North end of the shed clear and open.
There was a lot of smaller stuff to move yet. Wednesday I moved Ladders, storage racks, jacks, wood blocks, the old oil barrel stand, and cut 4’ off the end of the work bench.
FYI, I have a LOT of wood blocks.
It’s always surprising to me how many wood blocks I have. They are one of those things you just never know which one you’ll need, or how many of what size, so we have lots. It might be out in the field and the ground is soft, so I need multiple long blocks to make a base, then a few to support the jacks. It might be blocks to support four corners of a wagon box while I change the running gear under it. Sometimes that’s a 6×6, sometimes it’s a 4×4, and sometimes it’s just a 2×4 to block a tire. It’s crazy that I have this many blocks. Perhaps I won’t put them all back. Bet I will.
As the day went on, I found myself spending more time sitting in the tractor, ‘thinking’, when I moved to the next job…I’d sit there for several minute before I could get myself out and moving.
Keith, the man who was Best Man at our wedding in 1990, stopped to visit. He lives out in Stamford New York now, but had a business meeting in Minneapolis, so he spent an extra day and came down. We hadn’t seen each other since about 1995. It was really nice to see him. And he helped me move some of that extra stuff.
Circa about 1990 and 2023.
As the day went on, there was less ‘sorting and stacking’ and more just tossing it out of the way. Like any home remodeling project, I won’t be able to find what I want for the next month…
There’s been a pheasant strutting through the yard like he owns the place. The dogs lie behind my car and watch him. We hear a lot of pheasants calling not too far away. They don’t come out for corn anymore like they do in winter. And I’ve seen some out in the fields that don’t seem to be too scared of me or the tractor. But this one in the yard, he’s strutting his stuff and he doesn’t seem to care who sees him.
Saw a couple Sandhill Cranes in a field. Saw the Northern Lights on Sunday night. Happen to look down between the back door and the deck and discovered 30 or 40 chicken eggs.
Shoot. Someone is gonna have to shimmy under there and get them. Come July, I don’t see this being a good situation. I blocked the hole on the side of the deck that I suspect is where the chicken(s) was getting in. Maybe that also explains why Bailey hasn’t eaten her food in 3 days and I found an eggshell in the front yard.
I got the road graded using all three hydraulic options on the blade and it was very nice. Tilt, angle, shift. I cut down the edges so rain water will run off the road, pulled in gravel from the winter, and I unintentionally pulled in a lot of dirt too. Left it all on the edge of the road to settle for a few weeks, then will grade it all back onto the road.
One of my former work study students from the college stopped to visit with her 2.5 month old baby girl. That was a nice visit. And Krista made the egg run and it was good to see her.
Last of the college shows this weekend. Music concert at the college next Thursday with Choir, Band, World Drum Ensemble, and a new Chamber Group. And then it’s onto Commencement. I’ve been coordinating, scheduling, and doing paperwork for that. We’ll hang a few lights next week before the stage is placed.
I don’t know about farming this week or next. We shall see what we shall see.
I’m doing my Menards mulch runs this week. I like to go early in the morning (think 6:30 a.m.), before it’s too busy; that way I don’t have to fight anybody over a big flatbed cart. I can only fit 6-8 bags in my little car (depending on how badly I want to see out the back window) but 6-8 bags definitely needs a flatbed cart!
As I was loading up the car on Tuesday, it occurred to me that I don’t come by my love of gardening naturally. Nonny likes her garden neat and orderly but there were never any carloads of mulch or flats of annuals. For a few years, we had a small vegetable garden but it was pretty much only tomatoes – although I do remember one year with corn but not sure if we actually got any corn off the stalks.
Nonny didn’t enlist either my sister or me to help in the garden or even harvest anything. Cutting the grass on the riding mower was the extent of my yard work growing up; this was only in high school as we never had a big enough yard for a riding mower until then.
In my first house here in Minneapolis I didn’t do much yardwork – the house has evergreen bushes in front and they didn’t require much. Wasband cut the postage-stamp sized yard. I did do a vegetable garden a couple of times but we had slug issues and Irish Setter-stomping-all-over-the-plants issues. I’m not sure what clicked in my brain when I moved to my current home. The more flowers/less grass plan was hatched fairly early on and the hanging pots and mulch madness followed pretty quickly after that.
My straw bale gardening got going about a dozen years back after reading Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook. I won’t bore you with this again since I know I’ve already talked about it (probably repeatedly), but straw bales have brought my gardening full circle (or so it feels to me).
Not sure how the gardening got into my blood, but this week as I start to prepare my bales and do my mulch runs, I’m feeling happier than I have for a few weeks as winter has dragged on. Maybe spring really is coming.
Man, this week. Or this month. Or this year. Or maybe this Spring. Whoosh. There it goes…
I had that equipment up at the online auction that ended on Tuesday. But the corn head for the chopper (the part used when chopping up corn. Just like it sounds I guess) was in a part of the old shed that I never try to get into until June. It was quite the deal getting the corn head out on Sunday evening. (Saw Hamilton Sunday afternoon. Yes, it was as fantastic as I expected).
There was still ice and snow back on Sunday. Remember that? I chopped and dug and eventually cut 6” off the bottom of one door before I got them open. Then moved the hay rake, and thank goodness the swather started, and I had to chop out more ice because the swather has no traction. Then moved some other junk, THEN was able to get to the corn head out and load it on the trailer. It was kind of a process.
Hauled that to the auction lot on Monday, went to the vet’s office across the street and spent too much money on tick prevention and heartworm pills for the dogs. Talked to the agronomist about getting fertilizer spread for the oats, ordered diesel fuel, and picked up oats seed. Had a township ‘Board of Appeals’ meeting regarding property taxes in the afternoon.
After the meeting, Daughter and I picked up driveway markers, I moved the snowblower out of the shed, and Kelly and I cut some brush behind the shed. It was a good day.
The auction. My stuff didn’t sell as good as I wanted it too. But the chopper was 40 years old and been in the shed unused for the last 20 years, so at least it’s gone. The rear blade sold pretty well. And the old tools of dads went for a couple bucks.
The ‘vintage’ item I had were old cultivator shields. Sold for $2. Scrap price might have been $3 or $4…I thought someone might have a unique use for them. No one would use them as cultivator shields anymore. And I bought a rock “grapple” bucket for my loader. It’s like ‘fingers’ to grab trees and rocks and “stuff”. Always wanted one. I’ll need to add some more hydraulics line to run it… you remember how the last hydraulic project went. I will pay more attention to this one.
The killdeer have returned. The Sandhill Cranes are back (Hi Steve!) and Kelly has been listening to them call during the day since she has the windows open in this warm weather. The chives are coming and Kelly found a deer shed on one of her walks.
I haven’t seen the female duck lately, and there’s two males here. I’m hoping she’s sitting on a nest. I saw eggs in the pond and when I googled “Why are there duck eggs in my pond”, the thought is ducks are lousy moms. Eggs just sort of ‘pop out’ where-ever they are. Like the pond apparently. Google also said not to eat them.
When the diesel fuel was delivered, I was talking with the driver that the gauge has been broken since I got this tank and I couldn’t get the old one out. He said it shouldn’t be that hard; “get a hammer and chisel.” And those, along with an 18” pipe wrench and a pipe extension handle, we did get the old one out. The new gauge is nice.
Been hanging lights and started programming lights for the musical ‘Spring Awakening’ at the Rep theater, and finishing up set stuff for ‘Boy Gets Girl’ at the college. Both open next Thursday and luckily college rehearsals are afternoon and the Rep’s are evening.
And I farm between things.
Started planting oats Thursday night! Hope to finish on Friday. It’s even a little dusty. I keep forgetting the thermometer to check the soil temperature, but I know it’s warmed up.
Another sign of pending spring is the ice at my machine shed walk-in door finally melted enough I could get the door shut again. It’s works all winter, but then, due to some poorly executed land grading that I did without forethought, as the snow starts to melt it runs into the shop and the door freezes shut. I used to play a guessing game on when all the doors would freeze shut and try to get them opened the day before. There were a few times I missed that day, and it took a lot of chopping ice with an axe to get the door open enough I could get in. And, more importantly, out.
Three years ago, I added an overhang that solved the ice problem at the big doors. This summer we will regrade the driveway and that will fix the water running through the walk-in door.
We had a Thunderstorm and some hail on Monday.
The drain tile down by the barn that fills the duck pond is running heavy. It doesn’t run this heavy very often. Usually that means the frost is out. The tile is a good thing as all this water would be coming out on top of the ground otherwise and it would be all spongey down there. I’ve had that other years prior to the tile.
Kelly and the dogs took a long walk around the pastures and fields on a warm day. The dogs found a hole they were VERY interested in, and they’ve gone back the last couple days to dig more.
Humphrey got a shower after this. He doesn’t like them. But he doesn’t figure out he should stay clean either.
For some reason, I’ve got a chicken laying smaller eggs. They look like beginner eggs. Shouldn’t be any beginner chickens at this point in time but maybe we’ve got a late bloomer. I know I’ve mentioned before how they seem to like groups of three. More often than not, I find a clutch of eggs in batches divisible by 3.
(Photos this week all from Kelly)
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE NUMBER?
DOES BRIGHT SUNLIGHT MAKE YOU SNEEZE? WHY IS THAT?
I am waiting for a blizzard to hit while I write this. We are expecting up to 6 inches of snow to add the the 96 inches we have had thus far this winter. We are told that after this it will warm up, with highs possibly in the 70’s next week. I will believe it when I see it, but I will try to be hopeful.
If it warms up quickly it will be a muddy, mucky mess for a while. Our daughter in law sent a video of our grandson riding his bike gleefully through large puddles that had accumulated in their street. Kids on bikes in puddles are sure signs of spring. There are also dismal looking lawn and Christmas ornaments that are emerging from under the snow piles, which I suppose could also be signs of impending spring.
I have a third cousin who a couple of Baboons also know who is an expert about snakes and amphibians. He is excited about finding garter snakes coming out of hibernation already this year, signs of spring for him. I have yet to see robins or other migratory birds, but Husband saw hawks on his drive back from Bismarck on Monday, more signs that winter is losing its grip. Here is a favorite Canadian folk singer from Saskatchewan who understands about spring.
What signs of spring are you noticing? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of April? Know any good poems or songs about spring?
It has been a busy week. Monday, I hauled some equipment to Plainview for an online auction, made two trips, the first hauling our old rear blade, a fertilizer auger, and some smaller stuff. And a second with the forage chopper, and other stuff that I think, if they market it as ‘vintage,’ it could do well. The auctioneer wasn’t even sure they had ever sold any before, but he finally agreed to put it on a pallet and see what happens. (Details after the auction in April). Tuesday I had one more clinic appointment: I have now been dismissed by the shoulder doctor, the knee doctor, the toe doctor, and the foot doctor. It’s a pretty good feeling.
I also had a meeting in the Cities on Tuesday. Plus the week was busy at the college working on a set.
I have the song, ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in my iTunes, and in the opening, Cannonball says, “You know, sometimes we are not prepared for adversity. When it happens, sometimes, we’re caught short; We don’t know exactly how to handle it when it comes up. Sometimes we don’t know just what to do when adversity takes over. And I have advice for all of us. I got it from my pianist, Joe Zawinul, who wrote this tune, and it sounds like what you’re supposed to say when you have that kinda problem. It’s called, “Mercy Mercy Mercy”.
I think that’s true. We talk a lot about how we don’t know how to deal with conflict and how it is hard to learn that a little conflict can be OK — when you know how to handle it. I started to learn that 40 years ago at one of the theaters, and the founders would get into some pretty big arguments behind the closed- but not soundproof door- And then they would come back out, and we are all shuffling our feet and looking at the floor. ‘Conflict is OK’, they would say, ‘You gotta learn to work things out’. I also have the Buddy Rich Big Band doing a version of ‘Mercy Mercy Mercy’. They are both good.
I have three versions of the song ‘Jessica’; The original, plus two bluegrass versions. I have two versions of ‘Layla’ (the original and the unplugged), ‘As Time Goes’ by Maynard Ferguson and Tony Bennett, ‘El Paso’ by the Grateful Dead and Marty Robbins. Again, so different and both so good. ‘Eli’s Coming’ by Three Dog Night and Maynard Ferguson, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ theme, the original and a version by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. ‘Limehouse Blues’ by Jerry Reed & Chet Atkins and also by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; they are strikingly different versions. ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ by Three Dog Night and Randy Newman. Two versions of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by Benny Goodman, and James Horner & Orchestra. ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ by Joan Osborne and Bob Dylan (The Joan one is really good. Nothing against the Dylan version either!), a couple versions of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin and Rodrigo y Gabriela. A song called ‘There’ll Be Some Changes Made’ from the movie, ‘All That Jazz’, which I thought was original to the movie, until I heard Gene Krupa doing it on the 40’s station. And then, as I googled it for this blog, realized I have Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins doing a version that is SO different I didn’t even make the connection it was the same song. Prior to this revelation, I didn’t realize there were other versions of that song.
Chickens and ducks are still fine, but the coyotes are back. Kelly chased one away Wednesday morning. We’re keeping our eyes open. Bailey needs back up; she won’t engage when alone. She’s a lover, not a fighter.
I spread two bales of straw out for the chickens. They enjoy scratching in that, and it covers up some of the mud.