Category Archives: Seasons

Farming Day 1 Part 1

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Well not exactly day one. But the first day in the field doing spring work so it’s day one from that point of view. 

Spent the morning doing my usual stuff on the computer: emails, newspaper, moms banking, our banking. A few phone calls, etc. before I’m finally out the door mid-morning. 

I needed to take a couple of tires to get fixed and the one on the grain drill I already had loose. Also had a tire on the four wheeler with a slow leak and that’s easy to put a floor jack under the back end and use the impact wrench and four nuts and that comes right off.

Got both tires in the back of the truck, loaded up all three dogs, and headed for Millville Minnesota. We’ve been taking tires to Appel service in Millville for as long as I can remember. It’s about half an hour away and you won’t find a nicer, family owned business, anywhere. Millville is a town of about 180 people and so far down in the valley you can’t get any cell phone reception. There are a couple of bars, couple of restaurants, one Church, a cemetery where I have several relatives, a gun shop, and in a better year I would’ve dropped off the tires and then gone to get lunch at the Lucky Seven Café. 

When I got to Appels, most of the crew was at lunch so I said I’d come back. They are really good at fixing your tires while you wait but I may as well keep moving. Back up the road a few miles to pick up my Oat seed. It was such a nice day, pretty amazing weather for this time of the year, and we worry that it’s so dry; all the farmers are going hard. mostly applying anhydrous ammonia- Those white tanks you see in the fields. I probably saw a dozen farmers doing that. There was a couple guys ahead of me at Meyer’s Seeds and we stood outside and talked while Meyer’s rounded up seed and bring it out on the forklift. I petted some cats (The camera snap on the phone scared them away) and I got a nice metal ‘stick’ used for checking seed depth. Always wanted one of those.


After I got my 54 bags of oats, I strapped that down in the truck, and then back to Millville. As I pulled up, they were just taking the four-wheeler tire in and the drill tire was done. There’s something pretty interesting about watching a guy change tires. The machinery involved and just the whole process is really pretty fascinating. The guy ahead of me was watching his tires get fixed, I watched them fix my tire, while at the same time trying not to get in the way or look TOO interested. (It’s kinda loud and hard to talk or ask questions).

Just a tube needed in the four-wheeler tire. The grain drill tire is kind of special. It’s about 3 feet tall, and completely smooth except it has two heavy ridges on each edge. That way, going through the field, it makes a real clear mark that’s easy to follow on the next round of the field. I had ordered two tires: they had one in stock, the second hasn’t shown up yet. And that’s OK, this one was worse than the other. $262 for the tire. $13 labor to mount both. The only thing missing was the bottle of grape pop from the café. 

The dogs love riding in the truck. And they don’t miss a chance if they can help it. Although Humphrey lays in the back and looks completely uninterested but he does spend a little time looking out the windows. Bailey bounces back-and-forth between the front seat and the backseat and she spends half the trip with her nose in my face. Allie, the queen of them all will eventually setting in some place where the others don’t walk all over her at least for the moment.

Once we are back on our driveway, I let them all out to run home. About halfway down the driveway there was a squirrel about 75 yards away from the trees and making a beeline back to the trees. The dogs were a good 200 yards away. Missed it by “that“ much. 

Do you like car rides?

Got any stories about tires? 

Happier

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day for walking – even if a bit windy.  I walked along Minnehaha Parkway and as I looked down at one point I saw the words “Happier” and “Ed Sheeran” written in chalk on the sidewalk.  While I know who Ed Sheeran is, I wasn’t sure if I knew the song, so I whipped out my phone and looked it up.  It was very nice:

I don’t usually listen to music or audiobooks when I walk.  I prefer being present in the outside world and I’m not so sure that earbuds are all that safe.  I also need more attention than you would imagine to make sure that the dog is staying in a good state of mind.  But it was nice to listen to the song for a bit as we walked.  It won’t make me an Ed Sheeran fan but I liked the idea that I was hearing a song that someone else thought enough of to chalk it for passers-by.  We kept going along the parkway and I didn’t see anymore song titles.  Just the one.

If I could leave just one song written on the sidewalk for others to come across, what would it be.  One of my absolute favorites is the Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, especially the rendition done by Cantus.  But what message would I be sending the world with that one?  So I think I’d have to write “Everything is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer.  I think this is a song the world needs to hear.

I’ll supply the chalk.  What is the one song you want to add to the sidewalk?

I Can Resist….

Yesterday Guinevere and I turned right at the bottom of the driveway instead of our normal “to the left” on our walk.  I got a really good look at my boulevard and was so surprised to see not just the daffodils starting to sprout up, but also the tulips, lilies and even a teen tiny peony tip.  And, of course, even a few creeping charlies.  Even though a few baboons have already mentioned that they’ve seen things popping up, it still surprised me to see so much this early. 

At least it still feels early to me; I can’t even keep track of the times I’ve had to cover up my plants in my straw bales after Mother’s Day due to a frost warning.  However seeing everything popping up makes me want to get out there and clear out last year’s leavings, despite knowing that it might not be safe yet.

I’m normally very good at delaying gratification.  I always eat the cake first and leave the icing for the end.  I have no trouble saving gifts until it’s the right time to open them.  Most of the time I’ll pick the ickiest chore to do first and save the things I like better for later.  But now I am itching to get out there with my grubby jeans and gardening gloves, to starting cleaning up and making way for spring.  I’m not sure how to keep myself inside this weekend.

How to you forestall temptation?

Planters

Now that we’ve had some nicer weather, I’ve been farther afield with Guinevere.  On the way home from the library yesterday, I passed a display that I had seen several times last year.  The homeowners have two big planters out on their little boulevard, one on each side of a tree.  There are plastic eggs, pretty sticks and butterflies.  The fun part of seeing this again is that the owners have clearly freshened it up.  Instead of dirty and faded as you would expect after the winter, the eggs are new and bright and the butterflies are all intact and fluttering in the wind. 

This is not a display that can be easily seen from the house; the homeowners must have decided at some point to make sure the planters are cheerful and welcoming for folks who are walking by.  I feel like it’s a gift to me and other pedestrians.  This is important to me; in today’s environment that seems so overwhelmed by hate and nastiness, I am really trying to pay attention and acknowledge when people are intentionally kind (well, unintentionally too I guess).  I’m thinking about leaving a thank you card in their mailbox.

We talked a out Little Free Libraries last week – books, produce, treasures, even sticks.  I hope that everybody is seeing other acts of kindness as they go about their business and that it inspires us all to try to step up to kindness when it’s needed.

Any other kind/nice stuff that you’ve seen lately?

Little Library

Now that I don’t have to layer up too much, I’m out walking the dog again.  It’s been fun to see the neighborhood anew, although I have to admit, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed in the last few months.

What has changed are the books in the Little Libraries.  These are the little nooks that people have put up in their yards, encouraging folks to take a book or leave a book.  We have a good number of them in the couple-of-mile radius around my house.

I almost never take a book from a Little Library, although occasionally I’ll take one out to flip through it a bit.  I did take an Italian workbook once – no one had done any of the exercises – I work on it occasionally.  I’ve taken a couple of kids books and then returned them to a different little library when I was done with them.  But it’s fun to look.

I have a friend down on the parkway who takes the Little Library concept to a new level.  She actually curates her collection, changing out titles to fit the season or upcoming holiday.  Right now there are a bunch of Easter and Spring titles – she always has some good books for kids.  She has also installed some little string lights in the box, although I’ve never seen it at night to know if it actually lights up.  There is also a tin of dog treats (home made) in her little library and in the summer, a bowl of water underneath for passing dogs. 

So it should have come as no surprise that there is a new addition to her library this week.  A stick library for dogs – photo above.  I couldn’t convince Guinevere to take a stick – she keeps quite busy sniffing while we walk to bother with a stick – although I suppose I could take a stick for her to play with once we get back to our yard.  I did snap the photo and send it off to my friend with a little note of thanks. 

I’m looking forward to this spring and summer to see what else becomes part of the Little Library landscape!

Have you ever taken a book from a Little Library?  Left a book?  Do you have a Little Library at your house? 

Winter Attitude

It’s not spring yet… it’s not spring yet… it’s not spring yet. 

It’s my mantra right now.  Most of the snow and ice is melted from the yard.  I’m able to get out (without a coat or even sweatshirt) and walk the dog.  The footprint of my bales, where there is not grass, is showing.  YA has mentioned plants for the garden this year as well as some solar light that she thinks we need in the back.

But I’m cynical and am waiting for the other shoe to drop.  It’s just too unbelievable that spring is here.  Didn’t the groundhog see his shadow?  My winter attitude does well for me.  I was able to run errands this past February (when it was hovering around zero) with a sweatshirt, scarf and gloves. So I’m a little skeptical that I can break out the zorries and tank tops.  If I lose my winter attitude, what happens if spring is just jerking us around?

How do you handle the changes of season? Do you have a favorite?

Hunkering Down

It is supposed to get bitterly cold here this weekend. Husband and I bought all the groceries we imagined needing for Saturday and Sunday on Friday night,  and plan to hunker down, going out only on Sunday morning when we have to sing in the church choir.  If there were more of us we would stay home, but a six voice choir can’t function with two missing members.

We have all been isolated for the last ten months, but there is something strangely satisfying being at home because of the weather. Snow days are wonderful,  in my memory.  It is when my mother made waffles from scratch.

What are some of your favorite snow  day or bad weather day memories? How do you like to “Hunker down”?

 

Fumes

My father didn’t cook.  I can’t even recall him ever making a sandwich, much less cooking.  He did chop the onions and celery for stuffing on Thanksgiving (the only time I ever saw him chop anything) and late in life he did start making bouillabaisse occasionally – a dish with which my mother resolutely refused to be associated. 

Of course, being a middle-class American male, he did the outdoor grilling (although my mother prepared anything that was going on the grill).  I can still envision my father dousing the coals, lighting the match and flinging it from as far as he could manage.  The grill would practically explode in flames; my father used gasoline, not lighter fluid to start the fire.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as lighter fluid until I was an adult out on my own.

You’d think that having watched my father blow up the grill on a regular basis growing up that I would have a good sense of the power of gasoline.  Three weeks ago, after the last measurable snow, I got my snowblower out for the first time this winter.  It was given to me by a neighbor who moved to Chicago; he left his gas can to me as well.  As I was adding gas to the machine I noticed that the spout had sprung a leak and to keep the gas from running all over, I held the spout together with my gloved hand.  Since my glove was now wet with gas, I pulled a second glove from my pocket and pulled it on over the first.

When I got all done and went inside, I pulled off the gloves along with all my now-sweaty clothing and threw it all in the washing machine with a few other dirty items from my hamper.  Now some of you are probably already shaking your head, but I was still clueless until I opened the washing machine later to the overpowering small of gas.   If I had known I was about to do something stupid, it would have been easy to find online advice about gas on clothing.  But since I hadn’t known, now I had a washing machine full of gas fume-filled clothing.

It took me a full week and at least six washings (some with just vinegar and water, some with detergent) before I was willing to put the clothes in the dryer and even then I ran the dryer on air dry for over an hour.  Now that it’s been a couple of weeks, I’ve lost track of what clothes were in that load but I’m still feeling compelled to smell things as they come out of the washer.  (Oh, and I threw the gloves away when I realized what I had done.)

Done anything foolish recently that could have been avoided with a bit of advice?

Tree Trouble

For my entire life, I have put away the holiday decorations on New Year’s Day.  This season I felt like I wanted to jump the gun and it took me a bit to realize that New Year’s has always been a day off.  This year with pandemic and furlough, every day is a day off.  So we decided to put everything away a couple of days earlier than usual. 

We both like a live tree.  But even with constant watering, six weeks (plus whatever amount of time between cutting and the Bachman’s lot) is just too long for a tree to stay supple and resilient.  Taking the lights off always means a mess, especially since I like to “bury” the lights, but as should have been expected for 2020, it was much messier than usual this year.  In addition to the little sprigs of greenery all over the floor, after I took the tree to the curb, the front porch, front steps and front sidewalk were covered with the tree detritus.

Broom, dust bin, trash bag and vacuum just to get started.  Then, of course, dusting is needed on all the horizontal surfaces that have been covered with assorted holiday décor.  Everything is now all put away and cleaned up; the living room and dining room seem empty, sort of naked. 

I wish that cleaning up the holiday was a great metaphor for the coming new year.  While I’m hoping for the 2020 dumpster fire will be extinguished, I think it will take longer than we would all wish for.  In the meantime, at least the house is clean.

Live tree or artificial?  When do you like to put the holiday decorations away? 

Mules

Last summer (not this past summer), YA and I had dinner with friends at their apartment in Uptown; they served us Moscow Mules.  I enjoyed them quite a bit, in fact YA drove home! 

YA must have remembered that night as she gave me a set of copper cups for Solstice.  It’s a pretty set and includes a shot glass (which is good, since I didn’t have one) and little copper straws and even some coasters.  I made a stop at the liquor store the next morning for ginger beer and vodka.  Turns out I needed some vodka lessons.  I ended up choosing a local brand – chosen mostly because I liked the label – but the gal at the store said it was a good brand, and good value for the price!  Then I stopped at Kowalskis for limes. 

I haven’t actually made a Moscow Mule yet – I have one more day of my wine advent calendar.  The idea of wine and then vodka on the same day doesn’t seem like the best idea.  Although the more I think about it, 2020 has been a year that cries out for all kinds of alcoholic consumption!

Do you have a favorite cocktail?  Beverage?  Have you been indulging more this year?