Category Archives: Seasons

Cookie Storm

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that I’ve overdone.  Again.

I have rules about things around the holidays.   All self-imposed, so my own fault.

  1. No holiday music or movies until after dinner on Thanksgiving (YA always turns on the holiday station right as we leave from our Thanksgiving feast.)
  2. No holiday baking until the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  3. Tree purchased on Black Friday and put up some time that day.
  4. My best friend and her husband (and sometimes their kids & spouses) come to help decorate the tree, almost always the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
  5. Cookies and hot chocolate are served at Tree Trimming. Normally I make 5-6 kinds of cookies over the weekend for this gathering and then do the rest of the holiday cookies in the following few days.

These rules formed a perfect storm this year as my friend from Nashville arrived last night as well to babysit the house and the dog while YA and I take a trip.  I decided that I needed to get all the cookies baked before Tree Trimming.  I also had to get the house cleaned up.  AND, the front porch was coming down the final stretch.

3 days, 15 kinds of cookies, tree, lights, tree trimming, house clean enough for company AND the front porch is done.  I feel like I’ve been through the proverbial wringer and every muscle in my body has hired a hit man.  There is even a blister where the dough scoop hits my middle finger and I woke up during the night with pain in my hand and had to take an ibuprofen!  So I’m thinking that I have overdone it.  Just a bit.

(Anna’s M & M, White Chocolate Madadamia, Lemon Snowflakes, Peanut Blossoms, Frosted Sugar, Malted Milk, Cream Cheese Spritz, Peanut Butter Bon Bons, Vanilla Crescents, Pecan Meltaways, Speculaas, Soft Ginger, 2 kinds of fudge).  Yes I know this is only 14 – the 15th debuted it’s way right into the trash.

When was the last time you over-did?

That’s a Wrap!

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Wrapped up another growing season on the farm.

Got my corn harvested last weekend. Best yields I’ve ever had plus a decent price so that’s all nice. Inputs costs were exceptionally high, which cuts into the profits, but all in all, it ended up being a good year. Was it the weather? (It was a later spring than we like) Was it the lime applied last fall? Was it the co-op applying custom rates of fertilizer? Was it the fungicide applied to the soybeans? Was it some of everything??

They finished the corn harvest on Saturday, I finished chisel plowing on Sunday, and Tuesday, the co-op spread lime on the fields we didn’t do last year.  I plow at about 6.5 MPH. I was doing about an acre every 15 minutes. Something I think about while I’m out there, it works up pretty rough. And that’s intentional because we want it to hold snow and prevent wind erosion. So driving across the field is really rough in the tractors. 50 years ago, when doing traditional plowing, it turned over all the residue, and if the conditions were good, left the field fairly smooth. And with the smaller tractors and smaller tires, that wasn’t a problem. It was probably in the mid 1980’s that we started doing conservation tillage, meaning we quit using the old traditional ‘moldboard’ plow and started using a chisel plow. One of the rules of the chisel plow is that you need to keep your speed up when plowing because the shovel is only 3” wide, and you want it to physically throw the dirt as it moves through the soil. The shovel is twisted to one side or the other, so my machine has 11 shovels; 5 throw dirt left, and 6 throw the dirt right. The whole thing is about 15 feet wide. Not burying all the residue also meant the machine has to be built to allow more trash to pass through it without plugging up in the shanks of the shovels.

The first chisel plow we got only had 7 shovels. And the tractor was not front wheel assist, meaning it had small tires on the front, and boy, it was really rough going across the worked ground. My tractor now, with MFWD (Mechanical Front Wheel Drive) and the larger front tires, makes it slightly less rough.

Course I had my tractor buddy Bailey with me the whole time.

If it got too bumpy she’d sit up and lean against my leg and I’d rub her head, then she’d lay back down again. It was tough going with some frost in the ground. Some places were frozen more than others; maybe different soil types caused that? There was a few minutes I was working in a snow squall. Weird.

My brother made the comment, “Thank goodness for heated cabs.” I agreed, and said I had thought about that too. I have spent time planting or doing fieldwork wearing a coat and gloves on open tractors. I also said I would have had to quit sooner because the lights weren’t so good back then.

With my bad foot, I generally get a new pair of shoes every fall because I’ve worn one of them sideways. After getting the soybean check is generally when I go shoe shopping. I only want steel or composite toe shoes. I move a lot of heavy stuff and I got enough problems without smashing a toe as well. And safety toe shoes are expensive to begin with.  With the brace I wear on my right foot, I take out the insert and need a size 11 for that foot. I have a custom insert for the left foot, which is 9.5, but since I have size 11, I add my custom one on top of the original and I get along OK. Yet It seems silly to pay so much money for shoes and then I’m taking out some of the main thing. And they have to be built right to fit the brace in the first place. This year I’m trying a pair of Keen boots. $170 at Fleet Farm. Gosh. I’ve been wearing a pair of Sketchers that have been good. These are the shoes I wear every day. I’ve also got a pair of Red Wing work boots I wear when farming. I think I can get another year out of them.

There are a few places that deal in mismatched shoe sizes for amputee’s or other issues with the feet. One place says, “Find your ‘sole mate’.” I’ve never tried them, but I think it’s a wonderful idea.

ANYTHING MISMATCHED ABOUT YOU?

WHAT HAVE YOU GOT THAT YOU COULD EXCHANGE WITH SOMEONE?  

Well, I’ll Be Stuffed!

It’s time for the annual CarbFest.  We always spend Thanksgiving with close friends and I am always asked to bring the vegetarian stuffing and a dessert.   A friend asked me to send her my recipe for the stuffing and as I typed it out I realized that I have probably never followed the recipe to the letter even once.

In fact, this year, I’m thinking of adding some cornbread  to the sourdough as the base of the stuffing.  And I have to go get craisins today because I always used them instead of the dark raisins.  I’ve also never used fresh parsley – not once in 20+ years.

I’m thinking I should probably have told this to my friend.  What if she makes the recipe as written and doesn’t like it and then wonders about my sanity??

Do you have a recipe that you always alter?

Could Be Worse

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

At least it’s not ‘Lake Effect’ snow.

I’m kinda grumpy about this weather. It feels like January and it’s only November.

I was feeding the ducks the other morning and while I was in the feed room getting another bucket of corn, I noticed a couple of them fly up to where I had spread the corn. Of our 10 ducks, only a couple are actual mallards that can fly, the black and white ones, (The Swedish breed) and the poufy one can’t fly. And then I saw Rosie, the new black duck fly in! I didn’t notice if Guildy can fly too, but Rosie sure did. And they do have a sleeker look than the other non-flying ducks. What interesting cross breeding is what I thought. And good for them! Can’t you just imagine their delight and surprise when they figured out they could fly too?? How cool.

Driving around town the other day I saw a car with a headlight out. And I thought to myself ‘PI-DIDLE!’ only I was alone and didn’t have anyone to kiss, so it had to wait until I got home. Are you familiar with the term ‘Pi-didle’? Meaning a car with one headlight? And then you kiss your date. Or that’s how I heard it. When I googled the term, I got a few other definitions, including some not suitable for this website. Most include touching the ceiling of your car and / or punching someone.

I thought that was only when you saw a ‘slug-bug’.

This (clean) site has some official rules for the pi-didle game:

https://www.angelfire.com/pa4/mjr300psu/pididle.html

Got any other local colloquialisms about cars?

They are just starting to harvest my corn as I write this on Friday. The corn would have been out earlier this week if the weather wasn’t so crappy. (Sweeping generalization on the weather) Because mine goes to the elevator and theirs they take home, they plan to do mine during the day when the elevator is open, then work on theirs in the evening. Couple days they’ll be done. When he and I spoke earlier this week I was optimistic I might yet be able to get some fieldwork done. With the temps the last few days, I’ve kinda given up on that. Although I just put a couple driveway markers in around the yard and the ground wasn’t frozen here. So…. Maybe?? I’ll give it a try tomorrow.

The corn kernels themselves are not sensitive to picking up moisture like soybeans or other crops are. But the snow on the leaves gets inside the combine harvester and makes everything wet and then things plug up and it just makes a mess. So we either need warmer weather to melt the snow off, or colder weather to reduce the moisture in the snow. I guess we opted for colder.

Normally I’d wait for the corn to be out, then mow the roadsides down so they’re clean and won’t catch snow, then we get the driveway markers installed. Always a fun day when daughter and I ride in the gator or 4-wheeler and she pounds the fiberglass markers in. Every time, as she readies the hammer, she quotes Homer Simpson, “Steady…. Steady…” You’ll have to google that if you’re not familiar with it. Anyway, all that is more fun when it’s 40°F than it is when it’s 20°F. I may be doing it myself at 20°.

There’s a local guy named ‘Machinery Pete’.  He’s been reporting on farm auctions since 1989 and he’s very well respected for that. His name is Greg Petersen and evidently he’s a pretty good golfer too.

https://www.machinerypete.com

On his facebook page, it seems this year every post starts with “New record high price” for that particular piece of machinery. Should we blame Covid for that too? Well, sort of. The usual material sourcing issues led to shortages on new equipment, which led to demand for good quality used equipment, which lead to higher prices. Plus crop prices are high, land values are high, so…everything is high. But I have to laugh that there’s always a new high price. “Fourth record high price on 1992 tractor!” Is fourth record high a thing?

I haven’t filled my diesel barrel yet. I order 500 gallons which will last a year for me. I read of a large dairy farm out in New York, he said they got 7000 gallons delivered on Sunday and that would last them 25 days. Yikes!

Today, I took the day off ‘work’ work to get a few things done here at home. I’m gonna go mow the roadsides. Maybe that will blow the snow off the road too. Or I’ll hook the blade up and scrape off this couple inches on the road. Time to get it in the shed I guess.

I stopped at one of the local theaters today to check on some things. Someone used an orange extension cord to plug in an artificial tree onstage. It’s an unwritten rule that you only use black or dark green cords onstage. Orange cords on the stage drive me bonkers. Why doesn’t everyone know this!!?? How many times do I have to tell you this??

I know what I’ll be doing Saturday. Fieldwork.

WHAT WILL YOU DO THIS WEEKEND?

All Aboard

Yesterday Bill mentioned the disappointment that Botticelli’s Venus isn’t shown to it’s best advantage in its home in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  I know someone who was disappointed at seeing the David by Michelangelo in that same city; she thought that many fewer people should be allowed into the gallery at any given time so that it is quiet while you are observing the statue.  I also know several folks who were underwhelmed by Stonehenge; they feel it is too close to the highway (technically the highway is too close to Stonehenge) and there is a chain link fence along the road that runs up to it.  And of course I did have a client once who just didn’t love Paris the way he thought he should. He couldn’t explain it at all and felt a little sheepish about it.

One of the days I was visiting Pat in Nashville, we drove down to Chattanooga for a day.  After we’d gone all through the huge aquarium there, I told Pat I wanted to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  After all – why not.  I’m guessing if it took me 66 years to get to Chattanooga the first time, I probably won’t get another chance!

We turned on the GPS… we were only about 3 miles away but it was downtown traffic so we wanted to be sure.  A left turn took us to the back of a hotel where there were some older trains but there wasn’t an entrance so we turned back.  A right turn after the hotel was the same… train cars but no entrance.  The front of the hotel has mostly pay parking and there was no signage whatsoever for the CCC.  We finally parked in a questionable spot and I called the hotel itself.  The gal who answered the phone said you had to go through the hotel lobby to get there.  Hmmmm.  We left the car in our questionable space and traipsed into the hotel.  It became clear immediately that this hotel had been the train station at one point but these days it is in sad shape and most of the retail spots in the big open atrium are dark.

If you walk all the way through, you do indeed come out to the train yard and the CCC is right there but that’s about all there is to say.  Not clean, not spiffed up, no signage, no speakers playing the famous song.  No little café serving coffee with cute names and no gift shop with magnet and postcards.  All the other train cars in the yard are in very sad shape; a few look like there might be some refurbishing going on, but I wouldn’t bet any money on when it will actually be finished.  As long as we were there, Pat snapped a photo of me in front of the engine, proof that we had actually found it!  Truly, the model of the CCC in the hotel lobby was more impressive than the actual train itself.

Luckily since we hadn’t thought about looking for the CCC until that morning, neither of us had any great expectations so it wasn’t nearly as disappointing as it could have been.  I think it’s the big build up in our expectations that causes most of our disappointments – at least it is for me.

What would you call a coffee drink at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Coffee Shop?

In The Mood

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Well, guess its winter; my 1940’s music station has been replaced by Christmas music. Bah. I changed that one to the Sinatra station. I like 90% of the 40’s music. I only like 53% of Sinatra’s music.

Orion is back in the night sky. I sure enjoy seeing him. I talk with him a lot.

Some of us have snow, many of us have cold, almost seasonal, temps. Some of you may have had a hurricane or two. It is November after all. I’m still fairly optimistic we’ll warm up again here in Minnesota. After all, I haven’t got the snow fence up, the corn out, or any fall tillage done. It *has* to warm up! Well, it would sure be *nice* if it would warm up. Yes, I’m pushing my luck on that one.

Corn crop is still out there. Feeding and hiding all the deer from the hunters.  I did hear the neighbors were hoping to get over here this week for their corn. And we didn’t have any severe weather as predicted the other day. Whew. Got a little rain, but really not enough to hurt anything.

Last year the corn was taken out on November 9th. Most years it’s mid-November. So, we’re still on target. Many years it’s the weekend of Thanksgiving that Kelly and I are putting the snow fence up. Usually we can find a nice weekend with calm winds and temps in the 40’s to do it. Only once have I actually had to kneel in the snow to do it. A few times I’ve been colder than others. I remain optimistic.

I put diesel fuel conditioner in the truck and the one tractor. This is the stuff to prevent diesel fuel gelling in cold temperatures. I added ‘Stabil’ to the lawn mower and put that away last week. Took off the outdoor faucet and picked up all the hoses. Closed the door to Rosie and Guildy’s pen; not sure if they’ve still been going in there at night, but they’ll have to find a new place in the evening. And I cleaned the chickens heated water bucket and moved that inside and filled with fresh water. (I haven’t plugged it in yet, but it’s there and ready, and will need to be plugged in soon). It probably holds about 6 gallons and as I carried it the 100 yards from where I scrubbed it to where the pen is, I thought to myself how far I’ve come since the shoulder surgery 10 months ago and I wasn’t carrying anything. And I thought to myself, in a few months I’ll get to celebrate doing this again, but for different reasons. (The knee replacement). I got the garage cleaned out so Kelly can park her car inside. I got the hay rake put away that I haven’t used since July. I’m not really sure why I let that sit outside all summer… wait, yes I do. Both small tractors that I would normally use to move that have been having issues all summer and I can’t get either started at the moment.

I took a wagon load of straw over to Firefly Berries so they could cover the strawberries. He said they lost a field of berries to grubs this year. Strawberries this year were probably the worst he’d seen. But the grapes were one of the best. So it goes.

I did get part of one of my summer ‘to-do’ jobs done this week. There’s an old shed where I park my car and the truck. It has old wood sliding doors but the tracks and wheels for the doors are shot and the wood sill plate is rotted out and it has all been falling off for a few years. But one corner of the doors sat in the dirt so it wasn’t really “going” anywhere. I finally got them off this week. Took all of about 5 minutes.

While I was out with the tractor and loader, I moved this piece of metal I dropped in the yard a few years ago. It was an old metal forage box, and when I pulled the front off, the roof and sides just collapsed onto themselves and I’ve been working around it. I hate it when I do that to myself. Put something down and then work around it. This is why I need to just put things away in the first place. It might be a thingy that goes to the basement, but I set it on the bench in the entry way and that’s where it sits for weeks. It might be the broken gear box from the old mower that I replaced and pushed it out of the way at the time. Yet it’s not in the scrap iron barrel, a year later and it’s still laying over there! I used a rubber mallet this summer as I fixed a window screen. Then it laid by the back door for two months. Then I moved it to the mudroom counter, and it laid there for a couple weeks. I finally remembered to take it to the shed this morning. Golly gee whiz I hate it when I do that.

So I picked up this mass of sheet metal and thought about where to move it, and caught myself, and said, ‘JUST PUT IT ON THE TRAILER! DON’T YOU DARE DUMP IT SOMEWHERE ELSE AGAIN!’. And I did! And added a few more things to the trailer. The plan was to get that hauled in this week. Or, Well, maybe next week. I have a large pile of things to haul in… scrap metal prices are pretty good. I need someone else to work my day job so I can stay home and do this job. I haven’t done any accounting in a few months either. Oh well.

Rosie and Guildy went in the pond this week! I happen to see them over there near it and the other ducks. And as I watched, they jumped into the water. Yay R&G!

Thanks to all the veterans for your service.

DO YOU PUT THINGS AWAY? WHY DON’T WE?

Carpe Vinum

One of the days I was in Nashville, Pat and I drove out to Arrington Vineyard – a lovely place about 45 minutes from the city.  It was so beautiful that day and the winery is definitely set up and marketed to folks who want to come out and enjoy it.   Various dining venues including outdoor tables and umbrellas as well as picnic tables on the hill overlooking the vineyard.

Bringing your own picnic is definitely encouraged but if you need to add a little spice to your meal, there are pre-packaged olives, cheese/salami slices, crackers galore, pickled vegetables, and lots more.  Even desserts.  The stars of the show are, of course, the wines and you can purchase bottles or you can get flights of wine to go with your meal.  I’ve never actually purchased a flight of wine before so was a little surprised at first that you can’t just pick your own four wines (or six depending on what size flight you want).  I guess the winery figures they know better than you about which wines go together and which don’t.

The little gal who was working the register looked to be about 15.  Obviously she had to be old enough to sell liquor, but the older get, the younger they all seem!  I ordered the flight we wanted and the young gal asked me for identification.  The shock must have shown on my face; after all it’s been 40+ years since I have been underage.  She quickly told me that they are required by law to card everyone.  Seems like a lot of wasted breath to asked clearly geriatric folks for their ID.  But I did consider slipping her a big tip!

Do you remember the last time you got carded?

Better Bring A Jacket

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Had a freeze here this past week.

It was 28° on Wednesday morning. We lost the other creamy colored duck. And the next morning a coyote was howling just 100 feet below the house. At first, the yipping noise they make sounds a little bit surreal and I ran outside to see what was going on. Even the dogs came running back to the house looking at me like “Did you hear that? What the heck is that??“ I yelled and the dogs remembered they’re supposed to deal with stuff like coyotes and they took off after it. Kelly was out the other door slapping her ‘bird away’ boards together. There’s too many leaves on the trees yet, and the corn and beans still out there and too much coverage for things to hide in and it’s tough to see much. And that’s why, a few days later, I was out in my pajamas hunting a coyote. 

I was standing at the kitchen window filling the tea pot and I saw something moving out in the pasture. It was too far away to tell clearly what it was, and by the time I got my crocs on, and found the shells for the rifle, (which were behind the toothpaste box), and got out there to a better vantage point, there wasn’t anything to see. But as long as I was out there already, I fed the chickens and let Rosencrantz and Guildenstern out of their pen. Rosie and and Guildy are doing good.

I realized all the chickens spend a lot of time hiding, so it’s not just them. (See the first paragraph.) Course hiding under a bush seems more helpful for attacks from above than from coyotes.

Bringing pears in the house was the solution to eating them. They soften up and taste really good.

I have seen a couple guys combining soybeans around here. The freeze kills the stem and they harvest better that way. A few more days now and everyone will be going full force.

I still get some dairy magazines in the mail and I spent a bit of time wondering what I would have changed if I still had cows. My whole calf raising situation would have been the first thing to improve. I’d have needed to get them out of the dairy barn pen and into individual stalls somewhere.

Adding more cows and getting out of the stanchion barn would be important, but where and how I’m still not sure. We’re on low ground and it’s wet and I don’t know where I could have built, or how, or if I even would have wanted too.

Kelly asks me sometimes if I ever wanted to be one of those big farmers with thousands of acres? Well, the machinery and toys are fun, but it also turns into more management and less actual work at some point. So I don’t know.

As I’ve always said, just add more zero’s to the bills and income.


Done anything stupid in your pajamas?

Astonishing

As you all know, one of our family traditions is apple-picking each fall.  It’s just one of many places that YA and I enjoy going and things we enjoy doing together.  Zoos, petting farms, state fair, museums, apple picking, tree selection, shopping, gardening. 

You’d think that I’d be overloaded with photos considering all the things we do but you’d be surprised.  YA is very resistant to posing for photos.  If I’m lucky, I can get one photo per “out and about”, but that’s not a guarantee.  I plead, I wheedle and sometimes I bribe; these attempts don’t always work.  I don’t know why she resists.  

Yesterday we headed out to the orchard and after we’d filled our first bag (Sweet Tangos), she asked me to take her picture with an apple tree behind her.  I was surprised but took a few photos.  Then she wanted photos in front of a different tree.  THEN she wanted photos in front of the corn maze.  Now I was practically in shock.  When I asked why, she said she wanted to have pictures to show she had been on “an outing”.  At first I thought this was some feature of Instagram or Tik Tok or even the activity app she has through work but it turns out it’s nothing official.  She just wants photos in case she decides she wants to post somewhere. 

Lots more photo sessions ensued including the big adirondack chairs they have in the orchard and the most surprising of all, next to the dinosaur sculptures up near the barn.  I would have bet money she would refuse those but she happily posed.  All these photos were taken on my phone and she spent the miles back home looking through them and sending many of them to herself.  I was a little concerned she might delete them off my phone when she was done, but she left them.  I’m still in shock.

Anything extraordinary or atypical in your world lately?

September

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Our two ducklings are doing well. Kelly has named them Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Rosie and Guildy for short. They seem to be afraid of everything. Mostly they spend the day hiding. But considering they’ve lost seven of their siblings, and the whole animal ‘fight or flight’ mentality, maybe they’re the smart ones and that’s why they’ve survived this long. And they just learned to walk up the board ramp to go in at night on their own, so that’s pretty smart of them! No more trying to wrangle them in at night. Now we’re trying to see if they’ll come out on their own in the morning so we don’t have to chase them out.

The other morning I watched a hawk swoop right down over the pen and then sit in a nearby tree. R & G weren’t out yet, but that might explain why some of their siblings disappeared. A few minutes later, when I was in the shed letting them out, a brown chicken hopped down out of the rafters right in front of me. Scared the bejezzus out of me. (By the way, when I dictated “bejezzus“ into my phone, it translated as “big Jesus” and I thought well, that works too). It scared the big Jesus out of me.

Still not much happening on the farm, beans are turning yellow, corn is drying up. I’m keeping busy with more summer projects at one theater and working on our fall show at the college. Sure has felt good to put on my toolbelt  again. Man, am I out of practice. Doesn’t take much to wear me out. Course I haven’t really done much this whole calendar year. Building up my endurance. I did haul a 50 lb bag of chicken feed over to the chickens and dump it in the wall feeder. And put two bags of water softener salt in. Progress! 

I’ve spent a lot of time sitting on the garage steps just watching our little corner of the world. It’s nice.

Our apples and pear trees are overloaded this year. In fact they are so overloaded they broke a few branches on the apple tree. Yeah, it needs to be pruned. I think they’re Harrelson‘s. They sure are good anyway.

Who knows anything about Minnesota pears? I think they were called golden? They’re small, and green and only get to be slightly larger than a ping-pong ball, and really hard and they do not taste good. Do they ever get better? What do I need to be doing with them?

Kelly and I froze some sweetcorn last weekend. Only four dozen; daughter helped me husk it, and then I cut it off the cobs and Kelly bagged. I remember doing that with my parents, and for a few years my sister would come out to help me and Kelly. It’s a fond memory I have with mom and dad.

WHAT DO YOU WEAR TO FEEL GOOD?