Tag Archives: Featured

On and On It Goes

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Another week of life being relentless… I’m tired and I can’t keep two coherent thoughts together so this week’s blog will be basic highlights and a bunch of photos.

*I did finish planting corn. Except for about 2 acres that are wet. But I’ll get to them soon.

*Working on planting soybeans. Hoping to finish on Saturday.

*The college show opened on Wednesday and the paint was dry and it’s a good show. The set isn’t my best, but it works.

*We’ve had 4 sandhill cranes hanging around.

*The lilacs are looking – and smelling – so good!

*Every morning, I let Humphry out, and Bailey comes in to get a morning greeting and some attention for a minute. Then she’s happy to go back out.

*For the first time ever, I kinda got tired of music in the tractors. I listened to podcasts: Moth Radio hour, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Radiolab, and my frequent standby: Light Talk. (Imagine the Car Talk guys, doing a show about lighting).

*Kelly and I picked up some very large limestone rocks using an old thing called a ‘Slip Scraper’ or ‘Buck Scraper’. Clyde, you ever use one of these? This has been behind the shed for years. It’s missing some handles, but we made it work carrying rocks.

*The coop applied fertilizer for soybeans.

*Next week is all about lighting the next show in my schedule.

*My last day at the college for this academic year is May 31. I probably won’t have all my work done; I may have to stop in the next week just to finish what I don’t get done this week.

But then, THEN, the pace will slow down and I can start working on my new shed space.

Have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day weekend!

Here are photos:

Planting corn, the tracks in the dirt, my tractor buddies one day, my view from the tractor front and back, a rock shaped like Minnesota (that was really heavy!), Kelly and her second load of rocks, the “buck scraper”, A goofball, the coop’s fertilizer spreader, loading soybean seed from the trailer, Another tractor buddy, and the camera’s showing the seed in the drill.

Where and what was the best burger you ever had?

(The first time I had a ‘blue Burger’ ((blue cheese on a burger)) was at a bowling alley and it was FANTASTIC and none have compared to that one.)


Now that the weather is nicer, YA’s inner-pyromaniac has emerged for the summer. 

Years ago I inherited a backyard fire pit from a friend.  At this point I think the rust is the only thing holding it together but it has provided many years of enjoyable backyard conflagrations.  YA is good at sweeping the yard for twigs and branches that she piles up in the very back of the yard; she is always on the lookout for kindling.  She is the initiator of 98% of our backyard infernos and is generally in charge of any arranging and poking that is needed.

It doesn’t take long after the first couple of the seasons blazes that she asks about graham crackers and chocolates.  We always have marshmallows (Trader Joe’s – vegetarian).  I knew this was coming so I had already stocked up; we were able to have our first s’mores of the season that day!  We even used the s’mores trays that I bought at the state fair a few years ago.  These are clearly unnecessary toys but I love them anyway. 

We have a gas stove; we could easily have s’mores all year long, but we never make them except over the fire in the back yard.  I suspect that the sunshine, the smoke from the fire, the joy of finally being outside after a long winter contribute to why having summer s’mores is just the best way to go.

Do you have any seasonal rituals?


I have live in western North Dakota since 1987, and I still can’t get over how dusty it is here.

I like to dust using an attachment on the vacuum hose, but sometimes just use a Swiffer duster thingy. It is so dusty here that a week after dusting, I can write my name in the thick dust on the furniture surfaces. We have new windows and siding on the house. I change the furnace filters frequently, but there is no stopping the dust. It seems to be worse in our bedroom, for some reason. I am beginning to wonder if I need to vacuum all the walls and ceilings, too.

My mother had high standards for cleaning and really hated dust. One of her rules for cleaning was to always make the beds before you dusted, because shaking out the bed clothes would “raise the dust”. Next you vacuumed and then you dust. She would be very frustrated with the dust situation in our home. It just seems like a losing battle. Not dusting really isn’t an option, though.

What are some family maxims that you remember? How do you keep down the dust? What are your least favorite cleaning tasks.?

Is a Puzzlement

Doing some errands last week – had been raining all day.  Waiting for the left-turn arrow at an intersection, I noticed that on the berm between the street and the parking lot, the automatic sprinklers had turned on.

Thinking of all the technology we have these days (people on the moon, 3-d printing, chatbots, apps that can track your heartrate – the list goes on and one), why can’t they program automatic sprinklers to know when it’s raining?

Any absurdity bothering you this week?

Da Vinci Glow

Photo credit:  Forrest Boutin, Getty Images

Ever heard of a Da Vinci Glow?  I hadn’t… even with my dad’s interest is all thing astronomical!

It’s a real thing… It’s happens around sunset when a crescent moon is on the horizon, but the outline of a full moon is visible.  It’s called a DaVinci Glow because… wait for it… Leonardo was the one to hypothesize why it occurs.

The glow is caused by light reflecting off the Earth onto the moon.  Sounds weird, right.  Earthshine is light emitted by the Earth after the sun has gone down.  Because Earthshine is actually brighter than moonlight, the reflection “fills in” the crescent.

Although Da Vinci Glow is not rare, there are a few requirements.  It’s easier to see when there is a waxing or waning crescent during clear skies.  The fly in the ointment is that enough of the Earth needs to have cloud-cover to get the best view.  Apparently Earthshine is reflected more by the clouds of our planet than by the land or water. 

Since we have a waxing moon starting later this week, we’ll have the best chance of seeing the Da Vinci Glow this month!

Have you ever noticed this phenomenon?  Anything else in the night sky interest you these days?

Bookmark That!

Last week when I stopped at the library, I noticed a basket on the little table inside the door, filled with bookmarks.  A sign on the basket said “A Year’s Worth of Bookmakrs. Please take one.”   Turns out it was a collection of all the bookmarks found in returned books over the last year.  Apparently they do this every year; I must have just missed it before. 

There were a good 40 bookmarks in the basket and I was tempted to look through them all to see if any of them were mine.  I expect with the number of library books I borrow that one or two bookmarks might have found their way to the library!

I have a cannister on my dresser that is filled with my bookmarks.  I will always pick up a bookmark if one is being offered.  (Ask Chris, I have several of his!) One of my latest favorites is a cutout of Smokey the Bear that I got at the state fair last year. 

You’d think that with at least 25 bookmarks in my cannister that I wouldn’t need to take another one from the library basket.  Well, you’d be wrong, I flipped through them all and picked out a striking one from a publisher with brightly colored book spines on it!

Do you have bookmarks?  Do you have a place to keep your bookmarks?

Life Goes On

The Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

I saw a sticker in a YouTube video: “Life is -f**king- relentless”. Boy, they got that right.

Tuesday morning, I was a little overwhelmed. The college shop was a mess with stuff from the play, and from the concert, AND from commencement. Plus, I had to build the set for the show opening the 24th, not to mention farming. By Tuesday afternoon I had gotten a lot done and I didn’t feel so bad.

About noon on Tuesday, there was a crane placing the heat and AC unit on the roof at the Rep Theater, that was fun to watch.

On Thursday, as the heat and AC guys did final measurements for the ductwork, they inadvertently dumped about 30 gallons of rainwater that was trapped inside a temporary roof opening, into the theater. I was there just to unlock some doors, but I heard the gush of water and I kind of knew what it was, but why was there THAT MUCH?! Of course, it ran along the steel joists and dripped over a 20-foot area on the first and second floor. So that was fun. And unexpected. And not what I meant to be doing. It didn’t really hurt anything.

Kelly and I had supper at a Middle Eastern restaurant to celebrate our anniversary. A new place for us. There was only one other couple in there. The food was great! The owner / host didn’t speak English and there was a lot of pointing at pictures in the menu, and I didn’t get the appetizer I thought I was ordering, (I didn’t get any appetizer) but the entre was good. And I even tried the coffee!

Sundays, Kelly and I take the gator around the farm and check out what’s happening. It’s a pleasant Sunday drive.

With all the rain, it’s a little wet in some of the fields.

Mom celebrated her 97th birthday with ice cream with friends.

Her birthday was really Friday, but they celebrated Thursday. Mom gets very anxious and had called to be sure someone was coming. When she plays music on her Alexa device, she turns the volume down. Then when she calls someone, she can’t hear us. It’s rather comical. There’s a lot of shouting and interrupting each other. Kelly and daughter plug their ears when I talk to mom.

The family reunion was really nice. Got to see nieces and nephews I hadn’t seen in a  while. A couple of them came to the farm to relive memories, and I made friends with a grandniece who wasn’t too sure about me until we got on the tractors.

Taking a gator ride, we found blue bells, wild leeks, and they showed me jack-in-the-pulpit’s that I didn’t know about.

Thursday I finally went back to planting corn. Finished one field and was doing a food plot for a neighbor when the tractor got hard to steer. I had blown a hydraulic hose and lost all the hydraulic oil. Course it was after regular business hours. The other day we talked about good customer service: The parts guys are willing to come in after hours if you need. When I called, the guy was half hour away from the store. I’m half hour away too, but I also wasn’t sure they could make a new hose or it’s something they need to order. I decided it could wait until morning.

Since I was a few miles from home with a broken tractor and the planter in the ground, Kelly came over with the gator to pick me up. I took the other tractor with the soil finisher and went out doing field work. After one round, I found one of the shovels of the digger laying in the field. The big bar it attaches to, called a ‘Standard’, had broken off. Well, there’s 30 other ones on the machine, so missing this one isn’t the end of the world. I worked until about 9PM, went home and backed it up to the shed and used lots of new tools. I used the 4 foot ‘under hood’ cordless LED work light that Kelly gave me as a gift, I used my new cordless grinder that I bought myself as a gift, I use some pry bars that I got recently, and I use the air hammer, which I don’t get a chance to use very often. Considering there was only two bolts to get out to remove the standard, I’m surprised it took that many tools.

All the parts manuals are online and they take a little digging sometimes, but it sure is convenient. I placed a parts order online about 11PM, to pick up the next morning. Hydraulic hose, bolts, standard, ect.

Kelly and I burned the pile of winter sticks one night and had a nice time being outside.

The first corn that I planted on whatever day it was, it’s already out of the ground. I picked up soybean seed this week, so I’ve got all the seed now.

We found some guinea eggs in the chicken’s coop one day so we put them in an incubator. We’ll ‘candle’ them next week and see what we got. We put 8 chicken eggs in there too just because. 

Guinea eggs are kind of pointed. They’re the ones on the bottom of the photo. The cradles they’re sitting in ‘rock’ them gently; in effect, turning them like a momma hen would do.

There was a male duck hanging around here one day. And over in the field where I was planting corn, a male and female duck were hanging around. They weren’t bothered by the tractor so I suspect they’re one of my pairs.

The chickens, while down a bit on egg production, are doing well.

Still got coyotes coming around most every morning, but Kelly and the dogs are keeping a good handle on them.

A bear has been spotted on some security camera’s in the neighborhood.

One day at a time. Life goes on.

Who’s your newest friend?

What’s the last present you bought yourself?

Six Hours Down the Tube

Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you.  Yesterday, after listening to the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes song (thank you, Wes), I went out in search of the movie and found four of them. I watched them all so that you never have to. The first one (Attack) got terrible reviews but the cast and crew had their tongues stuck in their cheeks so firmly that it was hard not to warm up to the film.  I’m not even sure I can recount the plot (there just barely is one) but suffice it to say that tomatoes start killing people and are eventually overcome by a song named “Puberty Love”.  The movie is filled from beginning to end with sight gags, bad puns and atrocious over-acting.  I can understand why it has attained the status of “cult classic”. 

The second film in the series is Return of the Killer Tomatoes.  Two notable cast members stand out – John Astin as the mad scientist who supposedly was behind the killer tomato attacks in the first movie (although Astin was not in Attack).  The other is a very young George Clooney who plays a pizza jock who is also a bit of a horn dog.  Return, although made by the same crowd as Attack, takes itself more seriously which makes the movie not even remotely fun.

Killer Tomatoes Strike Back.  John Astin is also back, this time trying to gain control of the world using brainwashing and thought control.  Rick Rockwell plays the main character and the only redeeming thing about him is the wild assortment of Zumba pants he wears throughout.  Oh – and the tomatoes get faces in this one.  I will admit there is one very funny scene in which the bad tomatoes and Astin attempt to make a BLT with the female lead instead of slices of tomato.

Killer Tomatoes Eat France is thankfully the last of the series.  This time John Astin escapes from prison and tries to take over the world by re-creating the French Revolution and proclaiming his minion Igor as King.  Why this would result in world domination is never made clear.  The most noteworthy thing about this one is that the tomatoes have gotten seriously ugly with bad teeth, the occasional eye patch and tongues (ick) and finally after all this time, they finally have the power of speech. There is one monster fire-breathing tomato but he/she doesn’t get much film time.  Too bad.

I’m not recommending that anybody else waste their time watching any of these except maybe the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – if it’s cold out and you have an hour or so with nothing else planned.  The others?  Don’t even bother.  They took a fun quirky idea and ran it straight into the ground.

Tell me about your favorite tomato dish!

Attack of the Red Clippers

Normally I’m pretty careful in the yard.  Obviously you’ve heard a few times where I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, but those are actually pretty few and far between.  It’s been two years since I dropped the patio stone on my toe.

I have two pairs of red clippers and they stay closed most of the time, especially if I’m walking around or doing steps.  Kinda that old “don’t’ run with scissors mentality.   The reason I have two pairs is that when one has to go to the hardware store for sharpening, I still have one at home.  Can’t go a week without my red clippers!

But last week something new happened with the clippers.  I was trying to get as far down on the root of a “volunteer”; I probably should have used a bigger tool for this project, but the bigger tool was in the garage and I was in the front yard.  Enough said.  Anyway, it took a bit of force and then suddenly the root gave it up and the clippers slammed shut.  Unfortunately my index finger got pinched between the handles.  I mean seriously pinched.  I said some very colorful things, pretty loudly and had to sit down for a minute as I got a little dizzy. 

The mishap didn’t break the skin, but the blood blister rose up immediately and the whole tip of the finger turned a few ugly shades of purple.  And it hurt like crazy.  Right about then Jenai came home from some errands and brought me a wet paper towel, some antibiotic ointment and a bandaid.  The rest of the gardening that day was done left-handed.

It looks much better now but still hurts if I put any pressure on it at all.  I have to say I’ve been VERY careful about the red clippers since then.

Do you have a favorite gardening tool?

A Bit Corny

YA made popcorn on Sunday.  She always dumps it into one of our big yellow bowls which she carries around with her until she is finished.  Most of the time she brings the bowl into my room and offers me some.

On Sunday, she was shaking the bowl as she picked out a few pieces for me and the sound made me think she had a lot of un-popped kernels.  I asked her if she had a lot of old maids and she looked at me as if I had frogs jumping out of my ears. 

She did not know that the un-popped corns were called old maids.  In fact, upon further discussion it turns out that she also did not know that old maid was a derogatory term used for unmarried women.  While it’s probably a good thing that old maids is fading from our consciousness, it took me by surprise.  There is so much that I consider common knowledge that just isn’t anymore.

How do you like your corn?  Air-popped, kettle, plain or buttered?  Creamed?