Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Loggers Are Here

Hiring the loggers has been a very interesting experience.  We are very pleased with the workmanship and skill of the loggers we hired.  They have a good reputation for working with environmentally minded people, and we know from conversing with them that they appreciate the historic value of this farm and are trying their best to log an admittedly difficult area (due to our three wetlands) with the least impact.  We have discussed the matter with them considerably.   They started yesterday on our property utilizing prior landing areas and logging paths throughout the property.  What is extremely aggravating is the fact that someone is constantly complaining about the loggers.  The Sherrif's Police have been out here as well as the town Chairman, and both said they had received complaints about the loggers acting "illegally".  They would not, however, say who was making the complaint.  Well, they aren't acting illegally.   Isn't it interesting how cowards don't have the grit to complain face to face to the people they accuse of wrongdoing?  It's all right though.  I have a pretty good idea who it is doing the complaining.  There is only one person in this neighborhood who thinks he owns everything and can't mind his own business.  On the other hand, the complaints could have come from another logger.  Now, there's only one local logger I know that definitely wanted to log this property and said so.  If I find out that it was this logger, then for sure they will NEVER get any business from this farm.  I would also like to know by what authority the town Chairman acted under to investigate a private logging operation on private property without speaking to the property owner and asking permission to go on their property. 

The chickens are pretty funny about it all:  I had hoped to keep them locked in the coop until the area around it was logged, but the loggers finished the south 40 early and the chickens are all over the place.  I expect they will return to the coop after the machinery stops and the loggers quit for the day.  I have already given them fresh water, feed and a generous amount of scratch to soothe them.  They are watching the big machinery from the opposite end of the house from where the machinery is operating.  I expect their egg laying will be put off a bit, but I don't force my chickipoos when it comes laying eggs anyway.  I will shovel out the coop in a little while and give them plenty of fresh bedding, and they can stay inside the coop tomorrow for sure.  Even Sandy the Swamp Creek Dog is preferring to stay indoors today because of the noise. 

It's a gloomy grey day.

Tom is off to the doctor for a check up.  The kids and I will fix some cornbread and we will have leek and potato soup with salad and cornbread for supper. 

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Fall

Last night we had our first really hard frost.  When I got up this morning the frost was visible on the grass and fog was heavy in the marshes.  Already the colors in the trees are fading fast, and I suspect that the next heavy rain will strip most leaves from the trees.  It is sad that our Fall season is so short because the hardwood trees are so beautiful when they are in color. 

Speaking of rain, the Autumn Equinox brought three days of solid rain with it.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get to the farmers market on Saturday to do the bake sale for our Special Olympics fundraiser because of flooding on the road. Everywhere I looked the water was high.  Sure made me think about what I would do should we become isolated due to flooding.  

But the road didn't flood and Lara and I made it to the farmers market.  It was a great day!  The sun shone.   The air was chilly and the wind was low.  The Fall Harvest Festival in Phillips was in full swing, and everyone was having a good time.  Lara and I dressed in layers, and I brought a blanket to wrap around her legs to keep her warm.  We wore thermal knit long sleeved shirts under our Special Olympics logo shirts, though I suppose what we wore didn't really matter since we wore our jackets and no one could see our shirts.  I bought 5 pounds of fresh cranberries for $10 from Carl, who brought his cranberry sorting machine to "show and tell" for the public, and from Diane at B's Flambeau Acres I bought two kinds of honey butter.  Yum! And it turned out to be a great day for the bake sale because we raised $130.50 for our Northwoods 3-13 Agency!  My hope was to raise $100 and I'm so happy we exceeded that amount!  I also met some interesting people in Phillips who told me about Special Needs services available in the area.  When things slow down some I'll check them out.

Because I needed to take care of Lara, we left the market at noon.  I drove down to Highway 8 and we stopped at the BP station at the intersection there where I filled the van up with gas and took care of Lara.  We drove to Pam Metsala's house and only stayed briefly to pick up a book she sold me called Favorite Rag Rugs.  We took our time driving home because the "Check Engine" light lit up in the dashboard and I was afraid we might wind up broken down on the side of the road.  I called Tom on the cell phone and he figured the van was ok to drive (there are times that it's nice having a mechanic in the house).  Our "Big Green" van is 15 years old; I'm not surprised it's acting its age.

Today is another beautiful day.  Tom is watching football so I think I'll go make sauerkraut and get that fermenting!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nice Surprise

Just when I least expect them, good things tend to happen to me.  Take the other day, for instance.  I received a call out of the blue from a woman who bought my corn at the farmers market the week before.  She had foster children coming into the house and needed her extra bedroom which currently housed a Hammett's No. 402 floor loom, and would I be interested in purchasing it from her?  Boy, was I ever!  I have been wanting to learn to spin and weave for years.  I could hardly contain my excitement; I just hoped she didn't want more money for it than I could afford.  She wanted $150.00 if I could come right away to get it.  Now, it just so happened that I had not gone to the bank with my farmers market deposit, and the deposit was just enough to pay for the loom, so instead of going to the bank, I bought the loom.  My little voice never hesitated.  I am so grateful to her for thinking of me.  It turns out that she and I have a lot of common interests and now I have another new friend to add to my "old time creative skills" network.  Self Organizing Collectives. Yeah!

It took me a while to put the loom together once I got it down in the basement, and I'm not sure I have everything where it properly ought to be so I have the bolts in place loosely until I can find a manual for the loom.

Hammett's No. 402 floor loom

Isn't it beautiful?  I'm going to clean it up with some Murphy's Oil Soap and rub the wood with some beeswax.  That should make it shine.  It's even nicer when I think that the loom came from the Metsalas Century Farm to the Ledvina Century Farm (at least our part of it).  The loom had been purchased by a rich woman whose husband built a castle -- no kidding -- somewhere up here in the woods, and the loom stayed -- unused -- for 15 years in a turret room before being sold to the woman I bought it from.  She also had never used it. 

I have been looking online for books that will teach me how to set up and use the loom, but am not sure where to start.  I really have absolutely no experience with weaving and am still getting the hang of using a drop spindle.  It's too bad I can't spare the time to take a course on weaving what with taking care of Lara and Ed, but I'm confident that if I can find the information to study that I'll be able to figure everything out.   If you know of a DVD course set on using a 4 harness loom, I'd appreciate a link.  I've watched several You Tube videos on weaving, but even the terminology used in those videos is beyond me right now. 

I didn't make it to the farmers market yesterday because Tom and I  worked out in the field trying to take down the twisted remains of my high tunnel.  We have about half of it taken apart.  We will bring some more tools with us when we go to take down the rest of it.  Tom wants me to sell the steel hoops, but I hesitate -- it would be just my luck to sell the steel to the junk man and then need a pipe for something.  Tom is even keeping one of the base pipes to use as a "breaker bar" (a mechanic's tool of some sort).  I'm glad that we at least got the torn plastic out of the way. 

This morning it was so chilly that Tom lit our first fire of the year in the wood stove.  I'm telling you my bones ached I was so cold.   Now the sun is shining and the leaves turning color are magnificent.  Think I'll go out to the field and see if any more pumpkins are ready to be picked. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Before the Cold Comes

These days I feel like I'm the ant in Aesop's fable of the ant and the grasshopper.  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  Winter is coming!   The weather forecasts hard frost tonight.

Here's a picture of the corn and mustard greens I canned the other day:

I'm quickly running out of canning jars.

I dried the first batch of Golden Celery and Italian Flat Leaf Parsley in the dehydrator and bagged them this morning.  The second batch is drying now.  Tom added some of the celery flakes to a beef stew that we had for supper tonight.  I can't believe how strong the celery taste is from those dried flakes.  I mean, is it the celery variety, or is it just that the celery is fresh from the garden?  The unsold fennel is one of tomorrow's projects if I can find my herb book to see how best to dry the roots and preserve the fronds.  I should go to the farmers market tomorrow, but I have just too much to do here around the house. 

We have been working to get as much done around the farm as we can before the cold weather sets in.  Yesterday and today, Tom and I worked taking down the fence around his garden that was under the power lines and what fence was left uncrushed from the tornado surrounding my forest garden  -- the same fence I worked so hard to put up this past Spring.  What a job!  We rolled up all the fencing and temporarily put it behind the wood piles.  Hopefully it will be out of the way when the loggers get here.  Why do tasks always take longer to do than you think they will? Tomorrow we plan to mark the trees around the house that we want harvested, and I want to clean up the garden boxes for garlic planting next month. 

Oh, well.  I'd like to talk more but I'm beat.  Talk to you soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Canning the Day (and Night) Away

This month is sure flying by!  I went out to the field and wandered through the weeds, and lo and behold, I found lots of things to harvest.  I cut all of the Golden Celery, the Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, the Fennel, and the entire 50' wide row of Scarlet Nantes Carrots, as well as the remaining Autumn King Carrots.  Those carrots took me all day to dig up. They are mostly small, but I harvested 2 1/2 bushels.  After supper, I went back out to the field and meandered through the pumpkin patch.  Happily I found quite a few New England Pie Pumpkins that were ready to harvest.  More are out there, but I don't know that there is enough time for them to mature.  I had to laugh as I was putting the pumpkins in the back of the van:  I spied a nice sized buck watching me from the edge of the swamp.  Sleek looking critter; must be from eating all of my lettuce and beets.  I suppose he was waiting for me to leave so he could munch on what I left.  I took everything back to the house and got it ready to take to the farmers market.  It was about 1 a.m. by the time I quit.  I was just too tired to make everything look as nice as I like it to look, but you just do the best you can and not worry about it. 

It was cool and rainy on market morning so I left Lara at home.  She didn't mind.  I was surprised there were so many customers at the market despite the weather.  That's great!  I didn't sell much though.  No one knew what to do with the fennel and they were afraid to try.  I did manage to practically give away a small bundle of it to a couple that was at least willing to try it.  I told them to bake some fish with it.  No one wanted the celery -- they are used to regular green celery, not Golden celery; and no one bought the Italian Flat Leaf Parsley because they are used to the curled parsley.  It's tough trying to educate consumers.  I did sell some of the Scarlet Nantes carrots and almost a full bushel of the Kennebec potatoes.  I even sold one of Tom's monster zucchinis.  Some people like those big zucchinis.  And I was really happy to sell some of my Indian corn; I'm so proud of it.

New vendors at the market are the Kagans -- Terry, Peggy, and son, Jake.  What a nice family!  They are just starting out as market vendors.  It was nice talking with them and sharing information. I wish them the best. 

Today, after lunch and while Tom as watching the Chicago Bears win their first game of the regular season, I started canning.  I canned 12 quarts of Tom's mustard greens -- they wilted on me before I could get them to the farmers market, and 21 quarts of corn.  What a job!  I am definitely going to need more canning jars.  It will be 1:30 a.m. before I can shut off the pressure canner.  That's ok though -- it gives me plenty of time to talk to you guys! 

I took a bushel of potatoes over to Dale and Cathy to thank them for giving me the mink manure.  As soon as I get some nice tomatoes, I'll take some over to them, too.  I love the taste of Rutgers tomatoes.  Did I mention that I met Dale's cousin at the Park Falls farmers market last week?  What a small world.

The loggers should start clearing out the landing across the road tomorrow.  I hope they have good weather.

Our Soldier Girl is gone off to the Wild West and her new job that starts tomorrow.  We wish her the best of luck and pray that she finds a nice place to live soon.  We look forward to hearing from her once she gets settled.  The house is so different without her.   

Well, I have to finish the canning and tomorrow there is alot of house work to catch up on, so I'll leave off for now.  Take care!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Onward the Harvest

Whew!  It's been a busy Labor Day week.  Yesterday I went to the farmers market in Park Falls -- the new one in the little park across from the hospital.  Some of the vendors I know from the Phillips farmers market were there, and it was nice to see them; I was afraid I might feel out of place.  I met a new vendor who just happens to be my neighbor's cousin!  His name was Ryan and his farm is Nelson's Berry Farm.  What a nice guy, and boy, you should have seen his beautiful pumpkins.  (His raspberries were mouth watering, too.)  I sold all the corn, carrots, and dill I brought.  I thought for sure people would buy my Indian corn bundles, but I didn't sell a single one.  Maybe I'll have better luck on Saturday at the Phillips market.  I don't plan to bring Lara because it is supposed to rain and I don't want her to get sick.  Tomorrow I'll go out to the field and see if there are any more pie pumpkins that I can harvest.  I want to gather the rest of the dill and harvest the bulb fennel, too. 

Yesterday the bushel baskets I ordered from Texas Basket Company  arrived.  They are beautiful!  Shipping will kill you and there is a $10.00 fee for orders less than $100, but at least they take small orders.  There's nothing you can do about shipping so I don't even think about it.  All in all, I am pleased with both the product and the service, so if you need some bushel baskets, I give Texas Basket Company a thumbs up.  And what did I do with those bushel baskets?  Well, today we dug the rest of Tom's potatoes -- the Kennebecs.  We got four bushels and the potatoes are really nice.  I'm going to give Dale and Cathy a bushel for giving us the mink manure. 

Speaking of Tom's garden, we clambored over the trees that fell on his squash patch during the tornado and discovered some Buttercup squash that was big enough to harvest.  Tom also found some monster black zucchini, too.  I cut all of the mustard greens he had -- two bushels worth -- and tomorrow morning I'll pick through them.  If I can keep them from wilting, I'll take them to the market on Saturday.  They are beautiful, but I know that mustard greens don't sell well here because they are too hot.  People love horseradish but they won't eat mustard greens.  Hmmmm.  If I can't sell them, I'll can them for us.  I LOVE mustard greens.

The loggers are really making headway and will be making a landing on our south 40 almost directly across from our driveway next week.  They are doing beautiful work.  I've never seen as neat a logging job.  They need to temporarily move our mailbox about 20' so I'll call the Post Office tomorrow to let them know what's happening.  Don't want the USPS to get confused because the mail box isn't where it is supposed to be.

Took Lara for a blood test this morning which turned out OK.   And later I checked on Dad.  He had a long day with the doctors yesterday and was feeling out of sorts today.  He said he could only drink liquids so I brought him over two quarts of my homemade chicken broth and heated some up for him.  I'll give him a call tomorrow and see how he's feeling.

Well, I'm trying to get the laundry done so I'm going to leave off for now.  Talk to you soon!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Every Day is Good for Something

Today's weather was a stark reminder that my garden's good growing days are numbered.  It was a cold day with heavy dark clouds.  It rained off and on all day, and the wind gusted too much for my liking.  I wanted to pick corn but it was too wet.  I did pick the last of the green beans, only because I intended to can them for our use.  I don't harvest in the garden for the farmers market when it's wet because I don't want to chance spreading any plant diseases or contend with the harvested produce growing mold as I don't have a cooler to store the produce in before going to market.  I won't be going to the farmers market tomorrow because I would only have potatoes, onions, and garlic to sell, and I don't think I would sell enough to make the trip worth the while.  I do hope to get out in the field to assess everything tomorrow.   I would sure like to have some tomatoes.

So, I canned the green beans.  It took me most of the day, but there wasn't much else to do.  The chickens spent most of their day inside the coop.  I think they didn't care for the cold and wet any more than I did.  I bagged up for tea the dried comfrey leaves I had in the dehydrator, and I made a batch of comfrey syrup with the leaf stems. (Comfrey root makes a stronger medicine, but the leaves and stems can be used, too). I read  that the CDC is expecting an increase in whooping cough cases primarily in the Midwest and Northeast United States this winter due to the very cold and wet winter that is being predicted, and I read in one of my herb books that comfrey is very useful to treat whooping cough and other respiratory conditions.   It was kind of weird that I read about the expected increase of whooping cough cases after making the comfrey syrup; I hope that wasn't an omen.

I met a new neighbor today.  His name is Jim Bloom and he lives down the road a ways.  He stopped by today and bought a dozen eggs.  I hope he likes them.  I am happy to be meeting more of the neighbors.  I now know Shane from The Midway Bar; Dale and Cathy down at Camp One; Larry and Carrie across the road; my Aunt Lois; my Dad; Ira; Mike and Beth; and now, Jim Bloom.  Howdy, Neighbors! 

We had the Special Olympics meeting on Wednesday.  I went to the meeting while Tom stayed home with Lara and Ed.  (He didn't mind because there was a replay of the Chicago Bears pre-season game on the tv).  At the meeting we decided to keep the group going.  We decided to keep the competition aspect open for the athletes so even should we not have enough athletes to compete in sports as a team, the athletes can still compete as individuals.  We decided to contact Flambeau Lanes in Park Falls to see if they can accommodate our group for bowling, and we will seek the financial backing of the Lions Club (especially since Lara is a blind athlete) and the Knights of Columbus.  We do know that bowling at Flambeau Lanes will be much more expensive than it was at Feits.  I am going to get a date from Diane Barkstrom, our farmers market manager, for having a bake sale at the market on the last official market day that coincides with the Fall Festival in Phillips.  And Tony Erba, our agency manager, is still trying to find out from Special Olympics WI at the Madison office what we should do with the money that has been raised for our group.  He also let us know that he and his family may be moving to Milwaukee.  Jonathan's parents have relented and will get Jonathan's medical authorization renewal completed so that Jonathan can participate as a Special Olympian, and Justin may be persuaded to come back and bowl with us. We are looking into other sports that our athletes might be able to participate in, too.

Well, it's getting late so I'll let you go.  Be well!