Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sandy, the Swamp Creek Dog

Originally uploaded by ♣sarah
Here's a pic from last summer that our Sarah took of our dog, Sandy. I'm afraid making a separate blog post was the only way I could figure out how to post this picture from Sarah's flickr account. She thought I could just copy and paste them; guess not.

Friday, April 16, 2010

When the Wind Blows

Geez Louise, but it was windy today!  The wind was from the North and bitter, too.  We were supposed to go with my sister and her husband to cut wood for Dad today, but it was too windy.  We'll try again tomorrow, but the forecast is for more of the same.  I decided to do the laundry and run some errands:  I took some eggs to my good neighbor, Lynn; took Dad his birthday sweater; and finally, I took the van to Fifield and got some chicken supplies.  Bernie does sell duck starter and feed, so I'll call him before the chicks and ducks come to be sure he has the starters in stock.  I was glad for the heavy load in the van because the wind pulled the van all over the road, and I was happy to get home.

My little red hen in the brooder box is doing well.  She sits so quietly on the eggs, and every so often she'll get up and eat or drink a little.  What I did was remove the divider that separated the two nest areas to make a single large next box, and I put a waterer and feeder in the far corner of the box so the hen has to get up and go to the food and water.  I check on her a couple of times a day, and she is looking good.  I hope she hatches at least six of the 12 eggs she's sitting on.  The single nest area will be plenty big for her and her chicks to start out in.  I figure the eggs should hatch May 5th or 6th.  I will fence of a little area in the coop run just for her and any chicks she hatches until they are big enough to mix with the other hens.

Here are some pictures of the brooder box.  (I don't have the roof shingles on it yet in these.)

I spent some time in the basement repotting and dividing my aloe plants, and I potted up my new hops rhizomes.  I'll take them out to the field as soon as I can.  I wonder when my St. Lawrence Nursery order will come; should be soon.  I'm waiting for my Shumway order, too.  I bought some Victoria rhubarb and loads of onion sets from them.  Hopefully the Victoria rhubarb will grow better than the McDonald has.  I'm very disappointed in the performance of the McDonald rhubarb here.

I hope Dad likes his sweater.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wisconsin Pickle Bill Changes

Well, I shouldn't be surprised that the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) just couldn't leave the passage of the Wisconsin version of Minnesota's "Pickle Bill" as passed by the Legislature  (  After all, Government can't trust people to act independently without permission, can it?  On March 24th an "emergency rule" was passed that additionally requires:

(1) producers of home canned goods to pH test their products and keep a record of each test for two years;

(2) The producer must register annually with the DATCP at no cost (yet);

(3) The producer must complete a home canning safety course or follow an approved written recipe that reliably ensures the safety of each home-canned product.

A permanent rule to take effect (possibly) in 2011 would additionally allow the sale of baked goods.  I say "possibly" because according to the article from the March 31, 2010 The Country Today -- that this information is taken from, "A scope statement to begin (my emphasis) the process for the permanent rule also was approved."   

I think I'm peeved at DATCP because today in the mail I received a contract renewal for accepting WIC-FMNP coupons and while reading over the contract I noted that I now have to separate the items on my farm stand at the farmers market and label those items that are not covered for sale by the coupons so that purchasers using the coupons aren't "confused" by what they may or may not purchase.  I just have to wonder how long people are going to put up with these never-ending ridiculous government mandates.  Anything that helps the little guy is immediately stepped on. 

Think I'll stop frothing and go listen to Tony's show, The Remedy, on The Micro Effect.

Direct Selling of Raw Milk

Hi, Everybody!  Thought I'd post a link to the latest story on the direct sale of raw milk issue here in Wisconsin.  I know the folks in Canada are trying to get something passed that allows them to sell raw milk so maybe what is happening here in Wisconsin can help them out.

One Day At A Time

Lara's appointment with her new neurologist went very well -- no new medications or problems.  She did recommend a foot doctor for me to take Lara to see on the 23rd.  It turns out to be the same doctor that took care of Ed's ingrown nails last year, so at least she is familiar with the family.  I'm glad the appointment is in Park Falls (much closer to home).

Yesterday I worked cleaning the house.  It looks pretty good for a change.  I mean, most of the time when I clean the house it feels as if I'm losing a battle because as soon as I'm finished with a room, someone goes and messes it up.  The never ending housewife story.   I used the floor scrubber on the wood floors and they just shone. (I like to use the scrubber once in a while to deep clean.)  I dusted and took a cleaning bucket around and wiped down things like the light switches, door jams and knobs.  I like a clean house.  Now, for the basement . . . .

I worked some on Dad's sweater.  I'm sewing on the pockets and tomorrow hope to get the buttons sewn on.  I found another matching ball of yarn so I may take off the current collar and knit a hood on instead since I know Dad likes wearing "hoodies" to keep his head and neck warm.  The sweater looks very nice; it's an oatmeal tweed.

My sister and her husband stopped by and we decided to go out together on the 16th and 17th to cut firewood for Dad.  The four of us working together should get quite a bit done.

The broody box looks great!  I have to get the roofing tiles nailed on, but except for that, the box is finished.  I'll move it next to the coop tomorrow.  I can't wait to put a couple of clutches under some hens and see if they hatch out anything.  I will use one of the big Buff Orpington hens (she's a wicked old crab who shrieks and pecks you like crazy when you try to take eggs from under her) and a nice little New Hampshire hen that I think will sit well on a nest.  And while we're speaking about poultry, I ordered 100 Buff Orpington cockerels for meat birds and 15 Ancona ducklings for delivery around June 8. Lara will be so excited when she hears those baby ducklings (I won't tell her I ordered them).  Building a permanent chick brooder is my next project.  The June 8 date gives me time to prepare the field chicken skid, too.  I want to nail down 4 more pieces of plywood on the roof -- I'm just not sure the chicken wire will be strong enough to keep out predators.  I need to fix some of the tarp tie downs that broke during the winter, too.

The weather continues to be very dry and warm for this time of year.  Such weather makes it comfortable to work outside, especially since the bugs aren't out yet, but I hesitate to start any field work.  If we don't get any rain, I think I'll wait to till the field until just before I want to plant.

Well, that's about it for now.  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


While we are still very dry and days have been on the windy side, the weather has been very nice for working outside.  Unfortunately I had to dump all of my remaining maple sap because it spoiled in the recent warm spell before I could boil it down.  We only have 10 pints of syrup for this  year.  Oh well.  If I have time I'll try to build a good sugar shack for next year.

I have managed to gather most of my scrap lumber and build a "broody box" with two nests.  It is almost finished.  I have to put on the roof and build the nest doors.  I'll post a picture of it when it is finished.  Maybe I will paint the outside of it so the wood lasts a bit longer.  I have some left-over roofing shingles and felt from when Tom put the roof on the chicken coop, and I think I'll use some of those to cover the top of the box to keep the rain out.  All in all I think it looks pretty good. 

Got some more seeds started in the basement.  I planted a pot of cranberries, 10 each Wealthy, Chestnut Crab, and Braeburn apple seeds.  Joe Pye Weed and Purple Coneflowers will look nice.  I am looking forward to when I can get out into the field -- that's usually toward the end of April when I'll turn the ground over and get the grains planted.  This year I'll plant wheat, barley, Painted Mountain corn, and mangels.

I'm almost finished with Dad's birthday sweater.  I'm working on a couple of deep pockets for it.  Tomorrow we are all taking Lara for her neurologist appointment and we plan to stop at a restaurant and eat for a treat.  We almost never go out to eat so it really is a treat.  I will stop by Walmart, too, and hopefully I can find some buttons for Dad's sweater.  I will have to remember to call some of the Special Olympics parents and let them know that we won't be back in time to go bowling.

I got my fabric that I ordered from Hancock's of Paducah and it is lovely fabric.  I stay stitched each piece, washed and ironed them, then made a pattern from some packing paper (I always keep packing paper that comes in boxes of things we've ordered through the mail) and cut out all the kerchiefs.  When I have some time I'll prepare the seams for stitching.  I think they will make great kerchiefs.  I really would like to have a good supply of crafts to sell at the farmers market this year.

I also received the new egg cartons I ordered.  They are really cool.  They are similar to the egg boxes that were used during the Great Depression.  The eggs are set in the boxes 3 x 4, so I think they are more space friendly in the refrigerator.  We'll see how they sell.

I don't know what to make of my computer.  The Internet was not accessible for at least 2 hours today.  The DNS modem was not working.  I unplugged the modem and reset it, but it would not work and the diagnostic recommended we call our service provider.  Then, after sundown, I noticed that the modem was all green lit again and I decided to try to get back onto the Internet.  Everything is working great now; it's even pretty fast.  I haven't even had the blue screen of death show up either.  I don't know what's going on.  Maybe my installation of Max Secure Spyware Detector and Max Registry Cleaner fixed whatever was ailing the computer.  Only time will tell.  (I sort of had my heart set on buying a laptop and external hard drive.  Oh, well.)

Friday, April 02, 2010

Fire and Wind and the Busyness of Spring

The weather is so dry here that it is scary.   I think of how the snow melted in just two days and the usual "mud" season never happened.  I'm told that this is the warmest March in 15 years.  We usually have snow at least early every morning till the middle of May.  I expect that unless the weather cools down considerably, I will have to dump the majority of my collected maple sap because I will not be able to boil it all down before it spoils.  So far we have made 6 quarts of syrup and I've lost about 75 gallons of sap to a leak in one container.  Yesterday afternoon my window thermometer reached 78F.  Didn't notice what the temperature went up to today, but it was very warm.  Because we have so much sap to boil down, Tom and I went ahead and started a fire in the fire pit this morning.  (I've been boiling down sap inside the house because of the weather and being so busy.) We had water and tools at the ready for any signs of trouble.  We kept the fire low, and even so we were able to boil down about 7 gallons of sap. 

This afternoon my sister called and asked about a big grass fire.  The way she described it, the fire was right next door to us.  I told her I didn't know what she was talking about.  She said there was a bad grass fire over by Camp One that took 3 hours to put out.  We were outside all day.  I told her we saw no fire trucks, heard no sirens, smelled or saw no smoke but that from our syrup fire, and didn't know what she was talking about.  Guess we'll have to take a ride over by Camp One tomorrow and see if anything happened.  I don't know what to make of it.  I remember last May when there was the forest fire that was close to us that was caused by a downed electrical line.  That was really scary!  I am adamant about fire safety and work diligently to enlarge our fire safe zone every year around the house.   The Weather Channel is predicting rain moving into our area for the next couple of days.  Let's hope it is a good rain.  I wish we could take some of the deluge from the people out East to ease some of their suffering with floods.  Well, all any of us can do is the best that we can do.

Late this afternoon a front moved in and dropped a little rain -- just enough to wet the ground and let you know that it did rain.  But the temperatures have dropped some and for that I'm grateful.  The power has blinked off and on a couple of times due I suppose to the high winds.  I keep expecting trees to start snapping like toothpicks.  When I hear the wind roar though the trees that's too windy for me and I keep a sharp eye out for falling branches.

The fox is still after the chickens but so far he hasn't gotten any!

This week I've been working on Dad's birthday sweater (yeah, he's going to get it late!) and starting seeds.  I planted a whole flat of Rutgers tomatoes and dandelions, celery, cumin, cilantro, Italian parsley, and arnica montana.  The leeks, cabbages, and other herbs that I planted at the last new moon are all doing well.  With the warm temperatures my seed potatos are sprouting like crazy but it will be a month and a half yet before I can safely plant them, so there's no telling what I'll wind up planting as far as potatos go.  I worked on the garden beds by stirring the top crust, watered everything well and covered each of the beds with new Agribon 19.  Hopefully that will keep the chickens out of the beds.  Then I bought some fabric from Hancock of Paducah to make some nice head scarves to sell at the farmers market.  If I like the way they turn out, I'll buy some good muslin and make some good men's handkerchiefs.

I have to tell you that I think my computer is getting ready to die.  I've been getting the blue screen of death every so often.  I hope I can get a portable hard drive and copy everything to it before it dies, so if I disappear for a while, that's probably the culprit.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.  And since the computer is making odd noises and being very slow, I think I'll end this post and talk to you another time! 

Happy Easter to everyone!