April 2009 Archives

This Week's Firsts - Spring 2009


farm pix- october 2008 101.jpg
photo credit: Carolyn McDonald

~First frog calls in the pre-dawn morning
~First sighting of snake trails across the dusty gravel roads
~At the Prairie Preserve during my morning’s gaze to the N, S, E, W, sky, and ground, I put my bare hands into the yellow thatch of prairie grass and it felt warm for the first time this year
~With my hands in the grass and I heard wild turkeys gobbling for the first time out here
~First mosquito – honest
~First new lights out on the prairie- a new hog confinement unit with three bright yardlights startled me a few days ago shining a few miles off across the prairie to the NE of our house (I’ll have to drive and check that out)
~First green grass sprouting out of the flood flattened grass on the SE corner of the farm
~8 of the 10 Aronia berries (chokeberry) I planted put out new growth

What I gave up for Lent



I gave up economics for Lent. It wasn't easy, but I quit checking the stock market, business news services, Bloomberg radio, blogs, futures markets and the Baltic Dry Index. Alma overheard me telling someone that I had given up the economy for Lent and she said "But mom, you ask Dad everyday "how did the market do?" Alma gave up her MP3 player, Jens wanted to give up naps (didn't let him), Lake just scowled at the idea. Mike said, from his Baptist tradition, that everything that everyone gave up for Lent they gave up all year.

Even a Blind Man Can Tell When He's Walking in the Sun


even a blind man.jpg
Child in from sledding on a mid-winters night

Yesterday the kids came running, yelling "Grass! We found green grass!" We have a calf hutch on the north-east corner of the house as a play fort for the kids. Inside the hutch was green grass- all three kids jumped inside to enjoy the greenhouse effect that grew the grass. MIke and I stacked wood while they played nearby. Mike guesstimates that we stacked about 6-8 weeks of mid-winter heating.

Last January the days were so short that in order to get in any decent amount of sledding, a kid had to put on a head lamp to play into the night (which would start around 4:30 in the afternoon). One particularly cold, snowy, long evening of darkness, Earnest came back in from sledding in the dark with his brother and sister. His headlamp shining like his eyes-- he cut through the darkness of winter both inside and outside of the house.

The sun is setting decidedly north of our west pointing driveway, there is green grass to be found if you want to crawl inside a calf hutch, and right now the full moon is shimmering on the lake west of our grain bins (wait- that's suppose to be our field). Point is... "Even a blind man can tell when he's walking in the sun." I think it is safe to say spring is here.

...Like no day has been


alma horses.JPG
photo credit: Alma (this is one among dozens of staged horse photos I found on the camera)

The sun is rising slightly north of due west. That means we are really starting the time of year where the sun’s intensity warms the earth. A pink blaze comes through my kid pawed dining room windows and with the sunlight at this angle I can see all the fingerprints, lip and kiss marks.

What a wonderful Saturday. It was cold enough to slow the flooding of Fargo—but that sun angle made the south facing porch sunny and warm. I watched the soil on our farm giving off steam and make ground fog clouds. And then about 6 pm waves and waves of 10 of thousands of snow geese made their way from south to north across our farm. The sun was low enough in the west that it shown on their white undersides—they look like clouds of white sparkles filling the sky. I was at a loss for words. Stunning/magical/breathtaking.

The kids and I moved the table and chairs out of the kitchen to make room for a dance party. Alma is at the age where we are listening to both Disney tunes and Jonas Brothers. We danced until our sides ached. The weekend also included grinding wheat, making our first batch of hard cheese- some Monteray Jack, and a plush toy parade around the farm.

Late Saturday night I realized that I had forgotten to put in the chickens (Mike was out of town for a Blues Fest). So I walked into the dark night (yard light off) and through the dark barn to our chicken coop. Happy was too afraid to go in the dark barn- and I don’t blame her. My flashlight was about out of batteries. Having locked the chickens in the coop, I all but run back past the empty cow stalls towards the door. I stand on the concrete slab outside the barn door- the house lights a couple hundred yards away, the sound of geese honking in the dark all around me, a half moon in the sky. I hear a large metallic clunk from inside the steel barn ceiling and am propelled towards the house.

As it turns out, in putting the chickens to bed in the dark, I locked a skunk in the coop with them. None of the chickens were killed, luckily. But what a shock to find a skunk in the corner of the coop the next morning.

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