August 2009 Archives

Chicken Confidential- part 3- A Qualitative Difference

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One of the 2009 class of broilers

Mike and the kids caught the 75 free-range broiler chickens we've been raising this summer, put them in the chicken crates he made, and took them to Ashby Minnesota to be butchered. The one in the picture skipped the trip to Ashby.

We've learned a lot about raising chickens and it shows! I hope you can see how yellow this bird is- a striking difference from last year's chicken.

This year we didn't use the portable chicken coop- moving it daily around the farmyard. We just let the chickens run wild. They were smarter, more interesting, less concentrated manure, and ate more diverse food. They showed instincts- like diving under a car or propane tank when a hawk flew over. We even lost fewer birds this year. And I think they are tastier... They were "finished off" on crab apples. The chickens just hung out eating apples all day long the last couple weeks.

We made old-fashioned fried chicken (dipped in eggs- then into our hand ground Big Stone County wheat) and it tasted divine as part of a traditional August farmhouse dinner- slice tomatoes and cucumbers, sweet corn, fried chicken, and cilantro tossed rice (okay- not traditional). Everything but the salt, pepper and rice was grown on our farm. Topped the meal off with some Black Current Wine (for me and Leona) and a Summit Pale Ale for Mike.

Enjoying the fruits of summer's labor...

Swimming Day...

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When you click on and play this video, think instead of miles of prairie, wetlands, green corn and beans, and acres yellow wheat being harvested by farmers as we drive miles without any interuptions at all.

I drove the kids 70 miles round trip to the Benson Public Swimming Pool. We were there when it opened and the last to leave. Infrastructure? let me tell you about infrastructure. This is a great small town pool- four different swimming areas, slides, wading areas, and full of kids. Staffed by teachers on summer break and high school kids. It's like a flashback to my own childhood in Dodge Center.

If we had stayed in St. Paul my kids would be going to the Jewish Community Center day camp and playing in one of these elaborate pools five days a week. But instead this day is the event of the summer- one whole day at the pool, complete with a trip to the DQ where Lake was so tired his head almost dropped into his twist cone.

Before we moved from the city to the farm I went to talk to my pediatrician and the director of the day care at the JCC and asked their opinions. Should I take my kids out of this "enriching" environment and move them to a farm? They both said that if they could take every kid out of daycare and put them on a farm with their parents- that's what they would do.

So instead of a daily dose of fancy pool (we do have a pool in the backyard) they get an occastional treat of big pool fun. That's probably ok in instilling a sense of savoring and appreciating the good things in life.

It is certainly true for me. I left there remembering that the world would be short one giant joy if we couldn't enjoy our fleeting summer on the high prairie with a day at the municiple pool.

Your Comments...

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Last day of preschool for boys- May 2009

I always appreciate your comments on my blog. Thanks to all of you who leave notes here. I just wanted to let you know that there have been some glitches in the blog's comment system that hopefully are resolved.

So please keep posting those comments!

Thoughts are turning to getting kids back to school. Hence, the running for the bus under a rainbow picture from last spring.

No Time for Ornamentals

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Kids in front of our garden

This is season two of our farming adventure. We're learning a lot, making some of the same mistakes, and vowing not to repeat them next year. Well-- next year will be another adventure on its own with setting up 92 acres of managed grazing.

But this organic food production is enough to kill you. Spring is all fresh and lovely with well tilled fields -- no weeds. But by the end of July the weeds are threatening everything we've planted. We know... we know... cover crops, mulches, landscape fabric, all kinds of options. But we've got a couple acres of sweet corn, popcorn, and flint corn alone. And I've been "walking the bean" to try to keep our organic black turtle beans (1+acre) weed free enough to combine come fall.

I bought some marigolds, flower seeds, and purely ornamental plants this spring. Needless to say... they were not prioritized above weeding my strawberry bed, gourmet lettuce patch, and my potato field. Between work, family and farm.... there is just no time for ornamentals.

By Way of Thanks....

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Photo credit: Dan Bush

Last Saturday our whole family was privileged to take in the most amazing fireworks display- right here in our own township (population 96 souls in 36 sq. miles). Sometimes the greatest pleasures in life are the unexpected ones. We watched the prairie sky fill with jaw dropping bursts of light and color- with multiple grand finales in a row these were among the most spectacular fireworks I've ever enjoy. The setting helped too... out on our quiet dark prairie with stars all around- the contrast was breath taking and we all screamed with delight.

This was part of a family and graduation celebration for one of our neighbors. So in addition to the fireworks (put on by one of the family members who is a professional pyrotechnic) we enjoyed the blessing of community-- good company, festive atmosphere, good food and drink. I.e. the works.

Mike said as we drove away "I bet there are very few people in this country that saw fireworks that like tonight." We all nodded.

What a way to launch a young one into the world- best wishes Mishayla.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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