November 2009 Archives

The anti-Dubai (or things I'm thankful for)

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Boys on wood pile - day after Thanksgiving

I unloaded two trailer loads of cut wood yesterday. In the morning, a huge flocks of geese passed right overhead. One flock was so large it looked like a small black cloud. I leaned back on the trailer to take in their flight. The multiple V-formations had a pattern inside it. Large goose, little goose, large goose, little goose. Parent/child/parent/child. At the end of the flock the very last goose had a section of his wing missing-- I could see the sunlight through where there should have been wing feathers. And yet- they stayed together- maybe a Grandparent pulling up the rear.

Last night the boys (all of 5-years-old) and I unloaded another load of wood while the sunset and the combines, unseen, rumbled to the north and west and all around. The stars came out ("star light star bright first star I see tonight...") and the moon had a large halo around it nearly touching our silos.

We're in the midst of clearing out our old grove (about 3 acres!) in anticipation of a major tree planting next spring. The bulldozer was in last week to pull up the stumps and our farmstead looks like a tornado passed through. What's exciting is that we're hopeful we have enough wood for the next 3 winters already cut. It's like money in the bank to see the stacked wood piles- strategically placed to cure or to burn.

Two years ago I was talking with my neighbor Brent wondering what we would do with all the standing dead wood on our farm. He said "get a Central Boiler" and we did. It's turned out to be a great move. Instead of letting the dead wood rot in place (emitting CO2) or burning it in a massive pile, we are metering it out to heat our house and water year around. We haven't purchased any propane since we installed the boiler two years ago.

It's the anti-Dubai.

Two years ago when I heard National Public Radio do an uncritical and fawning hour of "financial reporting" on Dubai I was sickened. Couldn't everyone see that this was the most unsustainable, ill-fated project of our times? I mean really- we need artificial luxury islands, indoors ski-slope in the desert, and unlimited high end shopping? All built and sustained on fossil fuel supplies and profits. And now bankrupt. Surprise.

Instead, I'm grateful for stacked wood, my family (mom helped out all Thanksgiving week and sister Kelley left her dairy farm in SE Minn to visit us), for a nice community and singing in the church choir, and the opportunity to be completely content. 'Tis a gift to be simple and, frankly, a lot safer.

Labor and Family

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kids and corn wagon.jpg

The neighbors called last Saturday with a grain wagon full of corn screenings- the cracked and fine pieces of corn. They said if we wanted them we could have them for our chickens. So Mike and the boys crowded into the John Deere 4440 and made the 2.5 mile trek to Sandy and Terry's grain bins.

When we got the corn back here, we found that we couldn't back the wagon into our barn, so we opted for manual labor. And frankly, it was a just what a family needs now and then.

Lake was the first to learn how to open the grain shoot and when we had buckets and bins ready below, I'd yell "Let 'er rip!" and he'd pull around the wheel that opened the sluice and the grain would pour out. All the kids pitched in- the puppy playing around our heels.

Mike took off his sweatshirt and looked like a strong and handsome farmer as he hauled containers over to our makeshift granary in the barn. Lake followed suit and took off his jean jacket- wanting to be like his dad.

The corn was perfect, dry and smelled like fresh corn muffins from the oven. It was a perfect autumn evening- not too chilly, the sun setting as we raced to get the grained hauled before we were working in the dark.

It was nice to work as a whole family on a project like hauling corn and stocking up for winter. It's a good feeling to know we have some feed put away for the chickens. And the labor, especially with kids and a puppy, is one of the soul's antidote for a hard week.

The Care and Feeding of Giants

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My kids are still just little guys.
Our farm, 320 acres, is considered somewhat small in the scheme of things.
My job at the University is among the most meaninful work I've engaged in in my life.
I do a bit of volunteering in our community, like the Granary Coop in Ortonville.
All good and yet all together- they are Giants.

And so I find myself in the business of caring for and feeding Giants. I don't know what else to say about it- just that as much as I love those Giants they sure take a lot of attention. More attention, say, than there are hours in the day. And yet- there I was one Saturday afternoon- oil pastels, scissors, puppy peeing on the carpeting, screaming children, carpentry project going on around me-- and just enough creative energy to capture those Giants on paper. Just that one stolen moment of time. And you know- it's just what the soul needs when one is tasked with The Care and Feeding of Giants.

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

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