September 2011 Archives

Bearing Fruit (or What I Did on My Summer Vacation)

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Our first apple- a Honey Crisp- from our fledgling orchard. And multiple tooth fairy visits as my 'iddle boys get bigger


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Amidst the fleeting days of all you can eat corn on the cob (corn cut off the cob for those missing front teeth) and hot, happy hours of putting up all the corn a family of 5 can eat in a year. My helpmate and partner in life didn't realize how appropriate his attire was for the job.

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One Freezer Full. 2011 harvest filled up one of our two deep freezers. There are also jars of apricot jam, apricot chutney, pickled beets, tomato sauces, and more in the pantry. This year I did it a bit different... I made a bunch of meals from the harvests and froze the meals instead of the individual ingredients. I.e. tomato sauce and eggplant went into trays of Eggplant Parmesan, green peppers made into stuffed peppers, lasagna, Leek and Potato Soup, and Kale/Lentil Stew. I have about 70 pounds of cabbage in the entryway and a husband who has to leave the house if I even open a can of sauerkraut -- (mores the pity for a German raised person of Scandanavian descent like myself- from the days of cross cultural adoptions)

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And having a pause in life to enjoy the fruits of a breakfast that can be counted in "food footsteps" rather than "food miles." I.e. all the ingredients were within walking distance of my kitchen.


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And then my friends... the simple and most joyful of pleasure... a gallon of dandelion wine to capture some of the sweetness of early summer and harvesting our "organic" dandelions from the lawn. The bottles are filled and will be uncorked in February or March 2012- at the end of a blizzardy snow day. This was my first adventure in wine making and it was a splendid result. I bought my meager supplies in Ortonville, MN from Big Stone Marine and Wine/Beer Making Supplies. Since it didn't fill all the bottles, I had to make use of the remainder. Even "fresh" this is a wonderful dandelion wine. Although it is the first I've ever tasted and so have no comparison.

My summer vacation wasn't all about food and farm. It was also about climbing new trees, reading good books, and even getting a productive project or two done about the place.

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On our way to the grand Cottonwood tree on the north side of our farm fields. My eager boys running ahead down what I hope will become a grassed waterway in the seasons to come. My next entry is how my children take me places I would have never ever gone without them. Blessings each one.

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We did get one productive project up and running. About 120 feet up and running whenever the wind is greater than 6 mph-- which is always. Our neighbor to the north is pure Greater Minnesotan Farm Man with a Work Ethic to make you quake. He has 2 little kids, farms (I've seen him taking his toddler in a pink ballerina outfit into his combine), has a full time job, and a runs a business on the side. He came down to the farm, looked at the turbine and said "Well... I'd be afraid to get one of those. I'd be too tempted to just lay around drinking beer and watching it make $$ for me."

More than anything on this vacation (where I almost never left the farm) I needed to retreat from the world.

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The boys left me sleeping in the cool grass, with a good book when I awoke. I was reading Hamlets Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age. My retreat was nearly complete from the digital as well as real world crowds. Hence the long absence from my blog.

Next entry... lessons from an Early Killing Frost and other Earthy Tales

An Ode to My Grandmother and Her Farm

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Eddie Anderson Farm, Big Stone County- circa 1982 (when I googled "beautiful small farmstead photo" this picture came onto my screen from Big Stone County)

It was brought to my attention that I may not have painted a full picture of my Grandmother's farm with my last entry. I'd like to correct that.

My grandma's and grandpa's farm was set on 80 acres in SE Minnesota. It was a picture perfect view of farming in the early to mid 20th century on the prairie. The small, neat farmstead always seemed freshly whitewashed and in excellent repair. It was a diversified farm with milk cows, pigs, chickens, duck, a huge strawberry patch, asparagus patch, garden, pasture, row crops, smokehouse (that was put up and taken down as needed). I learned how to drive a tractor on that farm- an Allis-Chalmers-- keeping what seemed like a big, green yard mowed. There were white wooden grain bins and even an orderly pile of miscellaneous parts and pulleys where I could spend endless hours "inventing."

My grandmother inherited this farm from her father, John Kording, who was, from all accounts, an outstanding prairie populist who helped out his neighbors and had a hand in organizing farmers into what is today Minnesota's Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL) party. He left his land equally to his sons and his daughters 100 years ago, which says something.

Grandma learned Latin in a country school house and had read all the classics in Latin by the time she was 20. She taught in a country school until she married and became a full time mother and farmer. Grandma was well versed in politics and her cork board always had a recent article up that highlighted some aspect of the news.

Grandma's house was filled with heavy home made quilts, brewing coffee, frying bacon, a daily newspaper, and WCCO radio. It was a good, solid place to be. I was privileged to sew my silk wedding dress with my grandma, mom and aunt in grandma's dining room just 17 years ago.

My grandmother worked hard on her farm. I wrote an earlier post called Suffer No Illusions about how on a prairie farm, there were no illusions about women being "weak." It referred to my grandma and her basketball career. So, if during the peak of summer, after an evening of milking cows there were flies in the kitchen over a meal that came 100% from your own farm and effort, then I see that as a badge of honor.

My desire to farm came from what I saw and experienced on my grandmother's farm. Simply a good life of hard and handi-work, family, church, and active mind.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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