Hopefully I Inherited Something from My Grandmother

peopleThis month, I turn 45 years of age.  If my grandmother was still alive, she would have turned 120 years old.  While I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, she did live to the age of 91.  In some ways, I wish I could have known her better.  She couldn’t really handle her own affairs by the time she was in her mid-80s and I was 16 years old when she died.  By that time, not only was she out of her mind, but I think she weighed only 82 pounds.   She was quite a lady and lived a life I can’t really imagine.

Lil was born in 1893 in Frodsham, England.  She had an older sister, Sarah Ellen (Nel) who never married and who scowled at my teenaged father over her glasses when she visited from England in the 1930′s.  She had at least two brothers.  Peter was killed in WWI.  Albert was kind of a shyster minister who changed churches and denominations often.  Lilian grew up and received an education.  She had a head for business and while the brothers were off serving in the RAF, she traveled all over England on trains and was more successful representing the family’s drapery and millinery business than the boys, only to be shunted aside by her father when the war came to an end.  She did some volunteering at a hospital where soldiers were convalescing once the war was over (by that time she was 24 years old) and met a most unsuitable RAF navigator whose plane had been shot down over Normandy.  So many things wrong with him according to the parents…  He was Anglican, they were Methodist.  He was a lowly Saxon (those heathens!) and they were Normans, tracing their lineage back to the invasion of England by William the Conquerer in 1066.  Nonetheless, she was smitten and strong-willed.  They even tried to tell her that she had a “weak” chest and that she wouldn’t survive in North America is she moved there with my grandfather, Harold, who was born in Collingham, England but had left for opportunities in Canada as a young man, returned to England when he volunteered for the RAF.  They married in 1918 and left for Canada shortly thereafter.  First for Manitoba and then on to Saskatchewan.  My grandfather who had grown up the son of a farmer and butcher in England became a wheat farmer in Canada.  My grandmother, who’d grown up in a city, probably with water closets and bath tubs, followed her husband to a land without plumbing or lights other than lanterns that had to be filled with kerosene and lived in a rather primitive shack distant from neighbors and a full day’s wagon journey to go to the closest town of any size.  My father was born in 1920, but by the time he was six years old, she was determined that they moved somewhere that the boy could go to school.  With the move from Saskatchewan to Wisconsin, Harold transitioned from wheat farming to dairy.  Lilian must have learned what she needed to and helped out along the way also keeping house and having another child late in 1926.  Harold died in 1950 leaving Lil to as a widow for quite a long time since she never remarried.  She went to work sewing which was good for her since she worked enough quarters to qualify for Social Security and Medicare.

In some ways I’m like my grandmother.  As a child, I had very dark brown hair.  Almost black.  I’d seen a picture of her when they emmigrated to the United States.  The picture was black and white and her hair was quite dark.  In the description it said, “Hair: Black”.  I never knew her to have anything other than silvery white hair.  In my mid-20′s when some of my hair started turning grey, especially at my temples, I was pretty pleased that it was the same silvery white hair she had…not that it stopped me from dying it until a few months before I turned 40.  I’m also kind of stubborn, though I make no pretense of holding a candle to this lady.  She put up with more hardship in everyday life than I do voluntarily on the weekends.  I’m sure that carrying water was an everyday occurrence in the Canada years and that laundry involved a washboard and maybe a wringer.  We’re also great big bunches different.  She wore dresses all the time and I don’t recall her ever leaving the house without a hat to protect her skin from the sun.  I mostly wear jeans and I’ll wear a hat paddling or doing farm work but not for anything else.  She didn’t ever learn to drive and she didn’t drink.  I’m guilty on both counts but not at the same time.  I’m also pretty sure she didn’t use any kind of strong language.  Guilty again.

houseSince she had to move out of her house in the 1970′s, it was rented by people who kept chickens in the front yard and didn’t paint the walls, it’s been a gun shop, painted beige inside and out, with bars on all the windows.  My favorite thing that it has been was a potter’s studio.  A long time ago, I thought maybe I would buy it, but honestly, it’s not on enough land, things are getting too crowded around that little town which used to just have around 1,510 people and the barn and most of the land had been sold off years ago to someone else from the town.  Our history with that piece of land isn’t that long anyway.   Walking around the State Forest there with my dad, I learned that several of the farms they were on as tenant farmers were gone and part of the forest now.  Good thing too, or they might be treeless subdivisions with lots too small and houses too big, with or without golf courses.

There are plenty of things I’d like to have learned from my grandmother, but since she turned 75 years old the year I was born, I’m lucky to have known her at all.

*This post is accurate to the best of my ability regarding both things I’ve been told over the years and things I personally remember.  I sure did love those yellow pants when I was four years old.  That I do remember.*

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Planning for Post Fire Cleanup and Looking Ahead in General

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The sun is strong enough to melt an oak leaf down into the snow.

The sun is getting stronger.  It was cold yesterday, but we’ve had enough melting so that we could get a better look at what was left after the fire and to see what how far the fire actually extended from the house.  The footprint was bigger around the stone walls of the foundation than I expected.  There were also a lot more nails that fell outside of the hole than we would have hoped.  It’s going to take some serious time with a magnet to get that really cleaned up and we better do it before the grass really starts growing.  We also talked about rounding up some of the old, rusted barbed wire fencing and throwing it in the hole before we fill it in.  D. thinks we should knock down some of the interior walls, but I’m not so sure.  They make the exterior walls more stable and given all the nails and other hazards in the hole, I’m not sure it is either very safe or worth our time to do that given all the nails and other metal junk in the hole.

We walked around and stood at the three sites where we think we might possible build a house in the future discussing the pros and cons of each of them.  I think we’re probably agreed that the hill where we are dismantling the small barn is probably the best of them, though it is further from the orchard and the present garden and although it will need some trees, both deciduous trees to the south for shade in the summer and a row or two of evergreens to the north and west to break the wind.

The only “work” we did yesterday was to light a large multiflora rose on fire, hoping to clear some of the dead wood out of the way so that digging it out by the roots will be easier.  We didn’t walk all the way to the back, but we did retrieve the trail cam from it’s most recent home and moved it to an area where there is significant deer from tracks to the bark completely worn off of a small tree due to a buck rubbing antlers against it in the fall.  I’m hoping for some good pictures and possibly to find shed antlers in the spring.

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The rabbits are enjoying tender bark from watersprouts and other branches pruned from the apple trees several weeks ago.

Our walk through the orchard showed me that the bunnies are enjoying the buffet we left for them several weeks ago when we pruned watersprouts from the apple trees.  There is still more work to do out there, but our time was a little too short yesterday and it was awfully cold to be lifting a ladder around in the crusty snow and gripping hand tools, but now that it is mid-February, winter can’t really last forever.

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Where do we go from here?

ImageSince bad weather and social obligations kept us in town last weekend, yesterday was our first opportunity to get out to the farm and see how things look with the farmhouse gone.  I was hoping too, to see where the fire really jumped to away from the house and to get a decent look at the debris in the hole, but there was too much snow for that.   It was also too cold to think about orchard work or barn demolition.  So this was just a sightseeing trip to check out the foundation of the house, post fire,  download images from the trail cam, walk out to the back on snowshoes and walk back into the wind.

Too much snow to drive in either, so D. shoveled a space at the end of the driveway and then backed down a good section of the driveway, at least until he would have had to swing right and down a hill into deeper snow.  All-Wheel-Drive certainly served us well.  While all this shoveling was going on, I walked in on snow shoes with my backpack and a lidded five gallon bucket full of the last two weeks of kitchen trimmings:  onion skins, eggshells, carrot peels, coffee filters and grounds, roots from potatoes over-enthusiastic for spring, various other vegetable trimmings, and making up most of the volume, grapefruit rinds and winter squash skins.  I figure we might as well take the compost stuff out there since we need it there more.  We didn’t even start a fire in the woodstove in the shack; it was just nice to be out of the wind.  I put the dishtowels away and got out some more optic orange tape to make the cable at the end of the driveway more visible again.

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Then we walked up to have a look at the foundation of the house.  We’ve talked about what to do with it.  We haven’t come to a conclusion yet.  Of course we have to fill it in, but do we salvage some of the stone, especially from the interior walls?  Do we rent a Bobcat and push the walls in entirely, or do we pay the old house a little bit of an homage by filling it in up to a point and then making a garden within the walls like this, except less fancy, because this was never a very big or grand house.  Whatever we do with the foundation we’ll work big and little things from the place into our new place.  Some stone walls in the garden and a stone-lined fire pit.    Maybe bookcases from the beams salvaged from the small barn.  Projects with other supports and siding salvaged from that barn…  A headboard from the small barn’s upper sliding door.  Maybe a coat rack in our mudroom like this one mounted on the wall in a friend’s hallway in Tulsa, OK made from one of the boards we salvaged from the windows.

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After looking at the foundation of the house and taking our walk, we had a little time to kill before the restaurant in town we wanted to go to would open for dinner.   We went to the bookstore because I wanted to see if she had any old plat maps of the area.  Old maps, yes.  None of either the township or county for which I was looking.  I was sorely tempted by a book on Wisconsin silos, but I didn’t buy it.  Then we walked to one of the art galleries.  We looked at some jewelry, some furniture and dyed silk scarves.  I had almost decided to buy some handmade soap.  Then we saw the tree.  Actually there were three tree pieces by the same artist.  All mixed media and we really liked two of them.  We decided to buy one of them.   The artist called it Homecoming.  For now, it hangs in our living room here.   I have no doubt that at some point in the next couple of years, it’ll be hanging in a new building out at the land.

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The End of the Farmhouse and a Blast from the Past

ImageAfter the heat of summer receded, we started concentrating on getting the house ready for a training drill for the fire department.  We pulled all the windows and the doors.  We pried electrical boxes from studs and pulled all of the electrical wiring, both old and new.  We managed to get the cast iron (but sadly not claw foot) bath tub out, shoved it through the side door and eventually loaded it into the bucket of the tractor and gave it a ride down to the barn where it sits for now.  We removed any copper pipe we could find because it can be recycled and the newer PVC pipes because there was no reason for those to go up in flames and emit toxic smoke.  One weekend, D.  cut a hole in the roof.  Over the course of four days this fall, D. pried the asbestos siding off the house.  This project entailed goggles, protective gloves and a respirator and he ruined four Tyvek suits.  We built a crate on a pallet as we were advised to from the waste company in a nearby county which could accept asbestos waste and on the second Saturday of the deer hunting season we had a busy morning with a deer shot at first light and still needing to haul the box of asbestos, all 1,820 pounds of it away for disposal.  And then there was nothing left for us to do but turn it over to the fire department for a training exercise burn.

Just over a week ago, we received a call from the fire chief.  All the paperwork was finally in place, including the permit from the DNR and was it o.k. to burn the house this past Tuesday?  Yes!  Did we want to be there?  Wouldn’t miss it!

Tuesday night was cold.  Monday might have been colder, but we drove out to the farm and found that the cable was not across the driveway.  Someone had already been there to open up.  We drove in, half expecting to find someone already there, but no, they must have come and gone.  We waited a while and eventually we saw headlights of two vehicles.  They drove in tentatively, but they had to be in the right place.  Our road doesn’t see much traffic.  Our driveway sees even less.  One of the vehicles stopped where the old, unused road diverges from the driveway and we got out of the car. Even though we were a great distance away, I could here a woman saying that she used to live here.  I grabbed my flashlight and told D. that I was going to talk.  The other pickup truck drove back out, but the lady in the car rolled down her window.  She told me her name and said she lived there, but that they moved out when she was 13 years old… over 40 years ago. She said they’d come to watch the fire.  Her brother was in the car with her.  They decided to come with me and walk closer to the house.  Then the fire department rolled in with at least two trucks and I don’t know how many firemen.  I stood talking to the lady who said they had been out on Sunday and that they went in the house.   This gave me pause because of how unsafe the house is now with the raccoon poo, the buckling floor and all the tarpaper and roofing nails we’d thrown back in since there was no better way to get rid of them than to let them go in the fire.  She said they’d gone upstairs to see where their bedrooms were and told me that the wood stoves were downstairs when they were kids and that in the winter they often woke up to frost on the walls.  She said that their parents raised 10 kids there and that she had no idea how they did it.  She went on to say that sometimes there were 13 of them in the house, mom, dad, ten kids and one of the grandfathers.  This was not a large farmhouse!  She described the huge dining room table and said she had no idea how her mother got it in there.  She asked me about a corner china cabinet that was built in and I had to tell her, no, I was sorry, I never saw it, the house was really gutted before we bought the farm.  She asked me if I’d been in the cellar.  Sure, I have and I shuttered to think that they’d gone down with all the broken glass and dead raccoons in various stages of decomposition, but they managed to overlook all of that saying, “That ledge in the back (on the north side) of the cellar where mom kept all her canned goods is still there.”  They also noted that the floor was still dirt.  She talked of swimming in the creek, which was hard for me to believe, but I guess some of the pools could have filled in since then.  Besides that everything feels bigger when you’re a little kid.  I have the same sensation going back to where I was a little child, everything seems small now… the distance from the old house to my school, the yard…just everything.  She talked of sledding on the other side of the valley.  They were amazed at how big the windbreak pines are now and I told them that a pair of hawks had nested there this past spring.  Her brother said they planted those trees a couple of summers in the 1960’s and they had noticed our tiny tree nursery.  She told me of slaughtering chickens in the yard and tying calves they showed for 4-H to the posts near the barn and sitting on the ledge and watching the men and maybe old brothers milk the cows.  I asked about the barn and whether or not there were gutters.  Yes, there were.  I don’t know when or why the gutters were later filled with concrete.  Her brother talked of a day mixing and pouring concrete and that their dad collapsed in the heat.  Then we were standing between the barn and the house and he said, “This is where I shot Jim!”  That led to a story of new BB guns, dropping hay from the loft into the lower part of the barn where the cows were, boys going into the loft to see if there were any birds up there that they could shoot and one brother daring another, “I bet you can’t shoot me as I run from here to the barn.”  Sure enough, he did shoot the brother.  No one was seriously hurt, but they were both in trouble and didn’t see those BB guns for some time.  I also asked about the size of the farm since our parcel is now just over 38 acres.  I asked if it was at one point 160 acres which would have been typical in this area for an older farm and which I thought I had pieced together looking at old maps.  She confirmed for me that the original farm was 160 acres and it was what we have and some of the tillable land to the north.  They were sad to see the house go, but at the same time understood.  And the questions followed:  “Where were we from?  Did we plan to build?  Were we going to live there?”  We sure hope so.  She told me that she has an album of what it was like there when they were kids and said we were welcome to stop by and said they were interested to see how things go for us.  In the back of my mind, Joel Salatin is telling me that everyone local thinks we’ll fail and move on before too long.  I don’t want that to be true.

Some of the wood D. had salvaged from the second story was too close and he was trying to move it further out of the way even as the fire was starting.  The wind was from the west and they started fires in the northwest and southwest corners of the house.  It didn’t take long for it to really take off.  The fire fighters mainly watched to see that the fire didn’t jump to any of the dry grass further away and then get out of control.   I learned that another brother and a nephew of the lady that I was talking to were on the fire department squad at the fire.  I wasn’t surprised.  I knew that there were several people of that last name in the department and I wondered if they’d be there for the fire and I wondered how they’d feel about it. One of the fire department concerns was the electric company pole not too far out from the house.  It did get hot, but it didn’t start on fire.   The fire got close to the old oak, but I wasn’t worried.  Old oaks have survived the periodic fires that keep prairie from turning into woods.  Luckily, nothing required them to actually use the hose from the truck in the single degree temperatures.   If they had, the hose would have frozen and it would have been hanging in the firehouse for a couple of days to thaw and drain before they could put it away.  I can’t recall how long after the fire first started that the roof and the first wall collapsed, but I think that is was just under an hour in that the first floor collapsed into the basement.  Just before that happened, the fire chief had picked up a few bricks that I had salvaged and left outside of the house.  Like a little kid throwing rocks onto thin ice, he pitched these bricks, one by one onto the first floor.  Maybe I can still retrieve those bricks, maybe not…but eventually the floor did collapse.  Once it appeared the fire was in no danger of getting out of control, the fire department got ready to depart, verifying that we’d be around for a while.  The chief said they’d be at the station for a while and I confirmed that his mobile number was in both our phones.

After the fire fighters left, D. said that a raccoon ran out of the house.   He said it seemed disoriented and we were really surprised that after all that time there was one in there that managed to get out.  The possibility of raccoons in the house was something that had occurred to both of us though before we even came out that night.

We waited for the floor and the beams to collapse, but even after we left, I’m sure the fire burned for several hours.  At one point when the fire department was still there, we were talking about burning things and I commented that lighting things on fire was fun.  The chief’s ears perked up a little at this pronouncement, but I also pointed out that they’d never been out here when it wasn’t planned.   D. mentioned the pile of brush and willow we’d been burning and that last winter, we couldn’t light it up since there was never enough snow, but that this winter with over a foot of snow, we did light it up.  We’re careful about the fires.  In the absence of snow cover to keep a fire from spreading, we always have water on hand and we don’t burn when it is too windy or everything around us is essentially tinder.

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Unseasonably Warm January Day

ImageYesterday was unseasonably warm for Wisconsin in January.   We chose Saturday instead of Sunday for our farm day because of it.  Today, we woke up to single digit temperatures.  Fahrenheit, in case there is any question about that.

After breaking an axe chopping wood last weekend, D. wanted to try out his new carbon fiber handle axe this weekend.  It works great!  More oak and some elm has been split and stacked.  Then he moved on to barn demolition.  That’s good because the loose parts of the metal roof of the small barn  sheet metal roof have been banging in the wind.  It’s kind of annoying.

ImageI, on the other hand puttered.  There’s really no other word for it.  I rescued a twisted wire hook from a door we’d removed from the farm house and two more from the stairway to the basement.  I’m hoping they’ll have a new life at some point.  Then I gathered up and stacked some of the twigs from last week’s pruning.  It’s good to have them out from under the apple trees.  It’s pretty clear that the rabbits were enjoying some of that sweet, young tender apple bark from branches that they couldn’t normally reach.  After that I moved on to removing some of the lumber from the areas around the house since a lot of the snow has melted.  I separated wood with nails from wood without nails and we’ll deal with all of that some time later.  I made sure we had warm food to eat and I drew a bucket of water from the spring house so that I could boil water to wash dishes.  I downloaded the pictures from the SD card on the trail cam onto my iPad.  Some deer.  The back half of probably a skunk.  One picture where who knows why the camera engaged.

Eventually, I wandered up the the small barn on the hill with D’s water bottle.  I asked if he wanted to walk or if he just wanted to work for as long as the light allowed.  He chose the latter, and I went for a walk all the way to the back by myself, checking out the area around the coyote den, a couple of deer trails we don’t normally walk and all the animal tracks I could find.  It was a warm day more typical of March and now all the roofing on the south side of the barn is gone and most of the north side.  It’ll be interesting to me to see what the next step in deconstruction is.

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Fire Wood and New Things in the Kitchen

Day One of the Preserved Lemon Project

Day One of the Preserved Lemon Project

We left for the farm after breakfast this morning, but earlier than we’ve managed to leave in a while.  We drove up to the cable across the driveway, I twisted the lock to the right combination of letters and it wouldn’t open.  I figured I was being impatient and got back in the car and D. went to try.  With more force than I can muster, he opened the lock, but he also really broke the lock.  For now, the cable is not locked, just secured with a carabiner.

After starting a fire in the wood stove in the shack, and making sure my parents’ buffet warmer could heat our glass container full of enchiladas, left over from last week, we gathered a few tools and took the utility sled down to one of the fallen oak trees.  D. set to work with the chain saw cutting lengths that will fit in the stove.  I loaded the sled and hauled it up the hill, then down and then up another hill to get it where it was going.  On the first load, I figured I could have gotten more wood in the sled, but if I had, I couldn’t have pulled it up hill, especially where all the snow is melted.  After I dumped my load, I looked up and saw a pair of hawks floating and circling past the tree where we were working and I watched them float past the tree line where the hawk nest was last year.  I’m nearly certain they are the same hawks and I sure hope they’re checking out the real estate and that they’ll raise more hawklets there this year.  (I know the term is eyasses, but come on!)

I didn’t try so hard with the next load and the third load was our last.  That wood will see us through for the days we spend there for the rest of the winter.  I’m pretty sure we won’t stay overnight until March.

After lunch we moved on to the orchard and clipped water sprouts from the trees and cut some other branches that cross and rub and some just plain dead wood.  Orchard work was harder going.  Up on the hill, we were in the sun, but exposed to the wind in a way we were not cutting firewood in the valley and the work also isn’t quite as strenuous, so that doesn’t help with the keeping warm either.  We did a fair amount of work on one of the trees and took a break for some hot chocolate when our hands just couldn’t take it anymore.

Then we took a walk.  We missed our walk last week.  Deer and raccoons have been nearly everywhere.  At one point, though, on the crusty snow, I saw a track that I was pretty sure was coyote, so I started tracking it backwards.  Sure enough, it led close to the coyote den where there were lots of tracks and there was a hole in the snow over the den.  There was also a second depression in the snow near the den.  I walked over to it and I noticed blood.  D. was standing a few feet away from me and asked me if it was a raccoon.  Indeed there was a partially eaten raccoon at the bottom of that hole.  Back around deer hunting season, before the snow, I’d noticed a dead raccoon there, but I’d forgotten about it.  I don’t know if it just died there or if the coyotes had killed it and stored it near their den.  I don’t know nearly enough about their behavior.  I do know I shouldn’t walk back that way at night.  This past summer, I walked past the little barn on the hill and up to the next fence line to look at the sky away from the yard light.  I sensed something near me and that something in the dark produced a growl ending in a little bit of a yip.  I said to the dark, “Get away from me!” and saw it run north and its coyote tail illuminated in the moonlight.  So no more walking alone out that way after dark, unless I want to be armed and can make a commitment to being sure of what I might shoot.  It’s just easier not to go there.

All the way toward the back of the land, we found that a few of the small red oak trees, bent over by the heavy snow a few weeks ago had returned to upright with the recent melting.  We found many tracks.  Deer, rabbit, raccoon, coyote.  Seems everyone had been back that way.  At the back, we talked briefly about where to concentrated on buckthorn and multiflora rose and then we walked back into the wind, closed the barn down for the day and packed up for the ride home.

On the civilized front, a few new things have happened in the kitchen.

1)  Venison Liver Pâté  Make this if a deer liver ever falls into your hands.  The liver will go further, and to me at least, this is much more palatable than just frying liver.

2) Sprouting mung beans  We’re just on day two of sprouting and our house isn’t very warm, but this is easy, cheaper and more convenient than buying sprouts if you can plan ahead just a little.

3) Polenta Cake with Lemon and Olive Oil  I made this so that we could eat it with a rhubarb blueberry fruit compote, in order to get a giant blueberry ice chunk out of the freezer.  We’ve also eaten it with cranberry cherry sauce.  I followed the recipe other than using whole milk soured with lemon juice to achieve the acid component instead of the reduced fat butter milk which I would never really buy.

4) Preserved lemons  I can’t wait another 27 days to make some really good Moroccan food.  Look here or here for directions.

As winter goes on, we’ll continue demolition and salvage of the small barn and orchard pruning.  On the home front, we’ll need to concentrate on eating carnival squash, probably at the rate of two squash a week to get it gone before it isn’t any good.  I know I could roast it and freeze it, but then I’d have to store it and by then there might be something better to eat anyway.

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Garden Planning and Some Winter Chores

ImageJanuary is a slow time of the year for us at the farm.  Fortunately, there aren’t many pressing tasks either.  We’ve been working on burning the pile of willow wood from the tree that fell in June 2011.  Yesterday, we had our third and hopefully last fire unless there is something lurking under the foot of snow on the edges that we’ve not found yet.  Willow is smoky, stinky, watery wood and I’ll be glad when it is gone.  In the ashes of the large fire footprint, we’ll plant a new swatch of prairie.

It wasn’t really cold yesterday, but the windchill was something else as set about pruning the apple trees.  We didn’t get very far, mostly working on new water sprouts from last year, other branches that cross and rub, or branches that are growing in a downward direction.  Using only loppers, and with our hands getting really cold, we still have a lot to do, but we also did some planning for parts of the trees that will require saws.  One of the older trees has some very tall vertical water sprouts that are really major trunks now.  We’re planning on taking a couple of these out and topping one of them at the point where a pretty good sized horizontal branch is growing in hopes of making the tree more productive and not quite so difficult to pick from during harvest season.

We’re planning the garden too.  We’ve inventoried the seeds we have and decided what else we want.  I haven’t ordered anything yet, so I don’t know what it’s going to cost.  In a way it doesn’t matter, because we’ve decided not to continue taking a CSA share this year.  It was a hard decision because we really like our CSA farmers and the produce their farm has provided for the last few years, but even last year we scaled back going from a full summer share to a half share and dropping the winter share this year.  A half summer share, 10 boxes every other week starting in June and going until October is $360 this year and while we will probably spend more than that this year on a grow light for seedlings, building an electric fence, possibly a pump to get water up to the garden near the barn, and on additional supports for tomatoes, depending on what we can salvage around the farm, many of these expenses will be spread out over many years.  It’s a sign of our success and indirectly that of our farmers that we are moving on and growing even more of our own food than we have the last couple of years.  It would be really silly of us not to take this on at this point since we have so much room and we have some good-sized garden areas prepared.

Today, during this relative down time, we made a trip to the farm supply store to investigate supplies for the electric fence, buy more work gloves (my favorite and I finally have an insulated pair!) and a sled.  Not a sled for recreation, but the kind commonly used for ferrying ice fishing equipment out from shore.  Our will be used for moving firewood.  While it is cold, we might as well take advantage of cutting the limbs off some fallen oaks, especially since almost all our firewood except for the quarter cord I stacked inside before the snow is still buried.

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