Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Not-Exactly-Wordless Wednesday: Spring at Last?

The little Garden of Good and Evil stature finally emerged from being buried deep under a snowbank all the long winter only to to be covered in snow again last week.
We had begun tapping the  silver maple trees.
Syrup boiling was suspended briefly.
But the sun came out and melted the last blast of winter pretty quickly. (Knock on wood-- last year we had a huge snowstorm on May 1st.)
The redwinged blackbirds returned in a huge flock, hundreds and hundreds of  birds in all the trees, just for a couple days.

A snippet of the sound.
The bees in the tip bar hive survived this brutal winter and began cleaning out the hive and scouting around.
I noticed  my bees were working over a dried, dead hyacinth pot I had moved outside to re-plant the bulbs,  so I brought out a pot of blooming daffodils--probably the only flowers blooming for many, many miles, and they quickly discovered them.
Each daffodil flower had 5 or 6 bees working it all afternoon.
I also put out a pie pan with slightly diluted honey (from my harvest from last fall) and a piece of bark  for a landing strip - and they were very happy.
A crew of friends from the UU church who call themselves the “Arborcidal Maniacs” came over to help remove a large dying ash tree at the corner of our garage. 
Cutting down this tree was heartbreaking and made an unbelievably huge mess.
Our friend Mike came back the next day, Sunday,  and worked on the tree cleanup all afternoon! (THANK YOU, Mike!)
We left Mike to his own devices  because we  spent the afternoon in Minneapolis, celebrating daughter Cadence's birthday. It was a glorious spring  day, so we walked to the Modern Times cafe...
(crazy sidewalk sandwich board at  Modern Times) 
We got our sandwiches “to go” and had a picnic at Powderhorn Park.
Happy birthday, dear Cadence!

It was a perfect day until we got home and discovered that Zinnie was missing.  After contacting all the neighbors,  walking the  woods, checking all the buildings, and  driving all the roads in a  2-mile radius with no sign of ZInnie, I posted on my Facebook page and two lost pets pages. Within an hour  over 100 people had shared  my lost dog photo. Within two hours two people  I did not know posted that they had seen her  jogging with people on the Douglas Trail that afternoon (apparently she had followed someone jogging past our farm while we were cleaning up wood and gotten lost on the trail.) Someone took her home and contacted Animal Control. The next morning I bailed her out and got her a new collar and tags. She was very happy to be home after spending a night in jail. Whew - I was a wreck worrying about her.  Thankful for the power of social media in finding a lost pet! 
Yesterday was Rog’s birthday. For his birthday present I got him a new used 20-qt mixing bowl for the Hobart mixer AND got the mixer  repainted. Above you see the “before,” a mixer that works great but is so ugly, with chipped industrial gray paint. 
I am happy to report that Rog was totally surprised and totally delighted with the squash-blossom yellow mixer makeover. I found a wonderful guy, Kevin, owner of Auto Refinishers plus in Rochester who sandblasted the old paint off and repainted the mixer with automotive epoxy for a reasonable cost. I will spare the details, but suffice it to say that moving this 189 lb. beast in and out of the pickup by myself and keeping the project a secret from Rog was a challenge.  
This may very well be the only bright yellow Hobart mixer in the world. It will be the centerpiece of our commercial kitchen. (I love that I am married to a man who is overjoyed getting a mixer for his birthday!)
Last night, we had a Birthday Mirthday Bonfire, burning the three huge brush piles from the felled ash tree in a huge bonfire. We roasted hot dogs and had chile,  deviled eggs, cupcakes and beer...
followed by music in the barn.  Thanks to everyone for making Rog's birthday such a fun celebration!
Today the snow is nearly gone--these two last small patches of snow and the ridge of snow that slid off the roof on the north side of the barn will surely be gone after today's forecast 70 degrees!  Happiness!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March Forward

One reason I haven't blogged much lately is that it is difficult to get excited about taking photos outside this time of year.  The snow is so dirty, and even the fact that there is still snow at the end of March is rather dismaying.  It snowed again yesterday.
Even the cows seemed cranky about the snow.
But inside there are significant signs of spring!  My office is now a nursery, with three sets of metal shelves set up, shop lights suspended from the shelves, filled with flats of  vegetable, herb and flower seeds and seedlings just starting to sprout.
Cherokee purple tomatoes...
Genovese basil....
and Hyacinth runner beans, to mention just a few.
I thought I had fond the perfect copper watering can at a thrift store for  watering al these seedlings (holds plenty of water, but has a fine spout for accurate directing of the water) but it turned out that water leaked out of the bottom seam and spilled annoyingly everywhere. Last night Rog taught me how to solder and I repaired it! I am so happy to learn this skill in my old age.
 I am experimenting with starting some bulbs right in bags of potting soil. Calla lilies. (See my repaired watering can in the background.)
Beautiful huge dahlia bulbs. We are hosting a couple of weddings at our farm this summer, so I have added incentive to splurge on flowers bulbs and seeds.  Must spruce up the place!
On Sunday I tilled the beds in the high tunnel greenhouse.  It is all ready to start planting peas, onions, spinach and other early veggies this week.  I am worried that we may go from freezing cold to too warm for the cool season crops, but it’s my best guess.
The sunset glowing through the fish gazebo last evening after working in the greenhouse.
Although I haven't written much about it, we have been working  industriously on the commercial kitchen all winter - designs, quotes,  meetings with plumbers, contractors, electricians, well diggers, inspectors, bankers, and searching out good used equipment and building materials. Here is a drawing of the plan for the front of the barn. The garage door on the south end will be replaced with three French doors, the middle door will be replaced by a bank of windows over the 3-compartment sink, and the huge wood-fired oven will go on the north end where the other garage door currently is. It is going to be so pretty!
Thanks to Craiglist, we have already acquired 5 lovely French doors perfect for our design.
This weekend, all the contents of our good old summer kitchen will begin to be cleared out in preparation for building the commercial kitchen! So scary and exciting!