Thursday, September 25, 2008

Once Upon a Mattress

We needed to purchase a box spring for the bed in our guest bedroom. We have a nice mattress, which Cadence used on her loft in our previous house, but the boxspring made the loft claustrophobically close to the ceiling, so I had given it to the Salvation Army. If I had known how much box springs cost I might have stored it.

Today I bought a brand new box spring. Because of liability issues -and now I know why- they won't help tie it down on your car, but they provided me with twine. Actually, I think it was jute macrame' cord. It didn't seem especially strong, so I used lots of it, tying across in several places and front to back twice. I decided to not take the highway and to drive slowly.

All was going well. I pulled over on West River Road and got out to check that it was still tied on tightly, and it was fine.

I was on 75th Street (a rural 2-lane road through rolling farmland) and could see our farm in the distance as I crested the hill, when I heard a quiet snap and the twine went suddenly slack. I couldn't see the boxspring in my rearview mirror, so I thought it must still be on the car roof. I slowed down smoothly to a stop and got out. It WASN't on the roof. Nor on the road. Nor in the ditch! What the heck!? I got in the car and drove back a little way to turn around and drive slowly along the ditch until I found it. But I couldn't find it! I pulled to the side, got out and walked along the road for half a mile and still couldn't find it. Baffling! I mean, a full-sized mattress has to make a pretty big rectangle-shaped flat spot in the tall grass. And it was wrapped in shiny plastic, so it should reflect the light.

A car pulled over and two women asked if I had run out of gas. I said no, and told the about losing my new boxspring. They laughed and offered to help me recover it. They also surmised, "it has to be where the grass is flattened in a rectangle shape." They said to hop in, so I did and we drove up and down a half-mile section of road, looking on both sides in case it somehow sailed across the oncoming traffic lane into that ditch. No luck. Then we all got out and walked up and down the edges of the road --no sign of a mattress.

The two women must have begun thinking that I had made up the entire story. Eventually they said they had to go, wished me luck, and I began bushwhacking my way through the bottom of the unmowed ditch. This time when I passed the farm with the large-looking and ferocious-sounding Doberman (for about the sixth time) he seemed especially crabby.

Finally, I found the boxspring. It had sailed past the tall grass, probably about 30 feet, into a shallow depression at the edge of a soy-bean field. Amazingly, it wasn't even slightly damaged.

I walked the half mile back to my car, drove home, hitched up the trailer, drove back and pulled over alongside the ditch. I muscled the boxspring up the embankment and flipped it into the trailer, and secured it tightly with bungee cords. I drove home laughing out loud, even though I was the only one in the car.

I suppose I should feel kind of embarrassed to share this ridiculous story--but I actually I feel a sort of perverse pride in handling this mini-catastrophe all by myself. Somehow it gave me confidence that I will make it as a farmer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Garden Toad

The main thing this farm is lacking is flower gardens. This morning I couldn't resist purchasing some nice and reasonably-priced fall-blooming perennials at Kmart: foxglove, asters, veronica, lavender and gaillardia.
Tonight I planted the flowers in a ring around the birdbath. That meant digging up the sod in the very hard, dry ground. I added a bit of well-aged horse manure from behind the loafing shed to enrich the planting area, watered it well, and spread a layer of cedar mulch.
During the process, I unearthed a little toad that had apparently been snuggled under the bricks. He was almost black, the color of the soil, and if he hadn't hopped into the grass I might not have seen him. Sorry to excavate your home, toad. I hope you find it improved with the flowers.

One thing is becoming obvious about flower gardens on the farm --the yard is so huge that to make any impact it is going to require a much larger scale planting than the cottage-garden approach I am used to! This little birdbath garden is laughably tiny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jet Streams

Apparently lots of people are getting a birds'eye view of our farm!

I noticed all the jet streams radiating above our farm yesterday and had to run back for my camera.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Harvest Moonrise

My plan was to mow the southeast pasture tonight, but apparently after I mowed last time I had removed the key without turning the ignition to "off" and the battery had drained. It was a big treasure hunt to find the battery charger in the still-unpacked garage, and by the time we got the mower battery charged, it was too dark to mow--so instead we admired the lovely full moon rising!

Sunrises and moonrises are so dreamy at this house. Here is a glimpse of the moon through the pampas grass.

After the battery charged for an hour, the mower started right up. I guess I'll be mowing tomorrow evening.

A Few Squash Blossom Farm Tidbits

Saturday evening, driving home from Nikki and Seans' farewell party in the much-needed rain(light and drizzly, but soaking), the sky was quite dramatic. Now the ground is soft enough to insert my bird-feeder poles and everything has greened up--or maybe just looks that way with the dust washed off. I definitely appreciate that the gravel road is not so dusty, too!

This is Rog's new farmer look, how he dresses to machete the burdock. The mandatory feedcap says "Gnarly Head" ( a favorite wine - I don't remember where we got this cap!) rather than a seed company or an implement dealer. I wonder if you can get a Willys Truck logo feedcap? Someday we'll have to design our own Squash Blossom Farm caps.

On our weekend trek to Menards we were on the lookout for some sort of structure to build our next pizza oven upon. We thought we'd have to spend mega-bucks and buy landscaping bricks--but Rog was delighted to find this large cable reel for just $10. It was too big to fit inside our car so we had to put it on top and tie it down with scrawny twine. Fortunately, we didn't have to drive far and could take back roads.

Last night we entertained our first dinner guests at our new house. We planned to grill a chicken, but couldn't find where the grill racks were packed, so last minute Plan B, we oven-roasted it instead. Our very thoughtful dinner guests brought us this spectacular, humongous basket of potted mums as a housewarming gift. They look amazing on our patio. Thank you, Cindy and Jim!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We've Got the Willys

Today we purchased a 1956 4WD Jeep Willys pickup from Bob, the former owner of our farm. The truck was previously owned by his father, who used it to plow snow and haul garbage at his resort near Itasca Park for about 40 years. It only has 27,000 actual miles on it.

Bob thought he had sold it to another buyer, but that deal fell through, so the truck has been parked in our farmyard since we moved in last week. We have been looking at it every day, getting more and more fond of it. It really seems to belong with this farm. I am SO TICKLED we were able to buy it! It needs some work on the radiator, brakes and engine, but nothing too serious (we hope). My little brother Lyle has offered to help us get it going. It will be so cute hauling vegetables to market and being the official vehicle of Squash Blossom Farm.

This afternoon I gave it a really good washing, so now it looks even better than in this photo.

Friday, September 12, 2008


A week ago today we closed on the purchase of Squashblossom Farm!

The next morning we enjoyed our first breakfast at the farm, dining on the patio. We got up at a respectable farm time of 6 a.m. and I assembled the new patio furniture while Rog made coffee and assembled a beautiful breakfast platter. The gorgeous challah bread was made for us by Kelly, the new mistress of our old house!

TOP TEN Highlights of our first week at Squashblossom Farm:
1. There are lots of toads of all sizes! And we hear coyotes and wild turkeys.
2. I mowed the lawn Sunday with our new (used)Husqvarna lawn mower. It was my first time using a riding mower and I read all the instructions and was very cautious on the slopes. The yard is about an acre in size and it took an hour and a half.
3. We got the washer and dryer delivered and hooked up the vent and wiring. We have already washed several loads.
4. Katherine and Greg came over with a bottle of wine, to celebrate!
5. Cocoa and Nutmeg scared up 6 deer in the pasture. I don't know who was more startled, the deer or the dogs. It was total pandemonium for a few minutes with deer and dogs running every which way!
6. Rog rode his bike to (or from) work every day - a mile on the gravel to the Douglas Trail, then several miles through the woods on the trail, then a crummy stretch along an industrial street, then through town. On Wednesday he blew out a tire on the industrial street. Last night he installed puncture-resistant tires and tubes.
7. Cabinet Girls meeting was here on Tuesday night, featuring Sharons scrumptious raspberry-cheesecake-chocoalte dessert in honor of Barb's birthday. Cocoa found it scrumptious, too, and ate the piece we were saving for Larry. Sorry, Larry. Barb brought us a stunning yellow orchid as a housewarming gift. Thanks, Barb.
8. Rog sorted out and re-wired the mysterious technological spaghetti under my office desk and in the basement so we could connect a phone on the main floor.
9. Today the fuel oil guy filled our fuel oil tank, so now when winter hits we'll be ready. Or at least warm. We don't have a snowblower or snowplow yet.
10.All our major living areas are pretty much unpacked and looking rather civilized!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Moving Story

We have been scavenging boxes and packing for weeks. By last Friday our garage was full of packed boxes. The disconcerting thing was that if you walked into our house it didn't really look any different. That was just all the stuff that had been hidden in closets and drawers. We still had a long way to go...

Saturday noon we picked up the 24-foot moving truck from Kuehn Rental. When we saw how massive and long it was, both Rog and I were a bit intimidated by it. I was the lucky one who ended up driving it. Actually, it felt pretty safe (for me!) being up so high and protected by so much truck, but I was a bit worried about inadvertantly taking out other traffic. The biggest challenge was refueling at SuperAmerica--navigating through the lanes of pumps and around cars- twice, because this truck has tanks on both sides.

We hired Power Movers to move part of our stuff, a small company we learned of through the postcard they send to people whose houses are listed for sale. Over the course of three hours, four strapping young men moved the big, heavy and awkward furniture, the piano and dozens of boxes of books--helping to save our middle-aged backs. They packed the truck tightly to the roof. Then I drove it to the farm and they unpacked everything into the assigned rooms of our new house.

In the meanwhile, our friend Bob Sanborn brought his horse trailer and he and Rog moved the contents of our storage shed (where all the objects of our decluttering while selling our house were tucked away) and our friends Cindy and Jim Uhl carefully hauled all my paintings in their van.

We had additional help Sunday- my buddy Anne Morse and her family's German exchange student, Felix, helped us move a second truckload. And tonight, our wonderful neighbors Chris and Mara moved most of our plants in their van. We cannot thank all these kind friends enough for so generously helping us move!

But the person to whom we owe the most gratitude is our daughter Cadence. Without her muscle power and organizational skills we would still be muddling through this move, and I am sure we would not be in nearly such good humor. Thanks, sweetie.
Here are Cadence and Rog, taking a breather from hauling boxes in the hot sun.

Now we are rattling around our empty house. We are camped out with the bare necessities: a mattress, couple of changes of clothes, computer and guitar, until the closing at 10 a.m. Friday, when our life as farmers begins.