Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunrise with Sundog

It is a cold  December morning, but the day is getting off to a beautiful start.  Saw the sunrise through the  dining room window and  had to go outside for a couple more photos.
We just passed the winter solstice, so this about as far south as the sun rises.
My dog Cocoa facing into the sunrise...
and a sunrise sundog facing back toward us.
It was so, so cold taking  these few photos! But then I pulled on the hand-me-down Carhartt overalls my little sister just sent me and I was snug and warm doing chores afterward! Thanks, Rita!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Morning Moonset

This morning, I got up a bit earlier than usual, but not as early as Rog  - he had an early morning meeting. I was just settling in to sip my coffee before chores when Rog called me up from his cell phone on his way into town - he said, “Go out and look at the moon!”  I  bundled up and grabbed my camera - and found it glowing above the horizon as I came around to the north side of the  house - it is now almost as far north as it gets.
The December full moon is called the Full Cold Moon or the Full Long Night’s Moon.  Long nights is right. Four more days until winter solstice, and then the days start getting longer!
The moon setting above Douglas.
I quickly did the chores, then came in just in time to see the sun rising through the dining room window. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Welcome to the Squash Blossom Holiday Fair

The fire is already blazing in the wood stove in the store this morning, warming it up for the  last day of the Holiday Fair. It should be much easier to make the building cozy today, as the temperature outside is about 30 degrees  windchill factor warmer than the past few days.

Afraid I haven’t  had enough time to keep the blog up -to-date lately.  This week, my main focus was getting the store ready - packing up summer and fall items and  displaying wintery, gifty, Christmasy items. (I know, some people would have tackled this much earlier, when it was still warm outside, but other things intruded.) I managed to pull it together by Friday noon, but at midnight  Thursday it still looked like a cyclone had come through.
Santa and Mrs. Santa relax by the cookies and hot cider.  I have found some delightful Christmas decor like these dolls that I will happily keep if they don’t find a good home.
Chicken egg/ornament basket.
Fun and fancy dishes, from antique to vintage to artisan-made.
My biggest seller has been my “Warm Heart, Warm Hands, Warm Mittens.” They are sewn from repurposed wool sweaters, washed in hot water to shrink, to be dense and warm.   Many have fun embroidery, applique' or braid trim, contrasting cuffs or button embellishments. Each pair is one-of-a kind.  A garden trellis is serving as a pretty effective mitten display.
A vintage dress form  I got for Cadence last year is  currently employed as a display for  brooches and a fun mink neck-warmer.
People have been requesting these for a long time, and I now finally have notecards featuring my farm photos.  Here are a few of the cards currently available,  $1.50 each or 4 cards for $5.
Antique ceramic cardinal bookends and a gorgeous silk Chinese embroidery in an elaborately  carved display frame.
When Rog came into the store yesterday he asked, “Did you see the pretty frost on your plants in the mosaic panel by the door?” I almost didn’t tell him that I had replaced the old dormant sedums with artificial frosted plants.
I would be so happy if you stopped by the store today!  I have hot pear cider and cookies waiting for you. You will probably be greeted by three enthusiastic pooches and a couple of friendly cows over the fence. Yesterday, Zinnie  proudly and generously offered her prize quarry, a frozen  squirrel, to a young guest who was not as appreciative of it as she intended, but don't worry,  I will make sure  that squirrel is no where in sight today. We will be open noon to 5 p.m.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November in a Nutshell

November is usually my least favorite month, so cold and dreary, days getting shorter and darker.   This November has whizzed by so fast, it might be the first year I have ever wished it was longer. Life has been too hectic to post lately, so I will try to do a hodge-podge blog entry to catch up.

There are always so many preparations to complete for winter -- raking, packing away lawn furniture and garden  gear and hoses, and stockpiling hay (an expensive challenge this year), harvesting turkeys and the last of the garden, covering the cold-weather crops in the greenhouse, winterizing the beehives, to mention just a few of the tasks.  This fall we had an additional ambitious project - constructing a more weather-proof enclosure around the fish gazebo and connecting it to the barn. Rog accomplished this over several weekends. I intend to write a more comprehensive post about the  aquaponics and fish gazebo developments, but this photo gives you an idea of how cool it now looks!
Since the turkeys and a few roosters were harvested, the coop seems so much more spacious.   We are down to about 50 chickens, three ducks and the goose in the coop, plus another dozen chickens who choose to rough it, living in the loafing shed with the cows. These little chickens are some of the chicks who hatched in mid-September.
You would think we would be done with preserving by now, but I have been making many jars of elderberry-sumac jelly for Kickstarter rewards, and also dealing with the boxes of green tomatoes that had been stored in the basement to ripen.  This was the final big bunch of tomatoes that successfully ripened, simmered with herbs and garlic into pizza sauce, now in the freezer.
Fulfilling the Kickstarter rewards has taken a big portion of my time lately,  bottling, packing and mailing jars of honey and jelly, music CDs, notecards, truffles, t-shirts.  And I have so many yet to go!  Some of the rewards, such as pizza garden  plants,  paintings, and dinners on the farm, are not scheduled until spring, but one supporter requested her reward, a painting, now so she could give it as a gift. The painting is a large, whimsical portrait of her friends’ beloved dog who had recently died (the fork is part of a story).  Happily, they liked it!
Two weeks ago, we gussied up the barn for a concert.  Cadence and Israel were performing with Zenen Zeferino, a well-known son Jarocho musician from Veracruz, Mexico, as a benefit concert  for Zenen’s mother, who has cancer.
They were  joined by cellist  Nickolai  Kolarov and percussionist Martial Hangbe, all playing together for the very first time that night.  What a great audience, great food, great music!
“Guacamaya” performed at Squash Blossom Farm
The Farm Store will be open for a Holiday Open House next weekend (Dec 6,7,8)  and  I have been sewing “Warm Hands, Warm Heart, Warm Mittens" made from felted wool sweaters to sell then.  I have sewn over 20 pair so far, but many sold right away when I posted them on Facebook. Must. Keep. Sewing.  I am also making tote bags from colorful chicken feed and wild bird seed sacks.
This week we celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents and both daughters here - guests for whom we are extremely thankful.  We feasted on one of our home-grown turkeys and other farm bounty.
Today, Rog and I helped move furniture and boxes up to Sara and Cadence’s new apartment - a vintage south Minneapolis duplex (it brought back vivid memories of the places Rog and I first lived together.) So sweet to have both daughters back in Minnesota.
Tonight we enjoyed more celebration - Thanksgivikkah with Don and Betsy’s family, complete with menorah-lighting and latkes.

Our life is so rich with family and friends, furry and feathered critters,  farm and fun. We are practically bursting with gratitude!

Monday, November 11, 2013


Snow!! It’s not much, but it is sticking, at least for the morning. Even though I always feel a bit depressed during the dismal days of November, anticipating the long, cold winter, I do get a surge of giddy, childlike happiness when first the snow falls.
We spent all weekend preparing the yard and  outbuildings for winter, but aren’t quite ready - hope we get one more warm weekend before winter settles in.

After a week of battling with the  lawn mower not starting, I was finally able to finish leaf sweeping  Saturday. We have so many  deciduous trees that the leaves get pretty deep and smother the grass if not removed.  You can never get them all - they are still falling - so some will remain to replenish the soil.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the house and fence completely painted before winter. Before the leaves fell  you couldn’t really tell, but now it s going to bug me every time I take this walk. Oh well, that project will wait for us until spring.
After chores, the dogs and I took a little walk through the woods and prairie.  I especially like the first snow because there are still bits of vivid color bursting through the white.

Zinnie on the big rock--such a good lookout spot.
It  is a very good year for wild cranberries.
The barns barely visible through the trees.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

These Frosty Mornings

This morning’s sky was so dramatic with the sunrise and contrails, I had to go outside take a few photos.
The sun rises so much further south now, just 6 weeks after the fall equinox, when it appears at the end of 75th Street. Pretty soon we won’t be able to see the sunrise from the house because it will be behind the garage.
The pasture was silver with frost.
In the vegetable garden, colors are  muted and textures accentuated.
Purple cabbage glows golden in the sunrise.
These radishes are almost ready to harvest, but not quite. Hope the ground doesn't freeze for a couple weeks yet.
Lacinato kale can withstand the frost. I intend to transplant  some of the kale and Swiss chard into the high tunnel today.
Zinnia remains.
More dried, frosted zinnias.
A cabbage leaf on the grass.
Weeds along the lettuce.
Cocoa waiting for Zinnie and Nutmeg to burst out of the pampas grass - a favorite place for dog hide-and-seek.
A new post light (made from an old 1970’s lamp with a solar light inside) for the driveway fence, etched in frost.
My windshield message to Rog melted away as his truck warmed up before heading off to work.