Mowing ditches

With the risk of rainy weather again, I was determined to get some more mowing done before the bad weather came. First thing first – make sure that the rider has gas in it and is ready to go for after work tomorrow night.

So after work tonight with the tank all filled up, I was determined to get most, or dare say it – all the lawn mowed tonight?

Off I went to the front of the house with the gas pedal to the floor of the lawn mower. Now it seemed like it was just a little off when I was mowing,  and when I took a closer look at the lawn – OK something was wrong. I was kind of scalping the lawn in places where I mowed. But it was one of those situations when you have the conversation with yourself – is it really that bad? Maybe I was being too critical? I mean the consequences of having it too short will mean that I’ll spend the rest of the night with the push mower. You know that kind of a conversation right? Well I decided to keep going for a couple more rounds – who know, it might get better. At the end of a couple more rounds it was obvious, it’s not going to get better and I will need to get the push mower out.

So I’ve already wasted time with my rider and with the sun setting earlier these nights than I like, the clock was a ticking! Into the garage I go and pull out the push mower. Not my idea of what I was going to do, but like I said with the prediction of rain I needed to keep moving.

It was going OK finishing up mowing in front of the house, and to be honest it wasn’t so bad. But as the last of the sun was slipping away, I found myself just starting on the ditches. But if it rains, I’ll NEVER get them mowed. So with my head down and determination I went for it! The first pass in the East ditch made me realize that I’ll need to change my shoes for boots. It’s going to get messy before these ditches are done.

Even though the sun was gone now, with the help of our farm yard light I was able to finish this ditch up. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

Then I realized it was going to be bad!

With my high boots on and not much light shining on the West ditch from the yard light – I was having trouble finding where I should mow. The only thing that I had going for me was that the grass was so long, and the ditch was so wet, that I was laying some pretty good tracks! By now the water in some spots were almost as high as the deck of the lawn mower but I was committed (or probably should be committed 🙂 ). This ditch was going to be mowed tonight! Just for an instant I thought about the snakes and turtles that I’ve seen in the ditch before, but then I thought why would they be out this late? (yeah, this theory didn’t really make sense to me either – but I kept telling myself it!)

And did I get both ditches mowed? You bet! And just in time. It not only rained – but it also started to snow! Summer please come back!

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Hello Liza!

Luna finally had her baby! We’ve been waiting for sometime now and excited when all of a sudden we saw a calf in the pasture! This new little girl’s name is Liza (like Liza Minnelli the actress and singer)  She literally was only an hour or so old and she was already posing for me to take a picture. I’m thinking we’re going to get along just fine.

Liza is the darkest of all our calves so far and I must say she’s pretty darn cute! But I’m not so sure that some of the other small calves in the cow yard are sharing that same opinion! But the big cows don’t seem to mind one bit that there’s a new calf tonight that was added to the clan. Especially Miss Scarlet. Scarlet always thinks that the hay is so much better on the other side of the bunk,  so she’s been focused on that right now. She looks like she’s stuck right? Well that’s what I thought too!  So I helped to get her head out only for her to go right back at it.

Yup, she’s on her own now! I’m going to see what Liza is doing instead.


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Counter top worthy

I’ve been putting off getting an Instant Pot for quite some time now. I mean, do I really need another gadget in the kitchen? I’ve been trying to downsize the house and simplify my life and having a new kitchen gadget just didn’t seem to fit that goal.

But wait!

I ended up buying one on a ‘super deal’ one day and for now I can’t go back! Before you judge, let me just say that I can agree that maybe it’s just a fad. I’m the first to say that I can go all in for a month or two on something new and better,  and then loose my interest just as fast. But this little gadget has been pretty cool to experiment with so far and if we end up gaining 10 to 15 lbs in my experimenting, well so be it! 

So what have I made these past few days? Well I made steamed eggs (Bruce you were absolutely right – steaming works great!) 5 minutes on steam and they’re done. SHAZAM!

I’ve made spaghetti also in it. I wasn’t thinking that this would be a show stopper but I wanted to give it a try anyway. I always use homemade spaghetti sauce and it is a lot runnier than when you use a commercial kind.  So would this even turn out? Now granted I don’t really like how runny my spaghetti is, but it’s homemade and I like canning, so it’s a win win. So first into the pot went some browned hamburger that I had leftover in the fridge, broke up a box of spaghetti noodles in half and criss crossed them on top, poured 2 pints of homemade spaghetti sauce on top, added another about 3/4 pint of water, salt, pepper, and some Italian seasoning – then closed the lid. Set it for 7 minutes and when the timer went off I left it set for a couple of minutes and it was done! Just like magic! And the best part is that the noodles soaked up most of the juice and it wasn’t runny at all! 

And last night I made some stew which was just as easy or easier. That took 30 minutes, but it’s also a keeper! 

Now I’ve made some banana bread that ended for the chickens to eat the other night. I was feeling kinda cocky with my little machine and so I made up my own recipe of cooking the bread. Yup, not so good. 

I’m hoping that my excitement wears down a little bit though these coming weeks, because we’ve got a lot of leftovers in the fridge and I’ve got quite a few things that I still want to try out. 

So at the end of the night when I’m shutting the kitchen lights off,  the little Instant Pot catches my eye sitting kinda proud on the counter top. See in our house, I really can’t stand stuff cluttering up the counter. But for now, while I’m still pretty excited with all the new recipes to try, she’s got her own little spot in the kitchen and is definitely counter top worthy!

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Secret to a great tomato crop!

Just like my flower purchases this year, my tomatoes were purchased off the sale rack on the end of planting season. Sometimes that’s just how you have to roll right? 

Well when I purchased the tomatoes they were looking pretty sad and were so long and had buds on them that the containers couldn’t even stand up straight. Not a big deal right? I put them on the porch with all good intentions of having them planted sooner than later. OK, that was a good plan but not necessarily followed through! The tomato plants at one time got so dry that they were on their last day on this earth. So I watered them hoping that they’d come around again and then stuck them in the ground. I did water them a couple of times while they were in the garden, and put some grass clippings down so I didn’t have to weed. And guess what? They grew. They grew a lot! And produced a lot! 

Now granted they are later than pretty much everyone else crop, but seriously who cares? I mean if you can get tomatoes like this without doing much at all – I’m pretty sure I’m OK with that. So what’s the secret this year to a good tomato harvest? For me – it’s call ‘buy cheap and hope for the best’ 

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Monarch Butterfly

It was so great to see the monarch’s in our back yard again. It’s been a couple of years now since they literally invaded us and when they do, it’s almost indescribable! 

A few years back we had the most we’ve ever had. I mean when you looked at our pine trees they looked like they were completely covered in pinecones. You almost couldn’t see any green at all on them. But when you got a closer look you saw that it wasn’t pine cones at all – it was thousands and thousands of butterflies! I even tried to take a picture of it, but it was just a big blur and you couldn’t see what it was. 

It’s been awhile since we’ve had that many of them, but ever year we do see some stopping by for a night and then the next day they’re off again. 

So when I was in the back yard tonight, I noticed a few of them stopping by again. Some were in the trees and some were just flying around me as I was in the yard. I heard that in Mexico in 2002 they had an extremely hard winter season that literally killed 10’s of millions of monarchs that could have been catastrophic to their existence. But fortunately with the help of a lot of groups out there, the monarchs are coming back and their population continues to grow. 

But this is what I learned today, that the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) also occurs when the monarchs appear. According to traditional belief, the monarchs are the souls of ancestors who are returning to Earth for their annual visit.

Whatever your belief is, we all look forward to seeing them this time of the year! 

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Getting ready…

It’s that time of the year again! It’s when you drive by almost any farm and you’ll see the combine, tractors, silage wagons, and just about anything else that might be needed in the fields these next few weeks or months just waiting in the yards and ready to go in the fields. In our yard we’ve got the combine taking center stage. Daryl needs to change the corn head to the bean head and then hoping to get out in the field soon! 

So on my way home from work today I was checking to see if anyone was in the fields yet (bad habit from driving around with Daryl) and I couldn’t help to notice how ugly the soybean fields have become. I mean just check out how nice they looked about a week ago. So yellow and colorful! Almost glowing in the sunshine don’t you think? 

Well now they are getting close to being combined and are turning brown with just a little bit of yellow leaves on themSo when they start to turn brown and their leaves are falling off they are drying down, and when they get to this stage  – well you might as well forget seeing your husband for about a month or two. Because once the beans are done being harvested they’ll roll right into combining corn. But it’s what they waited for all summer for and are anxious to see what kind of crops that they’ll get and also to checkout what everyone else was getting for their yields too! 

So as I’m writing this on my front porch late tonight with the two dogs by my side, the crickets are making quite a noise, I’ve got a blanket on my lap to take away the chilly temperature, and I can hear the corn rustling in the wind, I can just feel the cold weather season coming faster than I’d care to admit.  It won’t be long now and soon at night all you’ll hear will be combines working in the fields and tractors going by all hours of the day & night to one field or farm or to the other. I think it’s like the Farm Circle of Life.

Well it’s getting late and I’ve got an early morning tomorrow, so I hope everyone has a safe harvest and let the crazy schedules begin! 

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If you are not really a bicycle rider this post might not mean so much. Oh yeah, if you also aren’t over 50 you might not also get this post either. But since I am both – here I go! I’m going to try to put into words what this years Ragbrai meant to me.

When we first started to talk about riding Ragbrai back in 1999 I thought this should be on everyone’s bucket list and who would have thought that we would have carried that list with us for 20 years? So first things first – 20 years ago we needed a bike to ride for Ragbrai so off we went to a bicycle shop in Decorah to see what they had. We tried out a couple of used bikes and soon we found ones that became our bikes. It was exciting! What an adventure we were going to have! 

Then we needed some clip on pedals because you were supposed to have better control, socks (I’m not sure why now 🙂  ), bike shoes for your clips, bike jerseys, bike shorts, bicycle rain coat, tent, sleeping bag, dew rags for our hair, helmet, gloves, and so on and so on and so on .. So I decided with all that expense we were not going to buy a new tent! Yup, that was our decision and at the time it sounded like a good one. There was a girl that I worked with at the time selling her tent – so SCORE for us right! Well without really knowing much about camping I didn’t realize that not all the pieces were included (more about that later).

So Daryl and I practiced with my brother and sister in law riding bikes around the country side and having the best time! Then the big day came. It was time to bring out bikes along with all our stuff to the Team we were riding with and get on the bus to head west. With a lot of nervousness of what the next 7 days would bring, we boarded the bus and quietly decided to ourselves that it was too late to turn back now!

And how was the bus ride? OK, whoever made up bus games to pass the time by is so not loved by me. But with a lot of pain playing the bus games we finally got to our first home for the ride. It was a hay field with the hay cut about ankle height. Not a huge issue, but I must admit kind of a surprise. And then the first day of the ride came and we were off. People were cheering and saying Good Morning to everyone passing by. It was unbelievable and honestly quite a rush. This day was going to be so much fun and with the training we did it should be easy right. Oh My Gosh it was sooooooooo hard! We started out the day with a slight headwind and then just hung out in one of the first towns for breakfast thinking that we had this trip licked. Yup, we did training, we were looking good with our bike shorts and socks, we were so set.  Yeah, not so much! After checking out the towns attractions and getting our bellies full of pancakes and sausage we found our bikes again literally in a sea of probably 5,000 bikes and headed East. That’s when we knew we were in trouble! The wind had picked up while we were in town and so did the hills. By the end of the first day I had blood blisters on my hands and fingers from shifting from the gears 1 – 1 to 1 -2! This is the lowest gears you can be in and with the headwind that we had, it was easier to ride up the hills than down the huge hills because going down we had to pedal to beat the wind blowing at us. Now I don’t remember how many hours we were on the road but I think we got back to camp around 7:30 (and not because we were in the local establishments either!). We saw a lot of people walking or taking the SAG wagon, but at this point we knew that if we walked it would set the tone for the remainder of our RAGBRAI experience. Now the challenge was to keep pedaling because if you were going too slow you would tip over. Kinda funny now. OK I said kinda 🙂 So this day was the absolute worse right? With this day over, it was definitely a measuring stick as we went through the next 19 years of riding and we’ve never had to have this type of a day since. Thank the Lord!

And in the 20 years we’ve met some very good friends that we keep in touch with, and we’ve learned that even though wind is supposed to be your friend it’s hard to understand why.  I can’t even imagine how many times we’ve laughed so hard that you can’t even talk, and having the chance to see new towns and meeting some very interesting people every year is such a great way to spend a week! 

Over the years we’ve changed how we ride the week also. We did the first 9 or 10 years tenting which is a different type of fun. The real kicker is when you buy a used tent and it rains did you know that if you don’t have a ‘rain tarp’ on your tent you can get around 2 inches of rain in your tent? Well when that happens not only you and everything you own gets sopping wet, but you actually start smelling a little funky as the next day goes on. And I’m not talking about a good funky smell either! So now we stay in houses with air conditioning and running water for showers (well except for the occasional water hose hanging outside or the make shift car washes into showers) I can’t even start to say all the great people that we’ve met these last years with our host houses. You would think when you have around 15 extra people staying with you that you’ve never met before you would want to get rid of them the next day wouldn’t you? Well to be honest, we usually get invited to come back when we’re in the area and to make sure to stop in to say Hi! 

So for Ragbrai some people plan to ride a couple of days and with their schedules that works for them. But when you ride the whole ride through the winding roads of Iowa, up and down the hills, and you’re hot, tired, and have been rained on by at least one day –  by day 7 you just might be ready to call it quits. But there is no better feeling than crossing the finishing line and hearing the crowd cheer for you. And you know that you did it! 

With this year being the 20th year the last couple of miles were brutal for me to get to the finish line. We were following the river which is always good because it means that you should be about done with climbing hills, but this year we ended up with a huge hill that wound around and around and then finished with going straight up! Yeah, so no cool. Well I was behind everyone and was just trying to not die or break my chain! Or seriously maybe both, who knew? I thought if I died going up the last hill on this ride I was going to be so mad!! But I made it with a lot of huffing and puffing – and I couldn’t be more proud! 

Well with the Fall weather fast approaching and my bike just sitting there just begging for me to take it out for a spin, I can’t help thinking about a conversation that I had with my dad when I was a kid and riding my white banana seat bike with an awesome basket in the front that had flowers on it.  I remember riding my bike all around the farm that summer  and when I was down by the cow barn with my Dad he needed some kind of tool from the tool shop. Yup I was all ready for this type of job! I ran to get my bike and was prepared to become just a streak of lighting because I’d be so fast. Well I had to stop quick when I saw my Dad’s face and he was saying something. It was one of those moments when you knew you should stop, but man oh man you really didn’t want to. So I stopped. Now he must not have known how fast I was going to get just what he wanted and I’m sure he did know that I was going to look so awesome with Tommy the Tom Cat in the basket helping. But guess what he said? I remember it as plain as yesterday. He said ‘that if God wanted everyone to ride bikes all day that he would have made them into bicycles’  But being a fast thinking an very knowledgeable kid for my age I replied, ‘I guess if God wanted someone to get your tools fast he was sure to invent the bicycle!’ Now I thought this was clever, but for some reason I don’t think my Dad did. I never looked at his face, but 50 years later I’m thinking it wasn’t the happiest he’s ever been. But I took off with my bike and made it to the tool shop setting all types of speed records in my mind! 

I never got in trouble that day and maybe that was the point in my life when I new that riding a bicycle was always going to be something that I enjoyed. So here’s to the past 20 years of Riding Ragbrai and around 10,000 miles of open road! Cheers! 

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It’s laundry day

Has it been raining a lot at your house? Seriously it’s been raining and raining at ours! Now it’s not my first rodeo and I know that the rain is going to stop probably just when we need it for our crops, but it would be nice to stop for at least a day or two wouldn’t it?

Now I really like hanging laundry on the line to dry, so can you guess how many days these clothes have been rained on? Well if you guessed 4.. you did not guess correctly. And if you guessed 6 you are still wrong! They got rained on 7 times! Yup, 7 times. I seriously thought that maybe I didn’t even need to wash them and just let nature do the job.

But I held my ground and I wasn’t going to bring them in until they were dried and I even had to rewash the ones that fell on the ground again after the last downpour! But finally the big day came and into the house I brought the clothes. Normally my house smells a lot like soap – but these days? Well these days it smells like fresh laundry that has been on the line for over a week! 

I guess there is always a rainbow after stormy weather isn’t there 🙂 

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Golden Anniversary Celebration

We had a chance to host Daryl’s sister and brother-in-law’s 50th Anniversary on the farm back in May and what a fun night that was!

It’s kind of funny that I just posted about Kyle and Kelcie getting engaged and now I’m posting about a Golden Anniversary – but I guess that’s how it goes. It’s kind of like the circle of life.. or in this case the circle of marriage. 

So what did we do? Well to start the night out, Daryl’s brother and sisters headed out for supper to the White House in St. Lucas. With both our families growing up in the Lucas area, this is like our stomping grounds and with their relative owning and running the restaurant – let’s just say everyone knew everyone there tonight. After a fantastic meal with more food than anyone can ever eat, we came back to the farm to sit around the kitchen table and enjoy some cake and ice cream and to celebrate! 

And do you know the best part of the night? It was literally just stepping back to see our old kitchen table that has been home to in the past – coloring books from the boys, to school projects for History class, throw in tons of meals, and even holding a soap or two 🙂 now being used for this milestone! And how fun it was just having everyone sitting around the table and laughing at a trivia game that we did and checking out a wedding album from 50 years ago. So cool.

I don’t feel that we did too much to get ready for the night, but then I’m thinking that this small gesture of everyone getting together on the home farm made some pretty good memories for everyone. 

Cheers to 50 Years! 

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Exciting news!

We have such exciting news for our family!

If you saw my earlier post about the kids all being home this weekend,  well that was the setting for a very special weekend indeed!

With everyone going one way or another and getting organized for both the Irish Fest and a friends wedding – we couldn’t be more happy with something that happened on the farm this weekend. Kyle and Kelcie got engaged!!!

Now I don’t know if I can even explain how happy I am!

Daryl and I had heard that the kids were engaged that afternoon, but with William and Jude coming home a little later, I was wondering how Kyle was going to tell them. With leaving the downtown dance early to go home for a bon fire, this was the setting for the announcement.  The night was filled with toasts to the kids and just hanging out at the fire pit talking about the upcoming wedding. Seriously how can life get better than that!!

Congratulations Kyle & Kelcie on your engagement. Our hearts are full.

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