Farmhouse Fling

Can you go home again?

The Danger of February. February 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — diskam @ 11:33 am

Pete and I were engaged in August and immediately started planning our honeymoon.  In the midst of an Illinois summer, I thought skiing sounded like a fantastic idea.  Pete is generally agreeable to anything, so he made plans.

Our wedding rolled around in March and all I could do was wonder what the heck I’d been thinking.  We could have gone somewhere sunny.  Somewhere beachy.  Somewhere warm.  At the end of an Illinois winter the LAST thing I wanted was to go see more snow.  We went and we had a fantastic time, but every August I still find myself telling Pete that skiing sounds like fun.  And every August he falls over laughing.

I think I’ve now found the winter equivelant.  The garden catalogs are coming thick and fast and they’ve got pictures of beautiful produce and it seems like it couldn’t hurt to order just a few things.  And maybe a few more.  And it sure would be nice to have our own asparagus patch so I didn’t have to sneak into my mom’s to harvest hers.  And fresh peas sure are good.  And the kids would really like to have their own pumpkin patch.  And oh my gosh I’ve got to stop.

Last year was our first garden ever.  And it went a little something like this.  ‘Hey Pete, when you’re in town could you pick up some basil?”  18 basil plants later I remembered that it’s best to be very specific when sending Pete shopping.  He also picked up a few tomato plants for himself (the kids and I do NOT do tomatoes).  He got 47.  That’s right, forty seven tomato plants.  For himself.  We had so many tomatoes that my father-in-law was making daily trips to the food pantry to drop them off.  I think even the food pantry was irritated with us. 

We also had one row of carrots that were impossible to dig up, a row of peppers that was accidentally mowed, and several rows of sweet corn that weren’t very sweet.  We also had a fantastic crop of weeds.  I mean really fantastic.  I kept them under control for awhile and then they’d get away from me.  I’d fight them back down and two days later they’d be waist high again.  I could just imagine my dad cringing every time he drove by.  So, I need to control myself and not give in to seed catalog envy.  I want to keep the garden smallish until we’ve proven we can keep it under control both in what we produce and how we take care of it.

Some fresh green beans would sure taste good though.  And maybe a few radishes.  I saw some flowers that I know that Thing 2 would just love.


Only In A Small Town. February 20, 2010

Filed under: small town — diskam @ 4:16 pm

I met a couple of friends at a bar in town for lunch on Thursday.  There are only a few places in town to eat lunch, and this particular place was packed.  There were farmers, teachers, friends and relatives and a constant stream of people in and out. 

We had a nice lunch and chatted for quite a while when suddenly my friend Melanie realized she’d missed a call.  She was trying to get to her voicemail when the bar owner called over to our table, “Hey Melanie, the school’s on the phone.  You need to go pick up Sydney.  She’s sick.”

I told Melanie I’d give her a lot more grief if I hadn’t seen the school secretary at the table next to us when we sat down.  Only in a small town would the school know to call the local bar if they couldn’t get you on your cell phone.


Cash Crop. February 11, 2010

Filed under: Farming — diskam @ 4:49 pm

In this area the usual crops are corn and soybeans.  There’s the occasional field of sunflowers or sorghum, but for the most part fields look something like this:

Once upon a time though, my grandpa grew something a little different.

During WWII  a hemp processing mill was built in town and local farmers were encouraged to grow marijuana to support the war efforts.  Well, they were encouraged to grow marijuana with the idea the hemp would eventually be turned into rope for the armed services.  I imagine growing marijuana simply to aid war efforts would have attracted an entirely different group of  supporters.

The program was so successful that it ended early when production far exceeded expectations.  Although a local business group tried to keep it open, they were forced to concede defeat when the mill and part of its inventory accidentally burned.  The ensuing jokes, however, lasted for years. 

You don’t often see a field like this anymore:

After the crop was cut, it was laid in the field for a couple of weeks to break down the plants.  This made them easier to process.

In high school I spent my summers walking beans for my dad.  This involved walking row by row through the field to clean out weeds.  Forty odd years later, I’d occasionally find rogue pot plants growing.


Yay Me!

Filed under: Uncategorized — diskam @ 10:06 am

Yesterday when the car got stuck, I dug it out all by myself.  Of course, I was the only one home and didn’t have much choice, but still.  It took a half hour of digging alternating with getting in the car and trying to drive forward and backwards.  A huge, three foot drift of snow and a really really stuck car and I got it out by myself.

Notice how I’m glossing over the fact that I’m the one who got it stuck.  In the only three foot snow drift with 2 miles of our house.  I am a multi-talented goofball.


Lumberyard. February 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — diskam @ 10:37 am

My dad has a farm near our house that has a little patch of timber on it.  Last year he had a couple of dead trees taken down and decided to have them cut into lumber.  After checking around, he finally found someone that would come out to the farm and cut the wood there. 

Here they’re loading one of the logs onto the cutting…platform?  Trailer?  I’m not sure what that thing is called.

Once they get it loaded and secure, the saw cuts little slices of wood off the top until the knots are smoothed down and the whole side is level.

The the log is very carefully lifted, turned, and resecured so the process can be repeated.

There were quite a few of these pieces, with the bark still on them.  I don’t know how these will be used.

After the logs were all squared off, they cut regular looking lumber from the rest.  Since this was such a customizable thing, Dad had a variety of sizes cut.

I can’t remember now if it was two or three trees they had done, either way it’s a heck of a lot of wood.  The darker wood on the right end is walnut.  The rest is oak.

After this, it went to a kiln to be dried for a couple of months.  Even though the trees were dead when they were cut down, the kiln still removed 180 gallons of water from the wood.  Now it’s stored in a shed waiting for the next step, whatever that may be.


Trombone Rides. February 6, 2010

Filed under: Things One and Two — diskam @ 4:38 pm

Thing 2 was very excited.  She was finally getting a ride on Grandma and Grandpa’s trombone (or toboggan, depending on who you ask).

Although you can’t tell, Thing 1 is also very excited.  I can’t decide if he looks vaguely threatening with the ski mask, or vaguely nerdy with the glasses over it.

The toboggan (or trombone) has been sitting in Grandma and Grandpa’s garage for weeks, but it’s been either too cold or not snowy enough to try it out.  Although I did tell Thing 2 that Grandma and Grandpa had taken it out for a test ride.

Thing 2 kept yelling “Faster!  Faster!  Faaasssssttttterrrrrr!!!!!”  Some kids have college funds, but I’m afraid we need to start a speeding ticket fund for this one.

The kids had more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and they weren’t alone.

I am SO grounded if my dad finds out his picture is here.


August 1937, The Final Chapter. February 1, 2010

Filed under: Grandma Morrison — diskam @ 2:02 pm

I recently came across a book from my Grandma Morrison.  In it she details a trip she and Grandpa took out west in August of 1937.  I find the differences in travel between then and now to be very interesting. 

The beginning of the trip can be read here:

Part One.

Part Two.

Part Three.

Part Four.

Part Five.

This is the final chapter.  I hope everyone has enjoyed reading it.  I get a kick out of the prices, the pictures, and hearing Grandma’s voice again.