Phoebe & Sunflowers


Was a bit more subdued of a Saturday than most of mine had been.  I made a run out to a friend’s orchard with Phoebe to talk about things and see how all was going for them after losing 80% of their crop to a late freeze and then hail.    They are getting along which was good to see.  Then Phoebe and I tripped over to the Adickes farm to harvest the earliest maturing Arikara Sunflowers for seed saving.img_8768

20 heads we chose.  There will be a lot more, but these were the largest and earliest ones.  I love the variability of this variety.


We eat them  out of hand, or soak in salt water, and then roast in the oven.  Some of the heads we put up in the winter for the birds.  <laughing> After we go to such great lengths to keep the birds off of them in the summer.

The select heads are in a protected greenhouse to finish drying, and we will seed them later, and pack the selected seed away for another year.

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Sheer Numbers

I really did not know how many holes I dug, and trees I had planted this year.  I just knew I was tired.


A lot of them were smaller, being planting out of grafting work I had done over the winter.


Things like the Manchurian Apricots required no more than three cuts with a spade to make the hole.  It was much the same for the Antonovka apple tree seedlings.

But it was not until today that I took the time to go through my journal where I had mapped everything out, to come out with actual counts of things.

31 holes for large trees, dug by hand, minimum 30 inches deep and 30 inches wide, 204 smaller holes, 20 inches by 20 inches.

235 trees.  Hauled 10 gallons of water, per tree for the large trees, 5 gallons at a time.  Smaller trees got 2.5 gallons each.  I used 5 gallon carboys.

126 chip bud grafts done on root stock in the ground in the last month.

23 varieties of apples planted,

3 varieties of cherries (Sweet Cherry Pie, Mesabi & Nanking)

4 varieties of plums (Compass, Mt. Royal, Sapatka)

3 varieties of pears (Ure, Early Gold, Parker)

and 2 varieties of apricots  (Pioneer & Manchurian)

I have made 28 grafts of Kleffman apples, 18 Karmijn de Sonneville, 14 Cortland, 14 Crabby Crisp, 9 Haralson, 8 Haragold, 8 Homestead Blush,9 Liberty, 11 Honeycrisp.

1-5 of the following:

PF-51, Autumn Blush, Quinta, Keepsake, Red Prairie Spy, Honey Gold, Chestnut Crab, Gravenstein, Macintosh, Wealthy, La Crescent

I bought a Snowsweet and a Zestar.  The Zestar died.

Oh, I forgot the 70 rhubarb crowns, the 100+ grape vines I started, and the hops.

We were lucky, in that the summer brought enough rain that for what we planted, we only had to water each tree up north the first two weeks.  There was not a week without rain up there after that.  At the farm in Buffalo where I have another 95 trees, only once did I have to make a special trip just to water each of those trees, and they have hoses that get close to where the trees are.

I still have to wrap trunks and whip all the weeds down before winter so that I do not have mice girdling any of them.  That is about it.  Not that it is a small job, but having only that left to do, after starting back in March, means I am going on 7 months without a real break in activity.  At least this part will be done, soon, for now.  Harvesting gardens here, deer hunting, meat processing, all still to come, but really, only 3 months to go before I have a couple of months to relax and plan activities for next year.  More than 2/3 of the way there.

I feel like I need a month of sleep.



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Couple Of Weeks, Seed Saving, Grafts, Up North, Adickes Farm


Another one where I do apologize, but just going to be kind of raw, unedited, and cover a few weeks of work with mostly pictures.


This is my daughter Claire showing a seed saving demo.  Renville Paste tomatoes.  Just slice, squeeze them into a container, and move on to the next one.img_8713


So when all said and done, couple thousand seeds in pulp.


Goes into a dated, labeled jar for 5 days, then rinsed in a wire strainer, dried on a ceramic plate, and then packed away for another year.


Rumi Banjan tomatoes from the garden.  Claire chopping garlic.


Seeded tomatoes.


How every pot of red sauce starts: garlic and olive oil.


Chip bud grafts I did on seedling trees here at home.  Kleffman & Cortland apples using cuttings from trees in our yard.  Bud chips have grown in, swelled, and burst the Parafilm covering.

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Arikara Sunflowers out at the Adickes farm are doing well.


Going to need to cut them soon and lay them out to dry in one of their protected greenhouses.


The hops we planted on our windmill trellis up at the property grew pretty well this year.  Had been led to believe they were not likely to flower first year.  Cascade though proved them wrong.


Hallertau and Centennial did not flower.  But was fun to see the Cascade make it to about 8 feet tall, and give up a few flowers.

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One of our neighbors runs a sheep milk and cheese farm.  Was fun to just see them out with their minder dogs.

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Someone was having fun stacking rocks by Siskiwit Falls in the river.


Wild turkeys on a road going up Pratt’s Peak.  This trip was just with Nell, and not as long as I would have liked.  We got rained out Labor Day Monday morning.  4.5 inches in 4 hours.  But I did finish the grafting work I needed to do up there the day before.  Will have to go back to do weed remediation and wrapping of tree trunks before winter.


Just a wild apple tree we found.  They were sour and not sure if ripe yet.


Nell and I were invited to Highland Valley Farm (see their website at ) where we were introduced to the finer points of farming blueberries, currants, honey, maple syrup, and just a few hours of great fun.  Magdalen Teasley-Dale lives near our property and is who the invite came from.  Entertainment and tour/lesson came from her dad Rick Dale.

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And I got to play with his son’s dog.


This is one of the winter bench grafts I had done and transplanted up north that worked well.


Nell kept me company  while I was up there.  Ate the food I cooked, (bacon and egg sandwiches, and bacon cheeseburgers on the fire) and made me bouquets of flowers she hung around wherever I was working at the time.


Another bench graft.  Really shows how important matching the cambium layers up is.


A different type of bench graft, but also seems to have worked just fine.


Another done the same way.


Just an apple tree growing in a black spruce hedgerow on our place.  The pines are older, so this is likely a volunteer, but the apples taste pretty good, have a nice pink blush inside, and are more tart than a Harelson.  Not as sweet and crisp as one, but still a nice apple.


The more ripe they are, the deeper the red blush.  This is just a photo of one I cut up there.  Ones we brought home and we have had here for a week are darker.


Patti and I got out to the Adickes farm to do weed remediation and pick beans.


The chip bud grafts I did up there really took off.


Just a month since I did them, and nearly all took, and some have even put up full branches.


This is one of the few ones that failed, and thought it was cool that the tree healed itself behind the chip bud and blew it right off of the main stem.


Another example of a successful one.



Just two of the wine grapes I grew from cuttings taken last spring.  Top is King of the North, bottom is Frontenac.


Another view of an earlier shot.  The graft is Crabby Crisp, a variety developed by Dave Macgregor that he gave me cuttings of to propagate by chip budding.

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Cat had to come ride the shoulders while Patti and I were picking beans.  He is kneading his claws into my shoulder and drooling all over me.  Guess he missed me.


Ended up with about 4 gallons of beans, tummies full of a wonderful dinner cooked by Katrina, and a tumbler of Crown Royal to sip while watching a spectacular sunset.


So that is the last couple of weeks.  Starting to see color in the trees, air is getting crisp in the mornings, deer season is around the corner and winter is coming.

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Chip Bud Grafting


What I am holding in my hand is greed bud wood.  New growth this year.  That particular handful is from our own tree Nell and I started from seed 11 years ago.


This is a roll of Parafilm, which is commonly used when doing grafts, to hold the grafted wood together, and keep it from drying out.


After having limited success bench grafting with a home made grafting knife (I modified a kitchen knife) I went onto Amazon and bought one.


For all practical purposes, you cut a section of the tree trunk out on the seedling rootstock.


Then you cut from  your bud stick, a bud and some of the surrounding wood, doing whatever you can to see to it that the size of cut is comparable on each piece.  You need to have the cadmium layer (the green slick parts) matching well enough that they are touching, and then wrap the whole thing up in parafilm.


When you are done, it looks like this.  If the bud takes, the area will swell over the next couple of weeks and break the parafilm right off.




I did this 105 times over the course of a couple of weeks.  20-45 at a time.  I really should not have done 45 in one day.  Working that close to the ground, crouched like that, puts way too much strain on joints that are fused together.

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105 is all of the rootstock seedlings I have at the Adickes farm combined with the 10 here at home I practiced on first.

Hoping to have 10 or more of each of the following:



Karmijin de Sonneville


Crabby Crisp


Autumn Blush




<shrug> we will see what my success rate is on these.


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There, And Back Again


I have not been online much of late.  That is not a bad thing.  The world is a messed up place, and due to storms taking out internet connections, and our spending time in parts of the world without internet or cell phones anyway, we had several weeks, mostly bereft of the influences of internet, media, and constant cacophonous instant communication.  It was really nice.


The fishing was fairly poor in a general way, being that usually we can count on catching a few bucket loads of large pike and bass, as well as limit after limit of panfish for fish fries for the whole extended family (15 people this trip) which ended up being 3 big meals, just of panfish.

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This is the type of fish that we caught enough of to put together large meals.


Each evening we took the time to, we put together as many limits as we had people in the boat.  Hard to beat fresh crappies for a fish fry.  Made a great fish soup too.


What there was a lot of, was blueberries.  Patti and I made three trips picking, and ended up with 8 quarts frozen to bring home, all we could eat while there (blueberry pancakes and fresh eating) and a container for Kim who runs the resort (Pine Beach, Side Lake Minnesota) because she had been too busy to pick her own.

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This last shot is of a plant called Ledum, known commonly as Labrador Tea.  Patti has taken to collecting it while we are up there for tea.  Apparently it was commonly used by Native Americans as a medicinal plant, Europeans then popularized it in colonial times as a substitute for black tea.  It really works as a pick-me-up, as Patti found, after having a few cups in the evening, and then finding herself unable to sleep until the next day.

I do not have photos of our time at the beach, and we did spend a lot of time there, but I spent it in the water for the most part, and our camera and water do not mix well.  So sorry, no photos of us jumping (well, kids jumping, found out my body does not work that way any more) on the water trapoline, swimming, and general play in the water.  We did not have the heat up there than there was down in the twin cities, and the nights did get down to the low 60s and high 50s, but the daytime would hit in the 80s, which meant we would live in the shade and the water.

So that was all we did.  Well, I also re-read the 5th book in the Game of Thrones series, and a biography of Hunter S Thompson.


We came back to heat, weeds, garlic, and the first tomatoes and peppers.

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Just an example of how if you do not cut the scapes off, and they set bulbils, it does reduce the size of the garlic heads.  I do like having some bulbils though as they are a great way to increase the amount of seed garlic you have.


Rumi Banjan and Joe Lauerer tomatoes both had a few ripe ones.


We ate the Jimmy Nardello peppers this evening, stir fried with venison, onions, ginger, and lots of garlic, over rice.


And that catches you up to where we are now.  I think.  I might have missed something in there, but we have not been up to our farm for a few weeks, and I won’t get back up there for another two weeks, at which time I will need to be doing T-bud grafting on apple tree seedlings.  Will be doing that down here as well.  I have a handful of seedlings trees here at home, as well as 95 at the Adickes farm in Buffalo.  Lots to do yet this year.  Fun to be eating fruits out of the garden again.

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Father’s Day


We spent just an overnight, working only a bit, over Father’s day weekend on the farm.  Just another run of photos, and only for the first day and a half, as the battery went dead on the camera.


The first two picture are just showing the fruit set on the two apple trees near the old homestead site.  The latter had good eating apples last year, while the first had no fruit on it at all, but I pruned it heavily while it was still dormant earlier this year, and it has a good set of fruit I hope hold until maturity.  We will see how they taste.  They have a reddish cast to them already.  The tree in the second picture also has a slight blush, but not as deep as the first.

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Patti and Nell got a hammock set up.


Patti had an idea for a weather proof table that was cheap to put together and could be used as a food prep surface.  The solution was a $10 set of plastic saw horses, two $5 closet shelf pieces, and zip ties.  Worked great.  Might make a few more.


I did more work with the weed wacker than anything else.  I made a path back to the main berry patch we had found the previous weekend.  IMG_8340 IMG_8341

Cleared out a bit around the plants hoping to encourage their spreading more.


Some research on the internet when we got back told us these are not raspberries, but instead blackberries, which is fine, but surprised me a bit as blackberries cannot take the cold that raspberries can.  Indicative, I suppose, of how this truly is a solid zone 5 area even though it is well north of where I live now.

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Just a shot of one of the Mount Royal Plums leafing out nicely.


And Patti walking up to where I am checking out the trees.


Flowers that the kids gathered.


Patti took the camera and went for a stomp around the property.  This is a shot on the north side, looking east out over the 10 acre field up there which will be a future project to work on, and for now is wildflowers and uneven ground.


From the north side looking south.


Far north west side, near the tree line, looking east again. IMG_8362

Patti found clumps of berry plants here and there.  Told me she found a dozen other patches.

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There is still water in the woods, and a wonderful chorus of frogs in the evening and night hours.

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North east corner looking southwest to the center.


Same shot, just zoomed in on Nell a couple hundred yards away.

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This is back at the center of the property, with Phoebe running up the driveway.  One of the other projects I did, was to weed wack the whole thing down.  Does are hiding fawns in the tall grass.  Don’t need to roll one hiding as we drive in.

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Not a real clear night for stars, and not an in-focus picture, but a nice full moon through the windmill.


Next morning Claire and were up early, and made a coffee run into Cornucopia.  Took a road called Sisquit Falls and found why it was called that.

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For whatever reason, violet making her grumpy cat face while relaxing in the hammock when Claire and I got back.


Bacon and eggs on bagels for breakfast.  Lots of bacon.  After city prices, you go a little overboard with bacon only costing $2.50 a pound.  We ate over 3 pounds between us at a single meal.

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Kids enjoyed the hammock.  Don’t think it is rated for someone my size.


Got to working on the hops.  Don’t have any photos of it all cleaned up (we got rid of all the weeds around the windmill) as the camera did not last until the end of the day.

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I tied all of the long pipes in securely.


Then ran baling twine down to the plants.

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Bugs got to be a bit much for Claire and Violet so they retreated for a bit.


And it also got hot.  And humid.  At noon we headed up to the lake and took a swimming break.

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And with that, the camera was dead.  Patti and I put in another 4 hours working on the property, and we headed home.  It was an interesting drive, running into a huge set of thunderstorms which accompanied us, and slowed us down.  We got home around midnight, I got to sleep a bit after 1 am, and then it was off to work this morning.  The storms broke the heat and we had a beautiful day here.  I replaced a few tomato plants in the yard I had lost to unknown causes, did some weeding, Patti put in a small brick patio, we had a nice venison stew loaded with fresh garlic scapes from the garden, and it is time to head to bed again, now that I have finished picking ticks off of the dog.  Not sure if we will make it up right away again this coming weekend.  But we will see.

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Working And Playing With Food


Last night we made a trip to The Adickes Farm northwest of Buffalo.  Just me and all the kids.  Patti was not having any luck getting work done at home with a houseful of them, and I needed to get some work done in the garden up there.


Phoebe had been begging to be up there for an overnight and time with Bella’s new horse, which is a retired show horse.  They had fun giving it a bath (It had rolled in the mud) and walking it through patches of clover.  Truly a hayburner.   Had no interest in anything except whatever it could put in its mouth that was growing out of the ground while I took photos of them with it.


Younger kids were working industriously on a hole.

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Made a quick survey of the annual side of the gardens there.  I know I have to get into the grape vine cuttings I am rooting there, as well as the apple root stock, and get that all cleaned up, but time was limited.  The Baby Vi squash Patti and I planted last week was emerging.


So was the row of pole beans we put in.  I had thought today we would get the trellis up, but with Patti needing to get paying work done and it just being me there, that simply did not happen.


Jerid and Katrina zipped up to me in their farm vehicle, affectionately called The Gator, and had me come with them to see two new calves that had appeared since that morning.  This shot is just one of a chicken tractor back by where the cows are pastured.  New laying hens for the farm.

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When I took this shot Jerid told me not to go any closer.  Its mother was not thrilled about me being there.  I backed off a bit and assumed a lower position to the ground so as to not appear threatening.


She calmed right down.


The other mother did not seem to really care, but due to her array of armaments, I did not push it.


The other one placed herself between me and her new baby which was new enough to not even be up and walking yet.

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Katrina though went and halved the distance I had been at.


What is missing here, in those two shots of the white cow, is the in-between shot, when the cow gives a 3 foot false charge and Katrina, in her rush to back up, falls on her butt.  <grin>

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Suddenly every other cow and steer in the field wanted to come over to see what was going on.


I just stayed where I was.

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Really found myself surrounded on all sides by curious bovines.

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Some wanted a scratch, some wanted to sniff, none of them were being protective of newborn calves.

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And that was the playing with food bit of my day.


Back at the garden I weeded the potato hills.  Shot above is shot of a plant from a TPS seedling potato saved from last year.  They have, by far, the best emergence of all the types I planted.


All of the sweet potato plants look good.


The Victor Kucyk corn looks good.


I worked out there until well into the dark.  Got this shot of the sunset.  Got out of the garden at close to 10 pm.  Just maintenance things.  Nothing more planted, though I want to.  But I need to not lose what I do have in to weeds.  Got home after 11 pm. got kids into bed, and then crashed out myself.

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Another Weekend On Our Farm


So not going to do a lot of editing here.  Again.  Just going to talk through the photos from being up there again this last weekend.


I did not plant any raspberries this spring.  Had planned to.  Had even ordered plants.  I sacrificed them for the sake of my body and thinking the trees were more important when I did not have time to do both trees and raspberry crowns.  Turns out we have a patch already on the property, flowering nicely.  We will still plant more, but nice to see we will have berries to harvest there, this year.


We found them walking to the far northeastern side of the field to show Patti’s sister Cindy (who came along to see the property and camp out with us) what the view was like from the high point of the fields.


On the walk back down I took this photo of the whole raspberry patch.  Maybe 25 feet long and ten feet deep.  Probably the last vestiges of what was part of a working farm decades ago.


This is a black currant that was given to me by a friend which he had propagated by layering one of his own plants.  Currently planted in the high fenced area where the grafts I made this spring are sitting.


This is one of my grafts of our apple tree Nell and I grew from seed a decade ago, on a standard Antonovka rootstock.


And another, Antonovka again.  These trees should live over a century.


Here is one grafted onto MM-111 root stock.  Will not get as large as the standards, but will produce a few years earlier, and still outlive me, though not likely to outlive my kids.


This is a special tree.  It is the only one of the grafts to take from an old dead friend’s orchard.  I really did not know what I was doing, was one of my first attempts at grafting, but it is a Fireside apple, which was his favorite.  One of mine as well.  The orchardist Dave McGreggor is not fond of them for a variety of reasons, but I have a soft spot for them, especially as they are genetically half of the Kleffman apple Nell and I grew.


Here is a Keepsake.  One of the McGreggor’s favorite apples.  Honestly, I have never eaten one fresh.  Have had a few that had been in cold storage all winter and they were fine then.  Looking forward to trying one fresh off of a tree.


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Just some shots of Pike looking cute.


I started work on the hop trellis.


Patti kept saying that I was going to fall and kill myself.  Didn’t happen.

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All I did was haul old well pipe up to fix baling twine to for the vines to climb.

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Of course I forgot baling twine, but will bring that up next time.


This is an apple set on one of the ancient apple trees on the property.  No idea what kind of apples, but even if just a crab it is nice to see it set fruit.  Last year, without being pruned, it did not have any.


Patti’s sister brought cheese.  And wine.

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This is Phoebe watching her mom and aunt Cindy after they have had a lot of cheese and wine.  It was a good time.


Claire finally climbed as high up the windmill as you can.  That is a half moon in the background.

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Sunday morning, Violet is just cute, so had to snap the picture.


We brought two more rolls of cement remesh.  Made 20 more cages.  That is 50 (hopefully) deer proof cages.


Nell took the camera, perhaps to prevent me from taking more photographs of her.  It was nice that she just documented everyone and their surroundings.

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Patti figured this out for moving the cages.  Much easier than rolling them.


There is one picture with Nell in it.  Phoebe took the shot.  I weed-whipped around every tree, shrub, and rhubarb crown.  Took a few tanks of gas, but was nice to get done.


My beautiful wife. IMG_8273

Just wanted to show how high we are starting the canopies on the trees to prevent deer damage when they are older.  We are stripping off all of the lower foliage, promoting branch growth at levels over what the deer can easily reach.IMG_8274

And that is what it looks like, weed-whipped and with a cage around it.


The flags are just so that when the local farmer comes to hay things, he is not running into the cages which in twilight kind of fade from focus.


We did get chased off of the property by a storm Sunday afternoon, but got everything packed up before it got wet.

What you cannot really see in the pictures, is that while the temperatures were in the mid 90s with high humidity down in the Twin Cities, where we were, the high temperature was 73, low at night was in the 50s, and it was heaven.  Well, maybe you can see the heaven.  No cooked asphalt and sewer smell.  No sound of cars, sirens, and airplanes.  The frogs sang all night.  Coyotes yipped, wolves howled, and whip-or-wills called to each other in the dusk.  I started missing it as soon as we pulled out of the driveway.

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Labor On Memorial Day


We had planned on having 3 full days up at the farm.  Weather put a kibosh on those plans.  The trees we  had planted, as well as everything else, was getting watered, so we did not head up until Sunday afternoon, which meant that the drive, getting camp set up, getting firewood, and cooking dinner, used up most of the time we had there Sunday.   Monday was productive, but since the trip was as abbreviated as it was, there were some things not done.  IMG_8075


The two apple trees on the property that appear to be more standard apple trees and not crabs are pretty much done flowering now.  Hopefully they have set good crops as I am curious to see how they taste.

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Windmill is still a climbing attraction for the kids.

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Day ended with the kids roasting marshmallows, and then, while Patti and Violet crashed out, me and the girls stayed up and watched the stars and talked.


Monday morning started wet.  Not from rain.  Just heavy dew and high humidity.


Nell and I made a coffee run, and when we got back everyone else was up and we got to making cages to protect the trees from deer.  450 feet of 60 inch high concrete remesh was turned into 30 cages.  Does not finish that project, but gets it well on its way.

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Yeah, a lot of photos, but I really dont feel like filtering and deleting them, so just going to have a long post here without a lot of typing.


Just a cool spider shot.

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A lot of deer in the neighborhood.  This is about a mile from our property.

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This was on our property.  Right by the Antonovka apple trees.



By 1 pm it was about 80 degrees and we were getting overheated so we headed up to the lake and we all went in the water.  About 45 degrees, but when you are hot, cold water is nice.

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When we got back, Patti and I worked at putting in a row on the far southern end of the property of apricot seedlings.  These are from our friend Renville Tom, and we have a lot of them.

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Things I did not get done:  No trellis built for the hops yet.  They are flopping on the ground.  I have wild plums ( 6 big pots ) that are not in yet.  Poppies.  regular garden plants.   I did get in a Russian Black Currant but forgot to take a picture of it.  And it is late, I have to get up for work and getting kids off to school in 5  hours, just drove 4 hours home, and I am going to bed.

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Had to make a run up to Buffalo to grab 450 feet of remesh for making cages for trees up north.  Stopped in at the Addickes farm, and got to see a sandpiper who has a nest in the garden up there.  She is acclimated enough that their kids can touch her.  Not sure if that is a good thing or not.  She was not as accepting of me, but I got some good pics of her nest, and then her deciding I really was not a threat and her coming back to it.

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