Monday, November 28, 2011

How many of you have friends, family or know someone who is a snowbird?  You know,  a North Dakota snowbird- someone who finds another place to reside temporarily when the cold weather sets in.  Funny how we call them snowbirds when really they aren't around for the snow at all.  And funny how the 'snowbirds' come back to their permanent home when the snow is all gone.  Nuff said about folks that move around during different parts of the year...yeah - you know who you are that asked this question!

My sister from Tennessee sent a link to their news page today.  It snowed in TN last night and apparently it is causing quite a stir.  I saw the photos, it looked to me more like a hard frost than real snow, but OK, guess it you're used to average November temps in the 50's and 60's, it might be a little surprising.

I'm a little worried.  I have received only two - count them, TWO seed catalogs so far and its the end of November.  Wondering if I've made Santa's naughty list or what I did to deserve that?  The one I really need to show up is the Johnny's catalog.  I've got lots of seed to order this year and I want to make sure I get my 'stocking' filled before they run out of the varieties I really want.  They've always been good to me though.  This past year they did not have the Dill seed I wanted so I settled for a different variety.  Sorry to say it did not live up to my expectations and it made harvesting and keeping Dill in stock a little difficult. When I called to let them know, not really complain, just give them some feedback - they credited my account for the whole amount.   In 2010 however, we had to switch varieties of Zinnia and found Johnny's recommendation for the new variety to be a big hit.

I've already spoken with the Rock Lake greenhouse to get the Rosemary plugs ordered and they're looking into Italian Oregano plugs for us too.  OOO, gotta love that Italian Oregano.  The Greek is great for some recipes but you can't beat the true 'pizza' flavor of a good Italian.

For now I guess I'll just wait by the mailbox, hoping Olaf the mailman will deliver what is to me the equivalent of the old Sears Holiday WishBook.  Hope you all had a great Turkey Day!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

They say history repeats itself, repeats itself, repeats itself...

Churchs Ferry’s most successful industry was the Northewestern Ironworks which was begun in April 1895. At that time Samuel Hann, who had been working near Cando, set up business in the former Nelson blacksmith shop. Hann and his partner David Hough of Minneapolis erected their first building just east of the intersection of Church Ave. and 3rd. ST. In March 1897 the iron works started advertising its services statewide. For a few years the business and the number of employees continued to expand. By April 1900 the Devils Lake paper wrote a description of the business that stated, “An institution like this would be a great credit to a city much larger than Churchs Ferry”. The business expanded again in 1901 adding 30 feet on the north side of the building and again in 1903 adding a second story. The company’s most significant contribution to the area was the structures for 14 bridges required by Ramsey County in 1904. In 1905 the company produced steel cells for a jail at Starkweather. Late in 1906 Hann decided to move his business to Devils Lake. Faced with losing this important industry, Churchs Ferry residents responded with punitive measures. On Nov. 12th the village board president swore out a warrant for Hann’s arrest charging him with violating an ordinance requiring the removal of machinery standing in the alley by his building. Brought to trial before the local justice, Hann’s Devils Lake lawyer fought and won. Thus after 10 years Churchs Ferry lost what was its most important industrial enterprise.
Now after 10 years, the City of Churchs Ferry has decided to repeat history with gardendwellers FARM as the object of its attention. I predict the outcome will be somewhat the same, but this time maybe the citizens of Churchs Ferry can ensure that it will never happen again.
'"Democracy must be more than two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner."
James Bovard

Monday, October 03, 2011

Finally Fall!
It's always amazing to me how fast the leaves can turn their subtle shades of fall gold and orange.  This year it has come all too fast and none too fast at the same time.

I couldn't wait for fall this year.  Not because that's when we usually take our yearly vacation - which we will miss this year - or because that's when nature finally slows to a crawl, but because for me October is the time for a new beginning.

Last Wednesday evening was the beginning of Rosh Hashanah.  The start of the Jewish High Holy Days and the Jewish New Year.  It was a day of prayer and repentence for me and I felt joy after relieving myself of those burdens.  I am certain this new year will be one of great joy, new adventures and a few challenges for us.  What's a life without some challenges?

My first challenge is that my computer has decided the 'shift' key on the right side of the keyboard no longer should be functional.  This makes any capital letter typed with the right hand a challenge, not to mention question marks, exclamation points and dollar signs.  Good thing I'm not one to have a lot of dollar signs, question marks or exclamations in my life1 -- oops I meant "!"

Challenge number two: patience.  When I was young I had a book about a pussy cat named "Perserverance".  Now, when I become impatient that I am not getting things done as quickly as I would like, or there seem to be roadblocks that prevent me from doing all that I need to do, I think of Perserverance and remember to have patience as well.  This and a third "P" word - Planning, will hopefully get me through the mountain of tasks that need to be completed before Jack Frost paints us all his monochromatic color scheme for a few months.

Challenge number three: good posture.  As many of you are aware, we have been without a septic system since June here in Churchs Ferry.  As a result, we have been using the restrooms in the classroom or the outhouses which both are serviced by their own holding tanks.  That means late night trips in the dark to use the lou.  Early - like 6 AM early - about a week and a half ago my warm shoes met the frosty steps and that was quickly followed by my bum meeting the edge of the steps.  While I'm pretty sure I broke my pelivs, I am reluctant to go to the doctor.  As I keep telling my well meaning family members, "broken bones are NOT like birthdays - you do not need to commemorate the occassion with a picture".  In other words, a doctor would not put my bum in a cast, and since I am allergic to most pain killers the most he would give me would be exactly what I am taking for it now - over the counter medicine.  So, here I sit, with really good posture, so as not to lean the back of my pelvis against the chair.  Yes, it's swollen - like I need my bum to be any bigger than it is - and yes, it is colorful, kind of like a tie dyed patch on a nude colored pair of pants.  Who needs tattoos1 - oops there we go again "?"

But none of these challenges is insurmountable, none a thing so big that a smile from my loving husband (you remember him, tall dark and handsome right?) or my son, or a goofy look from the little black dog can't erase, none so overwhelming that the cry in the sky from the hawk we rescued from the bird netting as he swoops on a field mouse or the sight of the sunrise on these fresh fall mornings won't vanquish.  Oh, yeah, and with a little Planning, Patience, and Perserverance - I'll face them all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Email, Water and Other Random Thoughts for the Day

I love Email, I really do.  However...we have three email addresses and I have one more for work.  Thank goodness for them too as without them I wouldn't know that I could be 'friends' with Freida in the Czech Republic.  I wouldn't know that I have won the Swiss Lottery or that the Bank of Britain has an inheritance from some long, long, long lost relative is just sitting waiting for me.  I wouldn't know that Rolex watches are on sale, that I am trusted friend in G_d of someone in Africa who would like me to enter into business with them.  I wouldn't know you could order Viagra online or that there are pretty girls out there who want me to see their pictures.

Thank heaven for Email newsletters as without them I wouldn't know that the herb farm in Kentucky is selling purslane (my favorite weed) for several dollars a pound, that the folk school is building a new star bale building or that the latest BEST recipe will require me to buy spices never heard of by man nor beast in North Dakota.  I also wouldn't have gotten the Real Simple Email newsletter that claimed "How To Get Rid Of Virtually Everything". 

I have to admit that this particular subject line caught my attention.  I mean, ANYTHING??? Really, ANYTHING?  Several things came to mind before I even opened the message - like water, as in Devils Lake, the flooding in Minot, Bismarck, Mandan and all across ND.  I also thought of other things like weeds, creepy people, mosquito's, and interest on loans.  As I dreamed on it, my list of things that I would get rid of, if I could, got longer and longer...wood ticks, most video games, most reality TV, winds over 50 mph and lastly, junk Email.

How disappointing when I actually read the newsletter to find their answer to ridding yourself of Virtually Everything was rubbing alcohol, baby power, vinegar and Vodka.  Maybe if I were to try just the last one none of the things I want gone would bother me.

Next thought for today - our house is all about water now.  It's quite a quandary when you have too much water on the edge of town so that causes friends and neighbors to move away and leave their homes and farms they have occupied for generations and yet at the same time you are in your home trying save water and use as much.  You see, our city sewer was shut off yesterday.  That means we're living off our holding tank.  What that means if navy showers and tree hugger flushes, washing clothes somewhere else and washing dishes in shallow cold water.  Too much water outside, trying not to have water inside.  And for those of you who don't know, a navy shower means turning the water on, jumping in before it gets warm, getting wet, shutting the water off, lathering up head to toe, turning the water off and rinsing quickly then jumping out.  This method was first developed by the Navy for soldiers on submarines with limited supplies of fresh water.  It is said that a normal shower can use up to 60 gallons of water where a Navy shower can use as little as 11.  Tree hugger flushes, well, let's just say "If its yellow let it mellow, if its brown, flush it down".  Think about it - the typical toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water for each flush.  If you're like me (because I work from home) I use the porcelain throne at least 6 to 8 times per day - that's almost 12 gallons just for me.  Using the tree hugger method can mean half that use each day.    And with the costs for fuel and labor - the less often I need to have the holding tank pumped, the better.

And lastly - random things like why is it the 22nd of June and yet those fuzzy bastard Mayflies are thicker than ever, don't they know May is long gone?  Why is it Canada doesn't want any of North Dakota's water via Devils Lake and the Red River but they haven't hesitated to send Minot a crap load of water from Canada!  Why did some people not learn about fairness and equality in kindergarten and bible school?  Why do the deer have to eat my most prized plants instead of the weeds? And lastly, why do I crave carbs like pasta and bread on cool days like today?

Hope your Email is full of good news, your water stays where it needs to stay and your 'Virtually Anythings" turn into virtually nothings.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Boy do we have the mint!  The weather has been great for getting this wonderful herb growing and now its time for it to have a haircut.  This week only, we will have the mint on sale.  Instead of the usual $9 per pound - it is $6 per pound.  It's great for soap makers, wine makers, mead makers, potpourri makers, drying for later use, bakers and maybe just a huge part of Mojito drinkers.  Just call the farm if you'd like to take advantage of our great sale!
Here's a couple photos to wet your appetite!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Gosh, it's been a while since I've written but inspired by sunshine and my two favorite bloggers, I felt I had to take the time to write a little.

It's been a stressful 18 months for us and we're not through it yet, but while the world was busy celebrating the death of one evil person, yesterday tons of other people were out lending a hand to help others.  Bless all the souls that turned out yesterday to quickly move a neighboring family of five from their flooding farmstead and the others that reached out to help those that had lost power and were trying to save their greenhouses from cold and wind and the others who helped when high water and no power were threatening homes and gardens.  That's what North Dakota is made of.  People who care enough to set their own troubles aside and help when a neighbor is in need.  All neighbors should be like that.

Today though, the sun is shining, it is a fabulous temperature and it was even warm enough to move the portable greenhouse outside.  Filled with rosemary plants that have been dwindling at a slow but steady pace while waiting to go outdoors and tomatoes for our personal use that are as big as trees, the little plants are out gathering their first taste of real sun.  Hardly a comparison for the fluorescent lights they've been used to so man are they soaking it up.  Hopefully the weather will hold and the rosemary, chives, tomatoes, thyme and marjoram can go in the ground in the high tunnel soon.  Barry watered it today and once the ground warms again within a couple days we should be able to plant not only the little transplants but also our first seeding of basil.  Always a good day when we get to plant. 

We've already had requests from Louisiana and North Carolina for basil and it makes us wish we could produce year round but until an efficient way of heating a North Dakota greenhouse is found, we're not ready to go there. 

In two weeks we'll receive our shipment of fruits.  I'm very excited to pick up our cherries and Haskaps.  Can't wait to be a little more diverse here at gardendwellers.  I've also been out walking and noticed that the rhubarb is coming up - even after all of our efforts to dig up as much of it as we could to give to others who hope to start rhubarb growing businesses.  Not sure how we'll get that part of the production lot cleared of rhubarb and ready for herbs but I know it will be tough.  But then again, that's why we planted the rhubarb in the first place.  Guess you have to be careful what you wish for.

Tomorrow night is another episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on TV.  I encourage everyone to watch it.  It's amazing to learn more about our food, especially what our children are being fed.  North Dakota is lucky.  We have many schools that serve fresh food and many schools with working school gardens whose produce ends up in the lunches and snacks our children get served.  But not all schools are like this and there is always room for improvement.  I urge you to help make a difference for our kids when and where you can.  It is LEGAL for all schools in ND to take donations of fresh produce or to purchase fresh produce from local farmers as long as it is not processed (raw form, uncut only).  If you need more information regarding this contact FARrMS, the ECH at Dakota College at Bottineau or the ND Dept. of Agriculture. 

So for now, I'm off to go out and enjoy the weather.  What a difference a day makes...