Thursday, January 16, 2020

TIMBER! The Farm Report 01-17-2020

The Farm Report

Once upon a time, as they say, long long ago.... Trees like this Red Elm were quite common here. Then Dutch Elm Disease appeared on the scene in the 1960's and pretty much wiped out all the Elms. Mother Nature don't give up though, and now we do have a few that are growing again. This tree doesn't look like much, but for here on my farm, it was a big one. One of the delightful things about Red Elm is that when they die standing, the bark will fall off and the wood will dry. This wood is 'pre-dried' and ready to burn. Another other nice thing about Red Elm is that it is a premiere quality firewood. It will burn hot as coal, and clean. Thanks to my good neighbor, Ron, who cut this tree down for me, I'm ready to put up wood.

So speaking of good neighbors, I swiped this pic from an article that appeared in a December issue of the Washington Examiner. A reporter spent some time out in our neck of the woods with the local population trying to get a feel for what we're like out here in Iowa. I'm sure politics is involved somehow. I have more things in my life to worry about than who's the best liar, so I'm not too up on political caucus things. Somehow, his assignment landed him in Imogene, Iowa! Imogene is about 12 miles away from me, and is famous for two things: St. Patrick's church and the Emerald Isle. He was impressed enough to write that neighbors do neighborly things for each other where I live. (I guess they don't do that everywhere. Who Knew?) Ron proved that for me when he showed up one morning and offered to cut down my Red Elm tree for me. To say that work is dangerous would be sorta like saying that in July, we sometimes have uncomfortably warm and humid days. The truth is that in July sometimes it seems like I'm in a steam bath standing in front of a blow torch, and Dangerous as Hell is what that tree cutting job was! Ron knew what he was doing, and all went without a hitch or a hick up.

Here's a snipet and a link for you if you want to read the whole article:

Oh, and by the way, Imogene has a population of 30, and it is declining. Imogene is an Irish Catholic town that reminds me of Ballykissangel from the BBC shows. They like to have all the fun they can there, and I live right next door! The Emerald Isle is the local (one and only) pub/bar/restaurant.

"A block from Emerald Isle is a screened-in shed of sorts that in May served as the stage for “Floodstock.” Local performers put on musical acts for free, while the organizers collected $25,000 in donations for the victims of the horrendous floods of March 2019. The Knights of Columbus delivered tons of meals to flood victims, according to residents."

"...there’s no explicit barter here. His neighbor gives what Terry needs, and Terry gives what his neighbor needs. “You don’t even think about it. You just do it,” as Terry’s wife Deborah put it."

Red Elm doesn't give up easily. You have to cut 'em off. They won't lean over and drop. Just that little bit of splinter wood standing up there is all that held the tree just before it gave up.

I love heating my house and shop with wood. And for those of us who do, just drool and look at those nearly perfect sized limbs ready to link up and split. Having dried standing, all the brushy top junk just popped off onto the ground when it hit. We have often enjoyed the "Annual" Ground Hog Day Weenie Roast here at Oakdale Farm. Maybe we can rake up the sticks and have a bonfire this year!

"Hey, Tim! I'm bored!  Isn't there anything we could go outdoors and do? There's gotta be something. Herding dogs aren't supposed to just lay around on pillows all day in some guy's office shredding fluffy toys." Annie is, to use the colloquial vernacular of the human experience, a High Maintenance Babe. She wants all the attention, all the time. And she will get it one way or another.

So we went out. In the lower left of the picture, you see my pride and joy, my 1952 Ford 8N tractor's hood. WAYYYYY down there in the field you'll see two little dots at the end of the terrace, if you look hard.

OK, so I'll make it easier for you. O.J. was sitting at the end of the grass terrace hunting mice. He had been there all morning. He does that. After 'breakfast' he will go outside and find a spot. Then he'll just hunker down and wait, and wait, and wait some more. Usually, he's repaid for his patience with dessert. This time though, Annie spotted him and wanted to get in on the act. It didn't go well for Miss Annie Oakley.... O.J. hunts alone, and he ain't kiddin'. Annie already knew this, but her short term memory ain't what you'd wish for. Will she ever learn?

Ah well, I'll admit it, too. I'm a little bored and ready for the new garden season. What to do? Sort seeds.

I do this every year about now. During the gardening season, I grab a packet of seeds or two and head for the garden in the afternoons. Fortunately, I keep my seeds pretty well organized; unfortunately, during the heat of the game, I'm not too good about putting them back where I found them. They get all muddled up - and then I sort them again.

I'm building tables to hold 5-gallon 'Dutch Buckets' in the greenhouse. This is a hydroponic technique that I've stumbled onto. It really works. Essentially, the plants live and produce in a 5-gallon bucket that is pump fed water and fertilizer through a recirculating system. It goes with the hydroponic strawberry patch. I'll show you more as I get it put together. This bench will hold about 16 buckets. I's a long way to go for a head of lettuce, but it is good lettuce and it keeps me off the streets and outa the bars.

Other than that, all is as well as can be expected here at Oakdale Farm. My son Jon sent me a pic of himself the other day. He said he had been experimenting with filters and ended up making himself look grizzly, old and grey. Well, without any assistance from technology, I popped a selfie and sent it right back to him - no filters required! Yes, I did pose and made it look as bad as I could; but it wasn't hard, and it didn't take long! No wardrobe or makeup crew was involved either. Darn it. Is this proof that when you live alone on a farm in the middle of a giant cornfield in Iowa, you tend to revert to nature? As Garrison Keillor said on his 'Prairie Home Companion' show, "Who needs dignity when you can be in the show business?" Cheers until next time!

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