I took on a new role at work in January and since then, I’ve had less and less time to spend in the yard. It hasn’t helped that these past few weekends of summer, I’ve traded yard work for cycling, kayaking and camping in an attempt to squeeze a bit of outdoor fun into the remaining days of warmth and sunshine.
As the days began to shorten however, I began to panic over the work undone in the yard. Unkempt flower beds, weedy fence lines, lanky shrubs, disintegrating mulch, dead flowers, fading transplants, messy sidewalk edges. All that yard work staring me down as I walked out to leave for work every morning. All that yard work shaming my Master Gardner training and standards for a perfect landscape. All that yard work weighing me down and stressing me out.
I cried, “uncle.” I released the stranglehold and called in a landscaping crew.
Watching the crew from my home office on the front porch, I could feel the grip loosening and my stress reducing. I felt a sense of achievement (and all I did was make a phone call!). I felt hope that through the mercy of professional landscapers, I’ll never cry “uncle” again.
Our wet spring and summer meant we had to repair the lane several times. The destruction from the last gully washer in July has remained… until today.
I used our Woods HBL rear blade, turned around, to roll gravel from the grass back into the lane and then turned the rig over to Tommy for the final finessing (I know the limits of my earth-moving talents).
Next, hook up the GS72C grading scraper, fill in the ruts with more gravel, and make it look like new again.
I get to do the grading part… I’m just killing some time while I wait my turn.
As a farm wife, one of the best benefits of crop rotation is the ever-changing landscape.
I’m working from my home office today and my desk chair gives me a perfect view of the fields to the south of our house. During this morning’s conference call on next year’s product forecast, I was temporarily distracted by the tractor sweeping across the bean stubble, planting our winter wheat.
Watching a wheat crop is joyful! It will be the first field to green up in the spring, will grow prolifically throughout early summer, then manifest the “amber waves of grain” by Independence Day.
My fun-loving, wine-drinking, city-girl friends have been itching for me to host a farm-to-fork dinner party. Looks like I’ll need to pull that together for next July, with after-dinner entertainment of wheat harvest combine rides.
This week, we started cutting beans, marking the official kick-off of harvest. While it will be weeks before we can proclaim the entire season “in the hopper,” we can do so for the first field of soy beans. They are coming in dry and dusty, but initial yields are encouraging.
This week also marks the official wind-down of “gardening night” with my garden buddy Julie. We pulled out what was left of the bean bushes, some over-grown beets, and a neglected cabbage plant and hauled them down to the woods for the deer and turkey to enjoy. After all that, we still had a few more weeds to clean up and manure to spread, but nightfall comes quickly this time of year.
We retreated into the house to celebrate the end of our little harvest with garden-fresh jalapeños grilled and stuffed with Gouda and wrapped in bacon. We paired them with a bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and toasted another season of “seeding, weeding, and feeding.”
Cheers to another successful year of gardening and the start of harvest!
What better way to spend a rainy Saturday in Illinois than to clean the basement?
Unlike most 100-year-old farmhouses, ours was built with tall ceilings and several windows, making it quite usable. However, like many 100-year-old farmhouses it has water issues, so even with this project we couldn’t escape the reminder that rain was wreaking havoc in our house and in our fields (yes, we currently have “lake front” property on what should be a corn field).
In the process of tossing out junk and installing new shelving, we rediscovered an old concrete sink that was begging for a new life. We decided it would be perfect for washing garden vegetables, or just washing up after yard work, and created a spot for it next the garden shed and the pump.
A load of gravel and a couple of old limestone slabs made the perfect foundation and our loader bucket and Alitec pallet forks made the maneuvering easy. Another “easy button” — spacing calculations and precision leveling thanks to they guys’ smart phones.
Our next challenge was to figure out how to get the concrete beast up the basement stairs, through the laundry room, and out to it’s new home. A few text messages to our strongest, young friends and a heavy-duty dolly solved the dilemma. (I think I held my breath the whole time they were muscling the load up the stairs.)
We replaced the rusty metal frame with stacked cinder blocks and in a couple hours, we re-purposed a forgotten treasure into a practical garden feature.
And, as soon as it quits raining, we’ll actually be able to dig in the garden so that we have some vegetables to wash this summer.
Whether in Brazil or North America, it seems that the challenge of feeding thousands of tradeshow visitors knows no boundaries. Lines! Lines! Lines!
Brazil is known for the quality and cut of its beef, so standing in line for an hour for freshly grilled carne is worth the wait.
This is the scene at Mimi Express, “tudo para churrasco” (everything for barbecue). It’s a popular lunch spot here at Agrishow in Ribeirão Preto. And, apparently elsewhere since their marketing proclaims that they serve more than two million event goers every year.
This year marks our third exhibiting at Agrishow, one of Brazil’s largest farm shows. Set in the hills of the state of São Paulo, near Ribeirão Preto, Agrishow hosts 800 exhibiting brands and more than 152,000 visitors.
I’m here representing the Woods brand with my Brazilian co-workers and enjoying the challenge of practicing Portuguese (Eu falo um pouco de Português) without frustrating potential customers (O Português é difícil).
Last year, my gardening buddy Julie and I met every Tuesday evening to work our vegetable plot and share a bottle of wine. The discipline paid off and we enjoyed one of our best gardening seasons to date as evidenced by our full freezers and pantry shelves.
We kicked off the 2017 season this week and despite a tiller that wouldn’t start (sadly, due to lack of winterization maintenance), we made great strides. This year, we’re experimenting with horseradish and garlic and we’re growing snap peas for the first time in years. All are in the ground and have been blessed with a steady rain. Not only that, our “vine yard” (the barn paddock that contains all our pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers) is fully mulched and ready for planting.
With our garden plot prepped and a few seeds in the ground, we toasted our inaugural Tuesday in the Garden with a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc — citrusy whites pair well with gardening.
Cheers to 2017 Tuesdays in the Garden!
We pulled it off! A trifecta of beauty at last Saturday’s wedding on the Larson farm: The bride was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and the grounds were beautiful!
I can only take credit for the latter and even so, I need to share the credit with the friends who helped with the last-minute grading and mowing.
Add in some trimming, edging, weeding, and watering and we created a beautiful backdrop for the bride and groom… and their host, Bob the Dog.
The chicken coop turned alter was particularly befitting for Emily and Tommy’s wedding since Tommy is the one who renovated it from its dilapidated condition several years ago. Add in a whole lot of love and the ceremony came off without a hitch (or, I guess, “with a hitch” in the case of a wedding) and the bride and groom couldn’t have been happier, nor the bride more beautiful!
It is truly an honor to host the “once in a lifetime day” of those you love. We are blessed with a beautiful farm and beautiful friends and family… beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!