Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dorothy Minnesota

Trish and I were out on a early Saturday morning drive.  We started down the Pembina trail which follows for some time the shore line of the ancient Lake Agassiz.  We were on our way to a farmers market in Mentor Minnesota.  As we drove south we came upon Dorothy Minnesota.  There is only a few homes, an old elevator and this old church; St Dorothy, that remain in this once thriving little town.   The town came into being in the early 1900's as the Northern Pacific Railroad came through on its way to Red Lake Falls Minnesota.   Sadly, the town of Huot Minnesota, which is just to the south about five miles, was bypassed by the railroad.  The town of Huot slowing moved to the new site of Dorothy.  The existing church in Huot, St Aloysius, closed and the St Dorothy church was built and open in 1919. 

The priest, Father Bossus, at the time celebrating the regaining of his eyesight through surgery erected a shine to Mary Mother of Jesus at the Huot site.  The shine is said to be used to this day.

To read more about this area;

Old Treaty Crossing

Old Treaty Crossing
Originally uploaded by BillRey74
This is the site of the 1862 treaty with the Ojibwe, which was postponed 1863 and 1864 due infighting between the Ojibwe and the Sioux.

You can read more at;

Hout Minnesota a Wikipedia site

Minnesota Historical Society

You can see a little more of this park on my Flickr site.  Clik here!

New arrivals

This past Monday we picked six of the twenty new tenants to the Prairie Home,  Guinea Fowl!  Yes, that is the correct way to be addressing this group of birds as a whole.  Some of you might be correcting me right now, by saying; "No, it's Guinea hen not Guinea fowl"!  Not that Guinea hen is totally wrong, its not.  However, hen only addresses the female of this species, whereas Guinea Fowl addresses the male and female of the species.  OK, enough of the natural history lesson.

Why Guineas?  Well, I have always wanted to try raising Guineas. Some just to have, some for meat, and some to help with bug control and gardening.

The attached image are the first six chicks to arrive at Prairie Home.  They are not sure of my presences and the thing that is flashing a bright lite at them.  So, for the moment, anytime I visit them, they all huddle in the corner under the light. 

Their home (brooder) is not a traditional one or even a temporary disposable cardboard box... No, rather its a uses of a large domestic rat cage.  It has two large enclosed compartments, allowing for plenty of room for the chicks.  The chicks will need to stay in the cage until fully feathered and then they can start transiting outside in a new enclosure.  Guineas can be great wanderers, and some will never return.  So, they need to be trained to, imprint if you will, on where their home is located.  To do that, is a slow process of different pens before release to free range.  It's cold up here in the winter, so those that will over winter need to know where shelter and food is located.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Skitter and the AC

This past Monday night Trish and I started watching a movie in the bedroom, which was a bit humid and warm... No, not for that those reasons!  Get your mind out of the gutter! Anyways, I turned on the lamp near the bedroom window to see the controls on the AC. Naturally, I select the high setting!

Not thinking anymore about it, I left the lamp on and we started watching the movie.  It wasn't too long afterwards that we were getting attacked.....attacked by hundreds of skitters.  They were apparently attracted to the light and were able to find their way into the house through small gaps between the window frame and the AC to find us... We spent the next hour or so, swatting and vacuuming up the skitters.... Some were very very small and others as large as the image below!

The next night, as I walked into the bedroom, there is a slight odor of something dead.... I followed the odor to the AC. Looking thoroughly through the inside parts of the AC I found nothing, so I went outside to check.  I half expected to find a mouse or bat, but not the mass of thousands and thousands of dead skitters, flies and June beetle bodies inside the AC.   Apparently, the lamp attracted and the AC's fan dispatched them .  There so many corpses to create enough of a smell to attract many attending flies seeking an easy dinner....

After a half hour of flushing with water, the dead bugs were gone and the odor was much less, which a bit of Pine Sol help fix the remaining odor.... Never, did I think that so many dead skitters would create such a stink......

The skitters are so thick this year, they clogged my AC!

These two photos were taken of the inside of the AC.  And this is after I had already flushed out the AC a day or to prior.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Garden Help!

Trish and I put in a new 45 x 50 garden plot this year.  We are hoping to reap a good crop for  winter storage, which will be a later project to work on; the preparing of the root cellar in the basement.  Here, Trish has set aside her keyboard and writing for a bit of fresh and sunshine.

House Guest!

Last evening, as Trish and I were sucking up rain water in the basement... yes with a shop vac! Trish peeks her head around the corner of the old cistern where I am busy gathering the water up.  Trish proclaims; "We have a little guest in the house". My response was; "What? A mouse?". The answer was NO!. So upon setting down the vac hosing and turning off the machine, I spotted what I knew as a salamander. I just didn't know what kind.

After checking the Minnesota DNR website for salamanders of Minnesota, we ID this little guy as the Tiger Salamander.  Apparently, they are fairly common throughout Minnesota. 

The funny thing was, was the location where Trish found the salamander.  It was inside a round heat duct that was standing vertical.  How did it get there? And how long was it there? 

Just for scale I include the following image!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bob-O-Link spotted

As Trish and I were out on a walk, checking the yard and a recent planting of two Toka Plums, a male Bobolink jumped out of the tall meadow grass.  He just wasn't willing to sit still for a photo, so the photo in the blog belongs to;  Marie Reed.  Once I pin this fellow down for a good photo, I will repost the image.  

Bobolinks are a great traveler. They will winter over in southern South American and migrate back up to our region to raise a new family.  The male Bobolink is the only American bird that is black underneath and white on the back and this colorization last only through the breeding season.

You can read more about the Bobolink at Cornell Lab Birding site.

Radish Sprouts

I don't like radishes at all, however this year I found out that radish sprouts are pretty good eating. After planting a good amount for Trish in a raised bed, a heavy rain spread the seed all over the place including bunching it up together. So, I have have been slowly thinning them out little by little by eating the small shoots. They had a bit of the radish flavor that I don't like, but in a small doses it wasn't bad. Today, I needed to thin a heavy amount as they are setting their second set of leaves and the bulbs are forming. I brought the sprouts into the house and gave them a good washing. After all I don't care to eat dirt and/or unknown hidden protein packages. Bugs! After setting a fair amount into a small bowl, I tried few salad  dressings. The zesty italian didn't work with the radish, where as the creamy ranch was pretty good. I also tried just a bit of salt and parmesian cheese, which turned out to be my favorite.

So, I googled the use of radish tops, and found that many folks use the tops from sprout to fully developed radishes. Who knew! Radishes sprouts/greens are full of good vitamins and other good stuff, so I am planting more radishes and soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fairy in the yard!

I have proof there are Fairy's amongst us!  This morning as I was walking from the chicken coop to the garden, I stumbled acrossed two very small gray color pinwheel umbrella stuck handle first into the ground.  I must have scared the little fellers off.  After all seeing an One-Eyed Sphinx earlier this morning, I guess I can believe there is Wee people out there!

One-eyed Sphinx

While pouring water for coffee this morning, I noticed I was being watched, by an one eyed, feathery anntenaed creature that was peeking over the bottom edged of the screen..  Was it lying in wait to attack some sleepy eyed human trying to get water and yawning all the while?  Or,  was it just hanging onto the screen for dear life, waiting the daylight hours way?    Ok, ok! What is this creature.. well, it the One-eyed Sphinx moth. 


The English poet, dramatist and essayist Abraham Cowley (1618 - 1667) wrote the following about the Goat’s-Beard plant;

The goat's beard, which each morn abroad doth peep
But shuts its flowers at noon and goes to sleep.

Though is normally called "Goats Beard", this showy wild flower is also known as; Jack-go-to-bedat-noon, Noon flower, Western Salsify.  The flower is closely related to Hawk weed and seeds itself like a dandelion.  Except for overcasted days, the flower closes around mid day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Tenants!

This morning, while watching the Goldfinch at the feeder near the bay window, I noticed activity out in the garden and the cabin looking bird house, which I don't believe was ever intended for actual use, but rather for home decorating.  With no place to display this bird house in the house, I mounted it on a corner fence post, over looking the garden.  I was hoping for Chickadees or Wrens to move in and help tend the garden.  The activity was a  pair of House Wrens, which are moving in.  Now, I hope they can get along with the Bluebirds that are living in a bird house on the opposite side of the garden in a old bird house I found tacked to a pine tree.

Each I am in the garden I am being watched by many sets of eyes.  These however, have a front row seat.  If you click on the image and look closely inside, you will see the Wren hen looking back.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cabbage Turnip!

New to my garden this year is the Kohlrabi.  In German, I am told, kohl means Cabbage and Rabi means Turnip! Using online translaters it is true...!  Why am I trying this plant, well a friend, Kristi, recommended the Kohlrabi for its flavor and since its part of the Cabbage family I was all for it. 

After planting, it only took a few days for the seed to sprout and now thinning has started.  The eatible part of this part is above ground (see image) and is round like a turnip. Growing Kohlrabi is best grown during cool weather and most growth occurs in cool weather. Kohlrabi is easy to grow and if you like the taste of Celery you'll like Kohlrabi's nutty celery-like taste.  Now, I am not big on Celery, but I like peanut butter on a Celery stick...

The bulb can be cut into cubes or slices, and cooked, steamed, or microwaved. The leaves can be used like one uses Cabbage leaves.

The truth about Kristi suggestion to grow this plant is; she really likes to eat them and she doesn't have a place to grow them of her own... What are friends for, but to use part of their garden!  Kristi the gabbage turnip is on its way to your table!

June Beetles!

Under the yard light each morning I am finding many pieces of June Beetle bodies. What is happening here? Its like a war zone for insects and the June bug is loosing!  The reason for all these body parts on the ground under the light is, the Little Brown Bat.  I noticed a bat earlier in the year (about mid March), but haven't seen many since.  But, I know they are here. 

Since the beetles are abundant everywhere I look, I thought to feed the chicks some protein by throwing in a few beetles to them.  I remember the fun watching chickens from past flocks, but was pleasantly reminded the antic the chicken will go through when finding a good piece of food.  Once the beetles is discovered, it is immediately recognized as food.  It's grabbed up and the chick will then start running madly around the flock.  I'm not sure if its trying to show off the prize or to escape those that are chasing.  Maybe a bit of both!  Its not long after the chasing starts that the beetle starts disappearing.  As the chase goes on, the beetle will becomes the possession of many different chicks until there is no parts left.  Its like the chickens version of rugby!  Soon, the ticks and flys will become part of the game of chase!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Our place is growing!

Yesterday, Trish and I picked two Toka plum and two Prairie Magic Apple Trees, along with fifteen hen Barred Rocks and one Black Australorp rooster.   Both are very good layer and cold hardy.  Looking forward to fresh eggs this fall.

There is nothing like getting ahead of a project to motivate the project forward.  The old coop wasn't quite ready for receiving the chickens, but I moved ahead anyway.  The chick spent the afternoon in a small pet corral eating and chasing bugs with my dog Gurl baby sitting, while I dismantled the old partitions and odd placement of 2 x 4's, swept out the old straw and such.  The old building is looking much better on the inside, but I can't say the same about the outside yet.

Awhile back I picked up a pair of Toka's knowing nothing about them.  I soon found out that I really  like the favor of this plum and I am not much of a plum eater.   Now, that I starting to build up this hobby farm I have been seaching for a source of the Toka.  I found them at Honker Flat nursery outside Middle River MN. A 50 mile trip that was well worth the time. I now looking forward to next spring.

The person to whom I was talking with yesterday at Honker's Flat nursery,  recommend the Prairie Magic verses a McIntosh for this area which is zone 3.  I was hoping they had Fireside apple trees and Trish was hoping for the McIntosh apple, but we walked away with the Prairie Magic.  I will let you know in the next coming years on how they are doing and their flavor.