You and I and 99 red balloons

The wind was coming out of the Northeast when we released the  balloons.  Within 30 seconds, 80 of them were tangled  up in a pine tree, and that is as far as they went.  

The rest of them got away.

My  original thought was to fill 99 red balloons (just like the song) with helium, attach a little message to each one with my e-mail , and if someone would happen to find a balloon, shoot me a message to let me know and see how far they went.

The balloon release was part of a bigger event on our property.

In 2002  when we planted our first 40 apple trees, as I was standing there looking down the rows of the little 3 ft twigs baby apple trees , (they are called whips),in my mind’s eye,  I could see full-sized trees, loaded with red and yellow apples.

Children running up and down the rows playing hide and seek.

Music.

I could hear live music and laughter coming from a stage planted in the middle of the orchard.

Keep in mind, this was all in my head at this point.

The trees would not start producing apples for another 5 to 7 years.  But from that idea was born  a series of music festivals we hosted starting the Fall of  2002 until just a couple of years ago.   I am currently taking a break from the whole thing, cause I’m still slightly burnt out from the 7 concert series we hosted in 2009….

I think I’m starting to run down a bunny trail right now….

Pause..

We had our first musical event the Fall of 2002.  It was everything and more I could have hoped for.  I wasn’t even sure who would want to come, or what sort of musical talent I could scare up.  Turned out, there is a lot of musical talent all around me, just waiting for a chance to take the stage.

 

So back to the balloon release….

Next morning  less than 12 hours later after the balloon release,  I got an e-mail. Someone had found  balloon # 51.   445 miles to the east.  It had crossed Lake Michigan and wound up in a fence near Parma Michigan. One month later, I got a second e-mail. Balloon #42 was found in Alfords Park Kenosha Wisconsin. 242 miles from home. That one had decided not to cross Lake Michigan 🙂

Now that was interesting because the wind was blowing from the East when it left…How in the world did it wind up traveling East?   Apparently the wind in the upper atmosphere was blowing in the opposite direction.

Blogging is like that for me.

I release my thoughts in the form of a blog post and sometimes, in the most random fashion, someone will stumble across one, and once in a while,

wonder of wonders,

they decide to leave a comment.

Some sort of connection takes place.

If you’re a blogger then you  know the feeling I’m describing.  That connection you experience with random people, from all over the world.  And sometimes, those people become a friend.

There are good people scattered all over this globe.

Last time I counted,  out of all these hundreds of random connections I’ve made via blogging,  My wife and I have met 7 of you in person, in the flesh, a couple of you multiple times.

If you don’t mind me asking, where in the world are you as you are reading this?  Be as general or detailed as you like. 

  Just so you know, this blog is originating from the United States of Merica. 😉

PS, this post was originally posted May of 2015  if you’re a long time reader, you may remember it. 🙂 DM

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Hammer Mill

Two weeks ago, when I was going to work, a small wood chipper/ hammer mill caught my eye.  It was sitting in a row with some other used lawn equipment.  I decided to stop on the way home, just to see what he was asking.

$100.

No way, I thought,  a new one would cost 20 times that amount of money.  I told my wife, heck even if the motor was junk the hammer mill itself would be worth $100.

We already have a cider press.  The hardest part (for me) is getting the apples ground up before sticking them in the press.  The cider press came with a hand crank grinder, which looks cute, but after 15  minutes of cranking to fill a tub of apples for pressing, the novelty quickly wore off.  The shear pin eventually snapped, and the way it was designed, made it all but impossible to fix.   From there I upgraded to the “Whizbang apple grinder”   A do it yourself grinder,  made with a new garbage disposal.  Grinding apples with it, cut the time down in 1/2.  It still took a good 10 minutes to grind enough for a batch.  Then I came across someone on Youtube, using a hammer mill to grind the apples….

Here’s what I’m taking about:

Only problem is, a hammer mill runs between $1750 to $2000 new.  No way could I justify that for the seasonal activity of making apple cider…. We still have our sails set financially  following Dave Ramsey/ Mary Hunt/ Larry Burkett/ Austin Pryor (all get out of debt/ stay out of debt/ pay cash if you need something financial counselors)…. skipping, skipping, skipping…

So, I bought the hammer mill,  brought it home, cleaned it up…it looked like it had barely been used.  The green paint was still on the pieces when I cleaned them up.  I fired it up last week, and in 20  seconds,  ground a bushel of apples..and the best part is, I was able to pay cash…$100 cash from our 2019 apple sales.

God is good.

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Celebrating Labor Day Weekend like this….

Labor Day weekend 2019.

We celebrated by picking  just over 1000 pounds of Cortland and Honeycrisp apples and  100 pounds of honey  from our apiary.

I have a couple of more ton of apples to pick in the next few weeks….want to help celebrate with us ? 😉

Our eldest was visiting with her family this weekend and filmed my our grand daughter and I  removing the honey supers yesterday.  This is our third season with bees and the  first year we’ve actually had enough honey to harvest. Nothing quite like the rush of working 100,000 to 150,000  honey bees.  Grand daughter asked me if it was normal to feel “just a little nervous” before we started.  “Absolutely,” I said.  That means you you’re paying attention.

For any of you bee geeks..We put a ‘bee escape” board on both hives the day before.  On the first hive it worked just like it was supposed to….only a handful of honeybees on the frames.  On the second hive, not so much.  There were dozens of bees still in the frames, so I ended up using a bee brush which worked great.  I don’t have a leaf blower, and didn’t want to invest in one of those fume boards.  So there you go….

Here is a picture of us picking apples:

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Rebranding our B and B

We have decided to re-open and (rebrand) our B and B on a seasonal basis….( May 15th through the end of October).

We originally opened in 2006.   Closed in 2014.  90% of our guests came to us, not so much looking for the traditional B and B experience,  as much as just a place to stay for the night.  Knowing that now, we decided to simplify the experience and keep the price more competitive this time around.

I suggested we call it a “Bed and no breakfast”.  🙂

Offer something simple in the morning, like coffee and a pastry.

Win, win for everybody.

Dug out the guest book last night and started rereading the comments….

“My mom and I had a wonderful time. Your warm hospitality and tranquil surrounding made our stay special. Thank you SO much!”

“Thank you both for your warm hospitality. It was special to stay on a farm.”

“We can’t say Thank you enough for your wonderful hospitality. We felt right at home.”

” I can not thank you enough for their hospitality, generosity and friendship they have extended to us . Your bed and breakfast is the most beautiful place I have stayed in the world. Thank you! “

     “I have never enjoyed my time at a B and B so very much.  This place is a haven and harbors amazing creative energy.   Thank you for your kind hospitality!” (a musician who stayed a couple of days with us)

    ” I can’t thank you enough for your kindness and generosity.  I’ll miss all of you, (and Winston and Oscar) , but I hope to be back!”

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And finally, a few pictures of our property:

View to the East from our B and B deck

Views in the orchard

 

 

 

 

Posted in apple orchard, bed and breakfast, christianity, country living, enjoying life, faith, farming, Iowa, life in the country, orchard, personal, photography, random, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Wild Mulberry Wine

photo by Google

There are half a dozen wild mulberry trees on our property.

They are a pain to mow around when they’re  loaded with  berries.

More than once. I’ve had berries fall down behind my back and end up staining a good shirt or pair of pants while mowing.

This year they were extremely plump.  May have something to do with all the rain we’ve been getting.

On a lark, I ate one.  Then another.  They were awesome.

Right then and there, I made a mental note to look for a recipe on line for Mulberry wine.

Bottle up a little bit of summer..right? 🙂

Found the perfect recipe (included below)

Today is day 6 in the initial fermentation process.

After I stir the batch each day, I skim a table spoon full off to taste test.  Both of us agree, this is the best tasting sweet wine we’ve ever had.  Period.  By day 3 I could already taste the alcohol.

Neither one of us are big drinkers.  In the course of a year, I might have 3 or 4 glasses of wine, a beer or two.  Having said that, for years I have been intrigued by the whole fermentation process. When I tell people I am thinking about making wine, or hard apple cider, not so much so I can drink it, as much as for the scientific purpose, I usually get that “Yea, …..right” look.  🙂

Here is that recipe with my personal notes in bold print:

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Wild Mulberry Wine Recipe

“An unusual delicate-flavored wine that is equally good in main courses, side dishes, and desserts.”

Makes 1 gallon, 2 cups

6 cups sugar

1 gallon boiling water

4 cups mulberries

2 t lemon juice extract

2 cinnamon sticks

3/4 C raisins

(I added the raisins to give it more body.  In several of the recipes I found, raisins were part of the recipe.  This one didn’t have them originally)

1/2 teaspoon yeast ( recipe called for champagne or wine yeast, I just used the instant bakers yeast I had on hand, seems to be working just fine)

  1.  Dissolve the sugar in the water in a non-metal (plastic or ceramic) food container, add the mulberries, mashing them slightly (I ended up just crushing them with my hands once the water cooled off enough), then add the lemon juice, and cinnamon sticks. (recipe also called for 3 T chopped fresh  spearmint, or 1 T dried mint)  I didn’t have any so that is not in this batch.
  2. When the mixture is lukewarm, stir in the yeast, and cover the container with a non-airtight cover, cheese cloth or towel.  (I have a 2 gallon plastic pail with one of those air locks that I am using)
  3. Let the mixture ferment for 7 to 10 days, at room temperature, stirring twice a day.  (about day 3 I noticed the fermentation bubbling really kicking in )
  4. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, transfer the liquid to a jug, and seal with an airlock stopper. (which lets the carbon dioxide bubbles escape but keeps oxygen out).
  5. When the bubbling stops and fermentation ends a couple of weeks later, seal the jug with a cork, and let wine age for 10 weeks to 6 months)

Side note:  I have one of those hydrometers that allow me to take alcohol content readings.   The initial readings on 6/30/19 were : 18% /74.

Here’s where I got this original recipe: http://www.foodreference.com/html/wine-mulberry-wine-recipe.html

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Have you ever known anyone who made their own hooch? (wine, beer, white lightening, etc). I want to hear more.

Have you ever read my post about jailhouse hooch?

Would also love to hear your thoughts in general on alcohol.

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The Hum of Ten Thousand Wings

Living here on this 140 year old farmstead  never gets old….

I was out in the garden/orchard just now soaking it all in.

The temps this morning are in the mid 60’s,  there is a light breeze.  Great way to start the weekend.

I’m already working on my 2nd pot of coffee. 🙂

First thing that caught my eye  this morning in the garden is the difference in size between the potato plants I’d planted in the older portion of the garden bed and the potato plants, growing in a fresh mulch.  I learned a couple of years ago, that fresh wood chips (and anything else that is just starting to break down), will actually suck the nitrogen out of the soil as it breaks down, short term.  Plant something in these areas and  they will struggle.  The struggling potatoes looked half the size as their neighbors , and were slightly discolored.  I thought I’d made allowances so that wouldn’t happen, but apparently, not enough.

Live and learn.

A  garden is my laboratory.

I’ve told you that before, right? 🙂

I think sometimes about the collective wisdom of older generations.  Too often things like this don’t get passed along to the next generation, which is why I keep those various 3 ring binders on the book shelf, in case you’re ever interested, feel free to thumb through them.

Anyway, so I took some of the ripe compost from the compost pile and amended the soil around 1/2 of the struggling plants this morning.  It will be fun to see if it makes any difference.

I filled the buckets of compost with my bare hands. 🙂

I sure did.

Did it on purpose too.

Would never have done that five years ago.   The more I learn about the connections between healthy soil and our personal health, the more intrigued I become.

There are physical and mental health benefits that come along with working in the soil.

Check out these articles if you doubt me :-):

 Read this

or  this.

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When I went to check on the bee hives,  there were just a handful of honey bees coming and going.  Most of the hive was still inside.

As I stood there,  (maybe 4 or 5 feet behind the hive)  I could here the hum of tens of thousands of tiny wings.  I felt like I was standing on a WW 2 aircraft carrier listening to  airplanes getting ready to take off.

It was the sound of power.

Well, sounds like I’m starting to wax a little philosophical, so I’m going to wrap this one up.

DM

 

 

 

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When the grandkids visit the farm

All of our kids and grand kids were back this week to celebrate  grandma’s birthday.  (It was a good week)

As things were starting to wind down,   one of the  granddaughters asked, “Can I check on the chickens  one more time?”

“Can I come too?” said two more….

“We found an egg!”

It is never to early to learn where your food really comes from.

Life is good.

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