Wild Child

My apologies to those of you that have already read this.¬† I thought this morning, it really belongs on the farm blog, so there you go. ūüėČ


Yesterday I made my third batch of ‚ÄúWild Child.‚ÄĚ

What in the heck is ‚ÄúWild Child‚ÄĚ?

When I am in the lab kitchen and make something new, if it turns out, it gets named, in this case,¬† I named my latest creation ‚ÄúWild Child‚ÄĚ the moment I tasted it.

The multiple flavors and textures  exploded in my mouth, it was visually beautiful to behold and it was good for me.  With all of that going for it, it had to have a name that popped.

I continue to work my way, slowly  into the world of fermentation. As per Sando Katz’s suggestion to experiment with texture as well as with various fruit and vegetable combinations, I upped the ante and tripled the amount of peanuts  sweet peppers, and apples yesterday.

Wild Child is 1000% more tasty than its cousin sauerkraut.

This¬† lacto-fermenting colorful mixture will soon be ‚Äúbrimming with healthy probiotics.‚ÄĚ

Wild child 1

Raw ingredients of Wild Child

Don’t have the time to unpack  the health benefits attributed to eating fresh unpasteurized foods this morning vs the pasteurized crap   foods , but they are in two different leagues.  Here’s a link if you’re curious. That article talks about Sauerkraut, but it applies to all fermented foods.

I’ve chosen to use air locks when I’m making small batches of fermented  foods.  You don’t have to, as long as you keep whatever you are fermenting weighed down below the brine.  I just think those little gizmo’s look neat, plus when the fermentation process starts to kick in,  (after a day or two) I like watching it bubble.

Yea, I know, I‚Äôm easily entertained. ūüėČ


wild child ready to ferment

Ingredients ready to rock

in air locked jars


Wild Child

(1) head of cabbage

(1 or 2)  colorful peppers

(1) small can of nuts  (I used salted Spanish peanuts this time)

(3) large apples

(1) cup of raisins

(1) t cumin ¬†¬† (Mrs DM doesn‚Äôt care for that spice so I made her a separate batch and skipped this.¬† I prefer it, because it adds another layer of flavor, and is supposed to be good for you) ūüėČ

(2) T pickling salt or slightly less.

Directions:¬† cut everything up in small pieces, then sprinkle the pickling salt over it.¬† Knead for 3 to 5 minutes until everything gets limp and juicy‚ĶIf you‚Äôve never ‚Äúkneaded‚ÄĚ raw vegetables before with a dash of pickling salt, you‚Äôre in for a surprise.

At this point, I packed the above ingredients into a 2 qt jar.  Keep packing it in until you absolutely can’t get any more in, and everything is submerged in liquid…I will add just a little water if needed.  put the cap with the air lock on  (or put it in crock that you can cover lightly..

  Do not just put it in a jar with a lid, or it will explode.

That quantity of fruits, vegetables and nuts yielded about 3 quarts. I filled my jars and ate the rest  fresh.


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Ten things to keep in mind when starting a small orchard in Iowa

I met with a young man this afternoon who wants to plant 100 apple trees on his acreage.  I invited him to our property  this afternoon to go over some basics.

I knew I could pass onto him in 30 minutes what has taken me years of trial and error to learn. These tips are not necessarily in order of priority AND not necessarily what another orchardist would tell you..these are just things that I¬† would suggest. ūüėČ DM

The following are my notes:

#1 priority keeping the deer away from the trees…(for at least the first ten  years).     In hind-site, I would have installed an 8 ft metal deer fence around the whole area, even before planting the trees.  You are welcome to put individual fences around each tree, and if you had 20 or less, that may be the route to go.  In my case, I had 75 trees to protect.  The first year we planted 50 trees, and in 2 nights, the deer came in and completely stripped  all of the new growth on 80% of our trees.  It was sickening.

#2¬† You will need to plan for regular watering the first 3 to 5 years until trees are¬† established (consider drip irrigation if practical)¬† (we did and it was…drip irrigation).¬† Farmtek is a good place to purchase that system

#3 Need to decide what size tree you want to end up with (dwarf, semi dwarf, full size)  This will determine which root-stock you  order.  I chose semi dwarf because the trees do not have to be staked long-term. Rootstock we went with was called EMLA7

#4 You will need to decide which varieties  of apple trees you plant. (Also called Cultivars.) I would suggest a mixture, various maturity dates, as well as for eating, cooking, dual purpose… and disease resistance.  That way you are not picking 100 trees at the same time, rather spread out over a 3 month period.

#5  While there are dozens of potential diseases and insects to protect against,  Scab and Apple Cedar Rust are the most common  diseases I’ve run into.   Apple Coddling moth, and Japanese beetles are the  two insects I fight the most.  I wish I would have ordered more varieties that have a built-in resistance to scab (there are a handful that are genetically resistant)

#6¬† Pruning…The first 3 to 5 years¬† are the most important in terms of pruning‚Ķbecause you are laying the foundation for the shape of the tree.¬† I used the ‚ÄúCentral Leader‚ÄĚ model of pruning.. there are others out there. This is the one I‚Äôm most familiar with.

#7 The biggest enemy to my trees¬†¬† were #1 the deer, followed closely by rabbits….which love the soft tasty bark of young trees.

#8  Do a soil test before planting trees to determine the proper PH . Your local county extension office is a great resource to talk to.

#9   Mulching around trees (especially the first 5 years) is important…so your tree does not  have to compete with grass…  I would lay down a weed barrier and use washed  river rock for mulch…vs. wood chips which attract mice/ voles, which also love the sweet tasty bark of your young trees.

#10  You may need to get your private applicator spraying license  if you don’t already have it,  to have access to certain restricted chemicals.    I order all of my chemicals from Crop Production Services out of Galesville WI.   Phone: 608-539-2090. They have been great if I have questions as far as which chemical to spray, etc.   I have chosen not to spray any more than absolutely necessarily.  Yes, I do end up some spots, but they are not drenched  in toxic chemicals.  You will have to make that call.

Here are some random pictures:


2010-liberty2 gingergold-2010crop-001 2010-honeycrisp-007

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Thoughts while pruning


buds on

the apple tree

 starting to swell. The

honk of geese,  the raucous





Aslan is  afoot.


Notes on this poem.¬† I was out early this week pruning.¬† I have between 90 and¬† 100 semi dwarf apple trees¬† each season that require my attention.¬† The second morning I was out, I was struck by how quickly the dormant¬† buds were starting to¬† swell.¬† I would never have¬† noticed that sort of thing when I was younger.¬† I wasn’t out there 5 minutes, before I heard the sound of¬† geese.¬† There were 4 of them.¬† I tried to get my camera out¬† to record them as they passed overhead, but they were moving too fast. ¬† This poem is an attempt to capture some of the joy and energy I encounter out in the orchard.

                                                                            DM   Orchardist /Poet


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Two years ago, my aunt Rosie gave me a cardboard¬† box of 35 mm slides she’d inherited from her aunt Annie from Germany. there were probably two to three hundred slides. ¬†¬† Most of the slides were taken before I was¬† born.¬† I am in that season of life where I am trying to¬† downsize,¬† so wasn’t¬† sure I even wanted that box.

We didn’t own a slide projector, and¬† my neck quickly got stiff holding those old slide up to the kitchen light.

I soon realized I had a small gold mine of family photos….

Here is the very first slide I looked at:


That’s me on the left. Aunt Annie and my brother Steve on the right…The year…about 1961. This would have been taken at my grandparents farm.



My grandpa unloading hay


Grandpa’s farm dogs Butch and Feedie waiting¬† in the truck to go to town.


And on a related note….

Last night, a book of poems on our book shelf caught my eye. I wasn’t quite ready to hit the sack, and was definitely not in the mood to watch a movie, so thumbing through a book of poetry sounded more in keeping with my mood.¬† The poet’s name was Leonard L. Tews.¬†¬† He’d stayed in our B and B several years ago, and sent us his book of poetry¬† after his time with us.

His poem Threshing Picture put me in mind of this photo of my grandfather  from the box:


Grandpa is 2nd from the left


Threshing Picture

There they stand

like stones of stonehedge

with musty

nineteenth century notions.

They smell of dusty sweat

and horses:

they itch of thistles

and rustic ambitions.


I can tell by shadows

under the horses

that they have stopped

for dinner just

at noon.

The hot threshing machine –

its noise of wheels and belts

is quiet


There stands my father’s father,

with my build,

sturdy in work pants

and cavalry suspenders

long-sleeved shirt

and underwear buttoned

to the neck,

in mid-western summers….


I’ll stop here.¬† Mostly wanted to share these snapshots with those¬† of you that subscribe to this blog.

Life is moving at a quieter pace currently and I’m OK with that.




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Sunset Christmas Day 2016


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Lost Boy

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted him yesterday afternoon in the center median.¬† No place for a kitten, not to mention, the temperatures were in the low 20’s and expected to drop overnight.

I told my wife, “That is someone’s kitten.¬† It has a collar.¬† I am going to turn around and see if I can catch it.”

I took the next exit/ did a 180, and headed back.¬† He was still there as I pulled onto the shoulder.¬† Traffic was not heavy but in the back of my mind, I knew if he wouldn’t come to me, and tried to run away,¬† I was just going to have to leave him….not that I wanted to, but chasing a kitten¬† with 75 mph vehicles flying by, less than 10 feet away, would not be smart….

I hated the thought of seeing a grey patch of fur the next day, on the side of the road,¬† knowing if I’d taken just a couple of minutes out of my day, it might mean the difference between life and death for this little kitten.

As i approached, it backed away. ¬†¬† I stopped, patted the ground and called “kitty, kitty….”¬† It came right up and wanting to snuggle.¬† First stop¬† after I got back to the car was¬† the vet clinic, to see if anyone had reported a missing kitten.


They also informed me, they were not set up to take strays.

The vet did scan the kitten to see if it had an identification chip.


Next stop was our newly opened animal shelter.

In talking to the receptionist, she told me no one had reported a missing kitten (yet), and there would be a fee if we were to leave him.

Things are a little tight right now, so that was also not an option.

Came home and posted a picture and notice on our local Facebook page.

Now we wait.

This is the most affectionate kitten I have ever met.¬† The vet was “pretty sure” it was a neutered male..so¬† until we know differently.¬† this kitten is a he. ūüėČ

If he isn’t claimed, we’ve already decided to name him Toodles…. after one of the lost boys who used to hang out with Peter Pan.


Toodles the Kitten (if he stays)

“I am a lost boy from Neverland
Usually hanging out with Peter Pan
And when we’re bored we play in the woods
Always on the run from Captain Hook
“Run, run, lost boy,” they say to me,
“Away from all of reality.””

From the song Lost Boys by Ruth B



Another thing that struck me as I re-listened¬† to this song, was I (DM) have sometimes been called Peter Pan by Mrs DM….think we may need to start calling our place Never-land. ūüėČ

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misty march morning

Stand of timber just west of my parents by my buddy Jim’s


Wood heat.

I grew up with it.

My parents still heat their  farmhouse with wood,  and dad is 84.

I love wood heat.

I love everything that goes along with heating with wood,¬† the smell of wood chips and chainsaw oil.¬† Working up a good sweat. The satisfaction of a nicely stacked pile of wood. The sense of security, knowing you have enough wood laid up, for the whole winter…come what may…. and the smell of a hickory fire on a cold fall morning….

I just got back in the house this morning after a brisk one mile walk to the corner…it’s up hill the last 1/2 of the route….¬† I found myself thinking about that timber just west of my buddy Jim’s and the day he and I cut wood.¬†¬† We had just a few weeks until the bulldozers¬† showed up to push all the trees into a pile then burn them.

Oak,  hickory, live trees, dead trees, 20 acres of  mature timber.

Land prices had sky rocketed and suddenly this “worthless” timber, was now worth $500 an acre per year…for corn ground that is.

As Jim and I walked the ground that Saturday morning, trying to decide which trees would be the easiest to get to, I came across a downed bee tree.¬†¬†¬† Wild honeybees were going in and out of the cracks of this massive old oak.¬† Jim and I decided to leave well enough along.¬† There were enough other trees to cut up, we didn’t need to be stirring up a bee hive….literally¬† ūüėČ

Well, that was¬† three years ago.¬†¬†¬† Since then, the bottom dropped out of the corn market.¬† Land is no longer worth $500 an acre to rent….

and that beautiful stand of timber,

it is no longer,  except in my memory.

Makes me wonder if those wild honey bees survived.

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