Random Thoughts On Coffee

Mrs DM re-organized the closets again this  weekend, putting all of the medical supplies in one area.

I received five bags of Starbucks  French Roast (whole bean/ not ground) for Fathers Day …..  I didn’t have room for all of it on the regular shelf so I put it in the medicine cabinet.

This morning I told her about it.   “Coffee has a medicinal  role in my life.” I said with a smirk.

She  said that was the perfect place for it!   😉  DM




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It is possible


I remember reading the book Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald way back in the mid 1980’s.  I remember writing out various long term life goals, mostly in the interpersonal relationship realm, but other goals as well.

At the time, we were  living 1000 miles from home, on government assistance, renting a rat invested house, driving an old car that someone had given us, living from paycheck to paycheck.  Four little kids in tow…I could go on and on…anyway, I know what it feels like to feel trapped, crushed by  stress, some of it self inflicted, some of it not.

Hope awakened in my heart after reading that book.

I knew I needed to make drastic changes.

The people pleasing part of me had to die.


I  think it word pictures.

I remember having a word picture in my mind  of  a large ocean going vessel, headed in wrong direction.  Those ships can not turn on a dime, even if you hit the rudder hard.

It takes time to make a course correction.

I remember taping several pieces of typing paper on the wall in front of my desk, with this ship at various positions, until it was headed on a new course.

There is something exciting when ever so slightly you  begin to see a change in direction…

Long story short, saw that picture tonight  and thought, there is a nugget of wisdom I have tasted first hand.

That is my story and I’m sticking with it. 😉 DM


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Morning Cure

Morning Cure

6:00 AM

The sweet unmistakable smell of freshly cut drying hay greeted me this morning when I woke up….. it reminded me of a Grant Wood painting. DM


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Small stand of  rye


Took this picture Saturday morning, just as the fog was starting to burn off.   I planted some rye late last fall for a cover crop in the garden, decided to let it grow to maturity this spring.  There is something visually about a field of rye (or wheat)  that I find grounding.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.  DM






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They Are Here

View of my latest adventure…. Honeybees


I have to tell you about a recent conversation with my son-in-law Matt  about honeybees.  When he was younger, someone offered his dad, several bee hives full of bees…They hauled them home in the back of his dad’s pick up.   Before they unloaded the hives, they put on coveralls, gloves, etc, and duck taped their pant legs and sleeves  shut, hoping not to get stung.  Well, the bees were so ticked off, after their bumpy ride in the back of the pick up, Matt said he still got the crap stung out of him…

That story was in the back of my mind last Monday.  Mike (a local bee keeper who offered to sell me a nuc of bees this Spring), texted me and said to be at his place Monday night about dark…by then the bees would be back in their hive.  Well, rather than head home with 4 or 5 frames of bees (which is a small colony of bees splitting off from the main colony)  Mike said it would be easier to just take a whole hive home, and in a few weeks he would stop over and do the split….

hummmmmmmmm…..I wasn’t 100% sure of that idea..(with Matt’s story fresh in my mind)

There would be 20 frames of bees in (2) large brood chambers..depending on how much honey was in them, each box could weigh as much as 70 pounds a piece..

When I got home, there would be nobody to help me unload.

The thought of unloading ten’s of thousands of angry bees,  the only thing between me and them was 3/4 of wood, in the dark, sounded like a recipe for trouble…

I made up my mind, if it seemed too risky, I would just have to pass on the whole thing, and go with plan b…buy 3 pounds of bees and a new queen,  off the guy who taught the recent honey bee class I took.

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking..what in the world am I getting myself into???  I would have no one to blame but myself, if something went South.

I backed up to Mike’s first hive…He had a strap around both boxes, and a reducer in the entrance to the hive, with duck tape over the entry hole..so  that part of process went without a hitch.

Took my time driving home.

Backed into our apple orchard up to the 6 by 6 frame I had ready. There was still enough light to see when I got home. That was encouraging.  The hive ended up weighing  between 60 and 70 pounds tops, so that was do-able.

I pried, the entry reducer opening and just a couple of bees came out.

Talk about relieved.

This stuff is all new to me…yes, I’ve been reading, attending bee keeping classes, etc…it’s one thing to watch it on YouTube, it’s another thing to do it solo.

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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. 😉


Yesterday I made my third batch of “Wild Child.”

What in the heck is “Wild Child”?

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 “Wild Child” 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 “brimming with healthy probiotics.”

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’m easily entertained. 😉


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’t 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) 😉

(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…If you’ve never “kneaded” raw vegetables before with a dash of pickling salt, you’re 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. 😉 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…because you are laying the foundation for the shape of the tree.  I used the “Central Leader” model of pruning.. there are others out there. This is the one I’m 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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