Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Creatures of The Funny Farm, Photo Essay


Stinky looking for salad

Maybe eating Lois’ lilies.

I want to know where the hell this kid’s parents were…lol

Jai, Stinky and Little Bit

llamas

Belle and Jill.

Lessons Learned at The Funny Farm #1:

When all else fails, hummmmmmm.

Treasures, Part One


In 2007, in preparation for The Funny Farm’s 100th birthday, several family documents surfaced. Here are some of my favorites:

It looks like Great Grandma Augusta Peterson came to Tower, MN from Sweden in 1888 as a servant girl.

On Halloween of 1900, Great Grandpa paid $9.19 for The Farm. (Yes, it always has been and always will be capitalized in my head.)

Homestead Act Receipt

He began to work this land under the Homestead Act, clearing fields and using the logs to build first a shanty and barns and then the house that still stands today (barely).

On March 20th, 1902, Augusta Peterson and Albert Peterson were married in Eveleth, MN by a Swedish Baptist minister. No, they were not related. In Sweden, Peterson means Peter’s Son. Lots of Peters and Johns, etc. Makes genealogy interesting.

Marriage Certificate

I don’t know if this was really signed by Teddy Roosevelt or by one of his minions, but I like to think he held this piece of paper and signed his name to it. After 7 years of hard labor, (and $9.19) it was theirs. By then he and Great Grandma Augusta had been married 5 years.

Homestead Act 1

1907, the birth of The Farm

For years, people of the Cook area would visit The Farm for church picnics and the like. Before Cook had an airport, the hayfield even served as a landing strip. While getting ready for the reunion, we were touched by how many people fondly remembered the farm from their childhoods. It wasn’t just OUR happy place, it was theirs, too.

Now, my sister and her husband live in the house our Great Grandparents built. Many of the building are still standing: the barn, woodshed/ice house, machine shed, outhouse (now in a new location in the yard, serving as an adorable potting shed) and garage. The Farm has become The Funny Farm, home to a motley herd including three mini ponies, two donkeys, two llamas, a sheep, a goat, two alpacas, three bunnies, four dogs, a cat and a cockatiel. And two Guinea Monsters From Hell. Sort of. They have been on the lam, harassing me and other neighbors since Lois brought them home.

Someday, we would like to open The Funny Farm to the public on weekends, as a petting zoo. Unfortunately, my sister doesn’t manage her time very well, so her hands are busy with the store I talked her into opening (Cook Dollar Barn), and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I’m not much help. And there’s the whole liability thing…

When our Grandpa Ralph married our Grandma Marge, his parents gave him a chunk of the farm, and he built the house I live in today. But that’s another story. 🙂

If you have any pictures or stories about The Farm, please let us know!

And as always, if you liked this post, please like, share or comment. I hate feeling like I’m talkin’ to myself here…

Loveyabye,

Laura

Mr. Stinky Droolface Part 2


If you’re raising your hand (because you fell behind,) here’s Part One.

mastiff, corgi, oak

This IS his happy face. And Gus’ frustrated-to-be-juuuust-out-of-reach face.

Long story short, Mr. Stinky Droolface seemed to be in good spirits today around lunchtime. Got him to eat, and he still insists the water bucket outside tastes much better. He isn’t using his right hind foot much, but he made the rounds, checking on Little Bit the pony, Jai the Ginormous White Slobbering Dog, and finally settling himself in a sunbeam near GusGus.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems Stinky’s telling the puppies important dog things. I hope so. Like reminding the Herd that the ruminants belongs IN the fence, unless they are on a leash like Little Bit.

There are so many great pics of all the creatures of The Funny Farm, I decided to try a slideshow:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Guinea Monsters From Hell


Poultry scares the living crap outta me. Too many negative experiences with geese, turkeys, roosters, and chickens as a child, I guess. (Did you know that chickens are the closest living relative to the T-Rex???) It’s not that an angry Charolais mama cow or a  Belgian draft horse in training aren’t unnerving…but they can’t FLY. They don’t have creepy, naked, talon-y feet and BEAKS. They are too big to really sneak up on a girl.

My sister the Shrew tried to adopt two 3 year-old guinea hens from our friend Jacqueline in August. Or maybe one is a hen and one’s a rooster…whatever. That lasted all of about 15 minutes. In her defense, she thought they were properly contained, and Jai, the Ginormous White Slobbering Dog created a diversion by running off into the woods. While BigGuy (Shrew’s husband), the Shrew, Danny Boy and I were running/driving around the neighborhood looking for Jai, GusGus (Walli the Corgi’s little brother) evicted them from the barn.

guineafowl

After a night or two we were pretty sure a fox, coyote, wolf or logging truck had done them in. I was relieved, to say the least. Birds are FOOD, not friends. Then neighbor Elsie called Lois to ask if she was missing some funny-looking, big, gray and white birds. Neighbors always call Lois when strange creatures appear at their homes. (Itchy the pony was under Barb’s deck once, and the big horses went to Cook for coffee years ago.)

Lois rounded up a posse of friends and their children, complete with a roll of netting and landing nets. After  a good bit of whining, I went to observe only. I had a gun, just in case, but didn’t really want to shoot the birds in front of other people’s children.

It ended up being a moot point; Guineas are like the Harrier aircraft we saw at the airshow this year– they can take off straight up. And then they blend like ninjas into the northern MN swamp. I was pretty sure they would make their way to my house, to eat me in my sleep.

Over the next few weeks, they were spotted at three other neighbors’ houses. All attempts at capture were futile. At one point, Lois & Co. even tried guns and mirrors (Guineas are notoriously vain). She briefly had them back at the Funny Farm, locked in a horse trailer, hoping they would learn The Farm was now home. No good; they were back at Lori and Steve’s not a week later.

Just when I was hoping Mother Nature had disposed of them for me, I got a Facebook message from yet ANOTHER neighbor. We tried to give her the fowl for her birthday, but she didn’t buy it. Smart woman.

As soon as the neighbors saw that we would shoot them if we had to, to make the neighborhood safe, they decided the Guinea Fowl weren’t so bad. “What’s a little bird poo, weird noises, roosting on vehicles,  and feathers compared to the benefits of the birds?” they asked.  So they eat ticks. Yay. Ticks are gross, and deer ticks spread Lyme’s Disease. Eat ’em all, I say, but stay away from my house. I will spray us all with DEET instead. And keep the lawn mowed. Maybe even build a moat.

Why did the Guinea Monsters cross the road? Apparently Neighbor Carol feeds them and they like the company of her chickens. She LIKES them. Thinks they are cute, even. They come when she calls. I think we were all pretty ok with Prickles and Eggo (yes, Lois let Anthony name them-makes it even harder to shoot them.) living out their creepy birdy lives across the road.

But they like to roam.

fat cat

Luckily, my cat keeps tabs on everything.

What is GF Peaches looking at? Guinea Monsters in my Great Aunt Emily’s Rugosa roses. IN. MY. FRONT. YARD.

guineafowl, roses

Not cool, Lois! It’s like they KNOW I can’t shoot in that direction.

There is one other redeeming quality that has kept them alive thus far: they run like hell from me. Even when I’m not actually chasing them.

Today, however, I see that they dug up the sage I planted.

guinea hens with sage

I know, I know, they didn’t actually damage the plant-they were just looking for bugs. But still. Poultry. Right next to my house. Sort of messing with my plants.

I wonder how long they would need to be in the slow-cooker to get rid of the gamey taste…

Very nice, informative article here. They really are great for gardening, if you can get over the whole bird thing. Feel free to post recipes, if not.

Weekly Photo Challenge: BIG


Great Pyrenees

Jai is a BIG lapdog.

The Weekly Photo Challenge asked that we write about what “Big” means to us. I chose one of my sister’s dogs, Jai. He lives at  The Funny Farm  and is a rescued Great Pyrenees PUPPY (14 months, 120 lbs).  Jai is short for Ginormous, White, Slobbering Dog. Think puppy brain in a pony-sized body….He digs BIG holes, runs BIG laps, needs BIG toys, and cleaning up after him is a BIG job.  :/

herd, goat, llamas, sheep, pony, great pyrenees, dog

Jai meets his herd.

Great Pyrs are bred to protect livestock.  Lois is hoping he will help keep farm creatures IN the fence, and deer, coyotes and wolves OUT of the fence. These dogs are mostly nocturnal , gentle with children, and love to roam their territory. They are working dogs, but Jai takes naps, too. He’s just a baby.

working dog, great pyrenees, couch

He takes up most of the couch, and likes to snuggle in bed, too.

great pyrenees puppy, The Funny Farm, Cook, MN

Ginormous bone, purchased in the hopes of saving furniture.

Jai, Great Pyrenees puppy

Jai, Great Pyr puppy

Normal dogs play with sticks; my sister’s dogs eat trees.

Mastiff, great pyrenees, corgi, walli pajari-williams

Mr. Stinky Droolface, the Old English/Bull Mastiff Grampa dog of the farm is actually bigger than Jai. Stinky weighs about 180 lbs, but at 10 years old is slowing down considerably. When he was a puppy we called him the Mastiffosaurus Wrecks. At one point my physical therapist recommended I stop visiting my sister until he outgrew the puppy stage. He kept knocking me over by accident.

Of course Walli the Corgi refuses to be left out. She’s 6 months older than Jai, and one-tenth his size. And come to think of it, ten times the attitude. Size is relative.

Mastiff, Great Pyreness, Corgi playing

Walli Pajari-Williams goes to work every day with her mom, Lois, at Cook Dollar Barn , while Jai, Stinky, and GusGus take care of the Funny Farm.

What breed do you think Lois needs next? What’s your favorite?

For more details on these breeds, visit the links below.

Great Pyrenees

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Mastiff

I Have Worms


I first heard about composting with worms from my daughter, whose science teacher had  a worm bin in her classroom. Said daughter started cleaning our refrigerator to feed the worms for extra credit. The more I read about composting with worms (vermiculture) , the more intrigued I became. Mrs. Bidle (who also taught my sister and I in high school) asked if the worms could spend the summer at my house. Of course I said yes, and almost two years later I’m still waiting for her to start a bin of her own. 🙂 Hopefully, this will help.

Why Worms??

Because I am not a patient woman. Nor do I have a big budget for gardening. I want to grow the most food and flowers possible for the smallest investment possible, AND I have a chronic health condition that limits my physical ability. (It’s like having a 12 year-old ADD brain in an 80 year-old body some days.) It quickly became apparent that worms could be a big part of the answer I was looking for. While I am doing other things-or nothing- those worms are making dirt and fertilizer 24/7. AND eating what would otherwise be taking up space in a landfill to boot.

Which Worms?

These aren’t just any worms. Eisenia fetida is the Latin name for the worms I wanted. They specialize in eating food scraps and reproducing. And their poo is unbelievable fertilizer. My apple trees, for example, are from Idaho. They are NOT thrilled to be in the icebox of the nation. However, a friend taught me how to prune them and I added castings (worm poo) around the base of the trees and voila!

The biggest, happiest apple I have ever grown, thanks to worm poo.

I am not an expert. See the links at the end of this post for that. This is just a quick overview of what has worked for me.

  1. Keep an ice cream bucket in the freezer for food scraps. This eliminates fruit flies, smell, and best of all, speeds up the whole composting process. When the fruit and veggies freeze, ice crystals split open the cells, so the worms can break it down faster.
  2. Brown and Green. There is a specific formula for how much of each to use, but I wing it and it seems to work fine. “Brown” can be paper grocery bags, newspaper, leaves, etc. The worms need this material for bedding, and it also helps soak up excess moisture. “Green” is food scraps (plant only- no dairy or meat…they attract the wrong kinds of bugs and may also contain pathogens). Whole corncobs and apples will eventually break down, but smaller chunks are faster, so I usually chop up the food for the bins. If I don’t have time, it goes in the big compost bin outside, which I add worms to regularly.
  3. Black. Always cover Green with at least two inches of black, again to keep unwanted bugs from being interested. “Black” can be compost that is finished, bagged potting soil, or even garden dirt.
  4. Moisture. I keep my bins outside in the summer, so when it rains I cover them. Too much moisture attracts- again- the bugs you don’t want. The drain on my bin keeps clogging, so I just scoop out any extra moisture for super-concentrated fertilizer. A kitchen baster works great for this, too.
  5. Rotating where in the bin I feed the worms has worked best for separating the worms from their castings (poo). For example, I feed only on the left side of the bin for a few weeks, layering brown, green, and black. Once that side gets close to the top, I stop feeding on the left and  switch to the right and start over. The worms eat everything on the left and work their way to the other side of the bin. Then I can remove the finished product from the bin, and use it in the gardens.

I hope this helps you get started! I am all about guidelines and winging it– the details are here:

www.redwormcomposting.com  has tons of info on getting started and troubleshooting. Dear Family, please visit this site when you think my worm experiment has gone too far. 😉

www.lavermesworms.com is the Duluth company where my worms came from. Ellen has done great things with worms; check it out!

The Sister in the Basement


“There’s ANOTHER one??” my 10 year-old son asked. His eyes got bigger and his jaw dropped. I admit, it took me a few seconds to catch up.

“Another what?”

“Another sister.”

“What are you talking about? I have one sister; you have two.”

“What about the one in the basement??” He was worried now. I was checking him for obvious signs of a head injury. I’d been talking about using rinsewater from laundry to water the gardens, and he was asking about missing siblings. That’s when it hit me. I laughed so hard, tears almost ran down my leg. When I caught my breath, I explained what a cistern does.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cistern

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