A Burning Desire….

It’s Memorial Day weekend and our goal is to install a fire pit overlooking the orchard. This was also the first mow of the season, and we were quickly reminded of the various repairs that the tractor needs: new seat, sharpened blades, general engine maintenance. We mowed out the fire pit area as best we could. The grass was about 18 inches tall and full of ticks. Nice. 

Can you spot the tractor in the grass?

The next step was digging out the pit. We found a random metal ring in a junk pile and decided it would serve our fire pit well. 

Pogo stick or pit digger?

Once the pit was about 10″ deep, we filled it with some sand. 

Getting that beach feeling

We weren’t quite ready for a fire yet, although things were looking promising. 

Steve insisted we couldn’t light a fire until we completed the ring with rocks. We grilled some marshmallows over the grill and contemplated where we might locate some basketball-sized rocks in the property. 

Baby’s first s’mores

As we drifted off to sleep, Steve remembered throwing a bunch of rocks in the old silo many years ago. So we set off on a rock hunt the next morning, hoping to score big in the silo. 

The old silo at the end of our driveway

Steve warned us that it would be gross, and indeed it was. The silo had become a garbage dump. But sure enough, among the piles of junk and random jars of mysterious content were tons of suitable rocks. Steve descended into the abyss, and we waited to receive our treasures. As he slipped out of sight, my thoughts went to the an intriguing sight I had glimpsed earlier on the drive towards the farm. A few miles down the road, an old silo is getting a makeover. What an adorable renovation! That porch! That roof! What will they put inside? Could our silo be that cute??

Giving an old silo a lot of love

Steve looked pretty happy going in there. He told us to look down, and in doing so, my silo renovation dreams were dashed a bit. I guess we could do something along the lines of a “jungle ruins” theme….

Be careful in there!

The silo full of crap and treasures!


As the rocks were passed up, we rolled them towards the waiting car. Moss definitely grew on these Rolling Stones!

On a roll….

Will that be enough?


The critical question was “how many?” We initially guessed that 15 would be the magic number, and as the back of the car filled, and Steve felt the years being shaved off his life, we called it good and drive back to the (other) pit. 

This could be a Subaru ad…

I started placing the stones, and we worried we had underestimated how many we needed. 

Placing the very first rock

We placed stone after stone, and 15 turned out to be just the right number! Hooray!


And finally, the moment of truth! We got some sticks aflame! 

The weekend’s chores also included some gardening. Last time we were here, I planted our sad-looking seedlings. This weekend, they appear to be dead and gone. And only deer hoof footprints remained in the bed. 

Did they die a natural death?

But I’m not giving up yet! I planted some rainbow carrot and cantaloupe seeds and I’m still hopeful. I think I’ll get some seedlings from the local garden shop in a last ditch effort to make something of the 2017 season. I also planted a blueberry bush. Even as my plants shrivel and die, my ambition remains strong!

We hope you enjoy time with friends and family this Memorial Day! Maybe you’ll enjoy a fire and some s’mores, or perhaps you’ll kill some plants? No matter what you do, remember that even a crappy old silo can yield a much desired treasure. 


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Kid tested, mother (and father, and stepmother, and mother-in-law) approved! 

It’s Mother’s Day and the weather couldn’t be more delightful! The landscape had changed so much in these couple visits. The last few weeks have brought visits from all of our parental units! First was a visit from my dad and stepmom. This was their first visit to the farm, and they came with hiking boots, bug spray and a machete for Steve! I wonder if we could use that machete to trim Steve’s crazy hair?!

My dad is a Civil Engineer, and he brought some surveyors tape. We are looking to forge a new path back to the river. We hiked through the woods, marking our path. This worked way better than bread crumbs! The grandparents were real troopers. The terrain was treacherous and involved some mud, but we did finally make it down to the river. And we found our way back too. 

Down by the river…

After that exhilarating hike we needed some libations. We enjoyed some beer sampling at the Leinie Lodge in Chippewa Falls, WI. I really like their new grapefruit shandy. I may new to stock up on that. Cheers!

Last weekend my mom came up, also hoping to get to spend time at the farm.  It was just not meant to be, sadly. My car started acting up and had to spend some time at the mechanics. Steve’s mom came to our place so she and mom could finally meet.   We enjoyed a lovely afternoon on the deck. How do you like my new Marimekko table cloth?!?

This weekend we were able to get back at it, and lo and behold- the apple trees were in bloom! I’ve never seen flowers on these trees before! And most impressive is the tree I thought was basically dead. Wow. And standing under them you could hear the happy bees doing their thing. I feel proud that our little orchard is supporting these local pollinators. Maybe, just maybe we will have apples this year?!? And the baby trees all seemed to be doing quite well too. We also noticed that there are quite a few choke cherry trees around, as they were covered in white flowers too. 

Cherries! Ok,  not really. I found these at the grocery store, but imagine a few years from now… 

Bedtime! I got the veggie bed hoed and ready for the baby plants. Unfortunately our seedlings were pretty sad looking by the time I got around to planting them. I’m trying some new crops this year: rainbow carrots, broccoli, and cantaloupe. Below are my sorry little zucchinis, cukes, and a pumpkin plant. 

We could’ve gotten more done, but we spend half our time doing tick checks these days. Yikes. There are a LOT of ticks in the north woods. We also saw a snake, and some very evil tent worms in an apple tree. We’ve heard coyotes at night, and I think I saw a bear. It’s quite the wildlife sanctuary out here. But it truly is nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis and enjoy the fresh air and vibrant colors of early summer. 

It was a good Mother’s Day for me. I enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and got to spend time outside on a beautiful day. I got many hugs from little Ivan. And to top it all off, Steve bought me some Leinenkugel’s grapefruit shandy at the gas station on the drive back to the cities. Cheers!


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Happy Earth Day Weekend!

We’ve been so lucky to have warm, dry weather these last few days. This weekend’s main chore was to get a few more fruit trees added to the orchard.

Considering that we survive on bagels, burgers, and the occasional taco dinner (when I’m feeling a little loco), all these local fruits seem both exotic and ridiculously nutritious. It’s not that I’m not interested in healthy eating, it’s just difficult to shop and pack groceries in Minnesota and then transport them nearly 200 miles to the farm. Plus, I am a bit lazy. Last weekend we drove to the nearest town, and found out they no longer had a grocery store. So other than a gas station, actual groceries are about 40 miles away. Welcome to the food desert. 

Our local organic tree nursery, AlbrechtsNursery.com, helped us select varieties that would work well in our area. It was quick and easy!

Strap ’em down.

I love bare root tree shopping!

Digging holes turned out to be a breeze. We also already had many bags of manure/compost mix that would come in handy. 

Gross. And awesome too.

Planting the 4 new trees took about 90 minutes, thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law. We now have a new Honeycrisp Apple (thanks to our Alma Mater, the U of MN horticulturists), a Meteor Cherry, An Evan’s Bali cherry tree, and a Mount Royal Plum. I’m trying not to feel bad about being totally winded by the tree planting task, while the M-I-L barely broke a sweat. 

Goldy Gopher would be proud.

Tucked in

Once planted, it was time for watering. Again we lucked out and were able to make use of what I thought was “random junk” cluttering things up. Copious amounts of rubber hose allowed us to reach all the way to the orchard. Score! Too bad the pipes to the spigot burst last winter. Sigh. But Steve has become quite the plumber, and we had water running to those baby trees in no time. Last years coffee grinds and egg shells found a final Resting place at the base of the older trees. I’m so eco, don’t you think? 


We now have 2 rows of trees. Ah, the symmetry! I love it! 

Steve also went through his storage unit (it’s a creepy old school bus), and found some real treasures. Of course he has an old Atari. But I’ve never heard of the game “Atmosfear” but it does sound thrilling?

Atmosfear and Scrabble. Strange bedfellows.

“Pappa Don’t Preach 11”

What is a Pdp-11? I have the sinking feeling that I’m going to find out. We should have some special guests here next weekend, and at least one of them has a lot of obscure technology knowledge. 

Until then, take care of yourselves and your part of the planet. 


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Just call me Jojo…

We hope you had a restful Easter weekend! We’ve been working hard, taking regular breaks from eating Cream Eggs. Check out our lovely Swedish påskris- sticks brought indoors and forced to sprout leaves before their time. 

Have you ever noticed how similar this blog is to the HGTV hit show Fixer Upper?? Well, neither have I, but I like to think there are some likenesses. For instance, the new Joanna (Jojo) Gaines home decor line has received praise from many, although some have scoffed at the price tags of some items. It’s as if people don’t think throw pillows should cost $100. 

High end centerpiece.

Getting crafty


I sewed up some of my new Marimekko PVC coated fabric into a nice tablecloth. This pattern is called “puketti”, Finnish for bouquet. 

Walpurgis Eve is just 2 weeks away.  Will we be ready to burn away the last remnants of winter, and scare away witches and trolls? For that, we will need a fire pit. Time to clear out a nice spot for future fires. We pulled out some random pieces of farm equipment using the tractor, and added them to a junk like further afield. 

What the heck is this thing?!?!

Once the junk was cleared, we got to work mowing down the brambles.  We’d like to expand the yard a bit, maybe that will keep some of the bugs at bay during our fires. 

Very professional landscape planning

Next weekend is fruit tree planting time- we are planning on some cherry trees and a plum tree (notice the tree with the purple plum in the middle). My thought is to have the fire pit look out on the orchard.  And speaking of fruit trees, there some a lot of promising-looking buds on our apple trees. Maybe this will be the year!! 

What are those white things at the ends of the branches? Marshmallows??

I dug out two dead tree stumps to get ready. One of the stumps required a little help from the tractor. But now we’ve got 2 holes ready for new trees. 

It wasn’t all work- we balanced things out with a little kubb (Viking lawn bowling game), and I opened my trusty box of Pinot Grigio.  We also ate up some of our dyed eggs, as well as plenty of candy and chocolates.  And some blueberry muffins. Wow. I guess we ate a lot this weekend. Oops.

Does this shirt make me look more like Joanna Gaines?

April showers are predicted for next week, and we all know what that means. Hey, at least it’s not snow. 



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We need some color!

This is the season of brown, grey, and taupe. Thankfully, itseems winter is solidly behind us now, so prepare for more frequent updates from our farm. Ivan and I got a head start on our agricultural ambitions by choosing and planting some seeds for the veggie patch. 

Warmer days are on their way!

A rainbow of pre-school favorites!

The long, hard winter is a perfect time to make some plans for summer gardening. My dear mother-in-law lent me a slew of books to help me study up. 

But wait- there are more horticultural goals for 2017! I’ve been in contact with a local nursery and it looks like our new cherry and plum trees will need to get planted at the end of the month. A stroll out to the orchard revealed that critters had been menacing the trees! Oh, deer! 

Oh, deer!

All around the lower branches, buds had been nibbled off *Marge Simpson growl of dismay*!!

So the wire fencing makes a comeback this spring- it’s what all the smart apple trees are wearing. 

We are finishing up the last indoor projects. We recently got the flooring installed in the little entryway.  Steve also repaired the plumbing line for the hot water in the bathtub. This is what I call teamwork: I watch Fixer Upper while Steve actually fixes up. And I shhh him. 

Can you please keep it down?

I also did some important Cabin Rehabin work last week when I shopped at the AlwaysMod store closing sale near Minneapolis. My good friend Sue and I got some sweet deals on some modern decor. I was, sadly, unable to convince Steve to invest in this great deal on a sofa. 

What a deal!!

So many European treasures! Such an empty checking account. 😦

Things should start greening up around here soon. 



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Midwinter improvements!

We winterized and locked things up after Christmas, anticipating a long, cold winter. But now we are experiencing a February heat wave! So out to the farm we go. Over the last two weekends we’ve been able to get a few projects started. And some completed as well. Together they constitute major advancements in the fields of technology, agriculture, and sanitation. 

Boop beep boop boop.

Our first advancement comes in the area of technology. That’s me surfing the interwebs on our new wifi connection. This blog post is also being uploaded in record speed thanks to this innovation. 

Watch out!

I’m determined to get the apple trees producing this year. So I’ve been reading up on horticulture- shout out to the University of Minnesota extension service website!  Woot woot! After studying the trees and reading what I could, I realized I’m really clueless. Time to call in a professional.  

Our on-call arborist.

This is my knowlegable mother-in-law. She’s got the greenest thumbs around. She came out today to coach me through the pruning process. It’s about a month before I thought I’d be pruning, but with this unusually early start to spring, she thought it was time to get hacking. 

Dead limbs are no match for my limbs.

With the lower branches and dead limbs lopped off, we should have better luck this year.  Now I’m thinking ahead to compost, and a couple of cherry trees. 

Poor Steve spent this lovely spring day in the gross basement, dealing with shattered pipes. We really haven’t figured out how to keep the basement warm enough to avoid burst pipes every year. Sigh. Maybe we could get a fuzzy bear family to take up residence down there. 

When cutting into sewage pipes, always wear protection.

With temps near 60, we enjoyed some burgers on the grill, in the snow. 

In anticipation of having a functional kitchen sink, I bought this beautiful Japanese dish drying rack over a year ago. Finally, I was going to interpret the instruction manual (in Japanese) and add this beauty to our green kitchen!

At the end of our visit, Steve managed to get the pipes repaired, and to get the kitchen sink hooked up. Yes! Who knew washing dishes could feel so good?!

That’s actual hot water!

And then the moment of truth:

A new standard in hygiene!

Has spring really sprung? That’s anybody’s guess. But at least we have hot water and Netflix, so we’re good out here. 


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Cozy snow days…

5 degrees Fahrenheit above zero. Winter is finally here! Thanks to our new baseboard heaters, we were able to spend a cozy winter weekend at the farm. Time for some Yuletide decor- now doesn’t that window look inviting?

Ivan and I braved the frozen landscape in search of some evergreen boughs to bring back home for my flower pots. Decaying flowers look great at Halloween, but just aren’t very cheery at Christmas time. We even spotted a broken birch branch to add to the mix. 

Martha Stewart would be proud…

But it wasn’t all fun and reindeer games. Steve also started the install of our new 40,000 BTU propane furnace. 


Hey man, you’re letting all the warm air out!

Our hard work was rewarded with the best chicken and dumpling soup ever, at a wonderful little place known as Chippewa Family Restaurant. De-lish!

It’s crazy good!

Further coziness was achieved with our new poäng chairs from IKEA. 

One can never have enough sheepskin…

We woke to several new inches of snow. Just as we thought we had left autumn behind, remembered that we needed to dump our massive pile of fall leaves into the woods so we could take our trailer back home. 

Pull harder!

Even with fresh snow around, it’s hard to resist the call of a massive mound of slightly decomposed leaves.

The leaf moving task ended with tears, as Ivan lost his little shovel in the heap. We were all sad to leave, but a work week awaits. It’s the end of the semester for me, and while I wish I could hide away in the woods, I must instead tackle a mound of grading. Please consider this our Christmas card to you, dear reader! Enjoy this beautiful season, and we will see you in the New Year!

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