Friday, August 22, 2008

A Farm is Born

I just read an interesting article in the Des Moines Register about a young Iowa farm family starting from scratch. Oh, how I remember feeling like a fish out of water and not knowing where or how to start. Thankfully, this family didn't give up and is eaking out a living through perserverance, hard work, and lots of faith. And, of course, they blog (yay!).

Unfortunately, Mike Kilen (DM Register writer) didn't list all of the other wonderful small farm blogs (on my "Favorite Links" list to the right). There are so many great things happening with farming in Iowa with diversity in the types of crops and livestock and the fact that faith and family values play a big role in these small farms.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The cat who wanted to be a knick knack

Most people who know me understand that I'm not a "knicky-knacky" kind of person. More things to collect dust and pack when we move (six times in the last eight years). So, when we got this house, there are all sort of built-in shelves in the living room flanking the fireplace. We had some books and a few other things. I felt compelled to get a couple extra things to "fill in." Obviously, Sam the cat felt I didn't have enough and enjoys being a mobile knick knack.
And then there's Tucker the dog who likes that corner, too. Sam will lay on the shelf and bat at Tucker just to torment him. Evil kitty!

A Little R&R

Here. Away from all the tasks inherant when you move into a new house or build. This was a wonderful little vacation. Great food, homegrown wine, nice trails and pond, beautiful accommodations, and friendly and helpful innkeepers.
DD brought a friend along and they had a blast.

Feeding buffalo at Hawkeye Buffalo Ranch:
Lots of play in the yard. DH is the biggest kid of all.
The tire swing was a BIG hit.
Fishing at the farm pond where DH caught some bluegill, a bass, and a bull frog (twice).

The girls bottle fed the calves every morning and night.

The trail around the farm wound beside the pasture and creek, up around the old school house, through the vineyard, by the pond and cabin, and around farm fields.

The screen porch was a great place to hang out and play "magic" tricks, read, and relax.
After all that excitement, the girls actually slept in on the last day. We even had an opportunity to go on record about our experience. The Waterloo Courier came out and did an interview with the B&B owners and took photos for the article in last Sunday's paper. Needless to say, we're receiving a lot of unsolicited comments about the "paparazzi" following us everywhere we go.

I would highly recommend Farmhouse B&B for a nice retreat.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cover Girl

Check this out! Yes, that's DD gracing the cover of The Iowan Magazine. I didn't want to say too much until we knew it was definitely happening. We were contacted in the Spring of 2007 by a freelance writer who wanted to "do a story on the chicken ladies of central Iowa." The writer came out in early June and the photographer came out later that month. We didn't hear much after that and thought we weren't interesting enough to make the article. Then, about six weeks ago, the writer contacted us again to review the draft of the story. But the whole cover photo was a big, wonderful surprise. DD thinks it's pretty cool, too. No autographs, please ;)

Lawsie Mercy!

This crazy chick (Pioneer Woman) has created an index of her recipes - - do die for! This is on the menu for tomorrow night, although I can't find arrowroot anywhere. Is there a suitable replacement? Stay tuned for the report.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Picture Post

Lot's happening around here. But there was a few quiet moments for "porch sittin'" last week.
Still getting lots of funky weather. These pics were taken July 9th - - scary, huh?

After the rain, this is what I came home to:We're so close to finishing up. We plan to move in this weekend, but there's lots of details to settle yet. NEVER AGAIN!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Night Like No Other

We were thrilled to be invited to the High Hopes Garden wind turbine dedication/music bash/party Saturday night (link here). What a fun evening - - when we left, I just felt like my spirit had been renewed. And it was a great opportunity for DD and I to get our "chicken fix."

Update on Salem UMC, home of Walk to Emmaus, here. I am just sick about it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Miss Independent

DD is getting to be so independent these days. We live a 1.5 blocks from the community swimming pool and she is able to walk up there, spend a couple hours, and walk home all by herself. Before I freaked out, I had to remind myself that I was doing the same thing at my age. And then I still freaked out. She loves the water, but knows her limits. She's taking lessons the next two weeks and I'm excited to see her progress.
DH is working at the college for a couple weeks on some unfinished projects. Then, hopefully, we can get back to work on our new house (all progress has stopped for the last 5-6 weeks due to the awful weather). A typical day goes like this: it rains, mud and water flow into the open basement, DH cleans it up/pumps it out, and it rains again. Frustrating.

One bright spot is that we have lots of free time. I never knew what that was until now. When we were on the farm, there was always a garden to weed, grass to mow, chicken chores, home improvement projects, etc. Now, we sit on the deck and sip lemonade, I take naps on the weekends, I read and take walks. Must say, I'm getting a little spoiled, but it's a nice break.

DD has shown interest in softball, so our friends Chris & Jenn loaned us a couple gloves and balls to try out. She loves it and DH has great patience.
You'll notice that Tucker the dog got his summer haircut. He's so much happier! And then DD found the ace bandages and occupied herself for an hour or so wrapping herself up. Like I said, lots of free time.

Water everywhere...except our home

Thank you for all your calls and emails regarding our safety. Fortunately, we have not been inundated by the flood waters and tornadoes that have plagued our neighbors state-wide. We have had our share of rain, wind, and hail the last couple weeks, but nothing compared to Parkersburg (tornado May 25th), Cedar Rapids (photos below), Des Moines, and Iowa City (river is expected to crest today).

Out of Iowa's 99 counties, 83 have been declared "disaster areas."

Sixteen storm-related deaths since the tornado of May 25, including one in Linn County, six in Parkersburg, two in New Hartford, one in Hamilton County, one in Wright County, one in Palo Alto County, and four Boy Scouts in Monona County.

More than 2500 Iowa National Guard
200 Iowa State Patrol
1,000 Iowa Department of Transportation Employees
Sandbags: More than 4.8 million
Pumps: 114
Gallons of water distributed: 180,930

Photos of downtown Cedar Rapids:

And this is another photo of downtown Cedar Rapids. Salem United Methodist Church is behind the Dairy Queen. Salem UMC is the home of the Cedar Rapids Emmaus Community. I had planned to sponsor two people this coming weekend. Needless to say, the event has been postponed.
This is an excerpt from an article in the CR Gazette:
"A church is more than a building, flooded congregations reflect
By Cindy Hadish
The Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Rev. Linda Hansen Bibb used water from her dehumidifier to baptize 1-year-old Keaton Schooley on Sunday morning.The baptism and church service took place at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church after floodwaters swamped Bibb's church, Salem United Methodist Church at 225 First Ave. SW."New life is what our city needs to think about," Bibb said. "So having our baptism as scheduled was one of the best things we could do."Bibb used the dehumidifier water to help conserve Cedar Rapids' dangerously low water supply."For us, all of God's water is holy. All of his creation is holy, so there was no need for me to have special water," Bibb added. "Having it from a dehumidifier or from the roof in the form of rain wouldn't make any difference. For us, it's a symbol of his blessing."Katon's father, Brian Schooley, said the change was just fine with him."She used the resources she had to make the moment special for us," he said.He said it was important for him and his wife, Lesley, to be at church Sunday, where Bibb's message was that the church is just brick and stones. The congregation, he said, is a family, and everybody in it is safe..."

Not only were cities affected, but all low-lying areas near the river valleys - - can you even begin to imagine:
[all photos courtesy of the Cedar Rapids Gazette]

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
~ "It is Well With My Soul" Horatio Spafford

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Memorable Day

Memorial Day 2008 was memorable for many reasons.

As many of you have heard, an F5 tornado (more pics here) ripped through Parkersburg, Iowa (30 miles north of our home) and destroyed 350 homes in a town with a population of 2,000. We saw reports of the storm almost immediately after it hit from the Channel 13 helicopter. It was stunning to see the immense destruction, the loss of life (5 in Parkersburg, 2 in New Hartford), and the grieving of the community's residents. Then, something amazing happened... Teenagers came out in droves to help their friends, family, and neighbors. Surrounding communities gathered in prayer and then met to determine how they could help. Inspirational stories of hope and determination flooded the local papers and tv stations.
On Monday, I had the honor of organizing the Memorial Day Program at the Iowa Veterans Home. About 200 people crowded into the event space for a brief program, singing, and saluting. Then, we marched down to the Veterans Cemetery on the grounds where a resident laid the memorial wreath, participants placed pine boughs on the some of the 2,500 graves, and Taps was played. It was during Taps that this resident bowed his head in memory of his fallen comrades. The whole experience was so moving.

The Power of Pictures

Photos offer glimpse at life in 1940s small-town Iowa
POSTED: May 29, 2008 DES MOINES — He spent his entire savings of $12.50 on the 35 mm Argus AF camera in 1939 and for four years documented life in the small Iowa town of Ridgeway. But it wasn’t until he was diagnosed with cancer more than 60 years later that Everett Kuntz actually printed the more than 2,000 snapshots — church picnics, his mother husking corn, soda fountain scenes from the town’s drugstore. Although Kuntz died in 2003 at age 82, the University of Iowa Press has published dozens of his photos in a book, ‘‘Sunday Afternoon on the Porch.’’ ‘‘People thought he was kind of funny,’’ said Kuntz’s wife Helen. ‘‘He took all those pictures and didn’t even have the money to print them.’’ After Kuntz bought the camera, he carried it with him everywhere, clicking away during town gatherings, lazy afternoons on a neighbor’s porch or even standing before a table piled high with his family’s Sunday dinner. He built a camera case using an old boot and a clasp from his mother’s purse, and he bought movie reel film in bulk. He rolled his own film and developed it in a closet on his parents’ farm. The 350 residents of Ridgeway took to calling him ‘‘Scoop.’’ ‘‘There are some (photos) in which he seems to have captured so much in one shot, maybe partly by accident,’’ said Jim Heynen, who wrote vignettes to accompany the photos in the book. ‘‘They remind people of what you might see in an old collection of family albums from the 1940s.’’ Heynen described pictures depicting ‘‘chiseled-looking prairie people’’ and a ‘‘community gathering spot along the creek with homemade ice cream.’’ Kuntz left Ridgeway after college, married Helen, had three children and worked as an electrical engineer in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. He took his photo collection with him — neatly packed in a box and still unprinted — and told no one about it. After being diagnosed with cancer, Kuntz pulled out the box and developed his photographs. His final months were spent looking over his collection and reminiscing about old times. ‘‘He was emotional,’’ said Kuntz’s son David. ‘‘You could see it in his eyes that it brought back memories.’’ One particular photograph seemed to interest Kuntz more than the others, his wife said. It showed his parents harvesting on their farm — his father carrying stalks of oats and his mother driving a team of horses. ‘‘He stared at that one for 20 minutes,’’ Helen Kuntz said. ‘‘In those last months, it all came alive for him.’’ His fondest memories of Ridgeway are captured on film. Like wading along the sandy Turkey River, or the day he walked past the railroad as workers laid down track with shovels and hammers. It’s a nostalgic collection Kuntz’s family cherishes. His wife has several photos on display at her home in the Twin Cities suburb of Mounds View, as does his son David at his law firm in St. Paul. ‘‘I kind of have tears,’’ Helen Kuntz said, pausing to compose herself. ‘‘It’s a fun tribute to him. ... It would have been such a blessing if he could have seen this book.’’ The photos represent more than her husband’s legacy. For Helen, it’s a reminder of the way America used to be — a lifestyle it should strive to rediscover. ‘‘The idea of family is reflected there,’’ she said. ‘‘Friends and the simple life.’’
[I will be adding this to my bookshelf soon]