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Ice is Nice!

Posted by on 30 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: General, Sports

Yes, even when underfoot…..especially while wearing skates.

Jefferson has an ice rink, and it’s in the park right behind our house (behind the pool for those who don’t know exactly where it is).

This is our 4th Winter here, and no one recalls what the shape was the first year.  2 years ago, we were certain it wasn’t filled and last year it was filled, but snowed a lot while freezing and left a 4″ slush layer that someone had tried to snowblow and destroyed a large section with 3″ deep tracks.reagan.jpg

Mason got a sled for Christmas and we short-cutted across the park for a hill.  The rink looks like it had been plowed once this Winter, but had 4″ of snow on it.  Scuffing around, it felt really nice under there.  I returned later with a shovel and cleaned off a section.  It was very nice and skate-able.  So, the plow went on to the tractor and the whole thing got cleaned off.  We used a couple of heavy metal shovels to scrape down the rest of the surface and the ice was great!

We even started to design a mini-zamboni to keep it great.  Our first attempt worked really great and we had the middle half very smooth and glass like.  We saw a few flaws and went back to tweak our rig.  The second pass was on a warmer day and the water was not spreading as fast and gave us a ripple effect.  We then doubled the amount of holes in our water manifold and got more consistent coverage.  A few coats later, this started to smooth back out. ice.jpg

However, yesterday was a heat wave and today will be worse.  49 degrees?!?!?  So, Friday is supposed to drop to real cold again.  We’ll be back out there to see what we can do to extend our skating season 🙂  Come join us!  I have not seen anyone else out there yet.

What happened to June?

Posted by on 06 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: Construction, Gardening, General, Sports

Memorial day was the last post? Jeez.

Where did the month go….Planting, Bell Tower, re-planting, Family, Swim Team, and Farmer’s Markets.

Planting, re-planting, and planting again. We usually have a large garden patch at Two Barn Farm. We wanted to plant extra tomatoes this year, as our canned tomato shelf from the previous year has finally emptied out. However, nature has a different idea. While we grew tomato seedlings for weeks on end in the basement, then never lasted outside. You see, this year, we have gotten some wildlife at the farm. A whole pheasant family, a gorgeous red-headed woodpecker, and a rabbit have set up homes this last season. Yep, a rabbit. Peter Fricken Cottontail has moved in and ate 60 some odd tomato plants, and a dozen cabbages. I saw him too, several times in the shed during the winter and spring and didn’t think much of it. Now, what was a cute little bunny has grown into a fat pain in the rabbit.
Still, we have a good strawberry patch, lettuce, onions, potatoes, and a few peas. I just planted the squashes and pumpkins, and threw in a few cantaloupes and watermelons to see if they would grow.

Construction: what got done? There is a brick patio at the house, and the deck was finished up. That’s about it. We had installed an outside door on the greenhouse, but the glass seal was bad and instantly fogged up. I waited for the replacement glass to show up, but the installer shattered the replacement. Nice. Waiting for him to come out again. I did find a lot of single pane windows that were either from the house, the barn, or maybe the old farmhouse. I’ve cleaned these up and am devising a way to use these as a window-mosaic to glaze the greenhouse with, rather then getting the 6×12′ polycarbonate sheets I had originally plannned. I also found a matching pair of double hung windows at Habitat’s ReStore in Des Moines that will add venting to the greenhouse. Staircase, almost done.

What else kept us busy? Jefferson in June. Besides it being Swim-Team month, with 2 meets a week….OK, I’ll take a break from the professional sounding updates and brag about my kid. Dang, he is fast and the best butterfly swimming 10 year old there. There is one more meet tonight, then the conference finals. Who gets to go to finals should be announced after the meet tonight, but Mason has been winning Butterfly and has been the fly person in the fastest medley relay. I’m pretty sure he’ll be there.

June also brings us the start of the Farmer’s Markets, and the Bell Tower Festival. We have been having a great start at the Farmer’s Market with Greene Bean Coffee. Alexis is doing a great job running the market this year and we do not come home empty handed. We subscribed to Hooper’s Funny Farm CSA, and usually bring home some fresh bread from Aha Bakery! who is another local gem that is growing fast. Visit us Tuesday nights, and starting soon, Saturday mornings.
Bell Tower Festival….hmm. This year was a mixed bag. To paraphrase Lemony Snicket – It’s not mixing up shopping bags in a bowl with a spoon, but like going to a good movie and having a tub of gravel to eat – good and bad. It seemed like a good festival, but no one really went downtown. Sure, they went to the main stage to watch shows, but never circled the square. I think all the separate locations, wine tasting, beer garden, basketball at the park, volleyball up North, seemed to hollow out downtown. This, coupled with many local shops who rather close and not deal with the biggest crowd they have ever seen. It doesn’t draw people downtown as much. So unless, something different happens, I don’t see the benefit of having a booth next year.

What else – tractor repair. Just as I finished tilling and plowing out the spot for a patio, the tractor died. I thought it was out of gas, but it never restarted. It seemed that the coil decided to die at the very moment. A new one got it running long enough to run out of gas and clog up the carb a little. So, that is running well once again. However, the trail mower seems to be having the next major issue. The belt-engagement pulley seems to have broken off. We’ll have to see if this is fixable. Most of that linkage has been quite stuck into position this last year. The motor is in great shape, so we’ll see.

I have farm projects lined up one after the other. IF I get time, things should start happening there again.

Late July Happenings

Posted by on 27 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Construction, Gardening, General, Sports

Whew.  We had a mad rush of happenings there for a bit.

RAGBRAI took up the focus of most of last week.  This year started in Council Bluffs, so we stayed at the in-laws house across the river in Omaha.  Nothing like a comfy bed.  Steve, Blake, and a pair of Blake’s co-workers were dropped off a mile from the start of the route, and Reagan and I found our first camping spot in Red Oak.  It was next to the school, so there were showers and toilets.  The Expo was right next to us, and the food vendors were at the end of the block.  Another block away was a Hy-vee grocery, a hardware store, McDonalds.  Everything you need.  We ate well.
The Element was parked near the edge of a parking lot, and we had a line of nice shade trees down the edge.  There was more than enough room for camping between them, and the shade was excellent.  Reagan and I used the Element for our tent, as the seats fold down flat.  The next day Steve drove and I joined the crew on a 74 mile ride to Greenfield.  Pastafari was so much tastier than I remember.
They again found a great camping spot in the shade between the high school and middle school.  It started drizzling a bit in the afternoon, so it was nap time, followed by a great lasagna dinner at the high school.

Small towns do RAGBRAI better than large ones.  Indianola was a nice town, but they seemed to de-centralize everything.  Campground parking was here, and the camping was over there in sporting fields.  No car access, and fences kept people from parking along the streets.  We tried the bigger campgrounds, and found full lots, no shade, and nothing at these sites.  The info center and expo were 6 blocks from downtown where the food was.  The square was also half beverage garden, and had many bars around it.  This was also a college town.  Now I understood why each block had 6 porti-potties on it.  This was going to be the party town.  Dismayed at our camping spot fail and the drizzle, we made other plans…..

The LaQuinta hotel in Des Moines!  We planned to hop up to Des Moines in the morning anyhow, so why not go early.  Hot showers, a real toilet, beds, and waffles for breakfast.  Jan also came out a day early from Omaha and spent the night with us.

The cool part is that Blake and I shot north up the road from the LaQuinta at University and I-80, found a trail connector from a parking lot, cut through a neighborhood and got on the Clive Greenbelt trail.  A mile or so later, we were on the Raccoon River Valley Trail and headed home while the women went shopping and Steve drove the Element to Panora.

The RRVT trail is wonderful to ride, and better in shape than a lot of roads we had just done.  We met Steve at Linden and headed to Panora to have lunch trailside at PJ’s.  Man, they have good burgers and onion rings.  From there, Steve and Blake continued up the trail to Jefferson, and I shuttled the car up, waiting awhile at the farm in Cooper.  At least I found some Romaine and peas to bring home.

After that we’ve been keeping up the farm and house.  Working on the roof fix downtown, and getting ready to finish off siding the crib.  I also built a gate for our fence yesterday.  Coffee production is in full swing again for this week’s Farmer’s Market.

Not much

Posted by on 14 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Construction, General, Sports

Strange, but it seems like we don’t update the blog enough.  I think Facebook has stolen our minor status updates, as we keep touch with a lot of friends and family on that site.

Not much has been happening anyhow.  Maintenance is the name of the game.  There have been some injuries, health issues, swim team, and a sloew of little things called life that have kept us from getting a lot of work done.

Still, I have been able to keep the farm mowed, keep the weeds out of the garden, and have had a few bonfires at the farm.  We’ve cleaned up the house in town, and worked on the yard there.  Lately, we added a new fence and and a new back door.  We’ve also managed to clean out the upstairs of the building we bought.  It seems much better now, and we found the source of our leaking roof issue.

We have a big to-do list at all properties.  This week won’t see much work, but we’ll report in from RAGBRAI next week.  We have 3 days of RAGBRAI, and we will use the Raccoon River Valley Trail as the means to get a couple of us home on day 4.

Pictures are also missing.  I should get out the camera and take pictures of all our work this year.


Posted by on 26 May 2009 | Tagged as: Construction, Gardening, General, Sports

I just created 2 new albums in the gallery

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