Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow Fence

 Farmer Fred is very familiar with snow fences. They are temporary fences built to stop blowing snow, or to keep snowmobiles and skiers from cutting across an area during the winter. We have a prevailing Northwest wind that blows the cold and snow down. That is the direction from which most snow drifts into GriggsDakota.
We decided to try to protect the road and bin site.
 Last winter the snow drifted across this field,
blew over the road and drifted up around the bins. 
We spent hours moving snow and there is no getting around that. We are just hoping to reduce the amount of snow that we have to move this winter.
The fence must be sturdy because of our severe winds and, of course, snow. 
Strong wooden slat rolls of fencing, sturdy steel fence posts, and heavy wire clips make up the fence. We did research online and discovered advice on how to make the fence even more effective, but this year we are making a simple, straight fence on the ground. 
 This fence is an experiment. If it helps to reduce the snow on the road and by the bins, we may try improving our 
methods in the future. 
I'll be updating your from time to time as the winter progresses. 
So far, so good.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eager Beavers

The Fall season has been wet in GriggsDakota and we have water in all the sloughs and creeks. This creek has become home to an impressive series of beaver dams.
 The water is still running, even as freeze up is upon us. The sound of running water is attractive to beaver. They listen for the sound and build dams to stop it. Work, work, work, that is the life of a beaver. If you would like to learn more about Beavers in Dakota click on the link to learn more.
 The beaver are generally nocturnal, but we do see them occasionally in GriggsDakota. It was all quiet when I visited their stomping grounds recently, but their presence was unmistakable.
Trees had been chewed off 
 dragged across the trail
into the grass 
and down a well worn beaver path. 
 They cut these trees to eat and build an underground home with an air vent to keep them snug through the cold winter.
 Their flat tail packs mud and reeds into useful structures. Their fur coat becomes thick and dense. Beaver pelts have traditionally been prized for their extreme warmth. 
The perseverance and adaptability of the beaver allows them to survive the GriggsDakota winter.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Favorite Gifts

What do you want for Christmas? It's a common question to ask children and they usually have a ready answer. My son once told Santa, "You get to bring me a red fire truck!" And, of course, Santa came through. Who would want to mess up that kind of enthusiasm? 
Childhood gifts  become treasured memories for adults. There are the longed for things like dolls, trucks, or something the child has seen in a store or on TV. My children nearly wore out the toy advertisements that came stuffed inside the newspaper around Thanksgiving. Today I recall two gifts from my childhood.
The first gift was a set of colored pencils. These days every child has colored pencils in their school desk. When I was young they were a luxury. My dad had a set that he kept in his desk at home and I remember how much I enjoyed sitting and drawing with those pencils. 
He and Mom must have noticed. When Christmas came around one year there was a set in a plastic case that was my very own.  I took it to school and filled a notebook with impossibly complicated and extremely colorful sketches of dresses that I hoped to make for myself when I was "bigger." I also drew floor plans and sketches of houses and furniture. I realized for the first time that I could draw. Classmates noticed my hobby and soon there were others who brought colored pencils and began to draw fashion and dreams. No one turned into a great artist, but we had a great time. That box of colored pencils changed my life. 
When I was little my uncle called me CandyJane.  When it comes to candy, I love it all. That is why my outstanding birthday gift is a case of Hershey bars. I think that I was about eleven when I opened it.  I thought it was a Hershey bar box that contained something else. It was too heavy for clothes. When I lifted the top off the box it was full of candy bars. Because they were my very own, I saved them and ate them sparingly over the next year. I shared them occasionally, but kept them hidden. There was not too much temptation to over indulge and no brotherly thievery. I hoped there would be another box exactly like it on my next birthday. That didn't happen, definitely a good thing, and life went on. But there it is locked in my memory. 

When you buy gifts in the weeks ahead remember this:  It is okay to keep it simple.
 Happy shopping.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Today we will gather up our best recipes.
 Bring in plenty of wood for the fire.
Get out the good dishes
 and linens.
 Have the Farm Inspector tell everyone where to sit.
And thank God for the blessing of another year.
 Thank you for reading our blog and take care as you travel to be with those you love. 
There is snow and ice in GriggsDakota

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Food Family Farm

Where does food come from? 
That has become a popular question. Is my food healthy and nourishing? Will it taste good? 
There was a time in my life that I didn't worry about that. As far as I was concerned, food came from our kitchen. Meals were put on the table three times a day. If I was ever hungry in between, there was lunch. 
I was a skinny little picky eater, but I had no worries. I ate Mom's Food.
My Mom is the farm girl on the left. She has spent only a few years away from GriggsDakota. They were spent in college where she earned a degree in Home Economics. Because of her commitment to doing things right, we were fed a balanced diet at every meal. Let me say that again, we were fed a balanced diet at every meal. That didn't happen by accident. It took the full time commitment of a woman who would rather cook than eat. 
On the farm the meals are breakfast, morning lunch, dinner, afternoon lunch, supper, evening snack if you continue working after supper or you have company over.  We ate fruits and vegetables at every meal. This was no small accomplishment in GriggsDakota.
 She raised a big garden, plus a patch of sweet corn. 
We canned or froze what we didn't eat. We bought crates of fruit in the summer, again canning or freezing what we didn't eat.
 Rhubarb, apples, berries, and more were prepared and served. Home made sauce and jams were on our table nearly every day all winter. Orange juice for breakfast. Broccoli was a treat reserved for special occasions. Watermelon and cantaloupe were a summertime treasure, because Mom thought they were delicious.
There was a commitment to cleanliness in her kitchen. Washing, wiping and scrubbing were constant.  Never use the dish cloth for anything , but dishes. The kitchen sink is for food and dishes. Wash your hands elsewhere. Soak the grapes in the water for a couple of minutes, then rinse them off. They have taken a long trip to get here. Rinse the orange before you peel it or cut into it. Who touched it before you? Wipe off the top of your pop can before you drink from it. The hem of your t-shirt is cleaner than that can. Use it if you must. 
Clean the grill before you use it. Cook the hamburger well, it's been through a grinder. Save rare meat for beef steak, home grown, of course. Stir fry is fine as long as you cook the meat and wash the vegetables.  Chop the vegetables first, then the meat. Don't let different foods touch while raw. The lessons were endless.
We baked much of our own bread and all of our desserts. Precise measuring was stressed endlessly. 
Crack the egg, from our own chicken coop, into a little bowl and look it over before adding it to anything. She pasteurized the milk we drank. 
Thankfully, times have changed. While we still produce and prepare food, we enjoy modern convenience.
 Why am I writing all of this? To let you know how seriously we take food. We produce it and we eat it. Consumers need to know how hard farmers in America are working to produce healthy affordable food for the world. We want everyone to be able to eat every day. It is our part of making the world a better place.
In GriggsDakota, farmers care about the future of our food.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dakota Flyway: Geese!

From a distance as we drive through GreaterDakota, there seemed to be a bit of snow in a low spot near the pond. 
Almost part of the marsh, but alive with movement.
The snow geese and blue geese, joined by a few local Canada geese are migrating through to warmer weather. 
Salt and pepper on the ground and in the sky.
Many migrating geese were hatched this season and only recently received their pilot's license.
 When flying North last Spring their migratory flight was organized and precise.
Today the geese appear at home on the ground. While they rest, it's party time. Cackling and calling to friends and strangers, they eat, drink and rest.
Then the air fills with the sound of beating wings as they circle around and return.
 The geese are not ready to organize their air force into purposeful flight.
They are having too much fun basking in the abundance they discovered in GreaterDakota.