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Winter is here

Today we woke to a half inch coating of light, powdery snow, and are expecting much more.

Those of us who live in places with cold winters understand the differences in snow. The first snow was rather wet and heavy. It stuck together well to make snowballs and snowmen. Today’s snow is made up of tiny, light flakes. When it stays cold, the individual snowflakes stay – well, individually frozen. Snowballs are impossible with this snow. Now mater how hard you try to press it together, you will still have a handful of powder. The tiny, light flakes of today are pleasant to walk through, but will make for treacherous conditions if the wind starts blowing. It only takes a  little bit of snow blowing around in the wind to make it nearly impossible for drivers to see the road.

 

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First Snow

We woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground this morning. Minnesota mornings are dark this time of year, and heavy clouds and snowflakes made the morning seem even more gray. But the white dusting on the ground is so welcome and cheerful in December.

Over at the elementary school, there are kids on the floor, tugging off snowy boots and wet snowpants. Keeping track of small hats and mittens is a constant challenge for parents and teachers.

Around here, we non-anglers like to keep tabs on the ice-fisherman. The big lake froze last week – nice and smooth. (Just shy of 7 months since the ice went off the lake.) There are tiny bumps near the shore where the first attempts at ice formation got blown into piles by the wind, but out from shore, the ice is like glass. On Wednesday, the first few portable ice-houses appeared on the lake – close to shore. By Friday, there were wooden houses and four-wheelers on the lake, and rumor has it the walleyes are biting out there. I have also seen people enjoying the smooth ice on skates. Soon, an entire community of ice-houses will appear on the lake. But today, the ice is too new and thin.

In honor of the occasion, my youngest and I built a tiny snowman.

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Soggy ground

I mowed the lawn at the farm today. It was only my third lawn mowing this spring. The lawn in front of the big house is too wet to mow. I’m afraid the lawnmower will get stuck, or tear up the yard. The last time it was this wet was in 2011. That summer, the ground was so saturated, that tree roots couldn’t hold the soil an many fell in a big wind storm. I hope we don’t have the same situation this year. The farm is still a mess from 2011.

Today was probably the first sunny warm day this summer. It was a beautiful blue sky day, and I even got a little bit of a sunburn. I’m not complaining, I am actually very happy that we finally got to see the sunshine.

Here’s a little picture of the dandelion puffballs on the farm today.

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Corn harvest

Every year we plant corn for the animals. Around here, they are called “food plots” and are left all winter long for the deer, pheasants, etc. to have a sure source of food through the winter. The last few years have seen an increase in the number of predators…namely coyotes. This spring, like last year,we found our food plots surrounded by coyote tracks and full of corn. 

We will plant food for the critters again. But first have to get rid of the standing corn.

So today the corn was harvested. 

 

The big green combine picks and threshes the corn as it is driven through the field. The clean, dry corn is then dumped into the waiting bin. Poppy, the girls and I helped drive it to the elevator.

At the elevator, they stick a big, metal probe down into the corn, and suck up a few kernels fom the middle of the load.

I took the girls up to see what happens to the corn they take.

The corn is run through a tested to check the moisture content. Then we drove over the first scale which weighed the truck and full trailer.

The corn gets dumped into the bins under ground, but then lifted to fill the giant elevator. 

Our corn will be sold at today’s prices and added to the corn on hand. Some of the local corn will be used as feed, some used for ethanol, most of it is loaded onto grain cars and shipped to the east coast where it’s loaded onto huge ships and sent across the Pacific ocean. I wonder where our little 170 bushels will end up…..

What is blooming now?

Today we saw lots of tiny, little flowers blooming. Few often over 5 inches tall.

Prairie smoke

Prairie smoke starting to “smoke”

Hoary puccoon

Violets

Bastard toadflax

Pussy toes

White “blue-eyed grass” a tiny member of the iris family.

Mouse-eared chickweed.

Golden Alexander

Oxalis

Beautiful tiny bouquet.

And cute girls too.

Poppy found a fox skull and they were thrilled. The teeth fell out….and that was even more fun!

My poor, crazy, wild apple tree has a gazillion blossoms. The petals are starting to drop and apples are forming. I hope the branches don’t break under the weight. I really should prune the poor thing, but since it is wild, we kinda like to let it be. It should be a good cider year.

After the fire 

Due to busy schedules and rainy weather, I have not been able to get out to the prairie much since the burn. The girls and I spent the afternoon out there with Poppy today and everything is greening up nicely.

The clumps of native grasses are clearly visible, as are the flowers that will bloom in the coming months.

Ice Out!

Today the ice is officially gone from the big lake. We broke the record by several days! Last year was the earliest ice out on record, and this year was the latest. Hopefully our long winter is finally at an end!