Monday, November 30, 2009

Alkutalvi - The Beginning of Winter

Our barred rock rooster with a silver-laced Wyandotte hen. They tolerate the snow, but don't really like it. Once it gets a few inches deep, they stay inside their coop.

Veikko, the wonderdog.

Tractor tire tracks in soft ground.

The last remaining berries of summer - lowbush cranberries?

Ice forming on the pond.

Ice grapes.

Our lakefront estate.

I had to sacrifice a few spruces that were shading our new greenhouse.

Hunting on a mountain bike is completely legal. You see about as many deer as you do walking, and you cover a lot more ground.

David and Jonathan putting up Christmas lights in a spruce.

It was much easier years ago when the tree was small...

...but it's well worth the effort.

When Christmas morn is dawning....

...actually, the first day of Advent.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

A snowy day, lots of good food, family & friends.

Grandpa & Grampa, Mik & Jeni, Carl & Chris and Obie helped man the tables. Before the meal Mik tried out his rock skis in the yard. Kalevi got excited and bolted across the radio fence. A few minutes later we hear loud barking from the clearcut across the road. David went out and discovered that Kalevi was circling an 8-point buck who was standing in place. David got within twenty feet before it ran off and quickly left Kalevi in the dust.

Obie from Mississippi was our special guest this year. He brought a delicious Pinã Colada cake.
There were several other salads besides the pies & cakes that couldn't fit on the plate yet.

Some of the traditional table decorations.
Following tradition, the 2009-2010 table hockey season began with a bad loss for Carl...
...and another bad loss for Carl. Jonathan ended the day in first place.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Samanda's Wedding

Live music at the prenuptial taco party.

Leaving for the church.

The church was ready....

The mothers and the bridesmaids were ready....

Can't we finish the game first?
Dads understand....
...that croquet matches are serious business (Mik won).
The bride was lovely, the groom was handsome, and everyone was happy...

I can't believe you had to finish that croquet game!

And they lived happily ever after.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Warm Saturday, November 7

With the temperature in the upper fifties, our bees came out in force.

The hives are close to the trees in their "winter cluster" to keep them out of the wind. Bees form their own clusters within the hives to stay warm. The bees consume their stored honey and metabolize it to generate heat. As long as there is enough honey and enough bees, they have a good chance of making it through the winter.

We took advantage of the warm weather to tie up our raspberry bushes and trim them. Stalks which are tied together can stand up under the snow load and will not break.
We transplanted swiss chard, a frost hardy plant, from our backyard garden into the greenhouse. A layer of woven plastic row cover material goes on top of the hoops. According to Eliott Coleman, an organic gardener in Maine, and the author of the Winter Harvest Handbook, this double layer system will keep the plants about 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature, allowing frost hardy vegetables to be harvested year round. This is our first year with the greenhouse, and transplanting plants is stressful on them, but I wanted to get started with the experiment. Next year I hope to plant the winter crop in August and then transfer the greenhouse over it.

The chickens enjoyed the warmth and sunshine as well. We originally had three roosters with these hens, but we had to eliminate two because their repeated matings wore the feathers off most of the hens backs. There is nothing gentle about rooster courtship. A friend had warned me, "If you keep more than one rooster, your hens will never forgive you." Now almost all the hens have regrown their feathers, and life is much more peaceful for them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

We planted these tamaracks years ago for some fall color.

Our new greenhouse.

Cotton grass at the bog
Our pond.

A Cranberry Bog

Cranberries grow on insignicantly small looking plants. Last year was a bumper crop. This year, almost nothing.

Leatherleaf is the predominant low bush on a sphagnum bog.

Pitcher plants. A sphagnum bog is acidic with very low nutrients. Plants like these capture flies for food.

Even though we didn't get any cranberries, the subdued beauty of the bog always makes it worth the trip.