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Walking the Deer Trails

March 17, 2014

It’s Monday and I can’t complain about how the day is going. Still, I wish I was here instead, walking the deer trails along Sand Creek with Cesar. Most times, I’m with V. or the kids. This time, a solo trek + dog.

Cesar scares most of the wildlife away, but I love watching him jump, meander, sniff, run and swim.

There is less time for woods-walking once summer begins, so hoping to get lots of exploring in before then.

Deer Trails and Cesar

Dam Builders

Buried Treasures

September 19, 2013

I found myself part of an unexpected archaeological dig recently, uncovering treasures from past generations on our farm. I was digging in a flower bed and found this, an old wagon hitch pin:

Hitch Pin

I had to laugh at V.’s response: “I can use that.” Shortly after, we were cleaning out the lean-to shed on the barn and found this on a wall:

License plate

His grandpa, ever the resourceful farmer, used an old license plate to patch a hole in a grain storage bin.

I wonder what treasures of ours might be discovered in 50 years?

Storing Potatoes

August 31, 2013

My wheat farmer should have been a potato farmer. He loves growing potatoes and regularly plants about 60 hills in our garden each year. He usually has good luck. Each hill can have anywhere from 2 to up 7 or so potatoes. The challenge is then how to store them so they don’t rot.

Here’s what we’re trying this year. We’re using empty cattle mineral tubs with holes drilled for air. We then layered the potatoes with pine shavings. The tubs can get heavy, so we only filled them about halfway and then carried them down into our cellar.

I’ll let you know about mid-winter if this idea works or not. And, if you’re in the area and enjoy home-grown potatoes, let us know!

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For at least the next generation, our corner of the country is insulated from a population growth trend called megaregions. The smart people at a project called America 2050 define a megaregion as “multiple, adjacent metropolitan areas connected by overlapping commuting patterns, business travel, environmental landscapes and watersheds, linked economies and social networks.”

The U.S. is expected to have 11 megaregions by the year 2050. The Great Lakes megaregion, for example, will include the cities of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. This megaregion is expected to experience a 28.3% growth in population by 2050. The Texas Triangle is another megaregion and includes the cities of Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. About 70% of the Texas population is expected to live in this region by 2050.

The U.S. will include 11 megaregions by 2050.

The U.S. will include 11 megaregions by 2050.

Our farm is about 30 miles south of the green circle in the middle of the map, Wichita, Kan. — not yet a megaregion, but still an area to watch. Maybe two generations from now that green circle will become another megaregion, connected to the Kansas City area. That’s OK with us. That development is north and we’re south.

Don’t get me wrong. I think these megaregions offer lots of opportunities, especially for employment, mass transit and more. I just want to be on the outside looking in.

Claysville1

Claysville 2

How to wash a chicken

July 17, 2012

I was chatting on Facebook about my 4-Hers getting ready for the Sedgwick County Fair, which included E. washing her chickens.

“How do you wash a chicken?” they asked. “Very carefully,” I answered. Sorry…couldn’t resist. Here’s the real scoop on how E. washes her chickens. In this case, Speedy.

1. Catch Speedy by moving very quickly, cornering him in the chicken house and grabbing him.

2. Slowly submerge Speedy — but not his head — into warm soapy water. (We use Dawn dish soap.) Hold tight with one hand. Use other hand to rinse off feathers and scrub feet.

3. Remove Speedy from water. Let him drip just a little. (Don’t know why. That’s just her technique.)

4. Make sure Cesar doesn’t sneak in or a dirty chicken will be the least of our worries.

5. Submerge Speedy again, this time just in warm water. Give him time to enjoy. (He just bobs about in the bucket, like he’s on a floatie on the lake.)

6. Give him to your brother to hold, so Speedy can drip dry. Must ask nicely because brother doesn’t really want to hold a wet chicken. Then, place carefully in pet carrier to transport directly to the fair.

Finally, enjoy spending time with Speedy and his friends in the poultry barn.

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