no. 40

It is almost Thanksgiving, and while we are enjoying a somewhat restful middle-end of fall (fires, cat cuddling, crafting, baking, roasting, soups), the sudden onset of snow and cold, and the continued cold, means there has been more pressure than we expected to clean up, finish the fall projects, and be ready for winter, because it has effectively arrived.

I am writing today from our friends’ farm about an hour’s drive (for me, that is; subtract at least 10 minutes for the average driver) from our hexagonal farm, where there is reliable internet, and yes, even enough bandwidth to upload photos! But not much more.

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Our farm, while relatively close to the city of Menomonie, is in somewhat of a communications dead zone, with no available options for wired internet connection (including dial-up, as the phone line was sliced this summer). We are fortunate to have cell service, and to be able to afford service that includes hotspot generation, but lately our high speed data is used up within 10 days of each month, inexplicably, and that means no blog posts, at least from home. Of course it also means no streaming of anything, but that is something we can handle. The barriers to rural connectivity are real!

Around the farm

We put some photos out on instagram of some greenhouse progress, and it continues, somewhat! Due to its inability to handle a snow load AND to adequately hold a temperature that is safe for seedlings, we dismantled the crappy greenhouse structure that I lovingly built in the spring, and we have replaced it with the beginnings of a wood structure.

(I did some of the work too!)

We lowered the floor by removing dirt, and a structure was constructed with a pitch that is much more conducive to shedding snow and rain, compared to the old design. It is also approximately 63 times stronger. We used untreated construction lumber that we coated with a good exterior paint that will hopefully provide some protection against sun and high humidity. With the very cold and slightly snowy conditions that began the instant we finished putting up the 2x4s, this fun project is on hold as we focus on tasks that cannot be done come February, when we hope to finish the greenhouse. Because we will reuse the plastic covering, blower, and fan, the cost of this update should be under $200, and as we hope to show late this summer, it will be much improved.

We have been enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of fall, returning to the perimeter trail for very different views now that foliage is gone, and I finally spent a little bit of time behind our largest barn, with a lone tree that is moderately challenging to climb but offers a very nice perch. It is on the jagged eastern edge of our farm, with a hilly alfalfa field (in the photo) on the other side.

I have finally gotten around to cutting rebar and carefully hammering it into place to define the footprint of the caterpillar tunnel we will finish assembling in the spring. (also, orange vest = deer hunting season) This very lightweight tunnel with a plastic covering will warm up the soil early and allow us to harvest a significant amount of produce in May. As we will hopefully see, the appearance of such structures is where the name originates; they look to be composed of many segments, like a caterpillar.

The house received a major upgrade this fall with the addition of a wood stove! To say we are enjoying it is an understatement. To say the cat is enjoying it is a massive understatement. The house layout is not ideal for wood heat, as it is a single floor with a narrow hallway that leads to the smaller rooms in the back. There are recent developments inside, including some new holes in our walls (one hopes the photographed hole will be tidied and finished in the coming months) to circulate the cozy warmth to the back rooms. Expect a full report when we are emotionally through with winter. February? This added circulation appears so far to have a good effect.

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for reading.

-pppppppp