Can You See It?

Hello Lil Ass Followers!  Can you see it in the horizon, no not the sun, make sure you’re sitting down for this one…the end of summer is drawing upon us FAST!  Okay now that you’ve gotten over my shocking announcement pick yourself back up; it’s not over yet.  There is 8 or 9 days until the Minnesota State Fair for twenty days until Labor day (kids don’t read this part) which means school starts in MN in twenty-one days.  I can hear the parents rejoicing from here; quiet down adults or the kids won’t think you love them.

So that leaves 15-20 days left to do whatever it is YOU want to do.  Yes there are practices and activities that will happen between now and then, but if needed you can make a mini-vacation work.  There is still the Steele County Fair happening in our area this week and that’s a great opportunity to take your family out to see the hard work and dedication that the 4-H and FFA kids have put into their projects through out the year.  So I hope that you don’t sweat the small details and worry about summer ending soon, enjoy it while it’s still here and soak up every ounce of sun you can for soon we’ll all be complaining about that white stuff on the ground and the bitter cold temperatures.  As an old football coach used to say “Enjoy the Season!”

Now what have we been up to on the farm?  Well it’s been a busy summer mowing the lawn as it doesn’t quit growing, weeding and harvesting our luscious vegetables from my garden, taking care of our livestock (we always have fresh chicken and eggs for sale), and myself, I’ve been working with my two county Farm Bureau’s that I’m Office Assistant for, and

lots of volunteering!  Karla has been working hard at her two jobs, but has also been able to take some time off and has enjoyed some fun day trips  with friends.

What volunteer work you wonder?  I have lots of irons in the fire at all times and I have to be honest some times I’m not sure if I’m coming or going.  The main ones I’ve been working with this summer have been MN Farm Bureau as a member of the Promotion & Education State Committee, Rice County Master Gardeners, and my biggest loves FFA and 4-H.  For FFA I’ve been active as a Randolph FFA Alumni Executive Committee member and Secretary; this past weekend the FFA Alumni and New Trier Tractor Pullers held a joint Tractor and Truck Pull.  Even though it rained a ton a day before the pull, the crew got the track in great shape and it was a success!

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Brian judging general projects @ the Dakota County Fair 

My favorite part of the summer is always the county fairs and even though this year I’ve only been able to go to two of them (Rice and Dakota) I’ve enjoyed them both!  I grew up a Rice County 4-H member and will always see that as my “home” county.  I would have to say coming in at a close second would be Dakota because of a few different reasons: I know so many kids and families in Dakota County it’s fun to see them all exhibit their animals and general projects, I’ve always gone to the Dakota fair because I grew up right next to the county and had lots of friends there, plus the competition is really fierce in the county, but the kids as far as I can tell really enjoy showing together and do it with respect.  This past week Dakota County 4-H celebrated 100 years of 4-H in the county; what an awesome accomplishment!  That’s a lot of sweat, blood, and tears that have been shed in those barns.

What’s the reason I wrote about all of this crazy talk of enjoying summer, doing what you love, and enjoying what you do?  Well since you asked, it’s because summer is almost over and with that brings the end of one season and onto another.  If we don’t take the time to “smell the roses” then they’ll die before you knew they were in bloom.

Have a great day and when in doubt, be nice to one another!

 

 

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Straw Bale Gardening

This summer I decided to try out a new option for growing vegetables, it’s called straw bale gardening.  I heard about this from my mother-in-law who told me that I should try this out.  I did some reading up on it online and found that it’s a new and easy way to plant your garden.  In past years I have used my raised bed garden which is 4 feet tall by 6 feet long and it works great for me to be able to pull right up beside it in my wheel chair and either work from my chair or stand up and use the garden to hold onto while I stand, another way to do some physical therapy.

Raised garden from 2014

Pictured above is a photo of what my raised garden bed looked like last year.  The only big problem I have with this garden is that when I plant tomatoes, zucchini, or anything else with a long vine it tends to take over the garden.  That is why this year I bought six “Better Boy” tomato plants and planted them into two straw bales.

The best place I found on the internet to read about straw bale gardening was at www.strawbalegardens.com  On this site they give some links to articles about the gardens and also will give you an option to buy a book on this concept.  I didn’t buy the book, but it does look interesting.  Another good place to see pictures and hear from others who are planting these gardens is going to Facebook and “liking” the Learn to Grow a Straw Bale Gardens page. https://www.facebook.com/learntogrowastrawbalegarden?fref=ts

Back to planting the tomato plants; what I did was found two straw bales and let them get “conditioned” outdoors for a month before I was ready for them to be planted.  Conditioning means that you are letting the rain break down the bales and making the straw easier to contend with.  They also say that you should put some Miracle Grow or other type of plant food onto the bale for a while and let the rain wash the food into the bale.  Now if you’re not getting rain you’ll have to water the bales yourself, but this year that has not been a problem as of yet.  A week ago I bought my tomatoes and took a small garden spade and dug a 3 slits into each bale and put the one plant into each hole.

One of my straw bales

Then I took some potting soil and helped fill in the hole where there was still space.  As of yesterday the plants were still looking a bit rough, but I used the Facebook page to ask a few questions and they told me to add some more plant food to the plants so hopefully this will work.

Large straw bale Garden

Pictured above is a superb looking straw bale garden that a farmer posted to the Facebook page, so obviously it does work well.

I’m in no way a veteran at doing this and if you want to do a straw bale garden for yourself I suggest that you read up on it more before planting anything.  I hope that it works out well for me and I’m able to produce lots of tomatoes for my homemade salsa and maybe my mother-in-law Rozetta will make some more of her awesome spaghetti sauce!  I will update you as the growing season goes on and if you try this out please let me know how it goes.