Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An autumnal equinox to remember!

Sometime last week I googled "first day of autumn" to see on which day it fell this year.  And I was surprised!  First day of fall on the 23rd?  That's rather unusual, isn't it?  Shouldn't it be the 21st or 22nd?  And then I mentioned it to a few people, including our neighbor in 4th grade.  And I still didn't think it was right and wondered if I was leading him astray.  But then today, there is was on Google's search screen--Google was celebrating the day with an animated logo.
And we've had the most beautiful days of the whole summer in the last few days.  Perfect temps, not a cloud in the sky, perfect fall days.  So here are a couple pictures of fall around the farm:
 The leaves changing colors is really just starting.  This next weekend should be really colorful, and on into October.   So now the maples really show themselves in among the pines and apple trees.

And it's probably because of all the rain we've had, but there's such a variety of mushrooms, including these little orange ones.

And check out this sunflower stalk!  That's about 10 sunflowers on one stem!
 And another one.  We'd better get those heads off, at least the big ones, and put them out for the birds.

And for the first time in many years, the apple crop is CRAZY!  Even the wild ones up in the meadow are good this year.  It must have been a perfect combination of weather and...weather!  There's no other explanation. 

And this has nothing to do with fall, but a result of moving the old house off the foundation.  The power to our little maple sugar shack, and to the old garage in the background, all came through the old house.  So when power was cut to move the house, we had to reconnect those buildings to our new power box.  And that involved trenching to lay wire to those two buildings.  And that leaves us with more grass to grow.  We almost had all the bare patches growing nice grass, and now we start again.
Since he trenched through the site where the barn used to be, he also dug up a bunch of old rocks from the barn foundation.  That field stone just isn't very pretty.  Our excavator was pretty insistent that we needed to collect those rocks for some other project.  Since he was the one who did our rock work for our garden in front of our house, we took his advice and here are our new rocks to put to use somewhere.

Happy Equinox to all!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Everyone here for the concert!

So glad to have Leann home for the weekend.  She spent all last week at Mayo with her sister, Kristi, who started her first of 5 1/2 weeks of radiation treatments.  But they both came home here yesterday and were joined by Leann's other sister, Sandy and their Mom today.  And they all came to go to the Sara Thomsen concert tonight at our friends' gallery in town, the Hoth Lee Art Gallery.

It was such a nice concert, lots of our friends and others who enjoy Sara's music.  And intermission with yummy snacks and a glass of wine!  Thanks, Sandy & Nancy for hosting another great concert.

And before concert time we got a few jobs taken care of.  Sandy got the task of getting the new "Public Beach/Pier" sign ready to hook onto the rest of the arrow signs.  Leann painted the sign and we just needed the eyes screwed into the top to connect to the hooks on the sign above.  Whew!  Got that done and it's still summer...almost...

At the concert tonight we heard that a mother bear and three babies were seen crossing our field in front of our house.  But we missed it!  We did, however, come home to this cutie on our driveway tonight.  We don't know what kind of snake it is, but it's pretty little...as you can see.  Maybe all snakes move in kind of a side-winder manner, but this one did and it was kind of creepy...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A frosty weather reprieve & time at the Lake

BTW...the big storm predicted for Tuesday evening turned out to be pretty tame--a little wind, a little rain, but nothing dangerous.  Then the big threat last night was a possible freeze overnight.  This is when people usually get out the sheets and/or blankets to cover up the more tender garden produce.  So, since it was only September 12th and we'd like to get a couple more tomatoes from our gardens, we got out our own covering cloths. (But we're tired of beans so we didn't cover them.)

But first we picked anything that was close to being ripe!

And I'm happy to report that this morning there was no sign of frost.  In fact, I don't think the temp went below 40˚, mostly because it stayed pretty cloudy all night.  And THAT was why we couldn't see any of the predicted Northern Lights last night.  I think it's still possible for tonight.  Below are our late-summer flower boxes.  They stayed nice and perky all summer.  Back in the distance is another tomato bed covered by a sheet.

It's kind of quiet tonight here.  Leann left to go be with her sister for the start of her 5 1/2 weeks of radiation therapy at Mayo in Rochester.  The eight chemo treatments did their job of shrinking the tumor down to a size for possible surgery, but she needs to do radiation to zap it some more.  We're thinking positive thoughts and thankful for all she has gained from her experiences at Mayo.  

Late this afternoon I went down to the Lake to read for a while.  It was a little too breezy to get too comfortable for long.  A couple people were fishing on the end of the pier, and the water is still reddish from all the wave action Tuesday and Wednesday.

I chuckled when I saw all this driftwood mess.  We're always telling our B&B guests about our "beautiful" sand beaches.  This one didn't look very beautiful today!

I thought this was pretty though.

As I was walking back to my car I saw these mushrooms.  They start out as these little balls oozing out of the ground and then blow up to look like the one on the right.  I don't have anything to show size comparisons but it was about 6-7 inches high.

And then I checked an area in our yard that usually has mushrooms this time of year and I found this colorful specimen. (Is that how you spell specimen?  Looks weird!)
No frost tonight and it should warm up for the next few days.

Friday, September 12, 2014

One house: Ready to move!

The last phase of our building project, scheduled maybe at the end of October, suddenly began in the last two days.  After some hard work on the part of three guys yesterday and today, our old house is up on steel beams and ready to move to its next location.

Here's how it all began.  On Wednesday they brought in a trailer with two LONG beams, some shorter beams, a couple of big stacks of large railroad tie-sized timbers, a bunch of cement blocks, a bobcat and all their tools.

First they removed anything from the basement that would be in their way.  Luckily we had removed everything we could move or wanted.  They removed the decks away from both doors so the entire foundation was exposed.

In all the time I've thought about this happening, I always wondered how they would separate the house from the foundation.  I pictured them with some giant sawzall, going around the whole house.  Nope, that's NOT how they do it!  Instead they smash away the whole foundation in sections, all while shoring it up from the basement floor with stacks of those railroad ties in key spots to support the house.

Here's the bobcat with a jackhammer bit on the front.  I can say because I saw it with my own eyes that he was able to smash through the 1980's cement blocks supporting the 1980 addition a whole lot easier than the rest of the foundation--an almost-foot thick wall made in 1925 out of rocks held together with cement.  Pictures of that coming later...

Once they got enough of the foundation removed, they slid these huge beams under each side of the house.  There was a lot of measuring going on to get those beams in just the right spot.

Here are the beams coming out of the back of the house.  There are still some portions of the foundation left to hold up the house in some spots.

And that's about how it was left yesterday.  Today when I strolled over (nosy rosy!), I saw that they had about 4 house jacks set up under the house on top of those railroad tie stacks.  Turns out they had already jacked up the house 4 inches on the one side.  One of the guys was cleaning off these plates about a foot square in size.  Those plates were going to be placed under those beams so the beams could S-L-I-D-E forward and off the basement foundation.

But first they had to remove my Dad's flagpole and one cedar tree.

Then one of the guys connected the winch cable to the house from the bobcat which would be doing the pulling.  There was another larger truck to the left of the bobcat to give more weight to that end of the operation.

They slid it forward about 6-8 feet at a time, and then moved the railroad ties from the back of the house up to the front so they could move it some more.  See the stacks of timbers stacked on the basement floor?

Moving timbers.  Notice where the side deck in now.  Just a little more to go.

Here are the stacks of timbers after it was completely off the foundation.

And here it is, all ready to get put on wheels.  We don't know when that day will be.  There are permits to get and Xcel Energy has be available to manage power lines as the house goes under them.  The person getting the house is very excited so that makes it all worthwhile!

And here are some of those rock foundation walls.  Our friends here in town are building a house with walls like this now in 2014.  These were from 1925.  I can just imagine all those "Larson boys" working hard to make these walls.  I'm glad someone else will be able to enjoy this house into the future.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yes, Walt Disney, it really is a small world after all!

We have our first non-North American guests staying with us tonight.  They were from the Netherlands and were traveling in the United States and Canada for a couple weeks, then going on to visit friends for a while.  We were sitting around talking this evening when the phone rang.  It was our neighbor who was at the Port Bar and noticed a couple who were looking for a room for the night.  They had encountered several "no vacancies" along their way so were happy when we still had a room available.

Now for the "small world" part.  This second couple had lived in the Netherlands for a period of time several years ago and they even still spoke a little Dutch.  Crazy!  To meet up in little Port Wing, Wisconsin!

So, with our rooms filled, we are waiting for the over-predicted big storm tonight.  At least I'm hoping it's over-predicted.  Sounds like we are just supposed to get lots of rain and wind.  I've heard predictions for possible Lake Superior wave heights of 10 to 25 FEET! (Thanks, John Harrington!)  Why do the strains of Gordon Lightfoot run through my head on hearing about "gale warnings?)

Meanwhile, back on the farm, the Xcel energy truck came today to shut off power to the old house.  Because they came pretty quickly, the mover said they might come tomorrow to begin prepping the house for the move, depending on the storm, of course...

 I took some (possibly last) pictures of our sunflowers before the winds arrive tonight.  It was some kind of variety pack of seeds so they are all a little different.  Hope they are still there in the morning.

And Leann used all our red tomatoes (so far) and made a batch of the tomato relish that we serve with our egg dishes.  It's a fresh relish so it goes in the refrigerator rather than being processed.   People seem to like it.

Well, we have our flashlights and jugs of water ready for if/when the power goes out and we have no pump.  (Ah, life in the country!)  Stay tuned...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Photo shoot at Quarry Beach

We say many times during the summers we've lived here that we need to get down to the Lake and enjoy the beach more.   But then work and other distractions get in the way.  Today we remedied that by going to the beach, but we had another motivation...taking pictures of our neighbor, Dave, on his stand up paddleboard.

Dave moved here a few years ago and in his semi-retirement he has discovered the benefits of paddleboarding.  I don't think I have permission to "tell all" here, but I think he would say that this activity has given him a new lease on life, as well as better balance and a way to "sail" his way into some of the nooks and crannies of most of the waterways around here.  In the shot below, Dave is heading around the point to see what the wind conditions are over there.  He didn't come back while we were there, so it must have been okay.

I talked Dave into doing this photo shoot so I'd have some possible shots for later when we update the Port Wing brochure for next summer.  This year's current brochure also has a picture of Quarry Beach but shows friends of ours who visited a couple years ago.  When we got down here today, at first it was just Dave and us.  Then right away two other couples, each with a dog, appeared and so my shot below has one of the visitors out on the rock.  Dave wasn't standing up yet, so having "extras" in my shot was fine.  These visitors were from Owen-Withee, down in central Wisconsin, and were up here enjoying the sites.

I'm Facebook friends with Dave, so I've been able to enjoy the pictures he takes when he is out on his voyages.  From a blogger's point-of-view (mine), I think he should start a blog himself so more people can see his pictures and read his posts.  He could even cash in on his blogging by targeting the paddleboarding crowd!  I'll let you know if he does!

Today he posted about a Lake Superior tidal wave.  Really!  This phenomenon that occurs on the Great Lakes is called a seiche and is caused by dramatic weather changes from storms.  We noticed last week that the water was much higher by the marina, and I guess this was the reason.
 Thanks, Dave!  You make it look really easy, but I think I'd spend more time IN the lake than ON the board!

On the way home we stopped on the bridge on Quarry Road.  This is looking north where the Lake is just around that last bend.

And this looks south and it leads to a larger area called Bibon Lake.  Everything looked so nice on this beautiful day!

AND, in other news...we found out that they might start moving our old house this week.  We thought it was going to be in October, but schedules have changed.  Get the cameras ready!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Taking the long way to the garlic farm

Today we got the call that we could pick up our garlic.  This is from our neighbors who have been raising garlic here for probably twenty years or more.  We thought they had ended their garlic business two years ago, but it turns out the weather ended their garlic business for those two years--especially 2013 when we got 53 inches of snow in April.  Not good for garlic!  But this year they had a bumper crop and it was time to pick up our order.

Since they live just around the corner and up the road, we decided to take the back way...the REALLY back way...back through our woods.  This is a trail we haven't attempted since sometime early this spring because it's been so wet.  But today would be the day.

This is what it looks like at the start:
Even when it's really grown up--like it is now--you can usually tell where the trail is, or at least Leann can.  Today there was one point where she asked ME where the trail was.  She should have known better!

When several weeks/months have passed without going through on these trails, we often run into places with branches and logs crossing the trail.  Some are small and just require a clippers like the ones below.

And some are bigger and need to be dealt with in a major way or we need to back up and turn around.  Luckily we had the right equipment with us.

 This giant mushroom was right in the middle of the trail.  I placed the saw next to it for some perspective.
The rest of the trail was pretty uneventful, but she put the pedal to the metal so we could get through the swampy parts without getting stuck.  And then on to the garlic farm.

But first, here are some of their onions!  We got to go upstairs in their barn where they have already dried all the garlic--and onions--and have them all organized by kinds.

She had all her garlic orders arranged in boxes like this, all categorized by numbers according to the varieties she's planted this year.

And here's her list of kinds of garlic for this year--22 kinds!  And she still has more left after all her orders, so if you'd like some garlic, I'll let her know!  And the sad part is that she says this is absolutely her last year of doing garlic.

She wants to have more time to do/plant more of what she wants to do.  Their gardens--flower, succulent and vegetable--are all beautiful.  We love going there to see what's growing.  She has two climbing bean plants that must be 10 feet high!  Below are some of her dried beans--this one is the yin yang bean.
 And here are some more beautiful beans.  Don't you love the colors?  So we went home with our garlic and two eggplants--a variety that grows up in this climate...unlike the ones we planted that DON'T grow in this climate.  As with all things garden, live and learn from others!

Sometime around 7:30 we went for a ride down to the lake.  It seemed almost too dark at our house to catch the sunset, but we made it in time.  This is the marina area looking west.

And this is the slough or backwaters looking east toward tonight's showy full moon!

Wow!  Just, wow!