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Farm Friday: A Week on the Farm

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

This week we want to share with you photos and a video from our life here in Iowa.

But first, I want to acknowledge the passing of our friend and neighbor Shirley Gray this

Shirley Gray
Shirley Gray

week. I wrote about her in this blog and for the New Food Economy (now The Counter) last year, long before our moving to Iowa became a reality. She was a wonderfully interested, down-to-earth woman, the kind who always remembered what was going on in your life and asked you about it. And although I didn't always agree with her (she told us over the holidays that she liked Trump because "he isn't in anyone's back pocket," an idea I believe has a lot of evidence to the contrary), she embodied what is best about rural America. The was the neighbor who invited you to come in and shoot the shit with her at her dining room table, to share stories over a glass of iced tea and figure out who in the area could help you with x, y, or z issue. Her passing was a huge blow to our community and she will be sorely missed.

The cows are eating hay now that the grass is a bit too far down under the snow for them to get to it (although ranchers in Canada say cows will root down to eat grass in up to a foot of snow). We ended up cutting 185 big round bales of hay last summer, and the ideal is to feed them to one's own cattle so 1) you know how nutritious your hay really is, 2) you keep the fertility (cow poop) on the same field where you will again grow hay. John heads out every day or two to roll out a few new bales for them (which ensures they poop all over the place) or to put it in the bale ring so they don't step (and yes, poop) all over it.

The remodeling of the farm house (a house we purchased about 2 miles from John's dad's house) is going full steam ahead now. And perhaps par for the course on a old house remodel, the cans of worms are opening. This week it is was the siding.

Ugly house
We went from an ugly metal sided house to a hideous wood one.

When putting the new windows in, it was decided to take off the steel siding of the house. Now we are unsure how much of the cedar we will have to replace, and it feels like a headache we don't need at the moment.

The inside of the house is coming along, slowly but surely. This video below is of the downstairs, taken from what will someday be the living room and looking out into the future kitchen.

John is doing a fair amount of the work on the house, along with some framers, a plumber and Harrison, a Jack of all Trades who also milled the ash we cut into what will be our flooring. I think John is enjoying the work, or perhaps it is just that he gets to wear his onesie all day everyday, and not really have to get dressed.

Meanwhile I am working writing a book (tentatively called "Bet the Farm," about the economics of American agriculture - more on that in a later post). And because the weather is far more mild, I feel more sane and less cooped up in a Tiny House all day every day.

Off to biathlon, chain saw in my backpack

But in order to also feel like I am contributing my fair share to the farm (and not just "exercising" like the bougie, sitting-at-a-laptop-all-day woman I really am), I have pioneered a new sport - the Chain Saw Biathlon. I carry the electric chain saw on my back and ski around the farm trimming trees, a Sisephan task as there are far more trees to be trimmed than ski days ahead of me. But it is great to combine my two great loves (chain saws and skiing!) and the activity makes me feel like I am doing something for our common good. Maybe the sport will catch on and you can witness the fun at the next Olympics.

Of course, the dog Rosie and the "kittens" are well too. The cats are big poof balls of fur this time of year, as you can see in their sweet portraits below (Doby is on the left, Cali on the right, below). Rosie has finally gotten smart enough too (or maybe cold enough) to get inside the dog house.

As always, thanks for reading and for your support. We feel honored to have you follow along on our journey.

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This is my favorite episode, so far! (Not sure if I can pull off the chainsaw here in Boston, but cross-country skiing is definitely in the cards.) Can we expect a post about the Iowa caucuses???


I love John’s onesie and the kitten pics! Sorry for the loss of your sweet neighbor, and Beth I am worried about you and snowshoeing with the chainsaw....helmet?

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