Thursday, June 29, 2006

I am so ashamed of myself!

I got some new panties at Wal-Mart the other day (Fruit of the Loom). I read the label – made in Honduras! Not American made!

What to do? What to do?

Maybe I should make my own panties? No, wait!! The material is probably made in Mexico or something!

Weave the material? No, wait!! The cotton yarn is probably spun in a little shop in the Andes.

Spin my own cotton? No, wait!! The cotton fiber is probably grown in India!!

I’ve got it! Get one of my southern friends (are you listening, Grandma Rosie?) to send me some cotton seeds, grow my own cotton, harvest it, spin it, weave the material and then make my panties.

Then everything will be American made, right?

No, wait!! The spinning wheel was made in New Zealand! Guess I’ll have to purchase a new, American made spinning wheel. And I know exactly which one, too!

What a sacrifice for being totally American made! But a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.

I think I’ll have to go sky-clad until I get the cotton seed, grow it, harvest it, spin it, weave it, sew it (thank goodness my sewing machine is an antique American made treadle!)…………

You have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Slowly getting there!

We have a window facing west, with a beautiful view of our west pasture. I have put a thistle sock and feeder out west so we can look out the window and watch them there, as well as watch the ones out the kitchen window.

But the big window is a double pane that has a leak, so we have moisture and dirt inside and it is difficult to look out. Wayne said that he thought we could cut out one pane, clean and dry out and then put the pane back in and reseal – we won’t have the gas that is supposed to help keep the window warm, but we will have a double pane. I am waiting for Norm to come home to discuss this.

This weekend we will have two sons-in-law, a brother and a father around. Surely with all those men with eager hands we could get a pane cut out of the window and get it cleared for viewing.

I have put in our antique stain glass window (friend Fritzie said it’s perfect for short people like me. I say it’s perfect for ‘normal’ people and her height is giant sized!). I also moved the sofa and two chairs to face the window so we can sit in comfort to look out.

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And tonight I moved the feeder and sock two feet closer to the house. My goal is to get the feeder and sock very close to the house so we can sit in comfort and see the birds closely.

I have a friend who has a feeder tray right outside her window (which is lower than ours) and she sits at the table and watches the birds while she eats. Maybe we can make a feeder tray someday and put it up on the bottom frame of the window. Or, maybe PUT a table and chairs there for sitting and eating and move the sofa back to the other side of the room? We’ll see, but slowly, slowly, the window view will become even better than it is now!

It was a beautiful day today - you have a beautiful day!

My babies are three weeks old!

They are growing quickly and healthily … not as quickly as those Cornish Crosses, but they are prettier and there is more variety. They are eating so much, however, that I had to put the big feeder in today – I couldn’t go 12 hours between topping off the little feeders, even though there were four of them. And put the big gallon waterer in there, as well. The teenagers are getting water from an ice cream bucket, like the hens are.

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I have put the teenagers and the adult hens together but they are running the full gamut of the barn with both east and west doors open so the teens can hide somewhere if they are picked on by the hens. This afternoon I checked and most of the teens are resting in the deep hay under the roosts in the hens’ area. And eating and drinking from the hens’ feeder and waterer.

Once Norm gets home and we ‘lose’ our company for the Fourth, I will have Norm move the nest boxes into the teens’ area, as it is bigger, move the roost there and put them all together. Then clean the hens’ area out and possibly (not sure) get another bunch of meat birds when the babies are about five weeks old. Then we will keep a rotation going and get a lot of birds in the freezer for all four families this winter.

I was mowing today and ran out of gas, both with the tractor and with me, so I will have to fill both the tractor (and me) up and get going again before it gets too hot.

I got a new program this week – “Paint Shop Pro 9” … Candy used it at work and has it at home; I played with hers this last week and fell in love with it. So I found one on e-bay and picked it up. I have been doing lots of fun things, but these two pictures of the girls are a simple frame – you can do this in Print Shop, but it doesn’t make a graphic to copy onto some place else. I will be playing with it more and learning more and will show some of the fun stuff I can do!

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A beautiful day, again … so many in a row, I can’t keep count, but am grateful for each and every one. You have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Shopping in Mankato

Candy, Wayne and I went to Mankato to Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart. Now, l I am a Sam’s Club fan, but not a Wal-Mart one. However, Wayne is a Super Wal-Mart fan – he does most of his grocery shopping there.

So after Sam’s – way too much money spent, as usual, but things I will definitely use and need in the future – we had to stop at Wal-Mart to get stuff that Wayne and Candy couldn’t get at Sam’s.

They had been doing very little shopping before the move so they wouldn’t have to move canned goods or other groceries, so they needed to stock up with lots of necessities.

I had very little to buy at Wal-Mart, so I sat in the entrance waiting for them to finish. I did some people watching and thinking. I was sitting right under a big blower and wondered. Why? What is the sense of this big blower that hits you with cold air as you walk in? Is it a protection to keep the hot air from sneaking into the store? Is it a way of giving you a chill so you catch cold and need Wal-Mart drugs?

And then, where is the greeter? I have gotten used to (when I DO go) seeing a retired person handing people their carts and greeting them and pointing the way to whatever you want to buy if you are rare visitors like I am and don’t know where things are. How am I going to be able to grab my own cart? How will I know where to go? Where is the greeter?

We had lunch at Taco Belle’s (eat your heart out, Norm!) … Wayne spent all his time complaining because the food was so good and he was having a good time, so he didn’t have anything to complain about!

So, we headed home – another lovely day in the neighborhood. I got home to good news in the mail. Candy and I have found a company that can offer us high-speed DSL and we got the applications in the mail today. I filled mine out and took it back to the mail box tonight to make SURE I didn’t miss the mail man in the morning. Doing the happy dance, here!

The dogs were happy to see me – Tasha thought I’d deserted them and was never, ever coming home! At least that’s what she said!

Joy and family are back in Minnesota again for about ten days. They will be coming to the farm this weekend, along with Jill and Eric. Also, my brother Charles and my folks will be here. We will be celebrating the folks’ 64th anniversary.

So, tomorrow it’s back to weeding and cutting grass and starting to cook for the weekend. Today was a beautiful day – you have a beautiful day!

Monday, June 26, 2006

I have a baby butterfly!

I was weeding my herb garden (no, I’m not going loco .. I really CAN weed, once in a while!) … and found this on the underside of a milk weed.

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Research – call Candy (I’m so glad she’s not long distance, but I hope I don’t bug her too much) .. she suggested Images, which I did. Also asked Carla and she agreed with my Google search – a Monarch!

Cool beans! I went out and put the little guy onto a live milkweed and vowed to not pull any milkweeds again – at least not until I check to see if there are any eggs underneath. Monarchs live only on milkweeds. And they don’t hurt anything – so there’s no reason why I can’t have them growing in my herb garden, right? If anyone says (and who would?), I would say they are Monarch nurseries (which they are).

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This is not my photo - I got it off of

I’m excited on this beautiful day – you have a beautiful day!


Candy came and got me yesterday so I could help her harvest her mulberries. This was the first time for me – I’d never even tasted one before. I was pretty excited because everyone keeps raving about how GOOD they are!

However, I was a little disappointed – I don’t think they are that good. They have a different taste – sweet but tart, but leaves a little bit of aftertaste in my mouth and I don’t like aftertaste! Norm likes them, though, so I will make stuff for him.

They have those little stems on them and if you want to get rid of the stems, you have to sit and pick and pick and pick and pick them out. Too much work for me, so I am making jelly – the chickens will not mind stems in the leftovers.

The actual harvesting calls for very precise tools, all of great expense. You need a drop cloth to collect those little buggers when they fall off the trees – and you need a shaking stick to reach the higher branches to shake the berries out of the tree. If they are ripe, they will fall off. The un-ripe ones, for the most part, will stay and ripen later.
Candy’s expensive drop cloth was an old sheet – one that didn’t matter, because of the mulberry stains on it. The stains came from dog prints as they started snarfing up the berries as we dropped them out of the trees – until we finally convinced them to leave us alone and go find something else fun to do. I was surprised at how the dogs loved these berries – they were constantly eating them from the ground. We had to cover our pan to keep the dogs out of our hard work. The expensive shaking stick came from the woods – Wayne cut one from a dead tree – it had a fork to lift the branches – however, the fork eventually broke!

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We ended up with about 5 gallon bags full of ripe, purple-black berries and I brought home two bags. I have started some syrup that Grandma Rosie had posted – not sure if it’s going to be thick enough or not. Also I started some jelly for the pantry – it will be beautiful and I’m sure Norm will love it!

We sat under one of Candy’s trees and rested during breaks, with the dogs laying around us. Bentley is really enjoying being a country dog – he spent his first two years on a chain, then in a fenced back yard after Candy got him. He now has full range of the 5 acres to run and can go anywhere he wants. Of course, that’s usually under Candy’s feet when she is working. However, Candy has trained him to “brace” when she’s on the ground so she uses his body to help herself get up. Cool idea!

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It was a beautiful summer day yesterday, it looks to be another today. You have a beautiful day!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Birds and fireflies

I discovered, last night, how to use my zoom better. Then this morning, I found goldfinches on my new feeders. I had, yesterday, put two out on the west lawn to see out the west window .. and there they were, today! I have a total of four, I think – two couples. Actually, later on this morning, I saw both males and a female on the south feeders and one female on the west feeder. Anyway, I snuck outside (Tasha was unhappy) and got as close to the feeder and birds as possible. Then got this lovely shot. Now THIS is what I got my new camera for!

I also have a Kingbird around here – I haven’t seen it at the feeder but I’ve seen it several times in the pastures, sitting on tall weeds or looking for food. Now, a Kingbird, so I’ve read, will eat grasshoppers, bugs and flies (something DOES eat them!). I noticed today that mine was hovering in the air – kind of like a feathered (quiet) helicopter. I read that they hover while looking for or catching the flying bugs. So, we have another bug eating bird (we have lots of swallows) .. perhaps someday I’ll have my camera with me when I see it.

Every night we have fireflies. Every night I ask – what do they eat? What good are they? I finally looked it up on the internet. The larvae eat grubs, snails, mosquitoes (yaaaay!) and other obnoxious things. Of course most people know that fireflies glow to attract the other sex for their mating. I found that the female is the one that sits in the grass (and I thought it was just starting to rest or something when I saw one on the ground) and the male flies around. As with most animals, it is the female that chooses the male (smart girls!) and can reject one if she doesn’t like the way he’s glowing and beeping that little tail of his!

On another note, I had to dispose of the poor little hen who passed away in the night. In one way, I wish I had gotten Norm to take care of her before he left, but in another, I am glad I didn’t .. she passed in her own time, quietly and calmly. Now, we do not bury our dead chickens, as I am worried about coyotes digging them up, so we burn them. I set a pyre for her, put her in a cardboard box and put gasoline over the pile. Man! Does gas light quickly – it poufs! You have to remember to not get any on your hands, move the gas can away from the intended burn, stand away (far away) from the burn and toss a lighted match. Normally we burn our paper and things with no problem, but with a chicken, the gas burns hotter and helps dispose of the body quicker. I hate doing it, but what are you going to do?

My sister will be picking me up, soon, so that I can go help harvest mulberries today. I am excited – I’ve never had any and everyone says how good they are! I will take my camera along in case I see any of Candy’s birds – she seems to have more, but the ‘tree’ man says that the mulberry trees attract more birds. We will be planting some of Candy’s excess trees this fall so we will hopefully have a bigger variety next year!

A cloudy, overcast day with hints of sun, but a beautiful day, none-the-less. You have a beautiful day!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thank you, Candy!

Candy D from New York finally got through to me and I got links put up. Go see who my friends are!

I also got a picture up in the photo section without having to use PhotoBucket, thanks to Candy's help. This is my first one that I took panoramic ... Not the best, but I will get better as time goes on.

On another note, I put the hens and the teenagers together - they have full run of the barn and both yards, so they are getting used to each other. The hens are bossy, the teenagers are shy. Hopefully a few days of putting them together and we can run them together permanently.

On a sad note, one of the hens is dying. I don't know what's wrong, but she is just sitting in a corner looking droopy and losing weight. I was going to have Norm take care of her before he left, but I kept hoping she'd pop out of her depression. I keep expecting her to be dead each time I check on her.

Oh, well, we can't keep them all alive and happy. You have a beautiful day!

I’m all alone!

Norm left this morning for Rapid City – he’s going to spend about 5 days with his brother out on the ranch, as well as see some of the friends and relatives in town.

Thursday, Ashley’s birthday, we celebrated Solstice with steaks on the grill outside. I brought out some wine and we sat watching the steaks cooking (listening to the mourning doves); after they were done, Norm put more wood on the fire and we watched the fire and toasted summer and Solstice.

Yesterday was a busy day – second day of laundry – we have so much from the Janesville camp that it’s taking a long time to catch up – now I have more because we changed the bedding on our bed yesterday (how nice to have fresh new sheets!).

We went to Storden to mail a package – an Edison Phonograph – to an ebay buyer, drop off the old computer table (finally) and head to Candy’s. Norm is borrowing Wayne’s trailer as ours had a problem with a hub.

Norm is taking the trailer because he’s picking up his mom’s freezer and a lovely antique cupboard that she had. When his Mom died, we went through the house and put his name on things that he wanted. He told me, then, that he had loved that cupboard ever since he could remember. I was trhilled because I have always loved it, too. And no one else wanted (or needed it enough to make a fuss) so Norm got it. Norm also hopes to bring home a set of bookcases, called (I think) ‘barrister cases’ from my Dad. I hope to put them in the studio for my weaving / spinning books.

So, now I am alone, alone, alone! I am doing the happy dance – not that I need to have Norm gone, but it will be great to be alone for awhile. I really AM a hermit at heart!

My new camera is not working as hard as I would like. I haven’t seen the goldfinches much since I got it! However, I did see one on the driveway and took a picture of it, only to find, when I zoomed in, that it was husband and wife, out for a stroll.

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The red circle shows where the birds were

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Zoom shows Mrs. with Mr. I had missed her with my eyes.

I love the zoom! This morning I saw the Eastern Kingbird for the second time, but he was gone before I could grab my camera and get out the door. However, I saw him in the binoculars to truly identify him!

We are seeing and hearing more birds – of course this time last year we were just in and out a couple of times a month, rather than here all the time!

And now it is time to feed the chickens and let the hens outside. You have a beautiful day!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Today is Ashley's birthday

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My sweet Granddaughter is ten years old today! My! How the time flies! I can remember as if it were yesterday - the day she was born. I was fortunate to be allowed to be there when she was born. I sat in a corner and watched while the nurses and the doctor assisted and Ken held Joy's hand. Discussion was held as to what name the baby would have if it were a girl. There were two choices (I don't remember the second). Joy said they would decide when they saw the baby and would know which name fit. When the baby came out, I was the first one to see her face and I heard (in my head) the word “Ashley!”

From that time on, we have been very, very close. She has been the light of my life, the joy in my heart. And now she is ten! How time flies! She has grown to be a lovely young lady and we are sure that she will continue to be such as she grows even older and wiser and more beautiful.

However, that is not taking away from my little one! Jessica is seven, soon to be eight. When she was born I was thinking … how can I love someone as much as I love Ashley? I should have known better, being a mother, but being a grandmother is another ball of wax. I cannot say which I love the best, as I love them both equally although they are so different. I was there at her birth, too, and have loved her from the moment I knew she was coming.

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On another note, on this auspicious day, my teenage pullets are really growing up, so I thought I’d post a picture of one of them .. they are so pretty and delicate yet so grown up looking.

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So, on this beautiful day, you have a beautiful day. And, again, Happy Birthday, Ashley!

Happy Solstice!

Yes, I know I’m a day late … but we did celebrate yesterday. Candy, Katie and I went to Spirit Lake for a day out. It turned out to be sunny and warm and a great way to celebrate a special day. Spirit Lake is only about an hour away and is a part of the “Iowa Great Lakes” region.

We started by stopping (sounds funny, I know) at a Nature Center to meet a dear friend of Katie’s. Suzy, we found, is a sister-soul; plans were made for the four of us to meet again sometime for some women time together.

Then on to a lovely big Greenhouse. Candy needed to replace some plants that had not made the move, including a white bleeding heart. I wanted some lemon thyme and a flowering almond. This was the first garden center / greenhouse that even knew what I was talking about; I got a lovely pink one to put under my studio window.

Lunch – a time that was necessary for all of us! We found “The Warf” which was over part of Spirit Lake itself. None of us are fussy eaters and managed to scarf down some wonderful food and agree to visit that lovely spot again sometime.

We visited the Abby Gardner historical site. I had never heard of her, but Katie had because Wally has been invited to demonstrate blacksmithing at their sesquicentennial this summer. Candy knew about her because there is a monument stone in South Dakota.

Abby Gardner was a captive of Indians in 1857; her family was killed during the “Spirit Lake Massacre” and she was a captive at age 13 for 87 days before she was ransomed in South Dakota. We couldn’t figure out why she was so famous because “all she did” was be captured and ransomed. Well, we found out why she was so famous! She was a strong-willed woman who left her husband because he was “not a temperate man,” raised her two sons alone, wrote a book about her experiences, purchased her family cabin and land from the speculator that had taken it and started a tourist site on the land. She was instrumental in having a monument erected in memory of all the people killed and in thanks to the rescuers that cause so many to survive. She was famous because she made herself famous!

Next stop, Wal-Mart. I am not a Wal-Mart fan, but there are times when a woman must do what a woman must do. And to purchase a new camera, one must go where cameras are located, especially if there is no Best Buys, Office Max or any other like-minded store. Candy has a lovely Canon that she took on her Scotland trip; Joy has a Canon, as well. I have a Sony that I like (except for the zoom). I had looked at many cameras on-line and had done my research; it was down to feel and tiny points of difference. I chose a Canon that is the one step upgrade from Candy’s. It has a 4x optical zoom but about a 8x digital – fantastic! It also has the panorama feature that is so great on Candy’s and a movie feature with sound. My ‘old’ Sony was one of the first cameras with a movie feature but no sound.

So we grabbed bottles of water and headed home. Candy took some eggs and water home – they don’t have a water filter yet so they get water from us when they need it. Then Norm planted my flowering almond outside the studio window and we had supper about 9:30! All in all, a beautiful day! You have a beautiful day!

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Candy, heading home

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My flowering almond (not in flower, of course)

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Here is some of the detail that shows how I can zoom in.

This was done on the computer from the first picture!

I have soft water!

Last fall, before Norm broke his neck, he had gotten some water softener pellets for the softener that was here when we purchased Ash Lane Farm. But never actually turned the machine on. The other day I remembered and we turned it on! Last night’s bath was wonderful! No rusty water, water as soft as silk.

Now, I have gone for many years, most of my life, in fact, with hard water and I have never had a problem. But, folks, I tell you! Soft water is great!! Especially with the iron in this water, not having a rust deposit in the bottom of the bath tub is great!

I also have a new computer desk – it was left at Candy’s house when the previous owners left. Norm and Wayne cut it in half – it’s BIG – and we brought it over here to sit in the living room for nearly a month. Finally it is put together and in place! We will take our other computer desk (gift from Mary Pistalka Cox) to the second hand store.

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The chickens are two weeks old and really getting pretty. They are little cockerels and certainly act like them – sparring with each other already. These little guys are much more active and healthier than the Cornish Cross that we had before. I am much happier with these – and we have had no deaths yet (knock on wood).

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Candy, Katie and I went on a field trip yesterday – and that will be in my next entry. But it was a beautiful day for it … YOU have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Supper last night

Last night we had a great salad for supper. Now, I am not a salad eater, for the most part, but I do love a good one once in a while.

I wanted shrimp last night and was trying to think of something easy to fix, as I was (and am) still tired from the weekend.

Our Buttercrunch lettuce is growing great guns now! We took some to Janesville – which lasted all weekend. Candy took some Friday morning for she and Wayne. Katie took some more Sunday night to go home with. And last night I cut enough for a big salad for the two of us. So I chopped up the shrimp, mixed the lettuce (cut up) with equal amounts of spinach (store bought – ours simply will NOT grow!) and mixed in the chopped up shrimp. I sliced some American cheese into slices like you get on a restaurant salad, sprinkled in some salted sunflower seeds and each of us had our favorite salad dressing. Two big bowls each and it wasn’t enough!!


This is our lovely lettuce!

Have a beautiful day!

Hello, Heather!

Please e-mail me at - I cannot figure out how to respond to you here and I would like to write to you. Thank you.

Also, anyone else that comments ... send a private message or leave your email so I can answer back until I figure out how to respond to you.


Have a beautiful day!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekend in Janesville

This past weekend we went to Janesville, MN to demonstrate at their sesquicentennial. Katie, Takara, Norm and I went together in Katie’s big truck, pulling the two-horse trailer. This was Takara’s first event as blacksmith. Wally still has neck and back problems so he stayed home from this one. We decided to share Katie’s large tent and put a divider in it so we had a duplex for the weekend. Takara and Katie (with her kitchen) were on one end, Norm and I with the wheel and his shave horse were on the other.

Katie cooked for us and did a fine, fine job. We never went hungry! The set up was done so well that very few people actually realized that we were in one tent, with our demos on each end.

We arrived on Friday, set up before a huge rainstorm and started demonstrating on Saturday morning. We worked all day Saturday and again on Sunday and started tearing down at 5:00 Sunday, getting home about 10:30 that night. Oofta!

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Katie and Takara

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Norm working on a spoon

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Norm's hands

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Me and friend David

The nights were not too restful. First of all, on Friday night we had the thunder to keep us awake. Then, as we were almost asleep, a train went through. We didn’t know the tracks were so close; the train was extraordinarily loud and long and it sounded like the train was going through our tent! We were in a town park right next to the main highway going through town. I swear the trucks were louder than necessary, just on purpose.

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Our bedroom

There was a carnival in town to help celebrate the sesquicentennial and it ran until about 1:00 am. After the carnival closed, we had rowdy young kids, drunk (of course) running through the site, pounding on tents, trying to steal things and making loud, obscene noises. Some of the men stayed up or got up when the noises started. One young lady became extremely loud and foul mouthed when one of our men asked her politely to quiet down so people could sleep. The police station was less than half a block away, but the police (who had to be called) didn’t show up until after the men had followed the crowd out of the park.

We re-established friendships and made new friends. We have also been asked to demonstrate at Albert Lea in October for “Big Island.” Hundreds of school children come through to learn about historical crafts and skills. Both Norm and I will be paid to demonstrate, if we decide to go. We are considering that and are excited about being asked.

So, now we are home, slowly unpacking and starting to plan for the next event, Decorah, on the last weekend in July.

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I am beginning this blog again, as I am retiring from HomesteadBlogger. This will be my home until Carla and I begin a new Homestead site. Please bear with us until this is finished.

Until then, this will be the site that I keep people in the know for what is happening at Ash Lane Farm.

We are leaving in just a few minutes for Janesville. There will be pictures this next week about that.

Have a beautiful day!