Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Tailgating at the farm:

This is just part of the popcorn harvest that we picked a little early. We found that with the stalks laying over, along with the rains, we were at risk of mold. We separated the bad ears of corn and kept the best to be bagged in onion sacks to hang for ventilation. This will take about two to three weeks to dry. After that, we get the fun of shelling each kernel from the cob.

The local farmer's markets have been closed all summer but this is a crop we can store for next year and we have a few customers that take deliveries. 

This variety is called Ladyfinger, is mostly hull-less and nearly every kernel pops. They are small kernels and the flavor makes it our favorite, although another variety works well for caramel corn. We've had to ration our last crop and are down to less than a cup remaining.

Despite the weather issues, this has been the best popcorn we've produced and we're getting the ground ready for next year. 

With any luck, we'll produce an even better crop.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Straightline winds

I mentioned that this was some of the best popcorn I raised. Well, now that half is laying over:

On Monday, a storm came through eastern Iowa and caused the damage. Corn laying over, tree damage, roofs missing and power blackouts. We missed the worst but many in the area are still without power for going on day 4.

We lost a few trees. Black cherry and walnut mostly but I won't have a full account until the weekend.

I wasn't expecting this kind of work right now but circumstances sometimes dictate my workdays.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Subcommittee

Excerpt of a meeting some months back of the Nomination Subcommittee of the Public Relations Committee at The Stranded Tree Farm:

The Representative of Hardwoods cleared his throat, “This last nominee is for a hard maple for a group. Rule 7 does not specifically prevent trees to represent groups but this is our first.”

Fruitbearers Representative said, “Why can’t you plant a tree for each of the members? The membership of the group can change over time. Is that right?”

“There’s no formal membership. It’s more of a community,” I replied. “It was only recently that I added my words.”

“A group that would welcome you as a member… Well, I’d have to wonder about them,” the powerful Nutbearer Representative laughed.

“That’s why I’ve nominated them. They’re inclusive of anyone, regardless of age, experience.  I don’t think they discriminate anyone. Well, almost anyone. There are rules,” I paused, “They welcomed me, yes.”

“Why not plant a tree for each of them?” the Fruitbearer Rep repeated, “You have plenty of trees.”

“I don’t want to single anyone out since there are many good members of the community.”

The Soil and Water Representative was stoic, “I’m not convinced. I think this should be tabled for a while longer. That group may kick you out and then there’s a tree that reminds us of that failure.”

The Hardwoods Rep agreed, “That makes sense. We should give this more time.” The other members of the committee nodded.

I placed an open bag on the table for the committee members. Their tone quickly changed as each looked inside.

“All those in favor of the nomination of the planting of a hard maple tree for Poets and Storytellers United, say aye,” the Hardwoods Rep made the motion.

All members replied, “Aye.”

“Motion carried. Congratulations. Meeting adjourned.”

I think this is how things work in Congress.

Legacy Trees are planted for our friends and are reminders each time we look upon the trees and take note of their growth. In this case, Wee Sprout is growing faster than the other hard maples that we transplanted this year. I’m hoping growth above ground equals to growth below ground.

Cheers to all!

Wee Sprout - July 2020
Edit: I neglected to add a link to the original dedication - Tree of Words where Wee Sprout is introduced to the community,

Posted to Poets and Storytellers United: Writers’ Pantry #29: Never Lose that Sense of Hope

Monday, July 6, 2020

Monday Moms, first mom of July

This little fawn is just one in its family. We have another set of twins this year but no good pictures to share.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Tree of Words

Nine years ago we started this small endeavor by purchasing an acreage that gently slopes east to a creek on our neighbor’s land. Nearly 2500 black walnut trees were planted by the seller along with red cedars and a few species of oaks.

The idea of planting additional trees took root before we had possession of the land. Native Iowa trees from family and friends have been planted each year as well as hundreds of acorns from neighborhood oak trees. We have planted nearly 3000 trees with varying success. Rabbits and deer find young seedlings satisfying, much to our frustration.

Early on, we noted a Kentucky coffeetree as our first “Legacy Tree.” The nut came from our good friend and advisor, David, a state forester. As it now stands over ten feet tall, it has become an important showcase tree at the farm. A pair of catalpas grow next to each other to remind us of departed friends while a pin oak grows nearby for a coworker. Other trees remind us of our friends who are near and far, still with us or gone on.

Reasons may vary for each Legacy Tree that now number about 20 and they can bring a smile or a bit of melancholy as the memories of our friends come to us. I share pictures of the trees from time to time so that the growth can be celebrated by all.

This year we add a new sugar maple in honor of our growing community of wordsmiths at Poets and Storytellers United. A place that has welcomed me and my words and allowed me to share that small corner of our world along with a few odd stories along the way. 😉

This maple could reach 60 feet or more, sheltering nesting birds among its branches and giving people the opportunity to rest under the shade of its broad leaves. This tree is in appreciation for all the writers of the community who are spread across the world as maybe someday, we could sit under the shade and share a verse or two.

It may be small but it can grow along with our words.

Thank you all.

Posted at Poets and Storytellers United: Writers’ Pantry #23: Growing Along with Our Words

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Blue Iris

Irises were my grandmother's favorite flowers. She had dozens of both solid and multi-colors growing west of her house at the top of the hill. This blue iris came from our neighbor who has since passed away when her parents owned our house. We transplanted several along the south gate at the farm and this year, the irises have been late.

Here's a blue iris just after a morning rain:

Enjoy the blue!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday is buck day, taking it in stride

From a week ago, this buck dashed across one of the trail cameras. His antlers need a chance to grow back and if given a chance, he will feed well on the recently planted corn (provided the electric fence fails.)  After 5 days of cloudy skies, the batteries on the fencer are running low, so that's a possibility.

He could be running from or to something. The pictures taken before and after give no clues but he was in a hurry to get where he was going.