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The Ultimate Goal Of Farming

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops,

but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

― Masanobu FukuokaThe One-Straw Revolution

Planning, organizing, geometry and trigonometry

Lay out the tree field carefully  prior to planting

 

Precision equipment, exactitude and care

Planting Trees 6

 

Prepared soil accepting seedlings

Planting Trees 4

 

Anticipation of a future forest

On My Walk Around The farm Today 023

 

From sapling to tannenbaum

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Through shearing and care

Trees spruce 2013

 

Through drought and monsoon

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The farmer’s  job isn’t complete, and vacations are rare

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Until a decade into the future, when with humankind we may share

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The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.

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Minnesota’s Treetop Adventure

Minnesota’s newest adventure, close to the Twin Cities, Kerfoot Canopy Tours offers guided zip line tours  through the Minnesota river valley.kerfootTake a 2.5 hour guided tour soaring through picturesque trees, zipping along cables with some of the most beautiful views in Minnesota. Owners Lee and Eva Kerfoot , along with their highly trained guides, invite you to learn how to zip line, beginning with a thorough lesson on the first two shallow cable lines.  The professional guides instruct you how to  ‘trolley up’ and brake —  on your own.   Never fear though, as the professional guides are always on hand to brake you as needed.

53rd birthday at Kerfoot Canopy Tours

53rd birthday at Kerfoot Canopy Tours

You’ll be able the check a few boxes off the bucket list with 13 zip lines, 170 foot suspension bridge and multiple spiral staircases climbing to platforms high above the canopy of the Minnesota River Valley.   There’s over a mile in length of zip line outdoor adventure!

The Kerfoots also rent GoPro cameras to document the adventure.  The camera is both a still and video camera in one.  The video documentation of your trip is particularly fun to relive the event.

This high flying adventure is highly recommended by the Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast.

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Bed and Breakfast on the Farm

A double garage with a space above was a likely spot for a Guest House.

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast

The front (lake side) of the guest house.

The guest house is licensed as a Bed and Breakfast.

Front picture windows at the guest house.

Front picture windows at the guest house with shade sail sun protection.

Guests park behind the garage and stroll a wood plank path, past espaliered apple trees and a perennial garden, to the entrance stairs.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

The guest house offers a private entrance,

The private entrance.

The private entrance.

living room,

Living room

Living room

dinette,

Dinette

Dinette

kitchenette,

Kitchenette

Kitchenette with a stocked refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.

and then on the way to a queen size bedroom.

Bedroom entrance

Bedroom entrance

Queen size bedroom

Queen size bedroom

and a full bathroom.

Full bathroom

Full bathroom

The guest house views overlook the lake.

View from the guest house

View from the guest house

And breakfast is served in the screen porch overlooking the lake.

Breakfast served on the screened porch

Breakfast served on the screened porch

We’d love to host your stay at the Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast!

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Espalier Apple Tree Fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Espalier is the art of training trees, very often fruit trees, to grow on a flat plane. This technique not only creates an interesting plant structure – a ‘living sculpture’, but also is useful as a space saver for small space gardens.   Trees trained in the espalier technique are trained against a flat wall, building, or against a free-standing structure.

I’ve long been fascinated by lovely photographs of espaliered trees in beautiful garden settings, which prompted me to do some reading and sit in on a seminar where I took copious notes.  It is from this research that I gather my information to share with you.

I’ve chosen an espalier project in an effort to create a ‘living fence’ for along a wood plank sidewalk which leads up to the entrance of my bed and breakfast/guest house.  The walkway was wide open to the driveway, yard, and the harsh winter winds, so it was in want of being a bit cozier.

Plank sidewalk with post structure

Plank sidewalk with post structure

I’ll need to build a structure to support my trees rather than utilizing a wall for support, but for blogging purposes, the technique of espalier is the same no matter the structure you select.  I chose apple trees as my plant material for the benefits of spring flowers, summer foliage and fall fruit that will dangle from the structure like ornaments, beckoning my guests to help themselves! During the winter months I’ll utilize the structure for stringing white mini lights.

Apple trees lend themselves well to many espalier forms.  The pattern I’ve chosen is a horizontal tiered cordon method, therefore the structure I’ve built is specific to the horizontal pattern as seen in figure a.

When planting the trees, orient the branching along the cables where they will be secured during the pruning process.

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

The art of espalier is based upon the complex relationship between auxin and cytokinins, two growth hormones in plants.  Auxins have a cardinal role in coordination of many growth processes and are essential for plant body development.  Cytokinins promote cell division in plant roots and shoots.  Pruning changes the relationship between auxin and cytokinin. When a leader branch is growing straight up, auxin levels are at a higher rate and growth is more vertical.  The more you angle a branch, the greater you are changing the relationship of auxin to cytokinin, and there becomes less vertical growth, but more horizontal branching and more fruiting.  This is the reason for pinching back perennials and annuals, and is witnessed when you bend a rose bush on a hoop as a result there are more prolific blooms.

My young trees were supple and with good lateral branching, therefore I capitalized on that attribute and merely secured the lower branches to my first tier wire cable, using soft vinyl stretch tie.  I pruned subsequent buds and branching from the trunk moving up to the next set of branches at the second tier of cable structure, securing the supple branches in a similar manner.  Had the branches been woodier, I would have slowly moved the branching down to position, creating a temporary structure to ease the branches down in to place at the cable wire.

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

As you’re training your apple tree, keep the small shoots along the cordon trimmed back to 4” to 5” long.  Your tree will continue to grow and mature, and every flower will become a fruiting bud.  Eventually your fruit tree will become its own support structure.  In general, espaliered trees’ fruit will be larger and sweeter, because their fruit is exposed to more sunlight and the trees have been pruned regularly to keep their shape.

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

The three espalier apple trees have been growing for about one month.  They are all healthy and filling in nicely with leaves and new growth.  I have pruned off any new budding branches that have sprouted from the main stem, in order to keep all of the growth directed on the two lower lateral cordons that I’ve secured to the horizontal cables.

I had selected two buds to become the third cordons which will become next year’s growth along the third cable on the structure.  These young branches are growing out nicely.   Depending upon the rate of growth, I may secure these branches to the third cable later this summer.  You can see the upper new branching in the photo below.

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

An espalier tree is never ‘finished’.  They require pruning at least three times each season in order to maintain the beautiful structured shape; I recommend June 1, July 1 and August 1.  This particular walk way enclosure will require two more years of growth to reach the uppermost, fourth horizontal cable.  Then after wards, it will just be ‘maintenance’ pruning.

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Building A Fairy Garden – Part 1

A fairy garden is a garden complete with miniature houses and structures, furniture, plants and accessories. It creates the impression of a tiny world of the size that fairies might inhabit.  Fairy gardens are a hope to lure fairies and with them, good luck, to your home.  The garden provides an outlet for the imagination and an intriguing space for visitors to explore.

Fairy gardens can be any size,and can be planted indoors or outdoors.  Our fairy garden was created to spark curiosity in our visitors to our Bed and Breakfast/Guest House.  It is built within an eighteen inch high gap in the foundation under the horse stable on our 100-year-old farm.  The garden is very simple, yet, still a welcome ‘surprise’ for someone who stumbles upon it.

Fairy Garden at www.dutchlakeguesthouse.com

Fairy garden within the foundation under the 100-year-old horse stable.

Pictured is our fairy garden in the quiet of winter.  Our troll (affectionately named ‘Ketchum’) stands watch at the hand-built walnut wooden door with a wood burned sign affixed to his house announcing your arrival at “Ketchum’s Place”.

Our smaller scale, outdoor fairy garden suits us well, but we have a passion for all fairy gardens large and small, indoors and out.  Below is a link to a large, indoor fairy garden building project that will inspire even the greatest fairy skeptic.  read this and you may find yourself a believer.

http://ottenbros.wordpress.com/

 

 

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Recycle Your Christmas Tree in to a Bird Feeder

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” ~ Maya Angelou

As the needles begin to fall from your Christmas tree, it’s time to consider recycling, or ‘up-cycling’ the tree.  Consider turning your tree into a natural birdie banquet for the new year!

Remove your precious keepsake ornaments and replace them with bird friendly tasty ‘ornaments’.  After you have un-decorated the tree, move it outdoors, and secure it to a sturdy location outdoors such as next to a flag pole or post using a bungee cord or twine.  Locate the tree as you would locate any bird feeder.  Birds prefer a spot about 10 feet from cover, either evergreens or shrubs.  This distance prevents predators such as cats from stalking the birds as they eat.  It also gives the birds a place to rest.

Recycled Christmas Tree Turned Bird Feeder

Recycled Christmas Tree Turned Bird Feeder

If you have trouble with birds colliding with your windows, locate your tree (and other feeders) closer to the windows, as this tree is, so the birds are travelling at a slower speed when they collide which will reduce the number of casualties.

Decorate the tree with any bird feeder you choose.  We’ve made our own feeders using pine cones, spread with peanut butter, then rolled in birdseed.

Pine Cone with Peanut Butter and Rolled in Bird Seed

Pine Cone with Peanut Butter and Rolled in Bird Seed

Tie a ribbon around the cone to create a hanger for hanging on the tree.

Thistle Feeder

Thistle Feeder

We’ve also hung an inexpensive nylon thistle feeder (available at your local garden center) filled with thistle, a favorite for finches.

Suet Feeder

Suet Feeder

We have also  added a suet feeder for our wintering woodpeckers to enjoy.  Bon appetite!

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