Just A Rock

Just a rock placed on a wind-swept post,
Somewhat odd and out of place.
Before it sat on a prairie fence,
It rested from its’ seismic race.
Always watched by sun and sky,
Guarded by sharp thistles and thorns.
Lonely now and all alone,
Lifted high in a awkward pose.
A little piece of a farmer’s thought,
This summer’s whimsy, fantasy art.

                           -Clarence Holm

Lessons I Learned On A North Dakota Farm

Image ©2017 Clarence Holm

  • Never dig an outhouse hole deeper than what you can climb out of.
  • The fluffiest cats were always skunks.
  • Grabbing an electric fence in never fun, despite what your older brothers tell you.
  • The facts belong to whichever sibling is telling the story.
  • To judge a man, look into his friends eyes.
  • It is never good to take a bath in the same water as the youngest child.
  • Brakes on a John Deere only work if you can reach them.
  • The best neighbors come when you holler.
  • A man plows straightest when he looks at where he is going.
  • When your hands are full, it is harder to pick a fight.
             – Clarence Holm

Dad

Dusty gravel roads
Near swaths of ripening wheat
-Father’s furrowed brow

                              -Clarence Holm

I think of my father, especially when I am trying to solve a problem that requires some patience. When all seems lost, I think back to my days on the farm, remembering the endless chores and the way my father attacked them day after day after day. Dad’s stoic acceptance of running a small farm with old equipment held together with bailing wire and cardboard gaskets, in a weather cycle that didn’t produce enough rain to parch the sandy soil, taught me that even in a losing effort there are battles to be won.

Though our family gardens were doomed to be raided by the neighbor’s pigs and the Massey Harris combine and the old John Deere tractor were unwilling farm servants, dad always found ways to persevere. Even when most sane men would throw in the towel, his stubborn Midwestern will would drive him through the crisis.

I remember lots of happy times too. Noon-time meals with the entire family sitting down to meat and potatoes, covered in gravy served with Mom’s fresh white bread on a plate in the middle of the table. I loved hearing his lunch time dreams of tomorrow, when the next harvest would run over our bins.

I remember him during those times of joy and sadness and wish I could stand near him again to walk in those fields of Dakota. Even though Dad rests in peace, I just wanted to say just one more time, Happy Fathers’ Day dad; I love you this much.

New Apple Grove

My wife and I just picked up 6 dry rooted apple trees that we will use to start our new grove. We planted 3 Zestars and 3 Honey Crisp. For now we must protect them from the marauding bunnies that eat anything not guarded by attack dogs. Only three years till we get our first pie!!!

Not sure if Age 65 is the optimal time to start an apple grove, but what the heck, someone will get to eat them.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Image from youtube

Oh dandelion, you lawn care pest
Your golden blooms will go no higher
Spring leaves have bowed and I earned my rest
Since you met my Weed & Feed applier

But revenge is sweet and your plan was sound
When you displaced my Kentucky bluegrasses.
In bare patches of lawn, new roots are found
Where Monsanto failed to kick the weeds ashes!

                                                             -Clarence Holm

Spring Projects

Spring has arrived in Minnesota and spring planting has begun. This morning my wife and I planted 25 Lilac and 25 Dogwood bare rooted bushes along our tree line. In a few years, they will make a nice wind break for the yard. Yesterday we planted two varieties of Rhubarb. We also purchased 10 bunches of Asparagus that we will plant in another week.

Lilacs planted in tree line.

Last winter we hired a gardener to bring in his tractor to till up two gardens for us. (One for vegetables and one for flowers.) We will have to re-till them before we plant. That will allow us to amend the soil with peat moss and manure.

Backyard Vegetable Garden

Side-yard Flower Garden

It is exciting to sit back and dream about these gardens. A lot of design will be based on whimsy as I scour the neighborhood and surrounding farms for flower being thinned out of friend’s gardens. Some of the plants I brought from our old house have already started to sprout again in the gardens we started last summer. I was worried because we had to move in the height of the summer heat and the plants were under a lot of stress.

I noticed many of the tulips we planted last fall have been nibbled on. I suspect we have a healthy population of hungry bunnies. Now that the weather is warmer, our two outside tom cats need to earn their keep and began patrolling. Unfortunately Charlie and Pete seem to be content to just sleep in the sun. Perhaps I will have to do an Elmer Fudd imitation and declare war on these rascally rabbits myself.

Bunny Lunch

Decoy Garden Bunny

Last week, when one of my daughters was home, I was able to start trimming up some of the over grown foundation bushes. They apparently have grown untrimmed for the last five years. After I was done clipping we hauled two truckloads over to our burn pile.

Front Yard Bushes

Side yard bushes

Backyard pile waiting for a calm day to burn.

I received a phone call from my Nursery that the apple trees and pear trees that I ordered last fall will arrive in three weeks. I will be planting ten of the dwarf fruit trees in my new orchard I’ve laid out. On the other side of the property I will be planting Red and Black currents, Blueberries, Raspberries, Currants, Gooseberries and Chokecherry. I discovered two red mulberry trees and trimmed them up last fall, looking forward to competing with the birds for the fruit.

For a quick project, we will be redoing the garden shed into covered party shed. I’ve ordered hardware to make an eight foot sliding door on the front of the building, replacing three windows and a door right in the middle. There is already a concrete pad there for a patio set and we will be adding a fire pit in front of that. A couple of ornamental bushes and some pot flowers and it should make an inviting place to entertain outdoor guests.

Garden Shed

It’s going to be a busy summer.