Ward Hilltop Farm

  (Chatfield, Minnesota)
Haven on Earth
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2013 Journal

Three weeks ago, after having Cardinals at our feeder all winter, they began to call. It was the first sign of spring. Two weeks ago, sign number two was a flock of 14 wild turkey hens lollygagging over the bridge after coming over the bank at Lynch Creek and squawking as I slowly passed in the car. Toms are showing their prowess in the field to the west, enjoying the afternoon sun pouring over their iridescent plumage, and hoping their poses will attract a lady or two.

For the past two days it’s been raining, so we await the next annual signs of spring, hibernation awakened road kill and the scent of breaking frost in black dirt and the spring rain forced emergence of angle worms. Every year, it’s just as sweet, after a stretch of bone chilling months at the mouth of SE Minnesota’s Bluff Country.

We’re toying with a computer program to plan our garden beds this year, which will assist in preventing disease by following a four year pattern of produce crop rotation, preventing excess weeds, insect pests, to mention a few advantages. In the past we’ve drawn our plans, and treasure looking back at all those old handwritten notes and outbuilding sketches, but this modern option does the thinking and planning for us, so we’ll give it a shot; not ready for a cell phone yet, but it’s a start.

Time to set about starting plants under lights in the basement, spring cleaning of both the house and critter buildings, moving the shed we lived in while constructing our home and turning it into a potting shed, as well as putting together an insulated greenhouse adjacent the gardens near the barn to harden off plants next spring. It will double as a cozy refuge in spring and fall, and may serve as a sun room for quail in the depths of winter. A locally reclaimed mid-1800’s log cabin will be added alongside the potting shed and furnished as a heritage summer kitchen. We can hardly wait to see these new projects come to fruition.

Landscaping is also our passion, so after a winter of internet browsing we are hoping to construct an outdoor oven on the patio at the south end of our home where the herb garden lies. It will be a perfect location for utilizing fresh herbs on stone fired pizza or breads and enjoying sunrises and sunsets and hopefully allow more days with the windows open without the added heat of operating the stovetop or oven in the house, just like grandma used to.

God bless, and may you find treasure in novelty, witness without judgment what is before you at any time, and look for the light in those you encounter on a daily basis. Each moment, each breath, will never come again.

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