Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Successful Garden In Spite of the Circumstances

My summer started out great in spite of the pandemic and the stay at home orders.  We are pretty much home bodies anyway, so staying home is more of a pleasure than a hardship.  Having a vegetable garden was something that never really interested me.  I have memories of my dad hoeing the weeds out of his garden every night after work.  I have memories of my Uncle Bill growing things like horseradish, ground cherries and parsnips.  My daughter has a huge garden so if I ever want something, they probably have it.  She starts her own plants in a mini greenhouse so they are already acclimated to our Wisconsin weather.  This spring she had so many plants, she offered me some cucumber and tomato plants.  I thought it might be fun to plant some so I prepared a small area in our perennial garden.  I planted three tomato plants and six cucumber plants.  I babied them and they took off growing like crazy.  Actually I had two extra tomato plants which I planted in another area.  I was excited with the healthy look of these plants so I added to the garden. I had two potatoes in the bin which had started to sprout.  I thought I would also plant potatoes.  I cut each potato in half and planted four hills.  I watered them and inspected the plants every day.  The potatoes grew well and had started to blossom but then I fell off the wall and broke my leg. 

 My husband, bless his heart, took care of all the household chores including cooking and laundry, but he isn't a gardener.  Once in a while, I would remind him to check the tomatoes and cucumbers, but he didn't remember to check daily.  In spite of that, we did get some nice looking produce.  I even managed to make a quart of fermented dill pickles with the smaller ones.  Most of the cucumbers, however, grew way too big to be of much good.

I would ask him about the potatoes but he kind of ignored them.  I suppose it's hard to tell about potatoes because they grow under ground. Since I couldn't put any weight on my right leg, I couldn't go out in the yard for many weeks.  That is what I missed most.  Part of my day is always going outside and walking around the yard.  I just love to open the door and breathe the outside air and walk around a little.  It takes away all the stress of the day.  Last week I was finally able to put on real shoes and put full weight on my leg.  The first time I walked the yard, this is what I found.  Weeds, weeds, and more weeds.

Fortunately when the potatoes started to come up,  I marked them with wooden stakes.  I found one of the stakes and pushed the weeds aside.  The potato plants had died back but I dug into the earth with my hands just to see.  There in the dirt I felt potatoes.  I went inside to get a container and went back to see if there were more.  I found two pounds just digging in the one hill.  There may be more but they seem to be well preserved underground so I left the rest for now.

It's too bad we are so close to a freeze here in our area of Wisconsin.  The growing season will be over very soon.  The plants look so good.  The tomato plants are full of blossoms and green tomatoes.  I know some people like to use green tomatoes, but I really don't know what to do with them.

I  even found a cucumber plant that climbed up a shepherds hook I have in the garden.  Hanging from the top is a cucumber.  It's a little malformed, but I am going to pick it to see how it is.

I think I will try this gardening thing again next year.  I hadn't realized how rewarding it was to have some success.  I especially loved digging the potatoes.  Today I am making a beef roast and putting some of these lovely potatoes in with some carrots.  I can't wait for dinner.  Tonight I won't have to say "what should we have for supper??".

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Ewan's Canoe Trip Adventure

For those who follow my blog or those who actually know me, know we have five grandchildren.  There are two 19 year olds, a 16 year old, a 12 year old and the youngest who is ten.  He is the one most of you know because he is still young enough to include us in his adventures whether it is through his YouTube videos (Old Time Skills) or Facebook.  I have written about Ewan many times.  Since he was very young he has loved the outdoors.  Even on cold winter days he is outside doing something even if it's sitting in a tree reading a book.  He is in the process of building a log structure on his other grandpa's land.  I have not seen it, but I will post photos when I do.  This past summer he talked his dad into going on a backpacking trip.  They hiked for hours in some remote location and set up camp for the night.  They cooked over an open fire and slept in a small tent.  It sounds miserable to me, but he loved it.  In-person school has now started, at least for the time being.  Wisconsin, at this time, is having very high COVID numbers, so it will be interesting to see if in-person school continues. The kids desks are separated by at least six feet and they have to wear a mask all day.  The special class teachers like music, art and physical education come to them.  Then the last Friday of the month there is no school.  Rather than have a late start day once a week, the teachers use that Friday for planning.  Ewan has been planning for this day since school started.  He wanted to go on another backpacking trip but decided he would rather go on a canoe trip. 

First he wanted to make new canoe paddles with his dad.  They always take on projects that none of us would even consider.  Most of us would get out the computer and order some or go to a sporting goods store.  These pictures tell the story.  They used scrap wood and the final paddles are amazing.

With the canoe paddles completed, it was time to choose where to canoe.  Since we have access to the Fox River they decided to put in from our house in Princeton Wisconsin and paddle the 20 mile water route to Berlin, Wisconsin.  The heavy blue line on this map shows the route they wanted to attempt.

Our access to the marsh is so overgrown we can barely see the shoreline.  We usually manage to keep it cut, but we haven't for a couple years.  In fact, we hired someone to clean it up but he hasn't started yet.  The adventurers didn't consider my concerns a problem so Friday morning they showed up bright and early.  It was a beautiful day but slightly windy.  They pulled their truck into the driveway and walked the canoe across the yard like it was a feather.  I remember when my husband and I would take the canoe out.  It was a major production.  My son in law makes everything look easy. 

That was just the beginning.  Once he got the canoe to the top of the hill, they just pushed it through the brush and Ewan walked down the hill like he was walking down the sidewalk.  They had to wear their mosquito hats because the mosquitoes are terrible right now.  

The next thing I knew they were on their way.  Fortunately we have enough water in our marsh so it wasn't a problem getting out to the river.  The Fox River flows north so even though they were paddling with the current,  it was still a huge undertaking.  They took their cock-a-poo named Piper with them.  She settled in pretty well. 

As soon as they were well on their way, we got into our truck and drove to the bridge in Princeton to watch for them.  We barely got there and we saw them coming around the bend.  They were traveling faster than we thought.  Luckily I was given the okay to wear real shoes and put full weight on my leg the day before.  My leg is still stiff and pretty weak so I barely made it to the first photo opportunity.

The next boat landing we were aware of was about 3 miles out of town.  We went directly to that spot and waited for a bit.  With the wind at their backs and a strong current they made good time.  Before we knew it, there they were.  We have made that trip, and it took us much longer.  It was so much fun to see that they were still smiling.  Ewan was taking pictures and Piper was enjoying the ride.  

When they were almost out of sight, we headed home.  The next boat landing was about 7 miles out of town, and we thought we would have time to grab some breakfast/lunch.  I ate fast and Mike took his brunch with him. When we got there, I went over to a small walking bridge to watch.  There was a fisherman there, and I told him what we were doing.  He said "you aren't going to see them from here".  I guess the river veers to the left before it gets to the bridge.  He told us where to go so we wouldn't miss them.  He gave me a little history lesson about the river and what kind of fish he was fishing for.  When I first approached him, he looked at me like who is this crazy gray haired lady limping over with a camera around her neck.  Fortunately he was friendly and helpful.

After I while I saw them in the distance.  At this point it was two hours since they left our house.  It was almost lunch time so they pulled into the landing to eat.  They ate their lunch and stretched their legs.  Ewan looked a little tired when he was eating but he assured me he was fine.  Piper wasn't so sure she wanted to continue on with them so we took her with us.  

At this point they were only 1/3 finished with their trip.  The fisherman said that there weren't anymore boat landings until they were almost to Berlin.  I liked being able to check on them, but Bret our son in law told us he would send a ping from his phone once in a while so we could see where they were. We went back home.  Every now and then we got a ping with their location.  I calculated the time they should arrive at Riverside Park in Berlin, Wisconsin.  It takes us about 30 minutes to get there by car so at 3:45pm we headed out with Piper.  When we pulled into the park, this is what we saw.  They had just finished.  Our daughter had arrived a few minutes before us.  It had taken them approximately 6 hours and 15 minutes to paddle 20 miles.  They were tired, but I would have been dead.  Ewan had a blister but otherwise it was a great accomplishment and something he will remember the rest of his life.  He probably learned more than he would have being in school that day.  They talked about the birds and animals, and saw the route Father Marquette and Louis Joliet traveled along the river, although the view was probably much different in the 1600"s.  Bret explained the Indian tribes Marquette would have encountered.  They also talked about the terrain and how the river was dredged to accommodate large river boats and how that changed the landscape.  Ewan is just like his mother and asks really good questions so I imagine there was a lot of chatter along the way. 

 Being cooped up and not being able to get out much over the last few months, we also enjoyed the day.  What a great adventure!