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LIFE ON THE FARM

By Staff | May 8, 2009

One day just moseying on our farms in perfect spring weather makes up for a half dozen or so of those wintry days when that northwest wind blasts our farms mercilessly.

See how fast this has become a distant memory? It’s even hard to conjure up an image of a snowy day.

With Sunday dinner in the oven safely baking, I had time to just walk out to see the gardens before getting dressed for church. The apricot and plum trees are in full bloom, while bees were in the gooseberries and Nanking cherries. One Aronia berry bush was showing blossoms in about the same stage as the pear trees.

Apple blossoms had a reddish color to them, as if not quite trusting the weather, staying closed until they were sure that spring was really here. Cherry trees still seem to be sleeping, not ready to wake up for a new season of growth and production.

Strawberries are showing their first blossoms, grape buds are beginning to swell, blackberries, red and black raspberries show signs that they survived winter. With the snow to cover them they slept well. The bees will be busy, or perhaps overwhelmed with all the pollinating that needs doing. I sure hope they don’t start up a union on me.

Who cannot help but be enchanted with Iowa at this time of the year? The same was true for the search party that came from Pella looking for a place to start a new settlement, in May of 1869. They were right in their estimation that northwest Iowa was a good place to raise their sons and daughters.

The prairie grass was just greening up, the rivers were full of fish, wildlife abounded where ever they looked. The air filled with the songs of song birds, just as it is now when I am outdoors. The only fitting way to express what was in their hearts for these settlers who, when they first espied the land, was to fall to their knees in thanksgiving, singing Psalm 100.

Next week, May 14, 15 and 16 we celebrate this heritage with our annual Tulip Festival in Orange City. Thursday is the day my sisters and our children don our Dutch costumes and wooden shoes to scrub the streets. It is a good time.

Mama goose keeps her 11 babies close to her. The gander acting as the proud father does his share in keeping those children in line. He’s doing a pretty good job of it, too, except on one day, when walking they lost four children. Kerplunk, they each fell down a posthole, one by one.

Working nearby, the boys discovered the missing geese each in a posthole. Rescuing the first three, they got to the fourth hole. They were overheard to say, “This one must be a female, listen to the way she is hissing.”

Of course, no one filled me on the whole story until I had fed my heroes a supper befitting the rescue.

Turkeys are still sitting on nest. Finding the most curious places to nest. Current count is eight nests for 10 turkeys. Two of the nests have two hens sitting on them. Usually one is faithful and the other one is a real loafer. She just comes by occasionally to look like she is helping.

They find the most curious spots to put their nests, in a woodpile, under a mugho pine, in the ditch, very susceptible to predators there. The smartest one puts her nest right where she did last year – in a flower box on the porch. That gives us a front row seat to watch the baby poults when they hatch.

By the end of their four-week setting period, we see these turkeys hens weary and worn out. A good reminder of the sacrifice our mothers have made for us.

With Mother’s Day this Sunday I need to say thank you to the two mothers in my life. The one who gave birth to me and the one who gave birth to my husband, they are indeed a blessing.

Vander Schaaf is a Farm News staff writer from northwest Iowa. Reach her by e-mail at renaefarmnews@gmail.com.

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