Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave May 2013
I think there is nothing as unappealing to me as a lack of
productivity, Dave. Monday and Tuesday were both too wet to
accomplish much outside even though I gave it a half-hearted attempt.
I kind of wish I had just given in and participated in the day from
the couch, watching the same series of shows over and over on the
Military History Channel.
I recently dismantled the “Fodder Monster.” I had created this
wooden beast to produce hydroponic fodder for my cattle but found simulated dress-rehearsals of the practice to be wildly time-consuming. The frame was about the size of a garden shed so I turned the whole mess into a greenhouse. I should have
the greenhouse finished by the time you receive this letter. Never has so much
treated lumber been condensed into one area to create such an overbuilt project,
Dave. I used wooden timbers to the point where I am not sure much
sunlight will reach our tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. We decided to
go with “dutch bucket” hydroponics this season. The last few years we
have used raised beds for our garden but the beds are gone and I plan
to spread out the black dirt on some low points in the lawn.
The Dutch bucket system of hydroponics is basically small buckets
filled with tiny rock which is the medium in which you plant. A
dripper system then feeds each plant a mixture of water and liquid
fertilizer. Excess water drains from near the bottom of the bucket
into pvc pipe and back into the central reservoir. The benefit of
this system is no weeding, automated watering, reduced pests and faster growth. We have never done this before, Dave, so we’ll see if I get to learn from failure or bask in the glory of my
own apparent ingeniousness.
I recently received a small shipment of Canamaize corn from Desmet,
South Dakota, Dave. I could tell the gal who took my order already knew it was the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder without my input; unfortunately it was only after I had said the words. Canamaize works nice with the cattle because the stalks are thin so the cattle can eat pretty much everything. The last few
years I planted whatever corn I could find but leftover bags of inexpensive seed corn no longer exist. In the last decade, agriculture has gone from being kind of a low-stakes business to a more volatile sort of profession where everything must make money and scraps like leftover plot-seed no longer exist for guys like me. I like the Canamaize because it isn’t any taller than me and lends itself to strip grazing. Strip grazing is where I fence off one day’s strip of corn with poly wire and step-in posts, Dave. This method makes the cattle clean-up everything and keep them from overeating the corn which can cause them to become sick.
I took the day off to finish the greenhouse so I better go do it, Dave.
You’re little bro’
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, The Pavek Museum
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave -March
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, a Winter without Cattle
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program,http://grantnelson00.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/projectraingarden.mp3
I haven’t done a “bullet point” column in a bit so this week I thought I’d lob a few thoughts at you from our home in Bray Township.
I got sick
Despite good efforts, I got sick. I’d avoided cold and flu up to this point, unfortunately I recently picked up a virus and it went viral. I’d go to the doctor but I my illness is never bacterial in origin but rather viral, as previously mentioned. I will fight this battle not with modern medicine but rather from our couch, cloaked in blankets with our cat Magoo and sipping broth.
Three Bottom plows
I like to watch machinery prices on the internet and through auction results. I can’t remember the last time I saw a cheap, three-bottom plow. There was a time when farmers were almost giving these things away but now they apparently have been found to be made of gold. I don’t know if there exists a shortage of three-bottom plows due to scrap metal prices or if there is suddenly a desperate need for the tiny soil-turners. I suspect there must be cattle farmers with small paddocks of pasture who wish to use plows to renovate their pasture. I doubt the plows would be in demand for deer plots but perhaps. Anyway, I’ve been checking and most three bottom plows cost the same or more than larger five and seven bottom versions. I don’t know if this interests anyone other than myself but I just thought I’d bring it to your attention.
I read that Mindy Mccready shot herself on February 17th. I typically have no interest in celebrity life however I guess one detail of her death struck me; she died on her porch. This was apparently the same location that her boyfriend used when he committed suicide the previous month. I think most see the front porch as a place of peace and relaxation. I wonder why they both chose this same location for their last action on earth. It must have been a place of happiness at one time for both of them. I just can’t fathom what makes someone want to kill themselves. I mean, there are so many people who fight to live through disease or war and then there are some who give there lives away.
Have you read a food label lately? You will need a Latin dictionary for pronunciation of some food ingredients and a chemist to understand their use. I wonder sometimes if these formulations are derived from the carpet that is derived from old soda bottles. Over the last few years, I find myself eating only the things I remember from my youth. I think the less processing the better. Sometimes, I find ingredients in food have a certain protein or other element removed for use somewhere else. That element is then replaced with something less expensive and artificial so that its taste is recognizable to the taste buds. Unfortunately, it is not recognizable to the body which does not always know how to process the food. I think we need to respect our food and use it wisely. It is better to eat smaller amounts of original, high-calorie food than to gorge on the low-calorie, artificial stuff.
My bride turned, uh let’s just say Lisa celebrated her birthday this week. Lisa, you are the best. Happy Birthday!
I mentioned last week I was elected to a supervisor position with the
Pennington SWCD. I decided I would use my column to occasionally
explain SWCD projects from time to time. The agency name and its
mission are closely related; it is the Soil and Water Conservation
District. We are not saving water in large tanks for a later date,
those tanks of water exist naturally underground; rather we seek to preserve the quality
of that same water. When it rains and water flows to where it wants,
the water may pick up bits of soil or fertilizer and deposit them
into a stream or river. This is no favor to soil or water as the
soil is useless in a stream bed and water that carries soil or
fertilizer doesn’t taste right. The SWCD conserves soil by preventing
erosion and conserves water quality in the same action. Now let’s talk
about a very visible project that will attempt to accomplish these
tasks plus a bit more.
The Ralph Engelstad Arena occupies a large amount of real estate and
therefore is subject to an equally large amount of rain. When rain
falls on soil it is absorbed into the ground then is either used by
vegetation, evaporates or drains to lower elevation. When rain
falls on a building it needs to be managed or it will overwhelm the
abilities of nature to absorb, flow or evaporate which often means
erosion. We manage rain as it falls onto buildings with rain gutters and then either pump it
away our use gravity in its course to lower elevation. It is better
to use gravity as gravity doesn’t need maintenance.
The Pennington SWCD and the City of Thief River Falls, Minnesota are now in
planning stages to create a Rain Garden at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The project will seek to control runoff in a simple, pleasing way
that requires the least amount of continued maintenance as possible.
The current problem is that water comes off the roof, overwhelms the
current drainage and flows along the front entrance sidewalk as it
descends to the street. The excess water flow removes landscaped soil
and fertilizer which costs money to replace and it increases the
turbidity of the same water we all eventually use. The excess water
from the parking lot on the south side of the Ralph runs north to the
storm sewer in front of the building and causes flooding of the
street, so much sometimes that the water reaches the first step of
The rain garden will consist of a two pits (or depressions) that are
created by removing a fair amount of clay then replacing the clay
with an absorbent sand and peat mixture. Beneath the sand and peat is
a slotted tile which will remove the filtered water and into a storm
sewer. There is no standing water in a rain garden so it does
not contribute to the mosquito population. The rain gardens will be
capable of absorbing a typical one-inch rain event. The gardens will
be covered with plants and some type of mulch. The run-off from the
roof of the Ralph will travel through a down spout, enter a drainage
structure then pass underground through an eighteen-inch pipe into
each rain garden to be filtered. Meanwhile, the water from
the parking lot will flow through a cut in the existing curb, past a
drainage structure to strain out garbage, and into a rain garden.
Both rain gardens, one on the north side of the entrance sidewalk and
one on the south, are the most visible portion of the project. The
drainage structures, tile and pipe are either underground or mostly
underground and are interconnected. There will be existing concrete
removed to bury the underground pipe. Plans exist now to add a subtle shade of blue to
the replacement concrete in an effort to remind people of the water
moving underneath their feet and the fact they no longer have to walk
through the water. I think this is a nice, inexpensive touch.
Another inexpensive touch is that much of the construction cost is
paid for by grant money.
This is a project that explains the work of the Soil and
Water Conservation District. It prevents uncontrolled water flow
which removes valuable soil and fertilizer and deposits them into the
water. It also benefits the many people who use the Ralph Engelstad
Arena as they will no longer have to walk through or around pooled
water when it rains. The rain garden will also decrease the cost of
its maintenance to the taxpayer. This is an important point as I know
people may put up with wet feet but they will not willingly weather
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave February 2013