Thursday, August 27, 2009

The factory tour.

Here's some photos of our solar-powered sugar factory as we approach the harvest season: Five of our six-member Fertilization Department took a pause in their busy day for a company photo: While Lisa's family was here for a visit, we made an very important discovery: small tomato plants appear much larger when photographed next to a 2 year-old: and who says kids don't like vegetables...
Oh, and the egg-citing news around here is that the chickens have been slowly ramping up their production...we now get 2-3 eggs for breakfast every morning:
Life is good!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


After tearing down the old pumphouse, we decided to leave it's foundation in the ground and use it as a flowerbed. I built a little shelter to cover the well casing, and some steps with the leftover slate flagstones. I put in some fresh soil and Lisa planted wildflower seeds in June, then we waited to see what would happen. After they grew up, she filled in with some purchased perennials as well as transplants from around our property. The view from both directions is definately improving!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A heat wave, and how we beat it.

About 70 years ago, a channel was dug to divert water from a nearby open-pit iron mine. From the pictures we have seen, it was a project of epic proportions that pretty much desecrated the land in its path. Unfortunately that path went right through the farmstead that we now call home, splitting the field in two and no doubt leaving behind quite a mess.
But that was then, and Nature has an incredible way of winning back her territory. Today, we are gifted with a beautiful 'river' that is just a stones-throw from the barn. With lakes in either direction, it is a perfect starting point for some local paddling adventures. We've also found it to be a great place to sit and watch the world go by on a hot summer day.
Here's to enjoying summer!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Authentic travel.

We are excited to have been listed on Green routes, a guide to help eco-conscious travelers find one-of-a-kind places to eat, play, shop, sleep, and learn. We're the very first destination for the iron range area of northern Minnesota, but we plan to help other local businesses join us soon. Check it out next time you are planning a trip!

Sunday, August 02, 2009


The mild weather (is it really summer?) has been great and I've taken advantage of it by finishing off some outdoor projects this week. The big job was to extend the urbanite pathway that I started building last fall (I ran out of concrete chunks and ambition at about the same time, so put it off for a season). Instead of collecting more urbanite, I stumbled across a local source for slate flagstone to use instead. This material is overburden from the nearby iron mining operations- basically the surface material that must be excavated to get to the iron-rich ore below. A company has set up shop only 2 miles from Green Gate, splitting the slate boulders into various sizes of slabs for landscaping projects. We got a few crates like this:

With the larger pieces pushing 200 pounds each, I stood no chance of moving them by hand. So, I bought a 2-wheeled dolly and used it to transport and position each stone in its new home (this worked great!). I filled in the remainder of the site with some hardwood bark mulch. The finished path, including a little buggy-bench sitting area, turned out like this:

Next year we'll plant some greenery....