St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The First Frost

September 30, 2015 was the first frost in our area.  It arrived on the farm only in the lowest areas along the swamps; here on top of the hill it was 39F.  The sand garden along the River Road got hit hard as did all of the open areas there.  Under the trees frost stays away for awhile. 

The first frost gets our thinking shifted to the oncoming winter.  Farmers are already harvesting soybeans and soon will start on the corn -- both likely to be record yields this year with plenty of rain.  

The frost tried to creep up the hill on the farm, but was limited to the lowest lying area along the swamp

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

St Croix Retreat

Feeling unlike getting anything useful done today, I took a trip to St Croix Falls coming back up the River Road.  I stopped several places along the way to admire the 8-foot lower river as dam repairs are underway at St Croix Falls. 

Scramble down to the river -- trying to untrodden spots

A mile or two above the Lion's park

Creek trickling down to the river

About 7 foot exposed depth and narrow bank 

Many clams dead and alive.  I wonder if the water drop kills those on the edges?

Looking for agates, but none found

Some metal bones 

Some sand, some muck drying out and spongy to walk on and some rocks. 

Peat drying out 

A logger up river sent a chunk down to be used on the dam

Some stumps seemed to be anchored by the roots.  Unlikely after 107 years under water

The shadow of a logger and a log from a century ago 

Logs are 16 foot long, and not terribly big like the pines of old.  The last runs in the early 1900s were second cuttings or white and red pine and jack pines

Cribs up river from Nevers Dam don't seem to be much more exposed than normal

The Wisconsin edge of Nevers Dam

All Rambled Out

Well, another River Road Ramble is rambled over.  The weather was perfect for the 10th annual Ramble, there were about 30 Ramble stops, and even though we were about 2 weeks early for peak fall color, we had a great turnout of folks taking the 4th Saturday in September loop tour of the River Road and Hwy 87.  

Grantsburg got involved this year with tours and activities at the Grantsburg museum buildings.  Brother Marv and a few of his grandchildren stopped and took the tour and had their photos taken in old time garb--a fun activity for kids and adults.  

At the farm we had our usual large turnout of folks stopping to check out the farm produce, apples , pumpkins, squash and maple syrup as well as some of the garage sale items.  Probably sold about 1/4 of what we had.  The rest of October we continue selling the produce until it is gone.  Pumpkins went fastest and apples the slowest.  Too warm and early to think about preparing for the upcoming winter when an apple, carefully wrapped in tissue and stored in the root cellar will taste good.  
There goes 7 pumpkins, great grandma's old rocker, grandma's plant stand, and Margo's unused planters from the Geraniums by Margo business she had 15 years ago.  

Our neighbors at the 1904 Bass Lake School house had an open house to show their progress in restoration and conversion to weekend personal resort.  Down to the cement blocks and ceiling joist with the metal ceiling panels and maple floor being restored. 
The west windows were blocked early as schools were told to have light only from one side -- so the light comes over the left shoulder and makes perfect lighting for a right hander to write on his or her desk. The windows will be restored to original condition --so left handers will feel at home too.

New this year -- RRR Royalty and Float!  Great addition and publicity for the 10th annual Ramble


Moon struck, I burned a dozen rolls of kodachrome trying to get a decent view of the super blood moon eclipse.  (in the old days I would have taken maybe 20 photos with film and probably only one or two turned out.  With digital I took well over 100 and experimented with lens openings, times, etc with no worry about developing costs!)

With the Ramble done, we mostly close down the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society until Memorial Day with a wrapup meeting on Oct 15th at the Museum in Cushing to celebrate another year of success, plan a Christmas party, turn down the heat and think about painting the ceiling.

The Ramble left me exhausted as it always does -- harvesting the garden vegetables (a ton or more of pumpkins and squash, apples, bottling syrup etc) and this year parting with items from the farm and home trying to clear out the clutter.  I marked the price on my old flexible flyer runner sled at $20 hoping it wouldn't sell (it didn't as it is in tough shape).  

I do less of the Ramble preparations each year as son Scott takes over the farm market.  However it takes less effort to tire me out.  I pushed the local historical society (SELHS) into doing this 10 years ago, and each year I worry that it will flop--and I feel responsible.  However, after talking to brother Marv, who hit most of the stops and sales, he tells me there was a good turnout with lots of traffic and parking difficulties along the stops.  His only complaint was that at some of the garage sales they didn't have enough new things from last year.  I suppose that means here on the farm we will have to dig deeper in the barn and sheds to find something different -- maybe I will offer my refurbished sled for $200 next fall...

A few things you know you should get rid of, but in the end it is hard to part with.   Childhood memories of iced tracks on the hillside with shelf-snow-ice jumps and years of thrills coasting far into the old cranberry bog below the steep hill east of the yard.  I was probably about 8 when I got my own sled, 60 years ago.  I think it will go into my wood shop to be refurbished, as brother Ev did with his. 
A sled much like mine, but in much better condition.  Mine has everything there, but a grayish weather beaten look with red rusty rather than red pained runners.  However, a little TLC and maybe in January I will ice some tracks and let the nephews and nieces try my newly restored sled on the hill.  (I think this is called a pipe dream).