Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from the Gierke Blueberry Farm!

For those who do not keep track, our last Christmas mailing was in 2007 (more likely early 2008). This is going to be a shorter update, despite the extended period since the last posting.

Update on John: I wanted to write about all of my traveling adventures and work related stuff, but I thought it would sound like bragging. I mentioned this to Lynn and she replied, "Well, why don't you write on your accomplishments around the farm. That won't sound like bragging at all." She is always ready with thoughtful insights like that, so I thought I would take her up on it.

Here is what I have COMPLETED around the farm: greenhouse has been re-covered, and here is what I have started but not finished: getting the fields in shape for pasture, getting ground ready for a garden, French drain around the addition, thinning the woods, in the back of the property, ..., and these are the items still in the "idea stage": sauna, fishing dock for the pond, fencing, new chicken coop (old one burned down in Christmas '08), sheep shelter, tractor-implement shed, re-siding original parts of the house, new roof for barn, apple-tree trimming, blueberry bush trimming, blueberry irrigation, ... My brother and his family have been a big help during their visits. Jeff has helped roof the addition and berry building, re-covered the greenhouse, and a multitude of other farm projects. His kids have helped put a lot of miles on the farm cart and kept the fish pond from becoming overpopulated.

John & nephew Jack moving dirt, probably for no reason other than it is fun to do.

Update on Lynn: Lynn continues to busy herself with non- and low-paying efforts, many of which are around the farm. Many thankless efforts, too, all around the farm. After many years as co-manager of the Houghton County Fair, she has turned loose of those reins to afford more time to work and volunteer for Little Brothers--Friends of the Elderly. Lots of her work involves volunteer-database management. She is currently chicken sitting for a co-worker's husband's birds, while they escape the winter. We are keeping the birds in our newly recovered greenhouse, which is a good test run for John's plans to rebuild a free-range coop for our future chickens and winter them in the greenhouse. We'll see how that pans out.

Lynn was on a mission to recover control of some of the blueberry rows that have grown out of control. It is a tough job, which is why only she can do it.

A new hobby of Lynn's that John fully supports is wine making. Pictured are some of her red currants, at harvest time, which makes a nice dry red vino. John is considering getting her a "still" in the future.

Update on Gen: Genny is in her second year at Michigan Tech, majoring in biomedical engineering, with future plans to go to dentistry school. She lived in the dorm her first year and now shares an apartment with one of her dorm-mates, Coleen. John was very relieved when she chose to attend Tech. Although he saw her often her first year, the second year has resulted in less frequent encounters, most of them Sunday afternoons, with her sporting a pile of laundry. She spent the summer at home, helping a lot around the farm and working in a lab at Tech and for Summer Youth Programs. Her boyfriend, Karl, is also a big help around the farm on some of our bigger projects, especially where agility and height and no expectation of pay are needed.

Coleen is center in this picture.

Update on Mike: Mike has entered the 11th grade at Chassell. He now has his driving license, but has been very low-key in his vehicle usage expectations. He has been raising bees, his dog (Libby the Brittany), riding his mountain bike and putting in a lot of grass-cutting hours around the farm.

Mike's Libby likes it warm!

Update on the Animals: Libby has started to mellow some. Broemer is uber mellow. We raised three pigs this summer, purchasing them from a friend in Cassopolis, MI. Nice pigs. Have one in the freezer and sold the other two. Took up sheep raising, too, for the first time. John has plans to get more this spring and have them "mow" grass in the apple orchard and berry fields, then sell off the mowers in the fall. Like all his plans, sound good on a blog but their potential for success in practice is much less certain.

Still have llamas, but the older one went where old ones go, and he was replaced with a beautiful female, born at a farm down the road. If you are cute enough and pucker just right, she will give you kisses. John is not cute enough and does not pucker on purpose. Mentioned above that we lost our chickens just after Christmas in '08. Plan to re-build and re-populate, when we get around to it. Priorities for '10 are: sheep shelter(s), chicken coop (portable), sauna, ...