This is a proud new papa!!

Now that the weather has warmed up, it’s time to head to the Harn every chance we get to continue work on the homestead project.  I still have yet to go to the Harn all on my own.  Dan has spent multiple trips on his own up to the Harn, in the summer/fall of 2013 spending a total of 3 months there prepping our homestead.  He also has gone up in the dead of winter, to farm-sit for our friends.  On one February trip, he arrived at the Harn to find the drive plowed over and ended up shoveling snow at the roadside for a day just to get a space big enough to get the Toyota off the county road and into our driveway.  He often tells this story noting that he quickly gave up shoveling to get the car to the Harn and just tried shoveling a walkway so he could trek in supplies.  He had trekked in the day before realizing he’d never get the car all the way to the Harn.  So the plan was to grab a sled at Sara and Paul’s, get the car off the road, and shovel a path so he could sled things in to the Harn.  He’d gotten almost to the turn in the drive (less than halfway) on this sunny day when he looked up, saw a vulture circling, and realized… this is how people die in Minnesota.  No one could have been happier than Danny that someone had lost a bale of hay near our drive a few days earlier, not even the guy coming to get it with his tractor!  This guy also pushed out the drive for Dan in a matter of minutes.  Dan paid him twice his asking price.  Worth every penny.

When I think back to Dan’s time alone at the Harn, I speculate that it must be an awesome adventure to be on your own in such a space of isolation.  We’ll see if I can find some time this summer to get in a solo trip.  Maybe we can find a way for Dan or me to hitch a ride with friends Alice and Dave who live in Alex too and also have a place just a few miles down the road from us up here.  Or maybe Mom and Tom will want to come up to Itasca for a visit.  We’ll get ‘er done sooner or later!  For now, I’m glad to be making more progress.

On the mid-April trip, we worked on the garage area, getting a pallet floor in place for a workshop space.  We’ve been walking around wood stacks in the workshop area of the Harn for years, moving things repeatedly, and not being able to find things.  Freeing up the trapped space between piles of materials, and installing a workshop floor and some shelves for storage, will make a huge difference moving forward.  We have been pretty lucky finding pallets to date.  It’s amazing the many places we’ve found use for them.  We just need time to get time to complete all the projects we can foresee!

The late May trip to the Harn, we were able to get our kitchen framed out in large part.  We also added one more row of pallets for a larger floor space in the workshop and having that clear space for a work table and the chop saw was really helpful as we cut wood for our latest projects.  In short order, we’d made a cabinet (the counter top was a street find from our old neighborhood in Indiana) and high shelves for storage above the fridge.  It’s not pretty construction but it’s sturdy!  I was able to unpack a dozen or so boxes from Indiana marked “Kitchen” and get things a bit organized.  Some of what I found I wondered why we even decided to move.  I’m pretty sure we just won’t ever use some of this stuff.  But I figure we’ll keep it for now and figure out later how much we still need to downsize once we’re settled.  Here’s the video for the kitchen project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNwupuYTC6E

On this trip to the Harn we noted on the way up and back: 1 ring necked pheasant, 2 turkeys, 2 black bear, and one herd of cattle.  Yes, a herd of cattle.  As Dan and I sat on the porch Friday evening, he asked if I heard that sound… “it sounded like a mating call.”  I listened and, sure enough, the sound came again and I said, “Yeah, that sounds familiar.” Dan noted, “It sounds kind of man-made though, like a duck call or something.”  We both listened intently again, and on hearing it the third time, simultaneously, we both realized it was the sound a police car makes when it wants to get your attention.  We decided to walk out to the road and see what was happening.  As we neared, we could hear people talking and we walked faster.  Dan said it sounded like maybe someone was stuck in the ditch.  As we rounded the bend at the south end of the drive, we could see flashing reds and blues through the tree line.  We noted a Sheriff driving past the drive slowly in the right lane and shortly after, we saw a white Animal Control truck with flashing lights follow past in the left lane.  We thought of the two black bear we’d seen coming through the park and re-thought our idea of being out there as “intelligent”.  And we hiked a little faster toward the road.  On arrival, we looked south and saw no one remaining, then looked north and saw the Sheriff on one side and the Animal Control on the other and, in-between, trotting up the road, about 15 head of cattle.  Who’d have thunk it!!  Danny was mimicking the cows:  “Dude, they’re still back there!” “Keep moving.  Pretend you don’t see them.”  “But I can see the flashing lights!” 🙂  The biggest worry we had was for the southbound motorist cresting the hill and running into a herd of cows!  Hopefully they arrived safely at their destination.

The latest trip had us finishing details on the kitchen (we found a few more “Kitchen” boxes we’d missed last time) and starting work on the bathroom.  DSCF0010We also did some more planting as our friend Char gave us a Nanking Cherry to start our orchard plantings!  She’s a hero to me as a woman who raises beautiful gardens and amazing livestock, plus she’s a crafter!  I’m hoping to learn much from her over the next few years.  Dan & I first met her when we stopped years ago at Char’s Yarn Basket – her yarn, knitting, and crocheting shop just south of our place.  This shop is beautiful and if you’re ever near Itasca, you should stop for some yarn or knitting needles.

We enjoyed more porch sitting Friday evening after pinning all the freshly made kitchen curtains and coverings for their final measures.  So many frogs still keeping chorus and it stays light so late we had plenty of time to enjoy the trees.  Up the next morning, I continued unpacking boxes and organizing.  Found some things for give away and garage sale and got some clothes put away on the shelves in the bedroom.  And we moved a lot of garage stuff into the garage… slowly making this look less like a construction site and more like a home.  Dan made coffee with Paul’s North Shore Blend beans. Yum.  So delish!

We played with the bathroom door to figure out how to hang it.  It’s a sliding barn door concept that we’re rigging ~ made from a $5 Restore door and a metal track donated by our carpenter friend Gary Anderson.  We had purchased three cabinets from the Restore as well – total of $50 and, while we will have a little cleanup on two of them, believe it or not, we will be able to get all three into the small 4’ x 6’ space!  It’s gonna be pretty cool once we’re all done.  And our whole bathroom build will be <$1000 for plumbing, walls and everything.  As an early Father’s Day gift, I organized Dan’s fastener drawer in his toolbox and it now looks great.  No more digging for a screw or nail.


Sunday I was up at 6:15 and, lucky me, had a wonderful experience…  As I walked into the clearing, I heard noises from the brush pile area and headed that way only to have Bambi (our female grouse) jump down from a tree.

She was still up pretty high in the tree.  I stood on the porch for a while looking out the door and soon I saw a fox coming through the woods from the back property line.  It was surreal as the fox was coming from the same place I’d seen a fox walk TO in the fall of 2015.  It seemed like the coat was not so full on this one.  I watched as the fox headed to the back of the brush pile where we thought there might be a den.  I waited to see if it came around and didn’t see much until a small head popped up on top of the brush pile.  It was a young pup biting at the brush!  He (I assume) went down the pile and headed into the clearing where he was surprised by a stick under his foot.  He was oblivious to my observation and looked carefree.  Then his nose when into the air like he could smell my scent and he headed into the woods.  I watched as he went south, wandering to and fro through the trees.  It was amazing to see.  I had no camera and didn’t want to move to get Dan so, once again, I am the undocumented observer.  Well, Bambi saw me.  The weirdest thing was that when the pup went behind the hill, she flew from the tree above him toward the Harn porch, trying to roost at the roof line just above my head at the screen door.  Finding no purchase, she flew off again to a high tree to the west.  Not sure what that meant but seeing this young pup was a wonderful way to start the day.  Even if it does mean a fox den near where we hoped to put the chicken coop…

I unpacked boxes and moved books.   The hope is to clear the main room DSCF0019and try to get more trim and lighting finished there.  As Dan and I were taking a break and talking through work to be done, we heard bikes on CR 2.  It sounded like a TON of bikes.  Thinking after a minute of continuous roar, we should head to the road and see them, we jumped in the car – thinking we’d see the tail end as they’d been going past for a couple minutes by this time.  As we reached the road, we could see bikes flying past.  Dozens of them!  Maybe 150 bikes went past while we watched.  Again, no camera!!   We didn’t have any idea how many we’d missed but you could see bikes as far as the horizon from north to south.  Crazy.  Super fun.  And it turned out to be over 450 bikes total.  http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/news/local/4048086-updated-record-breaking-ride-more-600-take-part-ride-troops

On the way back into the Harn, we noticed Bambi ambling across the drive.  She NEVER ambles, always darting quickly when she sees us.  As we slowed for her, we spotted her 4 babies!!  They are little balls of fluff!  So tiny.  Several wonderful little parades we’ve had at the Harn over the last couple weeks. 🙂

The best part of being at the Harn is how peaceful I feel. Even when I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff or the work ahead of us, it’s still a peaceful feeling being here.  Just stopping to sit on the porch and listen to the trees babble in the breeze or catching the call of a Sandhill in the clearing out back… it puts my mind at ease.  And seeing the new wildlife was a real treat.  Should be a productive summer with the next big plan being getting water installed.  One step at a time I guess.