Deer Hunting Gear

Hunting gear has really changed over the years.

When I was a kid my dad, grandpa, and uncles wore red plaid wool pants. When we switched over to blaze orange gear, other uses were found for those pants worn by our fore bearers.

When I left my job in December 1996, my boss gave me a pair he had been awarded for “something” he did.

At the urging of the attendants at the going away party, I put those pants on and …. yes, the sheriff showed up when there was dancing on the tables. No, there was not a bunch of drinking. We were just having fun.

Yes, here I stand in all my glory, with a mouth full of metal braces.




McCrory Gardens Announces Maple Syrup Workshop on April 2

Media Release

McCrory Gardens Announces Maple Syrup Workshop on April 2

BROOKINGS, S.D. – A maple syrup processing workshop will be hosted by Pete Schaefer, Curator of the McCrory Gardens Arboretum.

The workshop is intended for people with a few sugar or silver maple trees and/or boxelder trees who are interested in hobby or backyard maple syrup production. The workshop will be held the evening of April 2 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center. Registration is now open at Registration for Friends of McCrory Gardens Members is $3 and $5 for non-members.

Thanks to funding through the South Dakota Dept. of Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Block Grant Program, McCrory Garden visitors will have the opportunity to see maple syrup production in action this spring.

At the Arboretum, Schaefer taps into 15 sugar maples as well as silver and hybrid maples for syrup production.

“We placed the taps into our trees in early March,” Schaefer said. “In a normal spring, the sap would begin flowing around the middle of March and continue for two to four weeks. This year spring appears to be arriving late, so we haven’t seen significant sap flow yet.”

Schaefer will have a wood-fired evaporator onsite which will be in operation periodically to boil the sap down to syrup. When the sap starts flowing, McCrory Gardens will post an announcement on the McCrory Gardens websites –, and facebook pages.

The public is welcome to stop by the McCrory Gardens this spring and view the tapped trees and their sap flow.

“We are excited to be adding a little sweetness to the gardens this spring and we hope to see people come to our maple syrup workshop or anytime,” said Schaefer. “McCrory Gardens is open every day to the public from dawn to dusk.”

To view this article electronically, visit

Seed Catalogs

It’s not too late to order 2013 seed catalogs. Some companies now offer downloadable catalogs and search features on their websites.

When a call went out on Facebook for the favorite catalogs of friends, a variety of responses were received.

Below are some of them, in no particular order:

Prairie Road Organic Seed – Fullterton, ND, family owned sellers of open pollinated seed selected for hardiness, earliness, vigor, quality and taste.

Fedco Seeds – Offering untreated seeds of beans, corn, peas, melons, cucumbers, squash, root crops, lettuce, greens, brassicas, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, flowers and more.

Moose Tubers – Certified seed potatoes, onion sets, potato onions, shallots, sunchokes

Organic Growers Supply – Committed to supporting organic and intelligent farming and gardening: cover crop, green manure seed, grain seed, rock powders, soil amendments, organic fertilizers, organic feed, hand tools, seed-starting supplies, organic pest controls, orchard tools and supplies, drip irrigation, garden fabrics, gardening books and more.

Fedco Trees – Trees, shrubs, fruits, berries, bulbs and perennials for spring planting: apples, pears, stone fruits, berries, grapes, conifers, nuts, ornamentals, bulbs, perennials.

Fedco Bulbs  – Fall-planted flower bulbs and garlic: tulips, narcissus, crocus, iris, hyacinths, scilla, muscari, allium and more, amaryllis and paper whites for indoors, lilies, daylilies, peonies, bearded iris, books, tools and supplies.

St. Lawrence Nurseries – northern climate fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and edible landscaping plants.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds – vegetable, fruits, flower seeds, herbs, farm seed, tool and supplies. Signers of the Safe Seed Pledge.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – heirloom vegetables, flowers and herbs from the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Seeds of Change – Vegetables, herbs, glowers, live plants, tools and supplies.

BAKERS SEED CATALOG 2013(updated Feb. 14, 2013)



Sitting here recalling how grandma managed the household during a blizzard. Meals needed prepairing, animal chores had to be done and, without fail, grandpa would get an emergency call to come fill up someone’s almost empty fuel tank – the one that kept the oil furnace going.

Even after we got our own house, we frequently went to grandma’s and grandpa’s place right next door to ride out a storm. Most of the chores were over there. Grandpa had that big oil delivery truck and a tractor if we really needed to get out in the storm – like the time he plowed through drifts with that truck to rescue a neighborING in-labor farm lady and delivered her to a waiting vehicle on the state highway. Talk about adventure. When that baby was born, he got grandpa’s name for his middle name.

Grandma baked and cooked her way through the storm. All the kids were scattered about on the two couches and various easy chairs in the livingroom. We stayed busy putting together puzzles, playing games, reading books, knitting, cutting out quilting squares or other such tasks grandma devised for us.

The living room was heated with an oil space heater. One of the older children needed to watch the fuel level and alert grandma when it was low.

Refueling the stove meant a trip outside to the oil tank with a 5 gallon can.

When adults come in from the blizzard, their outer clothing was often wet and caked with snow. We helped them peel off their buffalo plaid wool coats and kromer stormy hats, and hang that gear up near the stove.

Off came cold or wet socks, replaced by a fresh pair that had been warming next to the oil stove. Then something warm to drink.

Grandma made the very best hot cocoa. Milk from the cows, cocoa powder, vanilla bean sugar. All whipped up together with her special handpowered egg beater – the one with the green handle.

Poured into a huge mug, granda would say, “Here. Give this to Joe. Nobody else. Just Joe. You paying attention?”

And when you returned to the kitchen, you needed to report that, indeed, the mug was delivered to Joe.

Learned years later that was because those mugs of cocoa were often spiked and grandma was just trying to make sure none of the kids got a hold of one of those mugs.

At least two kettles of soup were simmering on the wood stove – in later years it was a bottle gas stove. Beef and pork roasts, chicken, bread, pies and cookies worked their way through the oven. And all the while the kitchen stove was helping heat the house.

Grandma was doing her best to keep us fed and warm and occupied until the weather simmered down and we could begin the arduous task of clearing all that snow away. Or playing in it.

SNOW FEB 13 - 2

Washing Dishes

Grandma was the champion of washing dishes with not much water.

The dish washing ritual began when she placed a small round enamelware pan in the sink.

Using a quart-sized enamelware pitcher, grandma dipped hot water from the wood stove water reservoir and poured it into the waiting pan.

Dirty dishes were ‘pre-washed’ in that small pan. At the end, the water was…well pretty ‘junky’ as grandma would say.

She’d grab that pan of used water, walk outside and dump it on the flower bed near the kitchen door.

A white enamelware pan with a chipped red rim – sized for dishwashing – was now in the sink. Grandma poured in a couple pitchers of hot water,  added cold water to adjust the temperature, and then added the dishwashing soap. No more than two gallons of water was in that dishpan.

A gallon of hot water went into the small pan that had previously been used for pre-washing the dishes. Rinse water.

Glasses were washed first. Silverware was added to the water to soak a bit as grandma worked her way through the plates, serving bowls, and finally, the pots and pans.

Wash, rinse, place in the drying rack.

At the end, the water was carried outside and used to water one of the numerous flower beds, herb gardens or newly planted fruit tress or berry bushes that graced the yard.

So let’s add that up. 1 quart to prewash, 2 gallons to wash, 1 gallon to rinse.

Did I mention this was for dishes for 14 people?

And did I mention there is no having to change the wash water because it’s all yucky with floating bits of junk?

Got to thinking about this while working my way through a water audit as part of the permaculture design course I’m taking.  Think I’ll be adjusting – just a bit – the way I’m handling the dishes around here.

1 quart to prewash, 1 gallon to wash, half-gallon to rinse, and no more than once a day.


Keeping it watered when the ground is cracking

Gardeners were encouraged to conserve water in their community garden plot even before we realized the ground would be parched from lack of rain and a record hot growing season.

Soaker hoses, emitters, all kinds of sprinklers, plants encircled by little moats or planted in big tin cans to hold water, and the use of plain old hoses were found around the garden. Mulch from newspapers, shredded paper, and grass clippings helped, too.

Those vegetables sure look good don’t they?

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Community in the Community Garden

Our first year community garden was no different than many first year community gardens. A few plots were left at the end of the sign-up period. A decision was made from the start that any left over plots would be used to raise food for the community.

Dakota Milestones, which supports adults with developmental disabilities, took over the planting and care of four 10-foot by 25-foot plots. They cared for over 200 plants during a summer of record heat.

For their efforts, they were awarded three Community Hero Awards. Part of their award is a financial donation to an organization of their choice.

They chose the community garden and requested the money go for a sidewalk, a sun shelter that is walker and wheel-accessible, and the start of a small orchard and perennial beds.

Our deep gratitude to our dear friends – the adults supported by Dakota Milestones and the staff serving them.

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Community Garden 2012

A little slide show of the 2012 Community Garden. Everyone gave it a good shot, and worked hard at it. First year garden. Drought. Heat. Struggles with watering and gardeners being exhausted from the heat. Cracks in the ground. Low yields.

Despite all that, we are doing it again. And we are excited about it!

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Community Garden

Community Garden

A community garden is coming to Chamberlain. The city council gave final approval during its May 7 meeting, after asking one question. “Is there interest in a garden?

The garden is a joint effort between the city of Chamberlain, Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center, and area volunteers. The garden is located on land owned by Sanford Chamberlain just north of the Sanford Care facility.

Already tilled, 10’ x 20’ plots are available on a sliding fee scale, with a maximum payment of $20 for the season. Water is included. Individuals, organizations and area churches are encouraged to adopt a plot and grow food for distribution to those in need.

Trinity Lutheran Church is taking a month-long Noisy Offering (collection of coins) to help offset garden expenses.

St. James Catholic Church is collecting canning supplies and offering the use of their kitchen for teaching canning and preserving excess produce.

The Rural Office of Community Service is providing seeds and plants, if needed.

Area volunteers will be marking off and numbering the plots in the next week.

Persons interested in a plot may contact city offices at 605-234-4401.