Apple Season Along Big Stone Lake

Love, love, love apple picking season at our old orchard tucked in along the shores of Big Stone Lake.  I’m saying, “It is ooooold in the life of an apple tree.”

My dad started planting apple trees as his retirement project in the late 1970’s.   Some guys simply don’t like that word…retirement.   Or possibly, they do like it so much that they become inspired to act on the thing  they have always wanted to do but could only find the will to dream.  Dad fell into that thought somewhere and proceeded to plant, tend, graft, experiment with, pick and love up on over 1000 apple trees during his 25 years of ‘retirement’.  Many of the trees have gone to wherever old apple trees go to retire.  Nearly 400  of the hardy,beautiful, loaded-with-apple trees are still doin’ their thing in the peace-on-earth prairie acreage known locally as Hillside Orchard.    It’s a joy to pick, press cider, sell and use the apples.

If we do by chance utter the word retirement near the brave trees still bearing in the orchard…..we hold it down to a whisper.

Picking apples and pressing the most amazing apple cider with my son Charlie...he's in charge this time.
Picking apples and pressing the most amazing apple cider with my son Charlie…he’s in charge this time.

Summer Happy

What one thing makes you happy.….today?   It’s hard to pick just one single ‘thing’ on a perfect-RedBarn-August day.    And surely, with the human woe that slips into life, there will be days when we can’t find anything happy.  Who made the rule not to start a sentence with and ? Let’s break it!   It’s a big job……that stayin’ happy.

Living life from the vantage point of a three-year old seems mighty  happy to me.  Is that what we big folks call staying in the present….living one glorious summer moment at a time?  That’s my pick for today.

These two sweet little rule breakers(Josie and Ben)understand 'happy' when visiting at the RedBarn.  May you find something in each day that keeps you chuckling.
These two sweet little rule breakers(Josie and Ben)understand ‘happy’ when visiting at the RedBarn.  May you find something in your day that keeps you chuckling and gives you ‘happy’.

Art Night Big Stone Lake Area

You are SO lucky to live in a community where the arts are important to people.”   That’s what I hear often from friends in other locations.    Technically, I’m in my own little world out here at the RedBarn (until October when hundreds of happy people eagerly stream up my short driveway to pull the big RedBarn door open and shop for one of a kind local art creations).   I know what they mean and I sincerely agree.   Early this week I attended a Big Stone Arts Council meeting where big things are happening.  I’ll have to tell you about that sometime soon.  Last week I heard from a talented, new-on-the-scene jewelry artist in our area.  Ooooo, I can’t wait to see what she is making!    This week also held the opening of a new art exhibition at Java Jules Coffee House and Bistro in Ortonville,  MN.     For sure,  I am very lucky to know so many rock star creatives, share in their happy creative world and the life that it brings to the whole; little towns, big(wait, we don’t have any big towns), country folks, us crazy-about-the-lake-in-summer peeps and all of our many visitors to the area.    An evening  spent among artists who are sharing their work , and supporters who appreciate them , is simply one of the happiest summer evenings out of the house.   Thank you, creative friends!

BSAC 'pres', Becky Parker, welcoming artists and guests.
BSAC ‘pres’, Becky Parker, welcoming artists and guests.
Jim sharing some wonderful shots taken at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge.  Yes, we are very lucky to enjoy that in our community also!
Jim sharing some wonderful shots taken at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, we are very lucky to enjoy that in our community also!
If this piece is missing some day please don't come looking in my living room right above the side table where it would be perfect.
If this piece is missing some day please don’t come looking in my living room right above the grey side table.  Thanks, Rick!
Erlys, always the one with the marvelous fiber-art contributions.
Erlys, always the one with the marvelous fiber-art contributions.
Miss Neva gets jazzed about her local art groupies asking her what she is painting next.  Here it is!
Miss Neva gets jazzed about her local art groupies asking her what she is painting next. Here it is!
Oh boy, I have a new artist in my RedBarn neighborhood.  I think I heard him pounding this handmade frame together last week one night;)
Oh boy, I have a new artist in my RedBarn neighborhood. I think I heard him pounding this handmade frame together last week one night;) ‘Welcome’, John!!!
Beeeuuutiful water colors, Rosemary!
Beeeuuutiful water colors, Rosemarie!
Patty, your bird is lovely!  The crazy little owl painting is by yours truly.
Patty, your bird is lovely! The crazy little owl painting is by yours truly.
Featured artist, Naomi!!!  She's new in the area!  Sometimes it takes years before you no longer feel 'new'.  It's our job to say 'welcome. . . .and get over that fast, will ya'?    LOVE her watercolor style!
Featured artist, Naomi!!! She’s new in the area! Sometimes it takes years before you no longer feel ‘new’. It’s our job to say ‘welcome. . . .and get over that fast, will ya’? LOVE her watercolor style!
Rob discovered 'Prairie Smoke'.  Nice!
Rob discovered ‘Prairie Smoke’. Nice!
Happy faces loving summer and the arts!
Happy faces loving summer and the arts!

 

Writer’s Workshop

 She needs a little culcher fix, that farm girl livin’ at the RedBarn, yes she does.  Rainy, gray night and too muddy t’ weed the punkin’ patch.   She’s sneakin’ off, mind you.  Rumor has it them ther’ friends a hers who like t’ daydream, hike the coo and get all expository(gulp), ‘stead a gitten’ the chores done on time, are meetin’ in the back room at the Matador Supper Club.  Best to shut  the door behind ‘em.  They’ll be purty loud when they get to readin’ the long -runnin’- on sentences  they bin’ scriblin’ down on the pages of ther’ wide-lined tablets and clappin’ ther’ hands and smilin’ big to each other.

Writers are a beautiful sort of human being!
Writers are a beautiful sort of human being!

Did I hear you say, “Whoa, I wonder if they let her in the door at the writer’s meeting tonight?”  I promised to behave myself and they did let me in.   What a beautiful, generous, talented group of writers joined together this evening!  It’s a powerful thing; that writing and sharing and listening among good people ’round the table.   Some read from their memoirs, some from journals, works of fiction, poetry or short essay.   Others simply content to listen.  It felt so good and right and exhilarating to hear and listen.   Listen to what the writer had to say about  the people, places and moments of time binding together to form a story. . . .their story in their voice.   Compelling thoughts fill my head still hours later; a stabbing in the family, moving alone across the country and starting over, Carol’s story of abandoned babies in the 1800’s, Sally and her tender visit with the elderly gardener, Marianne revealing the powerful voice of author Bill Holm within her own poem, Mo’s moving words of Maya Angelo, indeed a writer among writers.

Friend Mo  is project director for up coming Big Stone Writer’s Workshop. It  will take place in September at Lakewood Supper Club, along the shores of Big Stone Lake, Ortonville, Minnesota.    Last years workshop earned rave reviews!   Accomplished  writers/writing instructors Judy Wilson and Marianne Zarzana from Southwest Minnesota State University  will be leading the two-day workshop(fab meals included).  Beginning writers, published authors, poets, lovers of the written word, blogging nuts like me . . . .find it the perfect place to network, learn and grow at our own level in the craft.   Ready, set, go!  Registration informally opened up today.

 

 

 

 

 

New Puppy at the RedBarn!

Living in the countryside  of the Minnesota River Valley grants us the quiet, alone time and privacy that is called, uh,….living in the countryside.  No fancy words to wrap around it.     Country neighbors respect each other’s privacy but they also have a keen sense of when it’s time to stop in.   So what’s going on?  It’s big!  We have a new puppy at the RedBarn!!! That, my dear friends, is a plenty good reason to stop in and visit a country neighbor.   Crops are planted and growing,  good rains, plenty of sunshine. . . .and a new puppy in the neighborhood.

Celebrating  simple joy in the ‘countryside of life’ with Eddie.   He’s a heart stealer!

 

'Fetch', still the favorite puppy game.
‘Fetch’,  the ever-favorite puppy game.
TWO heart-stealers at the RedBarn.  LOVE!!
TWO heart-stealers at the RedBarn.      
"I wonder if she meant for me to have this.  Anything on the porch is mine, right?"
“I wonder if she meant for me to have this.  Anything on the porch is mine, right?”
"I'll cover it up and act innocent.  That might work."
“I’ll cover it up and act innocent.    That might work.”

 

American Flag

What a beautiful sight!   Guess it’s been around the world and back more than a few times. Thoughts of pride, our history and hopes for the future well up inside when the stars and stripes wave before our eyes.

God Bless America and those who serve in uniform, preserving the freedom we awake to every morning here in the Minnesota countryside and across our nation.  Grateful!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

Baltimore Oriole

Hurray!  One sure sign of spring flew through the Minnesota River Valley  today!  Bright, bold and whistling loudly, Lord Baltimore himself stopped  by.   Giddy with excitement that he picked my humble RedBarn backyard garden for his resting spot, I asked him to relax until I could locate the camera and complete his personal photo shoot.  He was really thirsty!

Why do you think he chose to drink from this sort of grungy bird bath over all of the great water sources(creek, pail by the hydrant, Big Stone Lake, horse water tank) that are nearby?

I’ve been lovin’ the vintage 60’s look on my outdoor photos lately.   Could it be because it goes against all the rules for good photography?   Rules?  Are there really rules?:)   Soften, let some pixels show, find the perfect crazy green or funky orange cast and you’re on the way to ‘vintage 60’s.

 

I just flew in from Florida and man, are my wings tired! (thoughts inspired by my lovable  brother-in-law Jerry's very old and very bad  jokes)
I just flew in from Florida and man  are my wings tired! (thoughts inspired by my lovable brother-in-law Jerry’s very old and very bad jokes)

 

Still early for a good caterpillar find, Lord Baltimore!
Still early for a good caterpillar find, Lord Baltimore!
A sunny day at the RedBarn.  Quiet here, no cats and only that same old-and-slow dog who can't hear much.
A sunny day at the RedBarn. Quiet here, no cats and only that same old-and-slow dog who can’t hear much.
Can't really blend in when you are this bright, buddy!
Can’t really blend in when you are this bright, buddy!
No where in our conversation did I say, "Go ahead and destroy one of my three red tulips." Hmmm.
No where in our conversation did I say, “Go ahead and destroy one of my three red tulips.” Hmmm.
We're almost done now.  That's right, sit still on the handle of my rusty-trusty lawn cart while we say 'good-bye'.
We’re almost done now.   That’s right, sit still on the handle of my rusty-trusty lawn cart while we say ‘good-bye’.   Stop at the RedBarn again next year, will you?

 

 

BeckyRedBarn Loves Farm Junk

A few months back I asked a friend if he minded that I walked around on his old ‘home place’ and shot a few photos of whatever wanted to have its picture taken.  He smiled and graciously gave me permission to ignore the ‘no trespassing’ signs he had set around among his dads last farm possessions.   On the first  sunny spring afternoon I wandered about the farm-yard and found myself in a state of constant smile.  The farm-gentleman who lived his years on this spot smiled often and I sensed that we were smiling  together, at that moment, about many of the same things.  You could say, we share the same roots.   I had me a little ah-hah moment while standing there; only the warmth of the sun and the cool spring breeze as my known companions.    I love to photograph children, animals, events, wildlife, flowers…….farm junk might be beckyredbarn’s  favorite subject!   Never met a cream can or an old car I didn’t like, have you?

Tools of the yesteryear trade of farming.  Such stories to tell.
Tools of the yesteryear trade of farming.   Days were long and  every farm kid had ‘muscles’.
One special auto collection.  A chapter or two in the country life.
One special auto collection.    A few exciting rides and stories in each to be sure.
Enjoying the elements of line and design found among the precious farm remnants of siding, fencing, old cans and the galvanized tin of the grain bin.
Enjoying the elements of line and design found among the precious farm remnants of siding, fencing, old cans and the galvanized tin of the grain bin.
One dutiful,rusty hook to steal my junker heart.  A last glance shot of the proud and busy barn...now at rest.   Thank you, John!
One dutiful,rusty hook to steal my junker heart.    A last glance shot of the proud and busy barn…now at rest. Thank you, John!

Real Girls DO Fish!

What’s the one  thing that makes all of my  girls happy?   It’s fishing on Big Stone Lake!

A friend of mine, with a serious look on her face, said that she needed to purchase a  ‘fishing lesson’.     After I recovered from my doubled-over- laughing-attack  I quickly offered to give her one for free.   Her look said, “Why would I listen to you when there are many experts on the subject of fishing?”

Trust me!  I catch fish!  I really do!  All of us RedBarn girls do!  I can give you lessons. It’s not as hard as they(experts, TV shows, product packaging)want you to think it is.”  Although a bit skeptical, she did pretend to be taking mental note of what I shared with her.  ” Stop at Artie’s(bait shop in Ortonville)and order one large scoop of ‘fat heads'(minnows).  He will put them in a really cool bag full of water and tie it in a knot.   You will need a minnow bucket so they can ‘live’ in the lake water when you get home.  Talk to Artie about how to put the minnow on the hook so it stays on.  He’s very sweet about showing you little tips like that.  Find an old rod and reel or buy a new one at the bait shop  if you must and sweet Artie might even help you get it ready to go.     Don’t worry much about what size or color of hook.   The fish aren’t as fussy about that this time of year.   Watch the wind.  Pick a night with a soft little breeze out of the west and find a dock or a big rock along shore( on second thought) up the lake a ways.    Pretend you are flicking water off of a hairbrush as you cast your line out.  You’ll catch on after a few tries.   Call if you need anything else.  Oh, don’t forget to buy a  fishing license when you are at Artie’s.”

That seemed like enough to get her started.  She will probably watch one of those darn fishing shows anyway.   I hope she  catches a big walleye.  At that moment she will be the happiest girl on Big Stone Lake.  Trust me…..I know the feeling.

Yours truly with the first catch of spring 2014.
Yours truly with the first catch of spring 2014.
"Nice one" say the college girls to each other as they totally declare fishing to be the most fun sport ever!
“Nice one” say the college girls to each other as they totally declare fishing to be the most fun sport ever!
This is how a super-model connects with her big fishy:)
This is how a super-model connects with her big fishy:)
Once in awhile we celebrate with the boys too!
Once in awhile we celebrate with the boys too!
Real girls DO bait their own hook, right?
Real girls DO bait their own hook, right?
It's a Grandpa's favorite task; helping you learn to love fishing on Big Stone Lake!  We do!
It’s a Grandpa’s favorite task; helping you learn to fish on Big Stone Lake!    Happy times!

 

 

 

My RedBarn Followers Love Pound Cake!

Many of you asked me for my cake recipe!   I love you friends who share my passion for the really important things in life.  Like CAKE!!!   Every single ‘food group’ comes together in pound cake. . .not a dietary worry in the world:)

This recipe is from the kitchens of Land O Lakes.  Now wouldn’t that be a dream job?  Baking and testing the day away!                                    http://www.landolakes.com/recipe/543/glazed-lemon-pound-cake

There it is. . . .the last little piece of Lemon Pound Cake.     Gulp!
There it is. . . .the last little piece of Lemon Pound Cake. Gulp!
It's so much fun having college kids home for holidays .  Mine has gotten so smart(wink).  As I'm exclaiming about spotting the first spring fly in the house he reminded me NOT to swat it.  Could be a drone on assignment.  Sounds like a real good reason to swat it.
It was so much fun having my college kid home for Easter.  In four years of classes he’s gotten so smart(wink).   As I was exclaiming about  the first spring fly in the house he reminded me NOT to swat it.  Could be a drone on assignment.  Sounds like a real good reason to swat it.
Another delightful spring recipe from my Land O Lakes spring cookbook.  I'm totally making these.  Who wants to come over for coffee?
Another delightful spring recipe from my Land O Lakes spring cookbook. I’m totally making these. Who wants to come over for coffee?