Thursday, May 30, 2013


One of the Blogs I follow and truly enjoy is
and today he asked a question about bizarre re-purposed items.

Back in 1995 Susie, Beau and I began renovation on our late 1860's School house.  Re-purposing was the name of the game right from the start.

When we took the roof off of the school house to build up we re-purposed the lumber in the construction of the pole barn.

So,  when I laid the stone for the sauna on the back end of the pole barn I incorporated the drivers side vent window from a 1966 Mustang.

The pictures to the right are the window from either side of the lime stone wall.

And a shot of the roof of the greenhouse which is re-purposed 1/2 inch thick Plexiglas -- acrylic plastic sheets.  The Plexiglas sheets that are mounted on the outside edge of  ice hockey boards.


I've been out of school for less than a week and most of my time has been spent dodging rain showers and mulching the garden.

The hope is that the time prep time spent now will pay big dividends in the long run when it come to pulling weeds and harvesting produce.

 Today brother Steve came over from Wisconsin to catch up, drop off his backpack, a European adapter and to do a little trout fishing.

Note the little suede trout creel on his hip...Big Jim used it for years.

  Steve racked up the points today.




with five in just a matter of minutes.

The rain held off until after our fishing trip and I wish I could have said the same thing for the gnats.
The Buffalo gnats in our area are due to high water levels in our local river and its tributaries and the recent rains . These pests lay eggs on rocks and plant material that is then covered by higher water allowing the eggs to hatch in early spring as the water warms.

 Swarming near this moving water, thousands of these black flies cause havoc with fishermen, gardeners, livestock and poultry.

  I may have got the point for the largest. 

But who's counting....

It was nice to catch up with Steve even though he out fished me.

 for an update of some of our others projects around the house check out Susie's link below.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Last night marked the end of my High School Soccer coaching career. 

Our soccer program (est. 2006) grew out of the community of which it is a part. As with any program directed to young people, its primary goal was to contribute to their development as people, not just as athletes. Only a few of my players went on to play at the college level but most of them  grew up to be
 terrific individuals.

I wanted our program to be “serious fun” – something to work hard at, try and excel at, and have fun with. I also wanted our players to display good sportsmanship and to accept responsibility for their performance, win or lose.

This year I realized how much I've been missing in the Spring and the decision was made to call it quits when it came to coaching.

 For me it was a quality of life issue.  I enjoy my time with my family, teaching kids, being outdoors and working on projects around our little place in the country.


Sunday, May 19, 2013


 I don't know how much more a person could pack into a weekend.  Along with coaching friday night,  mowing the yard and a few other projects crossed off of my home improvement list. 

I also managed to get out into the timber several times to find a few morels and these beautiful yellow oyster clusters.  All Oyster mushrooms grow on or from wood and are typically found fruiting on a tree trunk or branch of standing wood, on a stump or along a log on the ground, like these.  In Iowa, different species of Oysters can be found fruiting from late spring until early winter on a variety of tree species, both deciduous and conifers.  In milder climates, they fruit throughout the year.  For now we're just eating the morals but  the Yellow Oyster mushrooms are best suited as a soup and stir fry mushroom or braising mushroom.

Now that I've got my new fly rod, I''ve finely gotten the hang or fishing with one of Pete's little dry flies.  I love it and it's a blast catching these little browns.

All though when the wind picks up I switch over to a little mepps or rooster tail.  But it kind a feel a little like cheating.

Along with all this we went down to Iowa City for out son Beau's college

 His mom and I are so proud of him!  The four years have flown by so quickly. 

After the Graduation Ceremony  friends and family gathered  at the Iron Hawk for a celebration!

 This evening after slicing up several pounds of morals for the dehydrator, I took the dogs down into the timber for a walk,  Just a few feet away from where Susie and I were earlier in the week I found this nine point buck that was probably gut shot last winter.

A pound of morals and a nice rack for the shed.  What a great way the end a full weekend.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


For Mother's Day we checked out THE MATRIARCHS (two teachers and a midwife) and RIVER GLEN.  At the Council Hill Station, the core of an 1850's village - the general store/ train station is now a watering hole for agrarians and urbanites, serving a huge variety of beers and many other beverages.  Sunday afternoons in the barn there is a guarantee of good old time music. 

Jamie, a friend of Steel Belly's is the owner and proprietor of the Council Hill Station. So, Susie and I hauled some bar  stools over to the barn for him and caught the Sunday afternoon show. 

Susie in front of the ruin of the old stone mill and the wooden silo which lies along the East Fork of The Galena River.

My mom, Joyce.  As you can see I'm not her only fan.


Friday, May 3, 2013


 Earlier this spring when things were sloppy out and I was down in the timber making maple, Susie was busy refurbishing our 125 year old school house flooring.  My job was to clear the space, move things out then move stuff back in.

After removing the light above our old kitchen table, I installed the new capiz shell chandelier.  Its got a funky, elegant look.

      My next task was to hang up the pressed tin that we got form our friend Steel Belly, our local wood stove aficionado/antique man.  Tom salvaged the old pressed tin ceiling tiles from and old bank just south of us in Preston.

The 2' X 2' tiles with the barber pole pressed tin boarders went up quickly with Beau's help.

 After considering our options, to paint or not to paint.  We went with the rustic look.
 Susie also refinished mom and dad's old kitchen table and we got our first and last set of adult chairs for our dining nook.

Next on tap is our living room... 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


                                       We're now up to four pairs of Trumpeter Swans on the mill pond.
Built circa 1845, this two story limestone farmstead was built as a dormitory for Paradise Farm owned by the Potter family.  In 1843, Capt. Elbridge Gerry Potter came to the Bellevue area from New Lebanon, Illinois seeking the ideal location for his new merchant flour mill. He had traveled up and down the Mississippi searching for the right combination of factors for a successful milling business and for a peaceful and scenic area to settle. The dormitory was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1991.

 In 1883 the last wild trumpeter swan was seen in Iowa. Since then the trumpeter swan has been all but extinct in Iowa, until recently.
At a conference in November of 1994 the idea to reintroduce trumpeter swans back to the area was hatched. Since then the reintroduction of trumpeter swans has come a long way and now the county has many nesting pairs. The first release of trumpeter swans back into the Iowa wilderness happened on April, 1998 at Goose Lake, just about 25 miles South of Bellevue.
The trumpeter swan is a very distinct bird. It is North America’s largest water fowl with a wingspan up to 7 feet and a height of 4 feet. The trumpeter weighs between 20lbs to 30lbs with all white plumage. This swan has a massive black bill and a very distinguishing trumpeting call. The trumpeter swans perfect habitat would be a shallow wetland between 1-3 feet deep. This wetland would have to include a mix of emergent and submergent vegetation, which would serve as a food and shelter source. To stay healthy adult trumpeters will consume plants such as duckweed, arrowhead, and wild rice. Insects and other smaller invertebrates are often consumed by the young cygnets to help them survive the first few weeks of their young lives. After six weeks the cygnets switch over to an all-vegetable diet.
One interesting thing about the trumpeter is that these birds mate for life. Bonds may begin to form between two swans as soon as twenty months after birth. Couples may start nesting at thirty-three months while some choose not to nest until they are four to six years old. Nests of the trumpeters are often very large, some reaching widths of sixth feet.  The birds on the mill pond will build their nests in the middle of water so small mammals won’t terrorize their eggs when they lay them in May. During the month of May the pen (mother trumpeter) will lay eggs every 36 hours until she has laid five to nine eggs. This is called a clutch. Once all the eggs are laid and the clutch is complete the pen will sit on the nest and incubate the eggs. After 31 days the eggs should hatch and reveal their precious treasure, cygnets!

 Other birds?  Well, an eagle is on the nest just up the road from the mill pond.  You can see her white head just below the moon. Ok, not the best picture, I know.

 Beau and I have seen several Bard owls and this kettle of turkey vultures above mont rest in Bellevue, too.

Then today as the temps. rose up into the 70* and the cold front approached  all kinds of new birds showed up.

Evening gross beaks, goldfinches and an indigo bunting all rolled in.  Spring has sprung as far as our feathered friends are concerned.
oh ya, and by the way if your in the tri-state area any time soon check out my wife Sue Becker and Sharon Stelter. Opening this Friday, May 3, 2013 - 7-9pm. See you soon!
Outside the Lines Art Gallery's photo.