St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works

The First Full Week of the 2008 Season

After another long Minnesota winter, we were all excited to start farming. While the majority of the past week was overcast or rainy with threats of hail and tornadoes, we managed to get everything in the ground. Kristin and I were fortunate enough to be able to get most of the preparatory work done during celebration week (before the new interns returned to campus). This allowed us to break ground right from the start.

We also bought six chickens from the local Latino Chicken Farm. They run an excellent operation and I encourage everyone in the Northfield area to look them up for their next chicken dinner. This year's chickens are all Cornish Crosses, and while they aren't as colorful as last year's, they've really grown on me. They're all very friendly, and happily follow behind us when we're weeding--in hopes of snagging a worm.

The farm also survived the first crisis of the year this past week. A herd of cows got loose and trampled much of the garden. No serious harm was done. The cows were nice enough to leave quality fertilizer behind as an apology for any squashed plants.

Finally, I would like to thank the Northfield Co-op for donating beautiful flowers for our bees and a variety of vegetable plants (which are all doing very well).

I also attached a few pictures from the one nice day had. They're mostly of chickens--but that's only because they're so photogenic.


Blogger Ian said...

Hi there,

Doing a little browsing on farm blogs, I came accross yours and greatly enjoyed it.

I thought you might be interested in a blog I run, called Under the first photo post of every day are articles from the International Herald Tribune concerning agriculture, food, and water.

I'm also the author of a book called 'A Place in My Country: In Search of a Rural Dream' which might also interest you too. (For some reviews, please see below.)

Good luck with your venture,
Kind regards,


(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, hardcover July 2007; Phoenix paperback May 1, 2008)

'Stressed city couple seeks slower life in Cotswolds idyll'. The premise is so familiar there's even a predictably technical term for it: 'downshifting'. Yet it's hard to think in those terms about A Place in My Country, given the care with which Ian Walthew has skirted all the sprung traps of nostalgia and sentiment. A thoughtful observer and magpie-ish collector of oral history, Walthew has a sharp sense of the absurdities and the assets of his native land, reinforced by years living overseas. In his country life, escaped cows and the hunt ball jostle for space with barn raves and hawkish property developers. Avoiding the usual bland elegy for the rustic and redemptive, his book is a valuable memoir, both personal and social, a meditation on belonging in one of many Englands.'

The Observer

‘I have been reading about the British countryside all my life but this is the first post-modern take on a national asset so routinely taken for granted. Author Ian Walthew takes a 12-inch plough to the cosy complacency that so many apply to the subject and reveals that 21st century rural life is not a place for the genteel - in a corner of Gloucestershire most commonly viewed by outsiders from their 4x4s as they hurry to overpriced weekend retreats, he finds a farming heartbeat that is proud and defiant, defended by a cast of characters that outshine The Archers. A revelation of a book.’

Tim Butcher

Author of Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart

(Galaxy Book of the Year 2008, 3rd Prize Winner)

'Far from being an idealistic paen to the English countryside, the book becomes a hard-edged and moving account of life rural Britain today.'

Sunday Times

'a poignant portrait of country life....the book could have been a rollicking, laugh-a-minute riff on ignorant townies having to ask what exactly a heifer is. There are certainly some fine comic episodes.. but it quickly turns into something more sombre - and more interesting...His beautifully written book is an elegy for an England that is dying, or at least in terminal decline.'

Daily Telegraph

‘When stressed out media exec Ian Walthew panic buys a Cotswold cottage as an escape route from the urban treadmill, he unwittingly acquires a window on a corner of rural Britain at work and at play, and his writer’s eye sees just what’s going on. Walthew has a genuine gift for bringing both people and places to life and marshals his runaway real life narratives with a novelist’s skill. The story of his surprising friendship with his neighbour Norman - who is trying to keep his ramshackle farm and his dignity together with a few strands of baler twine, while his millionaire neighbours embrace the prairie concept of modern industrial farming - is compelling and often deeply moving. And Walthew’s own struggle with age-old issues of identity, friendship, community and a place to call home are fresh, sympathetic and never trying. It’s not the sort of book you’d pick up expecting a page-turner, but that’s exactly what it turn's out to be.’

Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall

‘Ian Walthew was a newspaper executive with a career that took him round the world, who one day did a mad thing. He saw a for-sale sign on a cottage in the Cotswolds, bought it, resigned and moved in. For the first few weeks he just lay on the grass in a daze. Then he started talking to his neighbours and digging into the rich history of this beautiful part of England. Out of his inquiries grew this affecting and inspiring memoir.

What sets it apart from others of its ilk is the author’s enviable immunity to cliché and his determination to love his homeland better than he used to. His elegiac account of relearning how to be an Englishman should be required reading for anyone who claims to know or love this country.’

Financial Times

‘Having lived and worked abroad as a director of the International Herald Tribune for most of his adult life, Walthew, along with his Australian wife, Han, made a snap decision, aged 34, to buy a house in Gloucestershire, and embrace life in the country.

This is familiar territory, but Walthew combines his own story - coming to terms with the untimely deaths of his father and brother - with that of the land and the people who make up village life.

Funny, touching and ultimately very moving, this is a beautiful, unsentimental account of a personal loss that is reflected in the rapidly changing texture of life in rural England.’

Sunday Telegraph

‘Even peripheral characters…really come to life; as does the beauty of the Cotswolds and the harsh realities it conceals. A Place in My Country is an edifying consideration of the English countryside, its rich history and its attempt to adapt in today’s world’

Times Literary Supplement

4:16 AM  

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