Monday, June 30, 2014

Sometimes a Wrong Turn is a Right Turn

There is so much to tell about this past weekend's car trip to volunteer at M.O.M, Mission of Mercy, the state's free dental clinic across the state in Green Bay.  So I am going to start in the middle. Hey, it's my blog.

Last year en route to M.O.M. Friend Lynn and I made a wrong turn due to a GPS and Mapquest discrepancy outside of Lake Geneva and as a result we discovered an unexpected ostrich farm. What a great photo op! Then, this year after our shift in Green Bay as we headed home, we made a wrong turn in Manitowoc which landed us here late Saturday afternoon...

Yep, Ostrich Fest... 
How could we not follow the signs? 

This was a definite omen.

The deal is this once backyard musical get together had grown so large that its host Mike Oswald, a young lawyer, now has moved it to the city fair grounds.  

We met Mike and he shared how this all began from his desire to meet at a girl at meat packing plant. Why was she there? She had brought her ostriches to be processed ... and the rest is history - as is the girl now but fortunately the event still includes ostriches. 

There weren't ostrich races but there was amazing music...



Vic and Gab, a dynamic Milwaukee duo were the first group we heard, followed by The Nat'l Parks.

Take a look for at the entire line up... Pretty impressive, eh?

Note: headliners are Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

And while enjoying the festivities,  we also had to have dinner. After all, it was dinner-time.

And what do you think was on the menu?
Why Ostrich burgers, of course!

And you know what?
                                      They are mighty tasty...
my very first...

Grilling up the burgers...

And a very good time was had by all in attendance, especially us. 
So you see, a wrong turn made a great day into an even better one...

Hmmm, I wonder what ostrich event awaits us next year en route to
 M.O. M.?

Friday, June 27, 2014


With all this precipitation it would be difficult to not see its results? 

 It can wreak havoc/ give relief to drought. Last week's FOTO FRIDAY entries dealt with the havoc.  This week's photo pic is water causing an item, in my photo choice, a mushroom, to flourish. I have seen some great looking mushrooms growing.

What's benefitting in your life from water? Send me a pic and it'll be included. A brief description is always appreciated.

Sometimes having containers is a pain but our recent rainfalls have been helping many container gardens along.

To see last week's entries click :HERE

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Proud as Peacocks... Let the Sun Shine in

Notice those oversized scissors....
You know we in Wisconsin have been disgusted by many political decisions in recent years. But today we have something to be proud of... AND it's not just because it's  my second ribbon cutting this month. This ribbon cutting was for the 'first' solar farm in Wisconsin and the fastest built solar farm in our country with over a 1000 solar panels.

Many who made it happen: Clean Energy Collective, Vernon Electric Coop (lt. blue shirts) and their board (darker bl)  Dairyland Power Cooperative(green shirts) and their backdrop in the distance one set of the solar panel installation

What nobody mentioned at this auspicious occasion was what brought us to this day. You'll see the irony as I digress a bit.  
In 2011 the National Sierra Club brought a suit against our local power company, Dairy Land Power Cooperative resulting in our county, Vernon Electric Cooperative cutting that ribbon for the 'largest' solar farm in the nation according to Clean Energy Collective who installed the system. This also was accomplished
Clean Energy Collective's  representative
in 'record time.'  Vernon Electric didn't even have to use their PR campaign since all solar panels were sold in a 2 week period. How did this happen?

Many people were thanked for their efforts at the ceremony for the execution of this feat. The list was long - engineers, accountants, legal counsel, energy staff and spouses, boards and of course, the members. 
BUT one needs to understand the funding and the nearly $6 million penalty money due to 7 polluting coal plants violating the Clean Air Act. Three of those plants were shut down, three were retrofitted an hour from us. The seventh plant retrofitted was 10 miles away in Genoa.  $950,000 was paid in penalties and the additional $5 million was divided: $500,000 for national forest and park restoration, $2.5 million for solar panels on schools in addition to assistance to low income families.

Of  the two possible sites, Vernon County was chosen by Dairy Land Power to receive the 2 million dollar penalty monies for the development of the solar installation. Of course in all the wonderful speeches today, no one mentioned that this could have never happened for the members's to be panel owners had the suit never been filed.  Truth be known it will be beneficial to both the company and its members besides being a cleaner energy source.

Living in an area with environmentally conscious citizens, home to Organic Valley and their Wind Farm, didn't require much convincing to purchase the available panels... 

Notice the farmland with the cows grazing near the panels.  
Therefore, when the Cooperative members were notified of the opportunity to buy a subsidized $1200 solar panel for $600 which would have a payback in 10-12 years, it was a no brainer. A member could buy panels up to 120% of their usage. 

There are two project panel sections, one an integrated system owned by Dairyland Power (the result of the enforced penalty for cleaner energy) who are already discovering it's a good deal. While we were at the ceremony and picnic celebration all the panels were producing energy at 100% of their capacity. The second panel section owned by Vernon Electric Cooperative members will be the recipients of monthly credit from these panels. Upon selling one's home, the owner panel members can sell their panels. It's a win win... and we are so proud to have solar power in our county.

Shine on to the future and say hello to alternative cleaner energy and to all those that made it happen... May this just be the beginning of many more solar farms and a leading example throughout our country without the use of coal.

* I will correct facts if I have misquoted/misunderstood info.
Numbers differed in handouts and speeches.
aerial photo courtesy of Dairy Land Power Solar Facility, Westby, Wi 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I can't believe it. I reached a special milestone on my blog as yesterday was my 500th post. I thought, you know I should give myself a day off to celebrate... Nah, I should celebrate by maybe working towards mentioning something on my bucket list...

It has to do with shoes. Yep, those that know me well, know I like shoes and have way too many. (Remember Natureman calls me the Imelda Marcos of Chaseburg.)  But maybe what you don't realize is, I have curtailed my purchasing shoes since country living isn't really conducive to most styles. Since my move to the End of the Rainbow Valley when I see an interesting pair of shoes I admire,  I take their photograph whether they're in a store/being worn. Women are usually pretty flattered when I ask them if it's OK to take a pic of just their shoes/ sometimes I don't want to interrupt and I might sneak a pic.

Such was the case at the Artspire community gathering. If you can't get inspired there, where can you? Remember the song Blue Suede Shoes?  Well how can anyone not be singing that Elvis hit after seeing these blue babies?

With that tattoo, I'd even add, they're pretty 'unforgettable' too.

So here's the bucket list item. One day  I'd like to put together a book of the shoes I've captured. I'm sure it won't be a best seller but it might be fun for other shoe aficionados. If nothing else, it'd be fun to see all the shoe pics I've collected over the last decade... 

Beside you can never start too young appreciating colorful shoes. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Historic Lanesboro is definitely a 'tourist' town and besides the bike trails and canoeing there are different types of shops. Whether you're a collector of about anything from southwestern artifacts/t- shirts/ other schatzkes, there's something for everyone. No place's economy's going to improve from Natureman's visit but he was a good sport to peruse Main street since the intermittent downpours weren't allowing much else... 

For me nothing beats seeing items repurposed/ as I refer to them as upcycled. Mix that with incorporating plants and I am smitten. So I thought I'd share some of my discoveries with you.  You just never know if you'll see one of these ideas incorporated in End of the Rainbow Valley's garden beds.

Take for example a broken push broom that is a new home for succulents.

Or a repainted head and foot board as plant hangers with flower filled pails.

old metal funnel

A ladder is a great plant stand. One doesn't see  a lot wooden ladders any more. One that has been used a lot has a lot of character. 

            What a fun way to grow a variety of flowers too ! 

Before you toss that next item because it looks a bit worn/ rusty, reconsider. Maybe, just maybe it might be a great home for one of your plants. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed Newbies...

Natureman is the first to admit that I am very observant regarding my surroundings and when it comes to summer I now know most of the signs. Another 'sign' that summer's here is all the 'new' kids on the block and I am not talking goats. 

The first set of 'baby' bluebirds are now big enough to have been kicked out of their nest. I think their folks must have forgotten to tell them to go out and make it on their own as they keep flying back to check out if anything is happening at their birthplace. 

And they are not the only ones as we saw a lot of 'unsupervised' confused youngins' Friday along the Lanesboro bike trail...

First there was the baby snake swimming near the water's edge.  Obviously he's working on his swimming skills. If you think I stopped long enough to take his pic, you don't know me and snakes. You can bet I was more interested in my get away when he disappeared from the water surface and I wasn't sure where he'd reappear ... (as if he'd jump out of the water!)

A sweet fawn wobbled across the hard path not sure which way to go with 2 bikes encroaching her space.  We saw her on the way back still trying to figure it out with other cyclists. Poor baby.

Cute baby red squirrels darted back and forth across the path playing chase with their siblings. 

Noone obviously ever told them about looking both ways. To tell you the truth I don't think squirrels ever learn that lesson, do you?
I think it's always a race to the other side.

But the biggest surprise sighting was a baby I have never seen before...

 Isn't he the cutest ever? He was busy chomping away at the new leaves next to the path. Natureman had driven right by him but I saw  him. He stopped chewing long enough to smile for the camera and went back to his snack. You can tell by the grass size he was no bigger than your fist and wasn't a bit concerned that he had spectators.  

Besides having a 'picture' perfect day with beautiful blue skies   seeing a baby ground hog was the best part of the 21 mile bike ride..    
Wishes for a happy and safe summer even if you aren't a Newbie!

Friday, June 20, 2014


FOTO FRIDAY this week is "water" since we've had so much of it falling from the sky. 
This rainwater specifically affected our not canoeing the Root River in Lanesboro, Minnesota for our traditional anniversary date but we still will be able to take our bike ride part. 

Notice the force and color of the dam's waterfall and rain runoff into the Root River. Those are mighty turbulent waters. 

Colleen shares her pic of a whirlpool. Those currents can strong and be dangerous.

And what's better leader training for campouts than being prepared for a rainy campout with the girls. Friend Jennifer Girl Scout leader extraordinaire got experience doing a campfire in the rain. She has titled her pic "Fire & Water" and states - it is possible to start and maintain a campfire and cook Dutch Oven Chicken Pot Pie in the rain! Thank you TOC II Training! 
 Notice the standing/running water in our fire ring...

Cheryl didn't leave the water behind as HaRVey forged northward for their next stop. Look what was greeting her in Ham Lake north of the Twin Cities. 

OK try fishing at the end of this pier/ did you just tell the grandchildren to go out and swing?

Last week's: One of These Things's Not Like the Other was lacking in  participants... Click on it to see link. Remember, you can still submit a photo and I'll always add it. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Deer Fly Magnet...

Recent severe thunderstorms preceded with cloudy skies and strong breezes gave me small windows of garden maintenance time. You see the June deer flies enjoy feasting on me when it's sunny and they're not having to fight airflow. 

If you haven't ever caught any of my entries regarding insects, here's the scoop: I am a deer fly magnet. They love me and although I also attract mosquitoes, believe me when I say the deer fly is ferocious and its bite is more painful. I don't think they have missed any of my body appendages. Just my luck End of the Rainbow Valley is a perfect breeding ground for these flying carnivorous beasts. 

Don't worry I have my insect repellant and gear to wear but it really takes the enjoyment out of being outside. And I hear them circling trying to find the unprotected areas... and I know they will. They get 3 bites before I am back inside the safety of the house where if they dare to enter are at my mercy.  See once inside I have my deer fly killer, the fly swatter (no license required) 

Anyhow I quickly shot some flower blooms before the storm destroyed all the new blooms. Enjoy, because the storms are not through causing havoc.

 As friends say as far as plants go I have Noah's Ark, at least one of everything.  If you 'd rather read more about those insects, here's a previous entry,  click on Bugged (June 12, 2012).