Spring is my favorite time of year. This year I went to Gertens and Bachman’s in Minnesota to get the latest 2017 perennials. I came home with a truck full of Native plants, perennials and ground covers for the gardens. It was so much fun! The vegetable garden is planted and I have finished the chicken coop area for our chickens. They are now 8 weeks old and should be laying free range eggs by the end of July.
I hope you will be able to come by and stay at the lodge this season. With all the rain, the gardens will be spectacular!
This summer we will have free-range eggs from our new “Ladies” who reside here at Quiet Walker Lodge. This will be an added bonus to our already fantastic breakfasts at the lodge. Owner, Linda Rodrigues, retired from teaching this year and for her retirement gift to herself started raising chickens.
The set up process can be a little overwhelming, but the end result is worth it! In deciding what breed to raise at the site, Linda wanted cold-hardy, excellent egg production and docile breeds. She chose the Black Australorp and the Easter eggers.
The Black Australorp came originally from Australia and were bred for their egg production. They have shiny black feathering and make an excellent winter laying hen. The “Easter Egg Chickens”, shown above, have a variety of feather colors with a huge beard under their beak. They produce colorful egg shells from pale blue to green and pink.
For eight weeks they will be held in a brooder until they have their feathers and are able to handle the chicken coop outside. In about 16 weeks, beginning of July, we should have our hens laying eggs for the lodge breakfasts! The area around the coop has had to be reinforced to keep predators out. It was an out of the box idea to weave twine 7 feet above the free range area to keep chicken hawks and eagles from diving down to pluck away one of my chickens. The hawks and eagles will not dive into a web of twine for fear of getting caught. Hopefully this will prevent them from getting my chickens. At night the girls will be housed in the secure coop.
Flowers galore! We had a lot of rain in Spring and color is everywhere. The flowers and plants enjoyed the wet season and produced an abundance of flowers in June. This year we have a new wildflower garden, iris garden and black eyed Susan garden.
The blackberries and raspberries are starting to come in and the tomato plants are heavy with tomatoes. This year we have planted bush green beans, butternut squash, zucchini, more asparagus, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Phill loves to use fresh vegetables and fruits, from the garden, in his cooking.
In July, we will have 30-40 goats grazing in the forest reserve. This is an environmentally friendly way of getting rid of the invasive species in the forest. The Oriental rose, commonly known as the wild rose, was used during WW2 as an alternative to traditional fencing. Unfortunately that was a bad idea, and the rose has invaded Iowa lands preventing native plants from flourishing. The goats love to eat the wild rose and in 3 years we hope to have it out of our forest.
Be sure to visit us at Quiet Walker Lodge where you can Rest, Relax and Rejuvenate. Come Experience the Difference!!!
Dubuque was first inhabited by mound builders. They built elongated, conical mounds that can be seen at Eagle Point, Pike’s Peak and along highway 52 near John Deere Drive. No one knows fort sure the importance of these mounds. Lucius Langworthy mentioned them in several lectures at the Dubuque Literary and Scientific Institute. He believes they were some type of fortification. However, in later years there is strong evidence that they are mausoleums of the distinguished dead of the race. In 1881, the Smithsonian directed an exploration of the mounds. The most interesting excavation was in East Dubuque. One mound just off Gramercy Street contained a burial vault of 6 adults, 4 children and a baby seated in a dinning circle.
The Mesquakie Indians were known as the Red Earth people. The Sauk, a nearby kin, were called the yellow earth people and their chief was Makataimeshekiakiak known to us as Black Hawk. Both the Mesquakie and Sauk were driven out of their native lands in Montreal by the Iroquois and they landed in eastern Wisconsin on the Wolf River and then further south on the Fox River. As they continued to be pushed further west by rival tribes, by 1760 they were in Dubuque. Here they were known as the Fox Indians. They were a small nation of about 50,000. Their language was similar to the Sauk Indians who also occupied the area.
Julien Dubuque came out west with his brother in the early 1780’s. We do not know how Julien became interested in the lead mines. He had come to Praire du Chien to trade with the Indians and maybe the Mesquakie approached him about working the mines. But on September 22, 1788 the Mesquakie gathered with Julien Dubuque and drew up an agreement allowing Julien to work the mines.
As for the Fox and Sax Indians, they were pushed out of their lands to Kansas. But in recent years, they have purchased land in Tama, Iowa and set up their reservation. This year the Mesquakie will celebrate their 100th Pow Wow at their Mesquakie Casino in Iowa. For a much more detailed history of the journey of the Mesquakie Indians to Dubuque, check out the book Dubuque on the Mississippi by William Wilkie.
Celebrating Spring in a Unique Way: Decorah Seed Saver Here We Come!
Oh spring, where are you???? This winter was one of the worst for most of the country. Iowa was no exception. We had more cold days this last winter than we had in the past 5 years. So we were all ready for Spring to arrive.
In celebration of the end of winter, I went to the Harvest Perennial Plant Sale at Seed Savers in Decorah. It is always a treat to see all the rare plants they have at the center.
This year I was excited to buy some outhouse hollyhock that I planted against the barn. Anybody who lives in the Iowa countryside knows every barn needs some hollyhock growing against the side of the building.
I also am trying Aunt Molly Cherry. This plant peeked my interest. It grows on a fence as a vine and the sweet fruit is housed in a pod. The fruit is suppose to taste like cherry and can be used for eating, jams, and pies.
I also purchased everlasting sweet pea. I remember the fragrant sweet pea that my grandmother had growing along her back fence. In memory of her, I hope it grows abundantly.
This year I was not able to get my vegetable garden finished until last weekend. The ground was just not thawing out enough to turn the ground. But last weekend I was able to get my peas, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and
zucchini planted. The sweet rain came after the planting and everything is growing straight and strong.
This little guy knows how to have fun in the snow! The lodge is covered with a pure white blanket of snow and it looks like we will be having more during Christmas. During this time we wish to thank all of you for choosing our lodge as your destination getaway spot. We hope to see you again in 2014. May you and your family have a warm and blessed holiday season.
Get ready for the Iowa Wine Trail Spring Event. This year’s theme will be Before and After Desserts and Appetizers. Each winery on the list will have their specialty like Herbed Cheese Stuffed Papadew Peppers, Pork Cheek Quesadillas and Chocolate Cannoli at Daly Creek or Eagle Landing’s Norwegian Meatballs served with Dry Red Wine (Mr Sippi), RoTel Cheese Dip and Nachos served with Semi-Sweet Red Wine (Mrs Sippi), Spring Time Fruit Salad served with Semi-Sweet Muscat Canelli wine ( Lit’l Sippi) and Raspberry Flavored Brownies served with Chocolate Raspberry Dessert wine (Serenity). All of the wineries are offering awesome desserts and appetizers. This event is happening this weekend April 27-28th. So grab your partner and head out to Quiet Walker Lodge and then on to the wineries! It is an event you won’t want to miss!
Winter at Quiet Walker Lodge is a unique experience. During the months of December and January we have enjoyed the beauty of the winter landscape. There is something to be said about the peacefulness of a winter day snuggled up in a blanket around the fireplace. During this time, I have caught up on some of my basket weaving. I finished my autumn corn project and I am currently working on a pine needle basket with a natural base.
This year, I had the opportunity to attend a Gourd Convention and learn how to weave gourds. So now besides my basket weaving and gardening, I am learning new techniques in gourd art.
In the Fall, we planted eleven new maple trees on the property. These trees line the small trail we are developing. It is a slow process, but it is nice to see the new trees in the meadow.
This weekend, I went to the Midwest Basket and Gourd Convention at Sinsinawa Mounds in Wisconsin. I am now hooked on gourd art! It was difficult to pick the class I enjoyed most, but if I had to pick, I think the Agate Gourd would be my number one choice. This is the one I made.
I learned how to use alcohol ink to produce a marbling effect on the gourd. The grass is a pygmy palm grass from Tucson, Arizona. The beads are Ox bone beads. It took me about three hours from start to finish. I think the fun part was working with the alcohol ink. I plan to make more gourds using this ink and see what kind of designs and marbling effects I can produce.
The second piece I created this weekend was a gourd with natural embellishments. I used a devil’s claw for my centerpiece. I plan to grow this annual to get more devil claws for more projects. The claw can even be used for earrings! The devil claw is also from Arizona and the seeds are inside the top part. On this gourd, I sewed a beautiful red bean that is toxic to animals. So I need to keep this basket high up to stop the cats from eating it and getting high! For this gourd, I used a beautiful red palm grass. I liked the texture and the little nubbles on the grass. Next time I am going to also marble the gourd (possibly in greens).
The next project was learning how to faux a gourd. The gourd was spray-painted black. The first step was to take a glue/sand mixture and put it on the gourd to produce a rough texture. After that was dry, the paint went on and then the seal. I did not like the way this one turned out and plan to experiment more with this technique.
In April, the Wisconsin Gourd Festival will be held in Madison. I hope to make Spirit dolls out of gourds and learn how to burn designs in them. I think I can really get into gourd art and incorporate some of my basket weaving skills for the rims. This is cool!
Today I went to the tree farm with Jeff Stecklin of Stecklins Tree Service to choose the trees I want to plant along our trail. I chose some beautiful maples that provide color in the Fall. The Autumn Blaze Maple is known for its brillant red-orange fall color. It grows pretty fast and was the 1997 Iowa Tree of the Year. The Deborah Norway Maple is another fast growing maple. It has more upright branches but provides a brillant red leave in spring that turns to a dark bronze-green in the summer. I like the Emerald Luster Norway for its round canopy and pretty color. The Red Sunset Maple is a dense rounded form tree that has orange-red foilage in the Fall.
In the meadow I am planting a Bloodgood London Planttree that has a beautiful cream, olive and brown exfoliating bark. This will be a focal point tree with a picnic table and benches under it for guests to sit and have picnics. The lkast trees oin my list to plant this Fall arte the Northern Red Oak trees. This is the fastest growing Oak around and it won the 1999 Iowa Tree of the Year. What I like about this tree is that the leaves hang on the tree into winter.
So in the next several weeks the trees will be planted along the trail. Each will have their own water holding bag and hopefully next year they will look beautiful!
Today I traveled to Decorah, Iowa to check out the Heritage Farm seed saving exchange. This place has one of the largest collections of open-pollinated heirloom varieties for home gardeners like myself. It is an 890 acre farm with beautiful gardens and orchards.There are several different gardens to stroll through. The preservation gardens is where seeds are regenerated and grown to provide a refeshed seed supply. These gardens are designed to prevent cross-pollination and mantain genetic purity. The trial gardens are used to plant a sample of the seeds they receive from a grower to determine germination rate and genetic purity. These gardens serve as a system of checks and balances. Several other gardens like Diane’s Garden and the Seed Saving Garden are also open for public strolls. My favorite garden is the exchange garden. Each year, hundreds of SSE members share their seeds with others by listing them in the yearbook.
Besides the gardens, the farm also has a historic apple orchard and heritage breeds of livestock. The historic apple orchard features 550 different varieties of apples. The farm is one of two major breeding sites for Ancient White Park Cattle in the US. This breed is known for its well-marbles meat, efficient grazing and easy calving. Also, Gloucestershire Old Spots Pigs are used in the orchards to clean up windfalls and this reduces pests.
Of course one can not visit the farm without picking up some seeds. I am excited about the Heritage Farm Poppy and I look forward to having this beautiful poppy growing in my garden. I also picked up a package of historic pansies mix. Unfortunately the original pansies introduced in the 1800s by the Vilmorin Company of Paris no longer exist, but seedman Kees Sahin of the Netherlands kept a collection of 13000 violas in the Netherlands. This mix was assembled by him and closely resembles the original “Bambini Mixture” from Vilmorin. I also picked up a sweet pea perinnial called Everlasting which I plan to have growing on the fence in my songbird garden. For vegetables I picked up the Chioggia beet seeds. This is a pre-1840 Italian heirloom beet introduced in the US before 1865. It has alternating red and white concentric rings that resemble little bull’s-eyes.
Tonight I will be planting herbs and peppers of every variety you can think of as they were giving away their leftover plants. What a great day at the farm!
On Saturday, I drove to the Galena Territories to witness the Galena Balloon Races. I had never been to a balloon race so I was very excited to see how the balloons rose in the air and the multitude of colors and designs on these geometric objects. I was not disappointed. The day was beautiful and I had a lovely, shaded knoll to sit on as I watched these giants ascend into the air. I have posted a complete album of the balloons on the Quiet Walker Lodge Facebook page. It was a great event for a great cause!
Here at Quiet Walker Lodge we are always concerned about healthy food. A friend of mine shared with me the EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. I was shocked to find that apples have the highest amount of pesticide contamination of all the fruits and vegetables. The dirty dozen with the most pesticides include celery at number two followed by strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale.
This beautiful Luna moth was attached to a wooden post on the deck. Last summer my husband saw one with a 4 inch wing span. The Luna moth is one of the largest moths in North America. The pale green wings have either pink or yellow margins on them. The Northern moths and the Southern individuals born in the summer have the yellow margins.
The adult Luna moths are very strong fliers. When they first exit the cocoon it takes them up to two hours to get their wings. They have to pump bodily fluids to their wings and wait about 2 hours before they are able to fly. Like a typical silk moth, the adult Luna moth has no mouth and does not feed. They only live for about 1 week in the adult form and during this time their sole purpose is to find a mate. Mating will take place after midnight and the eggs will be laid the following evening. The eggs will hatch in about a week and the caterpillars will go through about five in-stars before they create their cocoon and start the whole cycle over.
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa”
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” /> I use to be fond of racoons with their cute faces and petite feet. But ever since I moved to a place that has them I realize what a pain they are to have around. They eat the robin’s eggs and poop everywhere. They are notorious for getting into garbage bins and tearing up plants.
However, it is hard for me to shoot Old Jack. Maybe it is the look he gives me every time he raids the bird feeder or the curiosity he has about the cats looking at him through the window. I know….he is a raccoon. You need to shoot him. Well I think I will wait for the neighbor to let out his dogs and let nature take its course. In the meantime I am off to the store to get more bird food!
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” />I went to the Antler auction this weekend and picked up a nice box of antlers to use for my baskets. So today I got creative and made a basket using all natural stuff. It is 82 here in Iowa and the trees and plants just do not know what to do. The normal is about 46! Amazing….
Sometimes God blesses us with the most awesome sign of his presence. This morning I woke up to this beautiful landscape outside my front windows. As much as I complain about plowing, shoveling, driving and freezing in this winter, I am reminded of just how beautiful it can be.