Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Potatoes, continued

This is just a quick update to let everybody know that things are good.

I missed putting up a post yesterday.  That is a rarity.  When I first started this blogging gig I asked Pawpaw for some advice.  I admire Pawpaw as a writer and I admire his priorities.  One of his pieces of advice was to put something up every day.  Readers become interested in your projects and want to know.


I attended Mass yesterday morning.  Fr David gave a nice homily about the miracles (signs) in the Gospel John.

The Potato Barn

Then I drove to the Potato Barn on the MSU campus and had a nice chat with Greg.  I don't ever recall meeting Greg before but he is a potato guy's potato guy.  He picked out Spartan Splash based on my desire to "feed my family."

Greg taste tests several hundred potato selections in each year between seedling selections and standard reference potatoes.  Greg keeps coming back to Spartan Splash as his favorite eating potato.  The only place Spartan Splash falters as a culinary potato is when deep-fat fried.  Greg suggested spraying or dipping in whatever oil/fat (bacon grease, yum!) and "oven frying" as an alternative. 

The team also agreed to let me try Missaukee as a potato that fills a different part of the potato portfolio.

Because some people seem to have an interest in these kinds of things, I did pay a premium over the price for commodity seed potatoes and I agreed to report on how they performed under my growing conditions.  In other words, don't go knocking on their doors expecting free or cheap seed potatoes.

Incidentally, I also enjoyed Greg because he is so positive about the MSU potato program and all the people he works with.  He holds them in the highest regard and he enjoys coming to work every morning.  The MSU Potato Barn has a very good vibe.

Greg implied that the reason for that vibe is that the program director, David Douches, sets the tone.  I know that have never heard anybody say a bad word about Dave Douches.

Potato chips made from a population of siblings.  Each small pile is from a single sibling.  Potatoes were stored for 6 months because various bio-chemical things can happen inside the potato during storage.  Chips were made.  Each selection is tested for color, acrylamide, glycoalkaloids and other components that are correlated with perceived quality.  Those metrics will be regressed with DNA testing to determine if there are any DNA markers or locii that correlate.

One of the side conversations that Greg and I had was how good science seems to correlate with concrete floors.  Science can be messy and concrete is easy to clean.

I don't know how many more roller-racks they had in the back room, but this is the one that they were working their way through when I was there.  It was cordoned off front-and-back to keep people from bumping into it. 

Needless to say, they keep meticulous records. 

Cutting wood

I am out of shape.

I cut wood for two hours yesterday.

I cut and dragged limbs from our ice storm back in December.  Brush to one side of the yard for burning.  Bigger pieces to another area for bucking into burn wood for heating.

Picture taken back in December
Tree that had been ice damaged is in upper right corner of the picture.

Planting Trees

Then I dug up a nine foot tall Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) and moved it into our yard.  I have a hybrid poplar (Populus alba X grandidentata) that is starting to lose lateral limbs to disease.  The oak is positioned to provide shade to part of the yard that the aspen currently covers.

I had to muscle our swing set over to make room for it.

Core Strength

I find it humorous that people think they are going to jump off their couch and become total beasts when the poop hits the propeller.  It is an endearing and comforting fantasy; like Grandma Alice telling her little grandchildren that she will rescue them if the house catches fire.  She will scramble up the rose trellis with the agility of Zorro, tuck them next to her more than ample bosom and scramble back down the trellis.

Grandma Alice has great faith in adrenaline.

What I noticed this evening is that my abs and back are screaming.  Dragging wood and picking up lop-sided, twisted chunks of wood place a lot of torque on your body core.  Twisting down and tunneling beneath trees and cutting roots also jacks those muscles up.

School Conferences

I attended Kubota's school conferences.  Frankly, I needed the break.


One reason I am hurrying through this post is that I have a date this morning.  I am still volunteering up at the school.

I have become a "Sight-word Ring" guy.  It takes each little tyke about 10 minutes to grind their way through their Sight-word Ring.  Some are much faster.  Some are slower.  But on average it is 8-to-10 minutes per child.

Education is a labor intensive business.  Especially with the littlest students.

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