Living the Country Life

Betsy's Backyard Blog

Betsy Freese is an Executive Editor for Meredith Agrimedia, including Living the Country Life and Successful Farming. She grew up on a fruit farm in Maryland (see and has an agricultural journalism degree from Iowa State University. She and her husband, Bob, a veterinarian, live on a farm in Iowa where they raise sheep, hay, corn, and soybeans.

July 10, 2013

American Gothic comes to town

For the next six months we have the most amazing sculpture in our town of Indianola, Iowa. You should make a trip here to see it. The sculpture, by New Jersey artist Seward Johnson, is titled "God Bless America." I think of it as American Gothic by Iowa's most famous painter Grant Wood. The statue has moved around the country the past few years and arrived here from the Dubuque Museum of Art. I took this photo with my nephew Chris Wertzberger to show you the height. Amazing.

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July 8, 2013

Summer views

I love our small farm in the summer, but only in the early morning (first photo) and the evening (last photo). The middle of the day in July is not fit for man or beast.


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June 26, 2013

Pick your own fruit

Caroline spent three weeks in June helping my parents on their fruit farm in Maryland, She worked mostly with the strawberries and red raspberries. Black raspberries and blueberries are ripe now. Stop by and pick a bucket full!

June 25, 2013

Planting soybeans

Soybeans were planted at our farm north of Indianola on Saturday. That's the latest I can ever remember. The renter said the ground was the best he had worked this year. He had mudded the crop in north of Des Moines earlier. He and his crew planted all day and all night, sleeping in shifts, to get the beans in before heavy rains hit Sunday and Monday. These late beans should do well on the bottom ground unless the river floods.

June 24, 2013

Spinach salad

The spinach is going gangbusters in my garden, so I've been making a lot of Bacon-Strawberry-Spinach salad. I also add pecans. Here's my thrown together recipe. I don't follow anything exact. Bob loves wilted lettuce salad, so I made a version with cream and lettuce for him.

Betsy's Spinach Salad

1 package of bacon, fried

Big bowl of fresh spinach

3 new onions, sliced

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup pecans

2 tablespoon vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

Fry bacon, save half of the drippings. Add vinegar, sugar, and pecans to dripping. Cook for 1 minute. Pour over spinach. Top with bacon pieces and strawberries.

For Wilted Lettuce Salad, add whipping cream to drippings and vinegar. Cook one minute. Pour over young lettuce leaves and stir. Add bacon pieces, cut up hard boiled eggs, and tiny new potatoes.


June 20, 2013


I saw several thistles in the grove and knew they had to come out fast. We have noxious weed "police" in Iowa and they will pay a visit. Besides, thistles can spread and ruin your pasture. I grabbed a sack and the clippers and started cutting. The blooms are quite lovely, but you have to wear gloves. Nasty plant.

I posted this photo on Facebook and it got a lot of discussion. Join in here.

June 18, 2013

First year on the job

"I dare you to put that on your blog." Okay, here it is.

Keep in mind, it was 1984 and guy shorts really were that short. Remember basketball players from that era? Still. I can't believe Bob wore those to the office.

I think Mom took the photo. She and Dad were visiting me at my first job as Assistant Swine Editor at Successful Farming magazine. Bob was in vet school. I'm in my first cubicle. (They still look the same here today, except for the typewriter and rotary phone.)

Today, June 18, is my 29th anniversary at Successful Farming/Living the Country Life. Technology has changed, duties have changed (no web site in 1984, for one thing), and thankfully, fashion has changed. Although, Bob still wears a Walnut Springs Farm t-shirt in almost every photo.

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June 17, 2013

June is beautiful

The hay Bob cut last week got rained on three times and is still down. He cut another field of alfalfa last night, so we are hoping for a sunny week. My lawn is green, the garden is growing, and flowers are blooming. Enjoy June while you can!

This was the field of alfalfa we cut last night (I took the photo May 7). The crop had to come down, even with rain possible this week.

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June 14, 2013

What's growing

I'm gunning for the Biggest Potato ribbon at the county fair again. My spuds are growing fast. Tomatoes, not so good. They will be late this year.

Hope your garden is doing well!

June 12, 2013

1st cutting -- finally

It's old and yellow. Got rained on, too.

There's nothing good about this field of alfalfa. Bob wanted to rip it up last fall and replant, but the guy with the equipment wasn't available. So we are left with a field of mustard.

We haven't cut the alfalfa field behind the barn. It's better quality, so we are waiting. At some point, you just have to grit your teeth, ignore the weather report, and get that first cutting out of there.