A trip to Northeast Iowa; forcing spring


June in the children's garden at Seed Savers.

June in the children’s garden at Seed Savers.

We met an Ancient White Park calf at Seed Savers.  White Park cattle are an extremely rare, horned breed, originally from the British Isles.  Seed Savers is working to preserve these almost mythical animals.

We met an Ancient White Park calf at Seed Savers. White Park cattle are an extremely rare, horned breed, originally from the British Isles. Seed Savers is working to preserve these almost mythical animals.

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Trout at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Rainbow trout at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Grannis Creek.

Grannis Creek.

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Natural spring.

Natural spring.


This past Saturday we took our spring trip to Seed Savers Exchange in Northeast Iowa’s karst terrain, referred to as the Driftless Area, for the annual Rare Plant Sale.  We picked up far less plants than last year (I went overboard) & more heirloom seeds this year.  I love Northeast Iowa & Seed Savers.  Being from central Northwest Wisconsin (lots of pines & rolling hills) I always thought my move to Iowa was temporary, even after I married a Native Iowan (there are bumper stickers for this).  A decade on & three kids later, I find myself finally coming ’round to this state.  I used to imagine Brian & I retiring in Northern WI….I am beginning to replace those mind wanderings with Northeast Iowa.  It is truly an enchanting place.  If more people outside Iowa could experience this part of Iowa, I know their general opinion of the state would change.  As much as I’m warming to Iowa, I do still firmly lament the fence-row to fence-row, year-after-year plantings of corn here (& the ethanol subsidy), along with the absence of great swaths of moving, native grasses that once blanketed it…

Later on Saturday we went trout fishing at Coldwater Creek & caught one Rainbow which we ate last night.  It was delicious using this recipe.  The kids & Brian (even June!) worked hard to catch more, but luck just wasn’t on our side this time.  We saw a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers while fishing & several other migrating warblers I still haven’t identified.  I need a better bird guide.  I need a Sibley.  We visited the fish hatchery in Decorah just after a wedding finished at the stream nearby & then headed home late in the afternoon.  We stopped off at Grannis Creek near Fayette to fish about an hour before dusk.  The stream seemed too shallow in most parts to support fish (in my uneducated opinion).  We hiked the entire stream through the Wildlife Management Area, stopping off when its winding path reached private land.  There is a natural spring tumbling down a short section of the valley wall into the creek.  A salient encounter.  The photo of all three kids, the spring & creek are from Grannis.  It was almost dark by the time we got back to the car.  The kids were on the look-out for ghosts.

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Think spring...

Think spring…

I finished a knitted bird nest & four eggs over the weekend.  The multiple false springs, rain, cold, & continued raw wind we’ve been experiencing called for it.  If spring is late, force it into your being.


8 thoughts on “A trip to Northeast Iowa; forcing spring

    • Thank you oodles for the warbler guide tip, Sarah. In my amazon cart now! The warblers have definitely descended on our area, too. There was a small flock of the Yellow-rumped in my driveway a couple days ago I nearly missed, just hanging out on our gravel, apparently. I would absolutely recommend a trip to Seed Savers with your family someday–a must do & see. I am in hard love with the place. The hiking trails are beautiful. You can fish from their streams, too. Decorah to the immediate south is a lovely weekend trip, too.


  1. Wow oh wow Ruby, those pictures are GREAT!!! Such lovely pics of spring – and your kids! What can I say? They are ALL growing so fast! What a great day you all had – sounds like so much fun! You guys do such interesting things on the weekend – good for you! Can you make me a birdnest and eggs? What an interesting & imaginative piece of knitting – just something you’d figure out! Love it!
    Hugs, Nana & Mom


    • I will work on a nest for you, yes, I KNEW you would want one! I’d give you mine but I’m kind of attached to it and I’m all out of the mohair-blend yarn I used for the nest part (& of course it is no longer being manufactured).


  2. How are your girls so grown!!! And loving Miss June’s beanie! So sweet! I wish we could take these nature trips with you guys! So fun! Sending love from California!


    • Someday we absolutely positively MUST get together & do lots of super fun things (both with & without the fam!). I knit three of those beanies in late winter trying to get the sizing right. As I was knitting I really thought Sparkle could use one….I think I figured out her next birthday gift. I owe you an email, today!!!!! xoxoxoxo


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