Edit ModuleShow Tags

Fall on a Minnesota Hobby Farm

A personal reflection on country living, 70 miles west of the Twin Cities


Photo courtesy of Katie Ballalatak

One Saturday morning, I walk out onto my the porch steps. I’m struck with the quietness of country living—it’s been more than a month since I’ve last visited my family's 10-acre hobby farm in Arlington, 70 miles west of the Twin Cities. There aren’t any birds singing in the trees anymore and the crickets aren’t making their usual summer racket. Lately my family has been waking up to heavy fog, which sticks around until the sun fully rises. The fog and the rising sun create a picturesque sunrise (pictured above), the kind you see mounted in frames, or on the cover of note cards. I know that in the upcoming weeks, my family will soon wake up to a frost-covered farm—the growing season will soon be complete and winter’s freeze will take over.

To my right, I can see our big red brick barn where our animals are housed and stationed beside it is the silo, which doesn’t do much apart from adding to our hobby farm aesthetic. Right now the cows graze in the front pasture and our chickens cluck, bobbing their heads as they walk. Our gray tin shed in the distance holds my dad’s tractor and other machinery such as our garden tiller and old lawn mowers. The woods that frame the west and north side of our property are in the process of changing colors, rustling against each other with the slightest breeze. I smile at the festive decorations my siblings put together for the exterior of our house, like the hay bales they pulled from the barn and our homegrown pumpkins and squash that they picked from one of our gardens, the furthest one from our 1910 pale yellow farmhouse.  

I can see all three of the gardens from where I stand, our biggest one being around 30x30 feet in size. The gardens are reaching their end, with only a few tomatoes and basil plants still determined to stick around. My mother is exceptionally dedicated to our gardens, which means we’re canning, freezing, and preserving left and right when late August and September roll around. My mom has the ambitious yearly goal of canning and freezing 52 mason jars or freezer bags of everything—canned items include applesauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa, and pickles while freezer items consist of pesto sauce, cut up rhubarb, and sweet corn. Some years we meet this goal; some years we don’t. Sometimes our garden harvest is amazingly robust while other times it’s less than substantial. My family tries to use the resources on the hobby farm and reap the benefits all year long thanks to the hard work put in.  

I know that later in the day, after the morning fog disappears and the lazy fall sun makes its way through the sky, I’ll hear the farmers in the fields, working to take out their corn and soy beans, brown and dry, ready to be harvested. Our neighboring farmers work tirelessly to bring in their crops, often putting in long days, hustling to get the all the corn and soybeans in before the weather gets to them. Fall afternoons are filled with the sounds of combines making their way through the fields, and tractors slowly transporting all the crops down the road. They will be working in the fields far into October before they finally finish their own fall harvest.

These are the moments, sounds, and sights that I go back to when I’m surrounded by the buzz of the city or feel confined by the number of buildings and the way they obstruct my morning view of a beautiful sunrise. My farm is always with me, even when I’m 70 miles away—the jars of applesauce in my St. Paul kitchen cupboard make sure of that. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

InterContinental Hotel Opens at MSP Airport

New lodging, restaurants, spa, gym, and skyway update the MSP Airport experience

Plan a Trip to Roanoke, Virginia

This East Coast visit comes with history, a burgeoning craft beer scene, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and more

Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest

Taste Minnesota wines and ciders, browse through local art vendors, and eat delicious food at Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest, July 21-22

Day Trip to Taylors Falls

A Taylors Falls day trip made up of beautiful river views and a classic malt shop.

Record Store on Wheels

Like a food truck, but for music—and debuting this Sunday at Open Streets Minneapolis

Green Thumb Gardens

The 2018 Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour flaunts its foliage July 14

Best Caves of Minnesota

Explore Minnesota’s man-made and natural curiosities this summer

Amble Over to Afton

While you’re in Afton for Selma’s, stay a while and check out the state parks, historic buildings, quaint downtown, and more

Take a Trip for (Frozen) Treats

Grab a scoop from the state’s oldest ice cream shop in Afton: Selma’s Ice Cream Parlour

Journeys: A Minnesotan’s Happy Place

Time wasted at the lake is time well spent

Journeys: The Start of Adventure

To prep for wilderness canoe trips, Les Voyageurs brings campers out on the Mississippi River

Top 5 Instagram Spots Along the Mississippi River

Bluffs, hiking trails, and waterfalls make for beautiful summer photos

Summer Sunburn Solutions

Six ways to beat the burn

Brews and Views at the Hopped Up Caribou Festival

There's no better place to tie the knot than at a craft beer festival, and if you're not into that, you can cliff climb, too
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags