Swenson Gardens

Growing Peonies that don't flop


Another eventful week on the peony farm. We hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. Last Saturday evening about 7:30 PM, was checking on the fertilizer production team. There was Jane hovering over what looked a new member of the FPT. Jane is Danny’s cow so wanted to make sure the calf was ok. With actual temperature of 4 F and a north wind blowing something wasn’t right.

Normally an expected mother will go into the barn or lean to for birthing vs a frozen, bare ground. Oh no, this is not good as the calf was frozen to the ground and hair iced over but she was still breathing and blinking her eyes. I lifted the calf up and tried to lead mom into a drier location but she would not leave the spot where her calf use to be laying. A call to Danny brought him quickly over so we could try and save the calf.

Becky kindly offered her hair dryer so we could dry the calf off and warm her up. Finally in an hour and a half of trying to warm the calf up she started to nurse from the bottle. I asked Danny what he was going to name her and he said ‘Rose’ because she was brought back from being almost dead. Moments later Rose was trying to stand on her own and started mooing for her mom. We brought her into the barn where dry hay was spread out for her. Jane finally came into the barn and was excited to see her little girl. After checking on her multiple times during the night and Easter Sunday, Rose started nursing on her own. It was funny watching Rose following Danny around as he was her first scent when she came too. The picture below was taken this morning and she is a healthy heifer that loves to be petted.

As you can see Rose has lots of friends to play with, Spot and Willy came by to get their picture taken as well.


Talk about a bouncing baby girl! She loves to run and jump around now. Poor mom is going to have her hands full with this kid!

Aren’t I cute or what!

Welcome Rose to the fertilizer production team. You are so loved and we are so thankful you are still with us! Life on the peony farm…always an adventure!


Snow and 20-30 below average temperatures seems to be the theme this week on the peony farm. With single digit temps at night and 8″ of new snow on Monday, thought we would be into spring by now? No buds showing on the trees yet so assuming we could be in for a late spring. Ok dad, stop whining and lets go for a run! Redd and Heidi don’t seem to mind the snow so guess I should be thankful for the added moisture and nutrients the snow brings to the soil.

The growth spurt that Heidi experienced from last weeks post seems to be almost 50% done as at least one ear is now pinned up.

Heidi still has trouble with the ‘out’ command from me so hopefully Redd will teach her better!

Thanks Redd! It was so cute this morning when the temps were 9 F. Tried to get a selfie of Heidi and I when she snuggled up to me and put her head on my shoulder and started licking my face while driving the Gator at full speed to end the driveway. Was that her way of telling me she likes to go fast? I think it was! Ok troops, time to head in as dad is freezing driving up and down the driveway as fast as the Gator will go!

With the colder temps, guess who gets to stay in the house and snuggle up after a long run this morning. Sorry picture isn’t better as I had to take it through the patio door window vs waking them up opening the door. Guess dad wore them out riding up and down the driveway in the Gator. Ok friends will see you next week for life on the peony farm!


Can you say ‘white as snow’ on the peony farm this morning? Last night we received about 4″ of snow and with the wind, drifts abounded around the farm. For those of you in NW Minnesota last night, hang in there spring will come at some point after your blizzard. For our friends in the NE United States, hopefully this front will pass you by vs the winter you’ve had to endure! So what do we do when a fresh blanket of snow and drifts a plenty around the farm? Yes, PLAY!

Redd and Heidi just LOVE to play in the snow drifts! As you can see above, Redd continues to exert his dominance, for now.

Redd was trying his best to evade Heidi but now his speed is matched by Heidi. Even aerodynamic ears didn’t help his get-a-way. Within a few steps Heidi was upon him in the next photo. I had to be very quick to get these shots as it was over in a minute or two.

Heidi tries so hard to achieve dominance. Hang in there Heidi your time will come so for now enjoy frolicking in the snow with your best friend. Oh dear I’m tired from this burst of energy. Let’s see if any of the cats have come out of the barn this morning?

Nope! The drift was too high to let them out from their exit point under the door. Oh well, we’ll just wait for dear old dad to plow the driveway…again. Hey guys want another family picture? How many times do we have to do this dad? No comment…

Heidi, Redd and our family would like to wish you all a blessed Easter! Tune in next week for another post  about life on the peony farm!


Life on the peony farm this week saw warmer temperatures so most of the snow continues to melt. Of course with the warmer temps and frost coming out of the ground, a muddy mess continues to be the theme around here. Oh and yes the decaying morsels found under the snow. The ‘where’s the mouse’ game is however still working. As you can see in this next pic, both Heidi and Redd challenge each other to find the phantom mouse.

I’m not sure who is having more fun? Heidi is so fast that I have not been able to photograph her when she stands up on her hind legs and dives into the long grass. She is definitely a jumper in the field and now she can climb halfway up her kennel to try and greet me when I tell her its time for a Gator ride.

Not sure why this morning Redd was not willing to face straight ahead like Heidi was doing. I think the cute photo of looking directly into the camera is over! Will try again next week as those pics are adorable. Heidi’s pinned up ears were not working today. Not sure if she was tired or amidst another growth spurt.

As you can see from a side angle. Heidi is getting close to Redd’s height but Redd has her on width and bulk. That will change in the next couple of months so enjoy your dominance while you can, Redd. Now to work on Heidi jumping into the Gator. She has mastered jumping out but just sits and watches Redd jumping into the Gator. Dear old dad is always at her side to lift her in. Will have to weigh her sometime as she is getting heavier by the week.

In honor of National Puppy day on March 23, I leave you dear friends with our puppy pic. Not to be too biased, but man is she cute! I have to remember that while still cleaning up her accidents in the kennel, jumping up on me in my Sunday best clothes with mud covering my khaki dress pants, finding decaying morsels under the snow only to regurgitate them on another new doggy bed, running to the farm supply store to buy another one (5 total so far and hopefully not anymore at $70 a piece) and of course licking me with who knows what she just ate. Life on the peony farm…you gotta love a new puppy!


What better way to start the first few days of spring here on the peony farm with some new family members! Yes our cat lovers this is your post! As you know from previous posts, our dear Heidi has taken a liking to playing with our cats. However in this case, Lucy is the star of this post. Lucy came to us as a stray and we nursed her back to health. It was apparent last fall that Felix really took a liking to her since he had not been fixed yet. Well one thing led to another and low and behold Lucy appeared to be gaining a lot of weight back in January. Oh dear, she is pregnant. Within the past few weeks, Lucy would not let any other cat share the nice warm cat hotel that was built by some close friends of ours. Lucy was content to have the cat hotel all to herself. Well Thursday night and Friday morning, Lucy gave birth to four wonderful kittens. All are doing well and enjoying their nice, warm living quarters. So we share this post with all our cat lovers who have asked me to post more of the feline members of our family.

I wasn’t able to get too close to them as mom was not very happy that I was peeking in at them.

When we first received Lucy from a neighbor who found her at their doorstep, she would not show herself to us but we knew that she was eating the food we had left her after we departed. Over the months she has been here, now Lucy is the first one to great us when we go into the barn. She is a love ball and will even let me hold her on my lap.

Lucy is such a great mom and now we know why she was keeping our cat hotel all to herself. We can’t wait to see them grow up. Don’t you just love the all white one? Since Felix, the dad, was a ‘mitten cat’, appears that some of his babies are blessed with a second thumb as well. Life on the peony farm…continues to have new four legged family members.


The snow continues to melt here on the peony farm. Assuming by next week, only the drifts and snowbanks will be remaining. The warmer weather now allows Redd and Heidi to settle in to Redd’s kennel in our garage. They seem to be adjusting better as roommates but the decaying morsels now visible and scented underneath the snow, provide a smorgasbord of nasty bites to eat. Last night I had to take an emergency run to a farm supply store to pick up ANOTHER bed. Yes those two goofballs went through two doggy beds after tasting and depositing the delectable decaying morsels on their beds. I don’t get it! We buy very expensive, Fromm, dog food, but yet they prefer the putrid morsels. However, seeing these two cuddled up on one of two remaining doggy beds, washed away the clean up procedure.

Ok troops, time for a trek outside. Neither of them wanted to leave while basking in the warm sunshine.

Whenever Heidi is tired or is roused from a nap, one of her ears doesn’t pin up. Always on the watchful eye for Redd, we have to keep her on a leash so she doesn’t find the delectable decaying morsels! Redd, ‘here’ so I can take another side-by-side picture to compare another weeks worth of growth in Heidi.

Is this a cute shot or what? Its fun to see Heidi exert her independence or maybe Redd is saying, ‘not again dad’! What’s that over there that Heidi is so focused on?

Redd, look whats over there!

Oh dear, its Franky! They are turning into best buddies and Franky lets Heidi lovingly tussles with him. Again, no feline family members were harmed in this photograph. As you can see in the upper left hand corner of this picture, Redd is on a mission to find more exposed morsels. Thankfully Heidi is distracted by her buddy Franky and continues to play with him. Life on the peony farm…is a delectable slice of adventure!



Though our peonies are dormant, appears that the fertilizer production team (FPT) gave us a surprise new member this week. While checking the team on Wednesday evening, a rather agitated mama cow was hovering in the corner. Upon further investigation, a white-faced calf was laying contently in the hay. Where in the world did we get a Hereford and Dexter cross? Remembering that a year or so ago we did have a similar bull that is no longer with us. I had a talk with Elvis Lee, our red Dexter herd sire, and told him he wasn’t doing his job! He assured me this will never happen again! In any event, please welcome ‘Spot’ a bouncing bull calf, as the newest member of our FPT. Life on the peony farm is full of surprises!


What would life on the peony farm be without updates on Heidi and Redd? Redd is having a hard time adjusting to Heidi’s presence in HIS kennel during the day. Since that has been HIS home for 8 1/2 years, having a roommate isn’t HIS cup of tea! Thus we’ve changed their schedules to include some alone time for each of them. Last night they had their first sleepover at Redd’s home (kennel). When I checked on them at 1 am they were snuggled together and appeared to be doing fine. Checked on them again at 6:15 am and all is well! Whew! I was worried that Redd may do something naughty but they were fine. When I mention ‘ride’ seems like they forget their indifference’s so off we go in the Gator!

Come on dad lets go! When I looked at my previous post pictures on Heidi a couple of weeks ago, my has she changed…again. Her ears are now pinned up and it is so cute when she runs to me with them pinned back. Ok Heidi time to jump out.

Yes but Redd is already out and running around! Lets go Heidi, ‘out’.

There you go Heidi! Good dog! Now where’s Redd? There he is!

Redd puts up with Heidi hanging on him for a few seconds but then he is still the dominant one for now! We play a game called ‘where’s the mouse’. It is so funny! Now they each try to outdo each other by looking for a mouse.

Heidi tries her best to find a mouse but to date neither of them have found one. Wonder how long this will last (the find the mouse game vs actually finding one)? Heidi, Redd found a mouse! Off to see if Redd found a mouse.

This distraction works for 5 minutes so it is an absolute blast to watch! I tried shooting a video of it but they run around in circles so fast that I can’t keep up with them. Needless to say after our run and where’s the mouse game, they both take a nap. Heidi can now keep up to Redd running but the loving snip from Redd keeps her at bay for a few seconds. Life on the peony farm, the fun having four legged family members is a blessing!


Sorry for missing last week for my post for life on the peony farm.  Yes we had the flu bug come through our home but all are well now. Our prayers for moisture were answered though with 11″ of heavy wet snow. With the temperatures hovering above 32 F during the day, snow has been melting very slowly. Sure makes for a muddy mess around here but thank goodness for Muck boots. The fertilizer production team welcomed another new member on Thursday. He is a bouncing baby bull and for sure we know his name is ‘Willy’ versus an earlier post on ‘Willy’ our feline family member who actually turned out to be ‘Wilma’! Please welcome Willy to the FPT team!

Mom and son are doing great! Rudy and Willy in this next pic have turned out to be best buddies!

With the warmer temps during the day, having fresh bedding is paramount to the FPT’s having a dry area to bed down at night. Yes we put the bedding down rather thick so poor Willy had a hard time navigating through the new hay. Life on the peony farm…love it!


Fairly quiet week on the peony farm and thank you Lord for the snow! Thursday night received 5 inches and later on today and tonight forecasting 5-9 inches more. This is a welcome answer to prayer as the ground is very dry. Bummer that it won’t last with warmer temps next week but any moisture at this time of year is great! Speaking of great, this morning on my walk with our four legged family members, I was greeted with a spectacular hoarfrost awakening.

Hard to depict the splendor of this shot with a hazy sun. These are the kind of winter mornings that I am in awe of. I tried to show Redd and Heidi (now Heidi Bell though she still comes to Heidi and if she doesn’t come, its Heidi Bell) but they were not the least bit interested although they did sit for a few seconds in this next pic.

As you can see Redd is favoring his left leg. During a friendly tussle last evening, appears he re-injured a tendon in his leg. Thus Heidi is now kept under leash to give Redd some time to heal. Oh and in some cases its much easier to catch her as she’s learned that dad and mom do not have treats all the time when she comes to us. Oh dear, Panda Bear, aka Toby, wanted to get in the picture…

He loves to watch Redd and Heidi play but left himself exposed as Redd is on IR. On no, here comes Heidi…again!

Heidi was determined to find something under the rock to eat or play with as Panda Bear just watched. Nothing there so Panda lets play?

No go Heidi! Panda continued looking at Heidi’s antics and was happy just to watch. BTW, no cat was injured during this encounter or any other encounters. We too are thoroughly happy to share life on the peony farm with you and of course watching the Olympics!