…and Everything Else

small dog

Today, I’m going to a just give you a random post about a little bit of “everything else” that’s been going on around here!  July, August and September threw for a bit of a loop and I’ve had a hard time sitting in front of the computer to blog about it.  It was a good loop, mind you 😉

1  Tent camping over Labor Day

Jeff’s family has camped in Noel, Missouri over Labor Day for decades, literally.  It’s a large family affair involving distant cousins, great aunts, etc.  Anyway, we have a great time, but due to livestock issues and the crowded conditions of the river (which Reece doesn’t do well with), we didn’t go last year.  Instead we started going during August in the middle of the week with Jeff’s parents and his sister and her family.  It had gotten really difficult for both Jeff and his dad to be gone at the same time because of the cattle operation and finding someone to water and check on everything, so they decided that this summer, they couldn’t both be gone at the same time. Well, we went camping in August for 5 days in our camper with Jeff’s sister and her family, but my girls and I really missed going over Labor Day with the big group.  So, we took a wild hair and decided to just load the truck up, drive over ourselves, and tent camp!

tent
This is our set up! We put the tent under a canopy so that we could keep the dew off of our outside stuff.

I’ll be honest it had been 16 years since I had slept in a tent and I was a little worried about my back (ha ha!), but we had an awesome time and the hard ground was a small price to pay 🙂  We didn’t bother with an air mattress or anything because I wanted to keep it simple and easy.  It was relaxing and the girls and I had a good bonding experience doing something like that by ourselves.  Plus, we had a blast hanging out with all the family and floating down the river!

2 Church Float in the Watermelon Feed parade

I don’t have any pictures from this one, but our little town of Oxford has a little festival every year the Saturday after Labor Day called the Watermelon Feed.  About 5 years ago, our church, Maple Street Baptist, decided to have a float in the parade.  So, we decorated a car trailer and Jeff pulled us with the farm Gator.

It’s become a tradition every year!

And, like some traditions, it’s gotten bigger and better 🙂

This year we decided to do an Operation Christmas Child theme (this has become our church’s main mission), so we decorated Christmas trees, hung Christmas garland and wreaths and wore red and green!  It was a blast and our whole church family looks forward to it every year!

3  Horses, horses and more horses….

horse
This is Jeff’s new horse, Ruger. He’s a sweet guy but not broke to ride yet….
big red roan
Introducing Indie- Elisa’s new horse! She got this guy back in August. He’s a little old, but well broke and fast. He’s also very, very big!!

As you know, my girls have been obsessed with horses.  Jeff is also a horse lover and a couple weeks ago, bough himself a project horse!  He’s a pretty 4 year old, named Ruger.  He’s halter broke, but not broke to ride yet.  Jeff’s been working with him almost every evening.  The girls have been riding their horses multiple times a week, so I’ve been out there with them a lot of evenings, either watching or riding Lily, our old family horse.  I’m getting better at my riding and I really want to master the art of posting while trotting!  It’s been a fun family activity that doesn’t involved work or farming, lol.  Well, it kinda involves work…. tacking up a horse is not a quick, easy job!  I had no idea what all was involved until this summer.  I’d only really seen it done in the movies, you know?  But between all the brushing you do beforehand to all the buckling and tightening you do on the tack, it takes a good 10-15 minutes to properly saddle a horse.

dark bay mare
This is our original family horse, Lily. We’ve had her for 9 years now. In the winter her coat turns black. She’s become “my” horse since everybody has their own 🙂 She’s super easy to ride and really tall.
horse
And last, but not least, is Lindy’s horse, Dodge. He’s young and short- just perfect for her. He also acts like a performance horse- he’s very regal and elegant when he does anything!

4 School!!!

A big part of our days is spent doing school, as homeschoolers often refer to it 😉  Lindy is a 6th grader and Elisa is a 10th grader.  Our days always start the same- I get up early to pray and workout (either crossfit, yoga or running) then I get Reece ready for school.  The girls both get up around 6:45-7 am.  They have chores every single morning involving dogs, horses and cattle.  Depending on what day it is (every other day they have to go way up north to a pasture to check on some heifers), they get back around 9 am and immediately start school.  Lindy and I usually get done around noon, but Elisa usually has to do a subject or two after dinner (that’s our noon meal, fyi).  School time is sacred for us!  We don’t do anything else during the mornings so that we can get it done every day.

girl working on school
Doesn’t she look so happy to be doing Algebra 2?? I told her to not look at me, but she started laughing and couldn’t stop 😉

5  4H

I know I talk a lot about 4H on here, but it’s a big part of our lives and the only “activity” we do!  This month was elections and Elisa and Lindy both got officer positions!  Elisa is the new secretary and Lindy is the new treasurer.  They were very excited and I’m happy that they’ll again be forced out of their comfort zones.  This will mean extra prep for meetings, but they’re excited to tackle it.

We also had to complete record books this past month.  Record books are a way for the 4Her to look back on their year and summarize it.  They pick one of their project areas to focus on for the book and they have to write goals, experiences, expenses/income, plus all awards and any other activities they were involved in.  They have to write a long (6 pages for the older kids) essay detailing their 4H story from the past year.  It’s a big deal and takes some time to complete it all.  When it’s done, their 4H leader has to sign off on it.  The record books then get turned into the extension office where they are judged.  The kids get their books back on the annual Achievement Night in November.  The books get critiqued so that they can improve for next year.  This whole exercise is suppose to prepare the kids for filling out scholarship and college applications some day.  We were more than relieved when those record books were safely dropped off!!

6  Other randomness…..

girl playing guitar
Our neighboring town (and my hometown) of Winfield hosts the Walnut Valley Festival every year in September (called Bluegrass by locals). The night before it starts, the downtown businesses host a “music crawl.” Well, my mom owns a quilt shop so Elisa performed in front of the store. It was pretty cool! Her name was on the promo posters around town and everything 🙂
country music concert
As an early Christmas present, I surprised the girls with tickets to the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill concert last week!! We love country music in our house so we had a blast 🙂 This was Lindy’s first “big” concert and she was beyond thrilled. They both agreed it was a GREAT Christmas present 🙂
long haired terrier mix dog
I’ll leave you with a picture of our little guy, Sparky. Isn’t he so stinkin’ cute???? He and Lindy will be starting up the 4H dog project again in just a couple weeks. Lindy’s thinking she needs to give him a little refresher course for all of his commands 🙂

Well, that’s been some of the main happenings around here this month.  Hard to believe that October starts on Sunday!!  Eeeeekkk!!!  I know pumpkins and hot chocolate and sweaters are popping up everywhere on Facebook and pinterest, but on the farm, October means fall harvest.  We have soybean harvest and cotton stripping to look forward to.  Unlike the rest of the United States, farmers are looking at long days and late nights and suppers in the fields instead of pumpkin patch trips and evenings spent around a fire 😉  But, we all crazy and generally love it, lol.

What did your September look like?  Do you look forward to fall?

Feel free to share with your friends!

5 Lessons Learned from 4H and the County Fair

fair ribbons

 

fair ribbons

Our county fair has come and gone.  Lessons were learned, tears were shed, sleep was lost, awards were won, and fun was had.

I grew up always going to the Cowley County Fair.  I helped my grandma run the open class art department and always entered baking and art.  The carnival rides and grandstand events were a huge hit and, as I got older, I loved running around the fairgrounds with my friends.

man and boy in grandstands
Here’s Jeff and Reece in the grandstands at the Figure 8 races. We all love a good race with lots of close calls and maybe a few wrecks 😉

When most people think of the county fair, usually 4H comes to mind.  Well, I was only in 4H for one year when I was 10, so the fair and 4H didn’t really sync together in my mind.

My kids, on the other hand, are extremely involved in 4H!  This was our 4th county fair as 4Hers and let me tell you, 4H at the fair is a whole different ball game!

But, the lessons my girls are learning are invaluable.  And I think they are lessons that are only unique to 4H and participating in the county fair.

Here are the lessons my girls learned this year at the county fair:

1  Good enough doesn’t mean great.

Lindy decided to do woodworking this year for the first time.  She and Jeff decided to make a saddle stand (Lindy needed one anyway).  Well, Jeff is a machinist and likes precision, so when it came to the construction portion, Lindy learned how to run a mill and make everything fit together tight and perfect.  She learned how to countersink screws and run a radial arm saw and everything.  I was in charge of the teaching her about the finish work.  So she learned to run my sander and how to stain and poly.  Here’s where the lesson comes in.  It took her and Jeff a couple weeks to get the stand put together and by the time my part came up, it was only 5 days before the fair.  After spending 2 1/2 sanding it, she decided it was good enough.  She put two coats of poly on and decided it was good enough.  I told her I thought she needed to sand more and that it needed 3 coats, but she informed me it was “good enough.”  Guess what happened when the judge looked at it.  When he awarded her a red ribbon (not a great ribbon in the 4H world), she bawled.  She had gotten docked because it wasn’t sanded enough and needed 3 coats of poly.  Well, after the initial disappointment wore off after a couple days, we talked about it.  That’s when she realized that “good enough” doesn’t translate into great and it will be awarded accordingly.

girl staining saddle stand
Lindy’s working hard here! She HATED the finishing work, which is the part I love the most!

2  Listening to criticism and applying the advice given can make you a better (fill in the blank).

Last year, Lindy did photography for the first time.  Elisa and I are amateur photographers and thought her photos were really good.  Well, the judge that she got disagreed and judged her like she was a 10 year veteran photographer.  He was harsh!  Even I was a little appalled.  She took it hard (tears were shed) and vowed never to do photography again.  As the sting wore off, she decided to try it one more year.  But, she took to heart what that judge said and really tried to make her photography great.  Guess what…. she won grand champion in her age bracket 🙂

girl with grand champion photo
She was super excited!! We were all a little shocked, actually. The photography project is a very popular one and it’s HARD to get a grand champion! Funny thing, Elisa got a grand champion during her second year of photography, too 🙂

3 There may be people who are better than you at (fill in the blank) and that’s OK.

Elisa has been the reigning grand champion crocheter at the county fair for a couple years now.  She’s taken pride in that, but this year she got reserve champion instead.  But, you know what?  She saw that the grand champion winner had made a better product and that’s ok.  Sometimes you get beat, but it’s not the end of the world.  She also showed beef ( a market heifer) for the first time this year.  She knew her heifer (just a nice looking heifer from our regular herd) wasn’t exactly show quality.  Some people spend big bucks on expensive animals and consequently, they get the better awards.  But, she was fine with that.  You may not always be able to come out on top and there’s nothing wrong with that.

girl with purple ribbon and pysanky egg
So, it doesn’t want to load my picture of Elisa with her crochet, but this picture illustrates the same principle. Last year she won grand champion in the arts and crafts with a pysanky egg. This year, she got a purple, but no grand or reserve.

4 Sometimes having fun is more important than being the best.

Lindy showed goats for the second year.  Like Elisa’s heifer, we didn’t spend big money on show animals.  She didn’t win anything grand and she didn’t win anything in showmanship.  But, she had fun and that’s all she cared about 🙂  In our competitive society, that’s become somewhat of a lost art I think.

girl with her goats
See? Doesn’t she look like she’s having fun??

5 Don’t be scared of trying new things.

This is a lesson that I struggle with!  I have always stuck with doing things that are “safe” and that I’m pretty sure I would be good at without a lot of practice.  My girls, though, have shocked me in their willingness to try new things in 4H.  The one year that I was in 4H I did baking and sewing- 2 things I already knew how to do.  Lindy and Elisa, though, thrive on trying new and scary things!  Like showing livestock, for instance.  Neither Jeff nor I grew up showing (Jeff had a bucket calf once, but that hardly counts).  We’ve had to all step out of our comfort zone with this one, but the girls most of all.  And to get in that show ring and compete against kids who have been doing it forever and who had parents who did it forever, takes guts.  I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that.  I limited myself greatly in high school because I was too scared to compete against the experienced kids.  This ability to try new things no matter how scary they might look is a priceless skill that will serve them well as adults!

girl with her market heifer
She actually ended up not caring all that much for the “showing” aspect of having livestock. She liked training her heifer the best 🙂

 

The girls have deemed the 2017 Cowley County Fair a huge success and they can’t wait to get started on next year’s projects.  I think I need a short break first, though 😉

 

Did you participate in 4H as a kid?  What lessons did you learn?

 

Feel free to share with your friends!

Summary of July

OK, so I totally fell off the radar during the month of July!  I didn’t intend to… it just sort of happened.

We celebrated the 4th and Reece had off school until the 10th and it’s really hard for me to get much done on the computer when he’s home.  He’s well behaved, just very demanding.  I hear “Mommy, mommy, mommy” a LOT!!  I know all of you with toddlers probably understand 😉  Sometimes it’s weird having a 14 year old act that way, but after years of him NOT TALKING I never take it for granted!

And then a push to get 4H projects done happened.  Plus the girls wanted to ride horses every night and go swimming every afternoon.  Shoot, I wanted to go swimming every afternoon!

Here’s some pictures of what our July looked like….

4H fair book
This book comes with great anticipation during June and gets looked at A LOT from then until the first of August!
show cow
Elisa spent every day for months working with Reba, her show heifer. Here’s she’s teaching her to lead…. Doesn’t look like it’s going well, huh? 😉
show goats
This is Lindy taking care of her show goats, Ledoux and Cindy. Yes, we are big Chris Ledoux fans in this house! Anyway, she had to feed and water twice a day and walk them every day. And I usually had to help walk them because they were so buddy sour! I was glad to see them sell at the market sale at the end of the fair 😉
show cow
Starting at the beginning of July, Elisa had to wash Reba every day. Reba actually seemed to enjoy it!
horse
This is Elisa running barrels with Lily, her horse. We’ve been sitting outside many evenings watching the girls ride!
leatherwork
Lindy decided to try leatherworks this year in 4H. She worked on a purse kit from May until the day before the fair. It took much longer than we anticipated, but it ended up with a purple, so she was happy!
vintage camper
This is our 1971 vintage camper that we renovated a couple years ago. We just spent 5 days in it living at the fairgrounds. Sometime I’ll show you the inside… it’s all white and pretty 🙂

And that, my friends, was my July in a nutshell.  It flew by and now the fair is over and school is around the corner…..

How was your summer?  Are you ready for school to start??

Feel free to share with your friends!

A CrossFit Review (Plus 5 Reasons Why I Work Out)

crossfit review

crossfit review

Ever wondered what the CrossFit craze was all about?  Me, too.  So, I joined 4 weeks ago.  And let me tell you, if you DO NOT love a sweaty, hard, near-impossible workout, then CrossFit is not for you!  But, if you like getting  your butt kicked several times a week with other crazy people, then you should totally try it!

I have been intrigued with CrossFit for several years, but never could justify driving into town (10 mile away) several days a week to workout.  Not to mention, the only time that might work for me was 5:30 am and there was NO WAY I was getting up that early!

For the last several years of my fitness journey, I’ve always chosen at home workouts and done my exercising alone.  I’m a pretty self-motivated person, so that has worked fine for me.  After running my half marathon 2 months ago, though, I became completely unmotivated on the fitness front!

In my head I had big plans…. I was going to maintain a 6 mile base, I was going to pick up weightlifting  again (I have a nice set of dumbbells), I was going to do PiYo again.

And you know what?

I was having a hard time doing any of it!

A nearby town (my hometown, actually) has had a CrossFit group for the last 4 years.  I’ve known the owner since the beginning because we did a few presentations together that our chiropractor sponsored.  I would talk about food and farming and she would talk about fitness.

Anyway, during the first week in June, she ran a BOGO deal to join CrossFit, so I decided maybe that was what I needed to get myself back in gear!

Let me tell you, I LOVE IT!!!!  I love all the weightlifting (I took a weightlifting class my senior year of high school and fell in love with it!), the difficulty of the workouts and doing it with a great group of people.  I wasn’t sure what I would think about exercising with others around to see my sweaty self, but EVERYONE is a sweaty, gasping mess when it’s all over, so nobody cares and everybody is very encouraging.

There is a wide wage of people that go.  Some are super buff and have been doing this for years.  Some are like me- not in terrible shape, but definitely could use improvement.  And others are at the very beginning of their fitness journey.  There’s also all sorts of ages- teenagers, 30-something moms/dads, and 60-something grandmas and grandpas!

Anyway, if you have a CrossFit box (that’s what the official gym is called) anywhere in your near vicinity, I highly recommend it!

WHY I WORK OUT

OK, so I’ve told you about my latest fitness thing, but what gets me out of the bed at 5:00 am to get to CrossFit by 5:30 am or pushes me to run 13.1 miles or to hold that downward dog pose an extra few seconds?

Well, I’ve got several reasons 🙂

1  This guy

autism and a storm
I took this the other night. This was the backside of a storm and Reece loved all the colors in it!

As you know, Reece has autism and more than likely, will live at home forever.  I really want to be able to take care of him for as long as God allows me to.  I want to be able to do that, though, as my best self!  I don’t want to be 60 and get winded walking up stairs or have high blood pressure or have who knows what other health problems that crop up when you are out of shape.  In full disclosure-  Reece can be difficult sometimes.  He can have full on meltdowns and get violent (which has gotten so much better since we switched schools a few months ago!).  Maybe some of that will get better as we get through puberty, maybe it won’t.  But I need to be able to handle him as much as possible.  Someday he’ll be stronger than me, but I want that day to be far off and even when it comes, hopefully, I’ll still be able to do what I need to do to help him.  He’s also been known to run away when he doesn’t want to do something.  I need to be able to chase after him!  If I’m overweight and out of shape and he takes off to the road, what’s going to happen?  So, he’s my number one motivation for keeping up with my exercising.

2  My future grandkids.  Obviously, I don’t know what that will look like and how many I might have (I have requested 10, and so far my girls are good with that, lol!).  I want to be an active grandma that can take them places and keep up with them!

3  My future self.  I want to do everything in my power to live as healthy as possible and to age as best as I can.  Now, granted, God may decide to throw me a curveball.  But, our bodies are a temple and would you really let a temple get rundown?  Nope!  Our selfish, lazy, sinful nature can get in the way, I know, but I really think trying your best to be as healthy as possible is a good spiritual practice!  Remember, God created us in HIS image!  Taking care of the bodies He’s given us shouldn’t be always put on the back burner.

running shoes

4  My mom and dad.  OK, you want some inspiration?  Listen to this little story…  My mom (who, as you know, ran a half marathon to celebrate turning 60!) didn’t start running until she was 50!  My dad didn’t start running until he was 60!  So, in other words, you have no excuse for not exercising.  You may think “I’m too old to start working out.  There’s no way I could do it.”  Well, I’m hear to tell ya, that being an advanced age is not a reason for neglecting your fitness!

5  My husband.

building fence
This has been Jeff’s main project over the last 6 months- building fence!

I want to look good for him and to be around for the long haul!  I know our vows said “in sickness and in health” but I prefer to focus on the health part!  Like I said before, God may choose something different for me, but right now, I can do the best I can to be in as good of shape as possible.  I want us to be an active older couple (which I can guarantee will consist of lots of farming for us!  Ha!  We will definitely NOT be a retired couple that traves much, lol!)

What are your favorite forms of exercise?  What are your motivations?

 

Feel free to share with your friends!

Wheat Harvest – The Best Time of the Year!

combine in wheat

We are smack in the middle of wheat harvest right now!  (Update:  We finished last night before our area got a big storm!)  Hip-hip-hooray!  Seriously, I think wheat harvest is the absolute best time of the year and I feel so sorry for everyone that doesn’t get to experience it!

This year makes my 37th wheat harvest 🙂  We have two main harvests around these parts- wheat harvest and fall harvest.  Fall harvest starts in October and can run to almost Christmas and is long and drawn out.  Wheat harvest, on the other hand, starts mid-June and everyone is usually done by the first of July (although I do remember several 4th of Julys as a kid where we had to miss the town fireworks because we were cutting.)

cutting wheat in Kansas
This was my view most of this week!

In this area, we grow hard red winter wheat.  We plant it in October and it comes up, looking like green grass.  It stays dormant all winter (but still stays a pretty green) and then starts growing again in March.  This wheat is used for all that bread you see in the grocery store and any flour you might buy!  Did you know Kansas is the number 1 wheat producer in the United States?  So, if you eat bread (whether you buy it or bake it yourself), there’s a good chance some of the wheat used to make it came from a Kansas farm 🙂

kids on combine
Here are my kids with their grandpa. This was about 7 years ago! Everyone was so little!

As a kid, harvest was like another holiday!  We all looked forward to it and we’d fight to get the first combine ride.  We had two main elevators that we hauled to- one handed out glass bottles of pop (later switching to aluminum cans) and the other handed out bubble gum.  You could find us kids somewhere in the field or on the road to the elevator during harvest.  Mom pretty much let us go where we wanted and if we wanted to come home, then we had to hitch a ride from our uncle or grandpa (if we were hauling the wheat back to the bins at our house) or wait until supper when Mom brought food to the field.

I have so many harvest memories!  We would play in the grain in the back of a wheat truck, take naps in the combine, try to chew the wheat long enough to make gum (you had to chew for like an hour!), eat our share of raw wheat and come home dirty and scratched up from the wheat stubble!  It was hot, it was windy, it was dusty and it was so awesome!

As I got older and became a teenager, my role changed.  I still had a blast in the field, but I eventually graduated to truck driver and occasional combine driver.  We had converted semis (instead of pulling a trailer like you normally see with semis, my dad and uncle elongated the frame and put a grain bed on it).  The trucks all had quirks, which you learned very well after hours and hours of driving them 🙂  They also did not have air conditioning and there was no radio.

kansas wheat harvest
This is me tarping a truck before taking it to the elevator.

We often cut late into the night (think 2 am), which would result in 80- 90 hour work weeks for almost 2 weeks.  My sister, who was 13 when I started driving trucks, was given the glorious job of keeping me awake at night!  Guess who would nod off?  ….. you guessed it- my sister!  I enjoy a good prank and one night I dumped my water jug on her to wake her up.  It was totally worth it using up the last of my water to see her jolt awake with a scream 😉

There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with wheat harvest.  We have a small window to get it in and June is still prime time for thunderstorms around here.  I have many memories of being chased out of the field by a later afternoon storm.  The last thing you want is for the combine to get rained on because even if the combine bin has been emptied out, there is still wheat left in the crevices.  If you get water in there, you end up with a stinky, fermented mess!  (Ask me how I know 😉 )

kansas wheat harvest
This is my view out the back window of the combine. That’s the auger dumping wheat into the combine bin. When my window gets covered, I know the bin is full and it’s time to dump in a truck.

One year, after driving trucks for a few days, they decided to put me in the tractor and have me start planting the double crop soybeans.  I was basically running behind the combine.  An afternoon thunderstorm popped up and everyone scrambled to get the equipment home.  My sister was riding with me and we were in the far end of the field (it happened to be one of the biggest fields we had!).  I was told to just keep planting until the rain came, so my sister and I are out there just planting away, watching the storm come closer and closer…. and then on the radio, they break in with a tornado warning!  A tornado had been spotted only a couple miles from our field and was headed our way!

There was no shelter and no way for us to get to any.  We discussed jumping in a nearby creek if things got dicey, but until that happened, we decided just to do what any self-respecting Kansas farmkid (who is accustomed to tornadoes!) might do… keep planting! Thankfully, it all disappeared as fast as it popped up.  It was a story we talked about for years, though 😉

kansas wheat harvest
This is the combine dumping into our semi.
kansas wheat harvest
This is the view from the combine seat. That long thing is called the auger. It folds up for when you are out in the field.

My kids love wheat harvest as much as a I do.  Everybody get their first combine rides as babies.  My 10 year old niece got her first combine ride just a couple days ago… she thought it was extremely boring and she can’t figure out what all the hype is about.  Maybe you have to grow up with it?  You catch the excitement of the adults and it just stays with you?

kids during wheat harvest
Here are the twins getting their first combine ride with their other farming grandpa- my dad 🙂

During wheat harvest these days, my job is to run the combine occasionally, which I LOVE.  Yesterday, I started teaching Lindy (who is 11 years old) how to run it, so one day she can help. (Update:  After 3 days of operating it for several hours each day, she’s a pro and is about ready to solo!)  That’s one thing about farmkids- you start learning to drive large equipment, which would intimidate most adults, very early in life!

kids during wheat harvest
Here’s Lindy driving!

Once wheat harvest is over, it’s almost a let down.  On one hand, you’re relieved that the crop is in the bin (this means money for the farmer!), but after the adrenaline rush that keeps you going for a week or more, you kind of feel a crash and it’s rather sad that all of the excitement is over.

kansas wheat harvest 8820
Lindy’s taking a short break while the guys change the fuel filter in the combine.

So, three cheers for the 2017 wheat harvest!!  And if you live anywhere near a field being cut, ask for a ride.  Most farmers are happy to explain all that they do and share the excitement of it all 🙂

Have you ever experienced a harvest season?  Does anyone else have a yearly “thing” that happens that you consider an unofficial holiday?

Feel free to share with your friends!

Life on the Farm- Weekend Recap

life on the farm

What does a weekend look like living on a farm?  Well, it doesn’t look like what a lot of you probably experience 😉  I decided to do a little weekend recap so you can get a glimpse of life on the farm!

I started off my Saturday with a short, easy run to test out my newly adjusted knee.  I started having problems with it after a 3 mile run on Wednesday, so this run was a slow (12min/mile) 1.5 mile run to make sure all was well.  It was super humid at 7 am, which is extra hard on my asthmatic lungs, but I was happy with my knee when it was all said and done 🙂  During that run, I passed my father-in-law in the tractor on his way to get hay and saw my husband leave on his way to go feed our Charolais herd.

After breakfast, the girls headed out to feed cows with Grandpa (they’ve been doing that every Saturday since they were babies) and I headed outside to take care of chickens!  That consisted of feeding and watering broilers (we’re butchering them tomorrow- yay!) and opening up and watering the layers.  I also watched the lagoon goats for awhile to make sure the fence would hold.  I spent a large portion of Friday fixing fence because they decided butting and busting through the fence was an appropriate activity…sigh….

broiler chickens
They’re big, aren’t they? I’m always glad to get to butchering day!
goat in lagoon
Here’s one of the culprits, along with a picture of the fence that they keep demolishing!

I talked to my sister on the phone for awhile….

And then it was time to make dinner!  I decided hamburgers was an easy meal, so that’s what we had!  Elisa (my oldest daughter) had been out mowing cotton stalks, but a 45 minute rain shower chased her in from the field.  Jeff also came in because of the rain, so we actually all ate together.  That doesn’t always happen during the busy seasons 🙂

It continued to rain on and off the rest of the afternoon, so I replaced a zipper on Lindy’s jacket (my first time for that!) and baked for our church potluck.

Also during the day, the girls fed our 4 orphan kittens.  We’ve had them in the house for the last 3 weeks and I am ready for them to be outside!  The girls worked on converting an old chicken pen to a kitten pen, but with the intermittent rain showers, they weren’t able to get it done.

kitten
This is one of the orphans. Isn’t she cute??? I bottle fed kittens quite often when I was a kid (cats have a short life on a farm). I’m glad my girls get to experience it, too!

OnSaturday evening, the kids ate leftovers and went to bed early and Jeff and I had our weekly date night!  We’re very exciting people…. we do the same thing every Saturday night and have for the last 10 years, but we like it 😉  We order breadsticks from Casey’s and watch a Netflix show.  We love all the superhero shows and right now we’re working on the current season of Arrow.

On Sunday morning we did chores before church (the girls have to take care of their horses and Lindy has 3 4H goats and Elisa has a show heifer and I obviously did the chickens again).  Jeff decided to wait until after church to feed the Charolais because of intermittent rain.

charolais heifers
Here’s the herd right after we got them late winter. These girls are all heifers. We also have a mixed cow/calf herd in a different pasture. Having all white cows is definitely different for us!

We had a potluck and business meeting so we didn’t get home until 1:30.  I went with Jeff to feed the Charolais.  He made me feed the pellets while he filled the water tank because I was smart and wore my mud boots 😉

muck boots
My beloved Muck boots! Jeff has been telling me for years to get a pair and I finally did after Christmas. They are SO MUCH BETTER than regular mud boots!!!! I highly recommend them 🙂

We barely beat the rain home!  Jeff went outside to his shop to work, Lindy went muddin’ with her cousin on their 4 wheelers and Reece, Elisa and I went over to my mother-in-law’s to visit.  My in-laws live just down the driveway from us and we visit with my mother-in-law most Sunday afternoons.  On nice days we like to sit on the front porch, but she was in the middle of a cleaning project, so we just stayed inside.

muddy 4 wheeler
This is what the 4-wheeler looked like when she was done!

In the evening, we all went to our last self-defense class at our church.  Our pastor is a former martial arts instructor so he and his wife taught us!  It was fun, informative and enlightening!  They even had a kid’s class.  My girls said they learned a lot 🙂

When we got home from that, we all got ready for bed and hit the hay, lol!  And here we are… Monday morning.

So, that was our oh-so exciting weekend!  It was pretty typical for us.  We never do anything exciting and Saturday and Sundays are just more work days for us!  The animals always need taken care of and during planting and harvesting times, you’ll find us out in the field.  We don’t *do* things the way other people do.  No trips to the pool or the zoo or the lake.  We just stay home and work, but, crazy enough, we love it 🙂

What does a typical weekend look like for you?  Do you like going, going, going or do you prefer to stay home?

Feel free to share with your friends!

10 Random Things About Me

10 random things about me

Ok, so I love to read other blogs where the blogger actually tells you something about themselves that is random or funny or just ordinary!  So, today, that’s what I’m doing!

1  This is my daily summer uniform…. I care very little about fashion and when I spend most of my summer day outside doing farm/yard/gardening stuff, then this is what I wear!  When it’s muddy, I trade the Redwings for my awesome Muck boots 🙂

my daily uniform
A tank top from Wal-Mart, an old pair of jeans, and my Redwing steel toed boots!

 

2 An accessory you can often find hanging out of my back pocket are my gloves!  I grew up rarely wearing gloves, but my husband is a firm believer in them, and over the years, I’ve become accustomed to wearing them for anything and everything!  Chicken chores, gardening, yard work…. I even carry them with me in the car in case I need to change a flat tire!  And, yes, I generally always keep track of the same pair.  I replace them when the holes in the fingers get too bad.

my gloves
I get these at Orscheln’s. Yes, they are purple and leather 🙂

 

3  We have 5 dogs.  Yes, you read that right, FIVE!!  Crazy!  I’ve always been a dog person, but was more of a 1 dog person.  But, my youngest is the biggest dog girl you’ve ever met, so our herd has expanded.  We have a little, very old terrier mix (Spot.  We think she’s around 17? She was a stray that showed up at my parents’ house years ago), Muddy (Great Pyrenees), Maddie (Great Pyrenees), Joey (he’s technically my in-laws’ dog, but he mostly hangs at our house because that’s where all the action is! And Elisa is showing him for 4H.  He’s a lab/weimereiner/shepherd mix), and Sparky (Lindy’s little dog.  He’s a yorkie/chihuahua/pomeranian mix).

great pyrenees
My daughter,Lindy, took this one last year! This is Muddy. Stick around long enough and I’m sure the other dogs will make a blog appearance!

 

4  This is the front of my Suburban.  I drive a 16-year-old vehicle, but I’m not quite ready to get rid of it yet…. and see that “Eat Beef” tag?  All of our vehicles have one and we’ve been putting them on our trucks and SUV’s since before we were married!  Back in the day, it was popular among our local farm/country kid crowd and Jeff and I just never outgrew it 🙂  Plus, you know, we grow beef….

eat beef tag
Yes, it’s dirty. I even washed it yesterday, but after driving to K-State and back yesterday, the bugs and dirt go the best of me.

5  I love a chaotic, bursting-with-color flower planter!  No color themes for me!  The more color and blooms the better!

colorful flower planter
Don’t you just love all the colors???

6  This is the front of my house.  Yes, it’s a double wide that we added on to.  I used to be prejudice against people that lived in these, but I’ve since changed my tune and I adore our little double wide!  I’ll be writing a post about that one of these days…..

double wide
Someday we’re going to finish the outside! It got a new roof and new trim, but we haven’t nailed down what we want for siding….

7  I am a HUGE George Strait/Brad Paisley/Garth Brooks fan!   And, I fulfilled my bucket list and have seen all of these guys in concert!!!  George was with Reba (an awesome double whammy).  I went with my sister and we had to sit way up high in the nosebleed section.  I got to see Brad last winter with Elisa.  He was amazing in concert!  We held up a neon sign that said “Me Neither” (if you are a Brad Paisley fan then you know why 😉 ) and during the concert he called us out and then played the song!  Garth, though, was the best of all.  I’m an original Garth fan.  Think his very-first-album-on-cassette-tape type fan.  I was so bummed I never saw him in the 90’s and when he “retired” I figured I’d never get to see him.  But, then he came out of retirement and Jeff and I got to see him in Wichita last winter!  And then best of all…. we had 3rd row center seats!!  We could see every last wrinkle and drop of sweat!  It was the best concert I’ve ever been to 🙂

garth brooks concert
I’m telling you, it was AMAZING!! And the fact that I got to share it with Jeff (he even sang along some!) made it better.

8  I prefer line dried clothes.  I grew up hanging out clothes for my mom and it took some convincing after we were married, but Jeff put up a clothes line for me and I use it during the spring, summer and fall.  There’s nothing better than slipping into your line dried sheets after a long day’s work.

clothesline
This is my backyard! We live in the country and mow our weeds- it’s not a show place 😉

9  I keep my thermostat set on 80 all year around!  I am one of those people that is cold all.the.time.  So, summer is my favorite season and 95 is my favorite outdoor temp.  In the winter, our heater runs a lot, but I don’t care.  And in the summer, the air conditioner doesn’t kick on very much (until July.  July and August in southern Kansas is not for the faint of heart!).  If you come over to my house, prepare to be warm and dress accordingly 😉

my thermostat
Yup, this is really my thermostat! I hate digital ones so when we got a new one, we went old school.

10  One of my favorite meals is a cheeseburger in the field!  Yup, you read that right.  When I was growing up, my mom had to take meals to the field A LOT and one of her staples was to cook hamburgers and wrap them in foil.  Many times the whole family would eat out there (during the busy seasons it might be the only time we’d see our dad!).  When I got old enough for field work, guess what she brought me?  And I still love them to this day.  I have taught my girls how to make them and wrap them in foil, so this spring when I’ve been out in the field, Elisa and Lindy bring me a cheeseburger in foil.  Best.burger.ever.  Seriously.

What’s a fun random fact about you??  Do you agree or disagree with any of mine?

 

Feel free to share with your friends!

How to Eat at Home When You Hate to Cook

eat at home

Do you want your family to eat most of their meals at home?  How do you do that when you hate to cook?  Well, I hear ya.  We eat at home almost all the time.  Literally.  Like we go out once every few months.  Crazy, I know.  But I’m going to let you in on a couple of secrets for how I manage to feed my family at home all the time and do most of it from scratch.

My first secret is a practical one I learned from my mom:

Keep your pantry and freezer stocked!

I have a mental list of go-to meals that I know my family enjoys.  It’s nothing complicated and amounts to things like barbecue meatballs, various chicken dishes, hamburgers, sloppy joes, pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, various fresh veggies, etc.  They are very traditional meals.

Rather than watch the sale fliers from the grocery store and plan my meals around that, I watch the fliers for those things that fit with our list of meals and stock up.  This gives me the ability to cook almost anything I want at any time.  Sometimes I meal plan, but most of the time I don’t.  I’ll try to plan in my head about 24 hours in advance so I can get something out of the freezer to thaw on time, but I don’t have a fancy plan, that’s for sure!

By always restocking my pantry and freezer, I never have the excuse that we have nothing to eat!

Now, you don’t have to cook traditional meat-and-potato meals like my family prefers.  This idea of keeping the pantry and freezer stocked works for any type of meal preferences!

If this is totally new to you, then sit down and make a list of meals you know your family likes.  Write down the ingredients needed to cook those meals and stock your pantry and freezer so you can make any of those meals at anytime!  And don’t just buy one of something.

For instance, if you know you’ll need tomato sauce for a certain dish, buy several so you can make that dish more than once.

By shopping and cooking this way, it also eliminates multiple weekly grocery trips.

Until our small town got a grocery store again, I had to travel 12 miles to the nearest store, so I often would go two weeks between trips!

Now I’ll let you in on another secret about me….

i hate to cook!

Yup, that’s right.  I’ll give you a bit of the back story on that and then I’ll tell you how I overcame it 😉

I grew up in a very traditional farming family.  My mom cooked two meals every day, without fail, which we called “dinner” and “supper.”  (See we were/are very old fashioned!)  Dinner was promptly at noon and supper was always at six.  During busy seasons, she would take meals to the field for anyone that was out there, but the premise was still the same.

When I got married, I did NOT know how to cook!  My poor mother tried multiple times, but I was a confirmed tomboy and farmhand and I did NOT like being inside doing domestic work!

The first year of our marriage, Jeff and I lived on sandwiches, frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese.  He’s easy going about most things, so he really didn’t care.   But after we had kids, I realized that I wanted my kids to have the same meal time memories that I had, so….

I learned to cook.

And I hated it.

But, yet, I cook two meals a day 6 and half days a week (I take Sunday evenings off and it’s a fend-for-yourself/popcorn night!).

The fact that I hate to cook, yet do it all the time, surprises a lot of people!  I’ve had close friends who will confess to me how they just can’t get their meal times together and they wish they could cook as much as I do.  And then they’ll say, “I know you like to cook, though.”  I just laugh and tell them, “Nope! I actually hate it and if I could hire a chef, I totally would!”

My secret is that I’ve made it a habit to plan and cook two meals a day.  I just do.  It’s like brushing your teeth or making your bed.  Do you like to brush your teeth?  Honestly, it’s probably not what you would consider fun, right?  But it’s necessary for your health and well-being.

Cooking meals for your family is the same way.  I don’t enjoy it, but my desire for my family’s health and well-being wins out over my hatred of all things kitchen.

On another note, my autistic son LOVES to cook, so I’m hoping if he ends up living at home as an adult he can just cook for me, ha!

What are your struggles in the kitchen?  Any tips for those of us that don’t enjoy being in the kitchen?

Feel free to share with your friends!

How to Have a Weed Free Garden

weed free garden

Are weeds getting the best of you and your garden?  Ever wondered if there was a way to get rid of them?  Is it truly possible to have a weed free garden?

Yes, it is.

But it will take some prep work.

Let me start you off with a story of my gardening history and then I’ll let you in on the secret 😉

My mom always had a garden.  And we kids always had to help her.  Which we hated, I mean, loved.  Every year we had to clean out the chicken house, dump the manure on and then later put straw over that.  It was a lot of work and wasn’t pretty at all!

In my early married life, I decided to have my first garden.  Jeff tilled a spot and I happily planted in the dark brown luxurious dirt.  And I grew a giant crop of… weeds.  I blamed it on location.

So, the next year, we tried again, this time in our front yard.  I figured if it was closer then I could take better care of it.  The idea being convenience.

It was better, but I still had lots and lots of weeds!

I remembered my mom’s method of garden, so I tried that.

And I still had weeds!

And then a few years ago, I was introduced to lasagna gardening.  You can check out this book for more details.  The problem was adapting it to my situation for my fairly large garden.  So after a few years of experimenting, I think I have it figured out.

The secret?

CARDBOARD AND MULCH!

So, let me show you….

weed free gardening
This is my garden on April 25.

OK, notice all the highlighted areas.  The green area was mulched the winter of 2016 (over a year ago) with cardboard laid down first, cow/chicken manure over that and then covered with a thick layer of straw.  I grew potatoes in that area last summer.

The blue area was treated the same way in 2016 and then in January 2017 (this past winter) I threw on a super thick layer of leaves.

The pink area was mulched in 2016 with cardboard, cow manure and straw.  It received a fresh layer of cardboard, cow manure and straw in January of 2017.

Now, look again at that green area.  See all the weeds??  I have also found weeds popping up in the blue area with the leaves.  But the pink straw area?

Nothing.

Not a weed one.

Here’s another picture of the garden so you can see how thick the straw is.

weed free gardening
Lots and lots of straw!!

Here’s what you do to start a fresh garden or rejuvenate an old spot.

1   DO NOT TILL!  Yes, that’s right.  Do not work up your soil.  All you do is invite weed seeds to sprout.  And if you have bermuda grass (which I fight) you just make it mad and it will stage a hostile takeover of your garden!

If you do have a massive weed problem all ready, then either mow or spray the area first.

Lay down thick, heavy cardboard.  I’m talking the good stuff.  I saved tons of boxes from our remodel and used those, I used my brother-in-law’s from his house build, and my husband was able to get a whole bunch of cardboard from work.  Just ask around- you’ll be able to find some.

After that put on a super thick (we’re talking 8-12 inches) layer of manure of some sort.  Now, make sure this is old and fairly composted.  A year old or more is good.  I’m lucky because we have animals so Jeff pushes up big piles of manure/hay mixture every spring that accumulates around the hay feeders and then I use it the next year.  Again, ask around and you can usually find a farmer willing to give it away!

Layer on the straw (or leaves).  Do NOT use prairie hay!  It will have weed seeds in it.  Old alfalfa is good, too.  Again, I’m blessed because we put up our own straw every year, so I always have a ready supply.  Ask around for whatever is prominent in your area.  Just remember, you want it THICK!  No measly 2 or 3 in layers.  Nope, I’m talking a foot thick or so.

Ideally, you should do this in the fall so your garden has time to compost itself until spring.  Because our falls are so busy on the farm, I usually don’t get to it until January.

I still have to pull the occasional weed, but they can barely take root and I don’t have to spend time “weeding” like I use to.

The key, though, is to be diligent about this every year!  Nature will take back over (as you can see from my highlighted garden picture) if you just let it go.

But, if you do the right kind of work on front end when it’s cold, then when it’s hot and your garden is producing over abundantly, you can be dealing with the produce and not worrying about weeding it, too!

What gardening tips do you have?  What have been your failures and successes in the garden?

Feel free to share with your friends!

Running a Half Marathon- My Thoughts and Training Plan (Confessions of a Slow Runner)

 

So, just like that…. it’s over!  I ran my first half marathon on Sunday!  After months and months of training, I can hardly believe it came and went 🙂

We had BEAUTIFUL weather for it!  It was about 60 degrees when we started and sunny.  I ran the Prairie Fire Half in Wichita (an hour from where I live).  The course was pretty flat and fairly shady.  I was a bit nervous, but my mom and I settled into a nice rhythm early on and stuck with it for the first 6 miles.  I tell ya, the first 6 miles felt really easy.  A year ago if you would have told me those words would be coming out of my mouth, I would’ve said you were crazy!  I could barely run 4 miles last summer, so to ever think 6 as easy shows how far I’ve come in my running!

Anyway, after the first 6, we started slowing down, but still kept a good pace from 6-9 miles.  And since I’m going to be very honest about my slow running, by good pace, I mean about 13 minute miles.  We were running 12:30 for the first half.  It seems like every running blog I read, they’re all about “Yeah, I only ran a 9 minute mile” blah, blah, blah.  If that’s you, well, I admire that!  If I ever get that fast, I will be beyond thrilled!  But, this post is to encourage all of you out there who are not fast 😉

From 9-13, we had slowed down to about 13:30 or so.  The hardest parts were between 10.5 and 11 (I thought that water station at mile 11 would never appear!) and between 12.5 and the finish line.  My phone told me “You are at 12.6 miles” and I thought, “Dang!  Where is that finish line????”  The last mile was also asphalt, with zero shade and it felt downright HOT!  But, I’m happy to say, I crossed the finish line upright and running, lol.  I did take some walking breaks during the last 6 miles.  I have longer legs than my mom, so I would gradually pull ahead and then power walk to let her catch up.

running a half marathon
I’m crossing the finish line! In case you’re wondering, I’m holding a handkerchief. I use it to wipe my nose and my sweat. Gross, I know 😉

You know what was the sorest part of my body on Monday?  My JAW!  Yeah, seriously.  My quads were a bit sore, but nothing bad and all of my joints (knees, hips, ankles) felt perfectly fine, but my jaw!  I always chew gum when I run (keeps my mouth from getting dry) but it’s not use to chewing gum for 3 hours straight, apparently.

Our finish time:

3 hours, 1 minute and 24 seconds.

We were VERY pleased with that!  We were not out to beat any particular time and based off our 11 mile training run, we figured it would take us about 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the race.

So, would I do it again?

Well, two weeks ago after our last long training run, I would have said absolutely not.

Now?

Yeah, I think I would 🙂

I love the fact that I did something that not many people can do and that I pushed my body to do something that I didn’t think it was capable of!  It’s a high that I wouldn’t mind repeating.

OK, so here is what my training looked like from January to race day.  First off, I mostly trained using the Galloway method (running walking intervals) with an interval of running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute.  Well, the last couple weeks of training, I started running the first 3 miles, then doing looser longer untimed intervals.  When we actually ran the race, we ran to each water station (about every two miles), drank our water (my mom drank gatorade) walked for a little bit (maybe a couple minutes?), then ran to the next station.  Like I mentioned before, I took some walking breaks to let my mom catch up, but they weren’t timed.  My mom pretty much ran the whole thing.

Week 1 (first week in Jan):  ran 3 times of about 2 miles each time.  I was just trying to condition my body to running again after a 6 month break.

Week 2:  ran 2 miles twice, then ran 3 miles on the weekend.

Week 3:  took 2 30 minute runs (approx 2.5 miles) then ran 4 miles on the weekend.

From there on out, my training was one week, running 3 times for about 30 minutes each time and then the next week, run 30 minutes twice with a long run on the weekend, increasing each long run by one mile.

So, every two weeks I took a long run and every week I ran three times.  Does that make sense?  I kept that up until my 9 mile run.  Then because of scheduling, we decided to skip the 10 mile run, run 6 miles instead and take an 11 mile run 2 weeks before the race.  Also, the last month before the race, I took a 6 mile run once a week with 3 mile runs in between.  The week before the race, I took a 6 mile run on Tuesday (race was Sunday) then rested the rest of the week.

Training for a half is definitely a time commitment, but only taking long runs every two weeks helped.  I felt like I kept up my running fitness in between just fine with those 30 minute/3 mile runs (it actually takes me 35 minutes to run 3 miles).

Since I wasn’t particularly sore after running the race, I think that my training paid off.  This isn’t probably the training you’d want to do if you were serious about breaking records, but for a busy mom and farmwife, this was quite doable for me!

Any additional thoughts about finishing a half marathon?  Would you do another one?

 

Feel free to share with your friends!