…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!

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….

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.
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!

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!
This is Elisa running barrels with Lily, her horse. We’ve been sitting outside many evenings watching the girls ride!
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!

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.

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!