I have been more than absent from blogging lately and it bothers me but at the same time I know it was needed. Not that I have ever been a consistent blogger, but usually it is an outlet for me. A way for me to disconnect and let me mind go where it wants. Each season brings new challenges hopefully met with grace.
Farming continues to be part of our livelihood along with myself continuing to work off the farm. We are very fortunate to have what we have. The winter months (November-January) are our precious moments where we all get to enjoy meals together. There is no wondering when Mr. Farmer will be home, there is no cold suppers left on the table waiting for him far past bedtime, there is no single parenting. We get to be together enjoying precious well deserved time together.
Don’t get me wrong that the business of farming is teaching our children things we never would be able to teach to this degree if we worked in other industries. Our children get to see perseverance, grace, hope, trust, and patience daily. Some say farmers are the eternal optimists and I would have to agree. So as I make a commitment to share more of our real farm life with you, I ask for your grace as each season brings new challenges and with that a continued faith in God, our Heavenly Father.
Phew! I am so glad we have an extra farmhand here this week. Flat Aggie is visiting us to learn about our farm in west central Minnesota. I’ll let Flat Aggie take over to tell you all about his adventures on our farm.
Hi kids, Flat Aggie here! This week I am on a sugar beet farm near Wendell, Minnesota. The farm I am visiting is on the edge of what was once Lake Agassiz, they now call this region the Red River Valley. When Lake Agassiz was formed it left behind heavy clay soil, suitable for growing crops. Most farms here grow corn, soybeans, wheat, and/or sugar beets.
I spent the majority of my week helping with sugar beet harvest. Sugar beets are planted in April and are usually harvested in the month of October. These beets are different than red beets that you might eat at lunch or dinner. Sugar beets are larger and are white in color. The sugar beet farmers I was visiting are shareholders in a cooperative. The cooperative decides when harvest will start and when the beets can be harvested to ensure that they will keep in storage until they are processed. Once harvest has started many farmers harvest all day and all night to get the sugar beets out of the ground in a timely manner. It makes me tired just thinking about it!
The harvesting process can be lengthy depending on the weather and it takes multiple steps to get the sugar beets to their end destination. The first step is to remove the tops from the beets. A tractor pulls an implement that has paddles that spin very fast to remove the foliage from the tops off of the beets. Depending on the region this implement may be called a topper, a roto beeter, or a defoliator, but they are all the same piece of equipment.
Once the foliage has been removed from the beets a machine comes and lifts the beets out of the ground by pinching them. After the beets have been lifted out of the ground a series of rollers helps remove excess dirt before they are conveyed into a truck.
I couldn't believe the size of some of the beets. Here is a picture of me with one:
And here is a picture of one that is out of the ground:
Can you believe it?!
After the beets are in the truck we hauled them to a piling station. They will remain here until they are hauled to the factory to be processed into white table sugar or brown sugar. Samples are taken for each grower throughout harvest to determine purity, sugar content and tare. Some of the beets are stored outside in these piles until March. The best part of the day might have been the home cooked meal that was delivered to the field. I was STUFFED!
I don't know what to do with myself during harvest after the kids are in bed, which somehow leads to my baking obsession hitting overload. Ooo I should try that new recipe or that sounds delicious, but who am I kidding there aren't nearly enough mouths to feed for the baking that takes place. Thank goodness for coworkers...did I ever mention that my nickname at work is "Betty Crocker" due to the number of goodies I bring into share. I contribute to the freshman fifteen of our work environment, good or bad...
I don't know what it is but baking brings me calm and is a happy place. These late night sessions allow me to shut down the 7,685 tabs I have had open during the day, I can reduce it to 1 tab, 1 stinking tab! It's glorious, and if you were curious quilting has the same effect on me. Mind boggling I know, but really I will now get onto the good stuff, the layered heavenly good stuff.
Better with Butterscotch
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4.5 oz whipped cream/cool whip
1 large package instant vanilla pudding
1 regular package butterscotch pudding
3 cups cold milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together bottom layer ingredients; press into a 9x13 pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in cool whip. Spread over crust. Beat milk into pudding mixes until the mixture starts to thicken and has no lumps. Spread over middle layer. Spread remaining cool whip over the pudding layer. Sprinkle with crushed chocolate covered toffee bars. Refrigerate and devour ;)
And if you need more proof that I'm crazy, I make aprons to aid in this baking addiction and to give as gifts. Plus look at that toy kitchen mess in the background, mom's habits are wearing off!
OMG! Harvest is HERE and I am not sure where summer went. Any ideas?! Each year goes faster and I just want it to slow down. We know harvest is never far away when the Big Iron Farm Show in Fargo, ND is happening. It is a sign that soybean harvest is imminent. This also means suppers in the field or on the go. A lot of times the meals are cold but I do try to deliver warm meals when possible.
Either way I wanted to round up some handy items that we like to use for meals during harvest. For cold meals I really like these divide containers. Helps with portion control, the ability to pack a variety of items while not dirtying multiple containers, and they are dishwasher safe (hallelujah). Also waxed paper sheets and little snack cups are always helpful!
To keep cold foods cold we rely a lot on the coolers that come with the tractors, sometimes my husband’s tractor digs are nicer than our house. No. Joke. They definitely cost more. ;) If the tractor doesn’t come with said built in cooler we use this one. It’s deep enough to hold a couple ice packs, several pops/waters and enough food for two meals.
Warm meals are usually delivered after the kids and I have eaten at the house. I’ll put what I can in thermoses or I will wrap the containers in some towels to help keep them warm. We are fortunate that most fields aren’t more than a 15 minute drive from our house which helps with delivering a warm meal. I have also been known to turn on the heated seat to keep meals warm. This year I would like to give one of these bad boys a try. He can plug it in and have a slow cooked meal right in his tractor. I know he would appreciate the departure from another ham sandwich.
It’s not often that we completely stop for supper so I have to be mindful of what is good for on the go.This definitely does not mean there aren’t nights where a phone call happens and the conversation goes something like this:
Farmer: “Hi, how was your day?”
Me: “Piss poor, I need a beer and the kids…well you know.”
Farmer: “Ok, will you be out?”
Me: “Didn’t you hear me the kids are crazy and I didn’t plan supper so no you’ll have to eat when you get home tonight.”
Farmer in a very empathetic tone: “Ok, I love you.”
ME: “Love you too, if you find me in tears when you get home or passed out on the couch don’t be alarmed.”
I hope I’m not the only one that has a super understanding husband that puts up with my unnecessary shortness. Man I love him and for his understanding he should get a warm meal every night. Any other moms out there have tips for sharing how you juggle this craziness? I’d love to hear them as us crazy farm moms and moms in general need to stick together to survive!
*Opinions in this post are my own and not sponsored.
Summer is nearly gone and I'm not sure that I am ok with it. August has felt more like September so it will be interesting to see what shakes out weather wise in the coming months. We definitely need some heat to finish out our corn and soybeans. I do know this, we won't be harvesting soybeans during Big Iron like most years. One plus weekends in September will be ours with Mr. Farmer likely not having to work Saturdays and we always take Sundays off.
I start back at work next week and the later than usual harvest is helping with my anxiety. Harvest is always tough on the kids as it's single parenting, our daughter said it best "Mom, you need 8 arms like an octopus." My kudos go out to all of the parents who single parent around the clock! Here is a little update of where we are for the week:
1. What’s for supper: Lasagna - I'm taking advantage of having time to put meals together, this is a hard one to make when I am working unless I prep it on a Sunday.
2. What am I listening to: Old Dominion's new record.
3. Weather: Was cool but we will be in the high 70s low 80s this week and into next.
4. Weekend plans: Bridal shower, maybe the Minnesota State Fair.
5. Watching: Who watches TV in the summer?! Still trying to convince my husband to cancel our satellite TV.
6. Boy moment of the week: Starting back at daycare has been a little bit of a struggle, like peel his legs from around my waste. He politely says "no thanks" when we ask if he would like to go see his friends.
7. Girl moment of the week: Mastering our peddle bike this week. We had used a strider bike with her the majority of the summer and Sunday was the first day of the peddle bike and she has mastered it!
9. Recipe of the week: I have been in a canning frenzy with all of our garden produce and have tried a couple new recipes this year including one for green tomato salsa which is phenomenal.
10. Reading: I wish I was...
11. Farm moment of the week: August is pretty uneventful on the farm which is just how I like it :)
You would think I could at least keep you all up to date on our Tuesday Ten, ha guess not. So with a long overdue edition here we go :)
1. What’s for supper: Anything on the grill, we are enjoying the season of cooking outside. Think brats, burgers, steak, bacon wrapped pork chops, asparagus, foil packets filled with potatoes and onions.
2. What am I listening to: The kids playing/screaming
3. Weather: HOT! Not ready for this type of weather in June. We will need a shot of rain soon and I am sure the hot temps will bring us some gully washing rain.
4. Weekend plans: Stay in the air conditioning and get the water toys out in the yard.
5. Watching: I think I need to change #5, coming from the lady who tells her husband we should just cancel our cable.
6. Boy moment of the week: I might be oversharing here but any parent should be able to related. We are nearing the stage of potty training and will let him be in undies when we are at home. Last night he used the toiled so I thought perfect let's give it a go. About 20 minutes later our daughter yells "Mom, he just pooped on the floor!" We couldn't help laughing a little and I think we have some things to work on.
7. Girl moment of the week: Singing the Cow Cow Boogie, an original remake off a Paw Patrol song. We also got a name suggestion for our soon to arrive baby. Our conversation went like this:
"Mom, if we have a baby let's name him Norman"
"Yes, like Penny. She is a Norman shorthair."
"Honey, she is a German shorthair not a Norman shorthair."
9. Recipe of the week: I don’t cook as much from recipes in the summer, but would love to try using our cast iron pan on the grill to cook some steaks. Ok just kidding I do have a must make for the week, it’s this delicious rhubarb simple syrup.
10. Reading: The Hopefuls. I still have my goal of reading 14 books this year and I am falling short so I have drug my butt to the library recently to get some. I have only finished two so far so in other words...wish me luck.
11. Farm moment of the week: this was a couple weeks ago, but we took our first family ride in our Hagie sprayer. So neat to see the functionality of this beast. We are also in the process of putting up an center pivot irrigation system on a piece of lighter soil to improve production.
Phew, see it's not that hard. I just need to find the time to keep you all updated. ;)
No matter how I say it I can’t believe it. I’m no longer in the stage of saying my baby’s age in the number of months. We are to years. It seems like up until two you always say how many months old your child is, then boom like a slap in the face you have a two year old, a t.w.o. y.e.a.r o.l.d. Someone wake me up from this crazy whirlwind. Each stage in life is so precious and as our little man turns two, here is what I have learned from my role as a #boymom:
Each year will bring new learning experiences on both sides, parent and child, but I truly hope that we can continue to grow together; that you teach me as much as I teach you. Stay wild little man. We love your crazy heart and antics even if mom is getting gray hairs and dad’s hairline continues to recede.
We moved back to the farm in April of 2012 newly married with a very narrow vision of the future as far as careers. I was about to celebrate my one year anniversary with a company that I loved but I also knew that commuting an hour one direction was unrealistic in the long term. This became more evident as we found out that we were expecting our first child. There were no sizable towns on my drive so the first question became daycare and the second became do I find a new job?
I’m sure I’m not the only crazy hormonal pregnant lady who breaks down to their husband about these types of solvable problems. I started to search, but jobs in the field of agriculture are hard to find around our area unless you want to be an agronomist or sell seed. I wanted to do neither. I spread my search to banks and other financial institutions with little luck and held onto hope that something would open up with my current company.
Through many tearful conversations with my husband of trying to find daycare we decided that for now we would do what we could. My husband would head one direction to drop off our firstborn while I headed the other direction to work. Extra miles, but it was reality. Fast forward to December of 2012, I was 7 months pregnant and still lost. The uncertainty of it all and knowing how far I was going to have to drive was eating me up. Just as I was about to call it quits, God stepped in. A fellow coworker had the opportunity to take a position in her hometown cutting her commute time from thirty minutes to five. The good Lord helped me through the interview for that position selling and servicing crop insurance. I knew little about the insurance industry, but knew that the change was needed for our growing family. I would say this was a little divine intervention for both my coworker and me.
Looking back the jump from credit to insurance was a little daunting, but would I change it? No, absolutely not. I have been afforded so many neat opportunities while fueling my passion for education through customer outreach and activities like Ag in the Classroom. Know that just as one door is closing or you are not sure that there is hope you need to leave it out on the table. Some things are out of our control. Bless the good Lord that he knew what I didn’t.
When I started blogging I really wanted to share farm life with all of you and I soon realized that in order to share farm life I also needed to share my heart. If you have read some of my previous posts especially this one you know that my roots in agriculture run deep. This passion does not shut off, it does not get old, it only grows.
Attending conferences with other “aggies” only spurs that passion and creates a desire in my heart to share what I love even more. So today step back and think about what pushes you in your life, where does your true passion lie?
Mine is in educating others, specifically women about the wonderful field I get to be part of in my day job and when I get home. Agriculture is much more than farming, it is more than dairy cows, more than farrow to finish operations, more than a man dressed in overalls. The career possibilities are really endless, they can be on a farm or they can be in a high rise in the city. My intended career path was to provide credit to farmers. I wanted to be a banker for farmers. Little did I know God had a much greater and somewhat unexpected plan for me...
Does planting season change anyone else’s family dynamic? It is such an exciting time, but it is also difficult on our kids. A whole winter of Dad being home for suppers turns into meals on wheels or no sight of Dad except for the early mornings. We start to hold onto those short breakfasts together and look for extra snuggles where we can get them.
Our four year old daughter seems to have the hardest time transitioning, we ran into the same issue during harvest last fall. More issues at daycare with not using words to express our frustrations. This stresses me out but I also know that it is a time for me to slow down and spend extra time with the kids. I can let the dishes sit in the sink until they are in bed and if they ask for just one more book at bedtime I’ll do it.
Here are my tips and reminders to myself for surviving the widow season of planting:
The list could go on and I would love to hear your survival tips. Also a special shout-out to all parents who find themselves a one person parenting show as the other spouse is busy providing for their families. Farming isn’t the only sector that has widow seasons, so embrace it and provide a helping hand or a listening ear for others who face some of the same challenges.
I'm Lisa, a farm wife, mom and old lady at heart (or my husband tells me so). Agriculture, quilting, and baking were my first loves and now I get to enjoy them with my family!