Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Facebook Official

Last week I made it "Facebook Official" so, now I am announcing on all my social media pages!

More of our story on IVF to continue, but until then....

Friday, November 7, 2014

Food For Thought: Shopping The Outside Of The Grocery Store

After spending nearly a week in Washington D.C. with some of my favorite farmer friends I have walked away with insight to so many topics from kids to raising cattle to spraying pesticides to GMO's. And you can't help but want to expand your mind to simply understand. 

Am I a biased person for being raised in a certain environment? Do I only see things from an upper middle class point of view? Can I really relate to poverty, or being hungry?
Can you?

I can't ever remember a time where I have gone hungry. But globally within our population there are people every day wondering how they are going to get just a little milk for their next baby's meal. 
Have you ever heard the line "shop around the outside of the grocery store". This essentially means that everything you are feeding your family is fresh. From fresh fruits to fresh breads to fresh dairy and meats. But, what about the families that can't?

I often times hear from consumers about how they think that all the food in the middle, or all the preserved food, is not good for you. But, here is something to think about...what about the people who can only afford the cheaper canned goods instead of the fresh fruits along the outside?
Every year as the hot topic of food gets bigger and bigger I can't help but think of how the poverty level seems to be getting bigger and bigger too. 

We are farming more on less land and we are doing our part to make food as affordable as possible, but it's still not a good feeling when you hear a story from a school board member about how some children's families simply sends them to the local gas station for a $1 slice of pizza, because they can't afford the drive to the grocery store or the product within that store. 

The point I am trying to make here is to simply think about how lucky you are if you are that mom that can afford to shop the "outside of the grocery store", but when you are knocking on all the "middle food" try to think of that mom that can only afford to feed her child canned vegetables. 
It's just something to think about this Friday, a little food for thought. And especially as we enter the holidays a nice reminder to say a little prayer for how lucky we are!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Food For Thought: Positive Attitudes

Just a little Food For Thought this Friday!

One thing I can’t speak often enough about is change. And how it’s inevitable. I know I have talked before about how important it is to be flexible, because you never know what mother nature or the bank is going to throw at you on any given year. 

But one thing I don’t talk about enough is having a positive attitude about change on the farm. 

A few months back I spent the morning touring a farm near the Chesapeake Bay area and one of the speakers was talking about his conversation with an older gentleman and how he had the secret to growing good corn. His response, a positive attitude.

It really got me thinking. Sometimes change can be hard, it can be scary, and it can seem overwhelming, or unfair. But, it’s inevitable. Technology is only getting better, the number of farms smaller, and the dynamics on the farm changing. Whether it’s buying a new piece of equipment that has a brand new shiny GPS system in it. Or stepping back so the next generation can learn. Change can be hard. But having a positive attitude is sometimes even harder. 

I know I sometimes I struggle with this. I get a little bitter sometimes when my daughter has been an absolute terror and my husband is still cutting hay at 9 PM. I sometimes get a little bitter when everything we spend our money on is something farm related. It’s hard not to. Life revolves around our farm. Our farm is our life. 

One thing I know I need to work on is a positive attitude. And having it all the time instead of just the days that go smoothly. 

Couldn’t we all really work on a positive attitude? Isn’t it something we can bring into our homes, our farms, every day? Just think how much better every day can be is you look at the bright side of everything. 

So, the take away….Be open to change. And keep a positive attitude. It can make a world of difference I think in any situation. 

And if you really want the secret to growing a good crop of corn....try keeping a positive attitude all season long! You never know, it just might be the key.

Monday, October 27, 2014

We Were Rolling With Soybeans

And before I knew it we were done! 

It seemed to fly by this year, but maybe my husband would disagree, the weather didn't cooperate for a few days in there so that put us out of the field. But, a few weeks ago we finished the last of our soybeans. 


To farmers sustainability is really important. I really believe in using what we grow and eating what we raise and using their resources (manure) to continue to grow our crops. I like using every resource we have, it's what makes us sustainable.

If you remember from my posts on corn silage we chop corn silage for feed in the winter time to feed our cattle. We also fill our bunkers with corn for the winter too. But, soybeans are a little different. 

We don't feed soybeans on our farm, although some farmers do feed soybeans to cattle it's not a very practice in our area. The two industries that use soybeans the most are the poultry and pork industries. 

So, why plant soybeans?

Do you ever plan out your garden before the season gets here? How often do you plant things in the exact same spot as last year? Some crops you might, but for the most part everything I have ever learned, or read, has said how important it is to rotate your plants around in your garden and how it can help you produce more efficiently with the nutrients in your soil. Different plants all have different nutrient needs. So, if a plant needs a lot of nutrients it's going to pull a whole lot of nutrients from the soil. Like corn. If you continue to plant corn over and over in a field then the nitrogen levels will start to deplete in that field, which will mean more fertilizer application will be needed to have healthy plant growth.

Soybeans are called a nitrogen fixating plant. Meaning that instead of just taking nutrients out of the soil, like a lot of plants, it actually puts some nutrients back in. Crop rotation is a really good plan to help cut down on the fertilizer that's applied to the soil, which also cuts down on un-needed fertilizers costs. And let me tell you, fertilizer is not cheap. I promise. 

Organic farmers tend to use some sort of crop rotation on their farm in order to spread less fertilizer and spray less pesticides, however, keep in mind that they are also allowed to use over 20 different types of fertilizers and pesticides on their farm as approved by the USDA. It's all about the origin of those pesticides, or where they come from.

We do farm conventionally, but crop rotation is a practice that we use. A crop rotation could be every other year. Meaning a farm might plant corn this year in a field and next year plant soybeans in the same field. But, for the most part, if I remember correctly, it's more common to see farms on a two year crop rotation plan. Meaning they might plant corn for two years and then soybeans for two years. But, crop rotation can also depend heavily on the soil in the region where you live.

So, instead of feeding soybeans to our cattle we typically sell soybeans to be used for livestock feeds, soy foods, biodiesels, lubricants, and I am sure there are a million other things too. If we don't sell them right away we will store them in a grain bin and sell them later in the year. 

And, since we finished soybeans we didn't waste any time before we swapped out our combine for corn and got rolling with that!

Happy Harvest! And I hope all my farmers and farmwives out there are being safe!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Farm Kids

There is just something about a Farm Kid that makes my heart happy!

Very obviously bored while Daddy feeds his cattle. 
Helping me deliver lunch to the field while we were chopping corn silage.

Nap time in the silage truck!

Friday, October 17, 2014

There Is A Season

Can we just pretend that it is actually the beginning of August when I was supposed to publish this post? Because it has some really good meaning and I really want to share it, even if it does sort of, in a way, talk about my gardening season!

I don’t know about you but every now and then I find myself overwhelmed. With life, with my house, with my laundry, with my dishes, my never ending list of errands, and wrangling my small child. I am sure that at least one of you out there can relate.

As my little girl gets older I think my time in a day gets shorter and shorter. Ok, maybe it doesn’t. But, I definitely think she demands more and more attention. And I feel like I should give it to her. Who cares about that blog post? Who cares about the laundry? Elliette sure doesn’t and it’s just a nice reminder that sometimes when given the choice between doing laundry and playing ring-around-the-rosy, I should play it every single time. I only have my baby girl for 18 years before she is out of the house and making paths for herself. That time seems so minimal when her two little years have already flown by so quickly.
All summer long my husband has been giving me the hardest time about the state of my garden. And I will agree. It looks pretty horrible. Ok, maybe not that horrible. But, still pretty weedy. I got some sort of nasty stuff on my tomatoes and my broccoli. And my green beans are sad. Real sad. My dill is completely out of control. Which is great, except I need my cucumbers to grow so I can make my dill pickles.

Today I spent a good thirty minutes chopping at weeds. And it sucked. And I just kept looking at the rest of my garden and groaning. When did gardening get so difficult? Or annoying? Or just one more thing on my list that is never-ending. When did it become more of a chore than something I enjoyed?

And then I remembered my little 2 year old. Who every single time I kneel down in the garden and start pulling weeds she says “Mama, I wanna swing” or “Mama, come check my kitties”. Or she has her little arms wrapped around my neck and giggling in my ears while I try and check on my potatoes.

I know some would say what about nap time? But lately my little angel has insisted on cuddling during nap times. And sometimes it’s really kind of annoying. But, seriously, my child wants to cuddle with me…how rude of me to not give her that time of my day. Especially since there will come a time when she doesn’t want to give me the time of day.
A good friend of mine said something to me just last week as I was discussing the state of my garden, and how horrible it was.

She said a friend of hers has a great saying.

There is a season for everything. And this is not my season.

How true. This summer was not my season for gardening. I would much rather roll in the grass and splash in the pool than sit in my garden and pull never ending weeds. And for a perfectionist like myself it’s really hard to let go of that to do list. But, I have a new to do list. And that to do list is all about making a new to do list of a new season with my daughter. And spending every season enjoying my days with her.

Gardening can wait. Because soon there will be a new season. And you never know, that may just be my season.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Sensory Bins

Sometimes I just need to get stuff done.
Dishes. Laundry. Blogs.

And sometimes it feels impossible with our super, super busy toddler. She is crazy busy. And a crazy Momma’s Girl.

When she started getting busy I started trying to come up with stuff to keep her busy while I worked. I pretty much fell in love with everything sensory. The Dollar Store and any type of dollar bins became my best friend.
So, today I want to share some of those sensory bins and why I love them so much. They are also pretty inexpensive. I get my supplies mainly in dollar bins and then I also gather things up from around the house. I am pretty good at keeping toys back and then pulling them out for tough days.

Another thing I love about sensory bins is I feel they inspire more creativity than just simply piling her toy room with more and more toys.
Sensory bins start with, you guessed it, a bin. My hubby and I built a sensory table, which you can see in the last picture. We have now added a shelf underneath it and a brace for support. But, it works great and we both love it!
But, you can really get by with only a bin. Then next you need a filler. Then you need items to add to the filler.
This sensory bin is filled with millet seed. This was a favorite for awhile. So, it stayed in the bins for nearly a month and I just changed out the items that I added to the millet seed. I picked up the millet seed at our local co-op, but you can really get it anywhere that sells bird seed. This bin was a Spring theme. I used flowers, butterflies, and mini flower pots. And then Ellie added her rubber caterpillars.
This bin was actually an Easter bin. You can see the bunnies and eggs in the white sand. I added some of our dry sand toys and then a couple of pots from our play kitchen. Another winner. But, a messy one. Be warned sand gets everywhere. Actually any filler really does, even the millet from above.
This was another favorite. Our Valentine’s bin. Lots of red and pink. I used popsicle sticks, pom poms, red blocks, and some dye cuts of teddy bears. I used some grassy stuff for the filler. It was fun to dig and see how many things we could find!
This is simply a shot of the sensory table. The filler in there is really just pom poms and that’s it. My girl loves pom poms. Sometimes I will add just a certain amount of a toy or craft and let her play with that.

For example, a few weeks ago we had our Annual BBQ, we normally have anywhere from 40 to 60 people and tons of kids! I was a bit worried because it was raining in the morning so I was trying to prepare if we moved all those people into our house. So, I added pegs and peg boards to the sensory bin. This was something everyone could play with, and more importantly not messy. Now these are a bit pricier than my dollar bin stuff, but they are from Oriental Trading Company. Another really great place to buy sensory, but when you buy from them you tend to buy a lot of one item. So, find someone with young kids to split with, that’s what I did. Worked perfectly!

Sensory bins are perfect for keeping little ones busy and I love that as our daughter grows the bins can grow with her. Plus, it’s a really great place to contain things like pegs and peg boards, or other toys that have tons of pieces. And if you are looking for more sensory ideas hop over to my blog, I  love posting my sensory table ideas.
Happy Sensory Planning!