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!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Road Tripping With Your Toddler

I remember taking my first road trip with my daughter, just three months old. I was absolutely terrified. And I had one of my best friends with me! 
I think of how nervous I was when I made that first road trip and now looking back it was easy compared to what it's like traveling with a toddler. Especially a toddler as busy as mine!
I was determined to keep her busy and happy. And we all know how hard that is even when we they are not in the car!
I started with gathering up my sensory stuff. She loves her sensory table and I thought using some of those items would be good for the trip. But, I also gathered up some of our smaller activities I had laying around. I also brought out some new toys that I had in the basement from Christmas' and Birthdays past. 
The next thing I did was head to the Dollar Tree and purchased about 15 pencil pouches. I needed something to store all of the different activities in and I needed them to be easy for me to grab and hand back to her. 
All in all I had roughly 25 different activities for her to do. One for every half an hour we were driving. The trip to Indiana is about 12 hours. 
I think my favorite was the "after dark" bag. Once daylight is gone you have to get creative. Even with a DVD player in our car a kid can only watch so much TV. This one kept her occupied for quite some time! This is the world's worst picture, but basically what I did was pack some her glow sticks, a few strands of battery operated lights and I let her go to town playing with them. She loves "after dark" activities when we are at home so I knew this would be a hit!
Another favorite was this snack box. I used a simple bead organizer and filled it was various snacks that were her favorite. This also kept her occupied for a good amount of time. My kid loves to eat!

One thing I made sure to do was let her out of her car seat every time we stopped. When it was just my husband and I we would always keep moving. But, with a kid you aren't that lucky. I let her out at gas stations to run and climb and I also made it a point to sit down for meals. I used McDonald's play land like it was nobody's business too!
Traveling with a toddler can be daunting, but being prepared for just about everything helps make it less daunting. 

I would love to hear your tips for traveling with toddlers!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Choppity, Chop, Chop

Choppity, Chop, Chop
Choppity. Chop, Chop
Look at our semis go!
Choppity, Chop, Chop
Choppity, Chop, Chop
Over the fields we've grown!
Sorry, I really couldn't resist. That little song popped into my head at about 11 P.M. when I was laying in bed waiting for my farmer to come home and then I decided I was starving and got out of bed to make him and I a midnight snack of eggs and sausage.
Yes, sometimes we eat our meals together at midnight. It's the farmer way of life.
So, in case you didn't get it from my little rhyme we are in the fields! And it feels beautiful to be there. The weather has been just about perfect for me (remember all my hormones are raging!) so I am loving the coolness of the temps. Although, we could have done without the light frost some received in our area a few nights ago. And I am guessing out in western South Dakota where it snowed last week, they very easily could have done without that.
We are a few weeks into chopping corn silage. That's where the entire corn stalk gets ground up into tiny pieces. We use every part of the plant, except the roots, for feeding our cattle through the winter. 
We start chopping when the corn plant is just starting to turn. You can cut corn silage later in the life cycle- when the plant itself is more brown, but it will yield about 30% less than a younger crop. 
Since the corn plant is still alive when it's chopped it's still producing carbon dioxide and heat. Once we chop the silage and pack it into our feed bunk we tarp our pile down and get out all the air. It seals  up nice and tight so that the plant essentially stops breathing. The corn silage begins to ferment. It takes about three weeks to fully ferment.
And this makes the perfect feed for our cattle!
Back in 2011 I made this video. But the process of chopping corn silage is still the same on our farm. 
It feels good to be in the fields, but it isn't any fun in our house right now...we are all fighting colds, allergies, and ear infections. But, harvest is moving smoothly so far!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our Little Baseball Player

For the first time in a few years we were finally able to make it up to the cities over the weekend to go to a Minnesota Twins game and to visit with friends. 

We had a great weekend and Ellie was super, super excited when we told her we were going to go to a baseball game. She loves sitting with Daddy on the couch and watching baseball. 

So, it's safe to say she had a really great time at the game! It was pretty hot, well- really hot, so we got lots of cold treats for her to enjoy and she was already asking the next day if we were going to another baseball game!

If our tiny girl follows in her Mommy's footsteps she will play softball and if she follows in her Daddy's she will love baseball. Both would be lots of fun for our family!