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!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet Corn Time

It seems that the sweet corn season is well underway, in some places nearly at its finish.

A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet on a rainy week day and started doing my sweet corn!

Ellie and I went down to the sweet corn patch in our rain gear and started picking. Then her Pop Pop came and got her and let her ride in the truck while he hauled corn. 

But, I managed to get over 150 ears of corn. That is a whole lot of picking! I only used about 120 for freezing and then I gave away or grilled the rest of the sweet corn. 

I didn't do a play by play this year. I just buckled down and started working. It took a bit of time this year, I did it on my own and my hands were super numb by the end from my electric knife. 

But, if you are looking for a really nice summer treat in the middle of winter here is my step by step from last year. I suggest stocking up now! A good half days of work will give you corn all winter long!

This is our sweet corn patch. The short stuff in the front is the sweet corn, the green tips you see at the very top is actually our field corn in the back. 

I spent about an hour picking over 100 ears of corn while our daughter napped. I brought the pick up and lots of old tubs to store the corn until I could get home to start shucking. 

Since my daughter was still napping when I got home I stood outside and shucked all the corn, I threw all the husks in our feed bunks for a treat for our cattle behind the house. 

I then brought them inside a little at a time and lined them up on the counter. 

I started boiling two pots of water. Keep a few large measuring cups on hand because the more you boil the more water will evaporate out and you will have to add more. 

I put five ears in each pot, so ten total, and boiled for about 6 to 8 minutes. 

I then transferred them from the pots to my kitchen sink that was filled with ice cold water, to blanch them...or stop the cooking process. My kitchen sink was scrubbed clean before I filled it with ice cold water. 

Once the ears were cool I transferred them to the counter in a pan and my husband started the cutting. We used an electric knife to shave off, which I used last time, but a the new tip is adding this bundt pan underneath. It has the perfect spot to sit the corn to shave off into the pan. 

Have a place to discard the ears. 

And once your bundt pan is filled dump it into a bigger bowl. 

I then put about a cup and a half into regular sandwich baggies and laid them flat for freezing. My 100 plus ears of corn should give us enough sweet corn for one bag a week for the next year! 

This is such a simple process it's perfect to stop at your local farmer's market and pick up a couple dozen, or ten dozen, and make an evening of it like we did! It was a perfect, fun little date night after our daughter went to bed!