Monday, January 5, 2015

Perfect Valentine's Day Gift for Farmers and Farmers at Heart

A perfect gift for Valentine's Day for you and your Farmer/Farmer's wife, Farmer's girlfriend/boyfriend - Farmer's anything!

This is a great statement to make about our honorable profession and calling. Wear it with pride.

Click on the buy now button on the side bar to order.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Farmer's New Year Resolution

So, are you making any resolutions this year? January 1 is approaching and there is a lot of pressure resting on that day. Many are starting with a renewed vim, vigor and determination. Diets are planned, bad habits are shoved to the side and good intentions are thicker than picky on a porcupine.

The definition of resolution is:
1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.

2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action determined or decided on.

There is a lot of optimism and hope flying around this time of the year.

Optimism is a necessary element that runs through a farmer's veins. As important as oxygen.

In the past forty years of farming together we have watched army worms march through fields, acquired lake front property where a corn field should be and felt the premature brown grass crunch under our feet. But, we're still here.

It rained too much, not enough, too hard or too fast. It's been too cold, or way too hot. But, we're still here.

We watched newly sewn alfalfa fields wash away into the road and witnessed the corn curl up and die from extreme heat. We've worked through sick animals, broken down equipment and eaten enough dirt and dust for a lifetime. But, we're still here.

We've survived sour milk prices while paying healthy feed, seed, fuel and equipment prices. We've put out fires of the physical and emotional kind. But, we're still here.

We feel called to tend the land God gave us and will continue to until he changes our minds.

It's that "but" that keeps us going. With every year and every challenge the song that plays in our heads - "There's always next year."

So, while most people jump on the optimistic parade of roses float, we ride the dust covered optimistic wagon on a daily basis.

The wagon trail has been bumpy and full of ruts, but, man oh man, the views and lessons are incredible.

A new born calf wobbling on his new unused legs, freshly plowed earth, an early morning walk down the lane, tiny new corn plants breaking through the crust of the ground, lightening bugs - God's fireworks, are all boosts to our immune system.

Lunches eaten on the tailgate of the pickup, walking home under the stars and late night ice cream runs are rewards.

Even now as the brown earth sleeps under a blanket of snow, hope lies deep within a farmer's heart. While thawing out frozen water pipes and fingers thoughts of tilling the soil are close. While wading through knee deep snow the contemplation of making hay is a companion.

While paying year end bills and trusting there will be enough to cover what needs to be met, hope reigns.

So, while some of you may be making New Year's resolutions that may last a few weeks or maybe even a few months, a Farmer's resolutions lasts a lifetime.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Red Velvet Cake with Creamy White Frosting

We are celebrating Son #2's birthday and he will say his birthday isn't over until he's sick from eating too much Red Velvet Cake. Most of the family agrees. Here is the recipe and I must say it is worth getting sick over.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together 1 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C Crisco.

Add and mix well 2 eggs and 1 t vanilla. No matter how hard I try I always drip and dribble the vanilla down the bottle.

Add and mix 2 T cocoa and 1 oz. - 1 bottle of red food coloring. Mix slowly to begin because the cocoa will poof all over.

Isn't it lovely?

Add and mix alternately 2 1/2 C flour and 1 C buttermilk.

This is the fun science project part. Add 1 t soda to 1 T vinegar and watch it fizz. Add it to the mix and stir in thoroughly.

Still a lovely sight.

Grease two 9 inch pans and then line the bottom with parchment paper to help the cake release easier after baking.

Set the pan on the paper and trace and cut.

I'm not sure what these strips are called but they are in the baking section at stores like Michaels. You wet them, then wrap them around your pans. Somehow, magically it makes the cakes rise level. You know how you always have a hump in the middle of your cake? This makes the cake nice, level and easier for stacking.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes - I think. I always go by sight and testing. Remove the cake as soon as a toothpick comes out clean. In fact, I remove the cake a touch sooner - I like moist cakes. Do NOT over bake.
 White Creamy Frosting

Cook on the stove 1 C milk and 3 T flour. Stir and cook until thick and bubbles. It will look like wall paper glue - but tastes much better when added to the rest of the ingredients. Let cool completely.

Mix, mix, mix, mix and you get the idea - mix like crazy 1 C softened butter, 1 C sugar and 1 t vanilla. Add the cooled mixture to the beaten sugar mixture.
See how fluffy?

I throw it in my wonderful Kitchen Aid and walk away for awhile.
To make clean up easier when frosting cake, place wax paper or parchment paper like this.
Slather a nice layer on the first cake.

Add the second layer, frost and carefully pull the paper out to expose a nice clean plate.
Perhaps you will add this "eat until you're sick" tradition to your family. Wear sweat pants or other pants with elastic waist to make this process easier. Enjoy.

Molasses Cookies

I got a hankering for molasses cookies like we used to get when we went up north to the cottage. And, this is what I came up with.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together:
1 1/2 C Crisco
2 C sugar

Add and mix well:
2 eggs
1/2 C molasses

Add and mix together:
4 t soda
2 t cinnamon
1 t cloves
1 t ginger
1 t salt
3 1/2 C flour - add 1/2 of this and mix before adding the rest.

I use scoops for my cookies. Take a flat dish like a pie dish and pour sugar in enough to cover the bottom. Drop a few scoops into the dish. Pick up each cookie, flip over and place on cookie sheet and press down - make sure the sugar side is up. Also, I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper for easier clean up. If you don't use parchment paper I think you might need to grease the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes - as soon as the cookie starts to crack on top, take out. DON'T over bake. Take them out as soon as a nice crackle appears.

To make them extra good - eat with a cup of cold milk!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

REWIND WEDNESDAY - Calf Feeding, Then and Now

One of our BEBettes with her coat.
This post was original in the spring of 2013.

Yesterday Farmer had calf duty. Our normal calf guy was off.

I got home from the bookstore, where I work part-time, in the afternoon just in time to help.

What a difference 40 years can make.

The first year I was married I helped my father-in-law feed calves, we fed about 120 for the whole year. We had them in an older barn in two or three pens. Colostrum mixed with calf starter was fed. After we mixed it in the parlor we would carry the 5 gallon pails full of milk up the hill, sloshing all the way and feed by bottle and pails. The calves would share bottles and pails. We would try to feed two at a time while fending off the others that wanted their turn or thought they needed more.

Our next upgrade was wooden calf hutches outside. The calves were in individual hutches outside in the hot, sweaty sunshine, soggy rain and miserable snow. Carrying the pails even farther with the sloshing ensued. In the winter we had the extra pleasure of our pant legs being frozen stiff from the spilled milk.

The calf hutches were replaced with domes. White igloos. They were better for the calves but didn’t really ease our work. On one particular stormy day one of the domes blew away. It rolled on its side and rolled over a mile away. Thankfully the calf was left behind. I have visions of the neighbors who might have watched the hutch roll past their window wondering “what the heck is that”.

With the first calf barn came many improvements.

Cutie with her blue coat.
We now have two calf barns. Each barn has individual stalls and group pens.

Each calf has its own stall that is washed with Tide and bleach when the new calf arrives and the older one is moved to its new location.

Each calf has its own pail that is not shared.

The stalls are positioned so the calves cannot come in contact with each other to spread illnesses.

Each barn has a warm room where water and milk replacer is mixed which requires minimal carrying.

Approximately 1200 calves are born a year and we have a full time calf person. It’s quite a difference from 40 years ago when I came on the scene. 
Stall #8
I almost forgot. This little gal in stall #8 didn't want to get up to eat and she had a runny nose.
Digital thermometer.
Just like real babies, up the hiney it goes.
 Calves temps should be around 102.5, so she received a shot for pneumonia.

Here are a few more of our cute litle BEBettes.

I love her curly hair.

Even though she needs her face washed she's still adorable.

Waiting. . . waiting. . . waiting.

It doesn't take long to finish off their lunch.

Celebrate the ordinary

Today is the only day you have. Don't wish it away, worry it away or plan it away. Your ordinary days add up to life.

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