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Sunday, March 3, 2013

We've moved!

The website is built and live!  You can find it here:

The blog has been migrated to the website.  It has a new look as well.
You can find it here:

I won't be updating this page anymore, so please change your blogroll or bookmarks or whatever...

See you over at the new site!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just a Note

...to say that the blog is going to be quiet this week as I am working very hard to get our farm website up and running and migrating this blog.  I can only do one techie thing at a time and, truth be told, I'm depending heavily on my friends to help me with this one.  So, until next week....

Friday, February 22, 2013

Top 10 Things I Learned At the Moses Organic Conference

Day One of the MOSES conference is in the books.  And, folks, it was a great one!  I'd like to share the  Top 10 Things I Learned At the Moses Organic Conference:

1.  Diverse is how I would describe the attendees.  Where else would you see an elderly Amish woman sitting next to a pink haired young man with giant washers in his ears and they are both there to learn how to raise dairy cows without grain??

2.  Organic and sustainable farming is NOT taking farming into the 1800's.  You would not believe the technical research, tools and management that are available.  It is inspiring and amazing!

3.  I had the greatest conversation with a hoophouse salesman and he pointed me to a solution at another booth.  Where else would THAT happen?

4.  As a non-coffee drinker, it is rare to be at a meeting or conference and have alternative beverages available.  But, here at MOSES, there are organic milks, juices, teas, coffees, and water.

5.  The bookstore is nothing short of amazing.  I was very careful with my purchases and spent about $50 for four books:

  • Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel
  • The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier
  • The Herbal Home Remedy Book by Joyce A. Wardell
  • The Economics of Happiness by Mark Anielski
6.  Listening to other farmers talk about their operations, their successes and challenges is the most amazing part of this conference.  The solutions for common problems are elegant in their simplicity.  Let's not over think it!

7.  One of my favorite fellow woman farmers is from Maine.  Abby and I farm in similar ways and face similar challenges.  We spent our first two sessions together and shared our responses...to be able to share and have someone know EXACTLY how you feel and been there themselves is so empowering and comforting.

8.  My friend Lori got to meet one of her hoophouse heroes and visited for almost an hour with him.  And although I didn't know who he was, for her it was like spending an hour with Uncle Joel would be for me.

9.  It is completely and utterly impossible NOT to be inspired to grow something, ANYTHING when you are here.

10.  The food is great.  The workshops are great.  The people are great.  What's not to love??

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thankfully there wasn't a spoon handy

I have spent the past day and a half in meetings.  Painful meetings.  The organization that I work for is a member of a collaborative group of like-minded organizations who all provide a particular training course.  We meet as a group twice a year and are currently going through a strategic planning phase.

Just typing the words "strategic plan" makes me twitch.

I've done strategic planning for other organizations and groups.  And it has never, NEVER been as painful as this process has been.  I had to take an extended lunch break just so that I could decompress and regroup.

"What's the problem?", you ask.

Well, you see, I'm a doer.  I do things.  I like to do things.  I don't like to sit and discuss things until there is absolutely nothing left to discuss and then discuss the fact that there is nothing left to discuss.  It makes my head hurt and my blood pressure rise.  As an introvert, I detest small talk.  Get to point and move on.  This strategic planning session was all SMALL TALK.  I just about couldn't take it, I was looking for a way out.  There weren't any spoons handy or I would have gouged my own eyes out.

But...that torture has ceased and it's on to the MOSES Organic Conference tomorrow and I. CANNOT.  WAIT!!!  Lots to see, do, and learn.  People to meet and re-meet.  Books and literature to buy.  Organic food to eat.  Just soak it in and be inspired.

Ahhhhhhhhh, I can feel sustainable agriculture seeping into my very pores and it feels so good!

Monday, February 18, 2013

House Tour: The Laundry Room

**We moved in November and we just starting to get situated and unpacking all of the stuff we brought with us.  Not just unpacking, but making it our home.  Here's a virtual tour:

In our former home, the laundry was in an alcove just off the kitchen and visible to all.  My sewing room and our office shared a room.  In our new (to us) home, things are a little different!  Hubby and I share an office that doubles as a schoolroom for the kiddos.  As Hubby says, "This is where we work and learn.  We don't play in here!"  (This is to avoid an influx of legos, potato heads, and cowboys.)

It excites me to no end to have a room I can close the door on the laundry and a room where I can create!  Welcome to my room...

I bought this jelly cabinet at an auction for a dollar.  Original milk paint and finish.  It stores my fabric stash organized by color families.

This lamp is without a shade.  It was made by my dear friend Doris, who had a custom made lampshade to match her bedroom.  I was helping her at her rummage sale when a woman bought her bedroom bedding.  I tried to talk her into buying the matching lamps.  She argued that she already had lamps but did like the shades.  I told her if she wanted the shades, I would split the cost with her and I'd take the bases.  I got two of these awesome lamps for $5!!  Now, to make a shade...

Here's the laundry section.  I was using the washer as an ironing station.  (Yes, I know there's an ironing board right there, but I was doing small projects and didn't want to set that big thing up.)

 A large storage unit for supplies, books and patterns.  Also, my scrap baskets (one for strips and one for misc. scraps), my yarn stash, stamps and paper goods.
 Usually my sewing machine is stored in the cabinet which folds up, but I'm sewing late into the nights these days so I'm leaving it open.  (Current project on the chair...)

This is a closet for smaller supplies:  paint, brushes, sewing notions, tools, buttons, batting, stuffing, etc.

 This is my crafting table/folding laundry table.  There is room underneath for laundry baskets to fold into.  

The space above is filled with small wooden paintings from the first artist I ever knew.  She was an older neighbor lady who loved to paint the things in her life.  My mom bought all of these and kept them wrapped away in a box. When I was cleaning out this house, I found this treasure!

 Simple things like a lilac painted on a piece of lilac wood.
A meadowlark on a piece of old fencepost (where you will most often find meadowlarks, perched on fenceposts).
Her mailbox and her cat, looking at a butterfly.

I love these pieces!  They inspire me to create from the world around me.

 My mom is a professional crafter and I sold the vast majority of her stuff because there is no way I could keep it all, nor do something with all of it.  My rule was:  If I don't have a plan to use it in the next five years, I didn't keep it.

Here's something I did keep, baby blanket flannel.  When we were pregnant with Kiddo1, we took a class called "Happiest Baby on the Block" that absolutely saved us as parents.  One aspect of that is to swaddle your baby.  But the swaddle blankets sold in stores are too small once your baby is about a month old.  You need bigger ones to swaddle bigger babies!  So I made a stack of fourteen swaddle blankets from my mom's stash that we will donate to the class.  To help other parents (who may not be able to sew their own swaddle blankets) have peaceful and happy babies!

Speaking of stash...this is my UFO stash.  My UnFinished Objects stash.  It's an entire laundry basket!  And that's after I went through it to weed out the stuff that I don't want to finish and never want to see again (which was three small things).  That black quilt is my nemesis.  I've called it naughty names.  It's beautiful, which is why I don't just burn it in frustration.  I'm going to ask a friend of mine with a long arm quilter if she will finish it for me and save me from myself!
The other items are table runners I just need to add borders to and quilt.  A paper-pieced wall quilt that will be stunning.  Some embroidery projects that need framing.  A series of monthly snowman wall quilts that I'm working on right now.

Then there's my mom's stash!  Again, I only kept the projects that I knew I would do in the next five years.  This basket is AFTER I sewed up all that flannel!

I've decided I need to do some stash-busting if I want to do any new projects before spring hits.  So each night I'm working from 9:30ish until 1am on sewing down that stash.

Here's what I did last night!

This is Kiddo3's baby quilt.  Doesn't it just make you happy?  It's totally her.  Hubby asked, "Is this the quilt she'll never sleep with?"  Yes.  Yes, it is.  I did an heirloom quilt for Kiddo1 that I hand appliqued and hand embroidered.  Kiddo2's quilt is hand pieced (and not done, about halfway).  I would hand or machine quilt these, but Hubby has four wonderful aunts who handquilt.  I love that my kids will each have a piece made by their mom and handquilted by their great-aunts!

Do you have a "space" that allows you to create??

Friday, February 15, 2013

When in winter...

 We're raising farm kids.  On the prairie.  In North Dakota.  We're tough.  A little snow doesn't bother us, it gets us excited!

My kids' favorite activity this past week is to take their sleds and go sledding down a little hill across from our house.

Dad helped them get started and showed them the ropes.

And then they were off!

And there were some tumbles!
(Yes, I know my youngest child was not wearing mittens.  The rule is if she takes her mittens off, she has to go inside.  She went inside with me after this ride.  She left them on the next day, however.)

Sledding really tires out the kiddos.  Kiddo3 fell asleep between the office and the kitchen!

What are you doing outside this winter??

Thursday, February 14, 2013

House Tour: The Larder

**We moved in November and we are just now starting to get situated and unpacking all of the stuff we brought with us.  Not just unpacking, but making it our home.  Here's a virtual tour:

We have a room in our house we call the "larder" or the "fruit room".  I'm trying to call it the larder because it contains so much more than fruit.  

This is the view from the door.  The freezer contains our personal meat/frozen food supply.

I'll give you a tour of the larder, but late winter is the wrong time to show it.  We've been eating a lot of this food over the winter!!  So, this is the inventory as of the middle of February....

This is our jelly/jam shelf.  There's chokecherry, plum, peach, blueberry, jalapeno, strawberry.
It's also the syrup shelf:  plum and blueberry -- both excellent on pancakes and waffles.  
I will probably make syrup this year, but no more jelly/jam (unless the chokecherries bear well, then we ALWAYS make more chokecherry jelly).

Pickled good are on top of this shelf.  Cucumber pickles, relishes, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets.  My dear Hubby does not like my pickled beets.  He likes his mother's recipe.  I didn't know this when I pickled bushels of beets two year ago.  Therefore, I eat a lot of pickled beets.  (He also doesn't like bread and butter pickles...oh well, more for me!)  The empty shelf will be canned beans, it's on my list to do!

This is a tomato shelf.  On the top left is quarts of ketchup, then yellow salsa, red salsa and BBQ sauce on the right.  The second shelf is quarts of tomato sauce on the left and spaghetti sauce on the right.  I obviously did not make enough spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce...I'm out!

Fruit on the top shelf:  Applesauce on the left (We thought we were out of applesauce so finding these jars when we unpacked was a pleasant surprise.  All of our kids loved applesauce as a baby food, especially mixed with other foods, so we used a lot of it.  Usually I'm gifted with pails and pails of apples in the fall, but this years crop did not do well so NO APPLES and no applesauce for this house in 2012.), sliced peaches in the middle and pitted cherries on the right.
The bottom shelf is canned veggies:  sauerkraut on the left and peas next door.

This shelf is meat and meals-in-jar:  on top is some pints of ham and a lone quart of chicken broth.  I usually can meat in March and April, cleaning out the freezer for new meat coming in the summer and fall.  Plus, that's when I have time to do it.  It's also the time I can a lot of meals in a jar to have ready for the summer months.  Right now, the second shelf holds soups:  split pea, white chicken chili, bean with ham, vegetable and tomato.  Great for a quick, hot winter lunch!
(The shelf behind this one contains some tools and such from Hubby's repair work and our honey supply.)

This is my purchased items storage.  

I bless my dad for adding this little door when he built this basement in the late '80s.  This gem opens to a root cellar where we can store potatoes, onions, garlic, squashes, cabbages, etc.  It needs to be swept out and then we'll be ready for the fall.

The lower shelves of each unit contain empty jars.

During the spring, summer and fall they will be filled with good food for my family to eat.

That concludes our tour of the larder!