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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why my children won't be trick-or-treating

For the past four years, my kids have dressed up for Halloween.

Yes, we recycle costumes.

We have done the "neighborhood" and grandma's. 

We have done Trunk or Treat.

 And while it fun for the kids to wear their costumes, it is torture on the parents to get them dressed, buckled in and out of carseats, staying up to late and eating WAY too much candy.

And the candy put us over the edge last year.  Our kids don't often get candy.  And when they do it is a small piece here or there.  Most of the time, a treat in our house is homemade cookies or pie...not pure sugar candy loaded with dyes and colors.

It took us two days to detox them from their evening of fun.  They were crabby and cranky and had tummy aches.  Hubby and I vowed "never again"!

What put me over the edge this year was when I went to look for costumes.  Apparently, when girls reach size 5T, that's when they quit wearing cute costumes and start dressing as miniature hookers.  My daughter will not be an off-the-shoulder princess, a pirate's booty, or a sexy witch.  She and I were hoping for a ladybug.  And we were denied.

So, it was either make their costumes myself or we just skip Halloween all-together.  Since I have no time this year for costume design and construction and we still have the bad taste from the candy detox in our mouths (pun completely intended), we are taking the year off.

In our house, it's just another day filled with fun, games, toys and laughter.  But it won't be filled with buckets of candy and scantily clad young girls.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Ready to Roll

Now that we're moooo-ving,

it's time to get the free trailer road and animal ready.

We divided the workload to best suit our gifts and abilities.

Meaning Hubby took all things metal.  I took all things wood. 

The trailer needed a new floor and Hubby graciously pulled all the rotted boards out for me.

Here was my mission and I chose to accept it. 

Cover that floor with boards because these girls need to get to their new home.  
(And I didn't think the current Flintstone-esque set-up would work very well.)

So I got out my trusty circular saw, stuck a pencil in my hair and got to work.

A stack of new lumber awaited my tape measure, pencil and saw.

And less than three hours later, we had a new floor!

Complete with custom rounded front.

And I'm happy to report that Hubby changed the bearings that needed to be replaced and put new tires on.  We're ready to roll!

Monday, October 29, 2012

You Can Go Home Again

I'm going home.

Home to the house I grew up in.

Home to the barns and corrals and fields that raised me.

(Yes, that is me riding a sheep.  Ironically, his name was Henry and he was our pet for 11 years!)

But I'm not going alone.

I'm taking this bunch with me.

Already, word is getting out that we don't farm like everybody else.  There's one of these up there and it's got the community talking.

On Monday, November 5th, I'm headed home to make my home.  We're buying my parents' farmstead.  We're moving our family and our business.  Our current customers have no need to worry, we will still serve them as usual.  We'll just be in a different location.

You might be thinking, "This seems a bit sudden."
These plans have been in the works for almost two years.  Hubby and I had talked about moving for a few different reasons.  I said, "If we're going to move somewhere, let's move somewhere that means something to us."  So we called my parents and said, "If you ever want to sell the farm, we'd be interested.  We don't want an answer now.  Take a few days.  Think about it, pray about it and then we'll talk."

The phone rang an hour later.  "Nothing would make us happier than for you to take over the farm."  According to Mom, Dad had tears in his eyes because his farm would stay in our family.  My children are the 4th generation to live and work on that land.  Until the day he died, he kept saying how proud he was that I and Hubby were going to take over the farm.

He knew we wouldn't farm in the traditional way and that made him even prouder.  Every time he visited our farm here, he would want to see what we were doing.  Asked questions and listened to our explanations.  Provided encouragement.

It is sweet and humbling to take over your father's farm.  To walk the paths he walked, to hold his tools, to open his gates.  To take what he built and do more.

I'll share more of this physical and emotional journey over the next weeks and months.  But for now, I'll be deep into boxes.  If you'd like to help, we're packing the truck around 10am on Monday the 5th and unloading late afternoon at THE FARM.  I promise there isn't as much as stuff as THE SALE.

You can go home again...I'd like you to come along!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ask Annie - Volume II

Fantastic and fun questions again this week!  Thank you to everyone who asked...I'm happy to answer,

1.  What is hotdish?
Quite obviously the person who asked this question is not a ND or MN native.  My friend, Lori, had only lived in this state for a month when her California born and bred taste buds were introduced to hotdish.
(This is the classic "OGT - Olive Garden Topper")

Simply put, hotdish to us is often "casserole" to the rest of the planet.  It has a starch base (potatoes, noodles, or rice), some kind of meat and a sauce (of either cream or tomato).  Vegetables may or may not be included.  You can make it on the stovetop or cook it in the oven.
(And the legendary "Scottdish")

Hotdishes are the cornerstone of any good potluck.  Wait...potluck is also a regional term.  Did you know that in the south, they call it a "coverdish"???  Potluck, or coverdish, is a wonderful event where everyone brings a dish and we all share.  I come from a church that does potlucks at the drop of a hat.  Or the mention that there might be a hat dropping.  We do love us some potluck!

2.  How do you put the cover on your hoophouse?
---With a grunt and a groan and an "oh-my-goodness"!

But seriously, we've done it two ways.  Neither way was suggested in the assembly manual.  The first time we put the cover on, it was in hurricane force winds.  We bunched it up and pulled and pushed it up and over one end of the hoophouse.  Then we secured that end and pulled it (with the wind) across the frame and secured the other end.

This past week we put the cover on again (because we moved the hoophouse).  Hubby climbed to the top of the peak on one end with a ladder.  I handed up the cover and he pulled it onto the top purlin.  Then I pulled the sides on (going back and forth to keep them semi-even).  This worked really well!

In case you were wondering, the assembly manual says to tie ropes on across one side edge, toss the ropes over the frame and then pull the cover over.  Maybe next time...

3.  What is the easiest way to grow potatoes in a small backyard garden?
---Potatoes are so fun to grow!  And I have never met a potato I didn't like.  That makes them the top of my list of garden must haves.  Before I married Hubby, I lived in a small town.  I had a small garden.  And I had potatoes.  Potatoes can be planted fairly close together which allows you to maximize garden space.  They aren't fussy:  the don't like too much water or too fertile of soil.

There are some people who have grown potatoes in garbage cans and tires.  From what I hear, these methods were either a huge success or a colossal failure.  It's 50/50 at best.  I prefer good old soil to grow my potatoes.  But if space is an issue, you can use extra large totes to grow potatoes in...but I'd only do that if I was desperate.  

Bottom line, I'd save space on other vegetables by trellising my pole beans, peas, cucumbers, etc. and saving space for potatoes.

But that's from a gal that's never met a potato she didn't like.

4.  What is the easiest thing to try and can the first time?
---I get this question a lot.  And my answer is this:  fruit or jam.

Peaches are super easy and the taste of a homecanned peach during the dead of winter transports you right back to summer time!  Here's how to can them!

Jam is just as easy, but slightly different.  My sister and I canned jam our first time and that's how I was bit by the canning bug!

I must warn you, once you start canning, you'll can everything.  Hubby often jokes that if he leaves something in my kitchen too long I'll can it!  

The most important thing is to have a good canning book (I recommend Jackie Clay's Growing and Canning Your Own Food) and clean equipment.  The process of canning is the same whether you are canning chokecherries or chicken, taco meat or tomato soup.  The only thing that changes is what goes in the jar and how long you process it.

5.  What quilt do you really want to make but haven't gotten to yet and why?
---Oh boy!  There's a few of them.  I just went through all my books and patterns and only kept the ones I REALLY wanted to make.  But if I have to pick one, it's this one:
I love just about everything by Crab-apple Hill!  I'm a sucker for embroidery and piecing together and this lap-size quilt is gorgeous.  I don't think I will do it in this colorway.  I'm torn between doing a sepia and cream or doing hunter green, red, cream with hunter green embroidery for Christmas.  It's at the top of my list for this winter...after I finish some UFO's.

Why haven't I gotten to this project?  The short answer is Kiddos.
The long answer is that it requires a tremendous amount of tracing and I don't have a lightbox, so I would be tracing vertically on a window and I just can't get excited about that part of it.  Now, if I had a preprinted panel?  I'd be done.

6.  What quilt store would you like to buy the fabric and why do you like that quilt store?
---This could get me into trouble...
I have a LOT of favorite places to buy fabric.  But I'll narrow it down to two:
          The gals at the QC know their stuff.  Especially Linda and Paulette, two sisters who make me laugh until I cry.  Linda and I share a passion and love of handwork (she taught me to English paper piece and for that I am eternally grateful).  The QC also stocks embroidery, yarn, etc. for other types of handcrafting.  Their classes are fantastic!  For years, my two quilting friends from Bismarck and I would go to a weekend retreat there and eat and sew and eat and sew.  The rule was when you sewed through your finger, you had to go to bed.

          This quilt shop overwhelms me every time I go there.  And I go there anytime I'm within 50 miles of Perham.  This is one shop you MUST detour for.  Why?  First of all, they have in-house designers so they have one-of-a-kind patterns you can't get anywhere else.  And they have samples and kits of everything.  Second, their fabric selection is second to none.  Any type, any colorway...they have it.  I bought the fabric for Kiddo3's baby quilt there.  Had no idea what I wanted and found something I wouldn't normally pick, but I love it and can't wait to finish it!  (She's almost 2 so it's about time!)

Like I said, these were fantastic and fun questions.  Thanks so much!

If you have a question you'd like answered in "Ask Annie", leave it in the comments and I'll answer it next time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Calling Your Children Names

This is my baby.  When she was born her brother couldn't say her name.  He called her "Elnote".  Which Hubby and I responded, "Well, that's Spanish for 'The Note'"!
And from then on she's been The Note, or Notey.  Sometimes LoveNote or QuarterNote.

Our other two children have had nicknames, but none that have been as well-used or as long-lasting as The Note.

This week I dedicated a whole day to bread baking to fill my freezer with some loaves and buns.
A quadruple batch yielded 24 buns and 7 loaves of bread.

My kids got up from their nap and when my back was turned... 
...buns were snitched...

...and holes were poked in loaves.

I banished them to the great outdoors and may or may not have referred to them as "BUN-STEALING-LOAF-POKERS".

I wonder if that will catch on like The Note...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

He's No Rhinestone Cowboy

As you may recall, we have a cowboy in our family.
A rough, tough cowboy.

A cowboy who potty trained pretty quickly when he was told that John Wayne and Matt Dillon didn't pee or poop in their underwear.  And neither did Gil Favor, Cowboy Sam, Shorty, Lomax, John Chisum or Mr. McClintock.

Our cowboy started doing a strange thing a few days ago.  He walked around the house holding a pair of jeans in front of him.  When we asked him "Ummm, what's up with the pants?"
He said, "They're my yudder cowboy jeans."


But it made playing and running kind of difficult.

Then Hubby was watching an episode of Rawhide with our cowboy.  As he saw Gil Favor wearing a large pair of chaps, it dawned on him that our cowboy was wanting to have chaps!
{light bulb moment here}

The call went out to grandma that chaps would be a great Christmas present.  She thought she had a Halloween costume pattern that had chaps.  

Until then, here's our cowboy with his chaps.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Tidbit - Time

Now that fall has arrived, farm life has slowed down quite a bit.  Chores don't take as long.  We have less daylight so we can sleep in and go to bed earlier.  

And we have more time for family horse rides!

Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Be a Good Hunter

It's hunting season.  {groan}

I intensely dislike hunting season.  Not because I'm a "hunting widow" or because I don't like the sport.

I intensely dislike hunting season because of stupid hunters.

Let me share some tips on how to be a good hunter:

1.  Do not park on roadways and hunt from your vehicle.  It's illegal, rude and dangerous.  And if I have to drive in the ditch to get around your oversized SUV, you can be sure I will remember it and you won't be getting access to my land.

2.  Do not come knocking on our door before dawn to ask if you can hunt.  This request needs to be made at a MINIMUM of the day before.  Which leads me to...

3.  Form relationships with landowners.  We have hunters from West Virginia who have hunted at THE FARM for 25 years.  They talk to us.  They listen.  They ask if they can help with anything.  They offer game.  They came to our basketball and football games.  They became friends.  You can be assured, these men can hunt on our land forever.

4.  Ask landowners what they would like in return.  All my dad wanted was a pheasant each year for my mom to cook.  Other farmers have different requests.  Ask them and then do it.

5.  If you think you are entitled to hunt on my land because the government is supporting farmers and you pay taxes, I am entitled to go to your basement and watch your TV because I bank at the same bank that financed your mortgage.

6.  When I say "no", you should not ask "Why not?".  I don't have to tell you that my husband will be hunting this weekend or that I already have a party out there hunting or the last two parties didn't get anything.  You should just say "thank you" and "have a nice day".  (I should also add that you shouldn't ask to talk to my husband or my dad.)

7.  When I tell you who owns the land you're asking about, you should not complain about having to drive 4 miles back the way you came to ask the proper person for permission.  Especially if you've driven all the way from Wisconsin...

8.  Pick up your trash.  Really.  All of it.

9.  Don't shoot toward livestock or buildings.  I've had shots ping off of the quonset when I've been working in the area.

10.  I want you to hunt.  I want you to enjoy yourself.  And if you're bringing a young person along...you're chances that I'll let you hunt just went up to 100%.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Just A Stiff Breeze

If you don't live in ND, the past two days have been windy.  Even above the usual ND standard breeze.  Sustained winds above 45mph and gusts to 60mph!

That's not just breezy, that's hold onto your hats and small children.

When my brother went to grad school on the east coast there was a teaser on the nightly local news that said, "It'll be really windy tomorrow, stay tuned."  Being from ND where there is always a breeze, he thought he better stay tuned to see just how windy it would be.  In a few minutes, the weather person informed him that the really windy conditions would be 5mph and gusting to 10mph.  And they were serious!  That is windy just about any other place besides ND and maybe Antarctica.

These past two days have wreaked havoc on our farm.  High winds make the animals uneasy.  It makes my goats give about half of their usual milk supply.  It makes our electric net fences blow down and animals escape.  Our sheep, goats and cow are on the loose.  And by on the loose, I mean standing around our yard.  We haven't fenced them in yet, because the wind is still hellacious but is supposed to subside tonight.  Down to 15-20mph tomorrow.  Which is practically normal!

It reminds of two days exactly two years ago when we first built our HoopCoop.  (The hoophouse that our hens live in during the winter.)  We had a two day blizzard that October, on the 17th and 18th.  And it was those two days we put the rafters and cover on our hoophouse.

It all started innocently enough, with beautiful weather.

The kids were helping us set the posts (and dropping tools down the 3 foot pipes).

Then the weather took a turn for the worse.  We called Grandma to babysit and Hubby and I put on our long underwear and got busy.

Here is my beloved 12 feet off the ground in 50mph winds. 

Why wasn't I up there, you ask?

Because I was six months pregnant with this little cutie right here:

No ma'am, I stayed right there on the ground and held onto the giant plastic sheet that is the hoophouse cover.   

I am  happy to report that I was only lifted off the ground once by the violent winds.  I called my sister later that night and said, "If you would have looked up and saw a large white kite sailing over Iowa, it would have been me!"

But we fought through strong winds, frozen hands, wet clothes and damp directions to finish our hoophouse.  We moved the hens in the next day and they loved it!  Heck, WE loved it.  Most days it's warmer than Florida in there.

Here's hoping for a calm day tomorrow!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How We Met - Her Version

I am often asked how Hubby and I met.  And because neither one of us was in the witness protection program, I can tell you how it happened.

The rule in my parents' house was "no dating until you're sixteen".  Come December 7th, 1992, I was ready.  Only one problem, I was born with man-repellant.  And not just any man-repellant.  A man-repellant so strong that no one could penetrate it.  For almost 13 years, I repulsed every male of the species.  I lived in a small town and commuted to the big city to work in a school with older married teacher and then an office building where only 10% of the workforce were men.  I went to a church where I was the youngest person by twenty years. I wasn't sure where I was supposed to meet Mr. Eligible, let alone Mr. Right.

Fast forward to summer 2005, my brother had been trying internet dating and he suggested I give it a try.  I told him, "Internet dating is desperate and sad."  He said, "Then it's perfect for you!"  (Never one to mince words, that brother of mine.)  Plus, the Christian site he was on was running a special:  six months for $35.  And I'd done dumber things with $35.  

So I filled out the form and clicked "Submit" and (as my sister called it) went man-shopping.  The first thing you learn about internet dating is that there are crazies out there.  Oh yes, siree!  But you also learn to spot them pretty quick.  And run for the hills. 

About a month into my shopping experience, I received a "flirt" from a guy in ND.  This was exciting, a local!!  I accepted and sent one back.  We messaged a couple of times.  Then one evening, we were both online and he sent me a chat request.  And we chatted for three hours.  He asked me if I could drive a tractor, a stick shift and a truck.  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.  Then he asked me what color tractors I liked.  

This was the make it or break it question.  

I typed G-R-E-E-N and held my breath.

He replied, "Good."


A couple more evenings of chatting online and he asked me if I had a phone.  And, because I think if you're going to ask a stupid question you should get a stupid answer, I typed, "Yes, but it's down at the livery and we all share it."

Then he typed, "Does that phone have a number?"  I gave him my number and he told me when he would call.  

That first phone call lasted for four hours.  We both grew up in farming families.  We both were close with our families.  We both had our own homes and dogs.  We both were Christ-loving Methodists.

But I still hadn't seen a picture of him.  I posted my picture on my profile because I wanted any potential suitors to know exactly what they were getting.  He was an international man of mystery.

So I asked him to email me a picture.  And as I waited for the picture to download and open, this was my prayer, "Dear God, don't let him be weird."

And this is what I saw:

I breathed a sigh of relief.  Thank goodness he wasn't weird!!  (Some of you may find a man grinning while holding a frozen Northern Pike to be weird.)

We had been chatting and talking on the phone and emailing for about six weeks when he made his move.  He suggested that we meet for supper in the big city.  We agreed upon the day and time and location.  And then we savored the anticipation of our first meeting.

The night before the big date, I went out to eat with my parents.  Since I was always honest with them, I told them I had a date the next night.  My mom got all excited.  Apparently, when you're 28 and going out on your first date, it causes some great excitement in your mother.  "Who is he?  Do we know him?"  She leaned forward with barely contained joy.  I replied, "No, you don't.  I met him online."  She heaved a huge sigh and looked heavenward and said, "I had hoped it wouldn't come to this."

Thank you for the vote of confidence.

We had agreed to meet at a truckstop on the edge of the big city because he didn't know how to get around in town (still doesn't, truth be told).  He was late, 35 minutes late.  But he called me to let me know that he was still coming but he couldn't decide what shirt to wear and he had to pull over and take a nap so he wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel.  (still has these problems, truth be told again)

He pulled into the parking lot, wearing a green plaid button down shirt, and climbed into my vehicle.  He shook my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Hubby."  (OK, he didn't really SAY "Hubby", he said his real name which I am not at liberty to reveal)

We went to a riverside restaurant.  He paid for dinner (and still has the receipt) and then we walked along the river for another three hours.  

It was a beautiful fall night, very much like last night, exactly seven years ago last night that we met in that parking lot, shook hands, and walked together.

And I'm so glad he wasn't weird...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

School Lunch Soapbox - Behind the Scenes

I used to be a teacher.  My mom was a teacher.  I have a lot of friends that are teachers and work in schools.  Over the past 6 weeks or so, my main question has been "How's school lunch going this year?"

The answer is surprisingly consistent:  "It's not too bad.  But we're not following the guidelines exactly."

I ask what they mean by that.

For the most part, school lunch programs in our rural state are:
1.  Still offering seconds without charging the students.
---I'd like you to tell the German ladies at my local school that they can't give the football players another helping on Fridays.  Frankly, I'd like to see the showdown that would have happened between my brother (the 4 year starter on both offensive and defensive lines) and our beloved head cook Deb if she wouldn't have been able to give him seconds on TaterTot hotdish.

2.  They are not following portion sizes on each item.
---The hardest one to source is a slice of bread that is the right size.  Although there are some vendors that are making this available, for those schools that still bake their own, this one is tricky.  The other difficult item to size is meat.

3.  They are serving more protein.
---Do you know what 2oz of meat looks like?  Aimee at Everyday Epistle shows you.  Again, I can tell you that a single chicken leg or meatball would not have satisfied my brother, or me, for that matter!

4.  They are still serving dessert.
---Yes, you read that right.  Every couple of days or so the students have the option of a small cookie or piece of cake.  {insert gasp here}  Some of my contacts even said, "We'd be in so much trouble if we got audited."

What else are our rural schools seeing through the lens of the new school lunch menu?
1.  There are more fruits and vegetables on the plates.  But...

2.  There is also more waste.  A lot more waste.
---Hubby and I were discussing how we could economically feed some pigs over the winter without the fresh pasture that they love and that supplements 20-50% of our feed bill.  I need to make a deal with some schools to take all these wasted fruits and vegetables!

3.  Kids are complaining of being hungry in the afternoon.  Some schools have snack programs and others do not.  The snack is usually a fruit or vegetable.

4.  Parents have started packing snacks, and even supplemental lunches, to help their kids get through the day.

What's going on in your schools??  Feel free to comment anonymously if you need to.

Monday, October 15, 2012

10 Things I Learned At My Own Auction Sale

As you may recall, I've been preparing for an auction sale of my parents' stuff for MONTHS now.  This past Saturday was A-Day.  I survived to share with you the 10 Things I Learned At My Own Auction Sale:

1.  Do not get between women and boxes of fabric, pattern books, buttons and other craft items.
---My mom was an elementary teacher by day and professional crafter by night.  To say we had a lot of craft items would be an understatement.  Someone suggested to me that I should be keeping mom's craft and sewing stuff as I have children who would like to make things.  I informed them that if I, my three children, and my husband were to craft 24/7/365, we would still have stuff 10 years later.  Frankly, I was really worried that I would be hauling all that stuff back home.  For I have been to auctions that fabric (when it sold) went for a dollar a box!  Such was not the case on Saturday.  These women came to buy and they would not leave empty handed.  The first boxes of fabric went for $40 and she bought three of them!  I almost fainted.

2.  Do not get between woodturning men and their tools.
---My dad was a master woodturner and a member of Dakota Woodturners for many years.  Two of his best friends in the club came up on Wednesday to help us sort wood and tools and to make sure that all of the machines had all the parts they needed.  These guys know their tools and they know wood, we couldn't have put it together without them!  One of the first things to sell was 6 flats of my dad's woodturning tools.  And because he was a master, they were well used.  In my mind I'm thinking, "People won't pay much for used tools."  Boy, was I wrong!  The bidding was fast, furious and high.  Again, I almost fainted.

3.  My church ladies have still got it!
---My home church (and I use that term literally, I grew up in that church with those people) ladies served the lunch at the sale.  And what a lunch it was!  My kids and husband ate lunch at least twice.  I gave Kiddo1 6 quarters at the start of the day and said, "If you want a bar or some water, give Kathy 2 of your quarters and she'll help you pick something out."  I think her money was gone by 11am.  The food was plentiful and delicious...and just like I remember it!

4.  Resist the urge to bid on things at your own sale.
---I love going to auction sales.  When I was single, it was my weekend entertainment.  If I was headed north, I'd pick up my dad and we'd go together.  I have bought a lot of stuff at sales and love bidding.  So it was very difficult for me to stand at an auction and not buy something.  I thought at times, "Oh, that's pretty and that's a good price, I should get it."  And then I stopped myself from raising my hand out of habit.  "This is YOUR STUFF, keep your hand down!"

5.  When you turn your back for a minute, your kids will get into someone's purchase and break something.
---Thankfully, it was my mom's best friend and she just laughed and assured me it was just fine.  (One GIANT sigh of relief right there.)

6.  Do not get between women and "fancy work".
---Both of my grandmothers did a LOT of handwork.  (See, I come by my obsession honestly.  I can't help it, it's genetic.)  My maternal grandmother lived in town and therefore had a LOT more time in which to produce crocheted items.  We'll use the word prolific.  I kept what I wanted and then sold boxes and boxes and boxes of linens, doilies, lace edging, etc.  My goodness!  That was just for my cast-offs, what would they have done for the good stuff??

7.  Sale day was a happy day.
---So many people, including my own mother, asked me if I was going to be OK.  If I was sad or upset to see all the things being sold.  Nope!  Do you know when I was sad and upset?  When I was eyeball deep in boxes and there was no end in sight.  That's when I struggled.  I was so tickled that all of those things were finding new homes that I just about did a jig.  (But I didn't, because that would have surely drove away some buyers...)

8.  If you need furniture, go to an auction!
---I should have remembered that I outfitted my pre-Hubby home with auction sale furniture for cheap.  Dressers, bed, tables, couches.  Man, go to an auction!  I gave away a dresser with mirror after the auction because I didn't want to move it home.

9.  An almost empty house never looked so good.
---My sister came home to help me for two days.  When I showed her my parents room that now only contained three pieces of furniture, she went up to the north wall and said, "I don't think I've ever touched this wall!"  And she walked through the entrance and said, "I don't think this has ever echoed!"  It was an entirely different, and much larger, house sans 40 years of accumulated stuff.

10.  We couldn't have done it without our friends.
---We had so much to move into the sale site.  Mountains of stuff.  Boxes upon boxes.  Bundles and bundles.  Large tools.  Furniture.  I put out the call for help to our home church family, friends and neighbors to come at 1pm on Wednesday.  My hope was that we could move it all that day, but I didn't know.  There was just so much.  But our friends started arriving at 9:30.  Clark came and said, "I came early, I figured you could use some extra help."  I almost kissed him.  Lori arrived at 10:30, "Let's get started."  I lost track of when everyone else got there, but we were in full swing by 1.  Pickups, trailers, vans and cars all loaded up and came into town and were unloaded by a flurry of willing hands and strong backs.  And we were done by 5:30!  I couldn't believe it.  But then I could, because this is community that I came from.  We help each other.  It's what we do.  Hubby and I would still be moving boxes if we tried to do it on our own.  I'm so thankful to be blessed with a community that gives of their time, strength and love.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Tomorrow's the day, folks!  The day most of my parents earthly possessions are sold.  (I've been at THE FARM all week preparing and I'll share the wrap-up next week.)  But just know that this day is both joyful and tearful.
I have spent 13 months of my life to get to this point.
13 months of sweat, tears, joy and pain so sharp I almost couldn't breathe.
13 months of talking to my family, planning, shipping, setting aside.
13 months of trying to be in two places at once, dealing with two families at once.
13 months of Hubby single-parenting at least one of our kiddos while I had at least one of our kiddos at THE FARM.

If you'd like to come to the sale (and believe me, we have something for everyone...probably three somethings for everyone) here are the details:

11:00AM Saturday, October 13th
Mercer Rec Center in Mercer, ND - I'd give you the address but there isn't one.  Just drive the three streets of Mercer until you see it.

The ladies from the church where I grew up are serving lunch.  After 22 years of eating their food, I can GUARANTEE you it will be delicious.  And if LeeAnn made her ham salad, you'll have to fight me for the last sandwich.

I and Hubby will be there and would love to shake your hand and hug your neck, because that's just what we do in Mercer, ND.

I'm sure I'll laugh and I'm sure I'll cry.  Probably at the same time...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall Kiddos

The Kiddos have been very busy playing this fall!

Yes, that is an egg basket on her head.  Her job this fall has been to gather the eggs every evening.  She gets a sticker for that and for any other time she helps with another big job.  She's working toward a princess dress (this is NOT encouraged by her mother) and when her chart is full she can pick one out.  She says when she grows up she's going to be a princess and a teacher.

Somedays he's John Wayne, somedays he's Matt Dillon, somedays he's Gil Favor...but he's always a cowboy.  The other day he woke up and said in his oh-so-sleepy voice, "Mama, today...today is going to be a cowboy day."  Just like every other day for that boy.

And this one.  Oh my, this one.  Hubby and I agree that our house would be pretty quiet without this one.  She is just MORE.  More loud, more destructive, more messy, more sweet, more laughter, more happiness....MORE!  She lives life at full speed.  I said just this morning that she only sits down for 10 minutes a day, the five minutes before she takes a nap and goes to bed.

These three have been doing some awfully hard playing.  We've got bumps and scrapes and bruises to prove it!  But we also have laughter and giggles, and "guess what Mama??".

And we have frogs...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Get Kids to Work

A question I'm often asked is "How do you get your kids to work?"  Granted, I've only been a mother for a little over 4 years now, but I do have some pretty good helpers.  They are joyful and willing, even if not entirely competent.

First, explain what you are going to do.  Hubby is great at this.  He is very patient and very thorough.  (And even though these qualities sometimes irritate his just-get-it-done wife, they are great in a father-of-young-helpers.)

Second, we do the work with them.  And we talk about working together as a family, how important it is, how fun it is, and how necessary it is for our farm to function.

The kids know they are doing an important work.  These jobs are not punishment for wrong-doing, they are necessary to our existence.  
{Sidenote:  We do not use chores as a punishment in our house.}

And with this model, even the littlest one WANTS to help with chores.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Tidbit - Who Says??

Who says pigs don't eat forage??
Grazed on the left, ungrazed on the right.

Hubby always asks, "How do the pigs look?"
And I say, "Delicious."

Monday, October 8, 2012

How to Make Green Tomato Salsa

It's end-of-the-season garden time.  When we look at the piles of garden produce that we desperately grabbed before the killing frost.  What do we do with it all??

A box of jalapeno peppers... a BOX!  There's only so many poppers one can make.

And green tomatoes!  We're not in the south, so frying them is out of the question.

Green Tomato Salsa it is!!  I have a hard time waiting until frost to make this deliciously simply salsa.  I got the recipe from my dear friend Sue.  As we're not big chip eaters, salsa is more of an ingredient in this house.  I use this salsa in recipes that call for diced green chilis.  And if you've ever paid the horrendous price on cans of diced green chilis, this end-of-the-season salsa is very economical!

I do the peppers first.

Chop off the stem end.

Then halve them.

And now for my secret weapon...the grapefruit spoon!

I use the spoon to quickly and easily slide out the seeds and ribs of the peppers.

Works like a charm!

Toss the halves in your food processor.

Chip, chop, chip!  In just a few minutes, a processor full of pepper halves.  If they are tiny peppers, I just cut off the stem and throw the whole thing in.

Pulse until the peppers are between diced and minced.  We need 4 cups of peppers!  Like I said, it's a great way to use up those excess peppers.

Now the green tomatoes.  Remove the stems.

Halve them.

Quarter them and remove the core.  It's woody and doesn't make for good salsa.

Pulse the tomatoes to the same size as the peppers.  You'll need 16 cups of tomatoes.

Then your camera dies and you need to finish this eternal canning.

Green Tomato Salsa Recipe
16 cups green tomatoes
4 cups jalapenos
1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup salt

Heat to boiling.  Ladle into hot jars.  Process for 10 minutes for pints, 5 minutes for half-pints in a boiling water bath.

That's it!