Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

The Syrup Ranch

In early March 2020 we visited The Syrup Ranch LLC

Mike and Jacleen of The Syrup Ranch is surrounded by love, traditions and adventure.
Children fill the woods with always a stick in hand, climbing trees and the pine in the sugar shack holds special meaning to the family.

Mike makes syrup inspired by words of his mentor, “Anyone can make syrup. You gotta make good syrup, that’s the key.”

Mike and Jacleen make good syrup!
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Lo Mein

Lo Mein is another easy meal. 

When I make it, I look in the fridge and see what I have for vegetables. 

This time this is what Asian week Lo Mein looked like. 

I took pork steaks and pan fried them. While they rested I took my vegetables. You can also use ground pork for this recipe or no meat at all. 


1 whole onion 

3 celery stalks 

About ½ small bag of carrots 

A quarter red cabbage

1 small package of mushrooms sliced

In a large skillet 

Add table spoon of vegetable oil and a tablespoon of Sesame oil 

 Add hard vegetables first (onions, carrots celery) 

Season with:  

1 teaspoon of garlic and ginger 

Pepper to taste 

A little bit of salt not much because the soy sauce will have the salt

Sautee till tender

Add mushrooms 

While this is working together slice the pork steaks to bit sizes

Add to the happy vegetables

Boil Lo Mein noodles 

In A small bowl whisk together


½ of soy sauce 

¼ cup of brown sugar 

Splash of orange juice or pineapple juice 

a couple shakes of Sesame Seeds (optional)

1 table spoon of corn starch 

A couple shakes of ginger 

Add sauce to the pan

Drain cooked Lo Mein noodles and add to the pan (depends how many noodles I’ll add of how hunger we are) 

Stir all together simmer a couple minutes or until thickened and ENJOY!! 

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Homemade Ramen

Homemade ramen is the easiest thing. While not as easy as the 10 cent ramen packages. 

In the Midwest when a person says Ramen we automatically thing of the packages of noodles. My son Everett loves these! They are quick and easy. So looked up some ramen recipes and made it our own. 

1-large broth (I used chicken broth) 

2-cups of water 

1-chopped onion

About ½ package of carrots

2 celery stalks chopped 

The best thing about Ramen is you can add what ever you have! 


1 teaspoon of each pepper, salt, garlic

A couple shakes of red pepper flakes

Simmer until veggatables are tender

Add Ramen noodles depending on how many noodles you want

Simmer till noodles are tender. 

I added fresh chopped red cabbage to the top and a hard boiled egg cut in half. 


Hint: You can purchase ramen noodles (not the ramen noodle packets but just noodles in a box) in the Asian aisle of the grocery store 

Homemade Ramen and Fried Rice
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Agri+Culture at Art in Motion On the Lake Wobegon Trail

In 2019 I had partnered with local artist Heidi Jeub and the Morrison County Ag Society to create three murals which fair goers could create art. During the event artist came to demonstrate their craft.

County fairs in Minnesota can apply for through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for the AGRI and Legacy Grant. The grant funding is through the Legacy Amendment. This project was created with a partnership with the Morrison County Ag Society to fund the project.

Like many of the projects this one snow balled from one phone call I had received from the Morrison County Fair manager. I reached out to local artist Heidi Jeub and Agri+Culture had legs to grow. When we open ourselves to thinking outside of the box good things can happen.

We are so excited for the three murals created at the 2019 Morrison County Fair will be on display at Art in Motion on the Lake Wobegon Trail in Holdingford, MN till September 13th, 2021. A Reception will be help Friday August 20 6-8pm.

Artist Statement

Agri+Culture is a collaboration of individuals and community. The project brought people together through the art form of a community mural created over the course of a summer afternoon.  

Rural communities are filled with isolation and the perception artist can not thrive in a rural backdrop. Rural communities are filled with art around them but are sometimes viewed as a hobby, not art. These art forms are found in various forms of wood working, metal work, painting and drawing. 

The collobration and merging of rural story teller Brenda Rudolph of Raising a Farmer and artist Heidi Jueb of Tiny School of Art & Design, and the Morrison County Ag Society;  Agri+Culturewas created.   

Land is symbolic but also essential to rural life. Brenda Rudolph and Heidi Jueb met with Morrison County Historical Society to dig deeper into the fabrics of Morrison County which has weaved the history of the county together. The concept for the three murals emerged from this meeting. The areal view of distribution of land throughout the centuries to what we see today through the three paintings: before the Homestead Act of 1862, post homesteading and what we see post World War II. 

At the Morrison County Fair in 2019 fair goers were invited to bring their creativity to the canvas making the creation of art accessible. The one-day event during the 2019 Morrison County Fair also included local black smith artist Doug LaBorde and brought home potter Matt Krousey. Each artist demonstrated their work bringing the various forms of art full circle. 

In rural communities the blending beyond organization groups is essential for creative projects to take root and grow. Agri+Culture is that project growing into a blend of communities.

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Everett is Minnesota State Fair Bound

Everett earned a Minnesota State fair trip with his market turkeys. I can’t help to think about the meaning behind turkeys for me personally. Everett has taken on his poultry journey completely on his own. He saved his own money for his first batch of birds. He loves anything with feathers. His first year he began with chickens, the next year he added ducks to his portfolio. This year he added market turkeys. This year is the first year Everett is State Fair eligible.  

I grew up in what you would call the heart of turkey country. My hometown of Swanville, MN was on Jeopardy because of turkeys. One of my first jobs was sweeping out turkey barns getting ready for a new batch of birds. My dad was a supervisor at Jennie-O providing for my family growing up because of turkeys. The summer after I graduated high school I worked at Jennie-O paying for my early years of college. Turkeys were a backdrop of my early years of life. 

When the fair turkeys arrived at our farm this spring I didn’t really pay attention to the significance of the turkey. They were just turkeys being raised for a 4H project. They were Everett’s turkeys. Everett won Champion with his Market Pen and Reserve Champion with his breeding pen. To say he was over the moon would be an understatement.  

Everett with one of his Market Turkeys

August 1 was load out day for the Morrison County fair. As we were loading the many feathered animals Everett had at the county fair to go home, it hit me the significance of Everett winning his very first livestock Minnesota State Fair trip with his market turkeys. August 1 marked 17 years since my dad passed away.

Moments in life the presence of my parents come unexpectedly at times and take me by surprise. It is in these moments I pause and embrace their presence. Even if it comes in the form of a market turkey.


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Bowlus Fun Day

Bowlus Fun Day is a one day event happening always the first Sunday in July. The tiny rural town of 300 grows into the thousands for one day.

In 2019 I documented the process of making a tiny festival with a big impact. Bowlus Fun Day is felt by the community and individuals. One of the reasons for the success of the event is all the businesses in town close to show their support for the event. Jordie’s Trail Side Cafe is across the street from the park, you won’t find Jordie in her cafe but in the Bingo Stand volunteering calling numbers.

I hope you enjoy, Bowlus Fun Day.

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The story of Hans

If you are new to Raising a Farmer you may have noticed some pictures of a large pig roaming around our farm. His name is Hans and he is living his best life.  

Hans is a fixture of our farm. He roams where he likes and when he was younger and a lot smaller he would walk Everett to the school bus, he just getting lazy now and only walks them on the first day of school.  

January 2019
Hans wishing the kids a good day on the first day of school September 2020

The story of Hans. Hans started as a 4H Swine Market Project for Everett in 2018. For many years Everett had shown dairy animals at the Morrison County Fair. Some of these animals he would take year after year. Market animals are different. For market animals, every year you take a new animal because their purpose is for market (to eat). Everett was on the fence for a couple years about showing market animals. Everett bonds with his animals and showing market animals is different. I told him when he was ready we would get him a pig. 

The spring of 2018 Everett was ready to show pigs. We had decided we would start with one and see how it goes. Everett and Vivian had decided to name him Hans, “Hans” because he is the bad guy from Frozen and we have since been reminded several times the bad guy from Die Hard. They had decided on a bad guy name thinking it would be ok in the end when the new market arrival would be in my freezer. When we picked up Hans the kids were reminded he was going to be in our freezer come fall. All summer the kids were reminded that Hans was going to be in our freezer. We had reminder conversations all summer Hans is a market animal, he is going to be in our freezer. I think you get the point: Hans was supposed to be in our freezer. 

Hans Summer of 2018

Hans taught Everett a lot about showing pigs, feeding pigs and patience that is needed with pigs. Every animal is completely different. 

Everett and Hans 2018 at the Morrison County Fair

Fall came and we had some feed we wanted to get rid of that wasn’t good enough for our cows so we feed it to the pig. Hans got to stick around a little longer than intended. Winter came and I became really busy with my Morrison County Milk Project

The kids and I were on our way out the door to deliver milk to one of the local schools when we saw that Hans was out of his pen. That winter we had so much snow and it was so so so cold. I knew he would stay close to the barn and nestle in the straw. I am not sure how or why we never put Hans back in his pen. He is now a permanent fixture of our farm.    

Morrison County Fair 2019 we took him to the fair for a meet and greet in the Ag Learning Center. At that time he weighed 678 pounds. We weren’t 100% sure what he all eats. He will eat grass, hay, old silage what ever he can find around the yard. When we went to the fair I thought for sure 150 pounds of feed would be plenty for Everett’s two pigs he was showing and Hans. By the second day Everett came to me saying we were out of feed. 

We had shirts made saying “I Love Hans” for at the 2019 Morrison County Fair. We gave them away as a prize for the Raising a Farmer Scavenger hunt and they were gone in about 6 hours!! Everyone loves Hans!

Hans has about doubled in size since then. 

He loves the sun. He loves the snow. He likes long naps. Apples are his favorite. Gatorade and Pepsi are his drink of choice. 

And we LOVE Hans!! 

Vivian was not happy with Hans when he broke her Picnic table.

Here are some videos of Hans

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One birthday present can change everything

This last year many steps have led me to the point of where I am now. I was lost last fall after selling our dairy cows. Not knowing what I should do or even who I was. My birthday is the end of August. My birthday has always been filled with dread and joy at the same time. Joy because it was my birthday and dread because it marked the end of summer. End of warm days with school around the corner usually in a few short days. 

 For my birthday in 2019 I received a gift in the mail weeks before my birthday. The thick envelope arrived in the mail. Nathan handed me the envelope with the kids siting in the back seat of the van. Nathan knew what was inside. We sat in the driveway as I opened the envelope. A birthday package from my dear friend Amanda who lives in Connecticut. Big crocodile tears rolled down my face as I read the card and I asked Nate if this was for real. Amanda had gifted me a plane ticket to visit her for three days the end of October.

Amanda and I in Woodstock, VT 2019

Amanda and Nathan orchestrated my time away from my family without me knowing. Opening the present could not have come at a better time. It was the week of our Morrison County Fair. Tension and stress were high in our house. We were nervous about going into the fair of 2019, Everett was not going to be showing dairy and we weren’t sure how us as a family would feal about it. At the same time we were excited and nervous about our new role in the Morrison County Ag Learning Center.

October 2019 came, and I was beginning to count down the days I would see my dear friend Amanda. I had longed to see New England. Many times I would joke with Amanda how she must drink tea with her pearls in the morning sunlight. I might have watched one too many Hallmark movies to create what I think New England is supposed to be like. At the same time I was nervous because what if I had created this unachievable image. For me this was a new adventure because it was the first time in a long time I was traveling without a purpose little did I know what this trip would mean to me and the purpose it was going to give me. 

Woodstock INN 2019

New England is everything I had imagined and more. I felt like I did in fact step out on to a Hallmark movie. This gift from my friend gave me an opportunity to just be. I had a lot of time to self-reflect. When I graduated high school in 1999 I had attended St. Cloud State University. Life happened and I never finished. It had been something that had always bothered me. While I was in Vermont I did a lot of thinking about maybe now was the “right” time to finish. Vivian would be starting kindergarten in a year. Nathan and I had decided I would continue to stay home with Vivian until she started kindergarten. As I thought about this I thought “Than what?” Little did I know what 2020 would bring.  

 I met with an advisor after Thanksgiving 2019 to see even if it was possible for me to go back. I had no idea how many credits I had or what I should even do with the credits I did have. I was advised with my hodge podge of credits to pursue a Bachelor of Elective Studies. The beginning of January 2020 I purchased books with my kids in tow as a St. Cloud State University student. The night before my classes started I was in tears. I was nervous, I was upset with myself for not finishing 18 years ago-everything came out in tears as I crawled into bed. I hear many times people saying how they went back to school for their kids. I didn’t. I went back for myself. 

I took a mixture of online and in person classes. My husband & kids supported me every step. Friends and family supported me and helped watch Vivian this past winter. I have amazing professors who when I needed to, allowed me to bring the kids to class with me. Geography Prof. Wall helped me secure prior learning credits with projects and outreach I have done surrounding rural communities. I took 18 credits this spring making the Dean’s list. This is the first time I ever made this list, ever. I proudly have the certificate on the refrigerator. With all the summer cancelations of activities we normally would be busy with I decided to take 16 credits this summer. This fall I have taken 18 credits.  

The middle of December 2020 I will be graduating from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Elective Studies and a Minor in Geography.   

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Vivian’s Meatloaf

For about a week Vivian was asking for meatloaf. It turned out to be seriously the best meatloaf that has ever come out of my oven. She is now in charge of making meatloaf. She has made better meatloaf than me!

This was taken in June. I was sunburnt. Everett said after watching this, “Mom look how burnt you were!” Yes I was burnt.

We have summer hair, summer skin, late suppers.

Everett and Nate make a couple cameos. Everett at the end is famished and exhausted from a long summer day.

Do you like meatloaf? What are your secret ingredients?

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I am not a Mixologist

I tried.

Try new things!

This has been the going motto lately. I have done no “new things” in social distancing. None. So when I saw this recipe I thought I can do that. (Yes, I gave myself false hope)

I had many, many complications as I tried to navigate my way through this recipe.  (as usual)

Sam Heughan Outlander star shared on his Instagram @samheughan the Isolation Sour, for every tag he would be donating PPE supplies to Scotland. If you are looking for a new drink or maybe try to be fancy and for a good cause, Head on over to Sam’s Instagram.

How many glugs is too much?

Any “tips” is greatly appreciated!



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