Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

Women in Ag and a Day with Vivian

One day this past week, Vivian and I had a girl day.  I started the day out like every day with morning milking.  I rushed into the house to get ready. I was somewhat looking and feeling like a lady.  Vivian and I made the half hour trek to a Women in Ag Seminar, of course we were late but the morning snacks were still out so I called that a big win.  As I sat – and then stood to wrangle my 2 year-old – I couldn’t help but look around the room.  It was a room filled with women in agriculture.  Some were retired, some were traditional farm wives, some were working in the ag industry as nutritionists, loan officers or extension educators and some were the emotional support to their husbands – especially now when times are hard.  Some were working off the farm and were looking to get a better idea of their role in agriculture.  Some were working alongside their husband everyday raising their families knee-deep in agriculture.  As I looked around the room and saw all the wonderful women in agriculture, I refocused on the women who I look to as mentors.  I look to women who inspire me to be a better dairy mom, wife and farmer.  I look to the women who work along side their husband everyday.  I look to the women who struggle with crying babies and mooing cows ready to be milked.  I look to the women who have hands that are swollen from morning milking but walk into a room every bit a lady.  As we walked into the room scanning for a table, I saw her – the woman who I look up to, who inspires me. IMG_2485[1]

As Vivian took over the back table and decided she no longer needed her boots and dress on, I realized what onesie she had on, “Future Dairy Farmer”.  Vivian may choose another path in her life but I do know inspirational women in the dairy industry surround her.

 

After the seminar, I needed to make a few quick stops.  Vivian decided she no longer needed her clothes on at the Dress Barn.  Vivian was “helpful” to the lady in the next changing room as she picked out a dress.  Thankfully the store clerk at the Dress Barn was patient and kind.  Vivian loved and then screamed when I said we were ready to leave Payless.  She wouldn’t stay in the cart at Target and I have a new appreciation to stores with doors to the floor in their dressing rooms.  We started the day fresh and ready to take on the world but at the end of the day – Vivian needed a milk and I needed a latte.

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We needed a pick me up.  Milk and a latte with whole milk is all we needed.  

 

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Talking During Milking

I knew Nate and I did most of our talking during morning and evening milking but I didn’t realize how much we actually talked during milking. For the past six weeks Nate has been healing after having surgery done on his shoulder. A procedure that was put off and put off and finally needed to be done because on a dairy farm there is never a good time. As Nate has been healing and trying not to go stir crazy I have been doing the milking. The past couple of days Nate has been outside more and is in the barn during milking and beginning to milk again. He gets tired quickly and is cautious how he uses his arm. I am happy for him to be out in the barn more, not to take some of the workload off, but to just have him in the barn.

During milking Nate and I would plan out our day, our week and our month. During milking is where we set goals for ourselves. During milking is when we talk about cows. During milking is when we talk about Everett and Vivian. During milking is when we talk about the things that are bothering us and the things that are making us happy. During milking is where we feel like we are solving world problems, whether small or big. During milking is when we would usually resolve a disagreement we were having. Not having this time with each other has been eye opening for me. I knew we talked during milking but I really didn’t realize the extent of what and how much we talked about during milking. I am happy to see Nate’s face in the barn when I look up from a milking unit.

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Baking Krazy Cake

Baking up some Krazy Cake today. It is a miracle that we make it out of the kitchen alive!
My blender did in fact stop working and we enjoyed the silence. Either you want to come bake with us or never want to eat at my house again! I sure hope it is the first one. This is real life cooking, no matter how prepared I think I am I have a sweet beautiful 2 year old who is very independent and strong willed, I remind myself the words of a Pastor this summer, “She’ll get stuff done.” It is Krazy at my house but we have fun, we laugh, we smile and sometimes we cry and we enjoy the mess. (well most of the time)

You can find the recipe here, Krazy Cake Recipe.

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Funeral Hotdish

Back in the kitchen.  After watching our previous videos and then this one it is obvious we sample while we cook and bake.  Everyone watches Vivian to see what she is going to do next.

Our dear friend and fellow dairy farmer, Amanda from Connecticut made a pit stop at our farm when she was speaking at a conference.  She brought gifts and we decided we needed to showcase them, what better way then pairing bread and butter pickles with funeral hotdish.

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Sometimes you just Need a HUG

Nate had shoulder surgery on January 23. It was a surgery he has been putting off for a long time. When you run a dairy farm, there is never a good time to have surgery. It was to the point when the surgery needed to be done – not if it should be done. Nate is healing and going stir crazy with his arm in an immobilizer. He isn’t used to being in the house all day, every day. Vivian and Everett are enjoying the extra dad time they are getting. Nate has begun making his way outside from time to time but the majority of his time is spent in the house.

Every six weeks we have a dairy supply routeman came to the farm. He isn’t just our routeman but he is our friend. He cares how the kids are doing and I like to hear all about his grandchildren and family. He sees our kids grow. He is here when things are not so great on the farm and he is here when things are great on the farm. As I was talking to our dairy supply routeman last week, the conversation centered around how Nate was doing and feeling, how I have had help with the kids from my aunts and cousin and how my uncle came a couple nights to help with chores. We talked about how I was handling the workload. I told him how milking and chores take longer with one person but having help with feeding is huge. How I just take my time and try really hard not to get worked up how long it is taking. How I second guess myself a hundred times each milking. Our routeman always has kind words, words of encouragement or a good joke when we see him. This time I was being the ever optimistic – sometimes I think it is a fault of mine – I kept saying, “It will get better. It isn’t for forever. I just take my time so the cows don’t get worked up and then I don’t get worked up. It will be OK.” A mantra of mine, “It’ll be OK.”

Our routeman gave me a hug and told me, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Might be very dim but it will get brighter.” I didn’t know I needed it but I needed a hug. Sometimes all you need is a hug. Sometimes all you need is a hug from your routeman to get through chores.

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Meatloaf and Urgent Care

Meatloaf is a quick and easy meal. Mashed potatoes on the side smothered in gravy and you have the best comfort food around. You can add any ingredients from cheese to vegetables. Left over meatloaf is also great for sandwiches.

Here is my simple meatloaf recipe. We will get to the urgent care later.

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

About ½ cup of oatmeal, you can also use bread crumbs or crushed saltine crackers

Salt and pepper, parsley or garlic to taste

A couple squirts of ketchup, sometimes I use mustard or barbecue sauce

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Mix together not to much because I am told it will get mushy.

Form two loafs. I cover a baking sheet with tin foil for easy clean up.

 

Top with sliced onions drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 350 degrees until the center reaches 160 degrees

I used to bake it in a bread pan but I thought I would give this a try because sometimes the edges get crusty in the bread pan.

A smile from a 2 year old across the counter and you have the best meatloaf ever. So I thought.

 

After the meatloaf was baking for about 20 minutes, I went to check the inside temperature of the meatloaf. I heard Vivian come into the kitchen and told her, “No, no, back Viv. Hot!” After a few moments, I heard her whine and then she began to cry cry. I turned to look at her standing behind me and she had an electrical wire cutter stuck on her middle finger her other hand stuck on the back end of the tool. “What?!”, was my initial reaction. I quickly got her finger free and yelled for Nate who was in the living room having lunch. Vivian cut her finger and she cut it bad. I called the clinic hoping we would be able to get in, instead of having to go to the ER. There were no openings at the clinic so I was advised to go to Urgent Care instead of the ER. We were able to get a band aid on her finger and then her mitten on. I turned the oven off and left my half baked meatloaf behind. Off to Urgent Care Vivian and I went. It was decided Vivian didn’t need stitches because it would cause her more trauma then necessary. The doctor cleaned her finger and used sterile strips to keep her cut closed. Vivian’s tiny finger is healed now, but she will have a scar to which she will ask Nate and me, “What happened here?” I will begin to tell her, “All I wanted to do was bake meatloaf…”

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Weight Checks-How far we have come

The week between Christmas and New Year’s, Vivian had her two-year well-child checkup.  As my sweet girl independently walked the hall to get her weight checked, I couldn’t help but think how far we have come.img_1580

Two years ago was the year Christmas was cancelled. Two years ago we received an early Christmas present, wrapped in pink.  Two years ago, at this time we had many emotions. We were thankful when Vivian and I could come home together after each of us needed to stay in the hospital for a week after her birth. Vivian was in the NICU to adjust to life, and I had to get my blood pressure low enough before I could finally go home.  We were scared because our baby was five weeks early.  We felt Vivian was a pure miracle and continues to be.  Weeks after Vivian’s birth, our world revolved around her weight.

For about a month after her birth the only conversations in the house seemed to be, “How much did she eat? How long did she nurse? When was the last time she nursed? Did you pump? What was her weight today? When do we go back? Do we need to supplement more? Did she have a wet diaper? How is she doing? Brenda, what is your blood pressure today? Can you drop some of your meds yet?” Vivian’s weight checks were weekly and at times a couple times a week.

Here we are two years later. Vivian has taken us by storm from the moment I found out I was pregnant.  She is healthy and strong. She completes our family with her love, strong-willed personality and everything that makes her our Vivy.   img_1543

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Secret Santa isn’t just for kids

This Christmas season I was excited to participate in the Country Christmas Connection. It is a Secret Santa exchange for ag bloggers. As soon as I received my Secret Santa name I started doing my research and reading my fellow ag blogger’s blog, Adriane at Little House on the Dairy .

As I began putting together a special gift for Adriane, I wondered in the back of my mind about my own Secret Santa. When would my gift come in the mail. I wondered who had drawn my name. Is it someone I know? As I read Adriane’s blog I knew right away I needed to send donuts from Pete & Joy’s Bakery in Little Falls. (If you are ever in Little Falls on a Thursday, stop at the Little Falls Senior Center and pick up some of their donuts.  Those are YUMMY!) When Vivian and I stopped at our favorite local bakery to pick out donuts, we needed to get a few donuts for ourselves. I love donuts!

img_1373Adriane is braver than I making her own donuts. Off was the Secret Santa package to Missouri along with Pete & Joy’s donuts to Adriane. I hoped she enjoyed the donuts just as much as I do. You can read here to see if she enjoyed them.

When my package arrived at my house, I was excited. Everything in the box was just for me. Even the tissue paper was pink! Pink gloves! I love pink and have loved pink my entire life. I loved pink when it wasn’t cool, or the “in” color. She also included Chia tea, one of my favorite warm beverages, along with a new mug. Mugs always seem to make it outside to tractors, trucks and the barn. These mugs never find their way back inside the house and if they do, they have battle scars to show where they were. Chipped, missing handles or never returned to the house. Even the mugs I have declared, “Not allowed outside!” seem to sneak outside.

As I opened my Secret Santa package, I couldn’t believe how I felt like Stacy from Indiana at The Backroad Life knew me and we have never met before. Thank you, Stacy, for keeping this dairy mom’s hands warm in the bitter cold and warming my soul with a good cup of Chai tea. I have declared this, “Mommy’s Cup!”img_1729

 

 

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Christmas Baking 101

Christmas Baking with Everett and Vivian.  Enjoy the mess.

 

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A Christmas Star

As I walk to the barn each morning and night, I see the corner of our star on the silo peaking around the side. Nathan and Everett surprised me last year with a lighted star on the silo. It was the best Christmas season surprise. For several years I would say, “We should have a star on the silo.” When we come down the road we can see it. From the highway you can see it. It is the only Christmas light we have on the farm.

Last year our Christmas Star had a special place for me. It was a gift of love from Nate and Everett to think of the season of Christmas and what it brings. It also reminds me of how my dad after Christmas would turn all the Christmas lights off and leave just the star on until January 16. For me, this year, the star peaking around the corner of the barn is a glimmer of hope. Dairy farming has been tough this past year. It has been hard on our bodies, it has been hard on our minds and it has been hard on our hearts. Stress levels are high. There have been times when words have been sharper then intended. Frustrations of markets out of our control. When I see my Christmas Star this year I am given hope. Hope that dairy markets will continue to improve. I see only a glimpse of my Christmas star but if I walk to the other side of the silo I see the entire star, the bigger picture. When I am feeding calves and look up from the bitter cold instead of grumbling how cold it is and rushing back to the barn to warm my freezing hands. I see a bright star shining down on me. It gives me hope. It gives me courage to continue. It helps me see the bigger picture even if I can only see a part of it right now.img_1265

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