Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno Poppers are not my personal favorite.

Some pretty important people in my life LOVE them.

So when I end up with a bucket full of jalapenos I make poppers for my loved ones.

Jalapeno Poppers

First cut top off and slice jalapenos. Take out seeds and guts. Line them up on baking sheet. IMG_0591

Mix together

Room Tempature 8oz Cream cheese

1 1/2 cup Shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup Swiss shredded Cheese (you can use mozzarella Parmesan or any other cheese. I used Swiss because that is what I had) IMG_0592

1 Teaspoon garlic powder

1 Teaspoon Cumin

1 Teapoon salt

shake of black pepper

1 Tablespoon of sugar

1 lb of crispy bacon chopped upIMG_0595

Of course we have to test the bacon

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Place a dollop of mixture on top of sliced jalapeno. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Wait for them to cool off a little bit or you will burn the roof of your mouth. IMG_0602

Enjoy!

Brenda

 

 

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Bowlus comes together to support first responders

This column was first published in Agweek on June 29, 2018

In central Minnesota, there is a small community nestled in the heart of the state that explodes with excitement the first Sunday in July every year. The tiny town of Bowlus is the poster child of how a community comes together to support its own.

Bowlus Fun Day is a community festival put on by the Bowlus Fire and Rescue and Bowlus First Responders. The town gathers for this event filled with good food, live music, fireworks at dusk and of course the famous tour of Bowlus with the Bowlus Fun Line Rides to name a few. If you have followed my Raising a Farmer blog, you might know Nathan is a firefighter and we run the snack stand so we can not forget, “NACHOS!” I yell “Nachos!” all day and last year we added cheese curds to our stand!

 

It isn’t just the people who come together — the businesses in town are closed or close early, except the American Legion, which generously supports the day as well. What town’s businesses close during a festival? The businesses in Bowlus do! This alone is a testament to the support the community has towards Bowlus Fun Day. It takes countless volunteers to put it together.

The food stand alone takes about 100 volunteers to run smoothly all day from flipping burgers, cutting fresh onions, running for supplies or being a friendly face welcoming you to Bowlus. The volunteers you see are generations working together — parents working with their kids, kids working with their grandparents. The park is filled with traditional festival food, cotton candy, hand scooped ice cream, sno-cones and pickles on a stick. And it all goes back to the fire department and first responders.

Sharon and Rich Zabinski along with their family donate their time and horses to give horse rides, and all the money they raise during the day is given back to the event. The Zabinskis are a true example of how families support their community wholeheartedly. Jordies’ Trailside Café is right across the street from the park, and you can find owners Sonya and Jordie, a first responder herself, along with their staff working in the outside Bingo stand with a smile.

The rural community of Bowlus comes together because they know how vital these organizations are to a small town. The fire department and first responders are the first ones to arrive in time of need. In a small community, they are the ones called to car accidents, if someone needs to be airlifted out to secure the area, when a toddler wanders off, when someone is hurt, along with fire calls. They are the manpower when someone needs help.

These departments are called on when their communities are having their worst days. When the call comes in, the volunteer fire departments and first responders drop everything and go. I can’t count the times I have been left alone to do chores because Nate needed to go on a call. Even my two small children know when the call comes in that it’s time to move because someone needs help. During birthday parties, doing chores or at work, these volunteers drop everything and run to someone who is in need without thinking twice. And in small communities, there is a good chance these strong volunteers will personally know the person they are helping.

If you are looking for something to do in central Minnesota, come check out Bowlus Fun Day on July 1. The parade starts at 11:15. If you don’t know where to sit, pick a street, because it travels almost every street in town! If you are a bicycle family, bring the bikes and take a ride on the Soo Line Bike Trail that runs right through the park. If you do make the trip with your kids, make sure to bring an extra set of clothes, because they will not be able to stay out of the puddles or mist from the fire department water fights. If you are looking for me, just listen for “NACHOS!” and you will find us. Come support an amazing town I promise you will not be disappointed!

Recap of 2018 Bowlus Fun Day

 

This year Bowlus Fun Day started out rainy but that didn’t stop the fun.

Our good friend and firefighter Luke Harakel had the weather report.

The parade was delayed and we were wet but we were still smiling!

And just like that the sun came out and it was a perfect day!

Its the VOLUNTEERS that make Bowlus Fun Day a success. From big to small from the departments to community members. It is all the volunteers who say yes with a smile!!

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Our reward for working hard together and having fun, the fireworks. 

Make sure to mark The First Sunday in July on your calendar for Bowlus Fun Day!

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Love of monarch butterflies carries down through the generations

This column was first published in Agweek on September 1st, 2018

As Everett was deciding which of his seven 4-H non-livestock projects to enter at the Morrison County Fair, he knew a monarch caterpillar habitat was at the top of his list. I love monarch caterpillars and that love has filtered down to my children, especially Everett.

When I was about 5 years old, my aunt had taken me for a walk to look for milkweed pods while visiting my Grandma Zinniel. At the time, I had no idea how important this plant was. I just remember the time I spent with my aunt and the soft silk seeds ready to take flight. I still have the letter she sent me written in her fancy cursive handwriting telling me how she enjoyed her time with me.

 

As I grew older, my mom fostered her love of monarch butterflies into her three children. We would catch monarch caterpillars, place them in a mason jar, watch and wait. My mom would send our visitors home with mason jars containing a caterpillar and a hand full of milkweed.

I do the exact same thing now. Everett has followed suit when his cousins or friends stop in August. He finds a jar and makes sure they have enough milkweed. When the chrysalis would begin to turn clear from their bright green and gold ring, we couldn’t wait for them to emerge as a butterfly ready to stretch their wings and fly.

Now as an adult with my own family, when the milkweed begins to grow in the spring, Nate, Everett, Vivian and I begin watching for the monarchs to return to central Minnesota. We look underneath the leaves for the brightly colored caterpillars.

Excitement spreads — “The monarchs are back!” As summer continues on we enjoy monarchs flying through the yard. When August comes, we catch and place them in a jar. We watch them grow and become a chrysalis, then into a beautiful orange and black butterfly. Everett has been sharing his love of monarchs with each of his new teachers by bringing a caterpillar to the first week of school.

The beginning of August was the Morrison County Fair. Everett was ready. He decided he would present his caterpillars as one of his projects during non-livestock judging for 4-H. As he held them and waited in line, his fellow 4-H’ers would ask him about his project. As he sat at the table with the judge, I could see Everett light up and answer her questions with confidence. I couldn’t hear him but I could see he was in his element.

For many years he has been exploring monarch caterpillars, and he knows them inside and out. He was excited to share his four caterpillars at the fair. He was especially excited because one was big enough to turn into a chrysalis during the Morrison County Fair. And it did.

When the judging was complete and the ribbons were placed, our club walked through the projects to find out how everyone did. I saw the pink ribbon said, “Don’t tell Everett.” I wanted to see his excitement when he found his project awarded with the Reserve Champion pink ribbon.

Everett came around the table and froze with a huge smile. For him this was his very first Reserve Champion ribbon with something he loves and enjoys. For me as his mom, I watched my son win a pink ribbon for a project that has been in my heart since I was five. A project that my mom had nurtured and cared for so many years ago.

Even 17 years after having to say goodbye to my mom, she still leaves her mark in places we least expect.

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Creamy Tomato Soup

I love soup.

I could eat soup for every single meal. I love soup. I wish there was a place that only served soup. A soup bar. I would be in heaven.

Fresh tomatoes are beginning to come to an end in central Minnesota. I canned and canned tomatoes for hotdishes and salsa.

I had a few left over and thought. Why not make fresh tomato soup?

Creamy Fresh Tomato Soup 

1 chopped onion

The middle heart of the celery with all the leaves or about 3 stalks chopped up

3-4 cloves of garlicIMG_0215[1]

1 small fresh jalapeno diced (depending if you like lots of heat or just a little take the seeds out)

some fresh chopped cilantro

3-4 table spoons of oil and butter

a couple splashes of red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of salt and some pepper

add to the pot and let it sweat it out IMG_0219[1]

When onions begin to be translucent add about 2 quarts of tomato puree

Here is a video of how we did it

more salt, pepper and parsley flakes to taste, simmer about 20 minutes on low

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add 1 cup Whole milk AND 1 cup heavy cream stir together simmer about 10 minutes

While it simmers and the smells are lofting through the house and you have children you or may not hear, “Vivian, you be the pin!” In which case you have plenty of time between the simmer and the enjoying to referee. Always keep your stove on low in case the refereeing takes longer than anticipated.

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and ENJOY!!

On the same note of having a toddler living with you, sometimes your Instagram worthy pictures have little toddler fingers pushing your sandwich to the enter of the earth. It still tastes delicious, just maybe completely soaked more than you would like.

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Toasted french bread with provolone cheese and basil sprinkles with Creamy Tomato Soup

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

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School has Started for 2018

Just like that summer is over. The air is different.

The smells have changed. School has started.

The colors of the earth are changing. Harvesting crops is here. Routines are different.

Hearts will be lonely but hearts will be excited for new adventures and places to explore through knowledge. School has started.

Back to a bedtime. Back to early mornings. School has started.

First day of school.

We are getting better.

We are passed crawling into our bed with cookie dough feeling completely lost when Everett is gone.

We are past looking at each other, “Now what?”

We are still lost when he is at school.

We all want to hear everything about his day.

I think his little sister shows the best how we all feel when Everett gets off the bus.

 

 

 

 

 

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They are driving me Crazy

As I am writing this they are screaming in the other room. By “they” I mean my two children. My two children who I love dearly but today I think they are the spawn of Satan. I can’t count how many times I have told them “Stop it!” “Seriously?” “You know better!” “Why would you possible think that was a good idea?” “Knock it off!” “Stop it!” My words mean nothing because they are still yelling in the other room. I have checked out. It has become a free for all.

We were in the field earlier waiting for a wagon of rye to be filled to bring home. I couldn’t take them anymore in the truck so I unhitched the wagon and brought them home. We went into the house and for about 5 minutes it was silence. Silence I knew was only going to last for a short time.

Motherhood is a wonderful thing. It truly is but there are times well, I question why I thought this would be a good idea? I love my children and I love being a mom but some days. Oh, but some days.

Social media tells us we need to have perfectly packed lunches with sandwiches in the shape of smiling faces. Or, we need to be happy and perfect every day and every night. Really? My daughter ate peanut butter on toast for lunch and it wasn’t made from unicorn tears. She is full and happy.

As soon as I say, “Oh man, if I could just line them up and give one good smack,” you get the gasp of “You can’t say that!”

Well, I just did. That is how I felt today. It’s OK to feel that. It really is. It’s OK some days not to like our children. It really is. I love them unconditionally. That doesn’t mean that they don’t annoy the crap out of me sometimes.

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Who needs a four wheeler when you have a lawn mower

All summer Everett gets around by the lawn mower.

It was no surprise when Everett got it stuck in the mud.

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Banana Bread~Everett is at Camp

Everett is at camp.

Vivian is so sad.

I have some bananas screaming at me to do something with me.

So, we bake banana bread. The browner, squishier bananas the better. My go to recipe for banana bread is out of my childhood church cookbook. It is my go to cookbook for about anything. Karin Wessel shared the best banana bread recipe you will ever have! This is the only recipe I will use when it comes to banana bread. (How many times have I said banana?)

Banana Bread

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar

3 smashed bananas

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped walnutsaq

Cream shortening, eggs, and sugar.

Then add bananas; then add flour, soda and salt; finally add nuts.

(depending on my mood or if I have any I will add chocolate chips)

I use to small loaf pans but you can use one  5 1/2×9 inch pan.

Grease and flour pans.

Bake large pan for 1 hour 25 mins at 350.

2 small pans bake 50-60 mins at 350 degrees.

 

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Tough conversations happen at Farm Kitchen Tables

Below is my maiden weekly column with Agweek.

This column was orgianlly published on June 22, 2018 

Across the United States, dairy farm families are having difficult conversations. These conversations are not in big board rooms. At these meetings there are no suit and ties. There may even be children playing underneath the table. They are not in skyscrapers but in homes.

 

The majority of these tough conversations are had at kitchen tables. Kitchen tables where families gather to celebrate holidays. Where families gather to give thanks for meals. Where families gather to blow out birthday candles. At these same kitchen tables where life happens, hard difficult conversations are being had with one similar question, “What do we do?”

 

This may seem like a simple question but for farm families, right now it is a difficult question. Going into the fourth year, low milk prices have taken their toll on farm families across the country. Depending on each family, the question of “what do we do?” can vary but is fueled by needing more income on the farm.

“Do we add cows to an already flooded market? Then what? Does one of us get an off-farm job? What about the kids? After paying daycare is it worth the little extra? If one works off-farm, how is the work going to be divided then? Is it really going to make a difference financially? Do we milk fewer cows and save on hired help? Do we….. Do we….. what do we do? Is it time to sell the cows? What then? How does that look? Where can we cut costs? There is nowhere else to cut. What do we do?” So many questions are being asked at kitchen tables.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the state of Minnesota alone has lost 76 family dairy farms since Jan. 1, 2018. Morrison County, where I call home, lost 13 farms from August 2017 to the first of the year. So far our county has lost another 10 family dairy farms from the beginning of the year to now. That is a total of 23 family dairy farms in a short 10 months, in just my county alone! That is 23 families making hard decisions at their kitchen tables.

Every week auction bills come in the mail from across the state. When they come, my heart breaks. My heart breaks, because I hear the conversations between the print. I hear the questions so many dairy farmers are asking, “Are we making the right choice?” For young farmers, I hear, “This is everything. This is how we decided to raise our family. This is where we decided to live. This is where we have cried, laughed, bled and given all of our faith to. This is everything. This is where we have opened our hearts to. This is where we put everything on the line, and it still wasn’t enough.”

I hear the frustration. I hear the hurt. I hear the disappointment. I hear the pain. There are faces and hearts to those auction bills, and when they are gone, they are gone.  

farm meetings

Farm meetings at the kitchen table with Farm Business Management Instructor Nate Converse, Nathan and Vivian. 

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Turkey Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

The kids and I melted two of our favorite things together! It was so cheesy good!

Turkey and Cheese, making one awesome grilled cheese turkey sandwich!

We talked about me working at Jennie-O and how many farmers it took to make one delicious sandwich! Oh, and we made up a new word for parts of an iceberg lettuce! If you know what the real name it please tell me!

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