Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

To turn the Furnace on or not to the furnace on

The question every Minnesotan asks themselves in the fall, To turn the furnae on or not to turn the furnace on.  “When do we turn on the furnace?” Our house is always on the cooler side not because we have an older farm house but I like things cooler. Nathan does not like things cooler, one of the many “discussions” we have in our household. Its too cold. Its too hot. I would rather wear socks and a sweatshirt then turn the furnace on. Usually in the fall it becomes cool at night but warm enough during the day to warm the house up again. There is a saying in Minnesota about how you can just turn the oven on or start baking. Doing this will warm up the house enough to just take the chill out. Yes, “Just take the chill out.” is a real thing and everyone in Minnesota knows what that means. It does work. I have been baking a lot of squash and eggplant the last couple of days. As a child I remember in the fall my mom would turn the oven on and open the oven door a crack while we ate breakfast and waited for the bus. Yes, I did that this morning, I turned the oven on to take the chill out of the kitchen.

 

This last week it has been rainy, wet and cold and chilly. I keep thinking it will warm up again so we won’t have to turn the furnace on. I have this irrational theory of when we turn the furnace on we will have the furnace on until spring. We will never turn it off. I call this theory irrational because I have no problem turning the air conditioner on in the late spring months to take the stuffiness out of the air. Waiting out the cold I do the same thing with winter clothes and bibs. I refuse to put them on until I absolutely can’t take the cold anymore. Because again I know they will always be put on until spring once you put them on.

 

This evening I decided it was time to turn the furnace on. I had made soup all day, baked squash and eggplant in the oven. The chill never left the house. I even had wool socks on. I finally caved. It was time to turn the furnace on. When I mentioned to Nate that I think I was ready to turn the furnace on. He blankly looked at me. I again said if he could go and check on it to turn it on. He replied, “It’s on. I have been turning the furnace on when you are not here and turning it off when you are here.”

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Vivan helping bake Squash

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Agri/Culture~ Ep 2 Burnout

Heidi Jeub and I share how August had us in burnout mode or complete purpose meltdown.

We share how burnout can have many different meanings and how we each approach them differently but also very similar.

And we have agreed we need to self-preserve ourselves or just eat the burnt tomato sauce and we don’t want to sell vacuum cleaners.

Let us know what you think burnout is?

 

http://raisingafarmer.libsyn.com/agricultureburn-out-what-is-that-ep2

 

You can also find Heidi at

http://www.heidijeub.com

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Blank words: Stream of consciousness overcomes writer’s block

This column was originally published in Agweek September 21, 2019

I am struggling to put words on my blank computer screen. I have about three different documents open with random thoughts put down. I am starting and then deleting and starting again and then again. There are so many words in my heart. I am struggling to put them in sentences to make sense or have a direction.

I am looking through pictures on my phone and then on my computer to find a glimpse of inspiration for words to form. Pictures of Everett and Vivian, Hans, sunrises and sunsets. Pictures of Everett with his chickens. Pictures from our county fair. Pictures of art and agriculture together, a project my artist friend Heidi and I worked on together and will continue to work on for our county.

The picture of the kids and me with my birthday cake right before I blew out my candles making a wish. I pause at this picture. I smile as I look at my phone screen because Nate and the kids made the cake two weeks after my actual birthday. Everett and Vivian greeted me at the door after I came home from a religious ed meeting excited they had finally made a cake for me.

The background noise of me sitting at my kitchen counter now is Vivian singing songs as she plays with her Barbies and some of Everett’s Battle Bots. My mind goes from “Where did she learn that song, it is kinda catchy, to you need to write, to thoughts about the conversation Nate and I had earlier this morning and so many times before — What are we going to do, will this ever turn around, what are we going to do?” The consolation of knowing we are not alone in struggling with agriculture is no longer helpful.

I have stood up, closed my eyes, hoping to clear my head. I have reached for the ceiling with my hands. I bend over to touch my toes. At this moment Vivian sees me from the spot where she is playing on the dining room floor, jumps up and explains happily “Let’s do yoga!” She reaches for the ceiling like I am, and she asks, “Like this?”

I sit back down at my computer. My eyes wander around my kitchen from where I sit. I wonder if I should put away the water bath canner that has called the stove home since the end of July. I feel like I am done canning tomatoes, but I know there will be more to can. I have jars of tomato soup and spaghetti sauce on the counter because they do not fit in the pantry. I need to find a place for them off my counter.

Vivian is now sitting next to me. She sings, hums and talks to herself. She has wrapped a small toy in a wet wipe. She asks herself, “What is this?” as she unwraps her self-made package. She continues to say “I see something colorful…” She explains happily “It’s Flips!”

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Many layers to Everett’s first big investment

This column was originally published in Agweek May 11, 2019

When I was 10 years old, I was saving for a 10 speed bike. A pink and black Huffy bike with pink curved handle bars.

I can still remember the excitement I felt when I finally had enough to buy my bike. Why I thought that would be a good purchase on a gravel road I still do not understand. I can’t tell you how many times I almost wiped out on the loose gravel on the road because of the skinny tires.

I loved my bike. It was my very first big purchase on my own. I still remember how excited I was when it was time to go and get my brand new bike.

Everett will be turning 10 this May. For about three years, Everett has been asking for chickens. This past fall, Everett began saving for his “chicken money.” Every time we visit our neighbor who has chickens, he needs to check in on them. Everett has had his heart set on Bantams from the beginning of wanting chickens.

Bantams lay tiny eggs, so I told him he can’t get all Bantams because I don’t want to have to use about 12 eggs for one egg sandwich. Everett didn’t care about the size of the eggs, he just likes the way they look.

One Sunday afternoon as I made lunch, Nate, Everett and Vivian sat on the other side of the kitchen counter talking chickens. They compared the list available to what the chicks would look like full grown. They compared how many eggs they would lay to egg size and what color the eggs would be. In the end, it was decided to get about 15 chicks. Nathan and I thought that would be a good starting point for Everett. Everett had a list and he was ready. I was happy because there were big egg layers included on the list.

On our way to pick up the chicks Everett kept saying how nervous and excited he was. He tracked the route on my phone making sure I wouldn’t miss any turns. I am not really sure what happened or even how it happened but we have a total of 32 chicks in my dining room. He has a mixture of Leghorns, Asians, Bantams, Easter Eggers, Susex, Polish, Barred Rock and Cochins. Everett is in heaven.

Every morning before school, Everett checks on them, feeds them, waters them and reminds me to check in on them throughout the day.

Everett will sit next to the box watching them. Telling me each and every one of their personalities. He will place one on his forearms treating it like a hawk. Every afternoon, he watches them and tells me how they are changing and growing. Vivian will sit next to the box singing songs and reading stories to them.

At night, Everett makes one last look at them while Vivian tells them “Nighty night baby chicks.” I am patiently waiting for the weather to warm up a little bit more so I can evict the birds from my house. I hope that will happen by the end of the week.

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You don’t rush chickens. Or Everett.

This column was originally published in Agweek September 11, 2019

 

For about three years, Everett had been asking to get chickens.

He began saving for chickens over the past year. This spring, he got baby chicks in a variety of different breeds. He spends endless time in the chicken coop.

When I help carry water, he tells me about each and every one. I try my hardest to show I am interested in what he has to say. I look at the chickens and think, “when are you going to start laying eggs?”

I know he cares about them, so I care with him. When he lost two chicks at the beginning, he was devastated. Yes, we had a funeral for two chicks.

The morning of the fair to show the chickens, I was stressed out. I knew nothing about showing chickens. I had no idea how to help Everett prepare for the fair.

We went into it as a “learning year and do better next year” kind of attitude. We didn’t know the culture of the poultry barn or how any of it works. We were going into it blind.

The morning of the fair, while getting the birds in their cages at home, I lost my patience with Everett. I thought he was being putzy, taking his time. I kept looking at the time; I finally lost my cool and said, “Everett, whatever birds are in these cages in 10 minutes is what we are taking and nothing more!”

That moment would come back to haunt me.

Before the poultry show, Everett took his time with each and every chicken. He took in all the nuggets and tips from people around him. From older kids wanting him to do well, to parents giving him tips. I could see Everett getting nervous, but he would not let his nerves get the better of him before his class.

I told Everett, “You watch Christopher, and no one else, how to stand and face the judge.” Christopher received 5th place in poultry showmanship at the Minnesota State Fair last year.

When Everett’s class for showmanship came, Nathan and I watched Everett come into his own, and I thought of all the people who helped Everett along the way.

Our neighbor, who gave Everett the love of chickens. Every time we would go to her house, he would ask if he could go to the chicken coop. Another neighbor, who dropped off pop cans for Everett to turn in for chicken feed. A third neighbor, who gave Everett a chicken carrier he found at a second hand store.

The poultry barn manager at the Morrison County Fair, who was so patient and kind with Everett by answering all of his questions. The other poultry moms, who helped Everett by sharing encouraging words before his first time showing chickens. So many people helped Everett with this project.

When Everett was awarded Junior Showmanship Champion, all the emotions of the people who helped Everett along the way came flooding in.

When the judge explained why, the main reason was: “This young man takes his time, it isn’t a race. He makes sure they are set up just right before he takes them out of the cage.”

Remember how I was rushing Everett the morning of the fair? Yes, Everett reminded me of this, “see Mom, you don’t rush chickens.”

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There are untold stories behind every Easter family picture

This column was originally published in Agweek April 27, 2019

I wish family pictures could tell the stories leading up to the picture. Every Easter, I make a family proclamation as we head to the home of my aunt and uncle, “To remind everyone we will be taking a family picture as soon as we get there. We will take what we need into the house. No one takes their shoes off. We are taking a family picture.”

As soon as we get there, my husband and children are shocked when we enter my aunt and uncle’s house and I remind them, “Don’t take your shoes off! We ARE taking a picture! Go outside.” We head to the back yard and apparently this is play time. A time to see how close we can get to the pond in the backyard. They run around the fire pit back up to the house and are surprised when I say “Let’s take the picture!”

 

My husband stands stoic and replies “Let’s get this over with! Come on!” All I want is a picture with my family with them all smiling and joyful to take a picture. Yes, I can hear the birds chirping and the woodland animals coming out to drape us in satin ribbons placing a flower crown on my head. The children gentle place their hands out for song birds to land on their precious little fingers.

No instead I am repeating myself over and over again, “Put the stick DOWN!” “Stand still! Stop Moving! Get your fingers out of your face! Come on, smile NICE!” Every single time we take a family picture there is tension, irritation and frustration and more important things to do than take a family picture of us four.

No woodland creators singing to us.

Mostly with all our family pictures there is a story, and not a joyful one. The story of when I am sweetly and calmly telling my children to get over here but my teeth are clenched together. Or the time when Nathan and I are walking up the driveway holding hands, I am calmly reminding him and possibly holding his hand a little to tight, “I warned you we were taking family pictures today.”

My favorite picture of all time doesn’t tell you about 20 minutes before the photographer arrived at the farm I freaked out on my husband and two children.

The Easter picture this year doesn’t tell you while I was curling my hair I had told Vivian several times to get her Easter dress on while she was dancing running around the house with only her white tights and dress shoes on. It doesn’t tell you how Everett exclaimed “Easter is the best! Candy for breakfast!”

The Easter vigil picture doesn’t tell you how Vivian ran around the front yard tripping and falling three times. Each time I caught my breathe and each time she yelled, “I’m OK!” It doesn’t tell you I mumbled under my breathe, “I’m not worried about you but I am worried about your white tights and new dress.”

 

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Morrison County Fair~Colombe Ag Learning Center

There is a hidden treasure at the Morrison County Fair.

It is the Colombe Ag Learning Center.

We were honored to be asked to be a part of it this year. I have watched and rewatched this video.

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Foundation of Words~Declaration of Independence

Last summer I had the opportunity to take Everett to Washington, DC. We were invited by our co-op to share our farm story with legislators. Nathan was unable to go so Everett came with me. Every spare moment we had in between meetings; I would take Everett to monuments throughout the city. I wanted Everett to be able to experience as much as we possibly could in a small amount of time. I knew this could possibly be a once in a lifetime opportunity for him. We were able to see many of the main monuments we see and think of. There is so much history in DC. There is so much meaning in DC beyond the politics.

Washington, DC, 2018

On our last day, we were able to visit Arlington Cemetery. The sounds of the changing of the guard, the clicking of shoes, the silence surrounding the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, will forever me in my memory.

Arlington Cemetery, 2018

As we were having lunch on our last day with some fellow dairy farmers we were talking about each of our favorite parts of DC. The monuments that surprised us. The ones that made us think. The ones where we could hear our own hearts beat. The ones where we would hold our breath. The ones we could sit by and be next to all day. Our conversation changed to “Where is the Declaration of Independence?” “Is it here in DC?” I took out my phone and found out it is at the National Archives in DC. I looked at the time, rechecked what time our fight was leaving and said to Everett, “We have about 2 hours, do you want to see if we can get in before we have to leave?” Of course, Everett said yes.

The line was long to get into the National Archives, we were starting to get nervous if we were going to run out of time. When we got into the building, we asked the first security guard we found where the Declaration of Independence calls home, the rotunda. As we made our way closer in the dimly lit room. Emotions began to well up inside of me. So many monuments and places we saw. Every monument has a meaning. Every monument means something. The one that should be on the top of our list to visit we almost forgot. Visiting the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights along with so many other letters. So many pieces of paper with pen scribes of words that shaped our country. So many moments in time where words changed the course of history. The pieces of paper we forget about but the pieces of paper we were founded on. The words that created everything we are, home of the free because of the brave.

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Everett and I in front of the National Archives, 2018

 

 

 

 

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Saying Goodbye to Lady Wilt

Our hearts are so broken.

Farming is hard.

It is even harder when we have to tell our son, Everett, his special heifer Lady Wilt died unexpectedly. She was fine in the morning and by evening chores we found her in a stall passed away. It was difficult to tell Everett because we didn’t have a reason. She wasn’t sick. She wasn’t acting different. She was eating and drinking.

We were all looking forward to Lady Wilt having her first calf the end of summer. Sometimes in farming and in life there are no answers to our pain. All we can do is love on each other and stand by each other.

Lady Wilt was the daughter of Everett’s beloved cow 304IMG_6933

 

As we said our goodbyes to Lady Wilt we talked about how she would chew through her lead rope.

How tiny she was as a calf.

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How much fun we had with her.

How it was pure happiness to share her with everyone.

We talked about how soft her hair was.

To how she would open the side door of the barn on her own.

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As Everett said good bye to his beloved animal friend, he placed flowers on her with her Blue Ribbon from the fair. A halter. A family picture with 304 was gently placed around Lady Wilt. Nathan and I know it is important to teach our children it is ok to be sad. It is ok to be mad. It is ok to grieve. IMG_7081

Everett has decided he doesn’t want to show dairy this year at the county fair. Nathan and I completely support him in his decision. Everett needs time to heal his broken heart.IMG_7077Rudolph Dairy 0049

 

 

 

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Pine Grove Zoo

Thank you to Marnita and Vicki for sharing with us all the wonderful things the Pine Grove Zoo has to offer.
To think the zoo started in 1913 with two great horned owls is pretty amazing. To think how much the zoo has changed in 19 years is incredible.
Their goal is for guests to leave the zoo asking themselves “Do you remember when we went to the Pine Grove Zoo and…..”
So many take always and golden nuggets from Marnita and Vickie.
They are a powerhouse of a team.
Marnita-
“Come and enjoy the zoo.”
“Its all about families and people.”
“You can make a very big impact with a very small amount of effort.”
Vicki-
“We want to make it a personal experience.”
“Our animals are the most loved.”
“We want to express our love on to our visitors.”
What are your “Remember when….” of the Pine Grove
Pine Grove Zoo
Five Wing Art Council 

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