Where have we gone?!?

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You may have noticed that there hasn’t been a post around here in several months.
There were a bunch of changes here at “The Little House” and I was very reluctant to not only share what was going on for privacy sake but also my head was spinning and sitting down to type it out just overwhelmed me!

So, here’s a recap of the last few months…
November 3rd~ We became licensed foster parents
November 4th~ We went from a family of 5 to a family of 7 and had 2 new children move in with us! 2 girls ages 3 & 6.
February 14th~ Back to a family of 5

Entering the foster care world, setting up schools, services, parent visits, and navigating the holidays while trying to keep 5 kids alive in this tiny house over the winter was a challenge! The lack of space shined in the windows as we tripped over each other, wished there was an additional bathroom, ran out of hot water during showers, and my goodness just having space to play when then temperatures were in negative digits!

However, I am proud to say that our 2 extra gals and their parents did an amazing job and they returned home on Valentines day!
Since then we have not taken in any extra children but our current 3 sure have kept us hopping!


Farmer built us a chicken coop and this weekend we made the exciting trip to Tractor Supply for 20 chickens and 2 ducks.  The children have lovingly named the ducks Waddles and Nibbler.  In the next month as we pray for warmer weather they will be adding a feeder steer, 3 goats, and some bunnies.  Stay tuned for those adventures and if you have any questions about Foster Care or are thinking of becoming a Foster Parent please feel free to ask!
Fostercare

Grandma’s Pants

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Isn’t it amazing how small things can hold great comfort?

Today I am home with my youngest. She started running a fever in the night and woke up this morning feeling even worse. I just scrubbed puke out of the carpet…

However, now we are snuggling on the couch. Curious George is on the TV, there’s a bucket next to me, and we are snuggling under a quilt that has been dubbed “Grandmas Pants”.

It is this heavy and cozy quilt made of old polyester pants my husbands Grandma made for him more than 20 years ago. Whenever anyone in our home is not feeling well they automatically choose this quilt to snuggle under.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to really know his grandma, she had end stages of dementia when we got married and she passed away a few days after our oldest was born. Knowing her children and grandchildren though I can almost guarantee that she would be happy that it provides comfort when we are feeling down.

So here is to a day snuggled on the couch with my little girl in her footie pajamas, with a cup of coffee in my hand and feeling cozy under Grandmas Pants!

What are some things you find comfort in when you don’t feel well?

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food!

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food - PA News (1)

I am SO excited!!!  My small town has this amazing Farmers Market throughout the summer.  It is full of local vendors as well as vendors that come all the way up from Detroit and they offer an awesome variety of food, crafts and art.

This coming Saturday we are hosting an event called Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Event.

We will have a booth set up for people to stop at and submit questions that they would like to ask directly to a farmer.  Then at 11 am we will have a panel of 3 farmers take the stage and get those questions answered.

This idea came about because I was at a farm conference this winter where we had a panel of consumers and we submitted questions to them to learn what they know about food, what they think about farming, and what they want to know about where their food comes from.

It is shocking for someone connected to agriculture to sit and listen to these normal people who work, have families, and buy food to see that they have NO IDEA what we do, how we do it, and in one case really thought that we might be trying to poison them.

But, what I really learned is that they have questions!
They want to know where their food comes from. They want a face and a name to go with their Frosted Flakes and Baked Beans.

The average American is now at least three generations removed from the farm. In fact, farm and ranch families make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population. The United States today has more bus drivers than it has farmers!

So here is our chance!

Come to the Farmer’s Market on this Saturday morning August 19th!

Ask questions, meet a few farmers that grow your food, learn HOW we do it, and WHY we do things a certain way on each of our farms!

We would LOVE to have you and we would love to meet you!!!!

 

P.S. You are always MORE than welcome to ask me questions here!

 

Wheat Harvest

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Wheat Harvest from above

It has been an exhausting week here at the Little House! I should have gotten on a post up earlier but I have to be honest with you, I was just plain tired.

IMG_5242Wheat harvest is always hot and this year it seems like its been one of the dirtiest too! Farmer has had more changes of clothes this week than in a while!  He said it seemed like all the extra greasy jobs happened this week.

When the rain came this weekend and cut us off from finishing the last wheat field we grabbed the kids and went to a festival before church.  Yesterday we picked all the produce from the garden, went up town and played a game Putt Putt golf and then I came home and took a 2 hour nap.

This morning the kids got their goat walking in and a trip to the library. Then we went to town to run errands and meet my dad.  He took Luke home with him after work to spend a few days getting spoiled and helping my parents get some projects finished around the house.  As I said on Facebook earlier this week, our family is really blessed to have such wonderful grandparents that can pick up the slack when we are in our busy time.  My mother in-law has been picking kids up from daycare, feeding them supper and getting them to bed for about 5 days straight. She is a Godsend and a wonderful example of a FarmHer.

We are still waiting for our last wheat field to dry out a bit before we finish up our season but in the meantime that garden I mentioned earlier has been in over drive!  So far I have frozen 21 cups of peas, 4 packages of radishes, and 14 cups of green beans.  I am currently waiting on my beets to finish boiling and also have about 15 pickles cut up and ready to go.

Gardening is not my first love, as a matter of fact it is kind of an farm garden(Everyone on the farm shares all the produce) and unless I walk over to it I sometimes forget that it is there and needs tending.  This year the weeds got a head of me and it’s not really pretty, but it is also still producing plenty to eat!
We currently have a few more peas, lots of pickles, some beets, and the tomatoes and sweet corn are about to start ripening!

What is your favorite treat from the garden? What do you do with it?

PS: When we are super busy in the field I still manage to get some funny updates on Facebook so follow me HERE too!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

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Photo Courtesy of: codecanyon.net

If you are NOT a farmer you may have noticed that some of your outdoor plans have been cancelled due to rain…
If you ARE a farmer you may have noticed that some of your outdoor plans have been cancelled due to rain…

While we have been fortunate in our small part of the world, the majority of the areas around us have been hit very hard with LOTS of rain.  Anywhere from 5-10 inches in the last few weeks!  We know… you would think that rain would be good for crops. But, this much rain has been too much.

Dry beans are really a big worry right now. They just cannot take excessive rain. There are already talks of considerable losses in the dry bean industry. Some farmers have had to face replanting while others, with standing water, are concerned about the nitrogen that was lost in corn.

So we are praying that we get some good heat and sun to dry out the fields enough farmers can get back in to manage crops.  On our farm right now we are attempting to find dry bean ground that is dry enough to let us cultivate.  We use a row crop cultivator for weed control and for “hilling” up dirt around our beans; which makes it easier for our type of harvest.

In other Little House News we have been keeping busy cutting up some wood for our summer camping, doing some rainy summer camping, and playing with our goats.  Yesterday we also poured some cement for a bin project we are going to be working on later this summer.  I think our Faith is going to be a great Farm Mom someday, check her out raking dirt and carrying her baby  in the backpack carrier!

Summer Has Finally Begun!

Today is officially the first day of summer break for our family and to celebrate in style we initiated our kids (and a neighbor kid) into a farm kid tradition that is as old as time…

Picking rocks!!

Well, this isn’t the first time our kids have picked rocks but as a parent I have to say that I think this is the first time we’ve managed to pick a whole field without any meltdowns and actually get some work done! Even if the girls managed to put more “pretty rocks” in the cab of the backhoe than they actually picked…  Picking rocks is character building and a great workout for your arms and legs.

Growing up I lived in the country, but after 2nd grade I no longer lived on a working farm.  That didn’t stop my parents from teaching us all about hard work though!  Splitting wood all summer long, working with our 4-H animals and having to stack wood in the basement for an hour when friends came over before we could play.  Then there was baling hay and picking rocks with the neighbors.

The best part was always building forts in the hay mow and getting to climb up the bale elevator to the loft. The not so fun part was always how HOT it was and taking a shower after baling hay was a painful experience if you forgot to wear the right clothes.

My good friend growing up was so upset about picking rocks she always swore up and down that if she ever married a farmer he would be required to own a rock picker! **She didn’t end up marrying a farmer**

So to celebrate getting our work done today the kids are getting to relax and watch a movie this afternoon, Farmer is out spraying corn for weeds, I’m about to tackle the mountain of laundry and tonight we are taking the kids 4-H goats to get tagged for the fair.

** Stay tuned for that rodeo!

What are some plans you have for your family this summer?

 

 

You Know It’s Planting Season When…

 

I ran across a picture I posted on my personal Facebook page a few years back and I’m sharing it with you today.

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We were in the midst of a very busy planting season and some how a ketchup bottle fell out of the fridge and I was so tired and busy it took me 3 days to actually get back around to cleaning it up.

It’s been a crazy planting season here but we were blessed with decent weather and our corn, soybeans and dry beans are all planted.

Here are my reflections on How You Know It’s Planting Season:

** The weather app is your new best friend or worst enemy
** Clouds induce paranoia
** Changes in weather forecast can make your farmer come unglued
** That extra Twinkie in your lunchbox can brighten your day
** The kids want to know when dad is coming back
** Everything breaks. Everything.
** The parts department at the implement dealer is on speed dial
** You measure your day in acres not hours
** If you manage to wash and dry the laundry you are too tired to put it away so you sleep under it
** Seed from the current crop are rolling all over the laundry room floor
** Tempers are short
– Like when we decided to take make a quick stop with the kids to get ice cream but on the way there the field we were waiting to get dry was ready.  There was a long line and Farmer almost came unglued.

 

God Bless the grandmas who pick up the kids, the wives who deliver hot food to the fields and hold the fort down, and the farmers and farmHers that sacrifice time with their families to feed yours.💕

 

Spring planting is just around the corner!

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One of the wheat fields we sprayed today.

Around here you don’t need a calendar to tell you when it’s starting to get close to planting season.

First equipment starts getting shuffled around and those last-minute maintenance projects get finished up. Equipment gets hooked up to its corresponding tractor, then the weather app gets a workout speculating when a weather event will occur. Is it going to rain? How much will we get? What’s the temperature?

Then the field scouting starts or in my world “date night!” Driving by fields on the way home from town, hopping out with a shovel to check the moisture. Is it getting dry enough we won’t cause compaction? Calling customers for seed deliveries and coordinating drop offs start. Will they have enough? Will they change their order?

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Grace & Faith getting the gator ready for spring!

Lastly the excitement mixed with anxiety starts. It’s almost time! If we get a few more days of sun we could start! If planting in the corn belt is delayed will it cause a price increase?

It’s a promise of new adventure, growth, income and most of all God’s beauty. If its dry and we get in the fields early things can be fairly calm. This year things are not all that calm. A combination of low crop prices and unfavorable weather has increased anxiety in this house for a time. With low temperatures and lots of rain it has been a waiting game to see when it will be dry enough to get in the fields here. The north wind off the lake and more low temps are currently not helping the drying conditions though.

IMG_4565However, today we are able to spray our wheat for weeds and fungus! We grow Soft White Winter Wheat. We plant it in the fall and will harvest it in mid-July. Soft white wheat is ideal for baked goods that are not kneaded- like cookies, pancakes, pie crusts and crackers. Soft wheat has a very low gluten content, which, when used in baked goods that are not kneaded, results in a tender finished product. A lot of our wheat will end up in Jiffy pancakes, Kellogg’s cereal, and Goldfish crackers!

 

So the next time you are flipping some pancakes think of us!

pancakes joyofbaking

Photo credit-Thejoyofbaking.com

Love Grows Best in Little House’s??

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We have had a string of bad weather and cold temperatures. Spring shows up for a few days, we get outside, then the north wind blows and we are running inside for warmth again.

My house is feeling very hemmed in and I’m struggling to graciously live in our little house on the farm. I long for the day when we will move across the yard and remodel a different house that will allow me some breathing room. Those people on TV that want to move into a tiny house are crazy!

Now that the kids are getting a bit bigger I would love for them to have some space of their own.    ~And let’s face it, get them out of my hair a bit…

Luke’s farm set isn’t easy to get to because its parked under storage shelves filled with things that we use but don’t have space in the kitchen for. The girls have a deep freezer in their bedroom and no space to set up their dolls.  Because of that, everyone ends up fighting for floor space in the living room.  8’x8′ of floor is getting small for their growing imaginations and my patience.

We have gotten creative to maximize every square inch we have and we are busting at the seams. Seriously, if you have been to my house you should be impressed at the ways we have come up with to make it all work!

However, I am grateful for our little house here on the farm. It comes with positives and I am thankful we don’t have to drive to get to work every day!

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So in the spirit of being grateful here are 5 things I love about our little house on the farm:

  1.  Low heating costs
  2.  Less square footage to clean
  3.  It doesn’t challenge my decorating skills
  4.  It is easy to play a game of Hide and Seek!
  5.  We spend a lot of time together

I’m looking forward to some warmth, sunshine and the ability to send everyone outside! Do you ever feel like you just need some room?

We Bought a Zoo!

dogOkay, not quite…  We live on a cash crop farm which means that our main source of income is growing crops.  We grow corn, wheat, and dry beans.

However, anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist having some animals around. This week with the return of some warm weather we also welcomed some new pets onto our farm.

2 weeks ago our momma cat had 6 kittens on our deck and last Saturday we took a trip down to my older brothers and came home with 5 Nigerian Dwarf goats and a puppy.

That means we went from 2 outside cats and a deranged dog to 8 cats, 5 goats, and 2 dogs.  In less than a month we will also add a few chickens and a pair of ducks!

The kids are responsible for the care of our animals and have divided the chores among themselves.  Luke is currently in charge of all the dog and cat care, Grace feeds and waters the goats in the morning before school and Faith has to do goat chores at night. Luke and Grace will each show and sell one of the goats at the county fair this summer. Once school gets out they will be responsible for duck and chicken chores each day too.

Check out Luke’s little video he made about some of our animals.  He’s new to this but I think not a bad explanation for his first one!  More growing for both if us as we continue the blog.

With all our extra animals and spring planting around the corner stay tuned for more adventures at The Little House on the Farm!