Being a ranch kid can be hard

The kids on a happier day checking calves.

Sometimes I forget how hard it came be to be a farm kid. We expect a lot of our kids. They learn to be hard workers, to appreciate nature and the value of teamwork. But sometimes it’s plain old hard.

Yesterday we were doing afternoon chores as a family.  We had a newborn calf that was born  backward a few days ago and was struggling. I mixed up a bottle to feed him with the kids.  Unfortunately, when  we got to the barn, I could see he wasn’t long for the world.  Not wanting to give up, I sent my daughter to grab the stomach tube to feed him as he had no suckling reflex. By the time she came back, the calf was dead.  This is the hard part of ranching. To watch my daughter essentially crumple in sadness. To have explain that even if she’d came back with the tube faster, the calf would still died is hard. There is value in the lesson of life and death but delivering these lessons aren’t easy.

I’m proud of the resilience of my kids.  They have learned that one bad result doesn’t determine our worthn our entire experience.  They are hard worker and avid learners. And it’s OK for us to have hard days. 

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It’s a souper day!

​Today it’s wicked cold so….it’s a soup day. 

I’m a toss it all together kind of girl but this is the gist of my recipe. It’s an all morning affair.

Beef Veggie Soup

Start with a stock pot and the following:

2 large beef soup bones

1 cube beef bullion

8 cups water

Simmer this for a couple hours. Take out bones. Trim off meat or make it your dog’s best day ever 😀 Skim off excess fat from broth.
Add in the following:

1 c chopped left over roasted beef (if you have it)

1 c chopped celery

1 large potato cubed

1 c chopped carrots

1/2 c quinoa  or pearled barley (I was out.of barley)

1/2 lentils

1 tsp celery seed

salt & pepper to taste
Top off the amount of water to fill your pot. Simmer another hour or so.

Enjoy!!
This will feed a crowd (15 people or so) our freezes well for quick meals in the future.

On working with family

It’s coming up to my first year, exclusively working on the farm. I have been lucky to find a spot to work with my family. My in-laws. Yes, you read correctly, I am one of the blessed people that have wonderful in-laws and enjoy working with them on a daily basis. Here are my thoughts on how and why we have a great thing going.

  • Everyone is valued for their skill set. We each have a niche in the farm operation that we are skilled at and valued as the expert or go to person for that part of the business.
  • Respect. We are respect one another. Everyone understands that we are all out to make the best of our business. That no one intentionally makes mistakes.  I recently screwed up big time and said, “I’d understand if you’d fire me.” Thankfully, the response I got was, “It’ll take a whole lot more than that to get out of here.” And  a couple jokes.
  • Tolerance. We are a diverse group of individuals and personalities. It takes tolerance to know that each persons preferences, behaviors, and philosophies differ and that’s okay.
  • Our own yard sites. I write this in all seriousness. We put a LOT of hours in together as a family. It is nice to still have a bit of separation and privacy at the end of the and a spot that is all your own.
  • Common goals. We all want the farm to be profitable. We market our cattle and crops collectively. There is no yours or mine, just ours.
  • Communication. Yes, we can improve on this one, just like most operations, but overall, we communicate where we stand on major business choices and make sure that the group is on target for our major projects and purchases.  Our board meetings are more so coffee breaks with discussion, but that is what works for us.
  • A sense of humor. We work hard enough each day, so it’s a good thing to see the humor in situations. Sure, sometimes it takes a few days to see it depending on the situations but if you can’t enjoy your work and have a bit of fun most days, you need a better job.

This what works for our farm. We are now where near perfect, but I’m proud to be a part of a family farm business that works like we do.

A bit of baking

This weekend we had a couple inches of rain so we are stalled for corn harvest and it’s not even great weather to get much cattle work accomplished. So, I took the chance to work a bit in my kitchen. Plus, baking bread is a great reason to turn up the heat a bit as bread rises better in warm temperatures 😃

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Zöpf, dried fruit & honey

I made Zöpf, a Swiss traditional sweet bread, dehydrated pears & plums yesterday. Plus, buns today. Here are my recipes.

For the fruit, I simply washed, sliced & cored the fruit and left them on the dehydrator over night. Store the fruit in a air tight container or bag afterwards.

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Pears ready for the dehydrator

For the Zöpf, my mother taught me how to bake and I’m not much of a recipe follower. This is pretty much what I use to make  2 Zöpf:

Zöpf Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, soft
2 pounds white flour
1 egg beaten

Preparation:
Mix milk, salt, yeast & sugar together in a large bowl. Allow yeast to grow for 10 minutes.
Mix flour and butter into bowl. Knead to a soft dough. This usually takes about 10 minutes by hand, or 5 minutes when using a machine.
Cover and let grow for about one hour or until size has doubled. Punch down the dough.
Cut dough in two or four pieces of the same size. Braid as desired. Check out YouTube for bread braiding tutorials if you need tips.
Put bread on a baking sheet & let rise again for an hour.
Before baking, brush the Zöpf with egg yolk.
Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes in the lower part of the pre-heated oven at about 400 degree Fahrenheit. I always add a small baking tin filled with water to my oven to keep the humidity of my oven higher.

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Nice buns, baby.

For my buns, I have an age old 2 hour bun recipe that I use. Again, I’m free and loose for my recipes, so my measures for flour vary depending on how I feel that day.

2 Hour-ish Buns

Ingredients
3 cup warm water
1/3 c sugar
1/4 canola oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp instant yeast
2 eggs beaten
4 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats

Mix yeast, water, salt, sugar. Allow to ferment 15 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix until a dough is well-formed. Again, about 5 minutes. Cover and let stand about 20 minutes.
Punch down dough. Form into buns and place on greased baking sheets. I dust my buns with a touch if flour as I form them. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.  This makes 3 dozen medium sized buns. Again, I use the tin with water to add humidity to my oven.

My husband is a cover model!

 

SK Cattlemans cover

This fall, we were flattered to be asked to be featured in a local cattleman’s magazine. At the farm, we believe that any chance to share our farming story is a good thing, so we agreed. There was a lot of back and forth between interviewing my husband, Kelly, and I as well as fact checking for the story.We also, were lucky to have  a photographer come out for a day in December as we were moving cows home from pasture.We’re pretty proud of our operation. The article is geared toward farmers, but anyone interested will learn about the way we run the farm.  Take a look at the story here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome 2016 – Oh the things to look forward to!

New-Years

I’ll admit i, I’m a fan of New Years.  After the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, I look forward to the New Year, putting down goals for the year and getting back into routine. Plus, for us on the farm, it’s getting close to my favorite time of the year – calving!! I see the turn of the calendar as an opportunity to adjust and look forward. I’m not about huge changes or rash judgement and don’t jive with the big “New Year, New You” mantra out there;  not for my fitness nor for my farm planning. I like to reflect on the previous year, note the wins and losses for the year, and then set my new goals. I set them often, not just at New Years. I’m a fan of quarterly goals. For the farm, that means a changing of seasons and new projects to look forward to. Personally, that means after 3 months, you have pretty good idea if your goal is working for you, whether it be fitness, nutrition or just getting the darn office desk organized (this one is my nemesis).

My tips for Goal Setting:

  1. Write them down.
  2. Be specific.
  3. Review the goal as well as what has and has not worked in the past for you.
  4. Priotize and organize. What are big goals and your small goals? I break mine down to 1st, 2nd, 3rd priority.
  5. Break your goals down into small steps.
  6. Share them with someone.
  7. Seek out support.
  8. Leap…go for it.  Do it!

So here’s to 2016’s goals. I’m 5 days in a loving it so far!

Why I married a Farmer…He and She Said Edition

Family Pic 2014Seeing as it’s the week of love, I have seen a pile of “X Reasons I’m glad I married a Farmer” posts by ladies out and about in social media. Mostly these posts have been from ladies that didn’t come from a farm background. I love hearing their stories of how they came to love being involved on the farm and in agriculture. These posts are interesting to me as I have always been a farmer. Born on a dairy farm with 5 brothers and a sister, I was the serious tom boy of the family. I have been referred to as the “6th brother” by my siblings on a regular basis since I spent so much time in the barn with them.

I have been involved a farm operation of one sort or another my entire life. My husband I both have always wanted to farm and worked together for this fantastic common goal. I realize there are fewer “born and raised on a farm” farming females, so I feel a strong need to share our story as well: Why my husband and I married each other and why we love being a team in life and business:

  1. Lifestyle. We love being able to feel a deep connection to the land and our family. We are a true family farm with my husband parents and brother and ourselves farming together. Our kids get to grow up with their family and they are learning some of the greatest life lesson I believe I can give them: how to work and a great understanding of how nature works. We both love working outside and cherish the time we get to do so together.
  2. Teamwork. Nothing says team building like herding a set of mature bulls back into their pen at 10:00 at night by flashlight in the spring mud. We have learned to trust each other implicitly and most of the time, we can anticipate each other’s thoughts and actions.
  3. Having each other’s back. We are a team, when one falters, the other ponies up, no questions asked. Last year my husband hurt his back during late calving and early breeding season. We immediately adapted our roles so he was more the home bound care taker and I was out checking cows and helping with breeding. Now, that I’m pregnant and not feeling so well, my husband has stepped up his game in the house, I do what I can and our extended family helps out. On weekend, the kids are dispersed to whoever has a job outside that is appropriate to have the kids with and we all do our best.
  4. Common Goals. We are each other’s cheer leaders, because we have very common goals. We worked for 10 years in order to save enough to get back to the farm. Pay off the farm truck? Hurrah!! Made our goal for sale day averages? Everybody wins. Working together make us better people, we learn how to leverage each other’s strengths and work on developing our weaknesses
  5. We make each other better. Funny story, I was in the sales industry for 10 years and still hated calling strangers. Yep, it took a lot of pep talks from my husband to get past the fear of the phone (I’m great at face to face convos). It’s helped me professionally at my off farm jobs and personally for our farm business ventures. On the flip side, my experience with dairy has been pretty handy to up our game with our purebred operation, we’ve improved our sanitation and calf management immensely and our bottom line has rewarded us.
  6. Kindness and tolerance. Having a business and a marriage with the same person does lend itself to some chances to get grumpy but don’t stay that way for long. Having a farm business means conflict needs to be dealt with head on and quickly. A festering argument doesn’t help anyone; the cows can tell when your attitude is off and we don’t want to risk any farm accidents because anger or distraction. It’s simply not worth the risk.
  7. Passion for the industry. We are both all in when it comes to agriculture. We are both fortunate that we didn’t have some of the growing pains that many farm families have when our person has to adapt to farm life from a more urban upbringing. We both grew up with the understanding that farm work needs to get done and crews need to be fed and both are important pieces of the farm business. So we are pretty much both farm fanatics, so a day working together is a great date for us.
  8. We have lots to talk about. Any long drive is a great time for us to discuss of farm goals, where are with the kids, how the crops are growing, what to contract, what bulls we need to replace. No end of conversation. Yes, we talk about non-farm stuff too, but usually it ties back to ag in some way or another 🙂

P.S. If Hub’s had written this, a man of fewer words, it would have been much shorter.