En garde

Titus has spent a lot of time barking at the creek lately. See that gray long-necked visitor in the creek? It’s that time of year when we see cranes, herons and Canada geese stop by as they migrate. This guy doesn’t seem very bothered by the barking, but I have noticed only a fraction of migrating birds that we usually have.

Normally I enjoy having them, but with the outbreak of bird flu this spring I’m okay with him chasing them off. I’m just hoping he feels that way about hawks this year.

1 year ago:

Titus on Tuesday

Titus on Tuesday 2

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Spring Sprouts

This time of year I get itchy to get in the garden and grow things, and I get a hankering for something fresh and green to eat. I haven’t started seeds for a few years now, but this is my year! And when I ordered my garden seeds, I included an order for sprouting seeds. Sprouts give me my early growing fix, and something fresh and green and healthy to eat.

I have a 3-tray sprouter so I started mung bean, alfalfa and broccoli sprouts. You can sanitize the seeds if you like by soaking them in a 1:9 solution of bleach:water for 40 minutes. Then drain and rinse and soak in plain water overnight. Drain again and dump the seeds into the trays. I used 2 Tablespoons of the mung bean seeds, and 1 Tablespoon each of the alfalfa and broccoli seeds, one type of seed per tray.

2 or 3 times a day, pour 2 cups of water in the top tray. It will trickle down through each tray and end up in the well at the bottom. Each time you water, empty the water from the well at the bottom and rotate the bottom seed tray to the top before you water again.

By the end of day 2 I had this:

Talk about instant gratification!

The mung beans were ready after 3 days, the alfalfa sprouts after 4 days, and the broccoli sprouts after 5 days.

When the sprouts are ready I put them in a large bowl and fill the bowl with water. Then I swish the sprouts around in the water to separate the seed hulls. The hulls won’t hurt you, they’re just kind of bitter to eat. But there’s always a few mixed in with your sprouts and that’s okay. After I swish them around I just sort of pick the sprouts out of the water and put them on a paper towel to drain. Then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

The alfalfa and broccoli sprouts are good added to a salad, or use them to top a sandwich. The mung bean sprouts are nice in soups. Tonight I made bean and ham soup and garnished with the mung bean sprouts. They added a nice, refreshing crunch to the soup!

2 years ago:
Snow day

4 years ago:
Together

Nine is

5 years ago:
Spring is coming

Snow day

Eight

6 years ago:
Cuteness ensues

Sleeping arrangements

Adventures in cow buying

Seven

7 years ago:
Trestle

I think she’s got it backwards

How to Cook : Ham Steak>

Installment #7

Small Farm Business : Enterprise Budgeting

Six

8 years ago:

Entertainment

Powered, the town version

Mondern art

Sows in snow

The farm where I grew up

Five

9 years ago:

Baby watch

Jimmy, male chicken model

More chicken models

Yearlings

Four

10 years ago:

Maternity ward

Why we do this

Fudge

Waning poetic

Q&A: Pigs – the Large Black

Spring is in the air

Farm sale

The best things in life are free

More woodchips

Three

The list

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Something new

I know posting has been a bit light as of late. So I thought I’d better let you in on a new little project I’ve got going with one of my forever best friends called “Postcards”. You can find it here:

Postcards

“Postcards is Susan and Kelli, two farm girls who grew up together in northeastern Iowa.

After college both went into tech careers. Kelli moved back to their hometown. Susan wound up in NYC.

When they’re together they enjoy collaborating on an impressive collection of Pinterest fails. This blog is their way of collaborating on something creative from a distance.”

Hope you enjoy it!

1 year ago:

How to Cook :: Slow Cooker Beef Stew

The Help

R.I.P., BWD

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Pork

Since we won’t have pork in the foreseeable future, we wanted to pass on that our friend Wendy Johnson of Charles City has half/whole hogs for sale now! Berk-duroc cross, non-GMO feed, outdoor raised, not given any hormones or antibiotics. She will deliver to local lockers. You can contact her at 207wendy@gmail.com.

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An update, and January delivery


Ava & Titus making sure the front porch is secure

Our first winter delivery to Mason City is set! Thursday, January 22nd at 6 p.m. in the southwest corner of the KMart parking lot. Check out our current inventory, then call or email an order by Tuesday, January 20th.

In farm news, all of our beef quarters are spoken for. This summer we plan to be at the Friday Mason City market as usual. If Osage does their monthly Saturday market again I’m sure we’ll be there as well. We’ll start taking chicken orders in April for June chickens. Haven’t really discussed whether we’ll do more chickens this year than we did last year. I keep telling Matt that we should just fill the whole pasture with chickens, but so far he’s unconvinced. Olivia is planning on having more pies at market this year.

Hope you all are staying warm this winter, looking forward to seeing some of you next week!

One year ago:
Today I am…

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Irony

“The days are long, but the years are short.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

The irony is not lost on me, that my last blog post talked about how quickly life flies by… and now over 4 months have passed since that blog post.

It was a full summer, a busy summer, a really good summer. We were sold out of meat about the first week of August. Chickens were all spoken for before they even hatched.

Olivia started her pie business.

We had a nice vacation in Wisconsin.

We enjoyed our county fair and the Iowa State Fair.

The boy and the dog both grew. A lot.

There was softball, baseball, and flag teams. There was visits with friends and family. A wedding. Just a bit of fishing. School started again. We hosted a farm tour. The garden was mostly a bust. We made a number of trips to Ames. Volleyball and football seasons came and went.

And here we are.

The first of the beef goes to the locker tomorrow. If you haven’t ordered your quarter or half yet there’s still time, but let us know asap.

And I will try not to neglect this space so much.

1 year ago today:

This little piggy

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Noticing

We’ve all said it, life goes so fast. I mean, I blinked and my kids went from this

to this

As I walked to the chicken pen one morning to fetch Titus I did something I haven’t done in a very long time – I stopped to take pictures.

I took pictures of the flowers that have started to bloom in the ditches – yellow ones and blue and purple ones and clover – I don’t know their names but I took their pictures anyway with my phone and an app (my big dslr camera sees less and less action these days.)

I took a picture of our house, and of the creek all greens and blue skies.

And in the process of slowing down to look around, to notice the little wonders of my immediate world, the whole world seemed to spin a little bit slower. Is that the secret to slowing down this crazy wonderful life of mine? Stop and look around once in a while?

I’m so used to living life at the speed of blur, full throttle, that the world around me does seem to blur as I focus on the biggest fire that needs put out – laundry, farm business, feeding the family, cheering on or running errands or cleaning up the worst of the mess. But in order for what’s blurred to come into focus I have to slow down, stop even, and notice.

I used to do this all the time, almost every day on my lunch break I’d grab my camera and just walk around the farm to see what was going on. And at first it was the obvious things – cows and pigs and chickens and children and pets. But after the obvious I’d start to look closer and deeper – weeds and hay sworls and new crops and spider webs.

I seem to remember that time as slower than this time. Maybe that’s just the way of nostalgia. I thought it was because the kids were younger and not involved in as many things. And logically that’s got to be part of it. But I wonder if it’s also that you stop noticing the things that have always been there.

5 years ago:

Count ‘em

Itchy and scratchy

Birdseye view

Don’t send out the search party just yet

Interlopers

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Let’s talk about pigs…

There’s really no long-winded way to say this. We are out of the pig business at the moment. Our sows came up open this spring, so we have no piglets to raise this summer. Matt thinks they were bred, but aborted in the bitterly cold winter weather we had this year.

Before we get back into pigs, if we get back into pigs, we’re going to need to have something different for housing to farrow in and raise them in. So I’m hoping to use the blog to think out loud about what some of our pig housing alternatives might be.

Do you have any ideas for us?

And if you know of any feeder pigs for sale in our area, let us know!

4 years ago:

Close encounters

Pig herder

Marketing manager

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Thank you!


Titus relaxing under a tree, thinking about pie. His favorite is apple.

Thanks to everyone that purchased Olivia’s pies at market on Friday! She sold every single pie she made, plus had a couple of special orders to make over the weekend. She also received a wonderful email this weekend that read,

“WOW! It was the best apple pie we ever had and with the finest crust. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful skill with us. We look forward to purchasing your pies in the future.”

I wish the person that sent the email could have seen the huge smile on her face when she read that!

She will have pies at market again this Friday, and might also have a cake or two. We’ll see what she experiments with this week! Thanks everyone for your support of her new venture!

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Introducing…

Those of you that follow our Facebook or Instagram feeds were teased with this earlier this week:

And those of you that have been following us over the years know that our favorite middle child loves to cook and bake.

In fact her favorite way of getting out of chicken wrangling is to offer to make supper while the rest of us go out and wrangle chickens. And it usually works.

She’s a busy girl, and what with softball and volleyball and workouts and cheerleading and color guard… there’s not much time left for a summer job. She’ll be a junior this fall, and with college starting to stare her in the face she was bemoaning the fact that she’s not making any money this summer. And then I was talking with a friend about pies, and I mentioned that there weren’t many pies at our farmers market, and the proverbial light bulb went off right over my head! She could (hopefully) make a little money doing something she loves, and be able to work it around her busy schedule.

So I talked to Olivia, and I talked to a couple of the market board members, and I talked to Matt’s Aunt Kathy who is a veteran farmers market pie baker… and just like that Olivia was in the pie business.

So she’s spent the last couple of days trying out pie recipes. She wanted an old-fashioned recipe, with real lard in the crust, so we pulled out the 1940’s church cookbooks that had belonged to my mother-in-law, Lola.

Lola loved making pies. Our freezer was full of pies for quite a while after she passed away. We didn’t have her pie recipe (I’m sure it was just in her head and never written down), but we figured old church cookbook recipes would be pretty close to what she used.

And so “Lola’s Homemade Pies” was born!

As excited as I am about her socking some money away for college, I’m just as excited for her to learn about having her own business. Already she’s learning about market research (by finding out what needs and gaps there are in the current farmers market offerings); product development (by testing out recipes); brand development (by choosing a name and designing business cards); and marketing (with an unexpected opportunity to be interviewed about her business by the newspaper.)

So far she has apple, cherry, peach, strawberry, blueberry and raspberry in her repertoire, in both full-size and mini pies. Made entirely from scratch, no canned pie filling! We also found some fun cake recipes in those old cookbooks that she plans to try, and probably popcorn balls – another fun treat that Lola always made us.

Look for her first offering of pies and mini pies this Friday, June 20th at the North Iowa Farmers Market, Mason City! If you want to reserve one (or more!) for us to set aside for you at market just email lolaspies@outlook.com.

3 years go:

Visit to Lime Springs

This kitten

Real food

This bird

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