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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When Life Gives You Snow, You Just Need to Make Snow Ice Cream!

It stands to reason that here on the farm we use what we have, and make do with it.  Happily that means there are all sorts of delicious meat, veggies, and fruits stashed out in my freezer, but with the recent snows and the fact Tink and Bear missed the whole first week plus one day of school in this new yer, we have been trying to be a bit creative to keep the crazies away.

Since Tall Guy's actual 50 birthday was Monday, and we had made him his favorite dessert, peach cobbler, the girls wanted to make him some ice cream to go with it!  (From this link, looks like TG's birthday is inclined to also be a snow day with peach cobbler served!  It's a super easy recipe to try!)

Clicking on the link above will get you to my super simple peach cobbler recipe, but this time we are going to focus on an easy peasy way to make snow ice cream.  You need just 1 can of Borden's Sweetened Condensed Milk, a bit of vanilla, and about 8 cups of 99% CLEAN snow!
(You can click on the videos to make them larger)


Heather Hill, you are mentioned in the following video because I know how precise you are about measuring ingredients.  I still love you anyway!  ;-)

So now there are TWO big ice cream buckets filled with "Snow Cream," and the girls are in heaven because they were able to make it.  Tall Guy is NOT in heaven after turning 50, and he is quite grateful for that. Turning 50 is not the end of the world; you just start to see the world from a different view point!

Monday, January 12, 2015


Finally!  I have some company up here at the top of the hill!  Yep, today is Tall Guy's 50th birthday. We aren't doing a big "to do" today because we did the impossible and surprised him last Saturday!

It's been a week and two days, and I'm still pooped from all the secrecy and plotting and meeting behind scenes, on top of the Christmas season and hosting a very casual gathering at our house on New Year's Eve. That is my secret to getting motivated: Invite people over to our house.

It really works, and everyone pitches in, but the big job was getting the garage cleaned out from all the winter "stuff" that has found itself inside.

The plan was for a very good friend, our best man in fact, to come up home and ask us to meet him for lunch at the 100 Mile Rib and Chop House.  The girls were able to stay home from this with a bit of acting from Miss Bear, saying that her tummy was hurting her, and she didn't think she could eat anything.  (So wish that wasn't a believable situation, but more on that later).  While TG and I were eating lunch, all my helpers were busy back at home, swooping in with food, tables, chairs, and decorations.

Thanks to Ms. Gidget for whipping up TG's favorite cake: Texas Sheet Cake.  It was a huge hit with everyone!

I left a bit early from our meal, and spirited Miss C. home with me to meet Tink and Bear while TG and Big E talked boy talk.

Like our beards?  The girls and I had this brainstorm after seeing all the mustaches in the party store. We had to hit the fabric store, though, to find brown pieces of felt with a bonus sticky backing! Here I am with my Matron of Honor and my Bestie posing!  It was fun to have a lot of our wedding party join us. Keeping up with friends is important and hard as we all run our kids here and there.

So here is the Star of the Show realizing he has been had!

Kind of like Charlie with his Angels.......

I cannot even begin to count the number of times the four of us below have had our pictures taken together.  Timeless friends!

I truly think we invented the selfies!

There was plenty of food and friends, and the party lingered on into the evening.

A good time was definitely had by all!  I have to apologize for the quality of some of my pictures. Most were taken with an excellent camera by an excellent friend who managed to avoid the other side of the lens! Thanks Ms. Kim!  The blurrier ones are mine taken with my phone.  My BIG camera is at the camera hospital, and I am waiting to hear the diagnosis/prognosis.  In its place, I've been grabbing my phone, but I unearthed my Canon G9 point and shoot the other day, and I will start using it more. I forgot what awesome pictures it can take!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sidelined, but NOT out of the Game

If you have been following me for a while, you will know how much I love our dog, Sadie.

She's that adorable dog, fourth picture in on my blog header, and she has been with us now for five years. Mention the word "walk" in front of her, and you had better have your walking shoes on and be ready to go.

She's my best buddy out here on the farm; wherever I go, she follows and makes sure I am ok.

You can get reacquainted with her Here, Here, and Here.

Well Dang!  Here are couple more pictures of her just so you can see her cuteness:

So at the end of October, we came home from one of Tink's volleyball games to find Sadie limping. She wouldn't put any weight on her back right leg.  I gave her a few days to "walk it off," and then I took her to our vet.  She was pretty sure Sadie had blown out her ACL.  Who Knew?!?!?!  She wan't in any pain; she just couldn't put any weight on it.  Dr. Kay said it would be a $1500-$2000 operation to fix the tear, and honestly that's a bit too much for us to spend on any farm animal.  Dr. Kay did say there was a chance she had just sprained it, so she gave me some medications for her, anti-inflammatory and pain meds, and we both hoped she would continue to improve......... But she didn't. She wasn't in any pain, but she would not use her back right leg.

Jump to the second week in December, and I am down at French Lick, Indiana for the Indiana Farm Bureau State Convention.  Anyone out there who knows me knows I like to chat, and this time my gift of gab paid off big time! I was retelling Sadie's story as we waited for a shuttle, and my friends, Marybeth and John Feutz, were behind me and heard Sadie's story. These two, besides being great people, are both veterinarians.  John said he could probably help her for around $400.00!  I turned to Tall Guy, and told him that is what I wanted for Christmas!  Below may be Dr. John's only sort of selfie ever taken!

Sooo......We compared schedules and decided the best time to make this happen would be the upcoming Monday.  Sunday we left the beautiful West Baden and town of French Lick,and headed home so I could turn around the next day and head back to Princeton, where John and Marybeth live and have their veterinary practice, Princeton Veterinary Hospital.  John worked on Sadie, I spent the night with them and had fun getting to know their little guy, Baby Doc, as he is referred to on Marybeth's blog, Alarm Clock Wars.

The next day we headed back home, and Sadie has gotten progressively better!  She is perky, prancy, playful, and just a happier dog.  She still needs to buildup strength in that hurt leg, but I am just so happy to see the positive changes in her.

Thanks so much to John and Marybeth for giving Sadie a second chance.  As soon as it warms up, we are going on a longer walk!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's True!

Here is Tink's face after being outside for 10-15 minutes to give the 4-H calves feed. Her cheeks are not quite that rosey on a normal day.  Let's make sure our kiddos are bundled up when going outside in this severe cold weather.

I'm sure you all are also wondering about our cattle, but remember they are a tough breed, and their bodies change with the weather.  Their fur is thicker, they have been storing up fat, and we give them lots of hay to eat and straw so they can bed down with some warmth.  For the cattle on the lot, we are constantly checking waterers to make sure they don't freeze, and in this severe cold, Tall Guy cleared out one of our "alleyways" for them to have some better protected shelter.  An "alleyway" is another term for a cattle stall only many can go in and hunker down together for the night.  It seems our barn and tool shed cats also call a truce from all cat fights to cozy up together at night so they can share each other's body heat.  They also have a tremendous amount of hay and straw to bury into and help keep them warm.

It's this kind of weather that hogs, however, cannot stand.  This is just another reason why raising them inside a temperature controlled environment is so necessary.  Most large hog operations keep their buildings at 72 degrees, even when their own homes might have the thermostat set at 68 or 65. People can put on more clothes, but pigs cannot.  We country folk can get through this weather, and with the care we give to our livestock, they will be protected too.  Just like the cats, if the cows can find a sun-filled but wind protected side of a building, they will hang there and soak up some great Vitamin D.

Hope you all are staying warm and cozy during this cold snap!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"What Are Double Crop Beans?"

Happy New Year!

Yes, I'm still stuck in the craziest part of chaos, but the last project comes to an end today!  Can't wait to tell you about it and show you pictures, but that would ruin a BIG surprise.

So I thought I would chat just a bit with you and answer a question I get a lot of times, "What are double crop beans?"

Double crop beans are soy beans planted, usually, on top of a newly cut field of wheat.  We cut wheat right around the 4th of July, so planting beans after that is kind of chancy, but it also gives a farmer two crops off of one piece of ground.  The yield is usually lower than an average field planted at the normal time (end of May through the first couple weeks of June), but it's still a crop worth money. It's like in your garden, your radishes and other first-in-the-ground-veggies are harvested early enough so that you can work up the ground and plant later veggies like more broccoli, cabbage, and even green beans!.

This project is kind of  risky, though, because an early frost will kill the soybeans before they have matured in the bean pod......Then you tell yourself you have a very nice cover crop for next year's soil.  We were fortunate to get our double crop beans in, and they didn't do too bad.  We do, however have an unusual situation on the farm we custom farm in the county south of us.  Those double crop beans are still in the field!   When we were down there finishing up corn in the snow, the beans just weren't ready to be picked.  They were not mature enough, and the ground was very wet, so we left all the equipment down there hoping for three good days to get back down there and cut them.  Good days are bright, sunny, DRY days, and Mother Nature was simply not accommodating when it came to those requirements.

Around December 17 or 18, we finally gave up.  We had to bring back the combine, bean head (also called a platform), and a semi from the field back home to store for the winter.  Tall Guy still has an eye on the weather, but it looks like we will not be picking that last field until spring.

One last bit of information:  "Custom farming" is what we call farming ground for someone else.  We use our equipment to plant and harvest, and the farmer helps us out with our ground/planting/harvest work and/or his, and that figures in to the final bill.  It's not like cash rent where we do it all.  I really like this arrangement because when Farmer Tim comes up and helps us, that puts four of us in the field and ramps up our job efficiency!

More pictures and crazy stories from the farm coming soon, but I need to scoot off and get ready for today's  BIG SURPRISE !!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Getting into the Spirit of Christmas!

What better way to jump start those Christmas feelings than by decorating the church and practicing with the kids for Christmas Eve services?

Yes, I know Baby Jesus isn't supposed to be in the manger yet, but we were just trying to put the whole scene together.

Today I THINK I finished my shopping, and now for the Great Wrapping Marathon....I seem to remember promising myself last year that I would not wait until the last minute to wrap this year..... oh well........

In a big irony, I drove around the mall this afternoon with my windows rolled down!  Yep I was that hot because I was power shopping.  Just squeaked the last present in and made it my my doctor's appointment with 15 minutes to spare!  Whew!

Say a little prayer for Tall Guy.  He is still at the mall with the girls trying to find white tights for tomorrow's program among other things.  Almost Merry Christmas..... AND it might just snow tomorrow!   Now I need to get wrapping while everyone is out of the house!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thin Mint Cookies: Look Who's in the Kitchen, Again!

I told Tall Guy that all the posts I write about him doing work in the house have more hits than most of my other posts, well unless I decide to get stuck up to the top of my boots in poo.....

I really do have to tip my hat to my mother-in-law for teaching her children how to cook.  I'm pretty sure I have said it before, but TG does know his way around the kitchen.  Hold on to your hats, but he also can do laundry including folding if need be!  So here he is, dear readers, back in the kitchen to make his family's delicious take on Thin Mint Cookies.

This recipe is super simple and you could probably put them back in the box of Girl Scout cookies that you were supposed to save in the freezer to open at Holiday gatherings, and no one would know that you ate the originals!

Here's what you need:

I think this is why his family loves them so.  Four.Simple.Ingredients!  Back when they had the dairy, there wasn't too much free time of an evening between milking the cows and getting homework done. You can make up a lot of these minty delights in a relatively short amount of time.

We He puts all the almond bark chocolate into a double boiler and lets it melt.  We usually use his mom's, but I improvised this year.

When the chocolate is melted, he adds peppermint extract until he gets the "right taste," and then he adds "just a bit" of vegetable oil until the chocolate has the consistency he likes. Yep Readers, he's a bit cagey on the specific amounts of ingredients he uses, but I love it when he asks for help with the tasting to make sure the mint flavor is just right.  OH!  He actually prefers the peppermint oil rather than the extract, but I couldn't find it anywhere.  Maybe Watkins makes it??

So after the chocolate is just right, he takes a Ritz Cracker, pops it in the pot, turns it over with a fork and then taps the fork onto the side of the pan until most of the excess chocolate has plopped back into the pan.

They are then transferred to a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and taken to a cool place so the coating can set.

Once that is done, you can start filling up tins and empty ice cream buckets that will make great gifts for all your family and friends.  Santa LOVES this treat with a cold glass of milk on Christmas Eve. Speaking of, check out this link for a real treat on Christmas Eve.  All you need is your Christmas cookies!!!!

This has become a family tradition on our farm.  Farm kitchens, at least the old farm house kitchens, aren't always the roomiest of places, but there is always room for family in our kitchen, especially at Christmas time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Talking about Tuesday: Hoosier Beef Congress

I'm not sure why I've started this week with a "Day" theme, but whatever it takes to get the writing juices going......I will work with it.

Hoosier Beef Congress was the first weekend of December.  We headed down to the Indiana State Fairgrounds just as observers to see what this gathering was all about.  I believe anyone between the ages of 8 and 20 may show here, and everyone says it's a great way to start gauging the calves for future events. The big show, at least for us, is our county fair.

Watching the kids show calves, especially the younger ones, was fun.  We also heard this event will help finally break calves into being show calves, and I have to say they were all pretty well behaved bovine, with a couple of stubborn ones mixed in just to show it isn't always easy for a 60 pound kid to get a 1000+ pound calf to move at the desired time.  Even the bigger ones can have their hands full!

The best experience for the kids has to come from chatting with the judges and getting comfortable with their calves.

I liked these two pictures because it shows a couple of points.  1.) the difference between a calf "set up" and one that is not. 2.) The difference of the size of the showman and calf can be distracting.

These ladies are getting the hang of it.

What was really fun was finding a bit of Benton County all grouped together.  There a few other BCers scattered around, but it's always nice to find a bit of home away from home.!

This family is Just.The.Best!  They have been in a lot of my posts over the years.  Big Sis shows cattle, and Little Brother loves to help get Sissy's hair ready for show.

It might be "all about the bass" in musicland, but here, it's all about the Bling!

We had a great day down at the fairgrounds surrounded by calves and people...now we need to decide if we can pull our act together and try it next year.  Anyone know when 2015 harvest will be over?


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