What’s a day in this season of life look like?

What’s a day in this season of life look like?

Spring is a busy time and sometimes I wonder if it’s not too much. For our family spring means:

Mom full time Job; Dad full time Job; Son plays Baseball – games twice a week; Mom Coaches Track – Has full day meets most Saturdays; Garden planting; New farm additions; Weed maintenance; Dog sheds (yes, I added that – it’s a full-time job cleaning up his hair); Laundry doubles; Dad works extra hours training new hires and has low staffing; Goats need Sheared; Lambing season; Farm maintenance goes into full swing – fence repair, barn clean-out etc.

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As a mom of a toddler I have the added challenges of accidental delayed bed times and refusal to nap. He can be so sweet and cute one minute and an angry Godzilla the next.

What brother, you and your friend don’t want to play soldiers with me? Let me destroy your bases and throw tiny toy soldiers to the four corners of the basement. That will show you!

I must admit, winter and spring tend to be the months I appreciate my husband the most. I am a feminist to a point, I love representing woman in the corporate Ag world, but how I love to get to be wife at home. I take care of kids and the house and Hubby takes care of the yuk jobs I don’t like to deal with. Winter its tending animals in sub-freezing temperatures, and this time of year its changing hand lines at dawn, and cleaning the barn.

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I get asked sometimes if it’s worth it. The day and mood I’m in will get you different answers. Though spring is one of our busiest seasons it’s also my season of hope. I look forward to warmer weather, blooming flowers, growing fruit & veggies, and laughing children. Today it’s all worth it.

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Over time I’ve learned tricks to help on time management: Farm or no farm – Comment and let me know what your go to trick is to manage or save time.

  1. Flex your work schedule: When possible, flex your work hours to give you a few extra minutes home kid free to get some of the tasks done that tend to be slow going with littles around. I swing home for lunch and throw a load of laundry in or do a quick cleanup of what was left from getting ready that morning. I used to go in 30min early each day and have 2 hours off early once a week, this was my main cleaning time.
  2. Meal plan: This is a weak point for me, but I see the benefit every time I do it. This time of year, I rely on crock pot meals, BBQ, and roaster pans. Our toddler hates being stuck in the house, and I don’t blame him, but we get cougars time to time and the road is not far away, plus he’s a boy toddler. I can’t take my eyes off him for more than a second. Anything that I can prep the night before or on my lunch break is a win, I can get home, and have it going without needing to be in the house more than a minute or two. That’s where the BBQ comes in too, I can grill and watch him.
  3. Tag team: I couldn’t live this life without my husband. We often tag in or out to get jobs done. One is on parent duty the other on farm duty. Dad moves a couple loads of dirt with the tractor, Mom makes sure he doesn’t back over toddler. Trade! Mom fills planter pots, Dad makes sure toddler isn’t eaten by a cougar or climb to the top of the hay stack.
  4. Prioritize: Have a list of tasks, but make sure to prioritize them. Mental list or paper, know what must be done today vs what can hold if it has too. If the fence needs repaired and animals are getting out, that’s probably a must. Picnic table needs painted – can probably hold a day or two.
  5. Let it go: This is my favorite. Accept that whether it is seasons of year or seasons of life, not all seasons can be perfect. If you wanted to get all the laundry done and now it’s a giant pile on the couch at 10pm, let it go, it will be there tomorrow and it never killed anyone to have to dig their pants out of the clean clothes pile. Didn’t get to all the chores outside? They will be there tomorrow and one day will generally not make a huge difference.

What does an average spring day look like for me?

5:30am – Get going for the day: Get ready for work, 10 minutes of toddler cuddle time, make school lunch, make family basic breakfast (sometimes pancakes, sometimes eggs & muffins, sometimes cereal or oatmeal), help get toddler ready.

6:45am – rush to work – work day starts at 7am

Noon – 12:30 – Lunch at home, toss in a load of laundry or meal prep

3:30pm – Coach HS Track & Field

5:15pm – pick up toddler from daycare

5:30pm – take son to baseball game – Husband usually finishes up with a bit of time to catch part of the game

7:30pm – get home from game – eat whatever was in the roaster or crock pot

8:00pm – kids down to bed

8:30pm – clean up inside of house, or if toddler actually falls asleep, sneak outside for a few chores

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As a kid, my Grandpa made a rule. I wasn’t allowed to date farmers or cowboys, that wasn’t a life he wanted to start me on as a kid. Oddly enough my sister didn’t have that rule, he said “I don’t have to worry about her, she’s going to marry a banker and move to the city”. I laugh now, she moved to the city, and though I didn’t marry a farmer, you just can’t get too far from your roots. We both have the crazy hours you would expect for farmers. She does more kid sports, so she has the travel hours expected for rodeo. Who knew.

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Gearing up for my 2018 garden

Gearing up for my 2018 garden

It may sound early, but I’m a planner, a list maker, so in January I started my garden planning. I made a garden journal, I created a diagram, assigned veggies, and planted the garlic.

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I planned out a foot path crossing the main garden area in a giant X.  I chose to put tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers along the interior boarder which will allow to  easily rotate crops.

I like the idea of winter sowing in place of indoor starts or purchasing starts. I’ve had terrible luck with indoor starts, I don’t have the space and they always end up being stringy and weak. Winter sowing using milk jug green houses allows the plants to grow more similarly to how they would in nature. Here is a great tutorial on the milk jug green house. This sounded like a GREAT plan for me!

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However, I have a short attention span for directions and seem to think I can substitute as needed. On top of that, I have bad luck. Not fall in a well bad luck, just general reality bad luck. I choose to  believe when trying new things I should be grandfathered into beginners luck. Isn’t that the rule?

This year has had different challenges, the weather had been abnormally warm for an extended time (in the 50s for over a week) in January. Normally we would have a warm day or two, but not enough to make the seeds sprout. For a while I thought I may have to start over.  Hubby suggested adding an additional layer of plastic for added insulation and see how they do. They hung in there! I may try my hand at hoop house next year.

I’ve been asked many times what method i’m following for my garden. I have found that once you start a garden you find out that several others have gardens and its like a neon sign lights up above your head flashing “GARDENERS UNITE!” So, what is my method? Plant and pray. That is my method. Farmers in the area plant peas, I plant peas, they plant beans, I plant beans. The little seed pack said to plant cucumbers just before last frost, I shrugged and planted them thinking, I haven’t had ice on my windshield, I may be too late. For some starts, I covered them at night for a bit with cut off milk jugs to keep them from freezing. See below, it looks like a milk jug farm, and if my oldest was a bit younger I would have probably told him that’s what I was growing. hahaha – mean mom.

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The cold sowing directions said it was okay to plant thick and thin out later, I’ve done that now, and its a game of wait and see. The cabbage seems to be very hardy, but here’s the issue, i’m not 100% positive what anything is.  Remember how I said I seem to think I can substitute when I want? Well, don’t do that on labeling. Heck, maybe put an extra identifier in there too.  Between my toddler shaking a few up, the sun, and rain, nothing was labeled by the first part of February. I literally stood there googling different plant starts on my cell while trying to transplant. I had the seed packs so I at least knew what the options were, but that was it. I ended up with about 5 that I couldn’t identify but narrowed to peppers or tomatoes. I’m letting those grow out more since they were barely sprouts anyway.  FYI, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower all seem really close, and if I end up with any of those in my raised bed and lettuce in the ground, I’ll update you that lettuce looks like those too.

I chose to use seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I don’t really have much of an opinion on heirloom vs hybrids, vs anything else. I chose my seeds from there because of price and color. I’m hoping the fun colors will make it more fun for the kids, and in that, maybe less of a veggie fight at dinner hahaha.

I still have a few things to plant, squash mainly, but everything else is in the ground I think. We did buy a few plants that were started by people that actually know what they are doing, so i’m pretty confident we will at least have some peppers and tomatoes turn out, and the potatoes have started to grow, so i’m optimistic on those too.

You may notice in my pictures my planter boxes all have mismatched plant types – i.e. “trees”, “succulents” . Hubby made these for me out of re-purposed boards from nursery sales signs he picked up at an auction, they are great! He also had these weird stake signs and a bunch of planter bags “dirt pots” from the same auction. Normally I cringe a little when he goes to auctions, but this time he came home with a bunch of stuff that benefits me, so I suppose he bought himself some bonus points.

Weekend herbal garden build

Weekend herbal garden build:

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In the past several years I’ve become more and more interested in herbs. I didn’t have much exposure as a kid so my cooking with herbs has been a hit and miss trial process. My dad used to make stew and just dump a little of all the spices in…. it was awful! But over the years (despite dad’s teachings) I’ve gotten to be okay in the cooking department. I’ve kept this mainly under wraps. I’ve never minded being the wife that can’t cook. When working funky shifts it really came in handy, so I just played it up. I must have done a good job too, because when I finally made a true home cooked meal for my in-laws they were shocked and kept telling me “no, really, it’s actually good”. It was quite funny, ha-ha. Now my schedule has calmed down a lot, so I don’t mind playing the good wife role.

Anyway, back on topic. This is the first time I’ve ever had an herb garden, so I’m really not sure how this will turn out. I like using natural remedies whenever possible. Which may sound contradictive to some given I work for “the evil” Monsanto, ha-ha. No worries, I won’t go into pro GMO or anything. Anyway, I wanted to have herbs for food, basic remedies, and tea (because, I like tea).  After searching on-line I was having a hard time choosing which herbs, and finding one source for all. And honestly some were a bit extreme and reminded me of the time my dad took me to a gun show and we realized after we got in that it was not like the ones at our local fairgrounds, but more like a pro-Hitler gun club. Anyone remember the movie Rat Race and the Barbie museum? Yea, kinda like that, but I digress. So I found a set on Amazon that looked good, plus I’m a Prime member so I got free 2 day shipping. Can’t go wrong with that.

Here’s a pic:

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This can also be found at http://www.mypatriotsupply.com

Hubby built me a raised bed and we hit up some yard sales and freebees for planting pots. Some herbs help with fly control so I needed some that can move around as I need, and some herbs are an invasive species and will run wild if you let it. And honestly I’m not sure which they are for sure, so I may have to replant some if I guessed wrong.

On the raised bed I filled the bottom with these huge rocks that someone actually trucked in for “beauty”. Honestly this amazes me because this rock is so prevalent around most of Grant County you actually see rock walls made of it on people’s property.  So given my built in hatred for this rock style, I used some to take up space at the bottom of my raised bed.

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I also used a couple small old stumps I didn’t know what to do with. Once the bottom was filled about 8 inches deep I (and by I, I mean, Hubby) filled it with dirt until it was about 6 inches from the top. Next we put in garden potting soil.

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I added a few scrap pieces of wood to divide up the bed so that I could keep track of things a bit better. Then I laid out my seed packets to decide how to set it up. For now I wrote on popsicle sticks what is planted in each spot (I found a couple cute ideas on pinterest I may switch them out for later). I tried to have the tallest on the North side so that it won’t give too much shade.

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Here is what I planted:

Food –

Sage

Oregano

Thyme

Parsley

Cilantro

Basil

 

Tea- (some double for medicinal)

Wild Bergamot

Anise Hyssop

Chamomile

Lemon Balm

Lemon Mint

Peppermint

 

Medicinal-

Catnip

Hyssop

Culver’s Root

Nettle

 

 

 

Planting is fun for all! Love my little helper.

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Country Girl Fail

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Some days I think God has a sense of humor where my humility is concerned. About the time I start getting a little too “I’m a rock-star”-ish, he reminds me that, actually, no I’m a mom/woman/wife still trying to find her way in life. Today at work, about the time I thought I was the master juggler of shipping activity, a HUGE spider ran across the floor in front of me while walking back to my desk. Yup, screamed like a little girl and almost dropped everything as I did this skip/shuffle/jump thing. And this reaction ALWAYS has witnesses, plenty eager to re-tell or even reenact the story.

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After work I had to run to the store for dog food, on the way my son fell asleep in the truck, go figure. With all the craziness the last couple days, I figured I’d carry him in the store to let him sleep a bit. I managed to pack my 5 year old in one arm and push a cart with the other. Luck was on my side, because the dog food was at the perfect height to pull a bag down and have it lad perfectly into my cart; kid still asleep in my arms. Another shopper walked by and goes “nice!” And my inner supper mom does an air punch is all “I know right? Check me out!” don’t worry, I didn’t let the crazy out, I just smiled and said thank you.

So here I am on cloud nine, and I get home and start doing chores. Hubbys working out of town, so I’m on funny farm duties again. Bunnies, check, dogs, check. Chickens – I got this, HA! Those little white monster chickens have no fear of humans. WTF, you’re supposed to runaway chickens. But no, I open the door and they swarm me, the dang little white ones actually started pecking me! So here I am screaming and making a fool of myself, completely unaware my son has come around to “rescue” me, all “mommy I can do it”. Ya, I almost threw my hands up and said let them suffer, but I don’t know when they ran out of water and I feel bad.

I finally get by the devil birds, grab the water can and run. I have no idea how this dumb thing is supposed to actually work. I got it filled, but by the time I got it flipped back over and ready to go into the chicken coop the dumb thing was empty again! Blah! On the second try I managed to keep a little water in it, but they will definitely be out by tomorrow. I was so confident in my awesome farm mom skills that I didn’t change into chore clothes before I started either; you should have seen my mud covered shoes and slacks.

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Irrigation is in!

 

 

Irrigation water is in! However, I rarely start the pump, so when my son wanted me to turn on the sprinklers I thought, ya I can do this. Just might take me a couple tries to remember how it works. Well, this is what I learned: open the valve, work the manual pump thing till water fills the pump, next is the most important part, TURN OFF THE VALVE! That would be the part I forgot about, as as you can see from my picture, I got soaked! And at 55 degrees my brain wasn’t functioning enough to get out of the way and turn it off from the back, so here I am getting sprayed turning on and off valves at random till the water stopped. It was COLD! Course, my son thought this was great, and then afterwards says “mommy you should have asked, you have to turn this part off before you filp [the power] on”. Thanks buddy, figured that out.

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On a different  topic, I participate in a food coop called Bountiful Baskets. With the food restrictions of diabetes and just trying to have a balanced meal plan for the family, it is really great to be able to have a fresh supply weekly for a fair price. Given this is the first season for our garden, we also don’t have anything frozen or canned from last year. This has been great for us.

Here is what we got yesterday:

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We had to google the big white root, but it appears to be a horse radish, which I have no idea what to do with. Maybe I’ll make horse radish (sauce), but I’m not a fan, so I’m not real sure about that. Every week there is always one weird vegetable in the basket. Last time it was artichokes. I’m not supper up on my veggies, so I tend to have to reach out to Facebook and google for answers. One week I got Swiss chard; it looked like a rainbow leaf.

But seriously, look at this, its freak salad. Didn’t we learn in grade school or middle school or something that bright colored things are poisonous?

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http://www.bountifulbaskets.org

Compromise

I seem to be in project mode. But my project mode is quite different from my husbands. His looks like this:

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Mine looks like this:

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And we compromise and do this:

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I say compromise because pickled asparagus is disgusting. Actually, pickled anything including pickles completely gross me out. But I did the good wife thing and said “yes honey I’ll help”. Quickly followed by “if this makes my house stink like pickles were done”.

Now I must tell you not only do I not like pickles I absolutely hate the smell to the point that hubby only recently got pickle privileges back. Now get your mind out of the gutter, and I’ll explain.

Back in the day before we got married we were living in the cute little cottage I called the doll house. It was so tiny our living room furniture consisted of a papasan chair and a hope chest with cushions on it. So anyway, the fridge had one shelf on the door that the tray had broken on so it was just a shelf with no rail. Obviously we didn’t use this shelf. Apparently hubby was moving stuff around in the fridge and set the pickles on the shelf then not thinking about it closes the door. Is he the next one to open the fridge, oh no, it was me. As you can imagine pickle jar falls out breaks splashing pickle juice everywhere. The house stunk! It was awful. So needless to say, I banned pickles. Happy wife happy life right? He accepted my crazy and we moved on. So for reasons that may fall into crazy, I’m hesitant to bring pickled anything into my space. But, homestead-ish wife, blah blah blah.

So “we’ve” been gardening:

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pickling:

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and modifying:

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My house smells like a Strawberry Shortcake Doll

My house smells like a Strawberry Shortcake Doll

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Spring is here! One of my favorite parts about spring besides the lack of freezing temperatures is foods. All the best snacks start coming back out. Our strawberries aren’t out yet, but someone’s are so we stopped by a fruit stand and bought a flat of strawberries. They taste amazing. Plus strawberries make a great snack option since our house is working to be more diabetes friendly.

Now I will admit I am horrible. I’m trying, but I’m basically the diabetes equivalent to a chain smoking wife with a husband with lung cancer. Luckily, or somewhat anyway, hubby doesn’t like the same junk food I do. I’m a candy eater; he goes for chips and baked goods. I don’t like chips, and the only baked goods I really go for are chocolate chip cookies or cake batter. There is a good chance my son will also have this struggle, so I really see the value in ditching my sugar (though I usually just take it to work). It’s really hard. But I digress, I’m trying.

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Anyway, we bought the flat of strawberries and I’ve been cutting them up and dehydrating them. We use an Excalibur food dehydrator, but there are many options. I like ours because its square and you can remove trays for taller foods. Dried strawberries make a great snack option for hubby to take to work, and I can also add them to oatmeal or yogurt, or mix up a trail mix for the “snack shelf” for our son to grab.

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When dehydrating strawberries or any other heavily water based food I make sure to cut them a bit think, usually about ½ inch slices.

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I take the end pieces or berries that seem a bit small for drying and I place them in a bowl (cleaned and trimmed as needed). After I’m done putting the berries I want on the drying trays the other slices get put into food saver bags and thrown in the freezer for later. Frozen berries work great in the summer as a replacement to ice cream or popsicles; they’re our son’s favorite warm weather snack. We also make homemade ice cream for home BBQ gatherings, and they work great as a topper once thawed.

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I’ve had a helper with the food prep, though I think it was mainly so he could steel fresh berries.

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After we cleaned up our mess, my son  volunteered to give scraps to the chickens. He likes all the squawking from the chickens when you bring treats.

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Diabetic note:

Some fruits contain a very high amount of carbohydrates that can cause high blood sugar levels in diabetics. The 30 grams of carbohydrates found in a banana, the 50 grams found in a mango and the 52 grams found in a 16-ounce serving of orange juice can be too much for some people with diabetes. Checking your blood sugar levels after eating is the best way to determine whether the foods and fruits you eat allow you to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Strawberries and most other berries tend to contain less carbohydrates per serving and constitute excellent fruit options for all diabetics. – more information at: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-diabetics-eat-strawberries-1678.html