Week 2 of Quarantine

It’s week 2 of  my Quarantine for the COVID-19 virus.  Everyone in our family is doing well and not showing any signs that they are sick so that’s good. With our one son and his fiancé living in New York which is a hot spot, and our other son and his wife living in an area in Iowa that’s had a lot of known cases, we are counting our blessings that our family has been healthy. 

So with our long awaited winter vacation cut short two weeks ago in Cancun, we came home early because of all the chaos happening in the US. I have to admit that I was disappointed that we had to leave early, but at the time it was the right decision. Schools were closing and we were worried about the border closing and not being able to get back home and into the states. Isn’t that a weird thing to hear? It is for me to write that’s for sure! I mean there is no way no one would ever believe that we would be in this situation even 2 months ago would we? 

But we are now home and seeing just how our small communities are handling the situation and I couldn’t be more proud! Everyone is pretty much staying calm and trying to help each other out. Because we are living in a small farming community a lot of our local businesses are owned by someone we know and are more than likely our friends. I saw a post of a local business tonight that their business has increased from last week to this week by 453%  Now how cool is that? This particular business just had an expansion to their business and with no opportunity to have people come and enjoy it, they really needed the community help on a financial side – and they got it! There is something to be said for small towns! When everyone knows pretty much everyone, there is definitely community support! 

OK, so what have I been doing these last two weeks? Well I’ve been working from home and have requested that I work again from home next week. I am usually on my computer pretty much most of the day so if I do it from the office or my make shift office from home, it’s really no difference. I’m happy that my boss also sees it that way! I’m not usually one who likes a lot of noise when I’m working, so my little craft room/home office has been working out great and I’ve been getting quite a bit done too. I think it’s a Win Win! 

I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t been making a lot of soap in this downtime though. I’m a little bit cautious because all the spring shows have been cancelled so I didn’t want too much soap just in case I can’t sell it. See all the shops that I sell at are closed so you can understand my concern about over producing. I’m kinda thinking about setting up a shop on line, but just not sure yet. More to come about this in the weeks to come. Just indecisive. 

But I’ve got pretty much all our laundry caught up and the dogs are completely confused when they are getting treats not only on Saturday and Sunday, but also during the week! I’ve been sanitizing the house quite often because I want to make sure that stay healthy for my Mom and being able to continue to visit her. I’ve sent a couple of care packages to the kids which I feel good about that I’ve been able to help them out. And well to be honest I haven’t felt too productive otherwise lately in the evenings so I started my daily ‘To Do List’ today to help out to get more stuff done. It really helps me stay focused and I think I need the help! 

Other things that’s happening around the farm is that we’re working on the upcoming wedding this Fall for the kids!  I CAN NOT WAIT!! And with the Bridal shower happening on the farm mid summer , I can’t say Thank you enough for all the work that our daughter in law is doing! You know when there’s going to be a get together and it’s going to be fun? Well that’s going to be this shower! 

Well that’s about all for now. As we’re all trying to figure out the new normal, the weather is expected to turn nice next week, and we’ll all be one more week closer to having this whole quarantine situation over!  Then on to summer weather and activities and of course the wedding! 

 

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Week 1 _ Coronavirus

Well as you all know we are all trying to stop the coronavirus that has plagued the world these past two weeks by having to leave your house and  travel only when absolutely   necessary.

OK, so what did I do with my time this weekend?

First things first. You know that I like to do laundry so that’s a no brainer. I put laundry out with all good intentions to take it in when dry. So did it get dry? Well not so much. See after I put it out and decided it needed one more day to really dry – it kinda snowed. And for some reason the snow just stayed for the whole day! So now my choice is should I bring it in with snow on it or let it outside to see if it’ll dry. Well you can pretty much guess what I did right? Yup, I’m going for that country fresh smell 🙂

Other things accomplished this weekend was going through some storage that I had in my scrapbook/home office room. I’m guessing that a planner that was dated 2010 isn’t a necessity anymore along with some old address books and just plain stuff! See I’m working from home for now and my scrapbook room is now serving a dual purpose. I’m not sure how long I’ll be working from our upstairs in our house, but for now I don’t mind at all.

And this weekend there was also some soap making going on. Surprised? I’ve been trying out a couple of new techniques and to be honest they haven’t been too successful so far. The YouTube videos made it look so easy!  Yea whatever! But the soaps smell wonderful and unless you’re out scoping out soap videos on the web – I’m guessing you wouldn’t know that they don’t turn out just exactly how I had planned it.

I’ve also started to plant some seeds inside to get ready for my summer garden today.  I haven’t stared plants from seeds forever so I’m kinda excited to do it again! I’ve got quite a few more packets to plant but I think I’ll see how these first ones go!

We also had our first meeting on Sunday for creating a non-profit organization for a Historical Society for our town. At first we were going to get together at the Community Center in town to have our meeting, but our group members are located in South Dakota, New York, New Hampton Iowa, Ames Iowa, and then me in Lawler Iowa. Just a little challenging with what’s going on for now for traveling. But guess what? We had a conference call and it went great! Got tons done and the paperwork is headed to the lawyer tomorrow for the final review. Shazam! There’s a lot of work to do with the group but it’s like the old saying that if you don’t start it’ll never get done! I’m super excited to be a part of it!

And lastly I’ve been in the kitchen cooking quite a bit. For the weekend I checked out what was in the freezer and made fried chicken in the oven, I had some ham broth frozen so I made ham & potato soup, and took some Christmas turkey that was also frozen and made some creamed turkey sandwiches. I also took some frozen bananas out of the freezer to make some banana bars. I made them in a smaller pan to have more of a cake and it turned out pretty good! I had all intentions to have them frosted, but as you can see it’s just way too late for that! I’m guessing that in Week # 2 I’m going to hide the weight scale just in case I continue to clean out the freezer! 

 

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Christmas 2019!

Christmas. It’s a brief period in time when it feels to me that everything stands still. Now don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of preparing, buying, budgeting, and organization into each and every Christmas, but when the actual day comes when everyone gets together, it’s just down right awesome! So for this year I feel so lucky that not only did our kids all make it all home to the farm, but almost everyone was able to make it for Ma’s Christmas. I think there was around 59 people who were there and we were missing around 8. Now that in itself should be recognized as a major success!

Planning stage: You know when you’re planning on having people travel and come to your house you don’t just worry about ‘will I have enough food’ but you also worry about ‘does my house look clean enough’ ‘will anyone show up’.  Now I’m sure I over think this a little bit too much and I’m also sure that no will care if they find some dust on a window sill. Well I hope they don’t anyway!  But there are so many things to think about and to top off my worry list is the weather. Because by this point you’ve somewhat got your house organized, you’ve bought enough food so that if there is someone who is remotely hungry for the next month or so – you’ll be ready to feed them! And the only thing that could stop this from not going as planned would be a winter storm.

So of course I started to watch the weather as soon as it was available for the 10 days forecast. With the weather looking good in the forecast and the kid’s flight from New York is on schedule, I can relax a little bit more and go to the grocery store one more time just in case 🙂 But for now the Roadhouse was ready and now so am I!

It’s a Party! : The day of Ma’s party couldn’t have been any better! The sun was shining and little kids were running around outside on the lawn playing football and a close game of basketball was being played all without coats. Who would have thought?!

The kids were flying into a local airport around noon so it was up to me to get everyone starting to eat. So I took my roaster of the 4 turkeys that I made earlier and added it to the overflowing table of food. Honestly if someone left hungry – well it was definitely their fault!

After the prayer it was time to eat! And let’s just say that I’m sure no one was disappointed! Soon Kyle, Kelcie, and Daryl showed up, and with William and Jude home already it was a really good feeling and I was happy.

Mr. & Mrs. St. Nicolas were the honored guests for the day and with tons of laughter and joking around we were excited to hear what the little kids had on their lists this year. Now some were a little shy and then there were some that were not scared at all! I seriously remember having St. Nicolas Day as a kid and being pulled out from under a bed by my feet at my cousins house and then drug downstairs to sit on St. Nicolas’s lap. I guess I must have been one of the scared kids! 

The day ended way before anyone of us wanted it to and before everyone left we (OK maybe I was pushing it the most) was to take a group picture. Now this seems like an impossible task right? Well guess what? We got everyone in the picture and it turned out fantastic! A couple of weeks later for Mom’s birthday party I made a huge enlargement of the group and it’s still hanging in her living room on the wall just as you walk into the room. Yup, the picture was the icing on the cake and I absolutely loved it!

So as you know this post has been way overdue. I’m not sure what I’ve been doing but obviously I know not keeping up with the blog. But in this uncertainty of the world today with the coronavirus I thought it was fitting to put together a post about a great time for our family and something that just makes me smile. I hope it made you a little happier today too 🙂

From Ma and our family – be well and be safe!

 

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Like herding cats!

I gave up to the thought that we might still have some nice weather coming our way this fall and started to look outside what was needed to be done. I mean with this being our 3rd or 4th snowfall this year, I guess it’s time to face reality.

Driving home tonight it looked like this

So with winter coming, it’s time to move our ‘little’ chickens into the main part of the chicken coop condo. They’ve been locked up since spring and now will need to be mixed with the other chickens for the winter and hopefully by spring when they get left out in the yard that they’ll know not to freak out and fly away.

I like to try to set a timeline for any projects that I do, so this should only take maybe 20 minutes right? Yeah I know that there is over 30 chickens to catch and move, but with my handy dandy chicken catcher – I just might get this done sooner!

When I was walking over to the chicken coop, I had both dogs by my side just wondering what in the world was going on now! But as the chickens were literally screaming and flying past my head from one side of the coop to the other side as I was trying to catch the first chickens (who knew it was so big in there!) the dogs who were patiently sitting outside the door were starting to look a little worried.

Finally, the first one caught. I’m not an expert in setting accurate timeline goals, but after about 5 minutes and only one chicken now screaming on the top of her lungs as she was upside down and moving to the other shed, I’m guessing that 20 minutes is an unrealistic goal 🙂

So out the door, step outside and close the door, past the dogs, open the other side door, and let the chicken in. Yup, this is definitely going to take longer than I had expected.

Back to the other side of the coop and let’s start this over again.

By this time the chickens were totally FREAKED out. I think they remember the whole Cornish chickens episode when those chickens were only there for 8 weeks and then were caught and disappeared for life!

So I thought let’s try to slow everyone down and pick out an easy one. And guess who it was? Bernie the duck! Bernie was tucked away in the corner and was totally exhausted. Ducks have pretty short legs and Bernie is a little weight challenged too, so he’s got a double whammy on any plans of trying to escape. Well Bernie went over to the other side without any issues.

Even though it was taking me forever to catch the chickens, I was able to get a few of them with the chicken catcher hook. But holy cow did they scream! If you were our neighbors I’m guessing that you could hear them across the fields!

When one of the chickens escaped I thought that we’ll just have to be one less. I mean the temperature was going to be <10 degrees tonight and it was dark by now so our friendly fox who lives in field behind us was sure to find her.

Finally with everyone almost exhausted I tried catching the chickens by hand and it went so much better. They weren’t screaming as much either so I guess it was a win/win for both of us.

With everyone tucked away in the coop for the night, I’m guessing it’ll take awhile until they start being nice to each other. For tonight they’re staying on their own perch. As for Bernie? I just hope he comes out of the corner once in awhile!

*Update on the MIA chicken. Daryl caught him the next day when he found him hiding out in the now empty coop.

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Hallelujah!

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m so excited – especially with the snow and freezing cold temperatures that we’ve been having.

Well the reason that I’m so excited around 11:30 pm on this Sunday night is that we are finally done shelling corn! I seems to have been not only a rough start this Spring with all the rain that we had gotten, but now we’ve been having a lot of trouble trying to get propane to dry the corn! Crazy right? They say that there’s a shortage because literally everyone in the Midwest is trying to get their corn out all at once. Yup, including Daryl!

But tonight we are relieved that all the corn is out of the field. We’ve been getting snow off and on these past few days which brings it’s own challenges to having any corn stalk bales made. But tonight- tonight we are happy that it’s done for the year. We’ll worry about getting those stalks done next week.

And how are we going to celebrate? Well first I’m sure that Daryl is now looking at his ‘to do’ list that he has been put on the back burner while working on getting the crops out. But for me? Well I’m planning a night out for maybe a nice meal and movie. Whatever we end up doing, I know we’ll be both glad and tired that this year’s crops are in and will be hoping that next year’s weather will cooperate better!

The picture below is the last night that the combine is out before it gets tucked away in the machine shed. Our combine isn’t the newest that you’ll see in the fields, but for now it has done another good job for us and is ready to be stored until next harvest.

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Noisy Fall

It’s that time of the year again when the fields are starting to look a little more bare. And when that happens you know that you’ll find Daryl heading over to the bin to turn on the fan! Now I’ve been around the block a couple of times to know that when you start to hear the fan running in the bin that it means that money will soon be leaving your wallet paying for all that fuel that it’s using. But guess what? I really don’t mind! For me to hear this fan heating up the corn is kind of comforting. OK weird right? But because you don’t start the fan up until the bin is full, it means that the fieldwork for combining is almost done and that things will hopefully slow down a little bit soon.
And with all that noise going outside, for some crazy reason sleep so much better. Maybe it’s because I don’t hear the dogs barking at whoever is teasing them at night, or maybe I’m just more tired in the Fall. But for whatever reason, I look forward this time of the year when you hear the switch being turned on and just for that instant it seems that the whole farm knows that it’s officially Fall!

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Field work in full swing!

Like all the farmers this year, we’ve been challenged to work on getting our crops out. So when we’re having this great weather and (keep your fingers crossed) all through the weekend, well it makes everyone in a much better mood!

After fixing a minor repair on the combine, it was full throttle ahead! There is some discussion that the weather is going to turn for the worse early next week along with the terrible four letter word – SNOW! So no one is wasting any time!

So when I gave Daryl a ride to pick up his combine and take it in the field tonight, he said he needed a couple of things and asked if I’d bring them out in a little bit. You bet! I haven’t rode in the combine yet this year, and call me weird but it’s kinda fun. Well at least if I’m not driving it or nothing breaks.

After checking on the chickens and doing some chores, I put on some sweat pants over my pants and grabbed a hooded jacket and I’m ready! Now it wasn’t the best look for me, but it was warmer than what I had on.

Now to ride along in our combine you have to get cozy. I mean real cozy. See we don’t have the equipment with the buddy seat beside the driver, so you have to kind of fit your backside behind the driver’s seat and stay there. It’s really not too bad and honestly I was just happy that I can still fit! Well I only rode one round and then I had to get back home to make some soap. Someday, yup someday, I’m going to spend more than one round with Daryl out in the field, and maybe even in the daylight! My only concern when that day actually does come, there’s no way that I’ll be able to get up the steps of the combine much less squeeze my butt behind the drivers seat!

Oh well, for now – Happy Harvesting!

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Mowing ditches

With the risk of rainy weather again, I was determined to get some more mowing done before the bad weather came. First thing first – make sure that the rider has gas in it and is ready to go for after work tomorrow night.

So after work tonight with the tank all filled up, I was determined to get most, or dare say it – all the lawn mowed tonight?

Off I went to the front of the house with the gas pedal to the floor of the lawn mower. Now it seemed like it was just a little off when I was mowing,  and when I took a closer look at the lawn – OK something was wrong. I was kind of scalping the lawn in places where I mowed. But it was one of those situations when you have the conversation with yourself – is it really that bad? Maybe I was being too critical? I mean the consequences of having it too short will mean that I’ll spend the rest of the night with the push mower. You know that kind of a conversation right? Well I decided to keep going for a couple more rounds – who know, it might get better. At the end of a couple more rounds it was obvious, it’s not going to get better and I will need to get the push mower out.

So I’ve already wasted time with my rider and with the sun setting earlier these nights than I like, the clock was a ticking! Into the garage I go and pull out the push mower. Not my idea of what I was going to do, but like I said with the prediction of rain I needed to keep moving.

It was going OK finishing up mowing in front of the house, and to be honest it wasn’t so bad. But as the last of the sun was slipping away, I found myself just starting on the ditches. But if it rains, I’ll NEVER get them mowed. So with my head down and determination I went for it! The first pass in the East ditch made me realize that I’ll need to change my shoes for boots. It’s going to get messy before these ditches are done.

Even though the sun was gone now, with the help of our farm yard light I was able to finish this ditch up. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

Then I realized it was going to be bad!

With my high boots on and not much light shining on the West ditch from the yard light – I was having trouble finding where I should mow. The only thing that I had going for me was that the grass was so long, and the ditch was so wet, that I was laying some pretty good tracks! By now the water in some spots were almost as high as the deck of the lawn mower but I was committed (or probably should be committed 🙂 ). This ditch was going to be mowed tonight! Just for an instant I thought about the snakes and turtles that I’ve seen in the ditch before, but then I thought why would they be out this late? (yeah, this theory didn’t really make sense to me either – but I kept telling myself it!)

And did I get both ditches mowed? You bet! And just in time. It not only rained – but it also started to snow! Summer please come back!

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Hello Liza!

Luna finally had her baby! We’ve been waiting for sometime now and excited when all of a sudden we saw a calf in the pasture! This new little girl’s name is Liza (like Liza Minnelli the actress and singer)  She literally was only an hour or so old and she was already posing for me to take a picture. I’m thinking we’re going to get along just fine.

Liza is the darkest of all our calves so far and I must say she’s pretty darn cute! But I’m not so sure that some of the other small calves in the cow yard are sharing that same opinion! But the big cows don’t seem to mind one bit that there’s a new calf tonight that was added to the clan. Especially Miss Scarlet. Scarlet always thinks that the hay is so much better on the other side of the bunk,  so she’s been focused on that right now. She looks like she’s stuck right? Well that’s what I thought too!  So I helped to get her head out only for her to go right back at it.

Yup, she’s on her own now! I’m going to see what Liza is doing instead.

 

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Counter top worthy

I’ve been putting off getting an Instant Pot for quite some time now. I mean, do I really need another gadget in the kitchen? I’ve been trying to downsize the house and simplify my life and having a new kitchen gadget just didn’t seem to fit that goal.

But wait!

I ended up buying one on a ‘super deal’ one day and for now I can’t go back! Before you judge, let me just say that I can agree that maybe it’s just a fad. I’m the first to say that I can go all in for a month or two on something new and better,  and then loose my interest just as fast. But this little gadget has been pretty cool to experiment with so far and if we end up gaining 10 to 15 lbs in my experimenting, well so be it! 

So what have I made these past few days? Well I made steamed eggs (Bruce you were absolutely right – steaming works great!) 5 minutes on steam and they’re done. SHAZAM!

I’ve made spaghetti also in it. I wasn’t thinking that this would be a show stopper but I wanted to give it a try anyway. I always use homemade spaghetti sauce and it is a lot runnier than when you use a commercial kind.  So would this even turn out? Now granted I don’t really like how runny my spaghetti is, but it’s homemade and I like canning, so it’s a win win. So first into the pot went some browned hamburger that I had leftover in the fridge, broke up a box of spaghetti noodles in half and criss crossed them on top, poured 2 pints of homemade spaghetti sauce on top, added another about 3/4 pint of water, salt, pepper, and some Italian seasoning – then closed the lid. Set it for 7 minutes and when the timer went off I left it set for a couple of minutes and it was done! Just like magic! And the best part is that the noodles soaked up most of the juice and it wasn’t runny at all! 

And last night I made some stew which was just as easy or easier. That took 30 minutes, but it’s also a keeper! 

Now I’ve made some banana bread that ended for the chickens to eat the other night. I was feeling kinda cocky with my little machine and so I made up my own recipe of cooking the bread. Yup, not so good. 

I’m hoping that my excitement wears down a little bit though these coming weeks, because we’ve got a lot of leftovers in the fridge and I’ve got quite a few things that I still want to try out. 

So at the end of the night when I’m shutting the kitchen lights off,  the little Instant Pot catches my eye sitting kinda proud on the counter top. See in our house, I really can’t stand stuff cluttering up the counter. But for now, while I’m still pretty excited with all the new recipes to try, she’s got her own little spot in the kitchen and is definitely counter top worthy!

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