Long Overdue

Someone called us today looking for the scours remedy recipe and the only place I knew to find it was on my blog — low and behold it has been 6 months since I carved out some time to really sit down and write a post…WAY TOO LONG!  So much has happened in the last 6 months I almost don’t know where to start!  First thank you to anyone who has wondered over looking for a new blog post at any point over the last six months and for all the words of support that you like reading about our ridiculous(ly blessed) life.

It is early fall here and it is just the most BEAUTIFUL time of the year in Wisconsin — we are probably a week or two from “Full Color” but the leaves on the hills just make it all so pretty.  Some year I really want to set up a camera and take a photo every day as the leaves turn — it AMAZES me.  Early fall also means that it is crazy nice outside most days and that the mornings and evenings have just the right amount of chill for the perfect cup of Hot Apple Cider — we pressed some a week or so ago — it is pretty good if I do say so myself!  The kids and I even got to help installing some fence recently:ImageImage

We got done chopping corn in the field and there is always some left over so we Mark drove the metal fence posts into the ground and strung an electric fence wire through them (actually through the little yellow things so as to not electrocute himself) and we let the cows graze in that field — the girls are SO happy in there!  The kids are actually turning into great little helpers as Connor would drag the fence posts over to the right locations and Laura was in charge of the bag of “little yellow things” — they have a name but I really don’t remember — I’m still new here 🙂

I have also found a new thing I love on the farm — Canning.  If you have never done it — try it — you will be hooked!  We made our own spaghetti sauce, salsa, grape juice, grape jam, apple sauce, pear sauce, and just canned some pears.  We had SO much I had to go back to the store for jars twice.  I love it all SO much.  I had NEVER thought that I would enjoy something as “old school” as canning but it is great.  If we would ever happen to move back to the city I would have two chickens and can.  Hearing the jars “pop” and peeling the skins off of the tomatoes (so cool!) were the absolute best parts — oh, and the food mill — the food mill is the coolest thing in the world.  Next year we will do even more, since I actually kinda know what I’m doing now.

Last month we also celebrated being on the farm for one year now.  

Image(The photo is actually from Laura’s 2nd birthday which we also celebrated since I last blogged — oops)  

We officially took over the farm on August 1, 2012 and now on October 9, 2013 I can say that it has been one of the best years of our lives.  There are still boxes to unpack (although I probably don’t need anything in those boxes) and still plenty of settling to be done.  Every room (and both barns) need to be painted and there is never enough time to get everything done.  I still miss Target 😦 and having a second bathroom, but we are finding our way.  Mark will often comment that he hasn’t “worked” since we left Omaha and knowing the love of your life is doing what they love is fulfilling in a way I can’t even begin to describe.  We really are crazy crazy blessed to be living this life.  Love to All!

Cari

 

Eggs

I love my chickens.  We probably have 50 chickens running around our farm and if you have ever thought about having a chicken or two (most big cities allow it) you should — they are fantastic.  They cost about two dollars a piece (if you get them as day old chicks), take up very little space, can be a fun “pet”, eat bugs and table scraps, make very little noise, and provide food (win, win, win!).  That said having 50 chickens (plus the 50 chicks that are currently living in my basement) is a bit of a challenge.  Gathering eggs is a daily chore (plus finding where they have decided to lay their eggs is always a real fun game), washing, sizing, packaging, and taking the eggs to our local coop where we sell them, requires effort.  Our eggs are a coveted commodity in our community, they are organic, local, and I’ve been told the best tasting…that said they are over $4 a dozen.   

Image

     I’ve been thinking about this post a lot, because I’m not all holistic food crazy, I don’t think Kraft is the devil, (for my money kraft singles always have and always will make the BEST grilled cheese), I often indulge in baked lays and great value fruit snacks are almost always on my shelf.  But I have drawn a line in my kitchen and something recently really struck me, plus Easter seems an appropriate time to talk about eggs.  

Image

A local grocer recently started highlighting all of their local products (which I think is FANTASTIC!) but they were advertising local eggs for 99 cents a dozen.  While I am always looking for a great deal, living on a farm has taught me what it means to have 99 cent eggs.  

Image

It means that the chickens that lay those eggs will never touch the ground.  It means they will barely have room to lay down because their cage will house three other chickens.  It also means those chickens will be pumped full of hormones and antibiotics in order to ensure that they grow as fast as possible and produce as many eggs as possible.  It really bugs me that a grocery store would go out of their way to advertise this type of operation as local, because while it may be within 100 miles of that grocery store, it is not what I would have thought of when I was a “normal mom” and so proud of myself for “buying local”.  Having grown up in the suburbs I have a really unique perspective about how removed we have become from our food and those that produce it.  The word “local” immediately conjures up visions of the red barn and the cute family all working together and living in the farm house, when that really might not be the case at all.  

Like I said before I’m not perfect, not by a long stretch, (and I probably never will be) but I think better eating can start in small ways and eggs can be one of the first and easiest ways to support what we think of as a local farmer.  So if at all possible please support a “true local” farmer.  Go to the farmers markets, buy the produce, make a trip out to the farm.  Real family farmers love to show anyone their operation because they are proud of the way they are raising their animals — and no it isn’t all roses — animals poop, (a lot) and animals are butchered, but other than that really bad day, the animals should be happy and respected and you should be able to see that.  (Now jumping off my soap box).

In other news we got our first crop of spinach out of the green house this week (it is SO good — I’m already craving salad for lunch) and we had a new baby calf born last night.  

Image

It is my turn to name her so I am open to suggestions (hint, hint).  Spring is in the air here and we couldn’t be happier.  Blessings!

 

Cari

This entry was posted on April 3, 2013. 2 Comments

Busy Times!

We have had quite the week here at the farm.  On Saturday we tapped all of our trees for maple syrup — they were trickling a bit when we tapped them, but then it decided to get cold so we haven’t seen much action.  Hopefully later this week it will warm up and we can have our gallons to boil down.  All of the Stoltz clan was here and I am really hoping we can make it an annual event.

ImageImageImageImageImage

 

Then Tuesday was my birthday — 29, so pretty much the last one I’ll be celebrating officially for awhile 🙂  I had a great day, including lunch with a great friend, a date night with my husband…and even got some fantastic surprises!

Image

and then on Wednesday we picked up our baby chicks!  The kids are obsessed with them, and who can blame them as they are stinkin’ cute — Connor even offered to sleep on the couch so he could watch them all night…and I must admit…I thought about it too 🙂

ImageImageImage

This weekend “Orange Grandma” & “Papa Greg” are here as we will be celebrating Connor’s third birthday on the 17th — how on earth is my little guy turning three?!  Connor James you have come so very far from that little yellow baby we brought home three years ago and we love you beyond words!

Cari

P.S.  I almost forgot — we also got a new Pope this week too, how awesome is that?!  Prayers for Pope Francis the First!

Baby BOOM!

Miss Laura had a little accident this week:

Image

but you’ll notice that she has a smile on her face.  The worst part is we really don’t know what happened but she has about an inch gash on her forehead.  It was Monday so Aunt Julie was here playing with the kids and all of a sudden I just hear “cari, Cari, CARI” — I did not realize how badly head wounds bleed.  Oh my goodness!  But thankfully we got it stopped and Laura and I took a little trip to Urgent Care (but only after an ice pop that we reserve only for BIG owies).  Mark met us there and thank goodness — because I have a little…umm…issue with blood — like i pretty much pass out every time I give blood, and get nauseous for a big paper cut, so needless to say I was very happy to see the hubs.  The doctor was able to glue Laura’s wound so we didn’t need stitches…YEA!  And she did SO good — such a little trooper!  

In other news we have had two baby calves this week!  One, that Mark named Faith, is about a month premature so her name is fitting as we had “Faith” in her and the other girl is yet to get a name — Connor just can’t seem to pick one fitting for her, but she has this fun “patch” over one eye and I think she looks like a pirate.

We have lots of fun things coming up in the weeks ahead, including tapping trees (hopefully) tomorrow, and the Con-Man’s third birthday, and (drum roll please) SPRING!  So ready for it.  Today was gorgeous and we were enjoying a little fun with the icicles today

ImageImage

and Mr. Potato Heads glasses:

ImageImage

Happy Friday!

 

This entry was posted on March 9, 2013. 1 Comment

Babies

Not much is happening on the farm right now.  It is winter, It is cold, we are sick of playing inside and even though we put on our snowpants and go outside most days (mommy’s sanity can not handle “inside recess” anymore!) it is starting to get old.  We have a very unique bright spot on the farm — babies!  We have two babies in the barn now and I’d like to introduce them:

Marshmallow

Image

Marshmallow is a sweet, sweet girl.  It was snowing the day she was born and her momma is named Snowdrop, so we batted around some names, snowflake, blizzard, etc; but in the end it was Connors turn to name her and when Marshmallow was suggested he LOVED it!  Marshmallow has lived in a few different places:

Image

This is her in the Hay Mound — Mark made her a “igloo” out of hay bales and she was SO cute when she would stick her head out to say hello.  

Generally calves live outside in little sheds shortly after they are born (they don’t have the immune system to fight off all the germs the other cows in the barn have) but it has been ridiculously cold here — so Marshmallow got the star treatment in her straw igloo — but now she is old enough to be in the barn and seems very happy with her stall in the corner.  

Sleepy:

Image

Sleepy is the newest addition to our herd.  I took this photo when she was less than 24 hours old.  I don’t know too much about her yet, but so far she seems to live up to her name.  It was Laura’s turn to name the calf when she was born so Laura and I walked up to the barn and found her I asked Laura what she wanted to name her “cow” she replied…now generally anything (within reason) goes when naming cows, but “cow” was just not going to cut it — so Laura went and played for a bit and then came back looked at the calf and said “he seepy” — well he is a she, but “Sleepy” stuck.

We’re so blessed to have a few glimmers of new life around us this week, as I for one am getting pretty sick of all the white (ok now somewhat grimey grey) stuff.  But I know shortly there will be green all over the farm (the tulips were just starting to peek out of the ground last Sunday) and I will REJOICE in that.  Spring is only 20 days away!  Love!

 

Cari

 

Timing is Everything

So yes…I messed up — I completely spaced off blogging on Friday (and I even had a topic) but sometimes material lends itself it its own time and we had quite an adventure in it this weekend.  

Mark purchased a cow from his “uncle” Jim which we needed to pick up this weekend — unfortunately we didn’t really have a way to pick her up.  Cows don’t really ride in the back of pickup trucks the way dogs do 🙂  So we went about looking to rent a trailer but turns out no one around here does that (you can rent a skidsteer and a small crane but not a trailer — go figure).  So we were in a precarious position of MUST BUY.  Mark and Connor took off on Tuesday to look at one he had found but it turned out to be junk, so when we saw this beauty on craigslist Image

we were all over it.  We made plans to go look at it about noon on Saturday.  Come Saturday I called the owner to get his address/directions, all that good stuff and he tells me there are a few interested parties (one coming at 11:30) so the sooner we can get there the better.  Mark thinks this guy might be bluffing to increase the demand, but since we are slightly desperate we get right on it and get on the road hoping to be there about 11:00.  We found the place no problem (have I mentioned that I LOVE the iphone! and that it can give me directions at any time in the palm of my hand? — the garmin is better but the portability just can not be beat).  

The owner is outside (apparently he is a goat farmer) and asks Mark if he is Harvey — nope, but the trailer is there and he has told everyone the first cash buyer can have it.  So the deal is done.  Mark is literally taking the money out of his pocket and along drives another car!  Two minutes later and the trailer would have been gone!  Again the owner asks if this is Harvey (apparently the guy who was supposed to get there at 11:30) and he also says no.  As we are hooking up the trailer (probably 8 minutes after we arrived) along comes Harvey.  It was surreal.  10 minutes later, we would have missed out on the trailer and not even been the runner up!

Fortunately for us we “won” this round but I have definitely been on the opposite end of these adventures and it makes me more certain that everything happens in its own time.  Many people in our lives right now are searching for their next step and my prayer for them is eyes wide open to the possibilities and steady legs ready to make the leap when the time comes, but it will come (although I’ll be the first to admit that waiting is a “beach”) 🙂Image

Lessons from a trailer for a Monday morning.  What a way to start the week 🙂

Cari

P.S.  If you know my mom you’ll get a kick out of this one — I had no more than said the words “somebody up there must like you” to Mark when we both looked at the clock to see 11:11

Laura reading “15 animals”

I was trying to post this until 10:30 last night and just could not get it to work, so it order to stay true to my new years resolution I posted a recent pet peeve — but this is what I really wanted to show off — the cutest little girl reading a fantastic book — and I’m not bias at all — just ask ‘Bob’ 🙂