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August 29, 2011

What I wouldn't give . . .

for some fire pit weather!  I know that I will be kicking myself in January for wishing this warm weather away but it is truly wearing me out!  I mean everyday I look outside at my patio I have to see my beautiful new copper fire pit - lonely and sad because it is too hot for me to use it!

I got my perfect fire pit from Avant Garden Decor after being told about their website and checking it out - I am afraid I could spend a lot of money there - they obviously have great fire pits but they also have so many bird feeders, planters and garden accessories!

This is the day my fire pit came -
I was so excited I made Chris take my pic!

And then I took it out to the patio, got it out of the box and immediately lit a fire in it!  You can see in the corner of the above picture that I already had a fire going in my sad little over used fire pit that was about 6 years old - so this new one well be well used and well loved!  I love a good camp fire - they calm me - if the weather is under 75 degrees I usually have a fire in the evening!




We have Friday night get togethers with our friends and this fall this fire pit will get a workout,  I also love how big it is, lots of people can gather around it!



Be sure you go check out what all the other Real Farmwives picked out and
if you would like to win a Decorative Hose Holder, please head over to the The Real Farm Wives of America In The Home And Garden and sign up for the giveaway!


  "Avant Garden Decor did provide me with this product to review, however the thoughts and opinions shared about this product on this blog are my own."

August 22, 2011

I have my toothbrush and a clean pair of undies!


Today Chris and I are headed to Effingham, Illinois to pick up farrowing barn flooring and a couple of new crates!  Ever vacationed with a farmer or taken a “quick” trip to pick up parts, look at equipment or pick up a piece of equipment – I have and it is just one adventure after another!  Chris and I and the kids have several good story’s of such “adventures” -  but the reason I grabbed my toothbrush and a pair of clean underwear today takes me back to 1994!

The Feed Grinder Trip:
Chris had been looking for a new-to-us feed grinder for a while and located a place in Jacksonville, Illinois  - a wheeler-dealer who worked out of his shop!  So one morning Chris said “Jent jump in the truck we are going to make a quick trip over to Illinois to look at a feed grinder!”  I asked do we need to pack a bag?  He replied “Nope, the guy says it’s only a 3 and half hour drive  – we’ll be back in time for supper!”
We weren’t!
That guy was wrong – it took 5 hours to get there, we arrived at noon, looked over several feed grinders and decided on one!
That was when the fun really started! We really wanted electric scales so he started piecing us together a set and hooking them to the grinder. Then he decided if we were going to drag it all the back to Franklin he really ought to have his guys repack the wheel bearings – that is not a really quick job – by the time we signed some paperwork, hooked up the  grinder and headed out of his drive-way it was 4pm, in the winter, the sun would be setting soon, we had no lights on the grinder and could only drive 35-40 mph – do the math – we weren’t going to make it home for supper, we weren’t going to make it home that night!
We did make it to Decatur, it was dusk in a place we didn’t know our way around, dragging a feed grinder with no lights thru town – fun times!  We found a discount store where we grabbed a couple of toothbrushes, a pair of underwear for each of us and Chris splurged and said “grab yourself a new shirt for the ride home!”!  We then drove across the street to a rather “seedy” hotel and got a room for the night!  I remember that it really wasn’t the best part of town, we couldn’t leave so we had to order pizza to be delivered, he brought all the electronic scale parts into the hotel room so no one would steal them and spent most of the night peeking out the curtains to make sure no one was vandalizing the grinder and his truck!
We made it thru the night – no vandals – looking back now we laugh – what kind of gang looks up and says “Dude there's a feed grinder let’s go mess that thing up!” – but we were young!  We showered put on our clean clothes, loaded the scales and set out for home!
It was an adventure, we had to drive 2 lane roads all the way and at a snails pace – we made it home late afternoon – it had been a long 2 days!  But I believe the funniest part was the evening we got home – Chris went to take his “new” shirt off – it was a nice shirt too – kind of a denim blue color, button up with button down collars – too bad he didn’t read the tag that said “wash before wear” because when he took it off he was the color of a smurf everywhere the shirt touched him – I still laugh out loud hysterically remembering it – it took a couple of days for the coloring to wash out of his skin – oh good times!

Poor guy will never live that down – to this day when he mentions going to look at equipment I always want to grab my toothbrush, even if he says we are only going to Greensburg – I just don’t want to take the chance!

August 20, 2011

God is telling me to get my balls out!

It has been one of those mornings:
- the boy is upset his remote control helicopter won't fly right
- the middle got immunizations on Tuesday and swears she is still "dieing" today
-the oldest needs to go to the dr. for something minor and completely curable with antibiotics
-Chris has a million and one things to do including tearing up the floor in a farrowing barn and installing a new one before the next set of sows farrow, but is also still upset over the 5 gallon of paint he ran over with his truck and wasted - then the boy walked thru the paint and then walked thru the house!
- the kitchen is beyond disaster and disgusting
- the yard needs mowed but is brown, crunchy and on it's way to being dead - how that works I have no idea!
- WE NEED RAIN - although I was informed it wasn't going to do our crops much good now anyway!

Anyway I am sure you get my point without me going on and on!

But in the midst of all this I did sit down to check e-mail this morning (because that is what I do when I get overwhelmed - do something that is completely useless towards solving any of my problems!) and opened up an email requesting prayers be sent to North Dakota (yes now I am crying)!  You see I have been blessed to be a part of The Real Farmwives of America, I say blessed because it is a privilege that I am a part of because I also have the privilege of living and working on a farm, these girls (yes I will always be a girl) are amazing, some live and work on a farm, some live and work on a farm and also work in agriculture promoting it but we all love our way of life and the industry!  I'll be honest, I have not had the honor of meeting in person a lot of these girls but they all have blogs that I love and read, and it is funny how you feel you know someone from something like that (I hadn't expected that when I started this adventure) so today here is one I am asking that you check out, Wag'n Tales, they are a farm family in North Dakota who could use some prayers for their 2 year old son George - and if your not like me and put off the things that need done to hide in a corner and surf the net, just say a quick prayer - that works too and would be greatly appreciated!

So just like I tell my kids all the time, I think that God clearly said to me this morning:
 "Suck it up, Man up, Jennifer get your balls out of your purse and put them on - a flightless helicopter, dirty kitchen and a wasted 5 gallon bucket of paint is minor"

Also I think I heard him say to put down the computer and just clean the kitchen or that may of been Chris!

August 19, 2011

Holy Moly I Have Found True Love!

So I really need to get on the stick and post my Gooseberry Patch recipes out of Church Suppers!  I have actually cooked 9 so far and loved each one but just haven't found the time to post!  So here we go with #4!


                                                                 


I will tell you a secret - I am not a huge fan of chocolate - oh pick yourself up off the floor, I like it, I just don't crave it and really don't feel the need to eat it very often but this recipe was amazing and the cherry flavor just tastes so good with the chocolate!

Black Forest Cherry Bars:
And then really it has cherry flavored alcohol in it - my gosh who could say no to that?

While I do have a plethora of alcohol to choose from I did not have any cherry flavored brandy but I did have just enough left of my favorite black cherry rum!  While I do not know the difference between cooking/baking with different alcohols (I just went for it), this tasted pretty awesome and didn't seem to affect the consistency of the cake.



I love the flecks of red in the batter!



Here it is about to go in the oven - and that Ladies and Gentlemen is the last photo I have - between fighting Chris and the kids for my half of the 9x13 and eating my half there was no time for fancy pictures - it was just gone!  Once it is done you put 2 cans of cherry pie filling on top and then serve it with whipped cream - it was pretty (you can take my word for it) and it was delicious!  Funny thing is I have made it once more since the first time and I we still ate it faster than I could get any pics of the finished product!

My Facebook status while this was in the oven was:
Just washed down 2 PMS pills with a cup of wine while licking the batter bowl of the Black Forest Cherry Bars I just put in the oven!

But this recipe turned my frown (and bad attitude) upside down - it is really that good!

Black Forest Cherry Bars:

3   21oz. cans cherry pie filling
18 1/2 oz. pkg. chocolate cake mix
1/4 c. oil
3 eggs
1/4 c. cherry flavored brandy or cherry juice
6 oz. pkg. semi-sweet choc. chips

Whipped topping!

Refrigerate 2 cans of pie filling until chilled.  Using an electric mixer beat together remaining can of pie filling, cake mix, oil, eggs and brandy or cherry juice until well mixed.  Stir in choc. chips.  Pour into a lightly greased 13"x9" baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until toothpick tests clean; chill.  Spread chilled pie filling evenly over cake.  Serve with whipped topping, if desired.  Serves 10-12 or in the case of my family it only serves 5!

Lovin' everything I have been cooking from my Gooseberry Patch Church Suppers cookbook - won't be much longer till I will be giving away a copy!

August 17, 2011

It's Tomato Pickin' Time!

Well the tomato's survived flood and drought and it is pickin' time!


The growing time for field tomato's is approx. 90 days, check out planting them here and in between planting and harvesting was a lot of spraying!  Tomato's are highly susceptible to fungus and have to be sprayed with fungicide once a week - that is alot of time in the sprayer seat, especially when you top out at 4mph.



Here are some great pics my Mom took of the blooms and tomato's coming on!







Then there was the day this summer that the sky opened up and it poured - my SIL walked out on her front porch and took this picture - it is not a lake it is one of their tomato fields under all that water!
                                        

Luckily most of the water receded quickly enough that the majority of the plants survived.

So now they are harvesting!



The harvester can only run between 1 and 2 mph.  The tractor running beside is pulling a trailer that the tomato's are being put into - it is a flat bed semi trailer with two hoppers on it to fill, they pull these thru the fields with tractors and then unhook them, hook up to a semi and are hauled to Elwood, Indiana to the Red Gold plant.

This wheel with the tines are pulling in the vines towards the cutters that cut the plant and put in on the conveyor into the tent where the tomato's are sorted (some by hand some by machine) - I did not get in the tent area and get to actually see how the sorting process works - the whole harvesting process seemed very intense and attention demanding, as well as with a fresh crop such as tomato's time is a huge factor in getting the crop harvested and to the processing plant.

Can you say salsa!  If I ever get time I am going over one day and walk behind them and pick up the good ones and make salsa!
They are good straight out of the field, give a good wipe on your t-shirt and eat them like an apple or pop the whole thing in your mouth!

  Just like in a garden all the tomato's are not ready at once but unlike your garden these have to be harvested when the majority of them are ready - there is about a 5-10% waste, those that are too small, green or over ripe.

This is my Dad unhooking from the tractor so that the next semi to come back for a load can hook up and go!  It is about a 3.5 hour round trip to the plant and they (the farmer or the processing plant) do not want the tomato's to sit in the trailers for any longer then necessary so they are hauled as quickly as possible.

Red Gold pays for a max. 25 Ton of tomato's per semi trailer load - they don't pay over!  This is to discourage overloading the trailers and squashing the tomato's on the bottom.


Interestingly, I have not seen it done but Dad said that they empty these hoppers full of tomato's by filling them with water, opening a gate and floating them all out!

Another interesting note my SIL just told me was that the tomato's are in the can in less than 24 hours!

Authors (that's me) disclaimer:  This is based on my uninformed guessing limited knowledge - if I have mislead anyone I apologize, please keep my stupidity quiet and if I have taught you something please shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear!

August 16, 2011

Yes I Am That Parent!

Not only are we that family but I am also that parent! 

You know the one that gets the "bad" parent letter every year from school because my child has missed so many days (I actually get one each year for each child - not braggin' just sayin'), never planning ahead and having to take the kid out of school for say, oh something like, immunization shots that we have had all summer to get!  Yep, that is what I am doing this first day of school - taking the middle kid out for an hour to go get those shots!  (Hi Ginger - I can see you rolling your eyes at me!)  Oh I knew about them, heck I even started at the beginning of the summer working on making an appointment for her to get them at our family dr., I made the appointment and everything!  But then my practical side kicked in (that doesn't happen very often) and I got to thinking about how much it was going to cost to have them done there (self - employed insurance, $11,000 deductible per family member, no well-child coverage - don't get me started) so I decided to go to the county health department for the $5 ones - well by the time I got a hold of the county nurse, had shot records transferred, fiddle-farted around and forgot to call to get the appointment, finally called the soonest they could get us in was Aug. 16 (today the first day of school), so here in a bit I have to go get her out of school to get her shots!  I am also that parent that will send my kid back to school after her shots, telling her to "be tough" "get your balls out" "man up" you can make it thru the rest of the day, good grief it's the first day!

The first day for my sophomore, 6th grader and 3rd grader!
I truly love these 3 and am so proud of the people they are becoming and the hard work they put into their education! (they take after their father!)



Disclaimer: because there are parents, my parents, my in-laws, friends and quite possibly CPS reading this at this point, I would like to clarify that my children may miss numerous days of school thru out the year but they are not days wasted laying in front of the TV and quite frankly almost no days are missed due to illness!  I feel that my kids can learn so much outside of school that missing a day here or there is not hurting but helping their education.  Our policy in this house is - If you are doing your very best in school (and now that we know they can, they have to be on the honor roll) than days spent helping on the farm, cattle shows, farm shows, and quality time with Chris and I are all acceptable as well as 1 "mental health" day a year!  They know in advance that all missed work has to be made up and that not all absences are excused by the school so they make the conscience decision!

August 14, 2011

My Home Has History!


Every home does, we just happen to be lucky enough to know ours and have some pictures of it!
The picture above was probably taken around the turn of the century and the family in front is Chris' ancestors - but quite honestly when I look at this picture the front porch always attracts my attention - I have always loved porches and dreamed one day that I would live in a house with one!  I can only imagine the conversations, family time and memory's that happened on this porch - one we definitely know about is Chris' great grandparents were married on this porch, there was an article in the paper at the time (I have a copy somewhere!)


This is a picture I took of our home the day we took possession, Feb. 1992, the house and 2 acres had been out of the family for about 21 years and we were so lucky that it happened to come up for sale as we were house hunting!  But notice the beautiful porch is gone and replaced with a stoop!

Me removing the Christmas lights that were still hanging in Feb. when we bought the house!

Fall sometime in the late 90's (I am not very good at labeling pics)!

This was actually taken the day we started remodeling the house - October 2003, we had been talking about adding on to the house for a couple of years - 5 people in 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom that also doubled as a laundry room, 5 cabinets in the kitchen that were built by Chris' great grandpa when he installed indoor plumbing in the house. . . .
We had an architect draw up plans, we got an estimate from a builder, Chris had a heart attack at the amount said "NO", I had a heart attack because I really wanted to do the project, I spent the next few month's analyzing every expense that the contractor had itemized and then became my own general contractor and was able to convince Chris we could do this - we had started to arrange financing (but hadn't quite signed the papers) when one morning at breakfast in mid-October we had this conversation:

Me:  So harvest is gonna be a little late this year!

Chris: Yeah, we're ready to go but the corn isn't!

Me:  Don't suppose you want to start on the house?

Chris: Jennifer No, not with harvest soon to start, financing not in place - I promise we will do get to it I just can't promise when!

Me:  I know I know - but I am up for anytime just give me a couple days warning to clear out the kitchen!
(We were completely ripping the kitchen off the house!  Oh and the kids were 10 mo., 3, 7)

Chris:  I know believe me you'll have plenty of warning!

And he left to go feed the hogs!

He returned 1 hour later (seriously) and said:

"Hey Dad is on the way down here with the 4430, corn is too wet we are going to rip the kitchen off!"

AND BY NOON IT WAS GONE!

But back to the front - one of my "few" requests was to put the front porch back on the house just as it originally was and while he was not happy about it Chris obliged!


This was one of the happiest days of my life - saying goodbye to that stoop - it always looked like a nose on the front of the house!


My girls standing on the roof!

Making the house whole again!


The front porch was the last thing we did, Chris and his Dad built it the summer of 2005 - this is Chris, Cole and Chris' Dad - Chris' Dad was measuring something on the roof and turned around and Cole was standing beside him - Cole had decided to just climb the ladder and see what was going on!

And here it is and I love it - I love to spend time with Chris and the kids on the porch, I spend time by myself out here - it is the reason for the name of my blog - last night we all sat out there and watched the storm roll in and today the weather was absolutely perfect for porch sitting and yes porch napping!

August 10, 2011

Bean There, Done That!

And did it in style - Emi Lou, Cole and I spent Monday at the state fair - we had the best time thanks to this being the year of the soybean and The Indiana Soybean Alliance!  We started off the day with breakfast at The Dairy Bar courtesy of The American Dairy Association of Indiana!


Then we headed over to the Our Land Pavilion where we of course checked out The Pork Producers and had our pictures taken with the pig - we do love our pork!



 We also met Bennie for the first time - yes we saw him more than once!
We also picked up our Beango cards, tasted some mozzarella sticks and chicken bites fried in a new soybean oil called Plenish - really looking forward to seeing how this product plays out.  The kids and I tasted some duck, passed our beef quiz, sat in the egg chair . . .
and then headed out to play Beango and check out Casey's 4-H Photography that won Grand Champion at The Johnson County Fair and was entered in the State Fair!

We found it - she earned blue honors and see the little sticker above the picture of the boy (Cole) on the creek swing - it says "purple award" - from what I could gather this is a really good thing - and I am going with that!

After that we set off to play Beango and see the fair - the conversation went something like this:

Me:  So what do you want to see first!
Cole & Lou: THE WORLDS LARGEST BOAR!
Me: Seriously?  We own 4 boars at home!

after seeing the boar

Me:  Now what?
Cole & Lou:  OH LOOK A SOW AND HER PIGLETS!
Me:  Seriously?  We have 24 sows give birth every 5 weeks at home!

after seeing the sow and piglets

Me:  Now what?
Cole & Lou:  OH CAN WE RIDE THE TRACTOR TRAM AROUND?
Me: SERIOUSLY?  I am not paying for you to ride a tractor around when we have 50 (exaggeration for effect) tractors at home that we own and you can not only ride but drive by yourself!

after riding the tractor tram around - thanks to Amy Kelsay giving us wooden tokens to ride for free
we headed over to the Pepsi Coliseum and watched some of the steer and heifer show and then back to the Dairy Bar where the kids were treated to lunch again and we could also choose between a pork burger meal offered by the Indiana Pork Producers or a sandwich from Indiana Beef!




After lunch the kids got to meet Porkchop The Pig, Buttercup and The Indiana State Fair Queen!






All in all I would say we definitely had SOY much fun!!!!!!