Thankful Thursday – Shout Out to the Septic Guys!

CarolynCares Thank You Septic Guys

Last week was quite a week for drainage issues at our place. The first issue was related to the two inches of rain we received on Thursday. The outlet for our house storm drainage was under a foot of water, which meant the tile lines around the house were level full. Every time the sump pump ran, it would pour the water back into the house. Jonathan and I were not home when that happened, but thankfully, our daughters were. We were able to tell Laura how to cut the pipe with the Sawzall and attach a hose to extend the drainage into the yard. The girls were awesome, and even started cleaning up the water before we got home.

While dealing with the wet carpet, we noticed that the sewer line was backing up a little bit. We weren’t sure the cause, but thought the septic tank could have gotten too full, so we called a local septic tank guy. We were on a no water in the drain order until after he came to check out the situation. I was very happy to see Gary show up!

Last summer, we had some landscaping done where we took out all the shrubs and the sidewalk around the house and regraded the soil to help prevent water issues in the basement. This meant that they tapered the soil and tilled up a swath of grass as well. This was seeded to grass seed, and looked really nice. What we didn’t think about at the time was the fact that they took out the divots that marked where the septic tank covers are. So we needed to start probing the soil. It took a little bit to find the covers, but once we did, it was easy to dig down and uncover the pump outs. We found out that we had an issue in the line, so after the septic tank was pumped, the guys went to work figuring out the issue. I’ll be honest. It totally grosses me out when they work on that. I can handle animal manure, and baby diapers, but I can’t handle sewage.

Because the whole thing grosses me out, I am so thankful for people like Gary who do this every day. He is the nicest guy, and is so easy to work with. You don’t really appreciate guys like him until you need them…which is why the septic cleaners and fixers are my Thankful Thursday focus this week. Thank you all for being willing to deal with crap every day so we can flush at will!

Thankful Thursday – The Power Pole People

CarolynCares Thank You Brave Ones

I don’t know about you, but heights scare me to the point of buckled knees and shortness of breath. At the same time, I have a fascination with people who seem to be so at ease with heights.

The guys in the photo work for a company that is removing all of the high-line wires and poles from the road in front of our house. The new CapX2020 line will eventually replace these double wooden poles, which really won’t affect us much at all. Watching the process of wire and pole removal was super interesting. I tried not to gawk too much as they worked in front of our place.

One day, when the poles were being removed a few miles north of us, I had to run up to the Cities. I left later than I wanted to, and was feeling a bit grumpy. Things just seemed to be going wrong all morning. I had to wait for the flag man to wave me by the first set of trucks, which was expected. The second truck a mile down the road didn’t have an official flag man. Instead, two of the workers who were putting gear in the back of the truck started waving cars by, dancing, waving, and smiling broadly. They totally brightened my day. It’s hard to be grumpy when you encounter two gruff looking guys break into dance!

When the time came for the old power poles to come down in front of our place, I just had to go out and watch the process. The one guy had a chainsaw, and was cutting the support brackets. The other was there to maneuver the bucket and assist with the cutting. The main cross piece was lowered by a chain attached to the claw on the second truck. After all of the support braces and main cross piece were removed, the two white trucks were moved, and the large backhoe worked the poles out of the ground. The whole crew working on these poles had great communication, and treated each other in a friendly manner. To me, it was a great lesson. No matter what your occupation, your attitude can make your job seem less like work.

Thank you, Power Pole People, for braving heights and dangerous conditions every day…and for the occasional dance break.

Happy Ag Day 2014!

National Ag Day looks different to all of us. Some are celebrating the birth of Norman Borlaug with ceremonies in Washington, DC and Iowa, some are celebrating by volunteering at various agriculture events, while others are celebrating as they work on their farms and ranches. I want to take this opportunity to say “Thank You!” to all the farmers and ranchers for the hard work they put in so we are able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want.  I also want to give a shout out to all of those whose jobs in agriculture are forgotten about – seed salesmen and seed warehouse workers, plant breeders, agronomists, soil scientists, animal nutritionists…the list could go on for a while!  Thank you for your important role in farming & ranching!

Happy Ag Day, everyone!

CarolynCares Farmer

A Christmas Card Sneak Peek!

Olson Christmas Card

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for following along with me this past year. I appreciate the comments, the thoughts, and the likes! I am looking forward to the new year, and continuing to share with you about my farm, family, faith, food, and fun.

Wishing you many blessings in the coming year!


30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 11: Veterans

Every day I am thankful for my freedoms, and thankful for those who have fought to keep us free.

Jonathan and I have had the privilege of visiting monuments dedicated to our military in Washington DC, and in Hawaii. Visiting those sites always leaves me in tears. I have taken photos, or pencil rubs of my uncle, Johnny Ulfers’ name on the Vietnam wall with every visit, starting in high school. The USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor is very moving. When we were there in 2012, two survivors were signing books and telling their stories to visitors.

My youngest brother is currently serving in the Army. We pray for his safety, and for his family, as they deal with the stresses of military life. My sister-in-law is retired from the Army, but is still very involved by participating in spouse support groups, and encouraging my brother. I love them all so much, and appreciate their willingness to serve.

CarolynCares Pearl Harbor

CarolynCares POW flag

CarolynCares Thank You

Power of Bundt Cake – final installment

It has taken me a lot longer to compose this portion of this little mini-series than I anticipated.  Every time I start, I get distracted, and fail to return to the task at hand.  So, without further delay, here is our culinary adventure.

We were given the choice of what type of restaurant to dine at.  The girls chose Italian, since they like the Olive Garden.  We were taken to Fresco by Scotto on East 52nd Street, which happens to be a favorite amongst celebrities like Regis Philbin.  Sadly, no celebs when we were there.

There were 8 of us dining together, so we sat at a giant square table – two on each side.  Joe really wanted the girls to have a great New York City experience, so he had his assistant, Even, sit near the girls and give them shopping locations.  It was amusing, from my standpoint.

The waiters first asked if we wanted bottled or sparkling water. Bottled went into clear goblets, sparkling went into blue.  That way they wouldn’t have to interrupt our conversation to ask what we needed for our refill.  After the water was poured, Joe motioned for the waiter to come over, and gave him instructions on the appetizers he wanted for the table.  He also asked for the wine menu, which was huge!  I have no idea what type he ordered – the label was not in English.  While we were waiting for the wine to be poured, the waiters brought out a basket of bread sticks in many different sizes and grilled pizza margheritas.  We still hadn’t ordered our main course when the second round of appetizers arrived.  It was Meat & Cheese Antipasto…wow.  The waiters were instructed to put a sample of all the elements on each plate. We had Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mortadella, Fresh Mozzarella, Sweet & Spicy Sausage, Provolone and Capizola.  They brought out French Fries for the girls, just in case they didn’t like the other food.

After all of this, it was time to order our main meal.  We opened our menus, and to our surprise – the Schwan’s logo was in the center!  (The headquarters is 10 miles from our home.)  Jonathan ordered an organic Angus beef burger, two of the girls and I ordered the Ravioli Fresco, and one ordered the Spaghetti alla Chitarra.  When our meals arrived, it was just like in the movies where a long line of waiters come to the table to present everyone with their food.  Half-way through, Joe decided we should taste the Eggplant and Zucchini Pie, so he ordered that as well.

About the time we finished eating, Joe received a phone call and had to leave.  Connie asked if we wanted coffee or dessert, when a waiter came over and said that dessert had been taken care of.  They brought out coffee (which was also very good) and a dessert tray that was probably 2×3 feet…and filled with samples of many desserts to share.  There was Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafers (my favorite cookie), two or three kinds of gelato, two types of cheese cake, biscotti, and fresh fruit.

The food was all top-notch, the service excellent, and the company was unforgettable.  We rolled out of there, and walked towards Central Park.  I was very thankful that we were walking everywhere after the feast we were treated to.

We hung out in Central Park for a short time, then thought we should make our way over to Broadway.  Connie ordered tickets for Mary Poppins for us.  We were floored!  She had us dead center – 6 rows from the front. We could see the sweat on the conductor’s brow…and when Mary Poppins got hit by a chimney sweep’s broom, we could see the blood trickling from her brow.  The show was amazing – different enough from the movie that it seemed fresh, yet very familiar.

We headed for home the following day, taking time to see my brother and sister-in-law, Byron and Lois.  They took us to Point Pleasant along the Jersey Shore. We walked along the boardwalk, ate at the amusement park, and walked on the beach and in the ocean.  A great end to a very memorable trip.

Mary Poppins!

The Power of Bundt Cake (part 2)

Now that harvest is wrapped up, and traveling is done for awhile, I can catch up on my blogging!

A few weeks after the visit from Joe, Connie, and Jim, we received a package in the mail.  It was a box from Joe and Connie, containing gifts for Jonathan and I…and Pongo, our rat terrier.  They sent Jonathan an Hermes tie, and I received an Hermes scarf.  They also sent a thank-you note with another invitation to visit them in New York.  That really started the wheels turning in Jonathan’s head!

It is tradition in our family that the graduate gets to choose the summer family vacation destination before they head off to college.  Anna chose the Iowa Speedway for the inaugural Nationwide Series race.  (She was hoping to see Joey Logano, her favorite driver. Sadly, he was not there.) Christina wanted to go to Los Angeles or Hollywood, but I was trying to talk her into staying in the Midwest.  Then we received the second invitation to visit New York.  Christina, with Jonathan’s full support, quickly chose New York City as her family vacation destination.  The first week of July we were still trying to find an open week in our schedules.  We narrowed it down to the week of July 10 – 17. That gave us about 3 days to make all of our travel arrangements, and line up help for chores.  Not to mention our town’s celebration, and my very first 5k attempt…

Jonathan contacted Connie, who was thrilled that we would be coming.  She asked what we were planning on seeing while in the City, and gave Jonathan some ideas.  Christina really wanted to see a Broadway show, and walk in Central Park.  The girls all wanted a chance to shop a little, which was no surprise.  Connie asked which Broadway show we wanted to see, which we left up to Christina.  Wicked was sold out, so she chose Mary Poppins, since we all love the movie.

We packed up, loaded the van, and headed east.  We put in a long day on that first day, getting past Chicago.  Lessons learned…take frequent breaks to stretch and get the blood flowing, drink a lot of water, and don’t eat salty snacks.

Next up – our arrival and first day in New York City.

This is me, back home after my very first 5k at Cottonwood Coming Home Days. We left the following day for New York.