First Snow!

Call me crazy, but I love the first snow of the season. After staring at brown grass and empty fields for awhile, the blanket of snow makes everything look so fresh and clean.

Traditionally, I bake the first batch of Christmas cookies during the first snowfall. Even if it happens to be October!

When Jonathan and I were first married, we lived in a tiny house across the section from where we now live. We didn’t want to turn on the fuel oil furnace too early in the fall, so sometimes the house was pretty chilly.  I think it was the first October that we were married, on the day of the first snow the house was very cold. I decided to bake some cookies to warm up the house. The snow reminded me of Christmas time, so I baked Christmas cookies.

I have kept this tradition just about every year, maybe baking the day after if I didn’t have the right ingredients on hand.  The other part of this tradition has remained as well. None of the cookies make it to the end of the week.

This year, our first snow fell while I was out of town. (Which is a funny term, since I don’t live in town-maybe I should rephrase with out of the county?)  When I arrived home that evening, I was tired from the long day of meetings and driving on slick roads. I still had to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a large batch of chili that I was making for a chili cook off at church the following morning.  Cookies didn’t even enter my mind.

When I arrived home from the grocery store, I made my chili, a batch of corn bread (from a box), and caramel for the rolls for the high school Sunday School class.  I think I went to bed around 1:30 am.  After the very fun chili cook off, I came home and propped my sore ankle on some ice, and vegged out for awhile. Again, cookies didn’t even enter my mind.

I’m kind of sad that the excitement of the first snow was lost due to a crazy weekend. As I am making my Thanksgiving pies today, I will try to slip a batch of Christmas cookies in the oven.

Today I am making Double Layer Pumpkin Pie:

Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip
1 prepared Graham cracker  crust (6 oz)
1 cup milk
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin (not the canned pie filling, just pumpkin)
2 pkg. (4 serving size)  instant vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix cream cheese, 1 tbsp. milk and sugar in bowl with wire whisk
until smooth.  Gently stir in whipped topping.  Spread onto
bottom of crust.
Pour 1 cup milk into large bowl.  Add pumpkin, pudding mixes
and spices.  Beat with wire whisk until well mixed.  (Will be thick.)
Spread over cream cheese layer.
Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.

Injury by Goat?

I have been nursing a sore foot the past couple of weeks after doing a little running again. It isn’t like anything I’ve had before…not like plantar fasciitis, but a pain in the back of the heel and outside of my left foot. I have started icing, and continuing the stretching for my calves and ankles. It has been helping a lot, to the point where I was pretty much walking without pain today! I had been feeling sluggish today, but mustered up the energy this afternoon to go 25 minutes at a jogging pace on the elliptical. I had just finished my cool down when my father-in-law came in the house looking for whoever was home. I made my way out of the basement, only to see our semi wild fainting goat buck running through the yard. Crap.

We adopted this goat from a family that was moving, and couldn’t take him along. Most of his life to this point had been spent in the woods around their house. He came smelly and full of cocklebur’s. I talk to him every day when I feed him, but he is still pretty skittish.

The other people helping me chase this creature were my 77 year old father in law, and Nick, our part time hired help. Jonathan showed up after the fun had begun, and did what he could to help for the few minutes that he was able to be home. Soon, it was just me running around the farm yard. At this point, my heel just hurt a little after sprinting around our house, around a couple of sheds, around a couple of bins… I finally went to the house and called our Rat Terrier out. He had been locked in the house by my father in law. Pongo had gotten in trouble earlier in the day for barking and lunging at the goat through the fence, so he was a little unsure as to what I wanted him to do.

Pongo, it turns out, is a great goat herding terrier! He nipped at the heels of the goat just enough to herd him in the right direction. They didn’t make the turn into the pen, and goat took off down the driveway again. Another sprint…great. We got him turned away from the tar road, and took a little detour behind another set of buildings. Pongo kept right on him, without having to nip at this point. Nick parked the Ranger in the way so goat wouldn’t try going the driveway loop again. Pongo made one more run towards goat, and in the pen he went. Nick quick shut the gate, and put the strap on the door to lock it. Whew!

Somewhere on the last sprint, going around the semi’s that were parked in the yard, my foot started hurting so bad I could hardly walk, let alone run. So here I sit, foot elevated and resting on an ice pack, thinking that this is the most bizarre cause of re-injury I have ever had. And I am wondering…if he is a fainting goat, shouldn’t he just fall over if you scare him? Apparently, he’s missing the desirable fainting trait. Bummer!

By the way, for all of those who drove by on the county road in front of our house…I hope you at least had a little smile on your face watching a 44 year old mom dressed in capri length tech shorts and bright pink tech t-shirt running full speed around the yard after that darn goat!

Pongo, the goat herding Rat Terrier:

Favorite Foods for Fall

The weather has turned colder here. We actually turned the furnace on last week. A few mornings were in the mid-20’s with wind chill readings in the teens. That is when I start craving comfort foods like soups, stews, chili, and pumpkin.

Tuesday brought a much needed get away for my Domestic Goddess friends. We were celebrating a couple of birthdays, and wanted to meet half way between Cottonwood and the Cities. Hutchinson it was.  We ate lunch at Zellas Restaurant (, and a few hours later ordered dessert. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when four women get together for lunch, talking happens.

I had a most excellent mix up meal of half a grilled cheese sandwich (Provolone and cheddar cheese with a sun-dried tomato aioli on whole-grain bread), and a cup of Tomato Basil soup that was topped with a couple of shaved Parmesan cheese swirls and a drizzle of what appeared to be a nice balsamic vinegar. Very delicious!  For dessert, I had a slice of carrot cake.  Very moist, and not too sweet.  I should have taken pictures, I know!  All of these are comfort foods in my book, and totally hit the spot.

Fall weather makes me want to bake, and cook up new things as well. This year, my pumpkin kick is a little stronger. I love Starbucks’ Pumpkin Scones, but they are not exactly the best thing to eat regularly. I have also been craving chili, but Jonathan typically isn’t a big fan of it, but I think it is mostly due to his body’s intolerance of any peppers.  I found a recipe on called Unique Healthy Chili that tasted good even though I left out the green pepper.  The icing on the chili cake? It contains pumpkin puree! I tried it out on the family and Nick (our part-time hired help) yesterday, and they loved it!  It had great chili flavor, without being too spicy.  You could kick it up a notch if you like your chili to have an alarm status, but for us it was good as written.  Well, sort of.  Grandma Bredlow’s recipe altering habit is alive and well in this granddaughter!

This recipe is how I made it. The original called for 1 cup of bell pepper, ground turkey, chili beans, and water. With those ingredients, it is 212 calories per serving.

Unique Healthy Chili

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 pound ground pork

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 can pumpkin puree

1 ½ Tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon granulated beef bouillon

Salt to taste

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)

1 cup vegetable stock (can use more if you like your chili more soupy)

Heat oil in large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, and sauté the onion and garlic until tender.

Stir in the pork, and cook until evenly brown.

Mix in tomatoes, pumpkin and black beans.

Stir in beef bouillon and vegetable stock.

Season with chili powder, cumin, pepper, and salt.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or put in slow cooker.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese over top if desired.

Serves 6

We All Bring Something to the Table…

I have been reading a lot of agriculture themed blogs and opinion articles this weekend in between trips to Sioux Falls. Some have been quite disturbing in their polarizing views of agriculture as a whole. Basically, their way of farming or their choice of food to purchase is the only “right” way. Really?

I understand the desire to support our methods. After all, shouldn’t we all be proud of what we produce? But why the need to put down or demonize someone else’s methods?

Yes, we are organic farmers. We grow corn, soybeans, barley, wheat, oats, and field peas. The corn gets used for many things, and a good majority of the rest is raised for seed. What doesn’t get used as seed is made into livestock feed.  This method of farming works well for us, and we love what we do.

That said, we have many friends and family that raise their crops in a “conventional” or “modern” way. That works for them, and they are just as proud of what they grow as we are.  They, too, love what they do. We do not put them down because of their farming methods, and they do not put us down.

Why is it, then, that many who consider themselves mouthpieces for agriculture cannot have the same tolerances? Why must they always pit one group against another? It is troubling to me, really.

We are blessed to live at a time, and in a country, where we have many excellent choices when it comes to food. If someone chooses to buy produce from a farmer’s market, they can. If they prefer to buy their produce from the grocery store, they can. Organic, non-organic, natural, grass-fed, free-range, barn raised, corn fed, whatever you prefer. It is available for you to choose.

I look at it this way. My two sisters and I grew up learning how to cook from our mom and the same Home Economics instructors. We were taught how to make the same things, using the same methods. As we all have established our own homes, we all specialize in different courses.  My oldest sister is an excellent bread baker. We request that she brings bread items along whenever we have a family gathering. Middle sister is very creative, and finds the best salad and vegetable recipes. She is pretty fearless when it comes to trying different food pairings. We always request side dishes from her. Mom is the expert pie baker. I don’t think I have ever seen her measure the ingredients for her pie crust – and it turns out perfect every time. Her lemon meringue pie is awesome! I like to bake cookies and make lefse, especially for Christmas. I have my favorites, and take requests from family members before we all get together for the Holidays.  All of us like to prepare the main meat course, whether it is a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, or shredded pork barbecues for summer gatherings.  When you put all of our talents together, we have a complete meal.

To me, agriculture is the same way. We each have a way of farming that suits us. When we put all of the things we raise together, we have a complete agriculture “meal”.

I think it is time we stop drawing lines, and celebrate the differences we all bring to the table.

Almost time to stock up ingredients for my most requested cookie:

2011 Harvest – Oh What a Relief!

This year was my first year as full time combine driver. I learned how to harvest wheat, barley and field peas, and oats and field peas in the late summer, but Jonathan did most of that harvesting.  When it was “go time” for soybeans, we got the combine all ready, and headed out to the first field.

Jonathan started by taking off the buffer strips – areas of soybeans next to non-organic fields that need to be hauled into town for sale, usually 25-50 feet wide. I jumped in to learn how to operate the soybean head, and how to avoid things like rocks and tile intakes. While Jonathan was driving, we smelled smoke. Not good. Turns out that a small rock got wedged into the cylinder, causing sparks, which ignited the dry material inside the combine. We drove it to the neighbors and poured water on it for a long time, not knowing exactly where the problem had started. Once we determined its location, we concentrated water on that area until we didn’t see any smoke. Jonathan went out to harvest some beans to flush the water and wet beans out. He would need to handle those separately.   Once he got going again, I went out to start combining on my own. When I got to the side of the field he was on, I noticed that the smoke was once again pouring out of the combine, a little worse this time. Jon drove it home while I went ahead in the pickup and hooked up hoses. We opened everything up, and poured water on the area for a long time. We then let it sit overnight. What a way to start harvest!

Once the mechanic took a look at the combine and determined that no real damage was done, we once again went out to start soybean harvest. Things were pretty uneventful after that. I cleaned out the rock trap regularly, which is a very dusty job, but I wasn’t about to take a chance on another fire!

I had mentioned to Jonathan before harvest started that it would be nice if he could take my place about every four hours so I could stretch…and potty.  Confession time…I refuse to “take care of business” out in the field. Yep, I’m one of those ladies. (I also think looking good while working on the farm isn’t bad.) I have heard that a satellite can read a license plate. My behind is quite a bit bigger than that. I’m not taking any chances! I don’t like camping, either. Camping, to me, is staying at a Super 8. I have stayed at campgrounds in cabins with central shower houses and bathrooms, but it isn’t my first choice of places to stay. If it means spending time with family that I don’t normally get to see, I will put on a brave face and deal with it for a weekend.

Jonathan was usually pretty good about taking my place for my “breaks”, especially if I gave him enough warning. It worked well, I thought. Until the last day of harvest. We had about 5-5 1/2 hours of work left in our final corn field, and I really wanted to be the one to finish it. I brought my coffee with me that morning to make sure I could get an earlier start.  Everything was going quickly until the last three rounds.  There were cottontail rabbits and pheasants that couldn’t figure out that leaving the rows I was in would be smart.

By the last round, I really had to go. But there were four bunnies, and four pheasants running in front of the combine.  Running back and forth between the eight rows that were left in the field. I was just crawling along, growing more miserable by the second. It seemed like the longest round of my life!  Finally we were done! I just had to unload the combine, jump into the pickup, and hurry home.  I called Jonathan to tell him the good news that we were done, and he told me to be careful of the pickup door. What?! I was in a super big hurry! What if the door fell off and I couldn’t drive it home? Panic had set in. There were about 10 men working just across the tree line from where I was. There was no way I was going to be stuck out here! Thankfully, the door didn’t fall off, and I was able to make it home in time. Whew!

The 2011 harvest season was a huge learning opportunity for me. I really enjoyed my time in the combine, and it made me appreciate what the guys have gone through every year.  Mostly, I appreciate the patience Jonathan has had for me and for making this an enjoyable experience. And now that we have the crop safely in the bins I can say…oh what a relief!

An Answer to my Rhetorical Question?

I asked in my last post if I would ever catch up things, especially in the house. The answer came in an e-mail not long after I posed that question.

We will be hosting a few people from the advertising agency, mono. Tomorrow. Almost exactly 24 hours from now. They want to meet a farm family that raises some of the organic corn that goes into the Prairie Grains Organic Vodka. They are rolling out a new ad campaign, I guess.

This is the time where I would love if my house had a self cleaning setting, like my oven does. Just a flick of a switch and all the dust and grime would simply vanish. Sigh. I can dream, right?

Confession. I hate cleaning. A lot. Don’t get me wrong. I love it when the house is spotless. I just don’t love getting it there. To me it is about as appealing as a trip to the dentist.

In the past, I have bought books on how to clean your house with little effort that turns it into a joy. I am pretty sure the ladies who write these books are not vacuuming up corn, soybeans, wheat, field peas, or the copious amounts of soil that get transported in on work boots. I am guessing they haven’t dealt with hydraulic oil or engine grease on door handles or light switch plates and the walls that surround them.  Then there are the various items that come into the house in the pockets of jackets and jeans. Nails, screws, cotter pins, hitch pin clips,  papers from the bulk fuel guy or elevator weigh slips. I now use a little shop vac to clean the tile floors.  That is my cleaning tip of the week!

The time spent doing the mundane does give me time to plan out what to serve for the “little lunch” that we like to have for our guests. Jonathan and Laura wouldn’t mind Lemon Bundt Cake, but I’m looking for something a little different. Pumpkin Scones maybe?

The good thing about entertaining the folks from mono, is that I will be able to enjoy my clean house. Until harvest starts at the end of the week.

This is my favorite Pumpkin Scone recipe. I actually make them about 1/2 size to make it friendlier to those like me who are watching calories.

Starbucks® Pumpkin Scones
By Todd Wilbur

2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg
6 tablespoons cold butter

Plain Glaze
1 cup plus 1 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Icing
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a large bowl.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and eggs.
4. Cut butter into cubes then add it to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry knife or a fork to combine butter with dry ingredients. Continue mixing until no chunks of butter are visible. You can also use a food processor: Pulse butter into dry ingredients until it is the texture of cornmeal or coarse sand.
5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1 -inch thick rectangle that is about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Use a large knife or a pizza wheel to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
6. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper. Scones should begin to turn light brown.
7. While scones cool, prepare plain glaze by combining ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mx until smooth.
8 When scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coating of the glaze over the top of each scone.
9. As that white glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing by combining ingredients in another medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.Makes 6 scones.

Will I ever catch up?

This summer was a busy one, as usual.

Anna spent her summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on a summer project with Campus Crusade. The first time that all three girls were not together for the summer.  While it seemed as if Anna was just away at college at times, there was something definitely different.  Did I just feel another gray hair pop? I definitely feel older at times…

Christina and Laura wanted to learn to sew for 4-H, so we sent them to Grandma Bredlow’s for “sewing camp”. Laura loves upcycling clothes, and found a couple of skirts at Goodwill to alter. She shortened the skirts, and took in the waist to fit her. They turned out really cute. She brought one of them to the county fair, and did very well.

Christina took on the challenge of designing her dress, and figuring out how to put multiple patterns together to get the end product. She envisioned a one shoulder dress of black satin, with an animal print waist band. Then, she wanted to make an over-skirt of the animal print that would attach to the dress with hooks. That way, she could have a formal dress with just a little animal print accent for more formal occasions, or she could attach the animal print skirt for a fun look.  She won a trip to the State Fair in Fashion Revue.

Both of the girls showed four goats in four categories at our county fair. Laura won a trip to the State Fair with one of her goats. That meant she went to school for two days, then spent the rest of her week up in St. Paul. Her goat show was on August 26th, which just so happened to be my sister’s birthday. Jonathan, Christina, and I stayed at Pam’s house on Thursday night, then we brought Pam with us to the fair on Friday.  We hung out in the judging arena until Laura was finished. She received a blue ribbon in showmanship, and a blue ribbon on her goat. She was happy with that!

After the judging finished, we took Pam around the fair to find birthday cake on a stick…or something like that. We wandered around the barns, and talked to friends from all over the state. Of course, when introducing Pam, I had to tell them that it was her birthday! We eventually found a place to sit along a curb to watch the parade, keeping an eye out for the St. Anthony Park Community Band. Brother-in-law Paul Hanson was the lone trombone on that float! We met up with him eventually, and did a little catching up.

When Pam was in high school, she didn’t want a birthday cake made of …cake. She asked for a candy bar “cake”. Mom bought a variety of candy bars, and arranged them on a plate like a layer cake. She even put candles on the top layer. So, we found the deep fried candy bar place, and Pam had the modern version of her candy bar cake! Our day was complete!  In all, we spent roughly 12 hours at the fair that day.

Fast forward to Thursday, September 1st. Jonathan was busy working on the farm, so I was the lucky one who helped Anna and Christina move back to college.  They live in the same building, same floor, just around the corner from each other. A parent’s dream! We made room for a dolly to help move Anna’s refrigerator and keyboard, and to help reduce the number of trips needed to carry tubs in. I was the only mom helping kids move that day, and the only one who brought a dolly. I looked pretty smart. 🙂

Christina came home again on Saturday, and we went back up to the Cities for round 2 at the State Fair. Fashion Revue judging was Sunday morning. Laura and I worked in the Farm Bureau building for a few hours, then we walked around until Grandma and cousin Jenni came. We showed them Jonathan’s champion open class wheat exhibit, and the other seed samples that he won ribbons for. We made it up to the 4-H building in plenty of time to watch Christina model her dress in the fashion show. Even though she did not win a spot in the Court of Honor, she was complemented by the show’s director, and by one of her judges who liked that she thought outside the box.

So, all the kids are back in school. I look around my house at everything in disarray from the comings and goings. And I wonder. Will I ever catch up?  Some day…


Organic Certification Inspection Day

We had our annual Organic Certification Inspection today.   We take pride in raising quality crops, and enjoy the working relationships that we have with our buyers.   The certification process helps our buyers know that what we are selling them has been raised according to the standards that have been set.

In May, we mailed in our 100+ page application and documentation forms.  It contained field history maps, cropping plans for the next 3-5 years for each field, lot numbers for each variety of seed, and our bin numbers along with what crop will be in each bin this fall.   Then we send in a check which basically pays them to come and inspect us.  We have about twice as much paperwork at home, compared to what we mail in.  Some of the paperwork comes naturally after farming organically since 1998.  Some things still have to be located before the inspection, which is where it can get a little nerve wracking.  Even though the annual inspection is once a summer, we usually get dropped in on 2 or 3 other times during the cropping season.

The inspector comes to the farm, and goes through all of our paperwork. Some of the things he checks are:

  • If you planted  all non-GMO seeds that were free from seed treatments and fungicides
  • If you sourced organically raised seeds
  • What steps you take to protect the organic crop from GMO cross pollination and spray drift; buffers between your crops and neighboring fields (including planting dates)
  • If your equipment has been used on any conventional crops or ground, and the steps taken to clean it for organic crops
  • Anything that you put on your fields was approved for organics by the certifying agency
  • Check soil tests to ensure you are building soil quality
  • Checking your 3-5 year cropping plans for each field
  • Checking your methods of weed control, and looking to see if you have things under control
  • How the crops are handled after harvest.  Was it placed in clean bins, were the buffer strips harvested separately and not co-mingled with organic crops
  • What cover crops are being used
  • Checking to see if each load of grain leaving the farm was accompanied by a clean truck affidavit signed by the owner (us) and the driver
  • Checking to see if the final fees based on percent of gross organic sales has been paid to the certifying agency
  • Reviewing daily log of field activities
  •  Reviewing each field history sheet, which includes any products applied to that field
  • Walking crop fields

There are other things they look for, but these are some of the bigger items.

Our family does not feel that organic farming is the only way to farm.  We are offering one of the choices that consumers are asking for.  We realize that organic farming is not for everyone, and we do not think less of our conventional neighbors.   We enjoy what we do, especially after a successful inspection!

The kitchen table, papers ready for inspection:

Not Really Fond of Roller Coasters…

Note: This entry was originally written last Thursday…dictated to Anna, as we were heading down the road.

I was thinking this morning about the movie “Parenthood” with Steve Martin.  There is a scene where he is having an argument with his wife about accepting her pregnancy. He is not sure he can handle the chaos and uncertainty of the new child.  The grandmother comes in and starts talking about roller coasters.  She loves them – the anticipation of the climb towards the top (the clicking of the chain as it pulls the cars up), and the thrill once you are over the hill and rushing back down.  She goes on to say that some people cannot handle the roller coasters.  They don’t like the ride. They just ride on the merry-go-round.  Then she leaves the room.  Steve Martin’s character completely misses her point until later in the scene when they are attending their daughter’s school play.  The youngest son charges on stage, thinking they are hurting his sister. Chaos ensues, and the audience starts yelling that Martin’s son is ruining the play.  Then Martin starts feeling like he is on the roller coaster, and you hear the clicking and the screaming associated with those on the ride with him (the camera angles make it look as if the whole auditorium is on the coaster).  Martin looks like he is about to become sick, and is not enjoying this ride at all.  But then he turns and looks at his wife, who is laughing and enjoying the ride.  He then starts to look at things from a different perspective.  The ride doesn’t seem so scary after all.

This last month has been a roller coaster ride for our family.  We started out in May with small grain seeding and Mother’s Day. This was the exciting part of the ride.  The day after Mother’s Day, I hurt my knee while helping Jonathan with the grain drill.  I “bruised the heck out of the knee-cap” as my doctor put it, and wound up on crutches for two weeks.  A month later, I still cannot bend it all the way, although most days are relatively pain free.  I found out that I am not a very patient patient. I had too many plans and activities to have to deal with this.  I had to learn to accept help from others, which is a difficult thing for me to do.  During that time, I started to feel more anxiety and felt a little depressed because I couldn’t help Jonathan or do as much as I wanted to.  The bright spots during this time were when the girls moved home from college and the visit from our exchange daughter’s parents.  Christina and Laura were able to work with Jonathan, helping to plant corn and soybeans along with other field work. I was very proud of the way they jumped in to help.

Viktoria’s parents immediately felt like family, and we all connected like friends who had known each other for a long time.  Melanie and Ulrich helped prepare for Viktoria’s going away party. Ulrich even did some field work! Melanie jumped in and helped out in the kitchen.  As fun as this was, I could hear the roller coaster clicking…  We said good-bye to our German family on May 28th.  Many tears were shed on both sides as the roller coaster came rushing down the hill.

Things were pretty smooth for awhile, until we got word that our Pastor’s wife had passed away.  Candy was a bright spot in many lives. She had many health challenges, but she handled them all with grace.  We loved visiting with her and getting to see hints of her humor along with her compassion.  We will miss her.

The following day, we attended church, where the atmosphere was rather somber.  Late that afternoon, we were outside enjoying the beautiful evening before a game of cat and mouse broke out.  We were having a little fun with the 4-wheeler and Ranger Utility Vehicle, taking turns on who was the “cat” and who was the “mouse”.  This is a game we have played many times. You could say it is a favorite of ours.  But, you know what they say, “it’s all fun and games until someone winds up in the ER at 10:00 on a Sunday night.”   I was the “cat” on the 4-wheeler while Jonathan and Anna played the “mouse” on the Ranger.  The cat was about to pounce, when the mouse darted, tipping the Ranger onto its side.  Anna had her seat belt on and was okay (she would bruise where the seat belt held her, but otherwise was okay). Jonathan went to the house quickly after he crawled out, clutching his hand.  I went into the house to check on him, asking if he was okay.   He asked me to get him an ice pack and take him to the hospital right away.  This is never good coming from him.  He usually argues that it isn’t necessary.  I grabbed the ice pack and a towel, checked on the girls, and then we left for the ER.  After much fussing, pain meds, x-rays, cleaning and stitching, we were able to leave around 1:00 am.  The following morning, Jonathan had surgery to place two pins in his broken left index finger. They also cleaned out the cuts on his finger and stitched them up.  While he was under, they scrubbed the rest of his abrasions to help prevent infection.  His middle finger was also broken, so he now sports a cast surrounding the first two fingers on his left hand, extending up his forearm. They sent him home with pain medicine and heavy antibiotics.  He had quite a bit of pain until later in the week.  He will be in a cast until the first week in July.  Can you hear the screams as we are hurling through the loops on this roller coaster?

Today (Thursday), we attended Candy’s funeral. I am having Anna write this entry as we are driving on our way to Austin, MN to meet her ride to Milwaukee. She will be spending the summer there with Campus Crusade.  This is the part of the ride where the clicking begins again.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday I will be at the SW MN Synod Assembly, where we will spend time in worship and Bible study, business will be conducted, workshops presented, and fellowship will happen. It will be a fun yet exhausting time for those of us on the planning committee.

As much as I fear the anxiety of the approaching descent of this phase of the roller coaster of life, I am finding that it is much better than just going in circles on the merry-go-round.  I am surrounded by people who love me even though I am not completely healed. But more importantly, I am surrounded by the arms of Jesus, who is sitting on the seat beside me riding with me the whole way.

Photo: (back) Jonathan and Ulrich, Viktoria, (front) Carolyn and Melanie

Viktoria’s Parents

Things I’ve Learned

We started seeding our small grain this week – field peas, barley, and wheat.  You could say that I am Jonathan’s pit crew. Our drill needs to be folded up into transport mode to go down the road, and unfolded once we get into the field.  It is a two person job, so whenever Jonathan needs to move to a new location, I get a call.  I also help him load seed into the drill when I am needed – usually when a lot of bags are used as opposed to the mini-bulk system which involves a grain wagon and auger system.  After the first two days back out into the field, I have learned a few things…

  • Telling jokes and flirting with your favorite spouse while working makes the job a lot more pleasant. And it can help put you in a better mood.
  • Work boots are not great for running in.  They may have ankle support, but they are heavier than my running shoes, and not as flexible. And they don’t look as cute.
  • If you are going to go out and work with the boys, it is alright to look good. A little pink looks awesome with all of the green equipment.
  • Learning to ride a horse during the first two days of planting is not always a good idea.  Saddle sores on the bottom, and a stiff upper back can make you feel much older than you really are.
  • Running, and weight lifting with dumbbells will not prepare you enough for the lifting and pushing/pulling of farm work.  I wonder if someone could invent a machine for that for my local YMCA. Then I wouldn’t feel as wimpy in the spring.
  • I don’t like the wind. Okay, so I already knew this, but it was reinforced yesterday. I don’t like grit in my teeth. It is hard to laugh at a good joke and not get dirt in your mouth when the winds are blowing dust and dirt into every nook and cranny.
  • It is easy to work your way up the ladder at a rapid pace.  The first day it was 48 pound bags of barley. The second day it was 60 pound bags of wheat.  I’m thankful it rained. I don’t want to know what today’s bags would have weighed.

Even though it is a stressful time of year, learning to balance the farm wife part of my life with the mom and housewife part, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I may not have the fastest pit times in the neighborhood, but I’m working on it!

The Office