Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Tradition #1-The Village

The first sign of Christmas in our house is by far our favorite family tradition. My Cowboy & started a Department 56 Village shortly after we got married.  I have to say My Cowboy was not really excited about the village but has come around and is usually the one who is the first to suggest we put it up.  Every year right after Halloween we all start to itch to put up the village.  This is a process and takes a lot of mental preparation! We have over 40 pieces and it takes a lot of walking up and down the stairs to bring up each individual box. Once the boxes are upstairs, the real works begins- we place each piece with love and a plan. You can't have the Real Plastic Snow Factory next to the Taffy Factory- who wants to risk the food safety issues there? The placement of the village is only half the battle.  The lighting is the next challenge. My Cowboy takes the lighting very seriously, over the years we have developed a special system that appears as northern lights at night.

We all love the village and each of us have our favorite pieces.  It is so important to us that we considered house plans with the village placement in mind. Our new house has plug-ins above the cabinets and it is the perfect place to display our collection. This is our second Christmas in the house and we continued to adjust our design but all agree this is a cool location to show off our North Pole Village. 

Every year we break something- this year our first casualty was an unsuspecting elf that loads Santa's Sleigh.  He was up on the ladder and a cupboard door shut a little too hard nocked him onto the counter (thousands of elf feet below).  This time of year I have lots of crazy glue on hand, so we were able to fix him up and after spending some time at the Elf Clinic for some R&R he has returned to his station. Just in time for the busy season! 

I'm sure I will continue to share pictures of the village throughout the Christmas season- I will also keep you updated on any more casualties that may occur with the elves. It's a busy season, although safety is important accidents do happen. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Connecting Farm & City Kids

My family had the opportunity last year to be adopted by a classroom in Sioux Falls, SD our largest city in SD. They wanted to connect with farmers and we jumped at the opportunity to connect with city youth. We send them monthly videos of what we are doing on the farm and they send us a list of questions as long as my arm back.  It's been a cool experience and when they asked if we would like to do it again, we jumped at the chance.

This past week we traveled to Sioux Falls and were able to meet with the now 3 classrooms that have adopted us. We showed them our video on weaning calves. It's a good video (I took most of the footage) of how we transport the calves, process them by giving shots and weighing them. We also show the calves in our backgrounding lot where they are fed through the winter. The short video sparked a ton of questions about our cattle. Like what we do with them when they get sick? We give them medicine to make them better, just like they would get.  We shared that we spend a lot of our day with the cattle making sure they are not sick so when one is we quickly get them medicine.
Smelling the ground hay
The difference between male and female cattle? This question always comes up with groups of youth and we often explain that all mammals, just like humans have male and female 'parts'. What are the things in the cattle ears? We talk about how all of our calves have individual ear tags that have a number assigned to them, which is like having a name.

We also took feed samples of what the cattle are fed.  Everything from silage to ground hay to ground corn.  The kids were able to touch and smell the samples.  This year Kelly from Ag United joined us and brought cotton seeds too. Many kids had no idea that their jeans were made from cotton that is a plant!

Probably the thing I was most proud of was our middle daughter Miss O and her interaction with a small group of students.  She is very shy and usually does not interact with a group well. She had shared her story about her bucket calf she took care of for the last 7 months in front of the large group.  A few students starting asking her questions and she did amazing with answering with detail and enthusiasm. 

Although we only got to spend 45 minutes with the classrooms we made the most of our time and I'm excited we were able to connect with the students on how their food is made. My Cowboy and I love we we do as farmers and my kids are proud to be farmers and that makes me proud. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Going to the Big Town

Prairie life has it’s benefits. I can only see one house from mine and they are related to me. That is a benefit because no one drives by and looks in my windows.  Which is good because I have not found the right window treatments for my new house so I’ve saved money by not hurrying up and buying some. Another example I had 8 errands to run today in our little town. I dropped my car off to get the oil changed and only had to walk 4 blocks and I went to the bank, quilt shop, pharmacy, Extension Office, church, and school- I love that.  But the one down side to living on the prairie is the lack of shopping diversity.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got excellent shopping in my small town, the quilt shop, pharmacy (which has a good wine selection), and Uniquely Yours that has clothes, toys, amazing home decorations and everything else- plus tanning in the back, and what those places don’t have the Hardware store does. But, with Christmas coming getting to a ‘big’ town to ogle at all the exciting shiny stuff is a must. I do a lot internet shopping but sometimes you just need to touch stuff before you buy it. 
This weekend we are headed to the ‘big’ town of Sioux Falls, SD. It is the largest town in our state with a population of 150,000.  This ‘big’ town has it all and I can’t wait to do a lot of looking at all the cool store displays and get some serious Christmas shopping done!  Now the thing about ranchers is we seldom leave the cattle to just have fun and this weekend the only reason I get to go to the big town is because our annual Farm Bureau meeting is Friday & Saturday. So, my shopping will have to be furious and pointed. Which means I have come with a list and a map to make the most out of my driving time too. 
P.S. I have to say a huge Thank You to my friend Heather AKA Porkmom for taking me shopping this fall when I got to visit her in Indianapolis. It was an amazing treat for me to get to shop with a friend and all the fun the two women can have in a store.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Learning Life Lessons from Morgan the Show Heifer

This was our son's first year in 4-H and he enjoyed showing his first large animal.  I was so proud of how he took the responsibility of caring for an animal very seriously.  All summer long he would ride his bike over to his grandparents house where Morgan, the show heifer was housed in the barn and corrals.  Many times a day he would check on her, make sure she had enough water, food and was comfortable.  There were several life lessons that T learned this summer, but probably the most important one was Morgan set the bar on how a woman prefer to be treated. Here are the top 4 things he learned about this topic.
#1. Be patient & calm.  Women don't like to be pushed and Morgan certainly preferred a quiet calm voice and if you lose your temper she certainly would snub him until he apologized.
#2. Women like to be pampered.  Every morning Morgan would insist on T giving her a bath before she would do anything else. She loved to be scrubbed from head to toe. She then would prefer to be dried off with the blower while she ate her breakfast. Which leads me to #3. Take a lady out for a good meal. Every morning he would bring her the special bucket of feed that he carefully measured to make sure she had just the right amount. He learned quickly that it is important to feed her on time.
#4 Women need a lot of products to make their hair & nails look nice.  Morgan has special brushes and many different sprays and foams to make her hair have more body, stay combed forward and shine.  She also needed spray paint to make her hooves be shinny black.  This is a must before going into the show ring.
This is the outline her hooves left on the ground
after we touched them up with paint

After months of living the show animal lifestyle, we turned Morgan out to pasture with the other cows and bred heifers.  I'm sure she has had an adjustment going back to be a regular cow, but we know that she is doing well.  The pasture she is in is right outside our kitchen window and I glance out every now and then to see if I can find her and I smile.  Thanks Morgan!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sunshine In A Box

Two times a year a box of sunshine arrives at my house.  It is something that I wait for with great anticipation and open it right away.

For our 10 year wedding anniversary I talked my cowboy into going wine tasting in Sonoma.  It was an amazing trip- we had never done anything like it before and since then we have developed some great friends in California that we try to get back and visit as much as possible. On our second trip to Sonoma we were introduced to Williamson Wines by our great friends the Sweets. We had so much fun at their tasting room that we joined their wine club. So, now 2 times a year they ship me wine! aaahhh.

Now, my shipment only comes two times a year because I live in an 'extreme' climate according to Williamson Wines. I realize that South Dakota can be deemed extreme because it does get really cold in the winter and we can get many feet of snow, plus we can get over 100 degrees in the summer- But so does California.  But in wine terms I guess we are too extreme here and I am limited to 2 shipments a year.

 Now for some of you a wine drinking cowboy may not be the image you had.  Don't get me wrong, My cowboy certainly enjoys a bottle of beer but given the opportunity he really enjoys drinking a good bottle of wine- and every once in a while dumping wine on the ground too- but that story is for a different post.

I'm currently planning the perfect meal, I'm thinking steak tips, to enjoy one of these bottles with and I might just share it with my Cowboy....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Hair, Happy Girls

I was blessed with two beautiful little girls, which meant I had to accept pink into my life and have considered investing in a make-up company.  Over the past 6 years I've acquired many new girl raising skills, but the one that still is my great nemesis is creating the cute hair styles my girls desire. Anyone who knows me, knows my favorite hair style is a pony tail.  I simply was not given the skills and patience to create even the simplest of hair creations.  As a little girl my Barbie dolls were dressed to the hilt but their hair was always in a pony tail.  Over the years I've bought all the hair gadgets, currently I have 2 flat irons, 3 curling irons, and dozens of hair sprays, mousse and products to do every which thing with hair and still I have limited hair fixing abilities.

My oldest daughter, O has long straight as a board hair and her dream is to have it to the floor.  My youngest daughter, R has curly curly hair that is manageable if we keep shorter.  My cowboy & I often laugh about seeing our girls in the future: O curling her hair and R straightening hers. For that reason we added extra plug in's to their bathroom when we built it. Needless to say I have two hair challenges.

My girls love to have their hair braided, I can braid but I can't do much more then that. R has been bagging me to french braid her hair for some time now, and I have been putting it off. This week she caught me at an adventurous moment- so with ipad in hand we headed to the bathroom for our tools.   Thank goodness for YouTube! After watching a great tutorial 3 times I made my first attempt at a french braid. I got started just fine and after 2 more times of watching the video and bagging her to stay very still, I was able to complete the task.
Here is my 2nd attempt! She made me take out the first one-not up to her standards. 
Look at this happy face, all worth acquiring my new skill.
So, I don't think I'm ready to enter into a braiding competition but I see trying a side braid in my future. As for my own hair, I have an appointment with Stacy (my hairdresser has my same name) and I can't wait to see her, because at least tomorrow my hair will look amazing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Building A Blog- What's my Recipe?

As I launch my blog I'm thinking about the recipe I will follow.  The main ingredient I have in my blog is family.  I'm the mother of 3 growing children, Teigen, Olivia & Reese.  Although they are young we are busy with school, 4-H, and church.  I'm also married to my best friend, my cowboy.  My cowboy and I raise cattle & crops on the prairie.  We love where we live and appreciate the lifestyle we are raising our children in.
My recipe also includes my job beyond being a mom & wife. I have many 'paying' jobs that I will continue to share. I'm also an entrepreneur,  my cowboy & I have developed a business that we continue to build with all the challenges and joys of working with your spouse!
I also have a full cup of travel, I'm fortunate to have a job that gets me out of the tri-county area on a regular basis.  Add another cup of community. I'm involved as a 4-H & youth group leader and see those continuing to develop and keeping me running more.
Throw in a big dash of rural life on the prairie. I have to drive 65 miles to get to a town with shopping.  I'm an hour from WalMart, Starbucks and McDonalds.  This rural living makes me have to plan ahead for lots of things since my small town does not have many of the features most are use to having.
That's my recipe for my blog.  I look forward to connecting with people about the joys of my rural lifestyle.