Category Archives: Family Life–Budgets

Up North Road Trip

Our children are getting older. They have begun asking how many states they have been to. I have been informed that Wisconsin doesn’t count as a different state since it is less then 15 minutes away. Mmm lets see three of you have been to California, otherwise we haven’t been out of the state. That can’t be right. But yes it is true we haven’t been on a vacation or even out of the state in years. We talked about doing a vacation but always the demands of the farm and a small budget get in the way. So this year we planned a staycation. During that we pretended we were on vacation so no farm work other then chores. We got to eat out and see some of our favorite places. I also wanted to try some of the interesting food destinations I have been hearing about.


I remember going to Tobies once with my grand mother. Since we were doing an unofficial food tour I wanted this to be our first stop on the way north. I lived up to my expectations but the treats disappeared so fast there were no pictures.


Then we stopped at our favorite beach in Two Harbors for a little picnic and playing in the frigid water. I thought it would be too cold for the children to want to get in the water, but they insisted on bringing their swimming suits. I am glad I listening to them. Our favorite picnic at Two Harbors is always smoked fish and cheese curds.

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Gooseberry Falls in another favorite spot. We try to go at least once a year.


Effie helped me contain Lith a bit in a more kid friendly area. My goodness Lith is a daredevil already!


We also stopped in Mahtowa at TJ’s Country Corner. This store boasts some of the best wurst and sausage in Minnesota, all made on site. It had such a fun atmosphere on the weekend with live music, a playground and interesting flea market. The sausage and brats were amazing also.

Joy in the Barn

There has been a lot on my mind lately. I don’t know if it is the uncertain economy catching up with local foods, a flux of new CSAs or crazy weather making consumers doubt the CSA model but our CSAs numbers are way down. I am honestly scrambling. Trying to figure out how we might make ends meet this year and if we will be able to afford to farm next year. As much as I try to keep this space positive there is so much uncertainty right now and it is weighing on me. It seems agriculture across the board is feeling the hit. My friends that raise goats are struggling. My friends that run CSAs are struggling. Anyone I know who is trying to make a way for themselves is struggling.

Luckily I have a bit of a retreat–the barn. I have said before I am a bit of a responsibility junky. I love caring for people, animals, things, a place. And that is just the life I get to live. Too bad you don’t get paid to live this life. Oh well, struggles make us stronger right?

So come with me on a little far tour.

Contentment among the animals.

Mavis bottle feeding Miracle for one of the last times. Miracle will be going to a new home next week. thanks Michelle!

Just like children baby goats (kids) find the funniest things entertaining. This tube is a favorite.

Don’t stick your tongue out young man.

Flower likes to keep track of everyone.

So yes there are plenty of good things going on in the barn. If you would like a quick tour of chore time check out our video below.

A Tractor named Bessie

Anyone who knows me would have to agree I am a bit weird; or as Proeun would say, “crazy in a good way.” But when I found out that this little beauty was going to arrive on our farm today the thought came to me, “her name is Bessie.” I informed the family and while they already know I am a bit crazy they also know the name fits. But let me back up a bit.

This winter I took a Farm Financial Analysis class. I learned all sorts of great things, one thing the course talked about was, “new paint syndrome.” This is a syndrome Proeun and I do not have. We in the past have been all about doing things low-tech, often by hand and we also wanted to be able to pay cash for items used on the farm so we wouldn’t fall into a trap of debt.

However running 40 acres without a reliable tractor is a bit difficult to say the least. You must either hire out some of the labor like tilling or seeding for cover crops, (which is expensive and you are working with someone else’s schedule which is often not the best) or use time consuming hand tools that just don’t hold up that well under all the pressure.

As we prepare for organic certification we discovered other issues, like tractors that have been used in conventional fields must be thoroughly washed before they are used in organic fields. This may be difficult for anyone we would hire to work our fields.

So we talked about it and discussed ALOT and really did a lot of soul searching whether a big purchase like this would be good for the overall farm and we decided that it would. It would allow us to mechanize more of our farm, and therefore free up time for things like crop and soil improvement as well as just quality of life stuff. We are totally an outdoor family, but during the summer have little time to enjoy it. We live just miles from Proeun’s all time favorite fishing spot and we have been there 3 times since moving in. So we are really excited about Bessie. She means a lot to us, she is more then just a tractor.

We have a special thanks to Agstar for believing in us and making it possible for us to get Bessie. Our loan officer normally works with much bigger loans, like in the $12M range (talk about new paint) but told us he much prefers to do loans like ours, “because they make a huge difference to family’s and really change their life.” Thank-you for changing our life. And thank-you to all our CSA members past present and future who support our farm. We still have some shares available this year.

ARC Valu Village

I have been inspired to try “thrifting.” My aunts have always been masters of this. But I am not a shopper and when I need something I prefer to go and get it at one place. But when I started reading the Soule Mama blog my interest was renewed, not only for my fashion but home and most importantly budget. Last week I desperately needed a new pair of maternity jeans. Not knowing where else to go in my neighborhood I went to Target and found a great pair for $32.99. I had severe “post spending” but knew I needed it.

At the Living Green Expo the ARC Valu Villiage had a booth. I stopped and asked if they carried maternity clothes and was overjoyed to find out they did. I even got a couple for 20% off. I must have gone on the right day because all purple tags were 50% off that was all the maternity clothes so here is a list of my purchases.

For me–Cute black skirt, gray shirt dress and navy blue and white summer dress (all maternity.

For Two–long black shorts and the toy of his choice.

For Avril–Summer dress with pink flowers, purse, wallet, “crown” head band and toy of choice.

For Mavis–sweater dress, sweater, short sleeved shirt, and 2 pair of pants. All so cute and totally my style.

For the house–4 matching teacups with flowers. I have been drinking my raspberry leaf tea and the girls enjoy it to so now we have matching cups for our tea parties.

All for less then I paid for my jeans.