Category Archives: Farm Life

Yes, this is my first Rodeo

I have of course heard of rodeo. Our farrier (the person who trims our horse’s hooves) is a true cowboy. When we went to Yellowstone this summer we drove through Cody, Wyoming. Since our destination was Cody and we had a limited amount of time we didn’t stop for too long in Cody. But I did notice that they have a rodeo, every single night during the summer.

We also stopped in Sheridan, Wyoming en route. We stayed in a hotel and were watching the local news while winding down and waiting for our turn in the bath room. We found out that in Sheridan (and assuming other places) rodeo is a high school sport rivaling football. The results of the competitions are reported on the evening news.

When we moved up here we heard about Heidelberger’s auction  barn. They also boast a rodeo every year but up until this year we have never gone. Through a strange coincidence, my father became friends with the brother of Mr. Heidelberger. Dad was talking about his friend but never using last name until my mom said something like, “Neil’s brother has an auction place up by you.” Heidelberger’s was the only one I knew of and we put two and two together.

So this year we went as a family as guests of Neil and his family. So yes this really was our first rodeo.

The announcer set the stage well, “the great American sport known as rodeo–the world’s most dangerous playing field.” Luckily no one got seriously hurt last night but you could totally see that having a 2,000 pound bull as an opponent would be seriously dangerous.

Avril tried out the mechanical bull–a much safer option for this mother!

Bareback riding, I never knew that there were 2 other cowboys on horses ready to assist and catch the wild horses after their rider was thrown or to help the rider safely off in case he was able to stay on. It was amazing to see them work the horses! Some “amazing horsemanship and teamwork” as announcer Davie Kimm said.

Calf scramble. The 4-6 year olds joined 4 calves in the arena. Each calf had a ribbon tied to their tale and the children try to catch the ribbon.

Wild cow milking contest. No description can do it justice.

So yes it was a great night at the rodeo, and quite possible the start of a new tradition.


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.

County Fair 2016

We have just completed the County Fair for 2016. This year we had so much fun bringing animals to the fair for the first time. When I was living in the city and visiting the state fair I had no idea all the weeks and months of preparation that went into the exhibits in the 4H building and the animal barns. Since moving to Rush City, which happens to be where our county fair is held, we have enjoyed meeting some amazing people doing amazing things. It is always a joy to see who is bringing what to the fair. Now we brought our own animals. This year it was pigs and goats, and then the following weekend dogs for the dog show.


Avril with Spot.


Effie with her friend Alice for Cloverbud showmanship (youth under 9 are not allowed to handle animals).


Avril and Two with their goats.


Avril and Delilah. Two and Jack at the dog show.

The pig show required me to be more hands on. So I wasn’t able to get pictures. Even the younger kids really loved seeing the animals at the fair. Lith and Pray, our youngest, are really going to be into animals I can tell already. They are already planning for next year.

Baby Season

Baby season has begun here at Crazy Boy Farm. This year we did things a little different. We waited until our females actually went in heat before putting them in with our males. So this year we actually sort of knew when the babies would come. So we were watching for signs and doing night checks and trying to be as prepared as possible.

Our first batch of babies was piglets. Their mother Elsa had really struggled last year (her first farrowing) with breech births and long labor and ended up only giving us one live baby. So this year we really weren’t sure what to expect. We were just hoping that it would go easier for her and hopefully some live babies.


She ended up giving us 10! Being a purebred Berkshire Hog (a heritage breed or old breed) she hasn’t been bred to give lots of babies. At the most we were hoping for 8. So when 7 and 8 came out together we thought we were done, but then about an hour later number 9 came out and 3 hours after that 10. Effie in particular is very happy with the piglets as you can see above. And Avril has really made a wonderful midwife for the animals learning how to clean the babies and make sure they are nursing and thriving.


One is missing in this picture. It is still pretty cold around here so we do have heat lamps for them.


The piglets are already a week old and some of them are joining their mother for a walk outside. I love this picture because it looks like she is talking to them. In all honesty I think she does talk to them. The range of vocalizations between them is impressive. I also love how they will look at each other when they are talking.


Then last night we had baby goats born. I had been watching Pearl, the mother, for two days. I checked her at 9 pm last night and she was calmly eating, then at the 10 pm check there were 3 babies. The last one was still in the sack and I tried to revive it but was not successful. Then while I was there she gave birth to a 4th one! this is highly unusual. The final baby was breach and was also born in the sack. I actually had to use my fingernails to ripe open the sack and free the baby. This one survived. So Pearl gave us 2 boys and 1 girl. We checked them often last night since it was so cold and they also have a lamp. They are all doing well and nursing, though one of these will likely be a bottle baby and it is hard for mothers to nurse triplets.


This little guy is the children’s favorite.

I am so pleased with how the season is going and how much the children are enjoying it. I actually don’t have to beg them to help with chores and sometimes they are even ready before I am.


Somehow Mavis even manages to look fashionable when she is out working with the animals. They make it all worth.



What a wonderful change this year has been. We have already enjoyed almost a week of 60 degree weather. This is VERY unusual for Minnesota. Even though this week is a bit cooler the break in winter weather (hopefully the end, pretty please) has been so refreshing. But with the change in weather comes other changes to the farm.


I really have no business complaining. Really Mud season is not that bad; except that it is very had to walk and all that cold mud is really hard on the animals, but it is heralding something much better. We just came off 3 days of rain so we are super saturated but hopefully it will start to dry out now.


Meet Zelen. One of our goals with moving to the farm was helping to get the children set up. We wanted to show them ways to avoid debt, make extra income, and be as self sufficient as possible. So Proeun II has started his own cattle business. Zelen is a 3 year old Galloway. We purchased her bred and will hopefully have a calf this June. She is accompanied by Claire who is a year old this month. We are so excited to start this process with the children. II will be showing Claire at the fair this year.


Scout and Tiger. Really good mousers are worth their weight in gold and we try hard to colonize at least 2 cats in each of our out buildings but with spring these 2 guys were getting into more fights and Tiger had been taking off for longer and longer periods of time. At one point we really thought we had lost him. So we decided that it was worth the extra money to invest in their health and they have both been fixed now. All the cats on our farm have now been fixed (except for one female we hope will give us kittens so the children can experience it once before we fix her).


Avril is hoping to start her own business this spring as well–sheep. And with sheep come sheep dogs. I actually was feeling the need for some herding dogs every time the goats got out but it really wasn’t in the budget. Then we came across these 2 dogs. They are actually Amish dogs and a mix of herding breeds (Australian Shepherd, Blue Mountain Heeler and Border Collie). They were just right. Avril will be joining II in Dog training this year through 4H.

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We have also begun growing for our CSA. After several years on our own farm it is nice to have some systems set up that make the work more routine. We now have our cooler doing double duty as a germination room and our small greenhouse up that we use for early season. It is so fun to see the very beginnings of plant babies.


We are also waiting on our animal babies. Elsa our Berkshire hog will farrow again any day now. And the goats will start after that. I do love spring.

Land Stewardship Project Comes to Northern and East Central MN

We have been a part of the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) ever since we got started farming. We were introduced to them by the Minnesota Food Association and have enjoyed attending their various farmer training programs and been a part of their CSA Directory for many years. But I am sorry to admit that I really haven’t been aware of their work on policy issues until last night.

LSP is opening a new office in Duluth. They hope to cover the whole state and one of the major issues they are working on is affordable health insurance for farmers. And then there is the Farm Bill. This lengthy document is produced every 6 years in Washington and details much if not all of the policy that affects farms, rural communities and anyone who eats food in the U.S.

I don’t understand this document. I am completely at a loss and I am beginning to realize that we can not depend on media in this country to accurately report the issues that affect us most.

So when I got the invitation to attend a LSP policy meeting that would actually be held in my neck of the woods I realized it was a must.

Last night I joined around 25 other farmers from the area who are interested in legislation that will “support family farmers and sustainable agriculture. Promote the next generation of family farmers on the land. And Stop corporate controlled agribusiness from hijacking the next farm bill.”

Of course the inevitable debate came up–the chemical debate. Some farmers were absolutely against any chemicals, another had a large no-till operation that used herbicides to control weeds. However the organizers, Kaitlyn and Tom, were able to reframe the conversation. Small farms have an uphill battle, and we shouldn’t fight so much about the method. As I have said before I firmly believe that no farmers want to damage the land. They all have decisions they have to make for their land, family and businesses. Often times those are hard decisions.

The debates over method can drive us away from focusing on moving forward. Tom said, “the things we can’t do alone we can do together. . . .we can move policies, legislatures.” The key therefore is, “organized people, ideas and resources.”

Since 1996 LSP has been working with the Farm Bill. In 2002 the Conservation Stewardship Program (one that promotes conversation efforts on rural land) was included, while a ban on Packer (meat packers) owned Livestock passed in the Senate but not the House.

In 2008 funds were allocated for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Programs and in 2014 amid a “really hostile enviroment,” Kaitlyn said their goal was to maintain the programs that have already passed and expand them nationwide.

Currently their main goal is to prepare for the next Farm Bill in 2020 and oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership. While this may not sound like a farm related issue, this agreement between 12 pacific rim countries was negotiated in private and would allow multi-national companies to sue governments (federal all the way down to municipal) for infringing on trade rights. These trade rights would take precedence over all else. One farmer named Mike said that this issue particularly concerned him, “It would affect our way of life. Everything from wages to conservation and our ability to function as a democracy.”

I am so glad I went to last nights meeting. I think if there is one thing I am learning this year it is that I want to be more aware of what is going on in this country and involved in politics. Before I left last night I committed to calling my representatives.

Of course there is still alot to be done around the farm, but if I want to be able to maintain the life I love so much then I need to be involved.


Kaitlyn educates on the farm bill.



Sledding fun

Sometime every winter Proeun and I have the discussion that I am sure most Minnesotans are familiar with–should we stay in the frigid north or head somewhere sunnier. Since moving to Crazy Boy Farm we have definitely had that discussion less. While we are not proficient at the winter sports yet we are slowly building our repertoire.

This winter there hasn’t been much snow. And the one thing we are lacking here on the farm is a hill. The first winter first snow we realized “uh oh, no place to go sledding!” Last year Proeun tried using the tractor to pile up snow. That worked pretty good but this year there hasn’t been enough snow to even do that. Luckily we have a big pile of wood chips left over from this falls clearing project. And voila, sledding hill. The children have been out almost every day and for them a day is not complete until they have sledded. Now we need a little more snow.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Doeun Family

We hope you had a very amazing Christmas. We had a very blessed Christmas. Of course, the more children we have the more fun it is. We still tried to do a homemade Christmas. The children even got into it.

Avril made arm knit scarves using the video below.

Mavis and Effie helped made all sorts of baked goodies. And I did my usual–knitting. This year I decided I would do either legwarmers or slippers for all the children.


Here are the legwarmers I made for Effie and Mavis. They both picked out the yarn. Effie liked the metallic worsted weight and Mavis the bulky weight yarn. I made up my own pattern using four needles and multiples of 4. Start and end with a ribbing, for the lighter weight yarn I did 2X2 and the bulky weight 1X1. But then for the main pattern I did

Row 1: Knit 3, Purl 1 repeat
Row 2: Knit


Pray’s slippers


Avril’s slippers


Lith’s Baltic Booties. I loved the yarn for this. It is my all time favorite yarn–


I did do some sewing but I found it alot harder to get away and sew, whereas with knitting I could do it while we are in the thick of family living. This is another of my favorite patterns, done up in cotton flannel. The pattern is available in this book.

I didn’t get to a couple presents so I plan to keep working and creating throughout January. Hope you had time to pursue some creative pursuits this year.

We are very very excited for the next year. We have some very exciting things happening in the next couple of months. We’ll keep you posted.

Also don’t forget that our CSA is up and running. We are taking reservations for the next year now.


Baby Pigs in the Fall

Wow it has been nearly 2 months since I blogged last. I can tell you the lapse was not intentional but due to a very good summer we have been having. We have been working on balance. We are realizing that life in general, plus raising children and running a business (a farm no less) is really a marathon and so we have to pace ourselves. So this summer we have been focusing on the nuts and bolts of farming, the planting, weeding, harvesting, etc. We have let some other things go so that we can take what time we have left and spend enjoying our children.

Avril is joining her brother in basketball. So we will have 2 children in basketball this fall. And we volunteered to be the coach and assistant coach (I am the assistant) for Avril’s team. Of all the things I thought I might be, a basketball coach was not one of them.

Another thing I never thought I would be was a pig farmer. But this last weekend our two girls, Elsa and Anna gave us baby pigs. I wrote about when they came to our farm here. Unfortunately it did not go as good as it could and we are still learning on the curve, but we are very happy with our babies. Elsa had a couple breech births. We thought for sure all the other babies would be dead but she surprised us with a live baby, 56 hours after going into labor!. Anna did fine and is a champ. Elsa is recovering nicely and enjoying her one live baby. I am so happy she had one to help her in the recovery process.

Here is a picture of her little sweety


We are now settling into a fall schedule, though September is always super busy as we start school, continue to farm and finish projects before the snow flies. Hope you have a great September.

Open House Recap

I am not very good at throwing parties. But thanks to some very special friends who enjoy party planning (Rose and Mara) plus my children who threw in some ideas of their own, this years open house was a great success. The weather was beautiful and the company glorious. And special thanks to my parents who came early to help with last minute preparations.


When we were cleaning the feed sacks out of the barn in preparation for the party Avril came up with the idea of a sack race. As the children were racing one guest said, “Oh look there is actual dust coming out of the sacks.” Oh my, not exactly dust, more like remnants of the feed. Life on a farm.




No Doeun family event would be complete without a basketball game or some variation. Here the children have a shooting contest. Notice Miracle, our pet goat that lived in our house for awhile roaming, in the bottom left. The only bad part was when she decided to try some of the buffet and we had to throw away some food, and she got sent back to the barn and had to be monitored for a couple days to make sure she didn’t get sick.




The dogs don’t normally get to be at parties, but Hiro certainly loved the attention.





The animals were a big hit, here is Miracle’s son from this year.




The one area I didn’t get cleaned, but where we are keeping the chicks, so a popular spot none the less.




There was also tours, a scavenger hunt and face painting. So much fun for the day. Hope you can make it out next year.