Category Archives: CSA

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.


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.

DSC_1278[1] DSC_1273[1]

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.



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.


The Season Ends in Art

Last week we delivered our last box of the season. All in all it was a great season, with amazing weather and good growing conditions. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed farming this year. But there is still a beauty in passing to a new season. Yesterday instead of harvesting and packing boxes we ate soup, napped and watched a movie in the afternoon.

On Saturday we had a great time at a baby shower for Proeun’s little sister. So great to see the family growing! we also went to the city early so that Proeun could go a class for his work and I could help with the cooking. We did have a little time to kill so we went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. We had been wanting to go for quite awhile. It is so fun to see kids react to art.


Effie and Pray loved this exhibit. Effie was convinced it was space. I am not so sure. She would have sat there staring at it for a long time. Two was not amused by their interest.



The kids were confused by this exhibit. “A kitchen is art?” But it was in the modernist section. I loved it. I am all about space saving solutions. Art well lived.



This was a modern piece by an artist I know. I did several interviews of Cy Thao and followed his work in my other life as a writer for Hmong Times. Many of the refugee experiences of the Hmong are similar to the experiences of Proeun’s family. This piece depicts their transition from rural jungle to U.S.

We still have alot of projects around here and are already excited about next year’s season. But these cooler days are a nice excuse to pursue other interests.


Timber Harvest

I love trees. One of my childhood homes had a border of woods. I loved those woods even though I didn’t often venture very far into them. My next home had no trees. It had been a farmer’s field before it was subdivided into suburban lots. My first home with Proeun (a rental) again had a border of trees around a pond. Right outside our bedroom window was a willow. That is what I remember most about that home.

So when Proeun and I were looking for a farm I hoped it would have woods–real woods not just a few trees planted around the house. Well we were blessed beyond belief and have 15 acres of woods. However they were not very healthy. We have a tremendous amount of buckthorn that really keeps us from getting into the thick of the woods.

A few weeks ago I saw an ad in the paper targeting woodland owners. We knew we had some dead trees, some fence lines that needed clearing and dreams of a new barn that would have insulation and electricity so it would be more comfortable for animals to birth, even in the winter. But all we had was a wall of trees.

Then Precision Tree and Landscape came into our lives. Steve was amazing. From the first time he came to the farm and gently corrected me when I called him, “the tree guy,” (he is in fact a forester) to his ongoing help through the project, we have been so happy with the company. We still miss our trees but know it is much healthier and usable this way.

And it did take some getting used to though, having those huge machines around. Chris actually did our cutting. He was another top notch guy and really great to work with.


Chris and his machine.



The machine getting ready to cut a problem tree.



Loading into the chipper.



Chipper loading the semi.

We found out that alot of the moisture problems (and hence sick animals) have been because not enough air was moving around the barn. Now the pig pen actually dries up! and hopefully we won’t have as much condensation from the roof dripping on animals inside the barn.

So we now have a beautiful property that is accessible via trails into the woods and an area cleared for a future barn but we also will get a little income. Not alot but we didn’t have to pay for it and Proeun didn’t have to spend months doing it by hand.

Now I guess goats are great for controlling buckthorn. Luckily we have those, including three babies left from this year. Now the children are happy that we are happy the goats are contributing to the farm in a way no other animal can.

Oh and Pray loved seeing all those big machines around.

Relics at the Threshing Show

A friend of my recently posted this article about a couple that has chosen to live in the past–in the Victorian era to be exact. I must admit that there was a point in my life where I could see me doing this. In fact my first job was as a “historical interpreter” at Historic Fort Snelling. I have come to realize that there is no ideal time, though some will try to idealize a “simpler by gone time.” I am aware of the fact that my marriage could not, would not have existed 100 years ago. My husband’s family would have stayed in Cambodia, I in Minnesota and our children would not have existed.

However I do still love history. I love working with my hands, creating things, or restoring things and simplifying life. Apparently there is a family close to us that also has this passion. Every year for the first weekend after Labor Day we would see the signs for Andersons Rock Creek Relics Threshing Show. We have always allowed our own duties on the farm to keep us from going, but since our goal this year is balance, we knew we had to take time to do some of these fun events.

So on Sunday, right after chores we headed over to the Andersons. It was truly an amazing experience. The family has for the past 4 generations been building and restoring antique farm equipment, plus the buildings to house them is. There is a replica cabin, black smith shop and more.



Here they give a demo of threshing. I had to take 2 pictures to try and get the whole production but basically there was a big belt going from one tractor to the thresher. Then there was a person standing on the pile of bundled wheat and pitching it on to the thresher. On a personal note I was sharing with my grandparents about the threshing show and grandpa said, “your grandma’s job was cooking for the threshers when they came.” Wow what a piece of family history, now I have an idea what that actually looked like.



The children learn about phones that needed operators to function.




An old style generator.




Corn shucker.



The barns were full of equipment that had been rebuilt. I liked the name on this manure spreader. We have a spreader that was made by a company in Canada. It was nice to compare.




The children learn about when water came from a pump.



Then there was the corn maze, a hit to be sure. It was a great weekend, and a new tradition was made. Now I am inspired to incorporate history more into our lives. I do love our technology, but there is something about doing things thoughtfully and by hand that produces more then just a tangible product.

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.

Midsummer News

I have often said that the summer is so fleeting it seems that by the 4th of July the summer is virtually over. So this year we are really trying to hang on and enjoy as much as possible. But I wanted to spend some time sharing with you what is going on around our farm. First off we are having a bumper crop of basil! Silly news I know but we are having fun figuring out new ways to cook with basil.

2nd our helpers are getting bigger and having more fun around the farm.


Pray was our first child born on the farm. He is definitely a farm boy and he knows how it works to! Here he puts on my work gloves and heads to the barn. Notice the not matching boots. Nothing else matters when it is chore time.


He loves the animals and it appears that Donkey is his favorite. Funny how Donkey seems to know to be extra careful with his little friend. And I dare say Donkey loves the attention (yes his name is Donkey).


We also have decided that since building a farm (and life in general) is a marathon we should take breaks when we can. For the children the simple act of going to the north shore (of Lake Superior) and throwing rocks is enough to reset them. Here we are at Tettegouche State Park. We hadn’t been there since we only had one child, so it was a fun and memorable outing.


More rock throwing.



Then we went to canal park in Duluth to rent a bicycle for a family bike trip. Loads of laughs there, but mommy and daddy’s legs were definitely burning when we were down. Oh and we actually got to see a ship come into the harbor. Mr. Pray is all about anything mechanical and big, so he was pretty impressed.

This week is the county fair so even more fun is around the corner and I will try to update you on that. But until then enjoy your summer!



A week of planting

Right after our open house we started a week of planting. Up here it is definitely best to wait till after Memorial day to plant outside, but this year we had a night of 34 degrees even after Memorial Day, not quite frost but pretty cold none the less.

Since we are a small, family run farm it takes time to get our systems set up.  Systems are things that make farming easier but often have an initial expense, so we have to work slowly. This year we invested in a plastic mulch layer. Plastic mulch is used for weed control, to heat up the soil, and retain moisture. In the past we have laid the mulch by hand and it would normally take us days (literally all day days) to lay a fraction of what we did with our tractor in a couple hours–see what I mean about making things easier?






Proud helpers.






Admiring the view.




On the way to plant.





Pray loves planting. We just had to make sure the plants actually made it into the ground.




Under the plastic mulch is drip tape that will be hooked up to a large hose that will be hooked up to this water storage container. It is a gravity fed system. The kids don’t care, to them it is a jungle gym.

We are now in the heavy duty prep time for our CSA. If you are interested in joining we still have some slots available. More information is available here.