It has been such a dream to work on the farm lately. The weather has been absolutely perfect for working and enjoying it and this is the time of year when all the months of hard work really pays off with some of our family’s favorites.
The watermelons are sugar babies and great. They are just the right size for our family for one meal. The corn was one my mother recommended–sugar pearl and is a succulent white sweet corn. You don’t normally see all white sweet corn but it is great if you ever get the opportunity to try it.
With corn on our dinner plates now it really does seem like fall. in just over a week
This weekend our 2nd fruit order came in from farmers friends of ours in Washington. It has been a busy crazy weekend with lots of hard work but fun to. That’s one thing I love about farming–learning to love hard work.
Sorry Steve didn’t make it in the picture! Anyway thanks again to everyone! Thanks mom and dad, Sambath and Tim and Trinity.
This weekend we discovered a real treat and resource, University of Minnesota Extension classes. Our local extension has a particularly good teacher and advocate for small scale, family run agriculture–Wayne Martin. This weekend’s class was on “Getting Started with Broilers (chickens for meat)” and was held at UMore Park.
Another really rare opportunity came when my parents agreed to watch our 3 older children so we were able to attend and learn together.
This is the U’s second batch of 100 Rock Cross Broiler chicks. These birds are bred to reach market weight in 6-9 weeks and are the meat standards across the country.
Last year Wayne, in the background, kept his chickens in moveable pens like this one which he designed to be relatively inexpensive to build and easy to move. But with this year’s extremely wet conditions he worried about the chickens on pasture and so decided to keep them penned this year.
We are eagerly gathering information and dreaming of the time when we will have enough land to grow our own chickens. Ray from L and R Poultry and Produce shared her experiece raising 1,000 broilers a year on her farm in Kenyon. She said she had read recently that chicken has now surpased beef in the barbeque meat of choice in the U.S.
The information that we found most valuable however was about freedom ranger chickens that were bred to be good foragers and live on pasture in small homesteads. They take a bit longer to mature (12 weeks) but the flavor and nutrition is supposed to make it well worth it. We especially like that they come from a small, family owned hatchery in Pennsylvania Freedom Ranger Hatchery. Kendall and Ginger Fox have 5 beautiful children and a growing ag business. We love supporting other ag dreamers.
Hopefully in the next couple of years we will have our own chickens to offer our customers.
One of Sophia Loren’s beauty secrets was getting enough sleep. She recommended going to sleep before midnight every night, even advocating a 9:00 bedtime–not an easy thing to do for a Hollywood starlight in the golden age but she made it work.
For moms it also can be really difficult, but I try. We are now over 1/2 way through our growing season and the fall weather is making us feel extra sleepy. The light is different, the mornings and evenings are supper cool and you just want to stay in bed all day. For the children and I we have brought back the afternoon naps–so nice. So at 1:00 (or as close to it asn we can get) we have story time (read by me) followed by a story on CD for the older children while I, Mavis and Effie take a much needed nap. Sometimes the older children fall asleep before their story is done but just having that quiet is so nice. This is my secret for running an organic farm and CSA, raising 4 children, keeping a home in order, writing on the side and staying sane. You can also bring a book to bed and read while the children nap. Allowing myself this quiet time every day is so great. Proeun has even gotten into and looks forward to the weekends when he can join us.
This weekend we had a wonderful trip planned. I had been looking forward to it since I first got the invitation back in June. See my cousin Dana had recently married in Michigan and there was going to be a Minnesota reception for him and his new wife. This special event was combined with a landmark event–the 60th wedding anniversary of my grandma’s sister Betty and her husband (my grandparents will have been married for 63 years this year!). Or as Avril would put it, “grandma’s sister’s graduation for 20,000 years.”
See Proeun and I are really big on family, not because family is perfect but because it’s so fun. So this was an opportunity to see family I hadn’t see in forever.
This was especially meaningful to me since I now have my own family. Many of the family hadn’t met my youngest children and some hadn’t met my husband. So now we had the opportunity to get caught up. Such a blessing! I kept hearing “I didn’t know you had so many children” and “you’ve been busy since I saw you last.”
I talked my grandma Betty and we mused about how fast the years pass. See this week Proeun and I will have been married for 8 years. We have changed so much in that time and grown so much and now our dreams are coming true. What a blessing truly.
We looked at farms down there and dreamed a bit more anticipating the next step in our journey that will hopefully bring us a little land of our own.
The highlight of our trip though was seeing my cousin Stacy. We went to high school together and now she has her first child, just 11 days old.
I don’t mean to sound so gushy but I am so thankful for the life and passion we have. As I wrote in our CSA newsletter our work and life is about “slowing things down, honoring our ancestors, enjoying our children, giving back to the land and eating some really good food along the way,” all of which we got to do this weekend.
The mornings are cooler now and the evenings really cool off fast. It’s kind of like in spring when you just know that while it might still be cold summer is just around the corner, well fall is just around the corner and I am so excited.
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Maybe it was the return of school (I loved school as a child) or the cooler weather, or the harvest festivals (fortelling a future as a farmer perhaps) but there is something about fall that means home to me and I love it.
I have been busy preparing my home for fall. After a busy busy summer farming (that isn’t quite over thankfully) our home needed some attention so I have been busy cleaning and culling with a mission to cut back on clutter. Living room is almost done, and the children’s bedroom. Two said he really liked the new room. Not much can be done with the kitchen at this point but a new kitchen island gives us alot more counter space. Still wanting to work on our bedroom and the attic and basement.
Anyway it is pleasant to be home in the fall, I can’t wait for apples, winter squash, bonfires and hayrides–fun. Looks like we might miss the fair this year, unless we want to battle crowds on the weekend, we’ll see.
While this blog is officially about our journey to a more self-sufficient life it is also about our life. This weekend we took a little pit stop on that journey for a little much needed fun and recreation.
First we went to Floodwood (about 1/2 hour west of Cloquet) where our family has some property. This became our base. While we travel there frequently throughout the summer most of those trips were working vacations as there is much work to be done there. This was a vacation vacation and Two requested going to the “big lake you can’t see across.”
Two insisted that the water was “refreshing” but I would describe it as painful so I wasn’t brave enough to get in up past my calves.
Effie didn’t mind though, she kept trying to scoot down into the water. For awhile we let her play at the edge but her little legs were turning red from the cold. She still kept trying to get farther in though so I guess I have a water baby.
There was other shore fun as well.
From there it is only a short trip to Gooseberry falls where there were lots of opportunities to climb. This just happens to be Avril’s favorite thing to do.
And more water play. Yes that is Two in the water fall.
I experimented a bit slowing the shutter speed down on my camera to capture this picture of water flowing.
Two caught a leech. Yes this was a time the leech was trying to get away from the boy. Even though it kept trying to latch on to him he was so pleased to catch it and had to show me his prize. This boy had definitely forced me to get out of my comfort zone as it wouldn’t do for mama to scream and run away after he worked so hard to bring it to me.
When I was in college I went to visit my grandparents in Florida (they are snow birds) for my school’s J-term. While there I saw their resident pair of Sandhill Cranes. The birds are relatively rare so imagine my surprise when last year a pair showed up at the farm.
They are back this year–with a baby. They are often around in the early mornings, especially on the weekends when there is not a whole lot of activity going on. This Sunday I saw them in the caretakers garden.
The baby and other parent were in among the corn. Unfortunately it looks like there is something wrong with one of the baby’s wings, as it doesn’t seem to fold right across it’s back. I am hoping it will resolve itself and haven’t pointed it out to the children who enjoy looking for the cranes whenever them come.
Two likes to sneak up for a closer look. But being a momma myself I know this year that baby could change things a bit with our birds. One day Avril and Two got probably within 15 feet of them before they noticed. I was keeping an eye on them. Good thing I was because while the mom and baby ran one direction the father lowered his head and circled around in the flanking motion. I warned them and they were able to escape without harm. Now we look from a safer distance.