JAM packed Saturday!

Miss K was supposed to have a soccer tournament today, but with most of the fields still saturated the tourney was called off. So we decided to head up to Minnesota Fresh Farm, and handpick strawberries. Neither me or my daughter had ever picked berries before today, and it was on my goals to continue to fill up her memory bucket! After we take home our haul and make jam we’re headed out to the Minnesota Zoo with Jason’s brother Jeremiah and his girlfriend Amillie for a fun filled family day!

(Scroll down for all the pic’s)

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Woke up early and headed to the farm up the road! We’re going to make homemade jam today before we head out to the zoo!

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Me and my girl being strawberry pickers! We were the first ones to pick this year! (They don’t open for appointments until tomorrow, but they let us sneak in! ~ Thank You!)

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Working on getting lots of berries for homemade freezer jam!

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Look at that load! We have lots for jam and plenty to spare for a chicken strawberry salad tomorrow on Arugula and Kale!

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Destemed, slicked and now time to mash mash mash!

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Starting to look like jelly, or the beginning of strawberry wine!

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Time to stir in the sugar and pectin!

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And finally scoop all of that into jars. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pop them into the freezer! Easy as… JAM!

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Mowing the Lawn

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For the record… this photo is not me! I have a gasoline push mower, and technically a rider although it needs new tires.  Just this week I did push my mower in a polka-dot dress and cowboy boots, so its not that far fetched that this could be me, but I digress.

This has absolutely got to be my favorite thing to do, and no… I’m not even kidding! When I mow the lawn I am completely alone with my thoughts, and it allows me time for the best thinking! I think about faith, politics, relationships, and anything really that is on my mind. For some people its running, or biking, but for me… its mowing the lawn. Although I am technically ” a runner”  I now rarely run, and prefer gardening, yard work and “farming” tasks to running.

Just this past week I had to digest the fact that one of my favorite co-workers is leaving to pursue other dreams, and that one of my closest neighbors is facing yet another family tragedy. I am normally quick to react but lately I have been taking time to digest certain events, and that time is during my weekly to bi-weekly lawn mowings is so precious to my soul!

I never understood runners and their “I need to run to think” shpleel that they quote off all the time, and perhaps that’s just because I am an irregular runner, or perhaps its because I can hardly breathe when I’m running, and all I can think about is, “How much longer do I have left to run?”, or “I hate this song why is it on my “favorite running playlist?” or “My side aches”… Not to say that I don’t run, or don’t like it sometimes, but with mowing, its different. I can think, and think and think!

But now I understand them! It is my time alone with God. I lean into this time like I need air to breathe. I know some people “get by” without God, but I honestly don’t know how. I’m sorry if i’ve offended half of my followers, but I just don’t understand how anybody gets through life without Him?

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Exodus 15:2

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

1 Chronicles 16:11

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

What is your “running” or “biking” or “mowing the lawn? Where do you retire from the business of life and spend time with God?

After a good session alone with my thoughts I feel like I am ready to tackle anything set before me, handle any circumstance, or be the friend that a loved one needs me to be… so what is it for you? For me…. its mowing.

 

Minnesota – Week 24

Welcome to the start of summer! You’d hardly even know that it was summer instead of late September by the wet and rainy weather we’ve been having, but I can’t complain too much, we’ve hardly had to turn on our wall unit air-conditioner, so its all relative I suppose. Today was actually very hot and muggy though. Here’s what’s new with us!

Chicks

The chicks have finally gone to roost in their new home, and it couldn’t have come a moment sooner. They now have many of their real feathers and have lost a lot of their down. They are approximately three weeks now and are on a grower ration of food. (Not medicated)  Today one even flew the coop when I was changing their water in the brooder, so it was definitely time to move to their new digs. They now have a lot of space to roam around in, and I think my husband can’t be happier that the project is done and now he can actually enjoy his evenings. I love him so much for it. The chicks are very happy too!

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We have our eye on you Sadie!

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Enjoying their new home and french window.

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Checking outside! They really love it outside.

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Staredown between Sadie & Naomi

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Looking to get snuggly for the night.

Family

We are all doing great. Little miss is nearly done with school, and I can hardly believe she will be done with kindergarten! Where did the time go? I’m learning as I get older and as my child gets older the time just FLIES. She is now reading level 2 and 3 books, can count to 100 and can add and subtract. She of course learned many other things throughout the year but these were the highlights. Now we get six weeks off until 1st grade! I will post more after her last day.

Soccer

This summer we (little Miss) is playing soccer, and its been going fairly well. She is still very distracted, but what can you expect from a six year old that has never played before? K is more interested in making friends on the field on both teams than kicking the ball, but at least she is having fun. The coach has only scheduled one practice so far, and its quite evident that the other teams have scheduled more practices. The team we played today had a Nazi coach that yelled the entire game. not in a mean way, but very “Dance Moms(esque)”. Click on the link… I’m not even kidding that’s how the other team’s coach yelled the entire game! It was kind of wild. I doubt she was “on crack” though…

That’s all for this week. I hope everyone is having an awesome week!

The incident on the highway today….

So… I am notoriously terrified of spiders. Terrified isn’t even the right word…

A few years ago I jumped out of my vehicle because there was a spider in it (forgot to put it in park and had to run after it… )

Well today me and the little miss are running some errands, and I’m at a stop light waiting to get on the highway.  She says, “Mom, there’s something above you”, so I look outside the windshield and I see nothing. Right as the light turns green I look literally above me at the sky light/moon roof where to my absolute horror I see a GINORMOUS jumping spider inside my car hanging out on my moon roof and advancing towards me. (p.s. I can’t believe I googled that picture…) You know the black real real fat juicy ultra fuzzy hairy ones with white or red dots on it?!! I mean it was basically a miniature tarantula!

Quickly, as I press the gas pedal, while making a left hand turn… I grabbed my waterbottle with my right hand, held it upside down in hopes that I will have killed the sucker, or at least hold it untilI can pull over… Well the water bottle was NOT closed, and had water in it so here I am dumping water all over myself while screaming, while Kiki is screaming, “Mommy mommy kill it… get it out…”  I pull over as soon as I can after I merge which was a feat all in itself, throw my car in park with my left hand (because remember my right hand is holding said water bottle on the moon roof while getting drenched… ) and throw my hazards on…

I get out of my car after making sure we were in a safe location (while still holding the water bottle) and climb up on to my door deck (?) to peer through the moon roof to see if the spider is dead… nope… I was making eye contact with oncoming traffic willing someone to pull over to kill it for me, but to no avail, nobody pulled over.

After about 5 minutes it does jump on the bottom of the water bottle (so no longer on the moon roof)… so on the count of three I grab the water bottle and as fast as I can move the water bottle and  set down on Hwy 65, and watch the spider run away. I hope you get run over by myriad cars sucker!

Minnesota Week 23 – Lessons from the “farm”

Up here in “Not Quite Hinterland” Minnesota we’ve been taking some lessons from “The Farm”.
Clarification – NO… in case you’re wondering I did not move to a farm, although I think that would be totally rad, and some of my co-workers might argue that I DON’T live on a farm….! The neighbors behind me do “farm hay” and drive a tractor, but no the extent of my farming is my new and improved vegetable garden, and my chicken coop!

This past week we both celebrated life, and death.

As you know (by my late post) we got chicks on Thursday night, and on Sunday… they were all dead… Our four day old pullets were attacked by our Jack Russell Terrier when she was able to get into the garage and get into the brooder. She killed all of them. Like a good mom I wanted to pull the old “gold fish” trick on my kid… you know the one where before your child even knows that the gold fish has died you’ve already gone and bought another one… I headed up to Runnings which is just like Fleet Farm only more “country” if you can imagine that… and got five new chicks. Afterall my husband had already started on the coop and was more than half way done! As they saying goes, “Have coop – will chicken”. I actually made that up, but why are you even surprised? We got three ISA Brown/Gold Stars, and two Black Australorp’s.

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From left to right Nathalie (black), Ruth, Lexie (black), Naomi and Hope.

 

Once I got home my daughter ran into the garage and promptly announced, “Mom, they’ve already turned black!”…. I couldn’t hold the truth from her any longer and we had a discussion about the circle of life, and how Jack Russell Terriers are very naughty and are never to be trusted! We have our eye on you Sadie!

It took me several days to name the new chicks, but I think we’re set. The two Black Australorp’s are: Nathalie (K loves the name) and Lexie… and our ISA Brown’s are: Ruth, Naomi and Hope. Now yes of course I could have just “reused” the names, but it felt so wrong since already in four days I had become so attached to them. I know… and I kill chickens in August for meat, but this is sooo very different! Besides the broilers are never ever “cute”.

Here’s our Coop

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Roosting bar and french windows for natural light

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Nesting Boxes

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Roosting branches made of real branches

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Coop and Run. They will be able to wander the backyard however when we’re home.

Summer:
Our daughter K is having a lot of fun so far this summer. Most of her friends are all done with school now, so its so hard to tell little miss that bedtime is still a priority! Two more weeks and she is DONE!

So far her and her group of friends from the neighborhood, and there are about 5-6 of them in total are total buddies, and have a little gang when they’re all hanging out which is rather cute. Just the other day I told little miss she could run out but she said, “ma… I don’t have shoes” and I said, “Girl… you just go barefoot! Its summer!” She was so excited that she got to run around the neighborhood and outside barefoot! Just watch… this weekend I’m even going to let her drink from the hose!

Really though… I want her to have a totally carefree summer. Free from rules and regulations and overly busy schedules! We are going to be total hipsters and fly by the seat of our pants. Its a lesson from the “farm”… take life how it is, because life is too short!

Minnesota – Week 22

This is a chicken farm…. and we’re the chickens!

 

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I am so excited about this post! After weeks months of planning we finally have our chicken operation up and running! We finally got our chickens in. After pouring over several articles from Pinterest, and other websites we chose the Isa Browns/Red Stars which are very friendly/docile mega egg layers, and are supposed to do very well over the winter months continuing to lay the eggs. Now I realize that our family of seven just went to a family of 12, but our chicks whom we’ve named Beatrice, Anita, Ginger, Natalie and Babs will give us something nobody else is… FOOD! These will JUST be for eggs, and companionship of course. Our meat chicks are being raised by our friends who have more acreage.

Beatrice, Anita, Ginger Natalie and Babs arrived to the Elk River post office just this morning and our friend Phil was kind enough to pick them up. We drove over to their house tonight to get them and bring them home. They went peep peep peep the whole way home!

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Beatrice, Anita, Ginger Natalie and Babs – Day old Pullets

Currently they’re all huddled around the lamp taking a nap. They’ve had a very long day of hatching and travel from Iowa at Hoover’s Hatchery.

(I just went and checked on them, and they’ve woken up! They’re currently chasing the little mosquitos that have gotten in the brooder and are happily feasting on little bugs and their food of course!)

To start with we just got our basic brooding supplies as they will live in the brooder for the first several weeks anyways.

Supplies we needed:
Like I said, to start off with – we just needed the very basics, so we got the following:

* Brooder Box
* Heat Lamp – I had a 60w bulb, but it didn’t feel very warm so I switched to a 100w.
I will check it before I go to bed and in the morning.
* Water Container
* Food Container
* Large pine shavings
* Thermometer (I still have yet to get – apparently 100 degrees is the magic number)
* Feed

Eventually they will have to move into the coop, but we’re undecided about building one from scratch or getting the 1/2 built ones from Fleet Farm. We’ll probably build our own, and I really want Jason to build this one, although I really like this style too!!!! Eh- we’ve got time.

Farmers Market

Pam, Maggie & I all headed down to the Minneapolis Farmers Market last weekend to get our plants. I got Cilantro, Basil, Celery, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Asparagus, Jalapanos, Habeneros, and a tomato plant. I have already harvested some of the basil and it tastes divine!

Yard Work

We’ve (and by we’ve I really mean Jason) have been hitting it hard in the backyard! Jason built a pavers ring around our firepit in the back, and has been working on some retaining walls. Soon he will bring home a dump truck of wood chips to fill in the blanks! Once semi complete I will take some pictures.

New favorite wines

I have had a love – hate – love relationship with Pinot Noir. As many red wine drinkers can attest this “gateway to reds” wine is a favorite among many novice drinkers. After trying much heavier, bolder, drier wine I began to HATE pinot Noir, but recently I have had a few amazing ones!
> Erath
> redtree (thanks to my dear friend who got this for me… yes it is VERY drinkable)

My favorite wine to date has got to be Summers Charbono! It is absolutely spectacular and VERY much worth the $25 price tag. I also very much love the Reserve Bonpas Chateauneuf du Pape, but at $40 a bottle, its a “treat”. Currently however Bota Box is on sale at the liquor store for $14.99 so this girl has been drinking plenty of that! By the end of summer I really want to try Chateau Montelena’s famous Chardonnay!