Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Highlights

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had Thanksgiving at our house just the ten of us. My parents, Kurt's parents, Kurt's 93-year-old grandma, Kurt's two brothers, and the three of us. Kurt's older brother has three kids but this year was their mom's turn to have them on Thanksgiving. I did not have too many things to make the morning of, but I did have some dusting and picking up to do. We ate dinner at Noon and that really made the day fly by. Because Kurt and his younger brother went out to milk a little after 1pm, and did not get back in until 3pm. I had to make a list of things I wanted for Christmas because we draw names on Kurt's side. I got his older brother (again). So far I picked up one thing on his list, and I'm having a hard time finding reasonably priced other items. I gotta stay in my price limit! Haha.

I made the chocolate pie from PW and a cranberry relish/salad that was yummy! The chocolate pie is so easy and it's a chocolate lover's dream : )

Friday morning I got up early and headed to Walmart. FYI I'm not a fan of Walmart, but their ad appealed to me the most and I started my Christmas shopping their at 6am. Then I headed to Shopko and my last stop was Target. I was home by 10am which was good because Kurt had to go get his haircut. I bought mostly presents for my daughter and two nieces. I think I'll probably have to go shopping two more times and I will be done.

It has been tradition that we get a Christmas tree and put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Kurt has not even mentioned it and I'm too tired to tackle that this weekend. I still have to put crockpots and the card table away not to mention the four loads of laundry waiting to be folded.

Time to end this, I have to go out and feed my calves and heifers. Shiver, my legs are still cold from when I came in (only about a half an hour ago). Yawn, I am hungry for someone else's cooking. As my husband would say, how dumb is that. You are tired and you want to go somewhere? Um yes, please : )

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My View

I just wanted to check in and let you know what I have been up to. Yesterday my daughter and I had to go to town (15 miles away) to pick up our sliced ham. We stopped at Goodwill, Target, Fleet Farm, and Festival Foods. We had Chinese in between Target and picking up the ham. On our way to Fleet after picking up the ham I could not find my cell phone. Panic...yikes. So I went back to the Chinese restaurant and there it was underneath the table. What the heck. I was happy I found it so quickly.

When we finally got home at 2pm, I was in the kitchen the rest of the night it seemed. I made the ribbon (jello) salad, mashed potatoes, the chocolate pie, and cranberry relish. I messed the potatoes up the first time around. Don't ask, it really frustrated me and was a dumbo mistake.

Now today, I really, reeeeally, REALLY need to clean. This place has not been dusted since...hmm I can not remember. The floors need to be mopped, but seriously we live on a farm. They are never going to loook clean. The entry way is a lost cause. I sweep it twice a day already. Grrr. Today I'm taking my shop vac to it. If you don't have a shop vac you should put that at the top of your Christmas list. I registered for mine on my wedding registry. Serious. I love my shop vac.

Anyway, my shop vac and I are going to get down to some business before those beasts in the barn need to milked again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I have been so busy getting ready for the big day. We are having 10 people for Thanksgiving and I'm starting to stress. Unfortunately that is normal for me, but I feel like I barely have any time to be prepared. I'm going to make this short and sweet.

Monday-(Good) Hot dogs on buns, baked beans, and potato chips

Tuesday-Crockpot beef roast maybe made into sandwiches

Wednesday-Y-I-K-E-S Fend for yourself day...I'm going to be freakin out. I'm guessing we'll have grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Something super simple.
Thursday-Ah yes, I'm not sure what we will have today. Just kidding. Here is the run down-
-Roast turkey and gravy
-Hot ham sandwiches
-Mashed potatoes
-Sage flavored dressing with pork sausage
-Mashed squash
-Sweet corn
-Green beans
-Cranberry jelly from a can : )
-Cranberry relish, I'm still trying to figure out what recipe to use.
-Rolls, my mom is bringing these
-Veggies and dip, my mom is also bringing this
-Cheese, sausage, and crackers (this is a Wisconsin thing it's standard at any get together)
-Pumpkin pie
-My mother-in-law is bringing a rhubarb pie
Friday-Turkey and stuffing casserole or turkey sandwiches
Don't forget to check out other great meal plans over at OrgJunkie

Thursday, November 20, 2008

French Toast with Sausage Bake

This recipe is from Johnsonville and was with one of their coupons for sausages. I'm going to make it tonight or tomorrow, and I'm confident enough that it will be a family favorite. It sounds delicious. I hope your family gives it a try.

French Toast with Sausage Bake
1 pkg breakfast link sausages
12 eggs
1-30 oz can pumpkin pie filling
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
15 slices bread, cubed
Confectioners' sugar
Maple syrup
Cook sausage according to package directions. Cool slightly and cut into 1/4 inch slices. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, pie filling, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. In a very large bowl, combine sausage and bread cubes. Add pumpkin mixture, stir to coat. Transfer to a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 mins or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve with syrup. Enjoy!
Please go check out more great recipes over at Gayle's Recipe Swap

I Got the Bird(s)

Yesterday I finally got away from this place, and headed to (the big) town at 1:30 pm. Now that we are milking three times (5:30 am, 1 pm, and 9 pm), I would like to get my errands done before the second milking or after. I left in the middle, and that was Kurt's fault. I had to pick him up and you know how that goes. I had big plans too. I was going to go to four, count them FOUR grocery stores. That just sounds tiring to me, but I had a plan and coupons in hand. A positive about going yesterday is there's a store that doubles 5 coupons up to a dollar, but only on Wednesdays. I even scored three FREE items and only one was at the store where they doubled.

I bought two turkeys a 25 pounder and a 16 pounder. They were both 48 cents a pound. You can not beat that. My husband made a comment when I told him I bought 41 pounds, but it's not like I have to cook them both in a week. Men, sometimes they don't appreciate a good sale. I really like to stockpile when prices are at rock bottom or near. His issue with that is there is a cost to having inventory. That is understandable coming from a business owner. Thanks to me we do not need to worry about buying laundry or dish soap, shampoo/conditioner, razors, toothpaste, body washes, and over the counter pain relievers for a good year or more.

Enough ranting, have a wonderful day. If you would like me to share what I got on my shopping trips, let me know. I may just share with out even being asked because I love a good deal and sharing the news.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Frozen Tundra

This morning it was 17 degrees and by the time I went in to get my little one on the bus it was 10 degrees. No more shorts, I guess. My husband is a pretty smart man. He got his fall field work done before the ground was frozen. He only had to work from 5:30 am until 10:30pm last night to finish. But it is done. Hurray!

I really need to get to the grocery store. I'm debating wether I should leave now or wait for my girl to get home from school. I feel like I really need a nap. Kurt went out to milk and now here I am. I did not have a nap yesterday...maybe the store can wait until tomorrow. There is just not enough hours in the day lately. I hope I am not the only one who feels like this. Next week it will be holiday stress. I guess I am stressing out this week. We have an appointment each day except for tomorrow. Waaaah I know. I'll get over it.

By the way in the picture, Kurt is discing his oat ground. This other picture is one of my favorites. Just thought I would share it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meal Plan for November 17-23

Monday-Tilapia, baked potatoes, and green beans (This was from last week, but we went out for supper instead)

Tuesday-Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and sweet corn

Wednesday-Taco Casserole

Thursday-French Toast with sausage links (Recipe later this week)

Friday-It's a surprise...Kurt owe's me a date night.

Saturday-Pork chop bake

Sunday-Maybe ham and scalloped potatoes, my daughter has been begging for this.

Friday, November 14, 2008

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

I really need to get my heinie out to the barn to feed and milk the girls because Kurt had a meeting. But I must share this with you!

Kurt and I are struggling now at the end of the year and it has to do with not having enough income. Early this summer we lost a few cows and our low milk production caught up to us. We figured we would be ok when the fall came around because that's when a lot of cows were going to be calving in (21 from Aug to Dec which is a lot for us). Which equals more milk. We had purchased some newer machinery this spring which needs to be paid for by the end of the year along with our seed corn bill. Okay fine. No biggy we should have extra corn to sell to pay for this. Last time we sold a thousand bushel of corn it was $5 a bushel and that was in August.

So meanwhile the corn price is roughly $3.50 a bushel and we needed about $4000 to pay the two debts that were due. The whole time I put trust in the Lord that he will provide and so will my husband. Let God deal with your troubles and trust in him to lead you.

We combined our corn and wouldn't you know it! The yield was down, way down. Like we are not sure we have enough corn to feed the cows through the year. So we'll have to buy corn which is the least of our worries. But now we do not have the extra corn to sell for our seed corn bill and plow purchase and we do have a savings (ugh, that I do not want to touch). Last resort is the savings, but I kept the faith and left my troubles with God.

A couple days ago, our crop insurance adjuster stopped by. We are insured that we will yield X amount and actual yield was below that. We are getting basically enough money back to cover our two bills.

Lesson 1-Give God your troubles and he will bless you!
Lesson 2-Always buy crop insurance no matter how much you dislike paying for it...

Depression-Era Butter

I found this recipe/tip on a message board last summer and have been making it ever since. Note-This butter is not suited for baking needs.

Our ingredients are:
1/2 cup of lukewarm water per stick of butter (1/4 pound)
1 softened stick of butter

I do two sticks of butter at a time and 1 cup of water.

Start by whipping butter with hand mixer or a stand mixer (if you are soooo lucky to have one :p). Slowly pour in a small amount of water. Mix until water is not visible. Repeat the process until you have used all or most of your water. This butter resembles the whipped butter I have seen at restaurants and I do not refrigerate it.

Go visit Gayle for more great recipes!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oprah & Snapfish

Did you catch Oprah yesterday? You can start decluttering your home of your children's artwork by simply taking a digital photo and turning it into a book. Go to and search for Snapfish. You only have until Friday at noon to get in on this almost $30 value. Hurry, scurry, go get that book!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Just Realized

Sorry Anne W. you asked me who pays us for our milk. We belong to a milk cooperative. They act as a broker and send it to the milk plant that will give us the best offer. Some farms belong to a milk plant and they ship their milk directly through the plant. So the milk plants pay our coop and they pay us.

Have you thanked a Veteran today? My grandpa passed away six years ago today and he was a veteran. Today is the day I remember him and think about him throughout my day. Thank you veterans past and present!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Meal Plan November 10-14

This is my first meal plan. Please bare with me!

Monday-Leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday-Whatever we want! Kurt has a meeting.

Wednesday-HHCs AKA hot ham and cheese, grilled to be exact.

Thursday-Hamburgers, tator tots, and green beans.

Friday-Baked tilapia, oven fries, and more green beans.

Breakfasts will be-eggs, hashbrowns, toast, cinnamon toast, waffles (with cheese on the side--it's great with extra syrup), pancakes, or cereal.

Lunches will be-frozen pizza, leftovers, or something creative with leftovers : )

Check for more meal plans here

Milk Money

Question-How often do dairy farmers get paid?

Answer-We are paid twice a month. On the 17th of the month, we receive the remainder of the previous month's milk payment. Then on the 26th of the month which is called the advance because we receive the first half of that month's milk payment.

Question-What expenses are there for dairy farmers?

Answer-Too many! Ha! I have to do bookwork because our accountant is coming Tuesday so this is perfect. Hopefully I won't miss any and if they need any explanation let me know.
1. Feed-from feedmill or other producers
2. Fertilizer, Seed, and Chemical
3. Land/Building Rent/Mortage
4. Operating Loan
5. Artificial Inseminator (breeder) and bull semen
6. Utilities-electric, phones, heat
7. Fuel--we order 200 gallons of diesel at a time which is not that large of an amount
8. Rodent/Pest Control
9. Association Fees/Dues
10. Milk Testing
11. Veterinary-this fluctuates
12. Tractor Loan
13. Machinery Repair
14. Milking supplies (wipes, teat dip, milkhouse detergents and acid)
15. Bedding (we buy four semi loads of shavings a year)
16. Grain harvesting and drying
17. Hoof Trimming
18. Life, Health, Personal Property, Farm & Ranch, Crop, and Vehicle Insurance
19. Crop Planner
20. General upkeep of barn and milkhouse equipment
21. Milk hauling and marketing
22. Credit Card bills-yuck
23. Accountant
24. Labor-Me. Ha ha! I'm cheap.

The Third Milking

Kurt just headed out to milk the third milking. God love him! We are now a week into milking three times a day and it takes a toll on our bodies and mind. Kurt has been milking the mid-day milking with me which is really nice of him. He could be napping, but he helps me instead. Since the most sleep you get at night is six hours, we try to take a nap throughout the day. I did not have one today, but I mostly care if Kurt is able to take a nap. You have to take care of your body or you'll run yourself ragged.

Speaking of ragged, I volunteered to have Thanksgiving at our house. Kind of makes sense that everyone comes to us. Then we will have more time to visit. Kurt already said he would go out and milk at 1pm for me. I know all I talk about is milk, milk, milk. Blah, blah, blah. Our lives revolve around milking. Looking back (eight days ago), milking twice a day is a picnic. This three times a day business is work. Plus the girls are getting used to being milked every eight hours versus 12 hours. Hopefully there is less pressure build up. Observe Krunch, on the left and Doreen's udders are rather "full" looking. Ouch! Have no fear, Kurt's coming to the rescue.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Your Cab is Waiting

My friend Liz sent this to me the other day and I thought I would share it here.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. 'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated'. 'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown? ''It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly. 'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice. I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. I don't have any family left she continued. The doctor says I don't have very long. I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. What route would you like me to take? I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, I'm tired. Let's go now.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. How much do I owe you? she asked, reaching into her purse. Nothing I said You have to make a living she answered. There are other passengers I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. You gave an old woman a little moment of joy, she said. Thank you. I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.

Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Crockpot Beef Roast

Gayle at the Grocery Cart Challenge is having her weekly recipe swap. This week instead of watching from the sidelines I decided to jump in with a recipe for beef roast. I especially like this recipe because you could have the toughest cut of meat and it would still turn out great.
Crockpot Beef Roast
2-4 pound beef roast
1 envelope of onion soup mix
1 pint of dill pickles
Sprinkle soup mix over beef roast. Pour pickles and juice over roast. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for as long as you like. Meat is super tender and is great for sandwhiches or with mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

My Day

Here is what greets me in the morning. The cows are actually outside overnight. We get up and out to the barn by 5am or sooner. On a normal day we are out of the barn by 8 or 9 am. Then breakfast and free time. Free time does not happen a lot and for me it usually is my time to do household chores.

Now that we are milking three times a day, we are back out to the barn at 12pm. We feed the cows and bring them back in the barn to be milked again. We are back out of the barn by 2 or 3pm depending on any extra things we do. Back in the house then to eat lunch if we haven't already. Kurt likes to watch MSNBC and I like to come checkout other's blogs. Our daughter gets off the bus just after 3pm and she loves to play boardgames or watch Nick. When she gets home, this is usually when I run to the post office, grocery store, or other errands. Then it's back out to the barn at 5pm. Kurt feeds the cows in the barn for their third feeding and runs the feed wagon with haylage for bred heifers.

I feed my calves and other heifers. Kurt and our daughter also feed calves. I also fill up our feed room pails and set up the milkhouse so Kurt can start milking ASAP. We are only outside for an hour and then we come in for supper. This is Kurt's downtime until 9pm when he goes out to milk again. He usually falls asleep while watching MSNBC.

By the time Kurt goes out, I am so rung out. I basically fall asleep on the couch. Last night I was so out of it by the time he came in. He said he had been in for 30 minutes already and I woke up and said, "Boy, you're fast." He just laughed at me and I fell back asleep. At midnight, we finally went to bed. Then we start it back up again at 5 am.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What a Week

We were very busy this week. We had a cow that needed surgery. She had a DA (displaced abomasum-part of her stomach or called a twisted stomach) and the vet came out Tuesday and she's doing well. The hoof trimmer was here Wednesday afternoon. Thursday the combine came and did our corn. The three wagons and our two wagons are still parked outside though. I think Kurt said he'd take them back tomorrow or Monday. One of our cows, Mariah had a set of twins. A bull and a heifer. We will sell both of them in a couple of weeks when they are bigger. Typically a heifer born with a bull is a free martin meaning she does not have the female parts to become pregnant.

Yesterday we had to hurry up with chores because we needed to meet my mom at 10:30 to get my daughter. My parents were on their way up north to the cabin. They picked me up a 50 pound bag of potatoes last time they were on their way up there for $10. The last couple of years the price has been $6 or $7. I totally understand the increase. I just wish we could charge the milk pant the price we would like too.

We headed to town after we picked up the Maam (that's what Kurt calls her and he said he picked that up from me...I don't think so). I was soooo hungry for Chinese food but Kurt suggested Pizza Hut. Yuck, I like it but not today. I had pizza twice that week as it was. No more!! That's were we ended up though. We picked up a cartful of farm stuff at Fleet Farm first. Then after lunch went to Festival Foods to pick up sale items.

We were so beat by the time we got home and it was only 2pm. I was kind of grouchy and so was Kurt. By 4pm I headed out with the Maam trick-or-treating with some errands along the way. At the first stop, which was across the road I ordered 20 pounds of mixed fruit from the FFA. That will make up a Christmas present for Kurt's 93-year-old Grandma. We only went to a few houses, but her pumpkin was packed full. Forgot to mention my mom sent us home with homeade caramel apples.

I better get at some housework. Kurt and his dad are painting the milkhouse. Tomorrow is the big day when we go to three times a day milking. Just talking about it makes me yawn. Hopefully the money will start rolling in with all the milk we will be shipping.