Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pets and Livestock

I grew up on a farm.  But now, being a parent, I realize how much my kids see and learn.  Most of the time, these are great experiences.  But the process of life and death, is a hard one. 

This past week, we had a calf that wasn’t going to make it.  This calf had a lot of issues that neither we nor our vet could help with.  Sometimes, the difficult choice has to be made on whether or not to put them out of their own misery.  On the farm, those decisions have to be made. Wyatt asked a lot of questions about why we had to put him down.  Why we couldn’t just ‘give him a shot’ to make it all better.  That same day, our indoor cat, Sandie, had to go to vet because he was sick.  More questions came. 

Livestock and pets are different on the farm.  They are the same in the aspect that we feed them, we try our best to keep them healthy, we try to keep them comfortable, we try to keep them pain free.  But, our livestock’s lives are meant to be different than our pets.  They are not meant to be long term.  They are not meant to be companions. They are here to feed us.

Simply put, we feel sad when any animal on the farm dies.  As I get older, it seems to hit me harder. I believe it is my kids sadness that I am taking on, too.

Our cat of 8 1/2 years, Sandie, got sick.  We took him to the vet, and unfortunately, the vet couldn’t help him.  He died on his own, and it was no decision of anyone's, but we tried to save him.  The house is now lonely when AJ is out late working and the kids are in bed.  I will miss my Sandie dearly.  Thank you for being a friend. 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Spring to Summer to Fall

Fall is officially here and I haven’t updated the blog since school got out! 
The reason for the hiatus?  I was overwhelmed.  I was overwhelmed looking at social media and realizing that there is a lot of work to do when it comes to educating about how I ‘conventionally’ grow our crops and livestock.  PLEASE, if you have questions about how your food is grown, ask!  I’d be happy to talk about it!  I also wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on the summer for my children.  I LOVED summers as a kid, and it is my duty to make sure they enjoy it, too! 
Over the summer the kids were home with me on Friday-Monday.  This allowed me to work Tuesday-Thursday, and enjoy summer Friday-Monday.  We made it to the pool a lot!  They are old enough now that they play by themselves and with other friends, so it’s almost relaxing for me (except for the worry of drowning part, that is not so relaxing)!  We also spent a lot of time with friends.  This group of ours is awesome.  I’m not sure how I get so lucky in each phase of my life to find good hearted, honest, fun people! 
The summer went out with a bang.  AJ ended up breaking his kneecap in an ‘on-farm’ injury.  He was working on a cattle gate when it fell on him, throwing him to the cement floor, and shattering his kneecap.  He was lucky enough to only come away with a broken kneecap, 6 staples in his head, and some scratches.  I know this may not sound lucky, but in all the accidents that can happen around here, I’m thankful this was all we have to deal with.  The accident happened August 15th (Wyatt’s 6th Birthday Party), surgery August 16th, a cast until September 16th, and now a knee brace until the doctor allows him out of it. 

Cast #1
Cast #3
His new friend 'the brace'  He no longer uses the crutch either!
 While he was in his super-fun full leg cast, my in-laws took over with the out-of-doors farm stuff.  I’m thankful they were around!  The Monday after AJ’s accident, 7 loads of cattle were sent off to market.  All loaded by my in-laws.  Then, within the 4 weeks of AJ being laid up, they loaded around 10 trucks of hogs to go to market (I got in on a few of these…).  They also took care of the cattle at the pasture, made some upgrades to our cattle barn, and a lot more. 
As a farm wife, help is often needed.  Especially when the ‘farmer’ gets into an accident.  Neighbors, friends, and family are very necessary on the farm.  There was a lot of help offered to us.  Thanks to you all.  It is a big reminder of how far a little help can go! 
AJ was a great patient, too.  He really didn’t give me a hard time.  He actually did a lot of laundry folding to help out!  I may request that he keep that job.   
The kids loved helping when they could.  They were great at putting the pillows where he needed them and Wyatt even learned how to make coffee for him so he could get him a cup! 
Now, we have a barn partially full of cattle, a pig barn empty and being cleaned for the next load of pigs to come in.  Cover crops flown on and growing, and harvest has begun! 
We took out about 40 acres earlage on the 21st and 22nd.  Saturday and Sunday (26-27th) we got our own combine running and took out our first field of corn.  We started on soybeans yesterday (30th) and should be getting them out slowly but surely as they dry down and get ready to go.  I will hopefully keep you updated on what’s happening on the farm!  IMG_7428IMG_7497The kids are in the routine of going to school, AJ is back out on the farm (not quite 100%, yet), and I have yet to find a groove between working, the farm, and the kids.  But, this is my life.  Thankfully, I LOVE IT.  God is Good. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Grill Gift for Teacher – Farmer Style

Wow.  Summer. 

Summer means that this fall I have a little boy heading to kindergarten and a little girl headed to 4 year old preschool.  I remember thinking about these milestones when they were babies and saying to myself, “6 years old is so far away.”  Well, I’m not so different than every other mom out there, am I?

This past year they both LOVED school.  Wyatt was in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Charlotte was in 3 year old preschool.

Charlotte did great in her first year of ‘real’ school.  She went twice a week from 8:30 – 11:30.  Apparently, according to her teacher, Charlotte is ‘friends with everyone, and even friends with kids she doesn’t know.’  Now, the other day at the pool she wouldn’t talk to anyone that talked to her, so I’m sure she has her days. :)  I didn’t get a note home or a call from the principal all year.  Wyatt on the other hand….

Oh, my Wyatt.  I love this kid.  Yet, he frustrates me to no end!  We were told last year that he would probably benefit from TK because that is where they can work on their social skills.  Well, they are ‘worked.’  He was sent to the principal too many times for TK.  When I asked him at the end of the year how many times he went to the office he replied “if you count last year, probably 10.”  Lovely. I’m thankful that the teachers and principal love him in spite of his behavior! 

2014-2015 First Day Last Day Wyatt2014-2015 First Day Last Day Charlotte  Look at how much they’ve grown!  Ok, you may not see it, but I sure do!!  Remind me next year to take better photos :)

I wanted to get the teachers something neat for gifts at the end of the year.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was an awesome!  So, here is my spin on it:

GrillKit First off, I of course had to use our school colors.  Go Jaguars!  Target had some perfect items for the gift (all in all it was about $10 for everything including the bag and tissue paper).  I put it all together in the bag and it looked pretty :)

IMG_2686  IMG_6766

Now, for the ‘farm’ spin on the gift.  I had the kids sign their own card printed one off for each gift:




So, I was going to print off some recipes for pork and beef, but they wouldn’t print nicely, so I just included the websites on the card.  It worked for me (I’m lazy.  Deal with it).  Wyatt loved the idea because he KNEW that his teachers loved grilling.

Happy Summer!  


Friday, May 29, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Our Dog, Dixie

Today was a sad day at the Blair’s.  Our awesome dog, Dixie, was hit by a car.  Only a few minutes before being hit, she FINALLY caught a squirrel she’d been after all spring!  I guess you could say she went out ‘with her boots on.’

It is hard for the kids, and this afternoon we will bury her.  We even made her a card (Wyatt’s idea). In fact, it is hard for me, too.  We adopted her almost exactly 2 years ago from a good friend.  She was a great dog, and we will miss her.

Monday, May 25, 2015

“Let them say of me, I was one who believed, in sharing the blessings, that I received”

Happy Memorial Day.  
Thank you to those who sacrificed for our freedom.  Thank you to those who gave and continue to give their best.  Share your blessings with others, and remember those who’ve shared them with you. 
American Anthem 2

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Happy #EarthDay!  According to Wyatt, they were going to learn about the earth, sun, moon, Mars, and lots more today at school!  I’m not actually sure what the curriculum for today looks like in TK, but I’m sure he’ll learn a lot :)

I would love to celebrate #EarthDay by planting the trees we just purchased from the Webster County Soil and Water Conservation District, but we have a freeze warning tonight.  I’m afraid that the poor things won’t make it if I plant them now! 

Norway Spruce in the background; Sugar Maple, Norway Maple, Red Oak and Lilac in the bucket.
Our flowering pear tree and tulips are JUST starting to look nice, but again, I’m afraid this frost tonight may make them ‘wilty’ (don’t worry about these super technical terms I use…;)). 

No judging on the weeds in my tulips!
 God has some beautiful scenery this time of year! 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!



We had a beautiful day to celebrate Easter at my parents.  Unfortunately, no pictures.  Fortunately, we have lots of memories! 

Halleluiah – He Has Risen!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Quarterly Update: 2015 Resolutions

March is pretty much over.  I am 1/4 through 2015 and haven’t gained a whole lot on my NewYearsResolutionsresolutions!  Surprised?  I’m not.  I was pretty busy January, February, and March.  

1.    15 pounds in 2015.  Well – I’m actually tracking calories and looking at what I’m eating.  I’m using the “My Fitness Pal” app and I really like it!  It also plugs in my steps (tracked in my iPhone) and gives me some credit.  In January I actually ran/walked 13.9 miles (tracked with the “Nike +” app) and worked out on average of 3x a week (using another app “BodySpace”).  February and March I failed to work out.  At all.  As far as actual weight loss…I still have 15 lbs to go!  Is it just me, or are there a crap-ton of apps?  Each are pretty neat, though.

2.  15 books in 2015.  I am almost done with Chronicles of Narnia (does this count as 1 book or 7?!).  I’ve read this book before, but every time I read it I pick up on some cool quotes that relate to faith.  They make me smile.  I’ve started “The Antelope in the Living Room.”  I literally laugh out loud while reading this so far.  I would suggest it!  Another big deal with this book is that it is the first that I am reading on my iPad. 

3.  15 good deeds in 2015.  I’m somewhat keeping track…but need to do more!  I also need to include the kids – they can benefit from this ‘lesson’ too!   

4.  15 new friends/acquaintances in 2015.  I have made some great friends so far this year!  I am lucky. :)

5.  15 minutes for prayer every day in 2015.  I need to do better.  I have been praying, but I need to formalize it a little more.  Again, making the time is harder than it should be. I am making excuses. 

Thanks for holding me accountable for these.  I’d appreciate suggestions, love, critiques, motivation, and any other ideas if you have them! 

Spring is coming and we are preparing on the farm.  I can hear the birds chirping in the morning to help wake me up!  Enjoy the nice weather when it is here – we are!

Walking in the Wetland

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Trouble with Water Quality

I apologize for not writing for awhile.  Apparently, it is super cool to have meeting after meeting after meeting in January, February, and March.  And, apparently, I want to go to EVERY SINGLE ONE. 

I received an update Tuesday afternoon about a lawsuit that is going forward in the state of Iowa.  This lawsuit isn’t in our county or our watershed, but it could have an impact on the way we farm in the future.  Water quality is important to me and my family.  We drink the water, too. 

I’ve written before of some of the things we do on our farm for water quality (confluence tour, ISA tour, cover crops, and Kossuth county tour) .  These are things we will continue to do, regardless of the lawsuit.  I know others will, too. 

However, this lawsuit frustrates me because it will not help water quality.  The lawsuit wants farmers to file permits to discharge nutrients, just like the company does itself.  So, instead of working on ways to reduce nutrients, we pay to release them.  For the goals in my farming and professional life, this doesn’t make sense.   

Data (that is useful and trustworthy) has actually shown that water quality has been improving in the larger watershed that the lawsuit is directed towards. The decline in nitrates may be small, but it is certainly encouraging.  See page 7-8 of this progress report

Water quality can only be improved with a team approach.  Water quality is a complex process in which there is no “one size fits all” practice (i.e. regulation) that will ‘fix’ it.  I am working with farmers in my watershed and others to achieve the goal of improving water quality.  Continual improvement is key. 

With that (and off my soap box) what #1NewThingforWater will YOU do? 

Below is a photo of our wetland this spring.  Water sits in this and helps to reduce nitrates in the groundwater.