Quick Reads

Girl’s didn’t shovel

I wanted to help my grandpa shovel dirt, I was around 8 years old and he wouldn’t let me. He said girls didn’t shovel. I remember accepting that and storing it away as jobs meant for men.

When I was 18 I worked for my uncle who owned a convenience store, it was snowing and he told me to shovel the sidewalk. I didn’t know exactly how and I didn’t think it was my responsibility. I felt very small asking him to show me how to do it, but he did and he didn’t tease me about it.

My children sometimes feel right under our feet and there are plenty of days I want more alone time. However, I will not let myself tell them that boys don’t do laundry and girls don’t hammer nails because they DO. I won’t discourage them from helping because it’s a job I didn’t want to do and their help stretches time, because for them it’s time together.

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These are moments I remind myself to not get caught up in the to-do’s. These are the reminders I need.

I don’t think my grandpa was wrong, I think he was trying to be chivalrous. Girls are meant to be treated like princesses. Except even queens have to know how to take care of themselves, and the farm.

Xo, Nicole

Recipe

Homemade cinnamon rolls

We’ve been riding the struggle bus each morning; balancing chores and getting ready for school during the week has taken some serious effort. This weekend I went back to my recipe book to organize the weekly menu and pulled out my ratty, frayed, and butter smudged recipe of our homemade cinnamon rolls. This recipe has directions aimed at using a bread machine, but the ingredients all work well with mixing and kneading by hand. Make this batch the day before and finish it off with an irresistible cream cheese frosting and you’ve got 16 yummy cinnamon rolls for an easy, go-to breakfast.

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Homemade cinnamon rolls

Yields 16 rolls

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup melted butter, divided

1/2 package instant vanilla pudding [single serving]

1 cup warm milk

1 egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour

1 package yeast [or 2  1/2 teaspoons]

1 cup light brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

Add ingredients, in order, into bread machine; water, 1/4 cup butter, pudding, milk, egg, sugar, salt, flour, yeast. Program bread machine to dough setting, approximately 80 minutes. Once finished sprinkle work surface with flour and place dough down to shape.

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Roll dough into a rectangle, roughly 12″-14″ long and 6″-8″ wide. Spread remaining 1/4 cup butter onto dough. Mix remaining ingredients brown sugar and cinnamon and spread mixture over butter. Roll dough lengthwise and cut into 16 pieces, place each roll in pan and let rise, approximately 30 minutes depending on room temperature. 

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Bake 350°, 15-20 minutes, remove promptly and allow pan to cool. Top with any frosting, my favorite cream cheese recipe can be found here

My biggest question is does one unroll the rolls as they eat them, or take it bite by bite?

Xo, Nicole

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Farm Girl

The biggest risk

Complete the sentence, I’m really good at _________________. It’s suppose to be a moment to compliment yourself, but the only words I could come up with were raw and honest and sad.

20180912_215212_0001Because hard as it is to acknowledge, it has been the truth. I am a VERY good cheerleader for other people’s dreams, and yet I allow myself to give up. When milk prices headed south and my husband looked for an outlet for his stress as a volunteer firefighter, I said “ok”. And when the farm was taking away from our savings account and my husband said he wanted to pursue a full time job as a firefighter, I said “you can do this”. And truthfully I’ve been jealous of him the entire time, envious of him for following his passions, chasing a new goal, believing in himself, and challenging himself.

I wanted things. Before the farm, before the family, before the months blended into years and I allowed myself to believe it’s no longer important. So I thought about that sentence again and I stopped.  I decided to stop being jealous of others because they were doing something I wasn’t. I decided to stop doubting myself. I decided to stop putting everyone else and all their opinions ahead of mine. I decided, to stop giving up on myself.

I thought about the words I told my husband when I had informed him that I’d quit my job 4 years ago (not a very important position by any means, but…), I had said that “I’m working full time on the farm and I’m raising my family and I’m not going to work for someone else’s dream anymore”. I decided to find that person inside me again and change my sentence.

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I told Brad that I decided I was going to build our dairy farm into the business I day dreamed about. I want to provide for my family, care for a small herd of cattle, and market my own dairy products. So there it was in words, my goals explained to someone else. And I didn’t stop because I knew that if just Brad knew my plan that I might still back down. I told my dairy inspector, my family, a few close friends. And I reminded myself  E V E R Y  D A Y — I am not stopping, I’m not taking ‘no’, and I’m going to be committed.

Which honestly, during the last seventeen months on more than one occasion I’ve thought of getting myself committed, but I digress.

Yes, 17 months I have been researching, and planning, and making business plans, plural because there has been a ‘NO’ to my dream and instead of giving up, I changed it up. I’m refusing to accept NO. And I’m here, in the final stretch of my business application and I do not know if it will be approved or denied but I do know this:

  1. I have become more determined in making my soul happy, more than ever before in my life
  2. I have learned that my introvert personality will take a back seat to my entrepreneurial side
  3. I have learned that I am determined and if it doesn’t work right now, I’ll try again

Rachel Hollis in her book “Girl, Wash Your Face” reminded me that nobody gets to tell you how big your dreams can be and that if you’re unhappy with your life, that’s on you. I’m currently taking the BIGGEST risk of my life and I pray I can follow this post with good news but in the meantime I’m just gonna continue to work on my plan — for the future of my family & farm.

Xo, Nicole

for fun

49 Reasons to love the farm life

Fourty-nine. Really?

Right, well then — you must be asking yourself two questions: 1) why 49 and not 50? 2) will there be a quiz at the end? The answer to the first question is because cow #49 on my farm is my favorite so it seemed fitting. To answer the next question, you’ll need to read through the post

  1. Sunrises so beautiful they literally stop you
  2. Calf cuddles
  3. A full kitchen table with laughter and planning
  4. Working with family, the bond becomes quite unique
  5. You fall asleep easily after a long days work
  6. We never say no to ice cream, or chocolate milk
  7. Make-up and bra is optional
  8. You can squeeze the bosses tush – maybe not on E V E R Y farm but at least on my farm
  9. The peace and quiet of watching animals just being content
  10. Tractor rides
  11. Welcoming a new life into the world
  12. Sending your niece and nephew home waayyy dirty
  13. Drinking from the garden hose
  14. Eating a meal from the produce and meats of your own work
  15. The smell of fresh cut hay
  16. When your favorite good jeans gain 2nd life as your favorite barn jeans
  17. Singing to the animals in a judgment free zone
  18. Working at your pace
  19. Tailgate lunch & dinner
  20. Crop checking
  21. Free fall decorations
  22. Sunsets. Sunsets. Sunsets.
  23. When you heal a sick animal
  24. Neighbors pull in the drive with a cooler of cold ones
  25. Hay rides
  26. Watching your kids run across hay bales
  27. The final pass on the field

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  28. Tractor acoustics are top notch
  29. Big breakfast
  30. Spring planning, the excitement
  31. Tan lines before the 5th of June
  32. Learning to communicate without saying a word
  33. Boots! Sexy boots, shit boots, comfy boots.
  34. Caffeine is plentiful and encouraged
  35. Educating consumers who want to learn
  36. Patience is learned
  37. Confidence in yourself and what you’re capable of
  38. Seeing 1-3 shooting stars while you walk to the barn
  39. Calling it a beach day, or a fishing day, or a rain day
  40. Cursing is like speaking in cursive, it’s allowed
  41. You can drink on the job
  42. Gratitude
  43. Likely to be hired at future jobs without a resume because farm work kicks ass
  44. The sound of rain on a hot summer night, as long as there isn’t hay down…
  45. End of harvest satisfaction
  46. Teaching your child how to hold a bottle, or swing on a milker
  47. When an animal comes to you, the trust you’ve earned
  48. Sorting cattle ends in “good-job”
  49. Feeling useful and needed

 

What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear, leave a comment!

Xo, Nicole

Dairy Truths

When cows don’t get pregnant

As a dairy farm the success of our business depends on selling milk. Cows need to produce milk to secure a place in our barn. This is that line that as a farmer I hoover over; to one side I make business decisions because my livelihood depends on it, to the other side I let my heart fall in love with each of my cows and treat them as such. It can be a very real struggle to not consider these cows my pets.

When all is good — a cow will calve, she will enter her natural heat cycle, she will become bred by our bull within 2-4 months, she will be confirmed pregnant by our veterinarian, we will stop milking her two months before her due date, she will deliver and the cycle begins again.

We are a bull bred herd, meaning we run a bull with our cattle to breed them on their heat cycle. A heifer is a female who has not yet delivered a calf. Once she has delivered a calf she is often called a first lactation heifer but is technically a cow. These names are just ways for us to communicate about the general age of an animal.

  • Heifer – female newborn to roughly 24 months of age.
  • First lactation heifer – female who delivered her first calf.
  • Cow – female that is producing milk.
  • Lactation – the number of milk cycles, or pregnancies, they are in. Example, #49 is in her 5th lactation, she had delivered 5 times.

When a cow doesn’t get pregnant her lactation gets longer and longer and longer. Her milk production will decrease, her body condition may become unhealthy to become pregnant, and eventually we have to decide if she is still contributing enough to offset the cost of her being here.

We have to look at the amount of milk she is providing and determine if it’s enough to pay for the cost of her feed and her space in the barn.

We generally have 20-30 heifers deliver their first calf and move into the milking herd, logically we need to make sure they have feed space and resting room — larger, older cows will push younger ones out of the way. If we want to keep a decent balance then the cows not producing enough milk and not pregnant are actually hindering our younger cows from doing well.

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It’s hard to make the decision to cull, or sell, a member of our herd. Even the day we sold Liger, the very cow I despised, I hesitated and held my head down. But the reality is that cows don’t live forever and I cannot afford to keep a barn of pets.

When a cow can’t become pregnant anymore she becomes part of the beef supply. She will provide a healthy and nutritious food for families.

My children ask, and I explain as such: we give our animals the very best life we can while they are here, and if we treat them with kindness and allow them to live in a healthy environment we also owe them a humane end, and I’m proud of the life we’ve shared with them.

If you have any questions please leave a comment. Xo, Nicole

Farm Girl

Mental Health: my story

How would you feel if every day you went to work you were losing instead of gaining?

How would it feel to know that if you walked away from your career you might have absolutely nothing to show for years of dedication?

For many american farmers these are questions they have been dealing with and processing, month after month after month.  It is heart breaking that the very people who provide food for us are filing for assistance, because they cannot afford their own groceries. It has been years of low income for agriculture; watching friends and acquaintances hang up their bib-overalls, so to speak, and try to move in a different direction. But what about those of us who cannot imagine life down a different path?

I am asking today that you pray for farmers. Pray for strength and guidance; pray for a miracle. Because farming is among the highest rate of suicide victims. Because I feel farmers in general keep to themselves, put their chins down, put their muscles to work, and help their neighbors when they can. Some of our farmers need to know they are not alone and that they are cared for. There is often a stigma associated with depression; the feeling that ‘because I am struggling with something, I am weak’. I disagree with that! I think educating yourself on depression and anxiety makes you stronger. I think finding someone you can connect with and talk to makes you stronger.

My story:

I have that expectation that I can handle stress; I can be the mom and the wife that I should be, to fill everyone’s cup before I get to my own. In July 2017 I finally realized my cup was long empty and I had been crumbling for a few months. I would blame the weather and the fact that I didn’t have a tribe of close-knit girlfriends to reach out to. I blamed the dairy industry and the low milk prices. I blamed myself for not having a hobby and my family for not measuring up-not directly to them but under my breath as I wept on the shower floor.

The problem was I was grasping at straws, for this to be someone’s fault. When I stopped blaming my symptoms on this or that I realized many of them were triggered by the same situations. My heart would race, I felt panicked and anxious. I didn’t want to leave my house; I didn’t want to put myself in a situation that I wouldn’t be able to control. I had experienced sharp pains above my heart that radiated down my left side and headaches almost daily. It wouldn’t take much for me to fall apart or to snap at someone; my family usually took the brunt of it.

Feeling lost I asked a couple friends for support and they recommended I see my doctor, my husband didn’t understand the need for it. “This is life” he said, “life is hard and stressful, worry is how bills get paid and kids are suppose to drive parents crazy”. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe my husband’s point of view but in my heart I knew I wasn’t the same person I had been a year ago, so I made the appointment.

A few weeks later I walked out of the clinic feeling mentally exhausted with puffy eyes and a purse full of tissues; I held paperwork for a prescription in my hand and as I unlocked the car I took a deep breath. Now what?

It isn’t a pill that takes away the problems of the world but rather allows me to think clearly through my problems.

It isn’t a pill that doesn’t allow me to feel frustration and disappointment but rather allows me to calmly rationalize the importance of the situation before tackling it.

It isn’t a pill that will be part of my life forever but rather a tool I choose to use right now, so I can be their mom and his wife; so I can breathe easier.

Taking an antidepressent doesn’t make me less of anything. I looked at the way I was treating the people I love most in the world and I knew I wasn’t giving them the best parts of me, so I asked for help.

Mental health determines how we handle stress, interact with others, and make decisions. Feeling this way wasn’t a mom-thing. It wasn’t a farmer-thing. This is life, but we all handle it different. Please, read that sentence again. If you, or someone you know, is eating or sleeping too much or too little, having low to no energy, pulling away from people or activities, having unexplained aches and pains, yelling or fighting with family and friends, I give you the suggestion my friends gave me. Schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Everyone handles life differently. Don’t compare yourself — or your health — to anyone else.

If you or someone you know needs help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741

Visit www.mentalhealth.com for more information.

I have been taking an antidepressant for awhile now, and when I am standing in the school pick-up line   N O B O D Y   knows that. I mean, with this post I’m telling people…but, I am choosing to talk about it because it might connect with someone. The point is, you can take care of your mental health in private as a personal issue. I see my doctor every three months and we spend over 30 minutes together at each visit, she is well aware that I do not want to be on medication long-term. I am in no way suggesting that everyone take medication. What I am suggesting is that if you feel like you are not handling the stress well {right now}, be honest with yourself and talk to someone. There are many different ways you can manage the stress in your life, but the first thing you need to do is find someone you can talk to about the way your mind and body are currently making you feel.

Xo, Nicole

About Us

Raising farm kids

My children have fallen asleep to the steady sound of pulsator’s. They have crawled and learned to walk smack dab in the middle of the parlor. And they’ve been exposed to more germs in the first 12 months of life than you’d probably like to hear about.

They have no idea that a lot of families have Saturdays and Sundays off or go on vacations to visit new places. They don’t realize that most Dad’s and Mom’s who work can’t take their kids with them. And learning to drive a tractor at 5 is not the norm.

Rain days are their favorite because Dad stays inside. They drink from the well and run around outside until they can no longer see and the bugs start to bite. On good days they get hosed down in the milk house before they take a shower because Mom’s tub just can’t handle that much dirt.

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My children are learning things before they even know they are being taught. Kindness, compassion, loss, independence. This is just life for them and I hope one day they find the beauty in it.

Beauty–like the way the sun lights up the morning sky in pinks and orange. The quiet calm of working with creatures much bigger and stronger than you. The love in your heart to work for what you want, even knowing that the gains are minimally visible. The struggle to find balance between family and work and to realize those struggles makes you cherish the time together just a little bit more.

I continue to learn every day with them and these memories we make remind me I don’t want life any other way. For them or for me. They may grow and walk away from this life but the values they learn will help them still. Raising my kids here and now on the farm is the only way I can imagine these handful of years I have to teach them. Share your childhood memories with me, or what you love about the life you’re teaching your little ones.

Xo, Nicole