Friday, July 22, 2016

Back to School Farm Kid Style with Carhartt

Guess what I got in the mail yesterday?  Mr. K's school registration information.  I guess it is official then, it's time to start getting ready to go back to school.  I have to admit, it makes me a little sad because I'm going to miss having Mr. K around each day.  But at the same time, I know how much he loves school, so it makes me excited for him.

One thing Mr. K is excited about, to get ready to go to Kindergarten, is to go shopping for school supplies.  I remember this too as a child.  There's is just something fun and thrilling about getting new pencils, new notebooks, and of course, a new backpack!  When I showed Mr. K Carhartt's new line of school backpacks, he quickly (and excitedly) chose the Camo Junior Bib Pocket Pack.

Back to School Farm Kid Style with Carhartt's new line of back packs
Mr. K and his new Carhartt backpack!
The Junior Bib Pocket Backpack is the perfect size for my soon to be Kindergartner.  I don't have to worry about it hitting the back of his knees, but yet there is plenty of room in it for him to carry his folders and pair of shoes.  I also like that the backpack is water repellent for those rainy and snowy school days during the year.  Mr. K is most excited for all of the pockets!  There is a front organization panel that he says he's going to put pencils and pictures he draws in, and he is going to put his "bus toys" (he has a 45 minute bus ride to school) in the front zippered pocket.  The front zippered pocket will give his toys their own space, separate from the roomy main compartment that will hold his school work.  In the end, with a name like Carhartt, I know the backpack will be dependable, strong and durable.

Back to School Farm Kid Style with Carhartt's new line of back packs

So, would you like for your student to get ready to go back to school with a new Carhartt backpack?  I'm giving away one of Carhartt's new backpacks to a lucky reader in two weeks.  Be sure to sign-up for the drawing through the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What was your favorite thing about going back to school?  Be sure to check out Carhartt's new backpacks and let me know which backpack you like best (Traditional or Junior Bib Pocket) and who you'd like to get a backpack for.  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Knee High by the 4th of July

Knee high by the 4th of July is an old farmer saying and benchmark for a good corn crop.  But with improved seed genetics and farming practices, farmers expect their corn to be at least waist high if not head high (or higher, like we are seeing this year) on our farm in North Iowa.

Knee High by the 4th of July in North Iowa (Franklin County) 2016
Follow me on Instagram (@PlaggeVal)
to see more of our daily adventures
It has become tradition for us to take a Knee High by the 4th of July photo every year.  It is a fun way to document our farm family, as well as our crop progress for the year.  Check out past years - 2015201420132012.  This year's corn crop looks the most similar to 2012, but add three more kids!

We hope you all had a great Independence Day!  What was the best part of your day?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Comments for a Cause - KaBOOM!

Comments for a Cause - KaBOOM!
Happy 4th of July everyone!  Before I start our weekend's worth of celebrating our nation's independence, I had to share about Comments for a Cause.  I had a great time creating awareness (and even getting inspired in the kitchen) about Alex's Lemonade Stand in June.  Thanks to the 47 comments last month, I am donating $23.50 to this great cause that raises money and awareness of childhood cancer "one cup at a time."

In the month of July I'm excited to be donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog to KaBOOM!.

Comments for a Cause - KaBOOM!

Comments for a Cause - KaBOOM!
Follow me on Instagram (@PlaggeVal)
to see more of our daily adventures
Just yesterday, the kids and I spent a couple of hours at our local playground.  My kids love the freedom of running around, exploring each piece of equipment, and having fun together.  I realize that not all kids have the same opportunity as mine do.

Have you ever heard of a play desert?  Play deserts are locations primarily determined by quality of playspaces, walking distance, density of children and density of low-income households.  That is where KaBOOM! comes to play.  KaBOOM! works with city leaders through their Playful City USA program to address play deserts, and then offers grants to help them respond to their needs.

KaBOOM! is a national organization that has one simple goal - to protect and preserve playability into the daily lives of all kids, especially in America's low-income neighborhoods.  They do this by creating places to play, inspiring communities to promote and support play, and urging the national discussion about the importance of play in nurturing healthy and productive lives.  Founded in 1996, the organization has built or improved 16,300 playgrounds through the power of over 1 million volunteer hours.  To date, KaBOOM! has served and made an impact for 8.1 million children.

Do you live in a Playful City or have you heard of the program before?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Country Fair Blog Party: July 2016

It's hard to believe it is July 1st! July is the heart of County Fair season in Iowa, and is at the heart of this Country Fair Blog Party.  Before I share how you can link up to this month's Blog Hop, here are the Blue Ribbon Winners from June's Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Oak Hill Homestead's 10 Things I've Stopped Buying
During last month's Blog Party, Oak Hill Homestead's 10 Things I've Stopped Buying, was the most viewed post from the link-up!  Congrats to Kathi on getting the most clicks and receiving a Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon!  This post includes several things that she now makes at home, rather than buying in the store, to not only save some money but to have control on what all is in the product.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: A Delightful Glow's Rhubarb Surprise Pie
Each month I ask you to comment on what blog post you liked the most from the link-up and this month's Reader's Choice (and a favorite of mine as well) Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon goes to A Delightful Glow's Rhubarb Surprise Pie.  Isn't Deborah's combination of a crumb crust and cutouts beautiful on this pie before she baked it.  You better check out this post to get the recipe and to discover what the surprise is!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Learning As I Go's Guilt Free Strawberry Freeze
My final Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon goes to Learning As I Go's Guilt Free Strawberry Freeze.  I'm all about finding alternatives to ice cream.  Even though my family (and I) loved going on our Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip last month in honor of June Dairy Month, I know I don't need to eat that much ice cream, especially weekly.  In fact, now that Miss R is six weeks old, I'm working on eating healthier and exercising daily.  But that still doesn't take away the craving for something cool and sweet at night!  So I'm excited to try Katy's Guilt Free Strawberry Freeze soon!  It'll be a great recipe to add to my healthy, cool treat recipe arsenal with my 3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet.

Join the Country Fair Blog Party by linking up to 3 of your favorite food, family, farming, crafts, canning, etc. posts!
I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up to this month's Country Fair Blog Party.  Country Fairs are all about food, family, friends, farming, animals, arts and crafts, canning, baking and more.  And that is what our our blog hop is all about too.  Feel free to join our Country Fair by linking up to 3 of your posts.  This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.

Country Fair Blog Party Co-Hosts
Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Jan of Tip Garden
Laurie of Country LINKed and
Nicole of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What is your favorite link from this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Whichever post is mentioned the most in the comments will receive my "Readers Choice" Blue Ribbon next month.  Remember to Comments for a Cause!

Monday, June 27, 2016

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet

* This post has been compensated through the AE Dairy Blog Ambassador program.  All views and opinions shared are my own. *

We have been having some hot summer days lately on the farm.  And it seems like each night my whole family wants something to cool down with for dessert.  Since my family is already eating plenty of ice cream this month since we've been going on our Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip, I wanted to make an alternative.  So I got to thinking about some of my family's favorite summer flavors.  We love lemonade and strawberries are in season now - so I thought, why not marry the two and make a Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet!

This Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet is not only easy, but a delicious, healthy treat.  I used AE Dairy's Reduced Sugar Lemonade, which has a third less sugar than regular lemonade, in the recipe, along with fresh strawberries and a lemon.  You get the natural sweetness from the strawberries, along with a little tartness from the lemonade.  This turned out to be a great, light and refreshing alternative to ice cream for our family, and we especially loved eating it immediately after it came out of the ice cream maker!

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet #AEdairy

Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet

1 pound Strawberries
1 lemon (for juice and zest)

In a blender combine lemonade, strawberries, the juice of half of a lemon and a tsp of zest.  Blend till smooth.  Then put in ice cream maker and mix till desired consistency using directions from your ice cream maker.

Makes six servings. Serve immediately. Freeze leftovers up to one month.

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet #AEdairy

What do you turn to, to help cool down during the summer?

Remember to Comment for a Cause and let me know your favorite way to cool down.  I'll choose one of the commenters of this post at random in two weeks and will send them a coupon to try AE Dairy's Reduced Sugar Lemonade!  And what a better cause to comment for to go along with a Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet than Alex's Lemonade Stand!

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet #AEdairy

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip to Clarksville and New Day Dairy

One of my favorite things about the month of June is that it's National Dairy Month and that for the last couple of years our family has celebrated by going on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip!  I mean, what better way to celebrate than by visiting an Iowa Ice Cream destination each week during the month.  You gotta do, what you gotta do, to show your support, right?

We've been to some amazing places in the last two years, and we have even named our overall top soft serve and hard ice cream spots in the state.  Will one of this year's ice cream parlors be a new favorite?  We will see - and our family has agreed to do the hard work of eating ice cream each week to determine the answer.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Decorah, Hudson, LeMars, Mason City, Des Moines, Iowa City, Ventura, Osage
Top left corner, then clockwise: The Whippy Dip, Decorah;
Hansen's Dairy, Hudson; Blue Bunny, LeMars; Birdsall's, Mason City;
Snookies Malt Shop, Des Moines; Heyn's Ice Cream, Iowa City;
Viking Drive-Inn, Ventura; Stan's Drive-In, Osage

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Celebrating June Dairy Month - New Day Dairy and Baking Memories in Clarksville
To start off our 3rd Annual Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip we thought we should start by visiting the source of our ice cream by touring New Day Dairy farm in rural Clarksville.  Dan and Lynn Bolin, owners and operators of New Day Dairy, were kind enough to show us around their robotic dairy farm during the first week of the month.

New Day Dairy, Clarksville, Iowa Robotic Freestall Barn
Miss A loved talking to the cows
So what is a robotic dairy?  New Day Dairy has a couple robotic features that enables the family to be more efficient and increases their flexibility.  The most noteworthy robotic feature is their milking robot, which the Bolin's affectionately have named Rita.  Rita cleans each cow's teats and then attaches the milking cup to each teat to start milking.  The robot then measures the flow of milk so it knows when to take each milking unit off.  There are two stalls on either side of Rita; the robot can milk one cow on one side while cleaning and attaching the milking cups to another cow on the other side.  Each one of their 100 cows has it's own RFID (radio frequency identification) anklet that Rita reads when they come to visit.  When a cow comes in, the robot identifies her and depending on how long it's been since she last milked, Rita either starts milking her or sends her out to come back later.  A traditional dairy farm milks twice a day.  At New Day Dairy a cow can be milked at any time of day, and up to a few times a day, if the cow is interested and Rita agrees the cow is good to do so.  The other automated features include a manure scraper that scrapes the alleyways of their freestall barn every three hours that helps keep the barn clean, and Freddie the Feed Pusher.  Dan puts out a feed ration for the cows.  But Freddie helps move the feed back to a reachable area every four hours, because over time, the cows' noses push the feed too far away.  Freddie also beeps to remind the cows that they want to go have another snack, get a drink and get milked again.

I couldn't help but think of our pig barns while visiting New Day Dairy.  We have several automated features that allow us too to be more efficient and have more flexibility.  But every once in awhile something goes wrong and our pig buildings call us - literally call our phones.  In fact they call My Farmer first, me second and our home phone third (and then repeated if necessary but that usually never needs to happen).  The Bolin's dairy barn does the same thing.  Rita calls anytime of day (or night!) if something is not right.

New Day Dairy, Clarksville, Iowa Robotic Freestall Barn
A view from the loft.
Rita is in the white box in the center of the barn.
Dan and Lynn don't have to go far to fix any problems or do their chores, because the two of them, along with their daughter and son, literally live in the barn.  The barn was built with a three-bedroom guest house attached, that has a viewing area in the second floor loft.  Lynn said that the kids love to check out the cows from the loft and are very attentive to all of the cows.  Their future plans including building a house on an adjacent property for their family and opening up their guest house at the barn to visitors.

New Day Dairy, Clarksville, Iowa Baby Calves
Miss A, Mr. K and Miss L checking out
the baby calves

Following our tour at New Day Dairy (which I'm pretty sure their kids and our kids could have played for hours) we traveled into the town of Clarksville and went to Baking Memories.  Baking Memories is a new ice cream shop in a familiar ice cream location.  They serve many flavors of Iowa's own Blue Bunny Ice Cream in whatever way you'd like - cup, cone, shake or sundae.  It was the perfect treat after a sunny, summer day!

Have you ever heard of a robotic dairy before?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The New "Kids" on the Farm

Let me start by saying, no, this is not a pregnancy announcement, but an announcement about a new type of kid that has joined our current "Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids" - Goat Kids!  If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you've already gotten a glimpse at our new kids, but now I'm officially sharing the news here!

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Mr. K and Miss A with Chewy and Boy
Last week we bought two male dairy goats as a bottle project for Mr. K for the County Fair.  Growing up I loved raising sheep and pigs, and I always wanted our kids to have the same experience.  Our county has a great "pre 4-H" program for the County Fair, and I was excited to discover that Mr. K was old enough to participate this year.  Since it was already June, it was impossible to find a bottle lamb, so we went with the best alternative and got two bottle goats.

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Miss L and Boy hanging out on the gator
The goats which Mr. K named Chewy (because goats like to chew things) and Miss A named Boy (because he is a male), are now three weeks old.  The kids will bottle feed the kids (baby goats) till they are six weeks old.  After that time they will eat a pelleted feed.

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Miss A and Mr K doing morning chores
of bottle feeding the goats
The best part of having the goats on our farm is that the kids have the responsibility of taking care of them - feeding in the morning before breakfast and in the evening after supper, are learning about animal handling and care by getting the goats halter broke, and they're simply having fun!

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Who am I kidding, I'm having fun too!
Have your children or you yourself ever participated in a "bottle" program?  What questions do you have about the kids' kids?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!