Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Harvest of Thanks to our Farm Family

Tonight My Farmer and I get recognized as a finalist for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmer Achievement Award.  This recognizes young farmers, ages 35 and under, for their growth and progress of their farm and leadership achievements through the start of their career.  We are both honored and humbled to be finalist this year and we can't wait to find out tonight how we place!

Being a finalist for this award wouldn't be possible without our farm family.  We have been very fortunate to have such a great support system behind us.  Both of our families, neighbors and community members have backed us in different ways.  I wanted to recognize a couple members of our farm family to say thank you.

Harvest of Thanks to our Farm Family
We would first like to thank my father-in-law.  He is the one who gave My Farmer the foundation and inspiration to farm starting at a young age.  He also helped My Farmer get the resources needed so he could build his pig barns in college.  Today, we work daily with each other.  As My Farmer describes in the video, we farm in parallel with each other; while it isn't a partnership, we trade labor back and forth, as well as share equipment.  Working with an established farmer, like my father-in-law, has been a huge asset for us as young farmers, as capital can be hard to get initially.  I also know that my father-in-law works hard to give us the opportunities to succeed, just like we as parents are now doing so for our children.

Harvest of Thanks to our Farm Family
Next we'd like to thank our neighbor, friend and landlord Merlin.  Merlin has been a long-time family friend and neighbor.  I can't say enough of how great a man he is.  When My Farmer and I were dating Merlin was one of the first people I met from the community.  We instantly connected.  I think at some community events early on some people wondered "who is that girl with Merlin?" rather than "who is that girl with My Farmer?" 😉  Merlin too wants us to succeed.  Besides helping us out seasonally with field work, he is also one of our landlords that we rent crop acres from.  Most importantly, he really is like family.  He is like an extra grandpa for our children and we do fun things outside of the farm with him like going to Nut Frys, Church and Saturday Night Pizza.

Harvest of Thanks to our Farm Family
The last member of our farm family I want to thank and share with all of you is Rusty.  Rusty is one of our long-time farm workers and I don't know if it is his favorite job, but it is probably the job he does the most, and that is drive semi, like he is seen standing in front of here.  The thing I appreciate the most about Rusty is his hard work ethic and fun attitude.  Things can get stressful on the farm, especially during our busy seasons of harvest and planting, but Rusty knows just what to do calm everyone down and make everyone laugh.  I guess you could say that Rusty helps keep our whole farm family sane during tough times.

This list wouldn't be complete without also thanking both sets of our parents, our sisters, our landlords, Cole, Tom, Hunter and Jared.  It takes this entire crew, this entire farm family, to make what we do everyday possible.  So thank you to our entire farm family. 😊

Do you have extra "family" members or a "tribe" that helps you succeed?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Country Fair Blog Party: December 2016

It's the start of a new month and time for another great blog party to start!  Before we get into this month's Country Fair Blog Party, Jan from the Tip Garden and I would like to thank everyone for your comments last month on the direction we should take with the blog party!  The winner of last months Holiday Gift Bag was chosen via Rafflecopter... and drum roll please... The winner is:  Julie Raye-Rodriguez!!

Country Fair Blog Party Holiday Gift Bag Giveaway
Enjoy Julie!
Jan will be contacting you via email to get your shipping address to get your gift bag in the mail.  Congratulations once again!

As for 2017, What Comes Next?  Both Jan and myself joined in as co-hosts to share the load with others as a group of bloggers and we now find ourselves just too busy to run it just by ourselves, or alone as individuals.  So very reluctantly, it has come time to let it go.

Not totally goodbye:  Now while Jan and I are both going to take a break from the Country Fair Blog Party after this month, we both still enjoy hosting blog hops.  We have some ideas floating around on maybe some special holiday or seasonal parties we might lead in the future, and if and when we dream up and take action on something new, we plan on inviting all of you.

Thank you for your support!  We have the best bloggers here at the Country Fair Blog Party!  The friendliest, most caring, and willing to share and uplift each other.  We are grateful for you coming back month after month and sharing your life with us.  We cherish not just the networking but relationships built through this Blog Hop!

Now that I've update all of you on the Country Fair Blog Party, let's celebrate by recognizing the top viewed posts in November.  Last month we had a tie for the most clicked post:  

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Cooking with Carlee's French Silk Brownies

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Delightful Repast's Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Both of these desserts look perfect to share with family over the holidays!  Congratulations to both Jean and Carlee!

Join the Country Fair Blog Party by linking up to 3 of your favorite food, family, farming, crafts, canning, etc. posts!Thanks to everyone that joined our blog hop last month, and I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up to the final 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-host:
Jan of Tip Garden

We're excited to see everything you share for this final Country Fair Blog Party.  Jan and I would once again like to thank you for linking up over the last couple of years.  What is your all-time favorite Country Fair Blog Party post you read?  Remember to Comments for a Cause!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Comments for a Cause - Iowa Cookie Crumbs

Comments for a Cause - Iowa Cookie Crumbs
It's November 1st and time to talk Comments for a Cause!  In the month of October I had 28 comments, equaling a $14 donation to My Stuff Bags Foundation!  This money will go to helping children in crisis centers and foster care have their own personal items.

In the month of November I'm looking forward to helping some Iowa bakers and their efforts to send cookies to troops overseas by donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog to Iowa Cookie Crumbs.

Comments for a Cause - Iowa Cookie Crumbs

Last December I read an article about a group of Iowa bakers that sent more than 30,000 cookies to U.S. military personnel stationed overseas during the holidays and I knew I needed to highlight them as a future Comments for a Cause recipient.  If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know that I have a sister in the Army National Guard and a brother-in-law who was in the Marines and Marine Reserves.  Needless to say, anything to support the troops means a lot to me, because I know how much it means to our soldiers, especially when they are deployed.  And since Veterans Day is celebrated during November, and I knew there would be a lot of cookie baking in preparation for Iowa Cookie Crumbs's holiday shipment, I thought this month would be the perfect time to showcase their compassion and appreciation for our military.

The Iowa Cookie Crumbs was formed by Abbie Crawford, of Southwest Iowa, nearly ten years ago and they not only send cookies to our troops during the holidays, but each month all year long.  In fact, last month the group hit the milestone of baking and sending over a million cookies!

All of the boxes of cookies are shipped to individual service men and women.  Names are collected through Treat the Troops, a larger network that the Iowa Cookie Crumbs works through.  The Iowa bakers do send boxes to local soldiers, based off of requests, but a majority of their cookies are sent to soldiers not directly from the area.

So help me, help this group of dedicated bakers by commenting all month long so we can help cover some of the shipping costs of all of these cookies!  ***If you live in the Council Bluffs area, you can personally help by attending their holiday cookie packing day on November 15th at Emanuel Lutheran Church.***  What is your favorite cookie?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Country Fair Blog Party: November 2016

Before we get into this month's Country Fair Blog Party.  Jan from the Tip Garden and I would like to share about some changes coming to our Blog Hop!

Big Changes!  As you may have noticed Nicole from A Kansas Farm Mom, and Laurie, from Country Linked, have made the hard decision they need to take a break from blogging and concentrate completely on family and  farming. We completely love and support them and their decision, and send them our best wishes!

The Future?  Jan and I will be running the County Fair Blog Party through the end of the year, and we are looking to figure out where we go now. If we continue as the Country Fair Blog Party, or relaunch in a new direction. Not just a new name, but a new format altogether. This is where we turn to you and ask for your input!

Here's what we do know: We do love hosting a blog link up party! A monthly link up is what we can handle.

Here's what we need input on: If we did change formats would you give us your thoughts on them in the comments section? We will be using your feedback as we make a decision.

Input Questions:
  • Themed Link up: Keep a regular monthly blog party, but if we changed the format to a theme. How do you feel?
    • General, Seasonal, Monthly: Any posts that would fit for that month.  Example, the month of  May might be anything from Mothers day, graduations, Spring foods, Memorial day.
    • Specific: Examples, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays,Valentines, etc.
    • A Simple Name Change/Rebranding away from Country Fair Blog Party
  • Step away from a regular link up and host fun "link up" weeks and have you all  join us as Blogger Link up Hosts, onto your own blogs! Examples, seasonal foods or holidays, Mothers day, Valentines, Easter, etc. and bloggers would get to link up their post onto the link and get it posted onto their own blogs, as well and share it too for the exposure!  This would mean you'd be joining us as hosts!  We could always "generalize" the theme a bit too, like "Thanksgiving" or "Autumn Recipes" to widen our base of bloggers who have posts to share.  Going to this time of link-up would be similar to the #AppleWeek I participated in, in December with our Blue Ribbon Winner Cooking with Carlee. This themed link up is a fun because you get to focus your own recipe/post on your own blog, but join in as a host on a link up at the same time without doing all the work of a party host!  You just need to do a bit of work with us to get the link to us and then get some code into the bottom of your post so all the other links show up, underneath your main recipe! Like your own little blog hop!
  • Other?  Do you have any other ideas or thoughts we should consider?
To Thank you: We will be giving away a Holiday Gift Bag to one lucky blogger who shares their thoughts in either of our comment sections!

Country Fair Blog Party Holiday Gift Bag Giveaway
Gift bag includes Holiday Apron, Oven Mitt, Spatula,
Cupcake Liners with Matching Cupcake Topper Picks,
Sugar Cookie Scented Candle, Food Themed Gift Tags,
Wooden Canning Jar Hanging Chalkboard Tags in Canvas Drawstring Bag
and Reusable Farmers Market Style Shopping Bag
Here's how to enter our Giveaway:
  1. Link up at least one blog post to our monthly link party. 
  2. Leave us a comment in our post comments with your thoughts on where we might take the future of Country Fair Blog Party. 
  3. After leaving a comment, click on the Rafflecopter button to enter the giveaway.  Giveaway ends midnight November 25th, 2016.  Winners will be chosen at random via rafflecopter.  We will announce the winner in our December 1st Country Fair Blog Party Post.  We hope to take all your thoughts, along with our own, and make a decision. both individually and together; and we hope to have an announcement if possible for the December Link Up! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Ok, now that I have shared about the future of the Country Fair Blog Party, lets quickly review last month's Country Fair Blog Party by sharing our most viewed post from the link-up, Cooking with Carlee's Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Pork.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Cooking with Carlee's Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Pork
I personally have made this recipe three times already!  It is simple and delicious.  I personally use the pulled pork "as is" in sandwiches the first night and then reuse the pulled pork for something else like enchiladas, stroganoff, etc. the next night.  Warning, this pulled pork smells especially good cooking in the crock pot so you might want to make plans to not be in the house, otherwise you're going to be very hungry all afternoon. ;)

Join the Country Fair Blog Party by linking up to 3 of your favorite food, family, farming, crafts, canning, etc. posts!
Thanks to everyone that joined our blog hop last month, and 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.  

Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-host:
Jan of Tip Garden

We're excited to see everything you share, along with your input on the future of the Country Fair Blog Party this month!  Besides sharing your ideas for the Country Fair Blog Party, be sure to also comment what your favorite link from this month's Country Fair Blog Party is.  Whichever post is mentioned the most in the comments will receive my "Readers Choice" Blue Ribbon next month.  Remember to Comments for a Cause!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos

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

Last week on Twitter I shared that "It's the most, wonderful time, of the year" because Anderson Erickson Dairy's Egg Nog is at the grocery store.  
All of AE Dairy's versions of Egg Nog are released at the end of October (I know this because my birthday is at the end of the month and I'm such a big Egg Nog fan that I've received cartons as birthday gifts...) and their other seasonal milks, which debuted last year, hit the store shelves earlier this month.  Seeing these "holiday" milks in the grocery store makes me excited for the approaching holiday season and in the mood for baking!

Once I saw AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint chocolate milk hit the shelf, I was inspired to create a tractor friendly treat with it.  I love to bake, and especially for the holidays, but with my days spent harvesting corn and soybeans, I had to figure out something that was quick, delicious and easy enough to eat while traveling down the field at 3 mph.  My first thought was a cookie.  Cookies are always a hit during the fall (and for Christmas) because they're easy to eat.  But how could I use this chocolate milk, that has a mild mint undertone, in a cookie?  Ding, Ding, Ding - frosting!  Well no one wants a frosted cookie while driving a tractor or combine... but what if the frosting was sandwiched between two cookies???  Aha!  Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos.

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos #AEdairy #sponsored

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos

2 boxes of Chocolate Cake Mix
4 eggs
2/3 cups vegetable oil

1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Shortening
1/4 tsp Peppermint extract
2 cups Powdered Sugar
2-3 Tbsp AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint Reduced Fat Chocolate Milk

Start by making your cookie batter.  Mix the cake mixes, eggs and oil with a spatula till all ingredients are fully incorporated.  This will be a thick batter, so don't give up on it - it will come together, I promise!

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes.  After you take them out of the oven press them down to flatten them.  Let them rest a couple minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are baking you can make your frosting.  Blend the butter and shortening together with a hand mixer.  Add peppermint.  Then add the powdered sugar.  Finally, add AE Dairy After Dinner Mint chocolate milk to the mix a tablespoon at a time until it is fluffy.

Once the cookies are cool, spread a nice helping of frosting between two cookies.  Recipe yields 2 dozen sandwich cookies.  These pair delicious with a glass of AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk too ;)

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos #AEdairy #sponsored

Have you tried AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk before?  I'm not even a huge fan of chocolate and mint, but this milk has the proportion of chocolate and mint just right that everyone can enjoy a glass.  This milk would also be great milk to warm up for hot chocolate!  Remember to Comment for a Cause

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos #AEdairy #sponsored - quick, easy and fun cookie that all ages will enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Having fun in the tractor with Mom

The kids and I are kind of a packaged deal.  Wherever they go, I go and wherever I go, they go.  I guess that is what happens when you're a stay at home mom.  So when it comes to the time of the year when I am out in the field daily, the kids come along with me.  This is fun (and a little crowded) and I know we are making memories that will last a lifetime.

Having fun in the tractor with Mom
Miss L and I hanging out in the tractor
taking a stretch break
Many people have asked what do the kids do all day out in the tractor?  We read a lot of books, we play with tractors, dolls, stuffed animals, etc.  Each kid has a tractor cinch sack bag that they take out to the field with them that includes their favorite things to play with and a couple snacks, a juice packet and their water bottle.

Having fun in the tractor with Mom - first harvest photos
Miss R's "First Harvest" photo
One thing I have done every fall, for the last five years, is that for their "First Harvest" I take a photo of them on top of my tractor wheel; it's turned into a tradition.  I shared Miss R's photo in my Harvest Happenings post yesterday and it made me walk down memory lane and check out all four kids "First Harvest" photos.  I couldn't resist sharing them with you too :)

Having fun in the tractor with Mom - first harvest photos

Can you tell they're siblings?  Who do you think looks the most alike?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Farm Friday - Harvest Happenings

Harvest is a busy time of the year on our farm.  The days start early and the nights end late.  We work as hard as mother nature allows us to bring in both our corn and soybean crop.  When I find myself at home I play "catch up" with all of the house work and try to cross off a couple things (or at least one) from my to-do list.  And since today is Friday, I thought it'd be a fun excuse to ignore my messy living room and breakfast dishes in the sink and write a Harvest Happenings blog post.

Harvest Happenings - My Buddy and I
My tractor riding buddy Miss L and I
Harvest this year has been going a little slow and to tell you the truth, has been full of the unexpected.  We normally like to start harvesting our soybeans and then switch to corn.  But this year, due to flooding in September, I think we've switched back and forth between soybeans and corn four times because we're simply just going to fields that are dry enough to be worked in.  And you might not think switching back and forth isn't that big of a deal, but it takes time and slows down harvest.  We have to completely clean out the combine, catch cart, wagons, auger, etc. and switch the combine's head between corn and soybeans.  We store and sell our corn and soybeans separately so you don't want corn mixed in with your soybeans and vice versa.

Harvest Happenings - Unloading corn from catch cart to set of wagons
Here is a picture of me dumping corn from my catch cart
to a set of wagons.  Every piece of equipment used for harvest
has to be cleaned out when we switch between corn and soybeans.
And talking about that September flooding, that is causing concern for a couple different reasons.  First, is that the ground is still not completely dry and very soft.  While taking out the crop, we have to be careful while driving in the field so we don't get stuck.  We also are waiting to do any fall tillage work because things are so wet that we'd end up just compacting the soil more, rather than breaking it up which is the benefit in the first place.  The second reason for concern is the crop health and stand.  Many, if not actually all, of our corn and soybeans were in standing water at some point.  This has caused our stalks to deteriorate and the chance of fungus growing on our plants to increase.

Harvest Happenings - water line from flooding on corn in North Iowa
Can you see that line along the bottom of the corn stalks?
That is a water line from the flooding we had in September.
But this fall hasn't been all gloomy.  Part of the unexpected of this year is that our crops are yielding average to above average.  That makes the increase stress of harvesting in these non-ideal conditions a little better to handle.  Also, my favorite part of harvest is always the time spent making memories with our family.  Sometimes it gets a little crazy having our kids out in the field and so involved during harvest, but it is so much fun too.  How lucky are our kids that they get to be with their parents and grandparents everyday?!

Harvest Happenings - First Tractor Ride of the Fall
Miss R taking the customary
"First Fall" steering wheel photo in the tractor
So this is a little bit of everything I've been thinking about, stressing about, and enjoying lately.  I also did my first "Farm Friday Facebook Live" from the tractor last week and I hope to find time to do it again today.  What questions do you have about corn and soybean harvest?  I'll try to answer those questions in my next Facebook Live and on here through my next Harvest Happenings.  Remember to Comment for a Cause!