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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Farm to Table: Thanks for Joining Our Movement

As we sat on the porch and enjoyed a dinner together on a summer night my husband said, 
"honey, our entire dinner came from a 3 mile radius.  People talk about this new local food movement, but farmers have been eating local forever."

I had to laugh as I ate the first bite of my local dinner and sipped on my not so local vodka.  

(Glick sweet corn, lamb links from the neighbors and 
zucchini from the local farmer's market.)

And that got me contemplating a lot about it; the local food concept.

While our farming families have been eating local for as long as humans have been eating, others have not been able to enjoy that same fortune.  And they are just starting to catch onto this trend that farmers don't necessarily understand but support. 

I mean they can't even get out of their own sweet corn field without eating some of their own crop.

My family has the great fortune of having a large group of friends that we have camped with over the years called “The Village”.  Many times, it was our family’s responsibility to bring the meat for our pitch-in dinners around the campfire.  Dad was famous for grilling with one hand and having an ice cold beer in the other as our mother was busy prepping the other dishes.  

My sister and I are notorious for being honest, and sometimes blunt but truthful.  One weekend as our family friends took that first bite of the juicy burger my dad cooked from our family farm, my sister proclaimed, “guys, we are eating Henrietta right now.”  Their astonished and confounded looks were a little shocking to me because we always ate Henrietta or Bessie or whoever made it to the freezer that year.  But they did not, they didn't completely understand the local, farm to table experience we so enjoyed each meal.

And I will never forget my first year showing animals and that last day of the county fair when I was to sell my 4-H pig at the auction.  I was confident and determined to get in the ring and make a profit for my college education (and the $50 my mom would let us keep for back to school shopping...we didn't tell dad).  

But along with the confidence came the fear and emotions that every 4-H kid faces on auction day—I didn’t want to say goodbye.  I didn’t want to go home without my pig that I had worked with all spring and summer.  But as I confidentially exited the auction ring and headed back to the barn where I could see the semi in the distance I looked up at my dad with teary eyes and he said, “Say your goodbyes, you did your work.  Let it go, Katie.  He has to go on the trailer.  This is what I told you about; that's just part of it.  Part of the process of 4-H and agriculture.” 

And then he walked away!  He left me there to experience the heart-wrenching process of putting my animal on the trailer to head to the market.  Looking back now, that is when I started to understand the whole process of “farm to table” but didn't quite know it yet.  This is when I started to care for animals that would someday be on someone's table--someone else's bacon.

My family has been part of the “farm to table” process for generations and we will continue to be for many years to come.  I am excited that so many people have just recently become aware of the “farm to table” concept, but it’s not a new movement for farmers.  It was always a way of life, always "just part of it", always “farm to table”.  Thanks for finally joining and appreciating the family farm and the food we bring your table.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eating Pie & Dreaming of Bacon

Remember when I told you about the 

Well, today I met that challenge and rose before the sun.  

I finally answered "yes" to my farmer husband's question he asks me a few times each fall, 
"you want to get up with me and take cattle to the butcher?"

I decided that since I don't see him that often during harvest, I should probably go with him......at least once.  So with wet hair and camera in hand, I put my boots on and off we went to load up the trailer.

Our cattle are pretty calm and collected.  They don't fuss much and are usually pretty nice.  
So Brett just opened up the gate....

....and after giving me a few dirty looks, they went right onto the trailer. 

 That didn't take long so I kind of just stood there, in the barn under the stars and looked around.  

I noticed the hayloft, which was decorated with licenses plates from various trucks and tractors from the farm.  I thought of the miles and miles of roads and fields those plates had seen.

And then I noticed this old toy sitting on a stack of bricks in the barn.  Who knows the last time this was touched, but I bet it has seen the hands of three generations by now and will wait for the next.  

When we got to the butcher, I hopped out of the truck and turned to see this on a barn next door.  A sign that we were in the Heartland and in the Hoosier State.  And something every young kid should have and experience, a barnyard basketball goal.

The boys unloaded the cattle, caught up on some butcher talk as I tried to stand in the background.  
I am sure the flash on my camera wasn't noticed at all......

I thought, though, this young man is a part of the agriculture process too--helping farmers with their livestock and butchering in a clean and safe way to provide food on our tables.  I mean the bacon he has to provide for just our family is quite remarkable!  Ha!

But I bet he has played in a hayloft and with an old toy and some games barnyard basketball.

I felt grateful for him, and for the cattle that provide for our family and so many others.  

And then I realized that it was only 7:00 a.m. and that I would probably crash in a few hours.  So when I got home, I decided a sugar high was necessary and that I would eat some of that pie that I made on Monday night.  

While I ate my pie I watched the sun rise and shine through the fog.  I dreamt of some barnyard basketball and bacon, like a good Hoosier farm girl who decided "there's no burnin' daylight" today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's That Time of the Year: Markets, Mice & No Milk

I have told you about some of my Fall Favorites

I have told you that we should always 

But I haven't told you about the tales of being a Harvest Widow.

It's hard sometimes because sometimes I want to buy champagne instead of essentials at the local farmer's market.  Sometimes I buy all this food and then I eat it all myself because he isn't home a lot during this season.

And then other times I go antiquing with my grandma, mom and sister and see an old seed sack with my husband's family name and seed company on it.  Again, harvest is hard because I am reminded of him in random places (even shopping)!

And then other times, my husband comes home to his harvest widow standing on hard surfaces with her boots on.  Why, you ask?  Because we have mice and I don't do mice!

This was from mouse #1 of Harvest 2014.  The second was dead too close to my precious shoes and closet.  And the third one was found last night while I was just trying to get a post-it note from my desk!  

And when I do want to spend time my husband during harvest, I have to hop in the truck and check cows with him.  I definitely enjoy checking cows, but not when they swarm the truck and give me dirty looks.  It's like the are jealous I am there with him or something.   We can share ladies....

But I have learned to "Gather Here with a Grateful Heart".  
Here and now in this place and during harvest and checking cows and even when I find mice in my house.  

I might especially be grateful when I at least remember to get the champagne instead of the milk!
It's essential for this farmer's wife.

More grateful tales from this Harvest Widow to come.....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reminder: Be Still

I stood still and looked out the window for a whole minute this weekend.  

That doesn't happen very often for me, but it needs to.  

I need to "Be Still" more often.  
I need to soak up what life has to offer and take a minute to just be.

As I looked out the window, I decided to go and take pictures of the fall beauty.

And I sat still in the middle of the fallen leaves.

And I took a moment to stand still and appreciate the old trees in our yard.

And then I laid still in the leaves.

And I got to appreciate all the fall colors and what I could see when I sit still.

And then I realized I bought this sign when I was in a hurry a few months ago.  
It's on our kitchen table now as a reminder to

Be Still.

I hope this is a reminder for you to just.be.still.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Harvest Festival


According to Wikipedia, 
"Harvest is the process of gathering mature crops from the fields.
The harvest marks the end of the growing season, or the growing cycle for a particular crop,
and social importance of this event makes it the focus of seasonal celebrations such as a harvest festival."

We don't get to go to many festivals during the harvest.  
So this weekend I created my own festival.  

I decided to visit the farm and see what I could get into.  
And this guy picked me up and said, "get in, we have to check those beets I planted for you in the garden."

So I hopped in the old, beat-up gator and we visited the garden.  
And then......

....this guy hopped in the gator.  He needed a ride from one semi to the other.

Two generations of farmers in one vehicle together with the farmer's daughter and wife.  
Always interesting......

Harvest is kind of like a festival of teamwork.

One guy drives the combine, the other drives alongside him with the grain cart.  
Another drives the semi to and from the field to get the load from the grain cart.

And the other guy plants wheat behind the combine to begin a new growing season.

This beautiful, golden corn.

A festival of its own.

And I am blessed they let be a part of harvest on the farm.  
Making a lot of their lunches and dinners this harvest has made me appreciate their hard work even more. 

 After delivering dinner that night, I took one last look at the tall corn with its season ending and a new one beginning.

  Then I stood in the field between the harvest gold and had my own little festival, giving thanks for the Harvest.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Deep Breaths on Dirt Roads

On Tuesday I told you that "going west is good for my soul".

It helps me to take a deep breath while traveling on a dirt road.

That's why my sister Sarah and I head that way any chance we get.  
This time it was to support our friends at Sankey 6N Ranch  for their annual cattle sale.

My best friend Lindsay married a Kansas boy from 6N so we have to visit the place where she will call home someday.  And we like to take little adventures along the way.

During this trip and after the sale, these three sets of boots decided to grab the cameras and just drive.

Well, we had something to do but got a little sidetracked with the views.

I was the driving and I would randomly hear, "wow, look at the sky.  Wait...... STOP!!!!"  
Pretty much the quote of any dirt road adventure with us.

And Lindsay caught me in action, thank you Jean.

Of course I parked next to this critter cave.  The three of us don't really favor small critters.....
but we were safe!

I pretty much laid in a ditch for this one.  
I almost could have stayed there until the sun rose the next morning but we were running low on beverages.

The colors of the sky in the Kansas Flint Hills are pretty amazing and remind us to give thanks and feel blessed.

We took lots of turns and went down some roads less traveled which brought us to the most perfect spots.  
I mean that's what it's all about right?

Some less traveled paths, turns, ditches and views of the heavens above.
Reminds us to take a deep breath.....

.......down the dirt roads.

I hope you remember to take a deep breath every so often just like we did on those dirt roads.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Spoken Lesson from the Farmer: There's No Burnin' Daylight

"Okay Katie, it's time to get up.  There's No Burnin' Daylight," he used to say.

Every morning of my childhood, that's the phrase I woke up to.  
And my response?  
"Five more minutes, please."  Over and over and over again.

So here I am in my adult life and now I know what he meant. 
There really is no time to burn daylight and waste the precious day away.

Our farmer's birthday was this past Sunday, October 5th.  
If he was alive today we probably would have posed for this cheesy photo like we did so much in our younger years.

Since he has been gone, my sister and I like to discuss memories of our farmer dad and the lessons he taught us.  
This past weekend we just happened to be out west.
The Wild West: a place he always admired and wanted to live.  

I told two friends on Monday, "going west is good for my soul."
I could just breath and it was great a great feeling after another busy, hectic year.

And what did I do yesterday when I returned from that western sky?
I woke up with the sun because "there's no burnin' daylight."

I took a deep breath from the fresh, open spaces, western sky that was still in my soul and saw the beautiful sunrise.  It was glowing with bright oranges, deep reds, lavender and a hint of pink in the Monday sky.

He was with us as we headed west and when we returned back home to Indiana and in the sunrise.

 I drive from the country to the city each morning.  And almost every morning I catch myself looking to the east more than the north to see the rising sun.  The more I travel north the less I can see it, too many houses and buildings and cars in my way.  "Too busy," he would say.

While the cityscape is beautiful in it's on way, nothing compares to the countryside sunrise.  
I think of it as God's reminder of the light of a new day.  And that it's bright and we shouldn't burn it away.  
Which is just what dad taught me.

As this photo of my dad and I sits on my desk in a jar full of the last corn crop he harvested, I thank him for the light of a new day.  

I thank him for all of his unspoken lessons and spoken lessons.  
Lessons from the farmer who rose with the sun and never burned any of it away.

As we continue to celebrate his life and remember him, I will TRY to get up with the sun and watch it rise across the horizon giving thanks for him and the many blessings in my life.

No more "five more minutes" but deep breaths and the voice in the back of my head saying, 
"See, I told you not to waste it.  Cause There's No Burnin' Daylight.  
Now go watch it set and rest up for a new day."