Adding to the farm

When we bought our farm my husband said, “this will not be a funny farm with all types of animals.” I am not sure if my husband has gotten soft in his years or if I have just become more convincing but here we are, 8 years later and adding to the “funny farm” again. We have always had dogs, a few barn cats, and horses and ponies. This spring our 3 yr old Brinley fell madly in love with the Chickens at my parent’s farm and needed some of her own. We added 6 chickens and the girls love collecting and washing the eggs each day. They are such great caretakers of all the animals. Our daughters are just turning 2 and 4 this month and each night they feed the cats and dogs as well as full water tanks and collect eggs. They are quite the helpers on the farm and love doing it. In fact, if they get left inside or I collect eggs without them it will result in an instant melt down.

Since we don’t have enough irons in the fire, I got the wild hair that we needed to add cattle to the lineup. Kevin’s family has raised beef cattle since he was a baby. He is very familiar with raising cattle and all that entails. Megan was in animal nutrition for 6 years out of college so has a good grasp on how to care for cattle. After much deliberation and bribing we landed on Scottish Highland cattle. They are a very versatile breed and do well in most environments. They are good for all aspects of why you would raise cattle. They have exceptional cuts of meat and have low back fat resulting in lean quality beef. They are great mothers and breed and calve fairly easily. They are smaller in frame and do more on less ground than a standard beef cow. The life expectedly is longer than the standard beef cow and most average 20 years of life. They are very hardy and eat a lot of brushy stocks (which is something we have a lot of) that most cattle wouldn’t touch As an added bonus they are really cute and have a calm demeanor to them. Our cattle arrived this week and they are just as cute as the pictures! We bought 4 registered Highlands from Climbing Stump Farm in Minnesota. They are 10 months old and all half-sisters. We are still working on names and trying to determine if we keep the names they came with or change them up. As of now they are Dakota, Viola, JuneBerry, and Ayla (the names they came with). We are working to gain trust with them and get to the point of getting close and being able to pet them. You will see more updates from us in the coming weeks as we get familiar with our new babies! You can read more about our heifers at http://www.wapsiridgehighlands.com

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

When you start a recipe with the world “healthy,” I always wonder.. but does it taste good!?

I gave these a try for myself and even my husband didn’t know they were “healthy” they are SO SO good!

  1. 1 1/2 Cup white whole wheat flour (you can use normal all purpose flour)
  2. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/3 cup vanilla almond milk
  7. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  8. 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 2 cups shredded zucchini
  12. 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

  1. In a medium, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together almond milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir in the shredded zucchini until well combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture and stir until just combined, don’t over mix. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Amount Per Serving

Calories 186

Calories from Fat 81

% Daily Value*

Fat 9g 14%

Saturated Fat 7g 35%

Cholesterol 14mg 5%

Sodium 157mg 7%

Potassium 149mg 4%

Carbohydrates 26g 9%

Fiber 3g 12%

Sugar 11g 12%

Protein 4g 8%

Adding love to our home

I knew from the start that I wanted to add things to our house that would make it more than a house but a home. We have unique touches that are pieces of our family and perfect for us. We took time as a family to compile a list of bible verses we felt had meaning to us in specific areas of our home. We added those words to the studs of the walls in each room so they will forever be a part of the walls that surround us daily. Here is a list of the specific verses we added to each room.

Master Bedroom: No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1:5

Master Bathroom: Iron sharpens iron, and one human sharpens another Proverbs 27:17

Megan Closet: She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear for the future. Proverbs 31:25

Kevin Closet: Though the mountains may crumble, you will not Isiah 54:10

Power Room: God created a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me Psalm-51:10

Laundry Room: Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin Psalm 51:2

Garage Entrance: Home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love. – Marvin Ashton

Garage: Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Kitchen: He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

Dining: Give thanks to the lord for he is good and his love endures forever Psalm 106:1

Pantry: Taste and see that the lord is good: happy is the man who takes refuge in him- Psalm 34:8

Living Room window wall: Lord, you light my lamp: my God illuminates my darkness- Psalm 18:28

Living Room: By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established, through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures Proverbs 24:3-4

Front Entrance: You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out Deuteronomy 28:6

Girls Bathroom: For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Brinley Room: I am fearfully and wonderfully made Psalm 139:14

Brinley Closet: He fills my life with good things psalm 103:5

Bristol Closet: She is far more precious than jewels proverbs 31:10

Bristol Room: God is within her she will not fall- Psalm 46:5

Basement: He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold: I will not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6

All about Harvest

Although we live in the heart of corn country, I think there is a lot of missed opportunity to inform those around us about basic terminology of farming during harvest time. No, I don’t think you are a dummy, I think it’s a great chance to ask questions and for farmers to educate.

We have many people in our lives who don’t know the basics of what farmers actually do. Although that is a loaded question because they do a lot, I will share basic terminology you will hear in the fall during harvest season to help gain a better understanding of the processes.

In Iowa we typically raise 3 crops. Corn, Soybeans, or Alfalfa (or Hay) you will occasionally see other crops as well. Most of the time the crops will rotate each year with corn one year and soybeans the next. Hay fields will usually stay for 3-4 years before a replant.

Harvest: is when the crops are gathered from the fields and taken to market or put into storage.

Combine: Very large and very expensive machine used to take the crops out of the field.

Auger: The Auger moves the corn from a wagon into the top of the bin and the bins are filled this way.

Auger Cart/ Grain cart/ wagon: The wagon is pulled behind the tractor and takes the corn off the combine and puts it in the bin or on the semi. Some wagons have built in augers to move the corn out of the wagon (auger cart) onto the semi or in the bin and others have a bottom unload (wagon) in which you unload it onto an auger and then into the bin or semi.

Bin: A place used to store the crops until they are ready to be sold to market.

Since the income for farmers comes once a year during harvest time, they can store the crops in a bin and sell them at a later date thought the year. They will sometimes “contract” certain amounts for a specific time frame locking in a price in which they know they are profitable. If the do not lock in pricing, they are subject to the open market.

Dryer: The dryer looks a lot like a bin in most cases but moves heat around the corn to bring the moisture level down. Corn is the only grain that is put through a dryer if needed. Corn moisture for harvest is typically 14.0 % -25% moisture. Typical desired storage moisture is around 15-17%. They use the dryer to get wet corn down to a more desired storing temperature to avoid spoilage.

What happens when it is harvested? Both corn and beans can be sold on the open market. For us that means taking and selling it to a local grain elevator (storage center- and they will re-sell to the processing plants) or direct selling it to the processing plants. Some of the corn may be kept by the farmer to be fed to livestock.

What do the processing plants do with it? They process it for fuel, food, beverages, animal feeds, oils, and much more.

What is different about soybean harvest and corn harvest? The combine it set different and has different heads to grab the crop and run it through the machine. The soybeans produce a lot less “bushels per acre” but also have a higher dollar value at market.

Moisture: Moisture is the level at which crops hold when harvested. Moisture is also mentioned under “Dryer.”

Bushels& Yields: Corn is measured at 56 lbs/ bushel and soybeans are measured at 60 lbs/ bushel. This means that every 56 lbs of corn= 1 bushel. Corn typically yields 160-220 bushels per acre and soybeans are 50-80 bushels per acre. They are typically sold in the wagon load or semi load. An average semi load will be about 1,000 bushels of corn when taken to market.

This may give a better understanding of the work behind harvest or maybe it confused you even more! In that case, drop your harvest questions below!

Breakfast Sandwiches

Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches

I do all my meal prepping on Sunday’s. I can prep for the whole week and these stay good in the fridge during that time. What I love about these is the are fairly healthy, easy to make, store well, filling, and have a variety of options.

What you will need

Sandwich Thins, Bread, Biscuits, or English Muffin

Meat (turkey sausage, Canadian bacon, bacon)

Eggs/ egg whites

Cheese, sauce, butter, salt, pepper (optional)

Sandwich thin, egg, turkey sausage, cheese spread

I make 5 sandwiches at a time.

1. I start by toasting the bread.

2. I then prep the meat (cook the bacon, or sausage- My favorite are the precooked turkey sausage patties)

3. Cook the eggs or egg whites.

4. Assemble the sandwiches.

5. Spread Laughing Cow cheese on the toasted bread.

6. Place the meat and egg between the bread pieces.

7. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in the fridge.

Microwave for 45 seconds in the morning on the way out the door and enjoy!

Get Comfortable with Saying NO

Our lives are busy. Everyone has their own version of busy. Well guess what? Life never slows down! The older you get the more responsibility you have, the more humans you have to care for, the more you grow in your work and own development, life only speeds up right along with it. The past two years have been the busiest parts of my life but also the most fulfilling. Kids or no kids, I would like to share some insight on how my life has changed and how it has been for the better.

For me, once I had kids, I had to learn to get comfortable with saying no. I have always been a YES person and love new challenges. I love helping others and I love being involved. I have come to realize that I can not do it all. I have to pick and choose what I commit my time to. Not only does my family need me but I need them. I love every second I get to spend being a mom and time with my children is precious. I have had to say no. Say no to coffee dates, shopping trips, weekends away with the girls, drinks after work and much more. This isn’t just because I had children. This is because I set my priorities and I was clear with what is important to me in my life. I had to learn to feel good about saying no.

Over time I have felt guilt about telling someone no or missing out on something to say yes to something else. But as I write this now, I do not remember the things I said no to. I do however remember the things important to me that I said yes to. I still commit time to girls’ days, coffee dates, etc. but it must be a priority of mine and the time must line up with my schedule. I am not missing out on what is important to me because I said no and not missing out on my priorities for saying yes. It’s a balance between my time and what is important to me.

Whatever it is that you don’t feel good about and committing with a hard yes; it’s okay to walk away, it’s okay to say NO. Write down your priorities and commit to making sure those things come 1st. Make time for the extras in your life and say yes to things that make your heart happy.

Just Do The Thing!

You know when you are a kid and doing something scary and ask for a count down. You can almost guarantee an older sibling or friend who is assisting in this scary thing will do it before the countdown is over. Put this picture in your head. I am sitting on top of a tall tower scared to death to zip line but on the count of 5, I am going. 1, 2, ZIPPPP and I am pushed off the tower BEFORE I was expecting it. The outcome? I still went down the zip-line, I am still alive, and I actually had fun!

Often times in life we just need a little push- sometimes even before we are ready. This blog for instance. I write to share my feelings; it is my form of stress reliever for me. I started a blog back when I was pregnant with my 1st daughter. I picked it back up when I was on maternity leave with my second but I was too afraid to ever hit publish. It’s not ready, it’s not perfect, I am SURE there are typos (I hated English class), I am not perfect. Maybe no one will even read it? Then I remembered WHY I am doing this… for me… for a stress reliever… my place to gather my thoughts and put them on “paper.” Why should I care if it is perfect or if it is not ready? In the moment I needed that little push. A book I was reading talked about this exact thing and it was enough to give me the push I needed.

So sister or brother, just do the thing. Don’t worry about the perfect timing, perfect situation, perfect post; just do it! Remember your WHY behind what you are doing to ensure it aligns with your values. When you are doing the thing that is right for YOU; YOU will know and feel good with your decision.

Peanut Butter Protein Bites

My family LOVES these! Even better, they are super easy to make and can even be froze (I know- mind blown)!

Peanut Butter Protein Bites

There are a few variations to this recipe and the best part is that you can’t really mess them up! I usually double the batch and freeze half.

Peanut Butter Bites

10 min prep time

2 C. Oats (these are pictured whole but you can also grind them)

1/2 C. Honey

3/4 C. Natural Peanut Butter

1/4 C. Ground Flax

1 tsp. Natural Vanilla

Optional: Mini Chocolate Chips

Optional: 1 scoop protein powder- will need to add more vanilla or honey if you use protein powder

Mix all ingredients together. Roll into small ball shapes and put in container and into the fridge (or freezer) Enjoy!

Pizza Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce

As stated earlier, canning can be a lot of work! But, the process doesn’t have to be! I LOVE the idea of having fresh produce year round. Time and resources (and let’s be honest, laziness), play a huge part in why I have been freezing my produce each year rather than canning it. I shared a few posts back how I freeze my green beans and wanted to share how I have been doing sauces. I hate tomatoes but LOVE red sauces- makes total sense right!? I plant roma tomatoes and use those for my sauce. I make pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce.

Here is how make spaghetti sauce

Step 1: Pick and clean the tomatoes in a cold water bath

Step 2: Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato to make it easy to peel the skin once blanches

Step 3: Place in boiling water for about 5-10 min or until the peels start to soften up.

Step 4: Peel the skins, remove any seeds

Step 5: Blend and boil- I use my vita mix blender and blend down to a “sauce”

Step 6: Put in a stock pot and boil down while adding the following

Yields: I picked 4 ice cream buckets worth of romas- it yielded 1 full ice cream bucket blended down.

Add to taste! Mix in whatever amount of spices you like but here is an idea where to start- ie: I love garlic so I add more.

Italian seasoning 4 T

Basil- 1T

Parsley- 1T

Minced Garlic- 2 T

Season Pepper- 1 T

Tomato Paste- 2 cans

Salt- 1 tsp

Olive Oil- 2 T

Garlic Salt- 1T

Put in freezer baggies and freeze laying flat! Good in a deep freeze for 1 year. ENJOY!

From Field to Table

Living in Iowa we are blessed with an abundance of wildlife. I was raised in a hunting family and learned to respect our God given food sources from an early age. If you have had wild game before and didn’t like the taste, I suggest you give it another shot (no pun intended). Below I share some tips for cooking the wild game we harvest.

Deer Loin before season and grilling

Deer: My husband and I both find joy in the challenge of archery hunting. For me I prefer this hunting method simply because the seasons are much warmer 🙂 Upon harvest we field dress the deer, rinse, and hang. Depending on time and weather, we will start to cut the meat off the bone that day or the next. We cut it off in large sections and take it to the house and rise. The loins get cut in 1/2″ steaks and vacuum sealed. The rest of it gets sliced thin for making jerky. We will take whatever is left and grind it for “deer burger.”

Since I will not give away our top secret jerky recipe, I will give you a general run down. Find a jerky season and season the jerky as you wish. We smoke ours on our Traeger Grill for 2 hrs on the smoke setting. We end up vacuum sealing it and putting it in the freezer to enjoy year round!

When cooking the deer steaks we simply season with a steak seasoning (or salt and pepper) and cook on our Traeger Grill at 350* for about 7-10 min.

From field to table- Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey: The best part of a Wild Turkey is the breasts. We will cut off the breasts, marinate and grill. A few of my favorite marinates are Olive Oil with Traeger Chicken Rub- set overnight then grill 350* for 30 min or until the meat is 165*. Another easy marinate is plain ol’ Italian dressing. Marinate overnight and cook as above.

Wild Turkey Breasts

It really is that simple! Both Wild Turkey and Wild Deer provide great lean sources of protein. They are low in total and saturated fats as well as provide a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals.