Trixie and The Nooners
It has been suggested a few times (LOL) that we should make Farm Fest a yearly event! What a wonderful idea. But next time lets just make it a celebration.... cuz the barn will be all done.. right???
We had a farm full of activity, friends old and new, great food, fabulous music, and we actually got quite a bit of work done on the barn too!
I made 60lbs of pulled pork, and salad. Ty's Amazing Kitchen came along as well and made gumbo with our cajun sausage! YUMMY! He also helped us roast our corn! Corn was donated by Abie Vegetable People and from Schoolhouse Gardens.
Upstream Brewing Company donated two kegs of their amazing beer and Trader Joe's in Lincoln donated a case of yummy wines! Bands played all day and into the night.
A late night bonfire complete with marshmallows and campers ended our first day and we all woke up ragged and tired but happy and ready to get back to work.
Day 2 was all about the tin. We purchased some second hand tin for the interior of the cheese room but it has to be sanded so it can be repainted. Most of the morning we were roughing up the tin with scouring pads. Looks like fun... right?
We had a lot of fun! I was more exhausted than I thought possible afterwards but what a wonderful weekend!
Andy and I are so thankful to everyone who came out to help and for those who donated. Without you we would not be this far along.
Work party #2 planned for next weekend (Aug 17)! We still have an untapped keg of beer and wine left! Work still to be completed.... join us next weekend. More info to come as I get it. But I am so looking forward to it!
Here we are mid February 2013 and the barn that was supposed to be built in November is still just a slab of concrete. Remember our grand opening celebration that was scheduled on December 8th? Obviously it has not happened.
To add insult to injury we discovered that what little work was done... was sabotaged by the contractor. I wish I had known what footings were when they were pouring that cement pad... because there are NONE there. We kept asking about the lack of floor drains in the cement and the contractor kept saying "Trust Me... I have been in construction for 15 years." He spoke of some magic roto-rooter device that would create floor drains after the building was placed on the slab... little did we know he was full of it. The picture above shows the cement pad and where we have begun to have the concrete cut for footings.
After missing yet another deadline of Christmas for construction completion, another long line of more excuses from Mr. Allen, and with the end of January fast approaching we decided to fire this contractor and requested a refund. We had discovered that the cement pad would require thousands of extra dollars to repair and bring to code. We learned that Mr. Allen had not paid the cement contractor, and the electrics that were done on the house were all wrong. We needed to basically start over.
Since then we have had nothing more than empty promises to refund the money paid Mr. Allen. We contacted the authorities and a Deputy came out to take a report, and things were beginning to feel pretty glum. Then yesterday my phone rang. It was Tonya Ward from Energy Rescue, a local non-profit. She is a dear friend and we had spoken about our situation a week or so ago. Tonya offered to orchestrate a giant fundraising and volunteer effort to raise the barn! Needless to say, I was blown away and brought to tears.
Tonya got right to work! She contacted news stations and Fox 42 was the first to jump at the opportunity to broadcast our story. For those that remember.... this is the same station that aired the story about the tornado that took the barn two years ago. In fact, they sent the same reporter, Curt Casper. I believe the story will air after American Idol tomorrow night (2/13).
Right now, we do know that the barn kit will be here Saturday. We need help with cement work, we need a septic tank, water needs to be run to the barn and electricity, materials for the inside of the barn and general man hours to get everything completed. We have been granted until the end of Feb to get off the Elmwood farm so timing is crucial... there is much to be done and little time.. and no funds left.
Tonya is working hard to secure financial and material donations and volunteers to help us get this creamery completed. Andy and I borrowed $10,000 from a friend last week and this will cover the cost of the new building I ordered. We are operating under the assumption that there will not be a refund in the foreseeable future but if there is we will use all funds to the rest of the project.
It is our sincere hope that his coverage will encourage Mr. Allen to refund Lowell the money he was paid.... nearly all of it since what little work was done is going to require significant expense to correct.
I will share more info as I have it....
Wanted to update everyone and give one place for pictures. Friday night around 9m we think we had a tornado take out the barn right next to the house. Very scary. No warnings at all, not even severe thunderstorm. It just came out of nowhere.
This is what I saw outside my back door. When we ran downstairs to the basement, I could see large items flying through the air but didn't stop to see what it was. It was parts of the barn!
We are so thankful... we were all upstairs and we easily could have lost a kid or all of us had this thing hit the house. Scary.
Rubble in driveway
Here is the driveway next to the house.... crazy.
Standing and looking in what was the barn....
This beam was thrown across the farm, landing in the roof of the milk barn, and extending 6 feet inside the barn!
Check out my car! That is a beam under my car! Rubble all around the car but nothing in the car! All I have are smashed rear view windows, scratches, and dents!
I was shocked to welcome our fist hero helper at 7:30 am! He was a workhorse! Cleared most of the upper driveway and worked on the huge piece of shed in the swingset in an hour or two! Amazing!
Thanks Rebecca for loaning us your husband!
Rex was here early too!
Always the knight in shining armor that one! :-)
All the kids got into the action!
So many people showed up to help! We really were amazed... all day long it seemed like people showed up and other left.. it was constant stream of help. The phone rang and text messages of support came in all weekend. We really are blessed with wonderful friends and customers!
Before dinner.... yard, driveway, and pasture cleared! How incredible is that! When I looked at the mess in the morning.. I figured it would be weeks of work!
Got a phone call Sunday afternoon from Jim... one of our customers and friends. He took some video footage and said they wanted to air it on the 9:00 news... was that OK? Sure... why not. So we wait and watch Fox 42 9:00 news and about died laughing at the video footage aired - about 30 seconds of Alex running around the barn naked as a jaybird playing with one of his friends. Geez.. I thought he stayed dressed all day Saturday! Oh well... so goes life..
Yesterday, another phone call. Fox 42 wants to send a reporter out. Is this OK? Sure... what's another naked butt on TV gonna hurt? Right? It's gonna happen... best not to fight it. I can have those darned boys dressed and ten seconds later they are streaking. But wait... they are all at Cynthia's house playing! Woo Hoo! We can do an interivew without naked people! What a concept... sure come on over!
Turns out they want to come because apparently the weather service says the winds were only 25 miles an hour. Naturally he waits to tell me this till I am on camera and captures my response. Seriously, the reporter was a super nice guy. :-) I would love to kick the editor though. :-) Why is it that they take 30 minutes of footage and choose the most bizzare comments to air. Like me pointing out our junk... that wasn't even part of the interview.. I didnt realize I was being taped. How funny. I watch the news last night and all I could think was how silly we looked.. and how I need to loose a bunch of weight. We did say some great stuff that actually made sense... but that didn't get aired. LOL Oh.. and of course they re-aired the naked boy footage. GREAT.
Here is a link to the news segment.. if you need a good chuckle.. CLICK HERE
I will leave you with a couple interesting shots Andy took... I think they are pretty cool.
Our love to all... and again THANKS SO MUCH to everyone who came out to help, called, emailed, left gifts, expressed concern and generally showed us LOVE.
Summer is here! And so is our CHEESE! Our journey to farmers markets has finally arrived. WHEW!
Just the process of choosing a market felt overwhelming at first. So many choices! We are so blessed here in the Lincoln/Omaha markets with so many wonderful markets to choose from! I have been a frequent visitor/purchaser at the Lincoln markets but had no idea where to start with the Omaha ones. So, we started checking them out. Fun... all in itself! A new market was opening in Lincoln so it seemed natural to start with that market as it would be smaller and we only had a two cheeses to choose from. Also, I could bake bread.. one of my greatest loves!
So, sporting my new haircut (thanks Linda!), armed with 14 loaves of my whole wheat cinnamon roll bread off we went. I was thinking the bread would be a fun addition and I could talk to folks about healthy fats and introduce them to our cheeses. I spent the better part of a week (or two) carousing Lincoln's thrift shops for everything I thought I needed. I assembled all my goods, brought eggs, meats, cheese, and that bread. All anyone was interested in was the bread. I came home so bummed. I couldn't figure out what went wrong. Back to the drawing board! The market uploaded some pictures of my table on their FB page and boy was that helpful! Something stuck out at me when looking at my set up from that viewpoint. NOTHING! My signs were hidden, all that really stood out was the bread. No wonder that's all anyone wanted! I also realized how bland my color set up was. I thought I was being really nifty ... my whole set up matched my cheese labels... sunflower yellow table cloth with a cute little red and greed plate.. . just like my labels. Boy.. did I have a lot to learn. All this great cheese and it was hardly noticeable. Two things I did do right was to make a big white board poster with pictures of the animals and I was handing out Weston A Price brochures.
Sooo.... week 2! Lost the yellow tablecloth... used Grandma's red and white checked ones. Added another table so we had an L shape. Didn't snap any pictures though.. it was the Grand opening of the market and we were occupied talking to people and listening to the radio station blaring next to us. OK.. so singing along and goofing off a bit. Hannah came with me to this one.. I hate that I dont have a picture of her. I only baked six loaves of bread and set them to the side. Cheese more front and center in a groovy red basket and plate. We sold a bit more cheese and a few meats. Not brillant but better. Learning, learning. I spent a lot of time creating these cute little signs for Ground beef on sale, signs with colors and framing in clear plastic stands... and spent the whole evening picking them up off the ground or table! Pretty frustrating! Looking at my table that night I realized that as much as I love my Grandma's red and white tablecloths I really needed ones that fit my tables and matched each other better... bummer. As usual... my MOM saved the day! In the mail I received some gorgeous bright busy country checked tablecloths! With a matching plastic mat upon which to showcase that cheese! Woo Hoo!
So, week 3 approaches an I think I have it all figured out! (silly woman) I made these great signs to hang from the beams of my tent... got my gorgeous eye catching tablecloths.. what can go wrong?? I should learn not to ask. It was 105 degrees AND windy! My signs flew off their hooks... so I taped a few to the poles. My big picture board kept flying off it's stand and finally broke my big easel ... :-( And we needed table cloth clamps- stuff flying everywhere! It was so stinking hot... after setting up I just wanted to pass out! Very few people at the market... (can't imagine why!). But Jamie was WORKING IT!. She had her little cute self standing outside of the tent catching folks as they walked by giving them brochures on the farm. She even brought in a few folks... one guy said he was just buying those lamb chops because she was so cute! I came home so incredibly exhausted.. it's just too hot in the evenings! So... starting to think about weekend early morning markets. And.. we have more cheese coming ready.
Last weekend we went to Village Pointe market in Omaha. I couldn't believe the difference! People were there to shop! They came prepared to buy groceries! We actually sold meat and cheese! It was awesome! We had our jack cheeses and our cheddar bites (which sold out!). The heat didn't set in till the last hour and it was much more manageable. And.. no bread... as much as I love baking... it was taking up all my extra time and energy.. I was spending two days solidly baking. A week of not baking was certainly welcomed. I was able to spend a little time in my garden... I found baby cabbages in all the grass! How fun! Andy made me this awesome big wood sign for the markets that works great to catch attention and DOESNT FALL OVER!! I have taken to taping my picture board to the tent poles.. still need to work on a better plan for for that. But, we are starting to feel like pros... set up is much easier and we are learning more and more every day! Why just last weekend I learned my tent goes up much higher! Today we attended an indoor one day market at OPPD District offices in Omaha. We premiered our Raw Milk English Cheddar and our Fresh Feta. Both girls came with me and they had a blast. Quite the little sales girls they are making! I figure its a great learning experience for them... talk about real socialization!
On a non-farm note: Ashley Graduated! :-) Not that we ever had any concerns... she is so stinking smart! Nonetheless it was a wonderful thing to celebrate.
We took a day off this month to celebrate our July birthdays. Michael turned 3 and Jamie is turning 9! This is just all going by too fast. It seems like just the other day when asked how old Michael was I said 2... (actually it WAS just the other day!) Then it dawned on me.. my baby is 3. How did that happen? It seems too fast. Anyhoo.. we took a day off from the farm.. Andy milked in the morning and we went swimming all day! Such fun! Andy was smart and left his shirt on.. me.. not so much! I have quite the burn on my back and right now am often imitating the pigs scratching myself on posts and walls. Totally worth it though! We have decided to stick with morning milking... it has opened up all kinds of avenues for family fun! Andy gets more sleep too... which he desperately needed.
my hot cheese date!
Feeling thankful these days for our wonderful friends here in Nebraska. We couldn't do this without your support. Thankful for all the times friends just show up to help or are willing to be my hot cheese date and help me cut up and package cheese late at night.
I still miss my Georgia friends but is is just so great that I have developed some dear friends here. On my birthday my closest friends here surprised us by just showing up with food, cake, and weeding gloves! They went to work on my garden and uncovered so much goodness in there! Plants that were being choked out by grass and weeds were given new life! I can't even tell you how much that meant to me. And if not enough, the next night they took me out for dinner! We had big fun goofing off, walking around the Haymarket and making Facebook mischief by posting we were getting tattoos. Been too long since I have had so much fun!
WOW! Has September been crazy! I think September 1st was the most insane day I have had in a long long while. By 9am I was so busy I wanted to go back to bed. We spent what seemed like the whole day chasing pigs.. fixing fence.. putting pigs back into fixed fence... chasing pigs.. fixing fence again.. putting pigs back in again... chasing pigs.. so on and so on. There was one pig we just never could get back in the fenced area.
Of course Andy came home and had her back in the fence within minutes! Isn't that always the way?
That evening it rained and rained and rained. It started real heavy during milking time so I was inside with the kids. Debris started flying and Andy called from the milking parlor telling me to get the kids in the basement.. fast. I looked out the window in time to see the tarp blow off the broiler chicks pen that had been placed out in the front pasture. I knew then we would loose them but there was nothing I could do but watch. Andy came in around 10 and confirmed we had lost the chicks. So sad. We both just felt like crying.
Around 11:30 pm Andy looked out the window and saw the water rising. We had just had three new heritage sheep delivered late that afternoon and the pen they were in was looking like it might flood. So out Andy goes and he let the sheep out... being new they did not know Andy or the lay of the land and they ran straight for the rising water. Andy looked over and saw one of our calves that was trapped by the rising water over the east pasture. He went out and literally pulled her through the fence to safety. It was raining so hard and it was so dark... we could see that the cows had moved to high ground and all we could do was go to bed and pray for the best.
We woke up to this. 65 acres of water. The only dry areas we had were to top of the east pasture and the top of the west winter pasture. We set off to count animals and survey the damage. 95% of the farm was under 6 feet of water. We lost the broilers, those three rare sheep, but all the cows were safe. No way to milk that day... water was clear up to the parlor!
It was amazing how fast it all cleared. Within in a week most of the pasture was dryish.. but it was all black. It looked like a feedlot here. Yuck. We seeded the following weekend. We even had some much neded help! The Baker family spent part of the morning helping us spread seed.... all the while being pestered by Tater and a couple of curious cows. Friends Melissa and April also came out to help. I wish I had taken a picture of Melissa.... she walked the pasture for what seemed like hours with baby Gianna in the sling! Super Mama! :-) Chelsea came with April and played with the kids so we were able to get the job done! I don't think we would have gotten it done ourselves without all the help! It allowed Andy to focus on fence repairs and really made a difference for us!
We lost most of our grazeable pasture.. way too early in the year for that. Milk supply has signicantly dropped... so no more cream. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE cream? The end of the cream season was not due till winter! I miss cream already.
Two weeks later.... we get hit with ANOTHER storm. This one was super scary. Debris flying everywhere... 80 mile an hour winds. And once again.. Andy was out in it! He was on his way home when it hit and there was a wreck about 2miles from the house. The woman seemed disoriented and Andy stayed with her.. he had her wait in his truck until help arrived. I cannot imagine how scary that must have been. The village of Alvo where they were had so many trees down the roads were blocked.. it must have been quite the site to watch that happen. We were luckier than most... we had a few trees down in fence line, he house was fine except for some basement flooding, and we lost power and missed a milking due to no power. We ran the generator to keep the milk in the store cold but couldn't get enough juice to run the milking system. Overall... we did OK with that storm.
Cleanup is on going. Construction has halted for the time being... purchasing hay in September was never in the budget. So, our milk room finish work will just have to wait till spring.
Fun stuff that happened this month: We hosted the API of Lincoln family potluck this month. It was a really great day! So much fun to take a day off, visit with friends and watch the kids play all day.
Yesterday we stopped by a friend's homeschool jamboree and the girls learned how to throw spears. They made an Atlatl and used it to throw the spears.. it was great fun!
Other than that the month was pretty much normal (as she laughs out loud). Normal? Is there such a thing on a farm? Oh well..... that which does not kill us only makes us stronger... right? Seriously... I bet we have the best pasture around next year!
Boy... have we been busy! Construction is nearing completion and we should be applying for our Grade A license soon! :-) The washable walls are up in the milking parlor, almost half of the milk room now has washable walls too.
I thought it might be fun to share with you a before picture. I just found this on Andy's disk..... and even I was surprised at how far we have come. This is a picture of the milking barn before we started construction.
We have been blessed to have the help and support of good friends. Speaking of support..... whoa!
We have even put the kids to work! Here is a shot of Jamie helping Javier mud the ceiling in the milk room.
Not to be outdone Alexander set out to help with the driveway for customers to pull close to the store.
My Mom was here for the past week. She set her self to the task of decorating the farm store as well as the house!! I think the store looks great with the additions of a rug, pictures, and counter top. Thanks Mom!
New chicks arrived in July. They are growing nicely and hopefully next week we can get them out in pasture.
The heat this week has been unbearable! The cows have been seeking shelter in the trees. This is a shot of Blossom.. right before she birthed our new heifer calf " Clover".
Hopefully by my September update we will be all done with construction, the weather will be a bit cooler and life will settle down a bit. But for now... I am off to help Andy milk those gorgeous cows!
We had our first sheep shearing experience last week. We learned some things. First, I was surprised by how calm the sheep were. It was amazing how much wool you get from only one sheep! After each sheep was sheared we all ran our hands over their coats and our hands were covered with lanolin... we were rubbing it on our elbows and feet... so cool! One of our sheep had her lamb the next morning.. a sweet little ewe lamb.
Our friends, the Langford family, just left last night after a wonderful three week visit. With nine kids in the house it got a little chaotic and a whole lot messy but it sure was fun. Our days were spent riding bikes, exploring the quarry, swimming in the nearby pond, and generally goofing off..... can't remember when we have had such a wonderful time. I feel renewed and refreshed. We are missing them already.
We are still waiting on some of our cows to calve but the grass is in and milk is up! Spring is my favorite time of year. New life is all around the farm. The milk has changed colors.. revealing all the life-giving goodness that comes from the rapidly growing grass. Even the pigs are so busy chomping on fresh alfalfa and grass to visit their feed buckets. Turkey chicks and our first run of broiler chicks are here! Yes, it's finally spring! Yippee!
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..