Its been about five weeks since we gave up grains and sugar... I figured it is time for an update. Long story short.. I don't think I have ever felt better! Kids are doing great as well!
We have worked into some standby meals that everyone loves and are easy to create and this certainly helps! Our lunches generally consist of a hot pot meal.... cabbage and other veggies sauteed in good ole bacon grease with bacon.. sometimes I make a curry sauce, sometimes a pesto or red sauce.. sometimes no sauce at all. Everyone loves it! Who can complain about bacon.. right??? Honestly I am quite excited about when we have our own bacon back in the freezer.... oohhh it will be scrummy then! Dinners have been basically meats and veg.. simple ideas like a roast covered in salsa ( green salsa is awesome on a pork roast!), then a stir fry up of veggies and a sauce. We love curry... been doing that a lot! Even Andy seems satisfied. The coolest thing we found is a little invention that turns squash into spagetti noodles! I just fry em up with butter and then toss with meat and sauce... and spagetti! My kids never cared for spagetti squash much ( I never understood that) but they love zucchini and yellow squash as pasta!
Our sugar-free stevia yogurts and chocolate milk help a lot! Pop the yogurt in the ice cream maker and voila.. frozen yogurt! The biggest and best thing I have to report on is my lack of pain level! My ankles dont hurt.. my swelling is gone.. my energy and mental focus so much better its ridiculous! Jamie doesn't complain of her tummy hurting anymore. It's been good at my house.
With my newfound energy and mental stamina I found the time to revamp our webpage. Our website really did not reflect our new focus on dairy alone and needed a complete overhaul. Take the time to check out our new site and let me know what you think about it. As we are starting to get into stores with our yogurt and cheese I needed to have a site that reflected who we are today, what we stand for, and what makes our milk different.
I am on a new quest to find the perfect yogurt flavors! So... I was challenged to create as many flavors as I possibly could think of.... so how does 50 sound? Starting this week, I will have a new flavor each week for the next year. They will be a one time appearance on each... unless we get a strong response to keep a flavor and replace another one with it. This should be fun! Each Tuesday I plan on posting on facebook the photo and caption of that week's flavor and each month I will add a poll to find out what everyone thought of the flavors. I am hoping that people will comment as they try them and let us know what they think. My plan is by the end of the year we will have decided on five or so flavors that will stick and seasonal flavors to rotate.
This week's flavor? Sugar Free Mid Day Mocha yogurt. Let me know what you think! Looking forward to this weekend's markets and the response to our new 50 Shades of Yogurt campaign!
Mother's Day is a working day here on the farm... like all days. But today the kids sure made it special. On Sundays Andy and I go in different directions to different markets. We split the kids to help keep things more manageable. Today I took Hannah and Alex. Alex started my day off by sweet talking a flower vendor to give him a peony... TWICE! Later in the day Hannah helped herself to a little cash, excused herself to go to potty but returned with a cupcake for me. Resourceful kids! Andy had Michael and Jamie and when they returned home they walked in the door beaming, hands full of treasures. Jamie brought a handmade soap and lotion, and Michael had natural bug repellent and soap for Mom. Apparently they had fun trading cheese for gifts for Mom today. So sweet! Ashley surprised me this week with a delivery of Shari's Berries... chocolate covered strawberries. It came with a sweet note telling me it was OK to indulge myself a little. Indulgent indeed!
The bug repellent is super thoughtful and I reckon a bit needed given the fun fact that I was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease thanks to a generous customer/health practitioner friend. I had a tick bite that wouldn't heal and a month later was still on my back. I had not suspected Lyme because I never developed the trademark bulls-eye rash. Little did I realize that a good 30% of people never develop this sign. Besides my non-healing bite I had been very tired lately but just thought I was just that... tired. I waited over a week to fill the prescription but began to be so lethargic I could barely stay awake to make a ten minute drive into town. Finding it hard to keep my eyes open and waking up more tired each morning than I went to bed was letting me know I needed to consider the antibiotic. I searched and searched for a more natural alternative but even the natural sites say with an early diagnosis the best treatment is the antibiotics. Not an idea I relished... but I am thankful I did. Today I started off just exhausted but somewhere around lunchtime I noticed my skin felt hot but I realized I had a bit of energy. I am still tired... but nothing like I have been. Apparently this antibiotic makes you more sensitive to sun. I stood under a canopy all day but I feel like I have a sunburn.. how weird. Guess I need to go buy a big floppy hat for market. I will be taking this medication for 60 days. But, given how I have felt for the past month... I'll gladly take the pills and wear the hat if I can feel human again. This evening I am feeling good enough to head outside! Hopefully I am turning the corner. <<Thanks Ann!>> Too much to do to be sick!
Funny note: the girls were reading what I was typing and when Michael heard I was going outside he just brought me the 'Bugz Off!' he gave me today and said " Makes tick go off Mom!. SO SWEET!
It's nice to be loved. I sit here tonight full of appreciation for this little family I have been blessed with.
Fall is here and boy am I crashing. The summer was long and hot.. too hot and too wet. Weeds overtook our pastures because the heat along with last year's flood sucked the life out of the ground. We now have an operational tractor thanks to good friends who like working on engines and lots of dents on my Tahoe. We decided I could drive a dented up vehicle and Andy could drive a tractor. Seemed like a fair swap.
Here is his new toy. It also now has a loader with a bucket and grapple useful for moving bales of hay around all winter.
It's officially an antique... but it runs smooth and gets the job done. It can pull the mower from the little tractor and Andy has already knocked down the weeds in the pastures. This will be a huge help to us this year and next and help us keep atop of pasture management.
Hay has gone through the roof and we are having to feed it already with the pastures so poor in nutrition. So, we had to raise our milk prices by $1 per half gallon. A very tough choice... two weeks of upset tummy and fried nerves for me in the decision... but really there was no decision. It was do it, or not be here to provide milk all winter. Our customers have been so supportive and understanding. A few have dropped out but for the most part were immediately replaced by new folks waiting for milk. I never fail to be amazed by how good God is and how He cares for us. In reality winter is a really scary thought for me. We have fifteen cows calving between Christmas and March. We will have to be on top of things, watching these mamas closely to keep those new babies safe and warm. It's gonna be a wild ride!
Andy has been busy! He is making amazing progress on clearing junk and debris from the "once a hay barn" reckage. Tonight he was working on clearing out our basement so our junk can go down here. We need to clear the area so we can demo the area and hopefully construction can begin soon. I am really hoping we get a barn with doors that keep chickens out! The old barn was open and a favorite roosting spot for about 20 chickens... POOP CENTRAL. All of Andy's tools were in there and the work benches were a constant source of needed cleanup.
I got the chance last month to dabble in event planning again. The Nebraska Food Coop was in need of a fundraiser and I wanted to see the movie Farmageddon.. so an idea was born. :-) I threw out the idea to try to get a screening planned and to serve a dinner or something with foods from farmers in the coop and try to raise funds. It worked out better than I could ever have imagined. I got the opportunity to work with and get to know some amazing women as we planned and orchestrated the event. We screened the movie at Aksarben Cinema in Omaha. We charged $15 per person. We had tons of amazing foods donated and the Top Chef team at the culinary school in Omaha wowed everyone! The food was just out of site! Gorgeous and delicious.
The movie really broke my heart. I knew what it was going to be about... but to watch what other farmers and families have been put through was just gut wrenching. What a wake up call! I hope everyone here has an opportunity to see this film. As a nation... it's time for us to stand up and say NO MORE! There are things we can all do. Check out our Activism page I just created. There are links there to petitions, a House Bill being introduced, and a grassroots Ballot Initiative with ways we can all get involved.
We had a little media blitz last month. First the barn segments on the news. Then two magazine article interviews, one about Farmageddon and one about raw milk laws. I was invited to be a guest on The Morning Blend.. and Omaha morning program. They have a Village Pointe Farmers Market segment every other week and I got the be the farmer that week. Here is a link to the segment on The Morning Blend . I found the experience scary and confusing. No one warned me there would be no cameras. I had this internal dialogue of "where are the cameras" followed by "look I'm on TV" and "crap.. pay attention!". If invited again, I would be more relaxed and able to function a bit better. It was just unnerving on the first go.. but exciting and fun too!
I was on the radio a couple of weeks ago! I was invited to be a guest on Talk Back Omaha! I very much enjoyed the experience. Here is a link to the podcast if you would like to listen to the segment: Talk Back Omaha Podcast
Other things going on family related: Ashley has her first day of college today! She was able to get a full ride scholarship to SCC in Lincoln. She is taking her classes at the downtown location. She has also signed her lease on her new apartment and is moving out this weekend. Big changes.
Hannah and Jamie are growing too fast. Too fast! Two pre-adolescent girls in one house is interesting... and loud. They seem to fight a lot more lately.. and the DRAMA is off the hook! Jamie is in the "project" stage.. spends her days cutting up little pieces of paper and whatever she can find and creating stuff. Today the boys found a butterfly and Jamie saved it... fed it a pear and nursed it back to health. The picture here was taken by Jamie of her butterfly. Pretty cool shot I thought! Hannah and Jamie have both been such fun all summer at the farmers markets. Now, if we could get them to give the same attention to helping clean the house life would be almost perfect! LOL
The boys are just busy busy busy. Alexander loves helping with barn demo.. his job is to hold the magnet stick and pick up the nails. The hard part is getting him to keep his shoes on while doing it! Michael is talking more now.. a relief. He is suddenly using sentences and even relaying events and stories. He told me the other day about a dream he had. A bad bear was biting him outside. Poor little guy. :-( He woke up crying. At least Mama was right there laying next to him and he settled down pretty quickly... but he talked about that dream all day.
It seems like I am always working on this blog late at night... when the house is quiet. it's 11:30 now... I better hit the sheets... our day starts early around here. My next project is to work on an online store for the off season. We are planning on making monthly drops (maybe more often too) to the spots were we have been all summer at market. I am hoping to create an online store where folks can pre-order what they want and I can drop it off. Wish me luck! It's quite an undertaking.... but a needed project.
Nite nite... Don't let the bed bugs bite!
Don't know about all ya'll back in GA but here in NE its been HOT! We had weeks with the heat index over 100 daily.. the hottest day it was 107! How crazy is that! All of our cows have spent their days laying around seeking shade and cool... and not eating much. So, a few weeks later and here we are with a decline in milk. No cheese. Sad mommy over here with no new cheese.
Our English Cheddar sold out in about three weeks. That was insane! Guess folks liked it! We have about two buckets of feta left and a few rounds of the jacks. The raw milk feta was a total loss.. not sure what happened or how but it ended up with mold in it and feta is not a cheese that mold tastes good with. So, we ditched it. Sad.. but a learning experience non the less. All of our cheeses sold well..people seemed to enjoy them. We start calving again in January so hopefully we will be able to start making cheese again soon after the new year.
Market season is kicking my butt! I stay exhausted, but I really do enjoy it. I have met some wonderful families and have formed some farmer friendships for which I am very thankful. :-)
Here is a shot of the sky last Sunday at the Aksarben Village market. We got a good shower that was over briefly and learned just how wonderfully waterproof our tent is. We moved our tables in a bit and gave some folks a chance to get in out of the rain and taste some cheese! Love it when things work as they should!
We have had some fun lately too! A friend had an open house at their farm so we went along and enjoyed some wonderful food and the kids all got a chance to ride a horse. It's been a while. I miss having Tater around.
Its so awesome watching the boys. They are so different from the girls. Makes me wonder about the nature vs nurture theories. I guess its a bit of both. But man... these boys are a handful.. and precious! They are full of life and mischief. The things they get into... we can't seem to child proof enough. (As if we could really child-proof a farm. ) Today Andy came home to discover they had unplugged the electric fencer, plugged in an extension strip, found various tools and were having a field day. Sooo dangerous!
The really scary part is how quickly they snap into gear. One moment we look out the window to see a sight like this picture... two little guys just playing and having fun. Sweet.. right? Two seconds later (literally) the trike is empty and they are in search of power tools, ropes, buckets, ANYTHING, and they are up to some elaborate plan to destroy SOMETHING. Little turds.
Out we go in search of the terrors.. and we find this. Who could stay mad at a face like this? Not me.
Well, I guess that's about it for this month. Fall seems right around the corner. I need to get to work on putting the garden to bed for winter. So much to do here and there never seems to be enough time. It's hard to believe that tomorrow is September already. Where did the time go?
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!
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..