Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First calf

      The first cutie calf of the year has arrived on our farm. He arrived a little early but is healthy and doing well.  Seeing this cute soft new life sure gets me excited for spring and all the little ones yet to come.
          Standing with his mother a first calf heifer who is doing very well. Her and the calf look comfortable in the barn with the fresh corn stalk bedding.
          Today the temps got up to freezing after a number of days with the temps in the negative numbers. The milder temps and the bright sunshine called to me and the kids and we put on the hat and gloves and headed out on a adventure and to welcome the new calf to the farm.
         Rose found some fun playing and climbing the corn gluten pile that is being used to feed the cattle. With the lack of snow this winter she slid down it a few times pretending it was a snow pile.

          Luke, like all boys, was attracted to the tractors and had to try out the loader tractor. I think he could stay in there for hours pushing buttons and turning the wheel.
          He did take a little brake from the tractor driving to look at the new calf.
           Then it was back to more tractor driving. This time on the old "bouncy seat" tractor as the kids have called it over the years. It has been a favorite of all the kids and it looks like Luke approves of it too.
          I love these sunny days on the farm and seeing the first little signs of spring. It feels so good to be back outside again and see the kids having some good old farm fun.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Foundation/Paper Pieced Quilt Squares

       I think that I am just one of those people who likes having a project going. If you have looked around my blog any you have seen that some of my favorite projects involve wood working, but here in the north it is not as enjoyable working out in the garage with the power tools when it is freezing outside. So when the weather turns cold outside I start up some of my inside projects which mostly include needle work in some form or another.
      I have also admired quilt making but have never had any luck with traditional quilting. Last winter I discovered foundation, or paper pieced, quilting and quickly fell in love with it. I find it super easy to do.  If you can sew in a straight line you can do it, and the patterns are so cute. Let me show you how it is done.
      Step 1 is to go to your computer and print off a copy of the pattern you would like to made in the size that you want. I have found a number of wonderful pattern books that are accompanied with a CD filled with patterns. I am doing 8 inch squares and they fit nicely onto one piece of paper. I use normal printer paper for my projects and it works well.
    Next I get out the crayons and color code the pattern. Some patterns print out with the squares colored already but this one does not. I find it important to color code because once the pieces are cut apart it is hard to picture the full square and they look like a lots of odd shapes. After coloring time is done cut out the pattern separating the pieces along the bold lines. Each piece should have one letter on it with many numbered shapes.
    Now it is time piece the fabric together. Start with shape #1 and keep building from there. In the 3rd picture above you can see I have done number 1-5. To place shape 6 I fold the paper along the line that separates 6 from the lower numbers. The paper is folded so the printed sides are touching.
    Next step is to trim the exposed fabric to about 1/4 inch along the folded side of the pattern. Now find a piece of fabric in the correct color for your pattern that is big enough to cover shape 6 with at least a 1/4 inch border around the edge. Do not worry about which way the pattern on the fabric is facing. You should be able to see the shape though the paper and compare you fabric patch to this.
    Place the fabric  behind the existing fabric making sure to align the fabric at the top and have right sides of the fabric facing each other.
     Now for the easy part. Open up the paper making sure the fabric doesn't move underneath and then straight stitch along the line separating 6 from the lesser numbers. Stitch through the paper and the fabric. Use a tight/small stitch so that later the paper will tear away easier when you are done.
     Take the  pattern over to the ironing board and press open the piece you just added. Then turn over the patter and fold it along the #7 line and repeat the previous steps. 
     Here are some tips that I have learned along the way. 1. When doing shape #1 put some glue on the back of the paper where shape 1 is and place on the wrong side of the fabric so that it stays in place. 2. When finding  fabric to cover a shape, the fabric should cover the shape when it is folded over. Some shapes are odd shaped and come off at different angles.
      One you have all the numbers completed turn the pattern over and trim the fabric to leave a 1/4 inch border.
        Once all the pieces of the pattern are complete is it is time to assemble them. The rule of thumb is to sew them together in the alphabetical order. Often there will be grouping of letters to be sewn together and then a long seam will connect them all. Pay attention to how you cut them apart and how they would best go back together.  You want to sew along the paper edge and then press the pieces open as you go.
      After it is all assembled turn it over and tear off the paper pieces and you now have a finished beautiful quilt square.
      I have made a number of squares and find each one fun and beautiful. I would recommend starting with and easy one like the tree above, this was my first square. As you can see I have also added embroidery to my squares and am going to make them into a memory quilt for my children and godchildren when they graduate from high school. I like giving presents with meaning and think this can be a keepsake they can have for a long time.
 Product DetailsProduct Details
These are two books that I have found and are my favorites. I have linked them to Amazon. They both come with CD's containing patterns have lots of fun squares. Have fun stitching.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

40 days of Preperation

 Today is Ash Wednesday and as you can see the kids we have already attended mass and gotten our ashes. The marking of ashes on our foreheads helps us remember that we are only on this world for a short time and that we need to prepare ourselves and live our lives in a way that will help us get to heaven. We have all came from ashes and to ashes some day we will all return. I truly enjoy Ash Wednesday and all the symbolism it holds.
   Another reason for celebrating Ash Wednesday is that it marks the first day of Lent. Lent is 40 days where we prepare ourselves for Jesus rising from the dead on Easter Sunday. It is a time of self reflection and correction. These 40 days are to serve as an annual house cleaning of our souls.  We should all aim to be a clean and perfect as we can in thanksgiving for the amazing gift Jesus gave us by concurring death and opening the way to eternal life. The Easter season is my favorite time of year for a number of reasons and I hope I can make this Lenten season we are now entering a very powerful and meaningful one for myself and my family.
     Reflecting on what the next 40 days of Lent will hold for me I also started thinking about the changes that I will see on the farm in these days leading up to Easter. Looking back at what happened last year at this time has gotten me very excited. It is making real the spring fever that I have been starting to feel and getting me excited for all the new life that is just around the corner.
   First off calving season is just around the corner. The calving barn has been prepared and cow TV is up and going . During the next 40 days most of our 140 cows we will have their baby for the year. I pray that it all goes smoothly very few complications or deaths. Here is a post I did during calving season last year about one of my daughter Mary's favorite cows, Sad News.

    This time of year is also when the piglets are born that the kids will be showing this next summer at the fair. It is amazing how fast these little guys grow. Here is the post I did when we visited my brother in laws pig farm, Visiting a Pig Farm.

      The next 40 days will also bring warmer weather which I am very excited about. Today there was a high of  3 degrees with a wicked wind chill that just cuts through you. I look at these pictures of  the kids playing in the mud and can't wait for these days to come, but I also know that when I am dealing with mud coated cloths and kids I may be singing a different tune. Here is a post I did on a beautiful day we had at the end of March, A Beautiful Busy Day.

      I was also excited to see that last year I was hanging cloths on the line during lent time. It is a little extra work but I have always enjoyed hanging cloths on the line and letting the fresh air dry them. What I wouldn't give to be out in the sun right now hanging cloths on the line and later bringing inside the fresh smells of spring. Here is a post on Spring Cleaning.
    After taking this trip though my past posts I am getting very excited and ready to dive into this Lenten season and prepare my heart, home, and farm for all the beautiful gifts and joys that are awaiting us throughout and at the end of the next 40 days. Here is one more post with many cute kids and calves, 30 and Counting. Bring on the new life and warm weather and may you have a blessed Ash Wednesday and Lenten Season.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bull bidding

    This next summer we have aquired another pasture that we will put cattle in. We like to have a bull in each of our pastures to breed the cows there. This addition of another pasture means we are in need of another bull. My dad and husband have been to many bull sales over the last month or so and have seen many nice animals but have been waiting for the right animal at the right price. There are many factors that go into picking out a bull. The animal is given numbers in regards to how big its offspring should be at birth, this is especially important when breeding a bull to a first calf heifer. Some bulls are known as calving ease bulls because the calves should be a smaller size. The bull is also scored on how big the offspring should be at weaning time and market weight. There are other numbers and figures I don't quite understand but my husband does so that is what's important. 
   So all that brings us to today. This morning Paul told me that the Hook family was having their bull sale this afternoon and he was going. The Hook family is a wonderful neighbor family whom Paul worked for during high school and we have become good friends with. I thought it might be fun to go to the sale as a family and let the kids experience a cattle sale. 
First we went out and looked at the animals. Mary is my animal lover and had to say hi to a few. They were quite friendly. Like was interested in them too. Paul looked them all over closly and found a few he liked. Let's hope they go for the right price. 
Inside the auction ring the kids and I sat through a few bulls being sold. Paul was nervous that the kids would make a bid as they were moving all around. After a while we went back outside because the kids said it was getting to loud for them with the auctioneer and the yiping ring men. 
Mary and Rose found some farm kitties to snuggle so they were happy. 

And Luke found some things with a steering wheel so he was happy. It was a beautiful fun day and a successful one too. Paul did buy a bull so we are ready for the next breeding season and we are happy that we could get it from such a great farming family. 

I am programmed to LOVE you

   The kids and I just got done making their valentines and I think they are so cute. As you can see we had to make a whole army of them with three kids in school. We have made these robots in the past and since we were making so many this year we went for the simplified version. In the past we have put starburst feet on them. In the past we also made a book mark out of a paint color card with a bit of ribbon tied to the top and then taped that to the back of the robot. The ribbon looked like antenie. If you can't tell by the picture the body is a juice box, the head a box of nerds (although as you can see we ran out of those and substituted another boxed candy), and the arms are laffy taffy. 

       We have a lot of fun with Valentine's Day and wish you a happy day filled with love and loved ones.    

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Truck!!!!!

     Introducing the Lanoue families new ride, our brand new Chevy Silverado. We are ecstatic and so honored to have received such and amazing prize and recognition for all our work in ag promotion. Paul and I were blessed with the opportunity to compete earlier this year in the Farm Bureau  Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture competition and won the national contest and the truck you see here is our prize. See this post where I talk about what the competition involves Excellenge in Agriculture.
      We had a wonderful reception at our local dealership Lockwood Motors with many wonderful supporters of Farm Bureau and the Young Farmer and Rancher Program. As you see we got the kids our to school to help us celebrate. They are just as excited, if not more, about the new truck. Paul and I have been wanting and waiting for a truck for many years and are so excited the day has come where we can call one of these great machines ours.
     Here area bunch of photos my mom was so kind in taking for me during the reception. You can view them and get every minute of the excitement. Such a fun time full of great energy.
Luke and Rose spent most of their time in the cap testing every button and honking the horn.

Yes Paul you now own a Victory Red truck.

Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Papp presented Paul and I with the keys to the truck.

Chevy representatives came and we are honored at the wonderful prize the have given us and their support of Farm Bureau

AGNITION also presented us with a prize they were giving to us in a Generate product they will apply free of cost to 100 acers of our land this next spring. Thanks AGNITION.

The Farm Bureau staff put on a wonderful reception with a cake and drinks.

The kids were excited to see a candy boque and made sure to sample many of them.


Once again thank you to the great Farm Bureau Staff and friends who have helped us along the way. This truck wouldn't be ours without your great support and guidance.
      Thank you once again to all those who have helped us along the way and also to all of you out there who support agriculture in your daily lives. It is because of all of you that Paul and I have the passion and energy to keep spreading the wonderful new of agriculture today. We love our life connected to agriculture and growing food and love telling this story to all we meet. It is just the red cherry on top that we are honored with such an amazing prize. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you again to everyone we truly feel we couln't have gotten this without you.