Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Date Night with a Farmer

      Getting special time with the man she loves is not an easy thing to come by for a farmers wife. I feel like lately the only time I see my husband has been while he is getting  few short hours of sleep at night. Being in the middle of calving 150 cows, all the extra work that comes with the thawing of spring, having a very busy full time day job as a farm business management instructor, and volunteer extraordinaire it doesn't leave much time for a date night. Yesterday being the Feast of St Patrick's Day I was yearning for some time with the wonderful man I married and give him a brake from the rush of his life.
      When thing of a night "out" with my farmer I knew that this might be too much to ask for at this particular time of year. What if a cow started to calve and staying our late was not what he needed when he has already had so many night short on sleep. Another obstacle to going "out" was getting someone to watch the kids on a school night. I could see that going "out" on a date was not going to work so I started to think about a date night "in" with my farmer.
      To make the night special I ordered some Chinese food from a local restaurant. I had it ready to pick up after a church meeting we went to as a family. Since Paul had to come separate from the kids and I due to him being busy with something before hand I had him take the kids home while I picked up the food and some wine. When I got home we put the kids to bed and while Paul was waiting for the little ones to fall asleep I set up our dinner date in our bedroom. I set up a folding table with a table cloth, a place setting using our nice plates, wine glasses, and lit as many candles as I could find around the house and placed them around the bedroom.
     When all was ready I got Paul out of the kids bedroom and took him to our Date Night In. We closed the bedroom door and enjoyed a wonderful Chinese meal and an even better conversation. I got to hear about all the activities and thoughts that have been filling his days, some of the frustrations about the busyness of life, and what we want our future to look like. An the best part of our Date Night In was that when it was time to call it a night we didn't have to go to get to bed.
      I do have to admit that I enjoy getting dressed up and feeling special going "out" with my husband but what I enjoy the most is just spending time with the man I love. Being a farmers wife there are many sacrifices and adjustments that have to be made to the way I might like to do things but being creative with what is available can be a lot of fun. Being a farmers wife is a great life and in the end I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Swimsuits in March?

     It is a beautiful, and unusual, March day here on our Minnesota Farm. It is going to reach a high over 70degrees outside and we are loving every minute of it. The kids thought it would be fun to get out the swimming pool which then led to swimming suits and water fun. With cousins visiting  for the weekend there were lots of playmates to splash with water. All this unseasonably warm weather is making the farmers talk of early planting and it sure is nice on the baby calves. The weather forecast dose call for snow a week from today so we are enjoying this while it last. Boy how depressing that will be to put on snow pants a week after wearing swimsuits in the pool.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

DIY Outdoor dinning table made with cabinet doors

       This is a project I made a few years ago and is by far one of my favorite and most used. I am blessed to have a wrap around porch on my house and during warm weather I serve my family every meal I can outside on this table. Eating outside is wonderful. Any mess is left out there and cleaned up by the cats, the working men can come eat without even having to take off their work boots, and since we are already outside the kids often go off to play and enjoy the outdoors when the meal is done.
       This dinning table shares many of the same construction steps and design elements as many of my other projects. See Large Bench, post or how I made the base for my Playhouse. The first thing I did in making this table was I visited my local reuse store and sot a selection of unfinished cabinet doors all in the same height but different widths. Once I had assembled then measured them to get the dimensions for the table top. I then used 2x4 boards to build the base of the table. I cut 2 boards to the total length of the table and then a number of boards that would lay across the short width of the table. I cut these 3 inches shorter than the total width to take into account the thickness of the 2 2x4 they will be connected to. My table is about 10 feet long so I cut 6 cross boards, one for each end and 4 spaced throughout the rest of the table. Attach these cross 2x4's to the long 2x4's.
        Since I knew I needed some way to attach the cabinet doors to the top of the table and didn't want to screw them down form the top I placed plywood cut to size on of the 2x4 frame I had crated. I screwed this down into place. I used reclaimed plywood from a shed we took down since this plywood will not be seen. Next step was to attach the 4 legs. I decided to use 4x4 posts for stability. I looked at tables around my house to get a sense of how tall I wanted my table to be. I would be good to know how tall your chairs are and then add some space for legs to fit under the table. Start with this length and then add 3.5 inches for the amount of board you will need to attach it to the table. On my legs I cut a notch on 2 sides of the top of the leg which were 3.5 inches long and 1.5 inches deep so that the corner 2x4's would sit on top of the legs. I then securely screwed the legs in place. Now turn it over and you have the start of a table.
       From the underside I screwed the cabinet doors in place with help from my husband holding them down form above so I made sure they were attached tightly.  I applied a number of coats of polyurethane to the door faces which brings out all the different wood colors and grains. No the challenge is that the door faces are not a flat serf ace to eat on so I went to the local glass store and had to order one very large piece of glass. This was by far the most expensive part of the project. Once the glass was placed I then used small door fronts found at my reuse store to frame the outside of the table. You could also use boards. These are place to over the 2x4 and hold the glass in place.  Now a little more polyurethane and some paint for the legs and you have a very heavy and durable table to use for years to come. I have leave mine out on the porch year round due to it's size and weight and it has made it well through many winters.
      Lessons I have learned in the project is that I should have sealed the glass down better because being outside things get under the glass and I have been leery about lifting this big piece of glass to clean under it. I don't quite know how one would best seal it down but maybe you can think up a good way.
      As I said this table is used daily if not more often during warm weather at my house and it is one of my favorite parts of summer. I don't know why but food always tastes better in the fresh air outside. Here are some pictures of enjoying the table on those beautiful summer days. Good luck on you project and enjoy the creativity of a DIY project.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ag in the Classroom - Metro Visit

    Last week our family had to wonderful opportunity of visiting a school near Minneapolis and share our farm with the children and families there. Our visit was part of a year long connection that we have had with this school. Throughout the year they are integrating agricultural concepts and education into their everyday courses and we have the honor of being their Ag family. This has all been made possible by the Minnesota Ag in the Classroom program. They have produced wonderful videos of our farm for the school kids to watch, we have held a Skype field trip, and now we were invited to come visit them in person and bring some of the farm with us.
      We decided to bring along my daughter Mary's bunny Beverly, a few chickens, and our farm dog Holly. We had only just started calving and the 3 hour trip we had to take each way was not conducive to taking along a calf. We did however some them the cow TV we have on our phone so they could see the cattle in the barn in real time.
        The animals were a big hit and many of the kids enjoyed holding a chicken and learning some about them. We brought along a carton of the eggs that we collect from the chickens and many were surprised to see that not all eggs are white. The chickens behaved themselves well for never being held in their adults lives.

        Here Paul is showing Cow TV to a parent. Many were interested to learn that we watch and take such close care of the cows. Some were surprised to learn that we calve all 150 of our cows in the same 1-1.5 month time period.
         The bunny Beverly behaved herself very well letting young and old pet and hold her. Many remarked on how soft she is.
         Another visitor who got lots of pets and love was Holly our Border Collie/Australian Shepherd puppy we got for Christmas. She behaved herself very well and obeyed the leash which she has very worn before. The kids were surprised to hear that she lives outside in the winter and found it interesting to learn that as she gets older we will train her to work with the cattle and help us in many different ways. She is going to have a very important job on the farm.
    Here are a few of the videos that were made by the Minnesota Department of Ag for the students to watch at our host school. They are done very well and super cute.
    Thank you to our host school Cedar Park STEM Elementary and all the staff there who have helped this grate experience take place. Also thank you to all the wonderful people who work with Minnesota Ag in the Classroom for facilitating this great experience for our kids and those at the participating schools.