Winter Wednesday

Thought I’d just share a few pics from the ice storm we had last week. It meant that we were without power for a few days, but grateful to have a generator that we hooked up less than 24 hours into the outage. Those lineman for our co-op are AMAZING!

What’s your favorite part of winter?

Advertisements

Guess what time it is?

Let me see if I can give you a few clues:

These will keep me warm, especially at night.

These will keep me warm, especially at night.

These critters are now a little closer to home.

These critters are now a little closer to home.

This place is ready for some company. (And the moon was just a cool bonus.)

This place is ready for some company. (And the moon was just a cool bonus.)

I'm gearing up for a little less sleep and a lot more "fresh air."

I’m gearing up for a little less sleep and a lot more “fresh air.”

Have it figured out yet? Here’s the last piece of evidence you need:

The first calf of the 2014 calving season is enjoying a little bit of time under the heat lamp. The next few months will be busy on the farm!

The first calf of the 2014 calving season is enjoying a little bit of time under the heat lamp. The next few months will be busy on the farm!

 

 

Hometown Holiday

I had a very important date last night…several of them, really. And I thought that maybe I should tell you about it, because, well, really, we talk about most things, don’t we?

Last night I took my four boys Christmas shopping. They each had to shop for one of their brothers. I didn’t limit their spending, I didn’t limit their choices, and it was worth every minute and every dime.

We live in a small, rural community. We have a few stores, but nothing extravagant…yet we had a blast. Let me replay the evening:

Nothing beats a great hometown store...nothing. I've been shopping here for more than 30 years.

Nothing beats a great hometown store…nothing. I’ve been shopping here for more than 30 years.

I went to take Scooter to basketball practice, only to realize that practice was an hour later than I was expecting. No problem, we’ll get some Christmas shopping out of the way at Village Variety. Scooter’s job was to pick one brother, and to buy a gift. He picked Big Bro, found something that “he would love.” We paid for it, had it wrapped and were on our way.

I dropped Scooter off at my Mom’s, and picked up EJ. He picked George. We found a gift, had it wrapped and were on our way.

George met me at the door, ready to go. He knew he was going to go shopping for a gift, and he wanted to buy one for EJ. He already knew what to get him, so we picked it up, had it wrapped (found a little extra something for Grandma), and were on our way.

A happy boy, with his gift for his brother all wrapped and ready for the tree!

A happy boy, with his gift for his brother all wrapped and ready for the tree!

Last, but certainly not least, was Big Bro. He knew that the only brother left was Scooter to buy for, but he also knew what Scooter would want. We picked it up, had it wrapped and were on our way. Voila. Shopping complete.

Big Bro had to carefully determine what Scooter would want. No rushing a well-thought-out gift!

Big Bro had to carefully determine what Scooter would want. No rushing a well-thought-out gift!

And it was the best trip EVER!

Here are the lessons I learned:

  • It truly doesn’t matter what you buy, it’s why you buy it. And if it DOES matter what you buy, you shouldn’t have bought it in the first place. Love isn’t shown with the amount spent, it’s shown with the meaning behind it.
  • A friendly face, a word or two of encouragement to my children and knowing that I’m supporting a local family goes a long way.
  • My children know that my love is not depicted by the number (or grandeur) of the gifts they receive. We do not count gifts in this house. If you are so wrapped up in the gift-giving that you set guidelines, parameters and dollar amounts…well, I think you forgot what the point was for giving the gift. (And I’m not talking budget limitations.)
  • The best gifts I have ever received (aside from my children, naturally), are those that showed how much someone was paying attention: a lasagna pan (I love to cook for my family, and lasagna is my specialty), a necklace that one of my boys picked out, anything that my boys have made, etc. It’s not the amount spent, it’s the “why” behind it. 🙂
  • I am most certain that my boys will follow in my footsteps and will enjoy the giving just as much, if not more than, the receiving. And in that aspect, I feel as if I’ve succeeded as a parent. Yay!

It was a great night, indeed…and in case I get busy and don’t write for a few days again, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my heart to yours. (And yes, I meant that.)

Burning the midnight oil

Literally…it is 11:30 and I am processing beets to freeze.

I need my head examined. Seriously.

But for those of you that know me, you’re not too surprise now, are you?

I figured since many of my friends are amazed at the amount of food that I freeze/can/prepare for winter, I would give you a quick rundown on how to freeze beets. It’s easy. Really easy. Not sure if it’s lets-start-this-at-10:30-at-night easy, but we’re going with it.

1) Wash beets. Leave 2 inches on the top and the tap root. Trust me. You want to cut them off, I know, but don’t. Or you’ll have enough purple dye to make royal robes.

A big 'ol bucket of beets. The last of our garden fare. Ready to hit the freezer.

A big ‘ol bucket of beets. The last of our garden fare. Ready to hit the freezer.

2) Boil beets until you can stick a fork in them easily. I could pretend to give you a time, but it all depends on the size of the beet. Some of these bad boys took an hour. You do the math.

3) Put cooked beets in cold water, peel off outer layer. Dice, chop, slice, leave whole, however you want to freeze them. Place in freezer bag (easiest), vacuum seal, however you wish to freeze them.

4) Freeze them. (Usually in a freezer of some sort…but it’s October…and North Dakota, so that’ll become optional soon.)

Hey, what do you know, I become a bit sarcastic and snarky at midnight. Lesson learned.

😉

Don’t worry, I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow. I promise!

The definition of disaster

Earlier this week, I posted about the devastation that hit to the west of us. So many farmers and ranchers lost so much in the blink of an eye. People were quick to share photos and stories of heartbreak, but the questions started pouring in.

So I’m going to attempt to answer a few, from this farmer’s point of view. Please remember, these are my thoughts and reasons, but I’m hoping to give just a bit of insight.

1) It’s the Dakotas, why aren’t we ready for a blizzard?

Well, it’s pretty simple. Look at the calendar. It was the first week of October. And although snow is always a possibility, just about any month, the early snow falls are usually fast, wet and disappear. It was predicted to snow, but not even the most cynical of weatherman predicted it would hit that fast, that hard and bring with it the winds that were present.

There were 26 named winter storms across the country last year, according to The Weather Channel. There were many, many storms that hit our area throughout the winter. We don’t usually name them, and they don’t usually impact our lives too much. This was unexpected and beyond our realm of normal.

2) Why weren’t the cattle cared for?

This is plain not true. These cattle were being cared for…in just the way that many ranchers care for their cattle. A few weeks ago, I explained that our cattle spend a majority of their time at pasture. Which is just where most of these cattle were, out to pasture.

Our cattle spend the summer, and part of fall, on grass.

Our cattle spend the summer, and part of fall, on grass.

You see, in my case, our pasture is located about 15 miles from our farm. The land is hilly, rolling and wouldn’t be suited for farming. Yet it makes the perfect pasture. If a storm were to hit suddenly, and packing the punch that this one did, there is no way I could drive to the pasture, have them loaded up and brought home, and do so safely, in anything less than a day.

This is how we get our cattle to and from our pasture. It takes about a day to bring them all home, or take them all to pasture.

This is how we get our cattle to and from our pasture. It takes about a day to bring them all home, or take them all to pasture.

This is what our pasture looks like. Not quite as hilly as the area where the storm hit, but you can get an idea of what it would be like.

This is what our pasture looks like. Not quite as hilly as the area where the storm hit, but you can get an idea of what it would be like.

3) OK, I get it, it was a freak storm, the cattle were on grass…but why did they die?

Good question. And it’s simple science. The storm hit fast, the snow was heavy, many suffocated under the weight of the snow, or ended up disoriented and wandered into a more dangerous area. (Below you’ll find a video I did a few years ago, when I went out to check cows after a blizzard…you can see how they gather.)

Snow accumulates and builds in drifts, much like sand dunes. And when the wind is blowing like it did, it creates very dangerous drifts. If the cattle gathered in an area that was protected from the wind, they may have ended up buried.

You would think that a building would provide protection from snow, but it can actually collect more snow than an open area.

You would think that a building would provide protection from snow, but it can actually collect more snow than an open area.

Here’s the one thought I would like for you to take away from all of this: We deal with these types of storms every year. It had nothing to do with lack of care or not knowing how to handle the weather…it had everything to do with timing. The fact that we handle hundreds of winter storms without a loss every year speaks volumes to the care that we provide our animals.

The ranches and farms that were impacted by this storm need our support and resources to get them back on their feet. We can all help out and do our part.

As I sit at my computer, typing this post and considering the challenges that face those to the west of me…all while in a severe thunderstorm watch, I can’t help but shake my head at the irony of it all.

A blizzard last week? Potential for tornadoes this week? Perhaps this government shutdown is even getting to Mother Nature? (Sarcasm…that’s sarcasm.)

I can tell you that the farm and ranch community will rally around and do what they can to help each other out. But the fact is, we may lose a few farms and ranches…and when our numbers drop, the effect is felt throughout the country.

The storm may have hit a small area, but we will all feel it.

 

 

Mother Nature didn’t shut down

According to my calendar, we’re entering another week of government shutdowns…and it doesn’t appear as if there is an end in sight. After this weekend’s early blizzard in the upper Midwest, I have a few things that are on my mind.

Apparently Mother Nature didn’t get the memo that there was a government shutdown. In fact, Mother Nature decided to show many just who is in charge…and it was a hard lesson learned. They estimate that as many as 100,000 cattle have died from the results of the massive blizzard that took many by surprise.

Yes, snow in October is expected. But this was more than snow.

And where is the assistance? The websites of information that could be used to help? Oh, sorry, didn’t you hear about the furlough?

But don’t worry, while the government is shutdown, hosting its own two-year-old tantrum, claiming that no one wants to play fair, workers that aren’t guaranteed pay are pitching in to help, organizations are offering services to connect those that have lost cattle and those that have found cattle, setting up sites for information and tips on how to make sure your losses are reported.

At a time when assistance from elected officials could be felt the most, there is no one there to answer the phone.

#DearCongress: Mother Nature is not on furlough. Farmers and ranchers are not on furlough. Emergency workers are not on furlough. It’s time to do what you were elected to do…grow up and represent our country, lead us to a better future, not down a path of destruction.

On the plus side, perhaps this shutdown will lead many to decide that it is time to step out of the shadows and start becoming actively involved in our government. Remember, this is our government…not just the government.

Run for office, whether it be township, county commission, school board, state or local offices. Let your voice be heard. Write letters. Make phone calls. It is well past the time to start charting our course back on track.

We cannot go back and change the actions of the past, but we certainly can make sure that our future is a different story.

A government shutdown will not have an impact on Mother Nature. But it can unite us in a drive to finally do what we should have been doing all along…be involved.

Spring in North Dakota

So glad that April is here…I’m getting the gardening bug. So I thought I’d go out and get some things ready today. Want to come along?

shoveling snow in winter

First, I checked my garden path. Making sure it was ready to go. Check.

snow drifts in winter

Went to get my gardening tools. I keep them in the shop. Good thing I have them ready to go! Check.

The tulips in front of the house are almost ready to bloom! Hopefully the sun will convince them to open up. Check.

The tulips in front of the house are almost ready to bloom! Hopefully the sun will convince them to open up. Check.

geese flying in winter

Even the geese are confused. They came north, now thinking about going south, and settled on southwest instead.

I am more than ready for spring…now if spring would just show up.