Farm life

Sorting. Packing. Moving.

We just moved – for the ninth time in our married life. No, we aren’t military. No we don’t work for the government, apparently we are just vagabonds, as my brother in law put it.

I know people who HATE moving, won’t move, are afraid to move. And in the middle of sorting and packing up our shit, er personal belongings, I totally get it. Moving is hard. And the longer you have been in one place, the more “personal belongings” you have to deal with.

But in a strange, hurts so good kind of way, I kind of like the result of moving. There is something in the sorting that is nearly spiritual for me. Back breaking? Mind bending? Soul sucking? Yes, all of that, but it can also be a physical and emotional cathartic exercise for me Whoaaaa.. freak show alarms just went off. Stick with me, that’s as weird as it’s getting, promise.

Somewhere between sorting through the “must keeps” in my 50 coffee mug collection and going through bins and bins of old photos that were destined to be scrapbooked in the 90s, I find myself getting really aggressive about unnecessary baggage. I become a ruthless machine. No, we will not move these frickin 15 pound yearbooks one more time. No, I do not need a bin of decorations for every holiday. No, no, no!

I find myself choosing to drop things from the past that seemed necessary, seemed defining at some point, that are no longer useful or the right things for me now. They aren’t all bad, but they aren’t right for us now. So physically, bit by bit, we intentionally sort our lives. We evaluate every piece, every book, every influence and begin to drop the baggage of the past. I had a friend tell me that when they move, they walk the edges of every property with a sage smudge and just intentionally leave their past and the past that comes with the property behind. They invite a new beginning. I know some who march the property lines and pray, others who just bless the home or arrive with an intentional expectation of something new. In all of this, we are simply sorting – declaring that the old struggle, the past challenges and labels, the time to leave it memories, the 20 extra coffee mugs we simply don’t need are not coming with us to this new start.

In the process, I am sorting internally. Realizing this gift, photo or way of thinking about things is no longer going to have a place in my life. Old photos, letters, papers, books that remind of times that don’t belong in today, I’m not hauling it forward any more. Not in boxes. Not in my heart. So, as we lighten our “things” we begin to lighten our souls and we are set free in ways we never imagined, in ways we may not even see.

So here I am on the other side, celebrating the goodness of God and the few things that are very special to us in our new space. I’m really excited at the new things that are part of this new journey! I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. The sorting takes time friends, it’s hard and sometimes you are going to pack it up and move it anyway. But, when you’re ready, you will realize on the other side, it shouldn’t have come at all. It’s ok, no shame, just get those 20 coffee mugs in a box and drop it at the nearest donation center. XO friends.

Farm life, Life

Farm Lesson #5: Life Lessons from Chickens

chickens, backyard chickens, raising chickens

When we moved to the farm, my first goal was to get chickens. And let me tell you, I didn’t wait long. The first full weekend after moving to the farm (yes, after 8 days) we marched off to the feed store and picked up our girls and necessary supplies. Seven baby chicks, all laying hens, came home with us, deeming our plot of land a true farm.

Truth is, I had no idea how to raise chickens, so I employed my “fake it, til I make it” approach and with the help of Google and a Backyard Chicken Facebook group, I marched on like a boss. Six months later, we are getting eggs every day and the girls are loving their free range days on the farm. We have curbed the puppy’s tendency to chase chickens and have settled into a happy rhythm. I knew I wanted chickens, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I love having chickens.

Chickens are funny – endlessly entertaining to me. They run to me everytime I come outside, they follow me around like a little pack of fans and they just want to be close. They are loyal and forgiving. Relational and stick together. They are hard working and explorers. They get scared, fuss and flap for a second and then move on without memory. They can be counted on. Seems we have a lot to learn from a chicken.

backyard chickens

I am so blessed to have a band of girls on our farm. ❤❤❤ If you are ever feeling low, come visit, the girls will be happy to cheer you up.

Farm life, Recipes

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

recipe for sweet potatoes
Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Sweet potatoes have basically been relegated to a Thanksgiving cameo once a year….and I never am the one who makes them or puts them on my plate. Convinced I didn’t like them, or maybe it was the marshmallow smother (gag), I have lived a happy, sweet potatoe free life. Until now.

My daughter, who lived in Mexico for a couple of years, taught me redemptive grace for the oh-so-good-for-you-vegetable. Packed with vitamin A, potassium and fiber, they are a great, low-fat partner in health. In fact, I’m going to plant them in my garden next year – now that is full vegetable salvation!

This recipe is simple (10 mins to prep), delicious as a side dish to chicken or pork, or as a meal in itself. It is gluten-free, sugar-free, can be made vegan, and would also be great for toddlers and kids. Let’s hear it for a vegetable win … and a little swagger on the GF/vegan status too!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

This recipe makes about 4 medium servings but can be scaled up or down easily.

  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled) and 2 apples (not peeled) cut into cubes (I do about 1/2 inch bites). Firm varieties of apples work best like honeycrisp or pinks, but any kind can work. The softer apples will just be a bit mushy, but still taste amazing. Also, on apples, the sour types like granny smiths might be a little tart since there is no sugar, but make it your way, you can always add a little honey to sweeten if that is the apples you have.
  • Mix in 1/2 c of dried cranberries
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon (about 1 T) and mix
  • Place all in a greased casserole pan or a lined baking sheet. I use a little butter to grease, but coconut oil works too for you vegans or really conscientious – extra points for less fat! I’m not all Paula Deen level, but I do love me some butter.
  • Dot the mixture with 2 T butter* cut into small cubes. *See note above about butter and swap out with coconut oil if you prefer.
  • Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup nuts. I like pistachios or pumpkin seeds, but use what you have on hand. It adds a nice texture and crunch, plus some bonus protein.

Bake at 375 until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.

You can make a big batch and use the extras for leftovers. They are great for lunch, transport well, reheat well and last a week or so in the refrigerator. I cook it year round but it has all the fall feels for sure. A Thanksgiving party in your mouth, minus the marshmallows!

Enjoy.

Farm life, Recipes

Pears are Ready

Pears are new to me. We have a small hybrid tree with Bartlett and two different types of Asian pears on our farm, so I’m especially in learning mode.

I’ll be honest to say the gritty texture has always had me coming in with a “fine” score for pears. But, pears right off the tree are much more tasty. And the frugal side of me that hates to waste was determined to find a way to use them!

I made a homemade pizza with sliced pears, feta and a balsamic reduction, which was really yummy, but used only a couple. So today I got serious and found a recipe on Ball’s website for Honey Cinnamon Pears.  (These were amazing on a salad with feta, toasted pine nuts  and the pears with a viniagrette dressing – yummy!)  I added extra cinnamon to the recipe, which is no surprise, if you know me. There’s always room for more cinnamon.

Also from the Ball website, I made my own version of salted caramel pear butter. The modifications I made was to make a salted caramel sauce first and then just added a little of it into the final reduction of pears to make a sweet and tasty pear butter to spread on a Turkey sandwich or pancakes. This version used much less sugar and I could control how much caramel went in so it did not completely take over the pear taste.

Happy Fall!

Farm life, Life

Confession of a lazy farmer

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Late spring and early summer, I was so excited to plant a sunflower row – part of a romantic vision of happy flowers on the farm. This lovely picture is not.my.flowers.

Truth is, I did plant more than 200 sunflowers (and I threw in Shasta daisy and hollyhock seed from my previous garden) across the 300 feet of front fence line of my farm. Two grew. Two….and they only got about 10 inches high, so, there’s that.

I would love to feign shock and alarm, but truth is, although we did some hard work, I didn’t adequately prepare the soil for flowers. I got it dug up enough (by hand mind you) to get seeds in, but figured they would take off from there. Nope lazy farmer. It doesn’t work that way.

So my lesson? There is no shortcut or easy way. If I want a beautiful crop or garden or (fill in the blank)….I have to do the preparation and hard work …for months. Ok, so, there’s next year and mark my words….I will have adorable sunflowers to wave hello at anyone who passes by!

Farm life, Life, Recipes

Cookies…because we love.❤

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White chocolate, cranberry oatmeal cookies

I like a good cookie, but my sweet husband…he loves, no, he needs cookies, and there is no one else I’d rather bake for than him. Today, since it was a slightly cooler day and I may have put a few fall decorations out, I’m feeling the delicious warm hug of this white chocolate, cranberry, oatmeal cookie….just enough cinnamon to give me all the fall feels.

This recipe is slightly adapted from cookies that used to be served at Shriners Hospital in Spokane where I worked for years supporting that great mission.

Recipe and directions:
Cream together until fluffy:
1 c. butter (room temperature)
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
2 t. pure vanilla
Add two eggs and mix well.
Combine together in a bowl, then slowly add to the creamed mixture:
1-1/2 c. flour
2 t. cinnamon (you can cut this in half, but really? why would you?)
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
Stir in, just until combined:
2 c. oatmeal (old fashioned, not quick cook)
1 package white chocolate chips (2 cups)
2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins if you prefer)

Scoop dough onto parchment lined cooking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

Farm life, Life, Recipes

Meal Prep Hack – Onions + Veggies

red brown white and purple onions and garlic displayed

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chopping veggies, particularly onions, is not my favorite cooking chore. I have tried every trick in the book to keep from crying and the closest thing I’ve found is working near an open flame (gas stove or a candle – per Martha Stewart) and it seems to help. But this post is about making it really count when you do need to cut or chop onions and veggies…and ultimately to save you time during the week.

For me, when I look at my meal plan for the week, I consider all the meals that need onions or veggies and chop them all at once. Not revelational, I get it, but my real hack is how to store it.  Since I rarely use an entire onion in a meal, I used to try to triple bag the remainder in zippered baggies, but inevitably my fridge would smell and everything in it tasted like onions.

Now, when I slice or chop onions, peppers and other veggies, I put them in a glass quart canning jar and tightly close the lid before putting them in the refrigerator. It doesn’t make the fridge or anything else in it smell or taste like onion and they stay fresh and crisp for about a week.  You can either have just one for onions to portion out or  you can prep a jar for each meal. Fajitas or tacos?  One with peppers and onions in it.  Chicken and Dumplings? One with mirepioux (carrots, celery and onion).  Stir fry veggies? Celery, carrots, peppers, onions….well, you get it. It makes meal prep so fast and the jars can go right into the dishwasher for clean up.

The added benefits of less plastic bag use and only needing to clean onion off the cutting boards once a week are a nice perk as well. Happy cooking!

I’d love to hear your tips or tricks for making meal prep easier.