Category Archives: Family Friday Linky

Picking out a Christmas Tree-Support a Minnesota Farmer

Each year as traditions goes,
they get in their cars at the first sign of snow,
and head to the farm at the edge of town,
to cut the family Christmas tree down.

Those are the opening lines to one of my favorite Christmas stories,  “A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree”, by Colleen Monroe. The tale is about a Christmas tree that is never chosen and now he is too big to be cut for someones house. The woodland creatures who depend on him for shelter and food decorate him one night while he is sleeping. When he awakes, he learns that being a friend is the most important thing.

It has always been a family tradition of ours to cut down our annual Christmas tree. It is a tradition that we are keeping with our children too. Last weekend, we headed over to one of our local Christmas tree farms, Log Cabin Pines. In Minnesota, we are lucky to have many tree farms. Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a great link to help you find your local Minnesota Tree Farm.

Last year we had about 20 inches of snow the first week of December.

This year we had about zero….

But that didn’t stop us from finding a great tree and having some fun.

I just love the smell of a real Christmas tree in the house and snuggling up on a chair near a lit tree is a joy of mine too. But there are many environmental stewardship reasons to go real: (According to National Christmas Tree Association)

  • Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals.
  • For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.
  • There are about 1 million acres in production for growing Christmas trees. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
  • Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most artificial trees are manufactured in Korea, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.

If you don’t want to go through all the work f cutting down a tree, there are many great tree lots to choose from too. Our favorite lot is operated by the Knights of Columbus from St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Elko and supports our local Catholic school, Holy Cross.

What are some family traditions your family keeps each holiday season? Please share; we would love to hear from you!

Emily

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Cook Organic this Holiday Season-Family Friday

EEECK I just agreed to host Christmas Eve celebrations at my house. What was I thinking? Well, it actually makes sense. Being dairy farmers whose cows do not take the holiday off, it is just easier if the party comes to us. Instead of: chores, milking, drive, party, drive, chores, milking…which often results in crabby kids, crabby parents and annoyed cows (since we are often late). There will be more Falalala in our holiday.

With Thanksgiving about a week away, it is a good time to start making those holiday cooking plans. I never need an excuse to bake, but my baking goes in high gear this time of year. Thankfully, Organic Valley has a great website full of delicious, healthy and organic recipes. Organic Valley’s Holiday Food Guide

click for source

I have heard great things about Organic Valley’s eggnog. Since I am FINALLY not pregnant this year, I think I will indulge a bit.

Check out this fabulous recipe: Spice Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

Flavors of eggnog, gingerbread and spices cheer on the season in this delicious cheesecake.

  • 23 cups ground gingersnap cookies (8 ounces)
  • 12 tablespoons Organic Valley Butter, melted
  • 24 ounces Organic Valley Cream Cheese, softened (three 8-ounce packages)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 12 whole nutmeg, freshly grated (or 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • 18 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • Organic Valley large eggs
  • 12 cups Organic Valley Eggnog
  • 14 cup spiced rum or brandy (or 2 teaspoons rum extract)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine ground gingersnaps and melted butter. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom and partially up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes. Set crust aside to cool (but leave the oven on).

2. Filling: Use electric beaters at medium speed to cream cheese for 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually beat in sugar and flour and continue beating 3 minutes, scraping sides occasionally. Grate 1/2 of a whole nutmeg over surface of batter, add cloves and blend the spices into the mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in egg nog, spiced rum and vanilla.

3. To bake: Gently pour filling into crust. Bake until cheesecake is lightly browned and  instant thermometer inserted in center reads 160 degrees, 60 to 70 minutes. Turn off oven, open the door halfway and leave cheesecake inside until the oven has cooled off, 20-30 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to a cooling rack and run a thin-bladed knife around and inside its outer edges. (This will help prevent a crack from forming on the surface.) Cool cheesecake to room temperature. Sprinkle reserved gingersnaps over the cake. Chill cheesecake thoroughly before serving.

Copyright by Terese Allen

Ohh YUM!!!

Leave a comment with your favorite recipe for the holiday season. I am always looking to try something new.

Emily

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Who is Your Community? Family Friday

About three weeks ago I attended a leadership summit with fellow Organic Valley farmers. On the opening session of the summit, the key-note speaker spoke of community. Farmers need community. We learn from community, we get support from community and we grow with the community.

On Monday, Lisa and I took the kids out trick or treating. We visited all the neighbors around the farm. Neighbor is relative because we drove about two miles around the farm. It was so much fun. For many of these people, we were the only visitors of the night. Not only did the kids get a bunch of treats, Lisa and I got to visit with people we consider our community.

Dressed up for Halloween

I remember doing this same thing when I was growing up. My dad would pile us kids into the truck and down the road we would go, stopping to chat at each “neighbors'” house. At the time, I recall being impatient and wanting to quickly get to the next stop to get more candy. Now, I realize the values my dad was teaching us.

On Monday, after we visited the farm neighbors, the kids and I came back to the neighborhood where we live. The trick or treating scene was much different. Here kids ran door to door gathering as much candy as they could, without much of a hello or thank you. It was not about community.

Being a part of a community is important to us and we want to raise our kids to share in these values.

Who do you consider your community? Neighbors? Friends? People of similar interests? Please share with us.

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Traveling with Kids & Cows-Family Friday

When Tim and I first had kids I thought traveling with them would be such a hassle. I was completely wrong. While our traveling experiences are no longer the same as pre-children (get there as fast as possible and relax), they are just as wonderful. Now we enjoy the trip just as much as the destination.

Hannah being a beach bum on vacation this year

Traveling with kids takes a bit more planning than just packing the suitcase. Now, several weeks before our trip I scope out destinations to stop at every two hours or so. I use Google, the Traveling with Children’s blog, and of course the state’s travel website. We travel to Wisconsin quite a bit for both vacation and the World Dairy Expo. TravelWisconsin.com is very valuable (plus they have a great smart phone app). South Dakota Tourism also has a great trip planner that I have used. But I always get the best info when I directly email the travel bureaus. For FREE they send you maps, help you plan your trip and give you information about great local events you cannot find on the websites. We have visited city festivals, a Cattlemen’s Rodeo event, explored a waterfall, ate artisan pizza in an historic barn and met some memorable people too.

Eating pizza at Stone Barn-click for website

At the beginning of the month we traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for the World Dairy Expo. This was a last minute trip and getting a hotel room was next to impossible, but thanks to our friends in social media, we got to stay with the lovely Dairy Carrie. I also prepared for the day we were going to be at the Expo. Three kids under 5 is tough when Daddy wants to talk to agriculture salesmen. We kept the kids busy by having them find international visitors (they get to wear a red ribbon) and marking countries off on a map. We also visited the tractor lot more than once. We planned a full day for the kids, so that they would sleep the five hours back home that night.

BigFoot At World Dairy Expo-The Boys' Favorite Stop

Traveling with cattle is not that much different. Lots of preparation needs to take place before the trip. Today three of our springing cows and two heifers were sold to an organic farmer in Ohio. Ohio is at least a 12 hour trip from here without cows. For both short trips and long trips with cattle, safety and health of the cows is top priority. We make sure the cattle are in good health (they were checked by a vet today). The cattle are loaded calmly on the trailer and not over crowded. For long trips (like to Ohio) cattle must be fed and watered regularly. If the cattle are milking (which none of ours were) a portable milking unit is brought along too.

Click for Source

Cattle can even travel internationally (we have never done it). Here are some photos  and a video of cattle being shipped from ND to Kazakhstan: Cows On A Plane photos & video.

Do you travel with children or cattle? Please share your tips and tricks to make the trip enjoyable for all.

Emily

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My New Addiction-Family Friday

I have to confess: I should have been working on my Family Friday blog, but I have been sucked into my new addiction. Pinterest. Ohh my goodness I could spend all day looking at other people’s boards and “pinning” and “liking” beautiful pictures and funny videos all day. Remember those days when we use to get magazines and cut out photos of things we loved? Well Pinterest is just that, but virtual.

I like to see how others use this new social media. Our friend Dairy Carrie  started a board with bulls she likes. No bull: visit it here and see. Most people pin recipes, places they want to visit and cute home decor ideas.

You can see what I am pining here.

Here is the my most favorite thing I have pined so far. Hannah would look soo cute in this. Don’t you think?

Source: etsy.com via Emily on Pinterest

Tim thinks only women are on Pinterest. He might be right. I only follow women. But after he learned how our friend Carrie is using her “pins”,  I can see boards of cows, tractors and pictures of crops in Tim’s future.

Do you Pinterest? Tell us what you like to pin.

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Pumpkin Picking at Crazy Legs Winery-Family Friday Linky

Fall has to be my favorite time of year. The crisp, cool mornings. The changing color of the leaves and pumpkin picking. My father has been raising pumpkins forever. He loves to grow the big 500 pound ones, but he always grows lots of perfect carving pumpkins.

My Dad

Pumpkin picking has always been a family affair. We all come home and pick out our favorite ones. Then my dad piles them at the end of the driveway for people to “purchase.” Really, he leaves a bucket out there and lets people put money in it. He doesn’t make a lot, but it is enough to treat some of his favorite pumpkin helpers (my two cousins Maggie and Tillie) to dinner. My Dad just really loves to grow pumpkins and enjoys others enjoying them as well.

This year the pumpkin picking turned into a real festival. There was food, beer, and music. My dad also grows grapes for Cannon River Winery and the “festival” took place right in the vineyard. The name of my parents’ vineyard is Crazy Legs.

Crazy Legs Vineyard

My mom made a huge pot of chili (no not my recipe, it had to be vegan for my brother) with all the fixings. My brother’s band, The Dang Ol’ Tri’ole , played bluegrass for us all evening long.

Dang Ol' Tri'ole in vineyard

My brother, Wes, is the one in the red plaid playing the wash board. They were great! Once everyone (over 21) had their mandatory beverage in hand, it was off to load up all the pumpkins. Our boys loved riding on the wagon moving the pumpkins around so they wouldn’t fall off.

The day was wonderfully perfect. After the sunset and the band put away their instruments, we lit the bonfire. I didn’t do an official count, but I guess nearly 50 people were there. Thank you to my aunt Jodi for taking these wonderful pictures!

Is fall one of your favorite seasons too? What fun things do you do with your family in the autumn time?

Blog about family? Please link up

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A Farmer’s Wife-Family Friday

The other day I was reading the Minnesota Farm Bureau Voice of Agriculture newspaper when I spotted this article by state YF&R Committee member Bekki Danielson. It really struck a cord with me so I thought I would share it with you. It is very familiar to a post my prairie living friend Val Wagner wrote once on her blog Wag N Tails . I think I have also wrote some of these exact words (especially when it comes to the whole “everything is related to farming” or being late ) It has me thinking that farm husbands must all come from the same breed…But that is exactly why we love them.

Bekki and Whitney Danielson family

Hometown: Henning and Vining

Children: Dakoda (3), Treyden (2), Daxton (4 months)

Farm Description: Along with Whitney’s parents Warren and Bonnie Danielson, we farm corn, beans, alfalfa, dairy cows and beef cows.


A Farmer’s Wife

Straight out of college I married a farmer – a real, live, romantic man of the land. Although I grew up in a small town, where farming was ever so present, I had no idea how to be a “farmer’s wife.” I’ve spent the past four years slowly, but surely, trying to figure out what this means.

Every day is spent learning something new. It may not be much, but here are a few things that my experiences as a farmer’s wife have taught me.

*Patience is a virtue– On a recent family trip into town, we had to stop at two places, Target and Fleet Farm. At Target, all three boys and Daddy opted to stay in the vehicle. After about 10 minutes, my three-year-old says to Daddy (insert impatient sigh here) “what’s taking Mommy so long?!”

Needless to say he was happy to spend an hour or more in Fleet Farm. So it may not be a requirement for anybody but me in our household, but somebody has to have patience.

*Grass stains are the least of my laundry worries – From mud to manure, I’ve seen it all. I’ve become so accustomed to everybody being covered in something at all times that I find myself saying things like “just wipe it on your shirt, it’s already dirty.”

*Late is the new “on time” – I’ve found that we’ve had to trade our old ways in for new. I used to enjoy getting to church early on Sunday mornings, visiting with friends and enjoying the worship music. Now, I’ll settle for getting the whole family into church before the service is over. Bonus points if no one smells like the barn!

*Everything is related to farming – By the end of my third pregnancy, I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to be compared to livestock. More than once my husband reassured me that, “If we can’t make it to the hospital in time I’ve got mats, chains and twine strings. It can’t be that different from delivering a calf.”

*Everything is planned around the seasons – Be it planting, harvesting, calving or whatever else, it will come first. Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays will have to wait. In fact, it may be easier to celebrate them all at once. Merry-Anni-Birthday!!!

*Multitasking is a must – When my husband calls at noon, as I’m attempting to wash dishes, get caught up on the laundry, feed the three boys, finish my Bible study and chase down whichever child has escaped from the table, and he asks if I’m “doing anything.” I just take a deep breath and say (as calmly as possible), “No honey, what can I do for you?” Even though the screaming children in the background should be a dead giveaway that I’m busy.

*Time frames don’t really apply – so I’ve learned to be much more flexible. If my husband says he’ll be home in 20 minutes, I don’t expect him for at least 40 minutes. Who knows what could happen; a cow gets out, a salesman stops by, he gets distracted by a nice-looking field, anything is possible.

*Laughter is a must – when I backed our car into one of our tractors I was expecting complete sympathy when I went to tell my husband. Even though I was five months pregnant and had our one-year-old in the car, that wasn’t his reaction. Instead he said, “YOU DID WHAT?!?!” then proceeded to go check if his tractor was okay. I may not have been able to laugh about it then, but it sure is funny now. That’s just how farmer’s minds work.

*Dreaming is a must in farming – I have always been someone who sees what is going on now, just black and white. My husband is the exact opposite. He is a dreamer, a planner, a wisher, a thinker. Things I was completely incapable of until I married him. You can’t have a successful farm unless you can see what it can be, and then be willing to work hard to make it happen. These are abilities my husband has truly been blessed with.

*You have to be thankful – Farming will challenge you every day. You have to be able to see through the tough times and make the best out of each new experience. I thank God for each day he gives me the grace to be a farmer’s wife. That said, there is nothing better than chasing cows to pasture, finishing off a good harvest or the looks on my boys’ faces when they go to work with Daddy.

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Hanging Laundry-Family Friday Linky

Summer is coming to a close, which means summer time activities sadly are ending as well. No more visits to the beach. The neighborhood ice cream truck has stopped making the rounds on Sundays and the tube of sunscreen is almost empty. One summer time activity I am still holding onto is hanging laundry on the line. I will hang laundry until it is just to cold to clip the clothes pins.

laundry, fall 2011

Little boys and girl laundry at Zweber Farms

I don’t know why, but hanging laundry on the line is very therapeutic for me. I look forward to it each spring and actually get giddy when I can finally hang sheets. The economics nerd in me calculated that it takes 75 cents to run my drier. Since I only dry about one load out of the seven or eight each week, I save my family about $100 from May until the end of September.

In addition to the money savings, drying clothes on the line gives me at least 15-30 minutes each day of pure peace. No one wants to help mom hang clothes. Who can blame them when the sandbox is steps away? Since, no one wants to help, I can be ALONE for those precious few minutes. Well, not completely alone. Hannah typically is asleep in the Baby Bjorn (but she doesn’t talk or argue with me).

I am sad when I have to put my clothes pins away for the year. Dreams of warm spring days fill my mind again.

What summer time activity will your family miss once the days are shorter and cooler? Please share by leaving a comment.

Also, if you blog about family link up for my Family Friday Linky.

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Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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