Family

And Repeat

I really didn’t see that coming.  In fact, I didn’t quite believe Brett when he first told me.  But it’s true; one of our hens actually hatched a chick of her own!

Momma hen and baby chick!  {DaddysTractor.com}

We’ve had several broody hens this spring.  (Broody means instead of pecking and scratching in the dirt the hen sets on eggs all day.)  Last spring I put our mail-order chicks under two setting mamas–and was as shocked as anyone when it worked!.  But it’s always seemed tenuous at best.  Any mama hen who forgets which egg box she’s setting isn’t likely to be successful.  But this little bantam hen made it happen!

Momma hen and baby chick!  {DaddysTractor.com}

I did find the egg the chick hatched out of, and this little one is actually from a hen that lays blue-green eggs, not biologically this banty’s offspring.  But she did the work and she’ll get the credit.  The baby follows her every move like, well, like a baby chick.

Aaaaaaand, because I am either such a push-over or I just really love chicks too, I bought a few more baby chicks for her to raise as well.

Momma hen and baby chick!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The problem is that two of our other little girls were recently…lost.  Probably to a dog.  Which leaves us only one of the three I bought for pets and Anna is SO worried.  I might have promised her that if all three perish we could get more.  Well, the farm store is in its last week of selling chicks, so if we get more after this point we’ll have to mail order them and pay three times what the chicks cost in shipping.

Momma hen and baby chick!  {DaddysTractor.com}

And since this mama is raising a chick anyway…

So far, so good.  The new chicks all went right to the hen, despite being four days old, and the mama lets them cuddle under her, despite this odd feeling she seems to have that they aren’t really hers.  This banty is one fierce mommy too, so everyone should be safe and secure.

But wow.  I did not see that coming.

Categories: Animals, Family | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Home Team

Despite being a fan of the hashtag #ForeverRoyal, I’ve never really jumped on the  bandwagon of our championship Kansas City baseball team.  But even though sports aren’t my thing, you will find me cheering loudly for a farmer’s “home team.”

In the world of agriculture the rivalry between Case IH and John Deere is as hotly disputed as the Yankees versus the Red Socks.  I’ve never posted a picture of my family proudly posing in Case IH red without receiving a few helpful comments from people who would take up arms for John Deere’s signature green.

If It Ain't Red It Stays in the Shed

My blog. My rules. 

And like sports rivalries, it’s all in good fun.

Mostly. 🙂

While there are other players on the field, (Kubota, New Holland) John Deere and Case IH represent the two largest makers of farm equipment.  They manufacture huge tractors to lawn mowers, combines, planters, etc..  They also often represent different ways to solve a problem.  Like a few years ago when the big push was to reduce emissions in tractor engines the two companies went in very different directions.  But often as not a farmer’s allegiance has more to do with what his grandfather bought!

Case IH vs. John Deere

John Deere is a great American success story, with a bankrupt blacksmith opening a new shop and solving a major problem for Midwestern farmers.   When demand for his self-scouring steel plow outgrew his little shop he opened a factory– then another and another.  During the depression, the story goes, John Deere did not repossess a single piece of equipment from farmers going through hard times.  And thus John Deere loyalty was born.

Case’s following was earned in a different way.  The company began as a maker of steam engines and has bought and acquired various companies like Farmall and International Harvester along its not-quite 200 year journey. The history isn’t as easy to trace, but its commitment from customers can often be found in its prices.  Most often you’ll hear farmers saying “I can’t afford to pay more for green paint.”  If John Deere is Apple then Case would be Android.

Case IH vs. John Deere

Actually, I’d say the rivalry between farm companies is even more intense than sports teams.  When was the last time you invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on a sports team and then depended on them for your livelihood?

So root for your home team.  Leave a comment and tell me to whom are you #ForeverLoyal.

#IAmCaseIH #NothingRunsLikeADeere

 

Categories: Family, Farming | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Something New

I’ve been waiting to tell you to make sure I wasn’t going to fail the first day and have to take it all back, but I’m excited to announce– I’ve started a new job!

I’m writing blog posts for an agricultural news website called AgWired.com, specifically their Precision site.  I even have a title: Co-editor of Precision.Agwired.com. 🙂  It’s been such a long time since I’ve had any title but Mommy!  I was pretty nervous at first about how I would juggle yet another ball in the chaos that is our lives, but I’m liking it a lot.

I'm working for Precision.AgWired.com now!

They use they same platform for their site that I do here on Daddy’s Tractor, so I changed the color of the dashboard on my AgWired site (it’s melon and orange, so fun!) to make sure my Mommy brain doesn’t do something crazy, like post about baby chicks on their professional news media page!!  The work is so different though, I doubt there will be much cross-over– at least on purpose!  Yesterday I read press-releases from the parent company of Case IH about who will be sourcing tires for their new cart, from National Corn Growers Association and a letter they sent to Congress about the EPA, and another from two cooperatives that are joining together to make a new one.  Since the readers are from the field of agriculture (pun intended 😉 ) I don’t even have to write out those acronyms.  Very different!

And even though you didn’t hear from me much last week, I’m hoping this new job will help me make this an even better blog.  I should be learning lots!

Categories: Family | Tags: | 13 Comments

Farmer Brett Birthday Cake

I did not tell Brett it was okay for him to turn eight years old, but he has gone and done it anyway.  Not being given much choice I agreed to make him the birthday cake he wanted.

When Brett turned two years old I got to plan his whole birthday party and choose all the cutest stuff myself.

Farmer Brett Birthday party  {DaddysTractor.com}

I spent hours making an unrealistic but totally adorable toy dump truck looking cake.

Even when he turned five I had lots of design input.

Farmer Brett Birthday party  {DaddysTractor.com}

The official title of this party was “A tractor, A cart, A combine, and Two Semi Birthday.”

But now I have a grown-up farmer on my hands and only the most true-to-life cake is allowed.

I started with two round cakes to make the number eight.  Brett looked and looked at cakes in the shape of a four and five on his Pinterest board, but eventually picked a rectangle cake because it was the most realistic.  My plan was to surprise him with the eight he wanted and the decoration from the other.

Farmer Brett Birthday party  {DaddysTractor.com}

That’s Oreo cookies mixed with chocolate icing and green grass piped from a Wilton 233 tip.  It was super easy since the grass doesn’t have to be perfect!

Then I (thoroughly!) washed the tractor and planter he chose from his collection.

Farmer Brett Birthday party  {DaddysTractor.com}

I wanted all red equipment, to make the cake cute.  Brett wanted the planter and tractor just like Daddy’s.

Planting time on the farm

Our Case IH tractor pulls a John Deere planter– proof that it can be done! 🙂

Reluctantly I added them to the dirt icing,

Farmer Brett Birthday party  {DaddysTractor.com}

and used a toothpick to make the marks in the soil from the row openers.

Farmer Brett Birthday party  {DaddysTractor.com}

This was a bit of a risk because I single-handedly chose to make marks for corn, not soybean seeds, and Brett had wanted to be planting into cornstalks.  Since we plant on a rotational bases, this would mean the planter was planting soybeans, but Brett’s idea for making cornstalks was broken toothpicks.  I told him we could put broken toothpicks on top, but we wouldn’t be able to eat it.

Farmer Brett's Birthday Cake  {DaddysTractor.com}

So I guess we compromised and I think it turned out cute and realistic.  Because believe me, more of our farms are shaped like a number eight than a rectangle!

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Food Faith

Faith is an important part of my life. I choose to believe certain things regardless of anything you could tell me to the contrary. Even if I can’t see it. Even if it doesn’t make sense.

That’s why it’s faith.

But while I readily acknowledge faith in my God, so many are denying their faith. Not a faith of religion, but a faith of food.

The faith of food.  {DaddysTractor.com}

Because faith is really all you can call most people’s belief in food.

It doesn’t matter what you tell them. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense. People believe what they believe about food. And that’s fine and all. Let’s just make sure we know what it is.

It is not science. It is not verified. It is not fact.

Recently the Food Babe (won’t even link) was called out by Science Babe (click at your own risk!) for her outright scare tactics. The Food Babe following is made up of consumers trying to eat right and feel better. Maybe you heard they demanded Subway remove a substance from their bread because it was a chemical also found in yoga mats. Never mind the chemical is completely fine; it’s such a disturbing thought.  And her army made such a fuss Subway actually gave in and changed their bread.

There was no research, no reality. Just a woman who started a rumor and the people who believed her.

What do you believe?  What do you know?

Having faith in God is non-negotiable to me.   When it comes to things of this world, however, I’m gonna need a little bit more to work with. I want science in the mini-van I buy. I want testing done on my kids’ car seats. And I’ll go with research when it comes to food.

Categories: Family, Food | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Daddy’s Tractor Quiet Book Tutorial

Daddy's Tractor Quiet Book Tutorial

If you’ve never made a quiet book before, well, you’re smarter than me.  I’ve made six in the last few weeks.  My latest creations have two important characteristics that made me think I should share them on the blog.

1.) They are farm themed.

2.) They’ve gotten much better and MUCH simpler!

My Pinterest board started out with phenomenal projects (search Russian quiet books– or maybe don’t) and I jumped in with both feet.  Four weeks later, and I’m much wiser. 😉

First!  This tip helped me SO much.  Draw or print your pattern onto paper then trace the pieces onto freezer paper. Then roughly cut the shapes out of the freezer paper and iron them (medium high heat) onto the felt.

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

Felt stretches easily and can become misshaped– never work with just one layer!  After you’ve cut the felt the second thing you’ll do is join it up with another layer.  Some pieces will be sewn to the page, other shapes you’ll need two of.

Many directions have you cut two, let’s say trees, and sew them together, but again, stretching.  If you sew it to a plain piece of felt, like the tire and pick-up below, you can cut the finished shape when you’re done and it will look perfect every time!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

Let’s get started!

Tractor Page

Obviously you’ll need a “Daddy’s Tractor” page first!  This one has changeable tires for button practice.

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 piece of background felt
  • One sheet of tractor color felt (of course I recommend red-lol!)
  • One sheet black felt
  • One sheet white felt
  • Two large-ish buttons
  • Needle, thread, sewing machine, etc.

Trace a tractor outline, windows, and three grill vents onto freezer paper. Cut and sew these pieces onto the background felt.  Then trace and cut the tires.  Sew the white rims to the black felt, then do the double layer thing I described above with the black.  Add a button hole to the center of each tire.  Using the tires as guides, hand stitch the buttons in place.

Sheep Page

Curled ribbons make great sensory play!

Obviously the first thing any Daddy's Tractor quiet book will need is a tractor!  This one has changeable tires for button practice! 

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • One sheet white felt
  • One sheet gray or black felt
  • Assortment of ribbon, I recommend grosgrain
  • Wooden dowels OR wooden pencils

Start by creating the curled ribbon. Preheat the oven to 225*.  Wrap the ribbon around a dowel rod (I used a pencil!) and hold in place with straight pins or clothes pins.  Bake the ribbon for 20 minutes and allow to cool completely before removing from the dowels!

Meanwhile, cut a fluffy sheep shape, head, legs, and fluffy head piece.  Start by sewing the feet, then body.  Here I added the curled ribbon by using an embroidery stitch to keep them in place.  Whatever you use you don’t want a child to be able to pull them off!  Next add the head, followed by the wool on top of the head, keeping ribbons out the the way with straight pins.

Baby Chick Page 

Lift the flaps, and then lift again! make this page lots of fun!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • Light brown felt
  • Redish-brown felt
  • White felt
  • Yellow felt
  • Orange felt

Start by sewing the body to the background, followed by the neck, beak, and comb.  Make a double layer of the wing and attach it to the body with a straight pin.  Then pin the wing back up and out of the way to arrange the eggs and chick.  Next, make a double layer of the cracked egg shell and sew about an inch of the top and bottom to allow the chick to show through.  I added eyes to the chick with a Sharpie and used fabric glue for its beak.

Hauling Hay Page

Use your pick-up to bring hay for the cows!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Cording
  • Eyelets with setting tools
  • Three colors felt for trucks
  • Brown felt for hay
  • Six small, black buttons

Cut, pin and sew ribbon into desired path.  Next, following the directions on the package, insert an eyelet into each end of the ribbon.  Then, cut truck shapes from each of the three colors.  Add two eyelets to each truck where you want them to set on the track.  Cut and sew a double layer of hay bales.  Before sewing a double layer of the trucks, slip a hay bale into the back of each pick-up bed.  Now sew on the button wheels, being careful not to sew through the space between the eyelets on the back of each truck.  Then, thread the cording through the eyelet in the ribbon, through the eyelets on the back of the truck, and through the last eyelet in the ribbon.  Add knots to the end of the cording and use an embroidery stitch to finish off the edges of the ribbon, making sure to catch the cording in the stitches.

(Cording and eyelets can be found in the notions section of a craft store.  Everything in the pictures I purchased at Hobby Lobby.)

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

 

Last I added a pocket for any extra pieces, made small button holes down each side and attached them with book binder rings through them.  Easy to slip in and out with new pages as your kiddo grows!

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

What You Don’t Know About Farmers

If a picture is worth a thousand words then the message a film can convey is simply amazing.  Which is why you need to see this movie.  You might be amazed what you don’t know about farmers.

FARMLAND

FARMLAND Teaser Trailer 2014 from Farmland on Vimeo.

It’s available for purchase at Wal-Mart tomorrow, March 3, 2015.  You can also get it from Netflix on DVD (not streaming) or upload from iTunes, youTube, Amazon, and several other stores.

This is how food is grown in America.  FARMLAND documentary

I highly recommend it.

The documentary follows the stories of six young farmers and ranchers of all shapes and sizes.  There’s the “One Woman Farmer” growing produce in the northeast, an organic farmer handling everything from seeds to bar codes in the southwest, a poultry producer, a cattle rancher, hog farmer, and a row crop guy.  And their stories are real.

Really, really, real.

These are the problems we face.  These are the decisions we make.  This is what our life looks like.

This is how food is grown in America.

That’s not something you don’t want to know about.

Categories: Animals, Family, Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Married to Prince Farming

So really and truly I mean this, I don’t usually watch The Bachelor.  But this season people are crazy for the tall, blonde, and handsome Chris.  Why?  Because he’s a farm boy.  Prince Farming if you will.  And girls from LA to Chicago are lined up to marry a tractor-driving, Carhartt-wearing, corn-planting farmer.

Being married to a real Prince Farming

And why not?  He’s Traditional, Classic, All-American.  Or at least that’s what the tag-line says.

Believe me, I get the appeal because I am, in fact, married to my own tractor-driving, Carhartt-wearing, corn-planting farmer.  He is traditional, classic, and most definitely All-American.

What it's really like to be married to Prince Farming

But he has never worn a suit and tie to the shed.

And I see these girls on the show, lined up in cocktail dresses and hoping for their turn to ride in the hot air balloon over the Santa Fe countryside or attend a Cinderella ball in real diamonds and I wonder if they really get what they’re signing up for?

I haven’t worn a cocktail dress since 2007.

being married to a real Prince Farming

Granted, I’ve come along way in being a good farm wife since then.  I’ve learned a lot and I can tell those girls, forget about milking a goat, this is what you’ll need to know.

A Prince Farming will take care of you.  He’s the strong, masculine man who can rescue his fair lady on a white horse.

A Princess Farming has to take care of herself too.  Need something done during spring planting or fall harvest?  Better learn to DIY, Princess.

A Prince Farming will show you he loves you everyday by working hard to take care of your family.

A Princess Farming must come to terms with what “work day” means.  He doesn’t do 9-5.  Or 8-5.  Or even 7-7 sometimes.

A Prince Farming will know how to fix your washing machine.

A Princess Farming will find soybean, corn, bolts, and assorted tractor parts in said washing machine, as well as dirt.  So much dirt.  But as The Dakota Farmer’s Wife says, don’t expect to find any money.

A Prince Farming will make the best Daddy.

A Princess Farming will pray for rain so Daddy can come home and wrangle the kiddos for a few hours.

A Prince Farming will make you feel special with that grin he saves just for you.

A Princess Farming will go on dates to the parts supply store and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the monitor’s glow in the combine.

A Prince Farming will support you in who you are and who you choose to become.

A Princess Farming should learn to become a staunch supporter of the farm, because the farm is almost as much a part of her husband as his family is.

Marrying a farmer is a great idea.  They’re a breed apart.  But so is their world.  When you love him, you’ll love it.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

24 Random Act of Christmas Kindness

Why am I ever surprised at how God works?  Last year I did an advent countdown with my kiddos by wrapping 24 Christmas books we already owned and having the kids open one each day in December.  Only in real life it was more like I wrapped a book 12 seconds before I gave it to them to unwrap because that’s how organized I can be.  So at the end of the season I wrapped the books before I put them away and this year I was ready!

Random Acts of Christmas Kindess

I had also been planning to add a RACK countdown to our Christmas traditions.  (That’s Random Act of Christmas Kindness!)  Like the books, I planned to do one random act a day, using these cards I found on Pinterest.  I wanted to try and explain it all to the kids this morning after we read our countdown book.

Random Act of Christmas Kindess

And this morning, wouldn’t you know it, God did the coolest thing!  I pulled an unknown book, wrapped last January, from the countdown stack and sat down to read it to the kids.  When they started tearing the paper from the back I frowned in confusion.  What book was this?  A second later I saw it.  A new book I’d purchased last year from an outlet store because I needed a 24th book for the countdown.  A book we’d read once, maybe twice.  A book about Random Acts of Christmas Kindness I hadn’t even remembered.

And why does that surprise me?

So if you are wondering, here is the list I’m planning to work from.  And Merry Christmas!

1. Put carts away at stores while Christmas shopping.

2. Send a gift card for a meal to friends with a sick baby.

3. Vacuum the house of a friend while she is gone.

4. Take cookies to the Farm Bureau office.

5. Leave a sheet of stickers in a library book.

6. Take a new coloring book and crayons to the doctor’s office.

7. Give a care package of cocoa and candy canes to neighbors we don’t know well.

8. Send Great Grandma homemade Christmas cards.

9. Send cards to servicemen and women.

10. Take cookies to the sheriff’s office.

11. Donate a DVD to the hospital.

12. Take canned goods to the food bank.

13. Put a gift in the Toys for Tots box.

14. Write nice messages in chalk on the sidewalk at the park.

15. Leave quarters on the bouncy ball machine at our favorite restaurant.

16. Tape a bag of popcorn to a Red Box.

17. Bring a gift to the Sunday School teachers.

18. Read a book to a resident of a nursing home.

19. Take friends out for lunch (and give their mama a small break!).

20. Bring cookies to the librarians.

21. Take baby wipes to a daycare.

22. Chose a toy of their own to donate.

23. Make cards to send to service men and women.

24. Cook a meal for another foster family.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Our One Year Anniversary

We were married in March; our kids were born in April and December, but today is one of our family’s most important anniversaries.  One year ago today we brought home our foster baby.

Our story of foster care

I’m not allowed to post pictures of our baby to the blog. These photos seem empty without him.

Like most everything else in life, this journey hasn’t gone the way I thought it would.  I hoped we would one day adopt after providing a home to three year old for a couple of months and a sibling set for several weeks and there would be a heartbreaking good-bye after we kept a toddler for eight or nine months.  These were the stories I heard.  Ours is different.

Our licensed was signed on August 12, we got Baby on the 13th.  He was just shy of five months old.  I’m not allowed to tell you his story, so I’ll try to stick with telling you mine.  My heart was lost within the first week.

Every month, every milestone was a new reason to love him a little more.  Every sleepless night, every trip to the doctor was emotion invested in him.

I did everything I could to support his birth mom.  I bought picture frames for his 6, 9, and 12 month photos, I got her a Christmas present from Baby of practical items the worker said she needed for her new apartment, I held his first birthday party at a neutral location so she could come.  I encouraged her when we met for visits and calmed her during team meetings.

But please forgive me when I say that the more her life spun out of control, the more inexplicably intertwined my heart became with his.

Our story of foster care

Today when people ask I say I have three kids and leave it at that.  I long ago dropped the explanation that the youngest was a foster child and my older two readily accept strangers calling him their baby brother.  I tell myself it’s not their business anyway.

It is sheer terror waiting for a judge to decree what I feel in my soul.  Right now, my child doesn’t belong to me.

Still, I stick with what I said in February.  He is worth it.  Whatever happens tomorrow, my fingerprints are all over this child.  At his age he may not remember me in another year, but the first three years are the most formative and one of those will have been shaped and held and loved by me.  I choose to believe that matters.

And I know for certain that for one whole year he has been changing me.

Categories: Family | 10 Comments

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