Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harvest is finally here!

I haven't even begun to post on harvest, which is like the Christmas of farming! We just started last week and we are FLYING through it thanks to wonderful dry sunny perfect fall weather.  I love harvest so much. Seth is so happy during it, it means fall is here, and I love riding alongside in the combine.

For those of you who don't farm or aren't familiar with crop farming, I thought I'd do a "who's who" in harvest.  Every member of the team is vital when it comes to harvesting, so I thought it would be good to introduce them!

The combine driver:  The combine is obviously the heart of harvest. If its broken down, you're out of luck.  They are remarkably huge, comfortable to ride in, and require a lot of maintenance.  Since we harvest both corn and soybeans, the combine has two different "heads" that attach to the front of it. One for corn (they are the ones with the pointy things on the front, some people have 6 row heads that pick 6 rows of corn at a time, and some people have 16 row heads, which pick 16 rows at a time) and then there is the bean head for the soybeans.  Our combine driver is usually Ted, but he lets Seth and Grant drive too, especially if their lovely lady friends come to ride along. :) That was basically Seth and my first "real" date, which made him happy he could show off for me.

Last year's combine with the corn head (8 row)
I found this old picture to show what the bean head looks like. Seth was a senior in high school when this was taken. Isn't he so cute?! I think so!
The grain cart:  The combine has a small hopper (what holds the grain) on it, but when it gets full, you have to put it somewhere else. This is what the grain cart is for. The cart is attached to a tractor, and the driver pulls it alongside the combine as the combine is still picking to collect the grain. This way the combine never stops moving.  After the grain cart gets full, the driver dumps that grain into the semi. This job usually belongs to Seth, Grant, or my dad...but sometimes if Ted is in a pinch Taylor and I man the grain cart. She's brave enough to unload on the semi, but I haven't worked up to that yet. I'm too scared I'll spill grain, and if you spill grain, you have to shovel it into the semi, which is nearly impossible! Its fun to drive though!

The combine unloading on the go into the grain cart

The grain cart is really heavy and causes a lot of soil compaction, so you want to try to run it efficiently so you're not driving it on the field more than needed

The semi:  The semi driver has to do a lot of hurry up and wait. After the grain cart empty's into the semi trailer, the semi takes off for the farm where it will dump the grain into the storage bins, or where it will go through the dryer system.  Corn is often wet when its picked, and if its stored wet, it will rot and you will lose all that grain in that bin. So the corn goes through a dryer if its above a certain moisture level.  After the semi driver is done dumping the grain and turns off the auger, he then has to hurry up and get back to the fields before the grain cart is full again. Sometimes that means 2 semi's are on the go, especially if we are at a field far away. Steve, or "Super Steve", is usually the semi driver and his little boy, Tanner, usually rides along too.

The semis: The Bumblebee and the Brown Semi. Riding in the bumblebee is pretty fancy, there's a tv, fridge, and the bed in the sleeper cab is so comfortable for naps when riding to the elevator.

The short order cook:  Men working in the fields get incredibly grumpy when they are hungry, and require a lot of fuel to keep them going just like the tractors and combines need fuel.  Thankfully, these men have wonderful women back at the home front who love them and are willing to cook up quick meals to run out to them in the fields! Vicki is a pro, and I am still in training. But so far no one has complained about what I've fixed them, except that I only gave 2 Oreos per person.

Harvest is crazy busy, and you can get burnt out quickly...which is why I am hoping it will rain soon to force the boys to take a break. This is when accidents can happen, but luckily everyone is usually pretty excited and positive about the whole process, as well as safe. We definitely have fun out there though, taking turns riding with the drivers to keep them company, watching the semi driver and grain cart driver play football between dumps, and overall, just enjoying one another's company.

Family fun in the combine!

If any of you live in the area, and wanna take a ride in the combine, let me know! We love having company, and you may score one of Vicki's sack lunches out of the deal :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cleaining tips

Disclaimer: Before you even start to read this post, I want to make it loud and clear that I do not claim to be a neat freak or a person with an impecably clean home. Though I do strive for it and prefer it and used to be that way, adding a baby to the formula pretty much nixed the ability to keep things that way.  Ok, just wanted to make that clear before people start judging my home or my methods!

How many people out there struggle to keep their house clean? I bet you all raised your hands (or at least nodded your heads or something!) It's tough! It's also not always fun.  I used to be really anal about the house, especially things like the kitchen sink and countertops, the linen closet, and having clean walls. (My roomate in college once walked in on me washing down the walls in my room and I don't think she ever thought of me the same ever again!)

Anyway, once I went back to work after having Eli, things fell apart. My counterspace was overtaken by bottles and pacifiers and our house was overtaken by pack n' plays, toys, bouncy seats, and high chairs. At first I kinda freaked out. But slowly over the last few months, our house has turned back to normal again again as well as our lives.  To make the job of cleaning, which I normally LOVE to do, easier, we decided on doing a daily chore. It doesn't matter who does it (ok, it kinda matters when it comes to who gets to choose the channel or who has to change Eli's poopy diaper) but just that it HAS to get done and there's no getting around it. I highly suggest it to all of you out there because it may not keep the entire house clean, but it helps you keep up with the little things that get away from you so when it is time to clean the house its not a huge undertaking.  This is what we do:

Monday: Kitchen counters and sink
Tuesday: Dust and vacuum
Wednesday: clean toilets and bathroom sinks
Thursday: sweep and mop the kitchen floor
Friday: pick up Eli's nursery and closet

Laundry is a weekend project, though it usually gets done daily because during the night, our laundry must get into the liquor cabinet, make bad choices, and then have litters upon litters of dirty laundry that appear by the next morning. I hate the laundry, which is why my Saint of a husband does most of it :)

Anyway, that is one thing that really helps us out. Here are some of my other tips:

1. Make it a game: I've been doing this for a long time when it comes to chores. For example, you're watching your favorite tv show but you also happen to know that the dishwasher is full of clean dishes just waiting to be put away into the cabinets. Instead of putting it off and putting it off, make a game of getting them all put away during a commercial break.  It works! Trust me! I do this for all sorts of small tasks such as switching over the laundry, making the bed, cleaning the toilets, etc. It's amazing how a chore that you put off all week really only takes 90 seconds. Though I don't spend many hours in front of a tv, I watch enough to have probably 8 commercial breaks. That's 8 chores in less than an hour!

2.  Invisible Glass: best window/mirror cleaning product EVER. Thank you to my Aunt and Uncle for introducing it to my dad, who shared the secret with me, which now I'm sharing with you!

3. Invest in a good vacuum. I know financially how hard it is when you are a newly wed with a baby and just starting out in your careers. So maybe an expensive Dyson isn't within your reach quite yet. When we first got married we had some hand-me-down vaccuums from family members and it was awful. I literally threw one off our front steps because it started blowing everything I had just vaccumed all over our brand new carpet.  We finally decided to save up for one, and it only took a few months to save up for and now I LOVE vacuuming because I love my vacuum. Cleaning out the canister is like a mini-Christmas for me.

4. When you're mean, go clean! Sometimes, like any normal loving human being, I get mad, annoyed, frusterated, and I just want to be mean! I want to yell at my husband for leaving starbursts wrappers all over his desk or complain rudely about someone who ticked me off. So instead of doing those things, I take out my anger by cleaning. Whenever Seth and I get into an arguement and I want some space, I clean! Sometimes, I think he tries to honk me off just so I end up doing it all and he doesn't have to help!

5. Choose your battles. I work like mad to make sure I clean the rest of the house so that when it comes to my least favorite chore in the world, putting away laundry, I can guilt my husband into it by parading all the other wonderful things I did. It may seem a little low to you, but think how much you hate doing your least favorite chore, and I'll bet you'll see where I'm coming from!

6. Always have a clean kitchen sink. If the heart of your house is your kitchen, then the pacemaker (or SA node for my fellow medical friends) of the kitchen is the sink. I can have a messy house everywhere else, but if my kitchen is messy, I feel like my life is messy.  And it all comes down to the sink. When your sink is clean you can rinse things off, fill things up, wash things, and actually use it.  It is my #1 rule in cleaning and I don't take to it lightly! (Also a little trick I like to do for my stainless steel sink is to wipe it down with mineral oil now and then. It just helps coat it and give it that nice shine!)

7. A Boyfriend: I'm having an affair, and Seth totally knows it. Its with a beautiful bald man. That's right, its Mr. Clean, and his magic eraser is my favorite thing in the entire world. Sometimes, I welcome a big mess or stain just to test how far it goes. It gets it all. Hard water scum on your shower, rust stains, muddy paw prints on your doors, scuffs on the walls, baby food that has crusted in your grout, etc. I could go on forever. I love you Mr. Clean.

So there you have it, my little tips on how to keep a clean home. Like I said, I'm not perfect, nor is my house. But a clean home is a happy home, and helps keep the stress down, at least in my family :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sad day on the farm...

I am so so sad right now, I can't even express how sad I am. As you may know, we finally had some barn kittens at our house and they were doing so well. We had our horrible tragic morning earlier this last spring when we found that something had killed our former litter. Well, both our mama cats had litters and they were really good sweet, healthy kittens. They were sweet, they hunted, they played with Bristol, and they were all really cute too. 

Well, today I was in charge of taking meals to the guys in the fields, and I had noticed that some of the kittens were playing in the wheel wells of my tires on my car earlier today, but didn't think anything of it when I left to run the food.  On the way home from the field, I saw a dead kitten in the road. And then another. And then another just less than a mile from our house that was still alive. Needless to say at this point I am not even really able to drive because I am crying so hard. The one I found that was still alive was barely I called Seth. He is an amazing husband and patient man for dealing with me and putting that poor kitten out of its misery. Trust me, there was no saving it. I'm a vet tech, I would've tried if I could have. 

Then I got home and was praying and hoping that my favorite kitten was still alive, because I had not seen it on my way home. I can't find it anywhere. We only have one kitten left and the two mama cats. To make matters worse, the mama cats keep meowing really loud and crying and I swear they are saying "kitten killer!" to me. :(

I'm so stinking sad. I realize that this may seem really dumb, because farm cats come and go and there a lot worse things going on in our world right now. I just felt the need to pay tribute to those sweet little kittens.  Pretty sure Seth is in the other room currently questioning my sanity since I have been wallering around in my robe and slippers in the barn lot calling "kitty? kitty?" and offering "I'm sorry" cat treats to the momma cats even though I know it won't make up for their loss.

Ugh, hopefully Tony Stewart the tom cat will come seduce the mammas once more.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ode to Old Blue

No farm is complete without a big old truck with a trusty name.  On the White farms, its Old Blue. I love this truck. She may not have nice seat cushions. In fact, the seat cushions may have mice nests in them.  The brakes may not work, and the clutch may stick a bit. But the hydraulic bed of this old cattle truck is what makes it so valueable. Without we could not have dumped all the plaster and insulation from when we renovated our entire house.  It's been a part of every huge house project, as well as some photo shoots.  Ted wanted to sell it this past year, and thankfully Seth reminded him of how much use we get out of it, so she's safe for another year! If this truck was reliable enough to drive around, I would drive it to work every day!  Thanks for all you do, Old Blue!

Old Blue in all her rusty glory

My favorite filtering effect ever! I would love to try and claim that I sketched this, but I do think it looks amazing!

Friday, September 7, 2012

I Volunteer! I Volunteer as Tribute!

In the spirit of The Hunger Games (which if you haven't read, go read them! They're amazing!) I thought I'd do a little educational blog on what "volunteer"means in the farming world.

Volunteer corn, that is.

Katniss looked a lot better than this piddly little corn stalk

If you're out driving around rural Indiana and going by a bean field, you may notice a bunch of random corn stalks growing and think, "what's up with that?" Well, its not some new hybrid, or some really efficient way of growing beans and corn at the same time. Its what we call volunteer corn.  Since most farmers rotate the crops on their fields (example: the field next to our house was beans last year, and this year its corn, it has to do with nitrogen and mineral take up etc etc boring science stuff) sometimes a few kernels miss out on the trip into the combine and end up back in the field where they grew. So then, the next spring, they grow up along with the beans.  Most the time when you spray for weeds, this is taken care of, but not everybody goes down. 

In fact, Bristol's favorite summertime activity is running through a bean field and then attacking the volunteer corn stalks and wrestling them to the ground. She should get paid for what she does!

...and because I shamelessly use my blog as a way to post pictures of my adorable family, here's the little Bristol pistol herself! Sitting in the road, where she knows she isn't supposed to be!

Top 10 Reasons I love this life...

A few weekends ago, I ran into someone who used to live here in Grass Creek and they made the comment about how boring it is here and just trying to make the most of it. It made me sort of sad, because I really truly love it here.  Not just for the space and quiet, but for the people and family we have here.  A lot of people don't want anything to do with it here, and that's ok, but I love it and here's why:

10.  On any given morning, I can walk out to my mailbox in just pj shorts and a t shirt and not have one worry of anybody seeing me

9. Sleeping with the windows open every night and not hearing anything but crickets and the wind

8. The fish fry at the church in Kewanna and the fire station in Grass Creek = Social event of the month!

7. No matter who you pass while driving, you wave, and they always wave back. Also, what's a cop?

6. I get to spend every evening on my porch swing watching a gorgeous sunset over a field of corn that my husband planted.  It's better than any HD tv (even though we have 7 in our house...that was my husband's choice, not mine!)

5. People in the city go to gyms, fitness clubs, yoga, etc. I get a workout just by walking over to the neighbor's house to say hello

4. We save a lot of money never going out to eat because...well, there's nowhere to go!

3. I can justify wearing bib overalls, which I don't think I could do anywhere else

2. 2 words: well water. Nothing tastes better!

1. Tinkle Power: Here in the country we experience a whole new freedom than anywhere else in America.  This is the freedom to pee wherever you want. Though I'd love to say this only pertains to Seth, I can't lie, I use this freedom as well. What else am I supposed to do when I'm out running and the next standing structure is over a mile away, or when I'm riding in a bumpy tractor and no toilet nearby?  Its a great freedom to embrace!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

DIY: Fall Wreaths

So, I'm not the biggest Pintrest person. I just can't jump on the bandwagon very well. So far, I've gotten on it three times. Once, when my sister helped me sign up, a second time to get ideas for Eli's 1 year old birthday party, and recently to get fall decoration ideas. Though I think it has so many great ideas, I was getting overwhelmed with all of them so I logged out and looked around my house and thought "jeez, I stink."  However, today was a different story and I decided to go ahead and just go with what I was able to make last year:

a wreath.

This was the original wreath I made with my Mom last year when we had an impromptu arts and crafts day while the men worked in the fields.
One wreath, however, turned into about 20 and my hand got a cramp from using my hot glue gun!  All you need are some wreaths, you can find them at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or any other craft store. A hot glue gun, locked and loaded, and anything you want to put on your wreath!  I play around with everything I have and do a lot of layouts until I finally settle on one. Here are some of my favorites that I made!

Grapevine wreaths, you can find them at Hobby Lobby
Some fun fall sprigs to add, pheasant feathers, and eucalyptus
I love these feathers so much! They have so much color to them and they're so soft! You can find fake ones at Hobby Lobby, but these are some from one of Dad's recent hunting trips

One of the first ones I made
I like this one, it has way more color!

A variation of this layout made the final cut, but I hadded a burlap bow instead of the one made of raffia

The one I hung outside! (Sorry the picture is sideways!)
Sorry it's sideways! But this one looked a lot better with the burlap bow!
Another one with the pheasant leaves. Definitely like the ones with the sunflowers and corn best!


So there's one of my fall projects! I have a few more that I'll (hopefully) get to later and be able to post! They will involve the fruits of our harvest as well as the leftovers...get excited! I'm hoping that all of this fall decorating will help me brush up my skills to be REALLY ready for my favorite season of all: Christmas! :) Nothing like Christmas on the farm....but more of that to come later!