Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strawberry bliss!

Nothing beats fresh-picked strawberries!

I'm ashamed to admit it, but my visit to the Strawberry Patch in New Munich this morning was my first visit ever to a berry patch. But since I developed an addiction to berry smoothies last winter, I decided it would be a good idea to stock the freezer now with enough strawberries for a year. Plus, Glen's folks gave us some of their strawberries from last summer, so I knew that locally grown strawberries taste unbelievably better than store-bought berries.

So, I delayed my morning chores and made a quick trip to the Strawberry Patch. I went with Glen's mom, which was a good thing, because she's a berry picking expert.

I couldn't believe how many strawberries there were. Rows and rows of lush green strawberry plants just loaded with fruit. And the berries were huge! Apparently the abundance of rain and sunshine this spring did wonders for the strawberry crop. The Munsterteigers, who own and operate the Strawberry Patch, said this was their best crop ever. Once we started picking, we hardly had to move down the row to fill a pail. We filled our pails in less than a half-hour.

But the best part was the berry sampling. Not only are the berries abundant this year, but they taste superb. Sweet and juicy only begin to describe how good they are. We'll never buy strawberries from the grocery store again. (Glen never would eat store-bought strawberries because he grew up with fresh-picked. I now know why.)

If you're in the area, I highly recommend treating yourself to some of the strawberries at the Strawberry Patch. There's a map to the Patch at

If you end up freezing what you can't eat fresh, here's the smoothie recipe I'm addicted to. I swear it's better than ice cream. Our three-year-old really likes this recipe, too.

Choco-Berry Smoothie
1 cup frozen berries (I rotate between strawberries and raspberries.)
1 cup milk, plain yogurt, kefir, or viilia (see note below)
1 - 3 tbsp chocolate milk powder (like Nesquik powder), to your taste

Plop the ingredients in your blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Notes: If you use yogurt, kefir or another cultured milk product, add a splash of milk (about 1/4 cup) to help the smoothie blend better.

Here's another smoothie recipe I like, but not as much as the Choco-Berry Smoothie.

Sunrise Smoothie
1 cup frozen berries
1 cup milk
1 - 2 tbsp orange juice concentrate, to taste

Combine. Blend. Enjoy.

Now, shut off your computer and go pick some strawberries! 

One last thought: The petite strawberries taste even better than the plump ones, and they blend better in smoothies. So don't leave the little ones for someone else.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Today's heat and humidity were nearly unbearable. Like the cows, I can't stand days like this. I'll bet even the chickens were sweating today.

During milking, with rivers of sweat running down his face, Glen joked, "Yeah, you guys had saunas up north. Down here we have dairy barns." (I will agree that the summers in Stearns County are about 10 degrees hotter than they are in northern Minnesota, but we had hot days up north, too — just not as many.)

I think I'm genetically predisposed to handle cold weather better than hot. I always joke that there's a reason why most of my ancestors chose to settle in Minnesota and it wasn't June, July and August. Even though my grandmother was from Nebraska, I don't think any of her heat-tolerance genes were passed down.

I'm sure glad our house was equipped with central air when we bought it. Glen and I would never have dedicated the funds to install it ourselves. But since we have it, I use it. Mostly, so that everyone can sleep at night. To me, there's nothing worse than sticking to the sheets. Add a small child to your bed and you might as well be trying to sleep in the sauna.

Our first summer here, Glen and I would battle over the A/C control. He'd shut the A/C off before going to bed and open the windows, without me knowing. By 2:00 a.m., I'd be stuck to the sheets and cussing about the function of our air conditioner. So, I'd go downstairs to check the thermostat and find that it was off. Words can't adequately describe my irritation. It took me a couple nights to convince Glen that it's the low humidity in the house that makes it comfortable, and opening the windows lets all of the humid air into the house. So, when I would turn the A/C back on in the middle of the night, the air conditioner would have to play catch up, rather than just maintain.

We now leave the thermostat mostly alone. We don't keep the house all that cool, but the A/C helps keep the humidity low enough to make the house a refuge from the sauna outside. And, today, we really needed that refuge.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Project: New Bulk Tank

We broke ground on our bulk tank project last Monday.

Here the guys are leveling the tubes for the concrete pillars that will sit under the new tank's legs.

Now the tubes are being filled.
The concrete has to sit now until next week. But by the end of the month we'll have our new bulk tank. Yippee! (No more daily milk pick-up.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


For our honeymoon, Glen and I took a cruise through the Caribbean. We had a fantastic time. (Cruises are the perfect vacation for the can't-sit-still sort because the time is apportioned for you; one day you're sailing, so you either enjoy beverages by the pool or take part in on-ship activities; the next day you're in port, taking in the sights and adventures of an exotic locale.) Anyway, after our trip ended, reality set in like a cruel trick. Our life of luxury was over. We had to cook our own breakfast and make our own bed. We had to go back to work and school and use our brains. The first couple days after our trip seemed like drudgery. Glen nicknamed our condition Post-Vacation Motivation Disorder.

Now, I'm afraid PVMD has set in again. Except now that we're farming, there's really not time to drag one's feet, so it's not so much a matter of getting back to work, it's knowing where to start. Time did not stand still while we were gone. Now, the list we left behind when we took off is not only still there — it's growing. And the time available to tackle tasks has been reduced by four days. When work piles up like this, my brain tends to stop functioning properly. It's like a sort of organizational paralysis sets in when I feel overwhelmed. And I'm there. Right now my brain is spinning around in circles trying to decide which direction to take to climb the mountain.

To further complicate the situation, our children are just now starting to recover from their Parent-Child Reconnection Syndrome. What's PCRS? If you're a parent, you know – it's the alien behavior that possesses your children after they return to your presence following an extended separation. I think it's a result of the break from normal routine coupled with mom and dad's absence. I can't fault Dan and Monika for their behavior, because I know getting back into our routine has been as hard for them as it has for me, yet living with them these last couple days has tested my patience. The only cure I know of for PCRS is extra attention, lots of love and the tincture of time.

So, I'm being pulled in two directions by two very compelling forces — the need to spend some extra quality time with the kids and the need to check some tasks off my to-do list before the list drives me batty.

Writing is my time-out from life, so that's why I'm writing now, instead of tackling the two dozen other tasks on my list or spending quality time with the kids (they're actually playing nicely together for the first time in days). It's funny that the same organizational paralysis sets in with my writing when I have too many ideas to write about and not enough time to write. At least this idea will be checked off. And I'll think more clearly for the rest of the day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Here, there, and everywhere

Our days, weeks, and months are always busy, but these first couple weeks of June have been extraordinarily busy.

For me, the month started with preparations for the Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm and then the event itself. The Gregory family of Kimball hosted this year's Breakfast on the Farm, which was held Saturday, June 5. We had a great turnout — over 1200 people attended the Breakfast — and everyone involved had a great time. 

I got home from the Breakfast and finished packing our bags for our next engagement — a trip to Washington, D.C. for our Young Cooperators Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum. We learned how to lobby our Congress members, toured the monuments of the D.C. area, and connected with our fellow young producers from across the country.

It's always nice to get away for a little while, but I was sure glad to come home. I missed Dan and Monika and the farm. And my feet missed my barn boots — I blistered both of my feet walking around in high heels for three days. 

I didn't spend very much time in my barn boots, though. The kids and I are taking off for my sister's today. Our niece turns two this week, so we're celebrating her birthday tomorrow. As excited as I am to see my family, I'm glad we don't have anything planned for next week.

I'll try to post some pictures from our adventures when I get back.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy World Milk Day!

I didn't know it at the beginning of the day, but today is World Milk Day. Our loan officer from the credit union dropped off some neat T-shirts with a Holstein-spotted globe on the back that say, "Our world is black and white." Around here, there's a little red and brown sprinkled in, too, but our world definitely revolves around our cows.

Even our kids' world is centered around cows. The picture above is from this afternoon. Dan loves to help bring the cows in from the pasture, during which he plays this little game with the cow paths. "This path is mine," he says as he runs down a path. "You go on that path." And then he switches paths and insists I switch, too. When we get to a spot where the cows have forged three paths, he stops and asks, "Which path is mine?" After deciding, he takes off again, yelling over his shoulder to tell me which path to take.

It will be interesting to see how his upbringing with dairy cattle shapes the paths he takes in life.

How do I look?
One of Dan's other new sayings is "How do I look, Mom?", which he usually chirps after I help him get his barn clothes on.

"Great," I tell him.

I'd like to know what you think of our blog's new look. We've been working on this change behind the scenes for a little while now, and I figured today would be the perfect day to introduce the new format (even before I knew it was World Milk Day). We're excited about the new format for a couple reasons: it will be easier to add photos to posts, it will be easier to find and read previous posts, and it will be easier for readers to comment. So, take a moment and let us know what you think. (Just click on the comments link below to go to the comments form.)

Then go drink a big glass of milk in celebration of World Milk Day!